My grandfather (mother’s side) was basically an Anatolian villager who worked himself up from someone who did basic farming stuff, to manual labour under an Armenian boss in Istanbul, to entrepreneurship and even owning some land. He was not able to see his family much, but none of the 5 children and his wife had a hungry day and never were without a roof over their head. The man sacrificed his body for the sake of his own family and also supported everyone he could in his community. Before he passed away, he made sure that there was enough for my grandmother to survive. He is also supposed to have been very kind and loving to all his children without discriminating between his girls and his boys This was the role division he was assigned to he carried it to its full length. No one protested, my grandmother was content and accepted this. My grandfather probably saw it as a pride to carry this burden. I heard of other stories where men did not fulfill the providing plus caring role in a good balance and were resented for it. They could operate within the hierarchy but they never had that status in the hearts and the minds of their wife and children.
With this quick sketch, I wanted to show you another side of patriarchy in a rural-urban environment. Here there were simply other opportunities and talking of oppression on this scale might not do much justice to people like my grandfather. He could never have changed the system by his own even if he were to believe that women should do equal share of that tough metal bending labour (maybe he thought that would be oppressing women)
But I think patriarchy as my grandfather experienced is coming to an end in the West and might lose its final breath and revive but not get back to that level anytime soon. I don’t want to share strong normative claim about this now. We’ll see how it all unfolds. But I am convinced of one thing: that we, men, can learn from his example. True respect and status was never and is never earned by a sense of entitlement, by hollow feelings of superiority based on trivial facts on chromosal composition and so on. It is competence in the broadest sense of the word that matters. We got to earn every piece of respect that we get by trying hard for ourselves and the people we say we love. And women, give respect where it’s due and be fair and grateful to the good things a man brings and brought into your life even when it is a done deal. I am also trying to “learn” and face my blind spots every day. It’s scary because I want to feel good enough and relax, but I guess my mistakes have hurt my conscience too much.