A Modern Lens: Exploring The Hidden Patriarchy In 2024

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Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash

The patriarchy is generally understood to be the system that we live in, where men have authoritative power as they have been deemed superior to women through centuries of social construction. However, as most of us learn about this after we’ve been living through it for years, it is hard for us to conceptualise just how deep the patriarchy runs, and how it impacts us in our day-to-day lives.

Last year, the Barbie movie brought the word into mainstream discourse, and while this was a step forward in combating gender inequality, it also proved how many people misunderstand patriarchy, seeing it as a part of society rather than seeing that it underpins society. This is why many will argue against the need for modern feminism, believing that because women can vote and get an education they are now equal to men. But this isn’t true, it’s just that we have collectively normalised patriarchal constructs that perpetuate male supremacy.

The Beauty Industry

One of the most glaring examples of this is the beauty industry in its entirety. For centuries, women have been urged to alter their appearance, in magazines, radio and TV ads, and most recently through TikTok trends. The beauty standard is not fixed and is constantly
shifting, meaning that every few months women have a new body type to achieve, a new facial feature to be insecure about, and endless new products to buy. While men do also wear makeup, this is generally a choice to enhance their features, whereas women have been made to feel the need to wear makeup to conceal what society has deemed unattractive— I’ll admit, I write this all while wearing eyeliner almost daily.

Ultimately, women have been made to objectify themselves as ‘products’ for the male gaze, and through marketing, have been conditioned to believe the sum of their worth lies in their appearance. Men have never been regulated in this way. This is not even to mention how problematic it is that beauty ideals generally revolve around Eurocentric and youthful features.

Relationships And The Housewife

There is also a lot of so-called ‘hidden patriarchy’ to be observed in relationships. For example, the concept that the man has to pay for meals and outings (in a heterosexual relationship, at least). This perpetuates the outdated ideal that men are financially responsible for women and that men are to provide whilst women submit to them— essentially leaving the man with authority and undermining the woman’s independence.
Another example can be observed in the household, where women are expected to take on the majority of the childcare and housework. This is proven as men are praised on social media for 10-second clips of them playing with their kids— praised as it is not deemed their responsibility to do so. There has been a slight progression as women are no longer expected to submit to the rigid ideal of the housewife. Women have been allowed jobs for over a century now and, typically, women work in the present day. However, this progression is meaningless when women who work are still expected to take on the housework on top of this. The housewife has not been abandoned but repackaged.

These are just a few examples of how the patriarchy hides in plain sight, but there are countless more. Taking the time to become aware of these instances is key in combating their existence, and undoing patriarchal learnings to look to a more even future for all genders.

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