Hegemony: Patriarchy as Supremacy

By Anthi Ermogenous

“A leader must be feared and loved. If he cannot be both, it is better to be feared”. Machiavelli

The above quote summarises the essence of hegemony.

Hegemony is a process of moral and spiritual guidance and domination through which the consent of the dominated or suppressed is ensured by the respective ruling classes. In rare cases where the willingness of the subject is limited, the consent is taken with the use of violence and coercion. However hegemony does not mean violence, “…..although it could be supported by force; it meant ascendancy achieved through culture, institutions, and persuasion”. (R.W.Connell and James W.Messerschmidt, 2005 p832) It is thus a form of control exerted mainly through a regime which was previously established in society.

In societies, there is a constant struggle for hegemony between different social groups. The dominant group promotes the way it perceives the world so as the groups which are considered inferior, accept their point of view as “normal”. This of course requires the willingness as well as the active consent of the so considered inferior group.

Such example is the role of the man and the woman in the patriarchal family. The woman always had subordinate roles under patriarchy. At first she belonged to her father and then to her husband. In any case the man was the absolute leader of the house.


patria

There is a belief that the destructive power of patriarchal societies is determined by the fact that masculinity is perceived as fundamentally incomplete, insecure and threatened. Therefore men, in effort to maintain their masculinity they exert control over women. “Hegemonic masculinity, understood as external hegemony, is connected to the institutionalization of men’s dominance over women. This understanding of hegemonic masculinity derives from Connell’s acceptance of the essential feminist insight that the relations between genders involve oppression and domination”. (Carrigan, Connell, and Lee, 1985, p140) The dominant patriarchal ideology is a combination of ideas supporting the inferiority of women as something normal.
patri

Society prepares persons to acquire the role determined for him/her. In psychology, research has shown that children are trained to meet the expectations of their gender and this is part of their socialisation which designates roles to each gender. Later a dominant group is formed, that of men which determines which features of the “inferior group”  are acceptable, convincing them that they are unable to acquire a role other than the denoted. Socialisation trains the woman to acquire the role which is determined by the stereotypes and deprives her from the right to judge, doubt or overthrow this role. This explains why women consent to their own suppression, depriving themselves from the right to equal opportunities. (Crowley & Himmelweit, 1992). In this way patriarchy is maintained even today in societies.

The patriarchal system was the main way of oppressing and delegating women especially in past times/societies. Women obeyed the demands of their role as housewives, wives and mothers. Her role in the patriarchal society was merely supportive of her husband. This suppressive hegemony signified that the woman was the property of her father and subsequently her husband. In extreme cases it even forbade a series of daily practices and social privileges such as the right to vote, driving, having a career, drinking, smoking, wearing trousers and having a property. They were even led or forced to prearranged marriages, affecting thus their personal life/happiness.
patr1

On the contrary man in these societies is more privileged. “…men’s position in patriarchal societies yields a series of material advantages, such as higher incomes or easier access to education, something that Connell calls “patriarchal dividend.” (Connell, 1996, p162). This term refers not only to material advantages; it encompasses the overall privileges that the patriarchal society denotes to men.

The hegemony of the male figure over the female within the family is what constitutes the patriarchy system. The element of patriarchy and especially the dominancy of the father over his daughter are central in the song “Tied”.

patr

The daughter grew up in her father’s pocket. This shows that father managed the economics in family. The daughter carries HIS name, HIS house, HIS cars. She is tied on his key chain. This metaphor is used to show that she is not allowed to go anywhere without HIS consent. She is destined to fulfil HIS dreams; she does not have her own desires. Her mother is crying in the kitchen, where she is considered to belong, while washing the dishes (her job). She is wearing her platinum ring which symbolizes the man; the ring is carved on the inside but the carving cannot be seen, in the same way that woman’s wishes cannot be seen. The daughter believes people should not ask her about this situation as her destiny is predetermined. She addresses her future husband and she reinforces this oppression by telling him that she is an object which he can try and return if he is not satisfied. This is what she has always learned, to be a property of someone, either the shepherd/father, or enclosed in a corral which symbolises society and restrictions, or the wolf /husband. She grew up according to her parent’s desires who wished to see her married; she grew up for a liar’s sake (future husband) condemned never to be happy. As time passes she looks in the mirror and sees her mother, doesn’t recognise herself Showing a perpetuated situation. The daughter’s dreams are not important; she is subjected to the stereotypical role of the woman in the house.

The song brings forward the leadership and supremacy of man even in modern societies where women have secondary roles. Feminist scholars state that “…beneath a veneer of equality, marriage continues to be premised on the interrelation of three factors: the masculine model of the ideal worker; women’s provision of domestic services and child care, which makes the ideal worker possible; and the economic dependence of women on men that follows”. (Joan Williams,  1994, p82) Patriarchy and generally all forms of hegemonies, are the means of larger forms of hegemony ,such as capitalism, to exert control in society. Therefore social/gender stereotypes will always be reproduced, even though women nowadays seem to have gained equal privileges/rights. Although patriarchy is considered a “dead” system, the roles of the two genders are still mainly predetermined.

pat

Translated (to English) Lyrics

Tied

Lyrics: Gerasimos Evangelatos

Mysic: Themis Karamouratides

Singer: Natasa Mpofiliou

I grew up in my father’s pocket

tied up on his key chain

with his name, his car and his houses

and all his big dreams

I grew up in my mother’s tears

like a carving on a platinum ring

left aside while she was washing the dishes in the kitchen

What are you asking me?

What should i say?

See for yourself

You want to hold me

and if I am not good enough you can give me back

I have always been used to belong to something

either to a shepherd, or a corral or to the wolf

I grew up for those who expected something from me

and then for a liar’s sake

and day by day instead of me

I confront my mother in the mirror

What are you asking me?

What should i say?

See for yourself

You want to hold me

and if I am not good enough you can give me back

I have always been used to belong to something

either to a shepherd, or a corral or to the wolf
patr adv

 

Original (Greek) Lyrics

Στίχοι: Γεράσιμος Ευαγγελάτος

Μουσική: Θέμης Καραμουρατίδης

Ερμηνεύτρια: Νατάσα Μποφίλιου

ΔΕΜΕΝΗ

Μεγάλωνα στην τσέπη του πατέρα μου
δεμένη μ’ αλυσίδα στα κλειδιά του
με τ’ όνομα, τ’ αμάξι και τα σπίτια του
και μ’ όλα τα μεγάλα όνειρα του
Μεγάλωνα στης μάνας μου τα δάκρυα
σαν σκάλισμα σε βέρα από πλατίνα
που έβγαζε και άφηνε στην άκρια
καθώς έπλενε πιάτα στην κουζίνα.

Τι με ρωτάς, τι να σου λέω,
εδώ τα βλέπεις
θες με κρατάς κι αν δε σου κάνω με επιστρέφεις

Δεν έχω μάθει δυστυχώς να μην ανήκω
μια στο βοσκό, μια στο μαντρί και μια στο λύκο

Μεγάλωνα γι’ αυτούς περιμένανε
και ύστερα για χάρη κάποιου ψεύτη
και μέρα με τη μέρα αντί για μένανε
τη μάνα μου αντικρίζω στον καθρέφτη

Τι με ρωτάς, τι να σου λέω,
εδώ τα βλέπεις
θες με κρατάς κι αν δε σου κάνω με επιστρέφεις

Δεν έχω μάθει δυστυχώς να μην ανήκω
μια στο βοσκό, μια στο μαντρί και μια στο λύκο

patriar

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