Our Weekly Blog
A woman’s Story Growing up in Patriarchy
By Tarri Otterlee, Sedona, AZ
A little background first. I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin. I graduated from high school in 1964. My father owned a small successful business. I guess our family would be called upper middle class in today’s world. I spent my summers at our cottage on beautiful lakes. It was the best time of my youth. It was the 1950’s with TV programs like Father Knows Best, The Honeymooners, I Love Lucy and Bonanza – programs all showing traits of strong male figures in dominate rolls and women supporting their men. Yes they were entertaining while teaching boys and girls gender roles. There were no strong women or gender equality expressed in these shows. As my father use to say repeatedly “I bring home the bacon you raise the kids.” Another one he liked to say was “I’m not always right but I’m never wrong.”
They had 4 children – 2 boys then 2 girls. I was the 3rd child and the first girl to enter the family. Both the house and our cottage were 3 bedrooms and 1 bathroom, not offering a lot of privacy. My father was a typical father figure of the time – the dominate male with rules for the kids and his wife – the one who passed out judgments and punishments. My older brothers, as they hit high school, went into sports. One was very good at basketball. One wasn’t very good in sports. The other was a HS basketball star and became the star of the family – the beginning of his ego development. As I became older I was given the roll of cleaning lady, which did take some of my mother’s work load off her hands at that time. But before I became of age she had a cleaning lady. It must have been my time to learn the basic skills of “woman’s work.”
Our family was gender biased. The boys had more freedom and privileges, got the cars and boats. They literally had a much higher ranking over me and my younger sister. My father did not show affection to his wife or myself the majority of the time, it would be a rare moment indeed. Each of us kids were born roughly 2 years apart my older brothers began beating me when I was young, coming into the bath room while I was bathing or the bedroom while I was getting ready for school. My parents didn’t protect me from the beatings. I remember my mother saying fight your own fights. So I grew up in a typical 50’s family where men and boys reignn supreme over the females and taught that my only option in life was to marry by 21 to man who could support me. I was told by my parents I was not college material and women do not need an education. Even back then I knew I did not want a marriage like my parents and their friend’s wives had.
My father picked out my education option after high school he enrolled me in a Dental Assistant program. His reason for doing so he later told me was to have an opportunity to marry a dentist. I found that I enjoyed working in dentistry and had an opportunity to continue my education in 4-handed dentistry – later 6-handed dentistry while teaching at Northwestern Dental School in Chicago. No I didn’t marry a dentist. But Chicago was a great choice in my personal growth as a woman. I found self-worth plus gender equality identification through The Woman’s Liberation movement.
Patriarchy: A man’s world created by men to benefit men. Its effects on women throughout the ages.
The #1 effect is women as second class citizens with no equal rights to men. Fathers arranged marriages for their daughters usually at a young age to young men or older men. Their reasoning in this was that a father can choose the right man for her, but in reality it was a business deal between the two fathers that would benefit them more than their children. Money in the form of a dowry was exchanged. This still goes on the Middle East and in The Mormon Polygamy communities in America.
Women were not allowed to own property or inherit property. Basically their survival was dependent on their fathers and then their husbands.
Women received little to no education as men felt they did not need education to be mothers, wives, cooks and housekeepers. This they could learn from their mothers. In reality this allows men control over the independence and opportunities for women. In the Middle East it’s called Guardianship – other societies use other names for it and go as far as using the Bible. Yet that Bible was written by men to benefit men in their authority over women to strengthen patriarchy. We are all souls/spirit having a physical experience and the fact is God created all souls as equal. Man created separation and inequality. How’s that working for us and humanity?
In 1869 Susan B. Anthony started the Suffrage Movement for the women’s right to vote – this took 51 years. In 1920 women were given the right to vote. These strong women fought and persisted to get a shred of equality. They were beaten, they were jailed and they were raped just for standing up to men of the patriarchal belief system.
In the 1970’s the woman’s movement began again for gender equality. I am proud to say that I was a part of this and I was one of many. We made progress for all the generations of women to follow. Before this women were not allowed to get personal or business loans without a male co-signer. Women couldn’t even go out and buy a car on their own without a man’s approval and his signature on the loan. That law was changed in the early 70’s which led to women having credit cards in their names not their husbands or fathers and if they died the credit card was canceled by the bank.
Title 9 was passed stating “no discrimination against women to enter collages and university in undergrad or graduate education or those schools would loe federal funding. For the first time women could not be restricted from postgraduate education in law, medicine, dentistry, and getting an MBA. Male dominated professions were now open to women. Title 9 is mostly talked about for its impact it had for women in sports which was also a great benefit but not the main objective.
In 1973 Roe vs Wade or the Woman’s Right for Her Reproductive Health. This isn’t just about legal abortion – it is about the woman’s right to choose. But let’s look back in history – abortion has always been around – it’s as old as prostitution. Speaking of prostitution – this is usually not a chosen career opportunity for women – this is usually a choice because the women has no other option or opportunities to make a living. Women and men have chosen abortion for so many reasons. Before Roe vs Wade the only choice was self-abortion or illegal abortions that could and did cause death. In the 1960’s when contraceptive pills came out they were only legal for married women then later became legal for all women, the use of IUD’s was not considered safe for women who had not had child. Men don’t take responsibility to help prevent pregnancy. They don’t like using condoms so this became the woman’s job not to get pregnant. Roe vs Wade gave women much needed education in reproductive health. It gave us contraceptive choices and most important, control of our bodies and health. Now the patriarchal males and far right want to take away women’s equality to make life choices and protecting our health. Taking us back the 1950’s “bare foot and pregnant.” They are not Pro-Life they are just Pro-Birth at the great expense to women and their health their lives. It is male dominance and the taking away of rights to freedom as an individual. Equal Rights are Human Rights.
January 2016 saw the new woman’s movement begin with the largest ever woman’s marches all around the country. This time the marches included men and families from all walks of life, in every large city and small town in America. Standing up and speaking out – this is The Shift of Awakening in action.
In 2017 women publicly called out powerful men; even naming them for sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape. For years these men and many other men have been getting away with their bad behavior through patriarchal beliefs and women remaining silent. No More: people are hearing them, men are believing them and the media is supporting them. The Me Too movement was started by a woman 10 years ago as a place on the internet for women to go and tell their stories and get support from other women who have had the same horrible experiences from men. Now it is a large movement for women and men who have been sexually harassed, assaulted and raped standing up and speaking up. Patriarchy and bad male behavior towards others must end.
It’s time for all men to wake up and find a new perspective of themselves and masculinity. It time for women to find their strength of self-empowerment. Both lead to the shift to a higher consciousness for a better life and a better world.