Skip to main content

Hetero-patriarchal socialization of women’s inequality: Violence and moral censure

By Harasankar Adhikari 

Because of the hetero-patriarchal structure and socialization in every society, women face many dangers (especially sexual dangers) even today. Women’s sexuality is embedded and experienced at the service of the state, power regimes, and commodification in the media.
Carole Vance (1984) shared that ‘the threat of male violence is not the only source of sexual dangers. Sexuality activates a host of intra-psychic anxieties; fear of merging with another, the blurring of body boundaries, and the sense of self that occurs in the tangle of parts and sensations, with attendant fears of dissolution and self-annihilation.’
Female sexuality has two aspects: cohesiveness, power, danger, and fear are one, and another aspect is the realm of ecstasy, desire, intimacy, mutuality, and pleasure. Women’s sexuality and embodied agency are potentially under the control of hetero-patriarchal logic. Michel Foucault opined that ‘the body is not simply a passive surface, inscribed by socialization and history and guided by a cognitive realm of knowledge and awareness. The body is the site of a pre-cognitive communication between the subject and the world’. It receives social and environmental signals and uses active means of response to those messages. It is further due to hetero-patriarchal socialization.
The patriarchal script attempts to present women as passive victims. Positioning women as weak or damaged subjects gives renewed legitimacy to patriarchally motivated discourses of control and protection. We talk about women’s sexual agency in experiential, political, social, and symbolic terms. It portrays and articulates female lived experience. But we have no capacity to exist and change our situation. We do not see new horizons of possibilities around sexual safety, choice, autonomy, or pleasure. It has been practiced that the first experience of sexualities should not be treated as a violation and negation, but as a joyful and pleasurable mode of agency. Our sexualities are often experienced and aligned so closely with these complex and contradictory emotions, which are both so intimate and at the same time public in their framing by social rules, values, and harm. Women are not allowed to freely express their sexual experience because it might elude male control. The socialization process is that a heterosexual male as head of the family is in-charge of his wife, children, and sisters, and the whole of society is built upon the family model. Thus, the male householder is in control of all, including the bodies and sexuality of those in his household. Therefore, women are confined to one household. Without which the symbolic and existential stability of household structure is threatened. In traditional as well as modern patriarchal families, desire of the male head tries to control other desires in the household and society. When that desire is threatened or undermined by another, that is outside the dominant libidinal economy.
Therefore, we observe that female sexual agency and pleasure become important means for patriarchal reproduction and continuity to reassert themselves. It is because patriarchal cultures understand and anticipate the fundamentality of women’s erotic desire and pleasure in human reproduction. Each time, we focus only on violations and neglect to narrate the fundamentality of female erotic desire. Women's sexual pleasure does not negate or overshadow our pursuit of social justice, equity, economic rights, political access, and participation. Patriarchal culture tries to muffle, circumscribe, and reduce people to passivity through a litany of violations and intrusions.
There should be a new way of constituting female sexuality to overcome victimhood and violation as foundational concepts. Through this new foundation, we might turn the patriarchal sexual lens away from the primacy of women’s quest for erotic fulfillment and joy and use it as a springboard for demanding and creating a safer space. Attitudes towards female sexuality should be turned away from patriarchal power with its fear of unruly autonomous female desire and action. There is a need for a change in patriarchal culture’s hostility towards women’s sexual agency. It would reduce confrontation in women’s daily lives. There is a need for primacy in the sexual danger script. That script could be configured, re-experienced, and re-channeled differently.

Comments

TRENDING

'Modi govt's assault on dissent': Foreign funds of top finance NGO blocked

By Rajiv Shah  In a surprise move, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, has cancelled the foreign funding license of the well-known advocacy group, Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), known for critically examining India's finance and banking sectors from human rights and environmental angle.

'Wedding of the century': What does Mukesh Ambani want to prove by such extravaganza?

By NS Venkataraman*  Mukesh  Ambani,   a renowned Indian industrialist who is said to be the richest person in India and  one of the richest persons in the world,   has just now conducted the wedding celebration of  his son in Mumbai,   with unheard level of lavishness in India.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

'28% rise in sedition cases': Top global NGO alliance rates India's civil space 'repressed'

By Rajiv Shah Rating India's civic space as repressed , Civicus, a global civil society alliance, in its new report submitted to the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) on the state of civic space in the country has said that the use of sedition law against the Modi government’s critics continues. "Under the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, sedition cases have increased by 28 per cent with over 500 cases against more than 7,000 people", it says.

How US is using Tibetans to provoke conflict with China 'ignoring' India

By Lobsang Tenzin*  On July 12, US President Joe Biden signed the Resolve Tibet Act, and Tibetans cheered for it, believing that the law promotes a resolution of the dispute between Tibet and China. Is this true? First, let's look at the issue of the ownership of Tibet. 

Over 3.8 billion animals at risk: India on crossroad in animal welfare practices

By Rupali Soni*  In a collaborative effort, the India Animal Fund and Dasra have unveiled their report , "Our Shared Future | Securing Animal Welfare, Human Wellbeing, and Sustainability in India." This landscape report provides a thorough overview of animal welfare and underscores its indispensable role within India's socio-economic and ecological frameworks. It also illustrates how animal welfare is intricately intertwined with public health, labor welfare, and climate resilience.

Tribals from 60 villages observe seed festival to 'protect' diversity of indigenous seeds

By Bharat Dogra*  Nearly sixty villagers are sitting on an open floor covered by a roof for shade but otherwise open on all sides. Women and men are present in equal numbers but the visibility of women is higher because of their colorful dresses.

Misleading ads 'manipulate, seduce, lure' to market unhealthy harmful food

By Our Representative  The Nutrition Advocacy in Public Interest (NAPI) in its new report “50 Shades of Food Advertising” has sought to expose how seductive, luring, manipulative or deceptive these advertisements can be. Consequences of such advertising are increased intake of unhealthy food products that is associated with obesity and diabetes, it says.