TW: mentions of sexual assault and suicide

“We must reject not only the stereotypes that others have of us but also those that we have of ourselves” -Shirley Chisholm

“Are you seriously crying right now? Cmon man up!”, “That’s the job you want? But when will you find the time to start a family and take care of your kids?” These are phrases that we’ve become accustomed to hearing, having been told since early childhood and continuing to follow us through high school and well into adulthood. It seems that for as long as we’ve been alive there have been clearly defined rules for how the sexes are meant to act. Men are supposed to be tough and find a well-paying job, with that being the only thing they’re supposed to offer to their families. They’re not meant to form deep relationships with others and stay home to take care of their kids, simply put they’re not meant to feel, at least not as profoundly as women are often expected to. While the expectation of becoming a stay-at-home wife has begun to dwindle within our society, it has not wholly dissolved. Rather it has given way to another expectation for women. Women are expected to go into job sectors that offer lower salaries and more time off in order to raise children. If they show any anger/emotion at this assumption, they’re immediately discredited and no longer seen as professional, let alone as people. But this brings rise to the question of how these ideas developed in the first place and why our society continues to perpetuate these notions despite obvious pushback from most members of the population.


Though it isn’t apparent, the idea of the patriarchy is what fuels all of these convictions about the sexes. There are two ways in which the patriarchy functions and thus two meanings that work to preserve certain views such as the ones discussed before. Socially, the patriarchy is a system in which political and economic power is held by men, they’re responsible for decision-making and the overall well-being of the entire population. It’s this social meaning of the patriarchy and its lingering impacts (as most societies are no longer patriarchal in theory) that contributes to the ideology of patriarchy. Patriarchy as an ideology still follows the main idea of a patriarchal system but rather than the patriarchy being carried out and enforced systematically and being a part of the government (in many countries) it is often an omnipresent entity carried out through culture and oral teachings. Ideological patriarchy however differs from systemic patriarchy as instead of putting men in a position of power over women, it harms both men and women, with women however often getting the short end of the stick.


The patriarchal ideology affects the genders in extremely different ways however the main unifying idea is that they’re held under expectations that limit them, whether that be emotionally, physically or socially. With men, we find that the patriarchy often limits them emotionally and socially. A phrase that tends to follow most men throughout their lives is that they’re required to “man up”. This idea of “manning up” is introduced at an extremely early age to which they then begin to internalize it to a point that even if they’re not necessarily hearing it from others, they hear it from themselves. The concept of “manning up” is representative of the many expectations thrust upon young men. It’s a double-edged sword as while it does attribute the characteristics of men to that of being “strong”, the overall effect of the phrase is to put men down and dissuade them from exhibiting “female characteristics.” This phrase, though as innocent as it may sound, follows men through their entire lives, affecting how they feel, develop relationships and care for others and themselves. When it comes to mental health issues especially, such as depression and anxiety, men tend to refuse any help due to the notion that they have to “man up.” This refusal to receive help can manifest in many ways, including severe depression eventually leading to suicide or irritability and anger, which are less common symptoms in women with depression.” It’s for this very reason that we witness so many emotionally absent fathers, fathers who are incapable of connecting with their own children and as a result pass on the very patriarchal lessons they’ve learned to their very children, thereby continuing the cycle. It’s the reason we see emotional and physical abuse sometimes become a staple in relationships, men are often incapable of reconciling and dealing with their own feelings due to never being taught the proper methods and therefore tend to take it out on their partners and those around them. 

Photo posted by Movember,” a men’s mental health organization that focuses on charity, funding resources dedicated to men’s mental health

Through the patriarchy, women are described as meek and submissive. This idea follows women everywhere, lingering in both their social and physical life. Women are not often seen in high-paying jobs, once again because it is perceived as the job of the woman to stay behind and take care of the children. Of course, there are women who want to prioritize their family over their job and prefer to take roles in which they’re allowed breaks and often, as a result, lower wages,  due to the want to start a family. However, there are cases in which starting a family is prioritized over work, not necessarily because of choice but rather, tradition and culture (borne from patriarchy.) The forced relinquishment of power does not only exist within the job industry but follows women into their physical well-being as well, namely how they’re perceived sexually. Sexually, women are perceived as prizes to be won, with obtaining sex being seen as the “final prize.” We see this demonstrated in common phrases such as “Did you score?” and “Did you get any?” This portrays sex as an act of power, in which the man establishes dominance over the “compliant” woman who is not really seen as an equal during the act. Through this belief, sex is used as a means to either gain power or power is used to gain sex, both of which contribute to the sexual assault many women may face within their lifetime.

Photo posted by AASAS, a sexual assault resource based in Alberta that focus on awareness and offering access to resources by those victimized


Understanding what patriarchy is and recognizing how prevalent it is within our modern culture is imperative to the overall healing of humanity. By acknowledging how much patriarchal ideologies play a role in how young men are treated, we can help to break the cycle of generational trauma, mental health issues and suicide, all problems that are common within the male demographic but often not discussed. By accepting that patriarchy is an innate part of our society, we can then also work to dismantle the ideas we have surrounding women. Notably, what a woman is, what a woman should be/how they should act, and the role of women in society or rather lack thereof. Understanding the patriarchal system/ideology and its lingering effects on our society is the only way in which we may be able to move forward and develop; mentally and socially.

Resources for Mental Health, Sexual Assault and Family Violence:

AASAS: (call: 403-237-6905 ext 3 or email:

Centre for suicide prevention:

Talk Suicide Canada: ( call: (1)833-456-4566 or text: 45645)

Alberta – Family Violence Support: (info line; call/text: 310-1818)

Native Counselling Services of Alberta: (call:+1 (780) 451-4002 or email:

University of Alberta Sexual Assault Centre: 780-492-9771

Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters: 1-866-331-3933

Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton (SACE) Support & Information Line: 780-423-4121

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About the Author

Hi! I'm a blog writer for WEW at the uofa! I'm in my first year majoring in biology and love consuming any forms of media I can: music, reading and movies, I love them all! I hope you enjoy my blogs and come back to WEW to read more!