Tuesday, January 09, 2018

50 shades of patriarchy

There is a uniformed cop at the gate of CCU (Kolkata's international airport) who checks each person's passport and airplane ticket before letting them inside the airport. Since my father is standing ahead of me, the cop checks my father's passport and ticket first and nods an approval. Then the cop looks at my passport and ticket, looks visibly confused for a few seconds, looks at my father and then me, and turns around again and hands my passport to my father. In a split second, I know exactly what is happening. I grab my passport back from my father and say loud enough for the cop to hear, "My passport needs to be with me, not anyone else."

I wonder what you will call it. My father thought that it was misjudgment and confusion on the cop's part. Same last name and same destination is usually for married partners (especially if the destination is Bangkok), but I am not sure one gets to see many father-daughter duos headed there (without a mother or a son-in-law in picture). However, I am convinced that if this scenario was randomly repeated, say, a thousand times, one would observe a binary trend one could confidently predict given the power of numbers. That trend is not confusion or misjudgment, as my father thinks. It is called patriarchy. It happens when I take my father to a vacation, yet my passport is handed back to him because he is assumed to be my caregiver. It happens when I treat a male friend to lunch, yet the waiter comes and confidently hands over the check/bill to my male friend.

Patriarchy is not necessarily always practiced by men. This cop happened to be a woman. 


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