It Is A Beautiful World, uhh, Patriarchal World

Note: This post has been in writing for a while now. I wrote some bits of it a year back but never completed it. It is a long post.

These are some snippets from some of the conversations I have on a daily basis as a small business owner. Most vendors I interact with assume that I am a man and I have to keep correcting them. I initiate a lot of conversations with vendors via email and WhatsApp but every time someone calls me and realizes I am a woman – they are initially perplexed and many times ask to speak with the “business owner” instead. It annoys me a lot that people are still shocked at women being at the helm of things.

Another fact that annoys me every day is that most roads in Delhi are named after great men from history. Infact only 3 major roads in Delhi are named after women – Amrita Shergill Marg, Kasturba Gandhi Marg, and Mother Teresa Crescent Road. A group did a check on how many streets are named after women across major cities around the world and found that only 27.5% are named after women.

But maybe I am overreating, so I decided to do a quick fact check-

Photo by Markus Spiske on

While things have changed around the globe for the better for a lot of women (including me), it still often feels like the odds are stacked against women. Some examples –

  • I interacted with a senior from my B-school a few months back who casually mentioned that I shouldn’t be focusing on my business since it is my age to get married and have kids. Would he have said this to a man calling him?
  • In my old organization (a global bank), a very senior man was casually discussing hiring for an open role with his junior and said – “Don’t hire her because she just got married and will potentially take maternity leave.”
  • An unmarried middle-aged woman in most TV shows, movies, is portrayed as sad and lonely whereas a middle-aged man who is single is portrayed as hot and desirable.
  • Equal pay is still a dream in most industries.
  • The onus of being safe and the blame if something happens is placed on women instead of targeting men who perpetuate crime against women. (she was walking alone at night, she was wearing a short skirt, she took a cab alone, she was drunk – ARGH)
  • A close male friend of mine often picks up arguments with me because he thinks feminists are asking for “more than what we deserve”
Photo by cottonbro on

I wanted to check with other bloggers if they felt like the world was still largely patriarchal. I reached out to my blogging bestie, Libby from The Goddess Attainable and here’s what she had to say –

I don’t think, I know my society is patriarchal.

Our government is currently threatening to overturn a law that legalizes abortion in our country. And if this law is overturned, women will not be able to legally abort a pregnancy, no matter the circumstances. This is upsetting to so many people, because this is less about the issue of abortion, and more (or, I should say, exclusively) about men in power wanting to exert control over a woman’s body. They’re wanting to legalize propertization and objectification of females. And I will add that our country was founded by a handful of white men, and of all of our 46 presidents, who have served over the last 225 years, all of them have been men. This country is 100% patriarchal, and always has been.

Photo by cottonbro on

I also reached out to Natalie from The Hot Goddess as she is an expat and has traveled extensively. I wanted to see how patriarchy had affected her journey and this is what she said –

I live in a country where a gun-worshipping, mask-refusing, freedom-shrieking patriarchy uses a grossly hypocritical claim that “life is sacred” to tell women what to do with their own bodies. I know it could be worse. I know patriarchal control is a daily threat to life for women in some countries. As a first-time solo traveler, I experienced the frightening reality of male domination during a 70-day around-the-world trip to celebrate my retirement and upcoming 60th birthday. 

I have not shared these experiences on Instagram or The Hot Goddess blog. I haven’t wanted to post negative comments about other countries and contribute to the wave of xenophobia that seems to be spreading throughout my country. I want to stress that Morocco and Egypt are breathtakingly beautiful countries that belong on everyone’s bucket list. I met many warm and friendly people – women and men – who showed me such kindness in both countries. I had many wonderful experiences in North Africa that I will never forget. 

That said, I will also never forget a few instances of harassment by domineering men who felt a woman should know her place. In Morocco, aggressive local men would follow me through the souks of Marrakech’s Old Medina because I was a foreign woman walking alone. It was so unnerving that I began staying in my riad unless I was going on a group excursion, and even then I made sure the tours would be over well before 5PM when it started to get dark.

In Egypt, an Uber driver used Siri and Google Translate to ask me if I was married. When I lied and said I was he/Siri replied that if I was married my husband wouldn’t let me take Uber by myself. He then drove me around for 40 minutes, not stopping to let me out at my requested destination in Cairo. As the driver spoke in Arabic Siri’s female voice pestered me in English for a date, and quizzed me about my plans and my husband. I spoke into his phone and heard Siri speak my responses in Arabic. I hoped she was getting the words right. My irritation didn’t turn to real apprehension until I heard Siri say, “I want to show you my intention.” 

I had rehearsed self-defense scenarios in my overthinking mind as part of my constant worst-case planning. I was prepared to hurt this man if I had to. I was also prepared to hurt myself if I had to jump from his car as he sped along a freeway that was not for the faint of heart. The driver never touched me, though, and I maintained a polite, confident demeanor despite my growing fear. I listened to Siri relay his comments about two sons, a wife, and a former job as an engineer. I made up stories about my husband, a business executive who’d be waiting for me at our hotel after a long day of meetings with important men. The driver drove to my hotel in Giza where he finally stopped the car. As I got out he/Siri reminded me, “I have your phone number.”  

If that driver’s intention was to scare me and piss me off, he accomplished that. I know the real intention, though, was much worse. It was to control me. To control a woman who didn’t have permission from a man to do what she wanted. And that, after all, is exactly where we are now in my own country…where I’m scared for our rights as women and pissed off at the hypocrisy and audacity of the men trying to control us.

Photo by Rachel Claire on

The world is skewed and men have had the upper hand for centuries. But now more than ever, we need more men to join the feminism bandwagon. We also need more women in leadership positions to try and change things for future generations of women. We don’t just want one day a year celebrating us, we’d rather that every day be celebrated as Human’s Day where we all have equal rights and opportunities.

Do you think the society you live in is patriarchal?

PS: Feminism means asking for “equal” rights and “equal” opportunities for women. It does not mean that we are asking for concessions or something special.

If you haven’t already, check out my other recent posts –

21 Comments Add yours

  1. Rama Arya says:

    What a wonderful post! Could fully relate to the business part. I went through it all when I started my business in my 20s. I often joked I was the wrong age, sex, and colour. 🙂

    The travel part, I must, however, beg to differ. Maybe, because being Indian, I have been able to blend in with Arab and Asian societies, and where I haven’t, having Shah Rukh Khan as my very own celebrity has opened more smiles than anything else. I have always felt safe as a solo independent traveller, and always been treated with respect by men across the world. Perhaps I have just been lucky.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy Panda says:

      Being taken seriously in business as a woman is difficult. ☹️

      I think you’ve been very lucky with solo travel. In fact my very first solo trip was when I was interning in a different city. When told my colleagues over coffee – an older married colleague said that I should have asked him and he’d have “come with me..just to keep me safe and entertained”. Something I didn’t feel after hearing his offer. Then him and the colleagues tried dissuading me saying ‘as a girl I shouldn’t take such chances’. Patriarchy. Although I have bee lucky enough to avoid any uncomfortable situations while solo travelling by just removing myself from that situation (I’ve had men cat call and follow me).
      But even just parents not allowing their daughters to travel and using the “shaadi ke baad kar lena jitna travel karna hai” also is patriarchy.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Rama Arya says:

    I agree. But I have never been cat called or followed. Maybe I am not pretty enough. 🙂 And neither have my family or friends ever stopped me or tried to dissuade me. I grew up overseas, and when I look back I realize how little my parents ever interfered or tried to ‘guide’ me when it came to travel. I took it for granted all my life. They both loved to travel themselves, and they, more than anybody else, understood my love for travel and let me wallow in it to my heart’s content.


    1. Rama Arya says:

      Shucks. I should have posted this as a reply and not a separate comment. Apologies. 🙂


    2. Happy Panda says:

      Love that you’ve had such an amazing support system. ❤️

      I have to say this – being cat called or followed has to do with the man doing it and is not about the woman. You’ve been lucky to have not crossed paths with such creeps. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. says:

    As a white older woman living in the country which loves guns and is seeking to completely make abortion illegal, I’ll attest the Patriarchy is alive and well.

    I’ve had experiences like the above all my life. I’ve learned not to go to certain stores in some neighborhoods after dark so I don’t get harassed. As a woman I’ve adjusted my speech and behavior to keep myself safe and found myself just this past weekend admonishing my 10 year old very friendly granddaughter not to just go up to to men to strike up conversations, because as she gets older it’s no longer perceived as being a cute kid being chatty but a your woman being provocative. That makes me intensely sad.

    Back to the controlling men who want to eliminate abortion, they also want to make some birth control illegal. They’re also wanting to strike down the laws allowing same sex marriage and interracial marriage legal. They’re looking to take rights away from whole swaths of people. They wish to force even rape victims or incest to bear the children they may conceive but scoff at paid maternity and paternity leave, raising the minimum wage, creating affordable child care or health care. Equal pay? Bwahaha!

    So many “advances” which have been won are in jeopardy of being walked back 50 years or more. This is scary!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is BY FAR my favorite article of yours yet!!! It’s amazing. Also, thank you for that shout out girl! And finally, this was so upsetting to me: “A close male friend of mine often picks up arguments with me because he thinks feminists are asking for ‘more than what we deserve’” WHAAAATTT? This is soooo terrible. Girl, you did this topic justice and we need to keep going, keep saying, keep sharing, until it gets better. 💖💖🔥🔥

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Brilliant post!!! Keep running your business with your head held high. That is the only response to these people. With you and many others like you hopefully sometime in the future these questions will be obsolete. Sometimes I feel that the world has progressed a lot with respect to women’s rights and sometimes I feel that we are going back and I feel saddened.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have yet to live somewhere that is NOT patriarchal! Each culture manifests it differently. I went to a historally women’s college (Mills College) that opened its doors to the LGBTQ+ community and I learned SO much from going there! Amazing life lessons that I will never forget! What you said about being a business owner, I am bracing myself for the same thing. Plus, I chose a name for my business that sounded more masculine so that I can get a lot of clients. Sometimes, you have to play into people’s biases

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great post Rue!
    Keep up the good work!

    “k to speak with the “business owner” instead. It annoys me a lot that people are still shocked at women being at the helm of things.”👏👏👏

    Hello… ? change will happen.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. petespringerauthor says:

    An example of sexism in the United States is that from 1953-1979, hurricanes and tropical storms were all named after women. Why does it take so many years to correct the obvious inequities in life?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I agree with all you have said. It takes much more effort for a woman to be recognized for her work than a man. Why should looking after the home be primarily a woman’s job. That system was probably followed and suited to a time in history when women were not breadwinners. Times have changed and society needs to accept that….

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Forestwood says:

    Australia may be an egalitarian society but we still have an issue with equal pay in some sectors.
    The old dinosaurs who treat women like objects are fast disappearing, but occasionally some men from a different cultural background seem to only want to deal with men. The battle continues!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Patriarchy….patriarchy…
    I always say women work ten times more than men in every faculty even if they are well qualified. They always have to prove that they are capable

    Cant imagine what you go through on a daily basis. I always hear my sister complain about most of her clients who goes to her business and always ask about her ceo or her senior. They’d rather speak to a man for business proposals than a woman. Sad world we live in.


  12. Thank you so much for including me, Moksha! I enjoy reading the perspectives of others. Well done!


  13. Juliette says:

    What an amazing post! I compltely agree with everything you say (as well as the input from the other bloggers). Here in Europe, I can safely say that we also live in a patriarcal society, even though some countries are obviously better than others at treating men and women equally. I have had discussions with friends and family members that feel like they are not taken seriously enough because they are women, I hear comment about feminism and how feminists are “too extreme” even though the only thing we want is to be treated equally and it makes me so mad even though this is just barely the surface of all the problems there are!

    All of these things happening in the world right now are absolutely awful and I really feel like we are taking steps back… Thanks for sharing your views on this crucial topic!


  14. mterrazas32 says:

    Great post. I will agree and disagree on a a few thing. Yes I agree the society we living in is patriarchy. Would you agree that we contribute to that patriarchy society? Females are just as guilty as men to the patriarchy structure in our society. Yes men can do more to make change, but women are their own worst enemy. You see it in the U.S.A and during Trump 4 years in offices. Feminists, women hated on the first lady and those women who work for the president. Women who held a high position. For the feminist that wasn’t at least some sign of progress. The reason why the U.S hasn’t elected a female for president is the people aren’t ready and there hasn’t been a candidate according to the people who is qualified for the job. Again who would the feminist support and who would they hate. A women president who is for or against abortion or they ignore that and break the wall and have a first women president. Women are their own worst enemy in this patriarchy society.


  15. lblooom says:

    Our society is absolutely patriarchal! I appreciate this post. I completely agree that it’s hard to be taken seriously as a woman or seen as an equal, even to some male friends.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Happy Panda says:

      It actually bothers me more when male friends don’t treat their women friends as equals. I can still give concessions for the older generations, but what has made these millennials feel like their female friends aren’t equal is puzzling to me.

      Liked by 2 people

  16. Srishty says:

    such posts are always triggering. only relief (?) is that things are at least improving, or thats what it looks like (dunno if the abortion laws in America will change any of that in any way, we didnt expect Taliban coming into power either :/). also a good time to this angry post of mine –


  17. TanGental says:

    Oh heavens where to start. It’s appalling in the 21st century that this sexism misogyny and patriarchal elements thrive. I’m pale stale and male and it drives me bonkers. And it’s the institutionalised thinking as well as the daily major and micro aggressions you talk of. Parliament Square had its first female statue in the last ten years, celebrating giving women the vote 100;years before. Why so long. A report recently from the NHS showed women suffered worse in car accidents because all crash test dummies are based on the male anatomy. Seriously? You ignore the physical differences of 50% of the population. Apart from the Queen in 2013 they planned to change the one woman for Churchill so there would be no famous women on our bank notes and it took a fabulous campaign by a wonderful woman Caroline Criado-Perez to have Jane Austen instead. And that’s before you look at representation in Parliament, the top corporates and professional firms (I worked for a major city law firm that’s existed since 1745. Two years ago it elected its first ever female senior partner.)
    So yes we’ve a mountain to climb and as you point out to reach the summit it will take men like me, in my 60s and for most of my life aware but largely disengaged with the problem to push it over the top until we see these attitudes crash and burn down the other side (I think I’ve overdone that metaphor).
    Keep calling it out, but make the men around you call it out too. If #metoo is to work it must mean and encompass #me(that old boy looking on)too.


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