Many feminist argue that patriarchy is the root of gender inequalities in the world. There are many formal definition of the term “patriarchy”, in general, patriarchy is a social construct in which masculine qualities are valued more than feminine qualities. Traditionally, patriarchy is explained in terms of the household. That is, a woman is limited to the household tasks, and her husband is the head of the house who determines how much freedom the wife has within the house.
In this paper I argue that even when the private patriarchy is not visible, or none existing, the public patriarchy still limits female abilities compared to their male counterparts. I define public patriarchy as women’s ability to access the public sphere (employment outside of the house, education, religious institutions) where they are still inferior to men due to the societal structure.
In order to support my argument, I will rely on the works of Lynne Haney “Homeboys, Babies, Men in Suits: The State and the Reproduction of Male Dominance”, Lourdes Portillo “Senorita Extraviada: Missing Young Woman”, and Cecilia Menjivar “Corporeal Dimensions of Gender Violence: Woman`s Self and Body“. The outline of this paper will be the following: first I will outline the main argument, historical contexts and theoretical traditions of each article individually. Next I shall compare and contrast author`s perspectives on the issue of the patriarchy.
Lastly, I will provide a conclusion where my argument will be reinstated. Lynne Haney criticizes the traditional approach to how feminists see the interaction between the state and women. In Haney`s view, the state is composed of multiple smaller components each of which has a unique way of dealing with women. Specifically she analyzes that the juvenile system has a coercive and a permissive arms simultaneously. The coercive arm organizations are concerned with the notion of public patriarchy.
These institutions try to teach the women to be independent from the state, to be equal to men in the public sphere. To contrast, the permissive arm institutions convince women to be independent from their men in the private sphere- the household. Lynne Haney comes from the social and radical feminists school of thought which allows her to analyze in depth the theory of the state and women`s place in it. the historical context of course influences the author`s argument very much.
In this case, the study was conducted in 1992 in the USA, when feminists concentrated on the state as macro level, masculine entity. This universal understanding of the state as being ruled by males restricted the feminists to see the complete picture of how gender relations are structured in the society. As a result, when Lynne Haney conducted the ethnographic research to alter the traditional perspectives on the state, she was one of the first to present an alternative view on this issue.
Since early 1990s, the city of Ciudad Juarez has seen hundreds deaths of young Mexican women. They are found weeks or months after their death, raped, burnt alive or killed in other horrible ways. The documentary brings together interviews of victims’ families, investigators and other state’s authority assigned to these crimes. Portillo is a radical feminist who portrays the violence against women by emphasizing the power relations between men and women. Most women in the city are worthless which is perhaps why the murders have not been solved yet.
Furthermore, the author accentuates the power of transnational capital by looking at American owned factories maquiladoras, where most killed women were employed. The documentary created an activist movement in order to search for the missing girls and pressure the authority to investigate the killings. Portillo demonstrates the incompetence of the state through their unwillingness to take more actions. The degree of corruption and tolerance toward the crimes is unbearable and difficult to comprehend.
The violence of women is a product of gender inequalities and the patriarchal system in Mexico where men feel entitled and women’s bodies. Menjivvar analyzes how gender and violence are shaped by the social structure in Guatemala. By interviewing individual people, she demonstrates how the violence has crystallized in women’s bodies through the expression of malnutrition, anxiety, and distress. The violence against women is misrecognized by both: the state and the women. It became an everyday normalized practice that women’s health is not a priority in the family.
Poorly developed health system further complicates women’s marginalization in the society, Inability to access necessary medicaments or help leaves women worried and anxious on daily basis. The poverty, absence of affordable healthcare, political instability all affects lives of mothers and wives in Guatemala. The author shows how the body is a social product of multiple outside forces, how the power inequalities can be seen through women’s malaise. Menjivar emphasizes the structural understanding of the violence and builds on radical feminists’ approach to demonstrate the degree of male domination in Guatemala.