Parenting and Patriarchy: An Anthology

By Saima Mir

15 parents on their struggles raising children in the age of #MeToo

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Why it needs to be told.

You might think Patriarchy has nothing to do with you.

But, male or female, straight or gay, parent or not, patriarchy is affecting you.

Before I had children I thought patriarchy in the west was on its way out. It was only a matter of time before we reached total equality, right?

Then, I gave birth and suddenly everything was different. The way the world saw me, the way it reacted to me, changed.

I found myself being spoken down to and at times almost invisible - I began to see that as a mother, and a stay-at-home mother, I had taken a step down in the hierarchy of patriarchy.

There’s no doubt that we have come far in the fight for equality. But embedded within our culture, the mechanisms that silence women, refuse to take us seriously, and sever us from the centres of power, still exist.

Despite appearances, the world of work does not always look favourably on childbirth and parenthood. Something that we only discover after becoming parents.

It’s not just women who are affected by patriarchy. The high rate of suicide amongst young men points to a huge problem within society, rooted in our need to tell boys to ‘man-up’ and not show their vulnerability.

We inadvertently encourage dominance in our boys and submissiveness in our girls, and in doing so perpetuate the cycle.

Something has to change.

Patriarchy destroys lives. It impacts our self-esteem, our place in society, and limits our freedom. It begins its work in childhood and grows as we grow.

If society is to be truly equal, the subtle inequalities in British society must end and patriarchy die. In order to achieve this, we need to come together in solidarity - the oppressed and the privileged must join the fight.

The struggle parents face against patriarchy is rarely discussed. It is a fight that is often dismissed by those who either do not understand the way Patriarchy affects them, or by those who are benefiting from it.

We've spent a lifetime experiencing these problems, but now it is time for change. In this collection of essays we articulate what kind of world we're leaving for our children, and what we are doing to prevent them becoming victims of the same system that plagued us.

If society is to be truly free, the silence must end, and parents must be supported in their struggle to smash the patriarchy.

And why we are the people to tell these stories.

We, the writers have suffered the ill effects of patriarchy in various guises and as parents.

We represent British society at its best, a diverse group of smart men and women who believe in equality for all, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

We are raising children in a patriarchal society and we have stories to tell, stories that are as yet, untold.

The gender pay gap, the #MeToo movement, the celebration of working dads and stay-at-home fathers but the vilification of mothers, both working and stay-at-home, the difficulties around part-time working as a parent, all these things are remnants of patriarchy.

Ever been told to 'man-up'? Ever been told as a woman that you're opinionated? Patriarchy is to blame.




A selection of the essays in the book:

Mandie Gower (Journalist and consultant, former Executive Editor of Stylist Magazine and Editor of Zest) on Mind your language! Why the words we use can change the world'.

Nell Frizzell (Journalist and columnist) on If Men Could Breastfeed.

Francois Morrow (Creative Director) on his hard-won right to marry and adopt as a gay man.

Javaria Akbar (Journalist and Writer) on Escaping Patriarchal Home Cooking.

Saima Mir (Journalist and Writer) writes about The Fight to Raise Feminist Sons.

Michael Brown (Actor) talks about The Struggles of a Stay-at-Home Dad/Actor.

Syima Aslam (Director of the Bradford Literature Festival) on Navigating British Pakistani Culture When Raising a Muslim Daughter.

Jennifer Smith (the BFI's Head of Diversity) writes about How Cinema and the Small Screen Influences Parenting.

Dr Sabena Sultan (Global Head of Research for a Stem Cell Research company) on What it's like to be a mother in the male-dominated world of scientific research.

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  • Saima Mir avatar

    Saima Mir

    Saima Mir is a writer and a mother of two boys. Saima is an award-winning journalist who has worked for the BBC, The Guardian, The Times and The Independent. She has been listed for The Bath Novel Award and The SI Leeds Literary Prize. Saima is also a recipient of The CBA’s World View Award.

    She has been fighting the patriarchy for over 20 years. Along with her army of warrior writers, she aims to bring the issues faced by mothers and fathers into the light, and by doing so bring about their end.

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