Saturday, February 5, 2011

Summary of “Patriarchy, the System: An it, Not a He, a Them, or an Us”, “Oppression”, “Challenging Men to Resist Gender Stereotypes”

Johnson’s “Patriarchy”
In this article Johnson explains how he understands patriarchy and what we should do about changing it. He makes a really interesting argument about patriarchy and how systems work in general. In the beginning he points out how men often feel personally attacked by feminists, especially when they speak of the issues involving patriarchy. Johnson writes that it is not that all men (or even women) are oppressive; it is that they participate in the system that is oppressive. He makes the point that patriarchy “is a system, which means it can’t be reduced to the people who participate in it.” (30). So it is not people who are really flawed, but rather it is the system that society has put gender into that is flawed.
Johnson goes on to write that patriarchy is more than men being violent toward women; it is woven into our everyday life, through things like language and literature. Men are valued more highly in this society, while women are considered of less value. He points out that words like bitch or crone are degrading to women, yet they are used often by both men and women. He also attacks the myth that men and women are inherently different from each other. This is a good point, because there are not just two genders, but society treats gender as such.
Johnson ends by talking about how men need to recognize the fact that they are privileged. If you are male than you are privileged, in the same way that if you are white you are more privileged than someone who is black. There needs to less of a tolerance of violence against women in society. You cannot just blame the individual for the act, but the society that raised the individual so that he thought it is acceptable to perform the act. Finally Johnson makes the point that if women are ever going to have real quality, everyone needs to choose to behave differently in the system of patriarchy.

Frye’s “Oppression”
Fyre delves into how women are oppressed by society as a whole. She talks about how men often repudiate the fact that women are oppressed, by saying that men are oppressed too. Fyre does not give value to men being oppressed however; she focuses on how women are treated unequally. She brings up an interesting point on how women who are more sexually active are considered “whores” and women who are not very sexually active are “prudes.” I think that this double standard is very prominent in our society today. A man who sleeps around may be called a player, but it is a good thing. A woman who sleeps around is a slut, and is not respected.
Fyre goes on to attack other activities that she considers sexism, such as opening a door for a woman. She believes that “the gallant gestures have no practical meaning. Their meaning is symbolic.” (4). She ends up by talking about how women’s oppression is overlooked by society, and needs to be recognized.

Gokova “Challenging Men”
Gokova writes from his position as a male in a society as a feminist. He says that being male means you are privileged. He believes that men need to be responsible about their position in society. It is not good enough just to acknowledge that women are oppressed, but to take steps in changing that double standard.
Much of the reading looks at the myths surrounding men. Gokova writes about his own personal experience with trying to change this myth. His wife works, and he stays at home with the children. He also writes about how men are taught that they should not cry or show real emotion, whereas women are stereotyped into being overemotional. He also expands the concept of gender to homosexuals.
Johnson and Gokova agree with each other on many subjects, especially that men need to make an effort to be different and to reject any form of oppression.


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