I finally watched the documentary film titled The People vs Patriarchy’ courtesy of Brownsense. A friend of mine told me about this film and I was convinced I needed to watch it.

It has to be one of the best documentaries in my 2018 radar as it beautifully captures dialogues around patriarchy.


Patriarchy is defined as:



“A system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it.”  (www.dictionary.com).


I would like to share a few snippets about the documentary without divulging too much because I want to encourage you to go and watch it.

The film is divided into various “frames” or “chapters” seeking to address the following questions/statements:

  • What is patriarchy?
  • Solutions to address patriarchy?
  • The call out movement
  • The mixed feelings around #Menaretrash campaign

The above questions and statements are posed in various focus groups and one on one interviews.

These are my three main reflections post watching the film:

It was hilarious : There were a lot of funny moments, and my friend and I kept nudging each other. There was one particular scene that stood out for me. A guy appeared in the film and was asked the question “what is patriarchy?” and his response, “It’s good to be patriotic” , lol, that was hilarious. Although I understand that it’s not fair to ask someone to share their thoughts on something they don’t know, but it was funny nonetheless J.

I felt Angry: I started having recollections of my own life and remembered the unkind subjection to the patriarchal system from an early age. It sought to control me at home and in social institutions such as school and the church. Even today, I have an on-going struggle and I realise that women themselves, perpetuate this patriarchal system. Example, in the documentary, an elderly woman made a comment that, “…it’s okay for women to stay in abusive relationships because that’s God’s will and He would give them the strength to endure.”

I was challenged: I asked myself a question- what role, small or big, am I playing to challenge the patriarchal system?  I don’t want my activism to live on social media, or in boardroom screenings and panel discussions. How can my activism be real and tangible? In the film, there was a gentleman who shared an example of a man beating a woman and an onlooker watched the abuse unfold, not knowing what to do. He then decided to walk up to the man who was beating the woman and ask for a  lighter. In that moment the man stopped beating the woman. The act of asking for a lighter succeeded in  disrupting the abuse. The gentlemen sharing the story concluded by saying,  ‘there are small disruptive actions we can take to oppose patriarchal manifestations.’

We still in August, women’s month and I am saddened that millions of women in South Africa and across the globe suffer at the hands of men who profess to love them. Patriarchy takes various forms, some subtle and some deadly.

My final reflective thoughts on this topic are as follows:

We need to recognize that there is a big difference between solving a problem and managing a tension. Addressing the patriarchal system is not a problem we can solve in the short term, no matter how many campaigns and dialogues we engage in. Why? Because its biggest contributors are culture and religion and those are part and parcel of society.

In the ongoing anti-patriarchy dialogues and social movements, we need wisdom to guide us on appropriate strategies in managing this as a tension.

Please see link for the documentary trailer:


What are your thoughts on this anti patriarchy movement? Please comment below.


Image courtesy: http://kdaniellesmedia.com/