Arbaz through basic instinct from within ourselves and

Arbaz Riaz

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Theories of
Visual Culture

Taimur Suri

Cultural
Hegemony and a Glimpse on Its Prevalent Effects on Us

When we are born, we do things that happen through basic
instinct from within ourselves and we all behave in different ways that are
normally undetermined and unplanned by us. But there is this one phenomenon
that happens so swiftly and has been such a big part of this whole civilization
from beginning till now, that we take it as normal as any of our basic
instincts. This phenomenon is of dominance. Cultural hegemony is a theoretical concept
posed by Antonio Gramsci who is a Marxist philosopher; he poses that
any society that is culturally diverse can be dominated and controlled by even
one of the prevalent social classes. It is the complete supremacy of one social
group over another, e.g. ruling class over all other classes. His theory asserts
the conceived notion that the designs of the ruling class seem normative; they
are seen as common principles, preconceived to profit everybody but in reality
only aiding the one and supreme ruling class.

Androcentric is the male practice,
conscious/unconscious that places the view and perspectives of a masculine
figure at the center most part considering the world’s view, history and
culture.

The term androcentrism was suggested by Charlotte Perkins
Gilman and she
described these male-centric practices in society and the ensuing problems in
her analysis on The Man-Made World; or, Our Androcentric Culture,
published in 1911. Thus androcentrism is seen as a social obsession about ‘manliness’
from which everything else initiates. Through androcentrism, masculinity is
deemed typical and things beyond manliness known as ‘other’. According to Perkins,
masculine life patterns and attitudes appealed universality while female life
patterns and ways were considered deviant.

The subject of Sociology sees patriarchy as a socially recognized system in which men
hold prime power and predominate in roles with leadership in Politics, moral authority, social privilege and property
control. In the family domain, father-figures hold supreme authority over women
and children. Women and children living under the patriarchal rule usually have
little or no say in matters concerned with the household and do not get to have
a say or keep an opinion of their own, they are merely followers of the ruling
class. Some patriarchal societies are also patrilineal, this means
that property and title are to be inherited by the lineage of men alone.

Since the beginning patriarchy has penetrated itself in the
social, legal, political, religious and economic organizations of different
variants of cultures and sub cultures.

Inferior
class also known as the subordinate class; considers it beneficial in submitting
to the norms and principles of the dominant class this leads to status quo. Cultural
hegemony explains through cultural institutions and organizations ways to
control and maintain a capitalist society. The elitists as we call them manage
to control our society and influence our behavior mainly through global mediums like movies, music, television, news and now through digital and social
media. All these values are carefully constructed for these
elitists’ own benefits which then slowly and gradually seep into our already
vacant mind completely luring us in their trap.

Males
are seen as strong and macho, they seem to have dominating qualities to begin
with. These men are portrayed as socially, mentally and physically active, and in
total control of their wits. They are always positioned in center and everything
revolves around them and if not centered then they are placed on top.

Whereas
female characteristics emphasize on femininity; Men tend to focus on their
outer appearance and their prominent features like their beautiful figures and
toned bodies. Men like women who are passive in nature and easily submit. Women
are encouraged in our society to show more skin, and are taken as sex objects;
this is clearly still seen in movies where there is a thing even absurdly
called a “Male gaze”. Where the camera slowly moves from a woman’s feet and
slides up mysteriously building up tension and revealing her whole body
accentuating a woman’s body part little by little, area wise.  Women are subject to cultural hegemony by men
since men associate them with subordinate qualities and look down upon them.
Men keep women behind them and little to never take their advice or opinions,
or even give them decision-making powers. Men for a very long time failed to
give women basic rights like the right to work, the right to vote, and even the
right to take divorce. All this suppression because of cultural hegemony
carrying throughout centuries is what gave rise to the Feminism movement and it
is still diligently fighting for the rights of women everywhere not just in the
western hemisphere.

When
men saw women rising from the ashes, they obviously wouldn’t like the idea of
their subordinates gaining any self-worth and confidence that would put their
own power struggle at stake. When men went out to fight the world wars, women
were the only ones left to take care of the offices and workplaces left behind
by those men. They knew they could do everything men could do and they could do
it efficiently. This is how they took their movement into formation and this
revolt is what threatened men. Men have always considered women inferior and a
commodity for them, to be used, do house chores and do nothing else but bare
kids. But the idea of women taking place of men in board rooms, in official
offices, or political platforms was a revolting one.
Another tactic by which men limit women from doing something and rising against
men is through violence. Violence is used by men on women to undermine them, to
suppress the inferior ones, and that too through means of rape, beating,
domestic violence, or ignoring their basic rights and providing them with basic
necessities.

Married
women have always been subjected to marital/domestic violence and are
encouraged to keep quiet about it by their own suppressors and at times by her
own society. In Pakistan as well women are looked down upon and judged if
people find out that they were beaten and raped by their own husbands. First
and foremost, women who get beat up by their husbands are shamed and blamed
because then people say to her that she must have done something that might
have led and enraged the husband to act that violently. And others end up
saying that a woman should keep on bearing it because her husband is frustrated
because of work or because he is a bread earner so he can rightfully take out
his frustration in whatever way he can.  This is how insanely cultural hegemony is pierced
and instilled o=in our minds and our societies.

This
was shown and is recently being highlighted in various shows and movies, like
the help, and even Pakistani movies like Bol, Verna and shows like Sami and
Baaghi where women face harsh realities and still manage to make their way out
or succumb to the ways of her crucial society. Though there is a long way to
go, but at least people have started recognizing the problem and started
addressing it.

 

 

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