The Creation of Patriarchal Marriage
Historically, the marriage institution has dimmed the role of a woman giving rise to patriarchy and gender inequality. In a world where the “welfare state” has been jeopardized, a woman’s only option of survival is to “marry well”; this is a way of economic security. Nevertheless, once married, her husband’s will surpasses a woman’s identity and independence. As Emma Goldmann points out in the text “Marriage and Love,” marriage is a kind of an economic arrangement meant to imprison a woman. Goldmann states that “she pays for it with her name, her privacy, her self-respect, her very life, condemns her to life-long dependency.” Goldmann further states that marriage does not limit a man as much as a woman. Besides, “The Invention of Heterosexuality” highlights how a lesbian is painted as a female monster (Jonathan 239). The assertions demonstrate how the male figure is more dominant compared to the female counterpart. The superiority of a man over a woman has taken root to the extent that Dr. Phyllis Freud, who dramatically opposes this idea, finds no place to win the discussion. Dr. Phyllis Freud argues that women are superior to men because of the sheer ability to give birth (Steinem 312). While his arguments bring forth sense to some scholars, it certainly does not materialize in reality.
“The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margret Atwood, gives a better understanding of the creation of patriarchal marriage. A passage that best explains the concept is “Let the woman learn in silence will all subjection, but I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man but to be in silence, And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding, she be saved by childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety” (Atwood 20).
Margret Atwood above mentioned quote in “The Handmaids Tale” illustrates the position of a woman in society. The narrator’s revelation that a woman shall only be saved by childbearing shows the extent to which marriage can be an alliance of two unequal partners. A woman is seen as an object of bearing children. This depicts how Emman Goldmann emphasizes that a woman pays for her self-respect (Goldman 6). Further, in the quote, Margret Atwood points out that a woman was to learn in subjection and embrace silence in the presence of a man. This highlights Goldmann’s reasoning that a man imprisoned a woman. The plight of a woman in the marriage institution has continued to penalize her for her gender. It is with no surprise the narrator in “The Handmaid’s Tale” says that Adam, who takes the place of a man, was not deceived, but his counterpart’s deception was a transgression. It is no doubt that a man has taken the significant role in marriage while the woman has been at the mercy of her husband. This is the reason why Emman Goldmann insists that love cannot be synonymous with that “poor little state and church begotten-weed, marriage.” Marriage is seen as a husband centered institution and has no room for expression given to the woman.
In conclusion, Margret Atwood’s expression gives an insight into the oppressed woman in the marriage institution. Her arguments are backed by other scholars, although this attracts contradictions from others, such as Dr. Phyllis Freud. However, other authors such as Emma Goldmann and Jonathan Ned highlight how a woman has been suppressed, paving the way for patriarchal marriage.
Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale / S. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1986. Print.
Gloria, Steinem. Womb Envy, Testyria, and Breast Castration Anxiety—What if Freud Were Female. , 2018. Print
Goldman, Emma. Marriage and Love. , 2018. Print.
Katz, Jonathan N. The Invention of Heterosexuality. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2007. Print.