Why does discrimination against women continue to exist?

In the middle of the 21st century, acts of violence and discrimination against women continue to plague our society. More specifically in Spain, more than 1,000 women have been murdered since 2001 at the hands of their partner or ex-partner, and 1.4 million have been victims of sexual violence. To appreciate the gravity of the situation, simply ask the women around you if at any time in their life they have felt sexually harassed or raped by a man.

Although progress has been made in the area of ​​competence and equality in several countries, there is ample evidence that much remains to be done, particularly in the area of ​​gender equality education and awareness. sexes.

Again the use of violence and discrimination against women is part of different totally varied causes (individual factors, interactional causes – such as the transgenerational transmission of sexist values ​​and modes of functioning – and institutional causes) in this article, we will refer explicitly to the cultural causes that sustain and sustain discrimination and violence against women: patriarchy.

    What is patriarchy?

    Many believe that patriarchy does not exist, that it is an exaggeration and / or a biased interpretation of reality. In our opinion, patriarchy is a form of social organization in which the social values ​​associated with the male gender have power and keep the values ​​associated with the female gender subdued.

    In fact, masculinity as a culture (and not as a conduct) is protected by the patriarchal model. Masculinity is the social construction that understands masculine references as universal and as immutable, Unquestionable. That is why, for many years, there has been no strong and critical social reaction to gender-based violence, discrimination or harassment of women. Silence and justifications for sexist thinking are necessary for the continuity of patriarchy.

    It sounds simple, but it isn’t: how does patriarchy materialize? How does this translate? How does this manifest in our lives? A very illuminating example, drawn from great understanding in the region like Elena Garrido Gaitán, is the movie The Matrix. Patriarchy would be like a set of material norms, values ​​and dispositions (Distribution of private property, for example) which covers us constantly from our birth, is difficult to appreciate and highlight, and is totally entrenched and universalized in society, so internalized that it sometimes denies its own existence. To be able to “see it” you need to do an awareness exercise.

    Following the pattern of patriarchy, a “real” man has a penis, works like a man, and is heterosexual. Woman, on the other hand, has breasts and a vagina, works in the female gender role (in fact, the more feminine is the more “authentic woman”) and is heterosexual. If a man or woman dares to depart from this pattern, it is considered invalid or not genuine.

      What does patriarchy have to do with discrimination against women?

      Surely many of you have wondered how the social model of patriarchy influences the emergence of dynamics of violence and discrimination against women. This question is not easy to answer, but we will try.

      Patriarchy “builds” us and shapes us as men and women, With our rights and obligations: how we should be if we are of one biological sex or another. We have some sort of predetermined scenario of how we should function in a relationship (men: strong, responsible, tough, showing no weakness …; women: dedicated and caring, affectionate, submissive and obedient).

      Several elements can lead the man and the woman of the patriarchal model towards a crisis.


      The fact that the woman is unfaithful to the man poses a direct threat to his status of masculinity and power. however, the seduction of men towards other women can increase their “power” (Paradoxically, a woman is quickly described as promiscuous, to say the least). To see this example in society, let’s think about teenagers: how the peer group reacts to a child who bonded with 4 girls on the same evening; now imagine if the one who bonded with 4 boys is a girl.


      The eternal concern for male size and performance, as well as the number of sexual partners. In addition, thanks to the invisibility of female masturbation it was followed by the patriarchal fantasy that only a man could give pleasure to a woman (Obviously with his rod).

      The expression of feelings

      Man can only express feelings that show his power (joy, anger). There are other emotions that are misjudged as “weak”, such as sadness, fear, etc. In fact, many men show anger when in reality what happens to them is that they are sad, scared or ashamed.


      This element is an extension of male power. This is a key point of psychological abuse, Where is the man who controls the access and distribution of money. It is a tool of brutal power, associated with the gender perspective.

        Loss of power as loss of masculinity

        As we can see, some men are in constant search of power and its maintenance. But … what can happen when they feel that this power is threatened or in danger?

        The last four factors above could focus on that key element in the genesis of gender-based violence: the loss of human power. What is at stake is the masculinity of the man, and this is where the danger lies. Unfortunately, some men use violence as a quick tool (And totally unsuitable) to return to “normality” (their normality: continuing to have the power that the patriarchal model gives them within the relationship).

        In cases of gender-based violence, the man perceives his victim as a threat, a danger that can lead to an imbalance of power. In the first cases, it is common for the manner of restoring power to be subtle (for example, with comments, attempts to control the victim’s routines, awkward silences, manipulations, isolation …). The fundamental problem with aggressors is the inadequate interpretation of the threat (Is it really so threatening for women to contradict the way we operate? Why should things be as we have been taught from childhood or how do they reproduce our family models?), As well as in their response totally inappropriate and disproportionate violence.

        In stories of gender violence, it is common to see how the violent dynamic gradually developed in the face of stressful events that led to a loss of control of the abuser: loss of job (remember the importance money), infidelity, birth of a child or pregnancy, abandonment of the couple …

          Final conclusions: differentiated socialization

          Almost automatically, we build our social identity from an early age based on the biological sex to which we belong (think for example of the well-differentiated Christmas games typical for boys or girls), and we are credited with a number of gender expectations. In other words, I (as a woman or a man) know what is expected of me (emotionally, cognitively and behaviorally) depending on whether I am a woman or a man.

          In this way, through differentiated socialization, based on the enhancement of gender differences, the dynamics of discrimination against women are normalized: there is no need to question inequalities, we suppose that they should be normal.

          In this in fact we ourselves are ultimately responsible for passing on the patriarchy to future generations, Although it surrounds us from the beginning of our life. Starting to create more egalitarian societies based on respect for human beings, not gender roles, means changing both the way we think and the way we organize ourselves socially.

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