A Clash of Ideologies: Equality and Patriarchy
It has been a long journey for the involvement of women into different political systems; however, I feel that we still have a long way to go to ensure that equal opportunities exist for both males and females. Some women in Canada have the opportunity to get involved in the political system, but patriarchal values still dominate most of the norms in our society thus affecting how women are viewed in politics. I feel that a lot of individuals in Canada have the wrong impression on what feminism is, and that wrong impression, basically shapes how they will view women in politics and in other male-dominated fields. During my stay in Canada I have heard a lot of stereotypes from men about feminists such as they are men haters, or that they are very masculine and unattractive, or that they have no knowledge of what they are talking about; and it is these stereotypes that attack one of the most significant demands of feminism, which is the involvement of women in politics. Thus in my opinion I feel that most women in politics are viewed negatively due to such stereotypes, and due to the persistent presence of patriarchal values in society. Patriarchal values basically state that men should be involved in certain professions and domains such as politics, also the mere fact that are a lot of people who still believe that women should be taking care of the house and kids instead of working, poses a significant roadblock to the involvement of women in politics. However, it is still important to mention that in Canada there are a lot of organizations and NGOs that foster the development of equal rights for women, which is an advantage that other countries don’t have, such as Lebanon. In Lebanon, patriarchy seems to dominate most of our lives, all of which are evident from the patriarchal norms that we still adhere to in different social contexts. The main problem in Lebanon, in my belief, is that are no opportunities that help women get involved in the political system other than marrying a parliament member. Especially because our own parliament members still say a lot of sexists comments in the news and because they never invest their time in laws that will protect women from patriarchal violence, instead their time is invested in plans that get them more money. It is a very corrupt political system and few women are able to make it into the Lebanese political system, and those who do usually come from very rich and well known families which is not really fair for other middle class women.
Furthermore, I feel that women from Canada and from Lebanon still share the same struggles, such as getting more NGOs and opportunities that would facilitate the involvement of women into the political system, trying to raise awareness on what feminism really is, and trying to abolish the patriarchal mentality that have come to exist in both genders, so that means getting more women to support other women getting involved in political systems as well as getting support from men on this issue. In addition, it is also important to state the fact that since Canada and Lebanon are not similar countries and cultures, different struggles will arise for women in these two countries. In Canada I feel the main struggle is getting people to understand the significance of feminism in our lives and why it is important for women to be involved in the political system. I hear a lot of men talking about different male politicians, but so far I have not heard anyone talk about a female politician unless she was involved in some kind of scandal; which comes back to how women are viewed in societies, if we think that a female politician is worth mentioning only if she is involved in some kind of sexual scandal, than we have a lot of “image” problems that we need to tackle to reconstruct how women are viewed.
These are only some of my observations that I have collected during my short stay. As for Lebanon, the struggles that women face are basically the lack of opportunities for women in general, and specifically in politics. It is very easy to get hired as a teacher or a nurse if you’re a woman, but it is not the same when it comes to women working as politicians. There are two or three associations that work for equal rights for women and personally I believe they are not doing a great job which has become evident through the lack of laws that should protect women and ensure their rights. In addition, most if not all decision makers in Lebanon are males, which I feel is a huge roadblock for women in Lebanon, because men coming up with laws for women just don’t seem right, because as long as men are responsible for laws for women, women in Lebanon will never achieve equality, therefore some reformations in the political system is needed, and it is exactly what a lot of Lebanese women are struggling for.
So far I have seen how patriarchal values can ruin a country, its political system, and its norms. For that reason I believe that the involvement of women in politics is a step towards abolishing patriarchy in different societies. Women’s involvement in political systems is one step towards equality and restoring some civilization in our world.