Patriarchy Speaking through Feminine Voices The biggest challenge to bring about strategic change that will empower people is the entrenched worldview that the life of the individual is defined and determined by others. From a gender perspective, patriarchy is the determining factor in how we interact or express ourselves as women. Patriarchy reinforces cultural beliefs and influences development discourses. Most women do not have formal education and their voices are suppressed to express their lived realities. There is tendency to speak for patriarchy even if it is through feminine voices to continue to oppress women. I will narrow my discussion on how the media manifest such patriarchal voices, because the empowerment of women cannot be real without women’s ability to express their feelings and to speak out in making positive change. Most media outlets do not give the strategic issues of women priority and where available, they tend to patronize women and their issues. Programmes like “Ideal Wife” on national television moderated by a female reinforced an ideal woman in a marital home being the best house keeper, cook and dresses well to make the husband happy. It reinforces traditional belief that a woman in the home is immature and the husband is the decision maker on strategic issues affecting the whole family. While we acknowledge the attempts in addressing gender issues in the media, a lot more needs to be done to push the media discourses on women in line with the vision for women’s empowerment. I was privileged to be invited on “Ideal Wife” and my first intervention was to dismantle the title because it was constructed from a male point of view. Marriage is about partnership therefore the concern should be an Ideal family where both partners take responsibility in addressing equality and justice. Women’s empowerment starts with women having a say in what happens to their lives and the space to be heard. Most women literate or not do not have control over their own lives; what happens to them is determined by others, mostly to fulfil men’s desires. Those who have a voice to speak out for themselves do not have the space to do so in the relevant context. It must be realized that women have the intellect to receive, analyse and respond to information in their own language. Working with women at the grassroots level, the need and desire for women to have the space to speak out is recognized. Pulsewire is an opportunity to re-echo the voices of women through our own. It is hope that the opportunity may arise for someone with the resources to take action and support us to achieve our vision to give grassroots women the alternative to speak for themselves in their own words and in their own voices. The challenge is for us to be aware of the patriarchal voices disguised through the feminine voices in using media for social change. We have to dismantle the patriarchal voices being re-echoed through feminine voices.
Take action! This post was submitted in response to Voices of Our Future Application: Challenges and Solutions to Creating Change.