What is patriarchy?

Okay, so by now most of you know me pretty well enough to know that I’m not a feminist, or a social justice type, nor am I really anti-social justice either. I just kind want rational conversation about issues and maybe some kind of resolution for those issues. A lot of the discourse between people online is just strawman representations of arguments and total misunderstandings of the point. Whether intentional or not. I see this surrounding the concept of patriarchy a lot – on both ‘sides’ – and I want to do a quick post which both explains what patriarchy is and my criticisms with how its employed and used. If you have any questions or feel anything is unclear, feel free to drop them in the comments below and I’ll try to get to them ASAP. Thanks! 🙂

So you’ve probably heard of patriarchy and seen how its been blamed for everything ever in the world. You’ve probably also seen things like “men are trash” “#killallmen” and “you’re fucking a straight white maaaaaaleeeeee” etc and etc. All of this is a total misunderstanding of what patriarchy actually is and is inherently opposed to what the idea of patriarchy is supposed to be used for.

Patriarchy is, in short, the social framework on which our understanding rests. If you think of our society as a big tent – then patriarchy is the tent poles holding all the material up. Its been around for as long as humans have and its so ingrained within our societies that you wouldn’t ever notice it unless you were actually looking for it. You can see it in media, in culture, in our behaviours, in almost anything we learn about how society should be, & so yes – patriarchy absolutely exists.

Now obviously nobody would ever have been okay with this idea of “society should be this way because it benefits men on average more than it does women” or whatever. You can’t just outright be honest and open and teach this stuff to people and expect them to be like “yeah this seems like a great plan.” Hardly anybody would ever have signed up to this. It needs to be a very subtle set of standards we impose on people through social enforcement and we need other people to be complicit in the enforcement for it to be enforced at all. If you feel like you’re subjugating someone then most people are gonna be like “hey wait, I don’t feel so good about this”.

For example, the age ol’ example of beauty standards is a patriarchal standard. For women beauty standards involve appearances, make up, hair, clothes, mannerisms, being kind, caring and nurturing. For men its stoicism, intelligence, strength, a six pack, strong jaw, etc etc. These are all ideas of what men and women should be and they are enforced by people in society who would denigrate people for not achieving this – you’re a man and you’re crying? lol what a bitch. You’re a woman who isn’t kind, caring or nurturing? what a bitch lol! This is the enforcement I mentioned in the last paragraph – we are non-consciously complicit in our enforcement of these standards because we think they are the standards – that they are correct and true – but there’s nothing supporting that. They are just deemed to be correct and true because we were taught they were by our parents, who were taught it by their parents and so on.

These ideas are not only passed down to us from our parents though, they’re passed down to us through almost every media form we consume, they are carved into the foundations of our culture. Think about say… marriage proposals on TV and in Films. How many times do you remember seeing a man go to ask the bride to be’s father for permission – then getting down on one knee to ask for her hand in marriage, giving her a big ol’ diamond ring and eventually carrying her over the threshold to their house? Its easy to just dismiss stuff like this as simple clichĂ©s but that’s kinda like looking at one face of a cube and calling it a square. There’s so much more behind it if you just dig a little deeper.

and here’s where my criticisms start coming in. Because whereas patriarchy does benefit men on average above women on average and is rooted in the ownership of women, there is still a lot of men who are also I guess… ‘victims’ of patriarchy? To the point where it stops making any sense to continue calling it patriarchy at all.

The people who benefit most from a patriarchal system are the ethnic majority group of wealthy & healthy hetero men in any given society. So for the west this would be middle-class straight white men who don’t have any mental illnesses or any disabilities. This is fairly undeniable, however men as a whole do not benefit from patriarchal societies at all. There are many men who don’t conform to typical masculinity and there are many men who are not part of the ethnic majority and there are many men who are born working class, and there are many gay men and so forth. These men often face problems in our societies. So it makes very little sense to say “lol ur a straight white male? your voice isnt necessary!!!” because even then you could be mentally ill and working class – in which case under patriarchy you’re kinda fucked mate.

This problem is most visible when we look at things like male victims of rape – especially when those victims were raped by women. Under patriarchy the idea of getting raped by a woman is so emasculating, I mean shit – look at how guys act when they get beat in an arm wrestle with a woman, just imagine the crisis they are in mentally after being raped by a woman. Being a straight white male doesn’t stop you being a victim of patriarchal standards in this respect or in many other respects either.

Yet those same people who want to SMASH THE PATRIARCHY seem to forget the reason they’re doing it. It’s not just so that women can stop experiencing the social issues of it – its also so that men don’t have to struggle with those issues either. Because all around those things are bad and should be stamped out, we should absolutely challenge the social framework we’ve been given if the consequences of it are that men are committing suicides in their droves, or if women are starving themselves to death in an attempt to try and look pretty. What we shouldn’t be doing is saying things like “ugh white men.. smh”.

And I don’t think we should call the framework “patriarchy” either – this seems to have an inherent property of making people feel like its men’s fault for all these issues, or that men are supporting them. Despite men facing consequences of these social issues too and wanting to change them. Calling it patriarchy only seems to set people on the path towards hating men for being men and trying to cuss them out for it – expecting them to change everything about themselves because reee “patriarchy did this”.

Instead I’d suggest just referring to it as the social framework – because that’s really what it is. Its literally just an inherited set of ideas about how our societies should be, one which we graft our own ideas and interpretations onto. This makes it entirely neutral, it doesn’t put the blame in any group’s hands because it doesn’t belong there – we’re all non-consciously complicit in the proliferation of these standards, we all sub-consciously support them in some way or another and we all need to start thinking critically about these issues and how to fix them. Not squabbling between each other about muh definitions or muh [group] isn’t responsible for all actions of people in that same group or whatever the heck.

We don’t need to tear the whole tent down – we just need to look at the poles that are causing the issues and think about how we can swap them out with a different set of ideas and standards. That’s all.

like seriously. MRAs and Feminists are basically saying the same stuff, its just they blame each other for the problems and its kinda silly. They should just stop fighting and start solving the issues because this endless tit for tat bullshit is stupid. 

Also, sorry this was so ramble-y and stuff. I didn’t plan this at all, just thought about writing it today. See you in the comments. ❤










3 thoughts on “What is patriarchy?

  1. Alexander Lopez (@AlexandriusL) says:

    Nice post, I have to say! I’ve been thinking about this topic for some time now as well.
    My two cents on patriarchy. Spoiler alert, it’s going to be me agreeing with you for the most part.

    There are clear expectations of men and women in modern societies, no point arguing against it, it’s objectively true.
    However, I think it’s worth noting that these roles are becoming less and less important as we move towards a more progressive state of mind. I’ve always defended the “You do you, boo” argument. Even more, I think as time goes by, more people are incentivized to do whatever they want to do, even if it’s outside the social expectation. Both men and women have billions of options to choose from and society seems to care less and less when it comes to correlating your sex to your job, for example. Which is great, in my opinion.

    I do have a question for you: Do you think these social norms, male jobs VS female jobs, for example, make any sense in modern society? Do you feel that we should try and change certain things because they benefit man on certain places and women on others?, when we compare men gaining more money on average than woman, for example.
    I personally have an issue with this. Right now, no one is forcing men or women to do “this” or “that.” If a man wants to be a secretary, he can, if a woman wants to be a construction worker, she can. I think forcing certain changes for a more “equal” society is ultimately cutting (severely) on a lot of people’s freedom. I’m judging all of this based on the differences between men and women and how they are socially fueled.
    I don’t think we should encourage people to choose “this” job to revert social roles, but at the same time we shouldn’t be angry or judgemental if someone decides to choose, in fact, an atypical job for that sex.

    Sorry for the way I tried to explain myself, this is harder than what it looks!


  2. A.R. says:

    Honestly, your definition and understanding of patriarchy is the same as most feminists I’ve talked to and you touch on why some feminists will avoid using the term in more general conversations. If you just talk about social norms and how they affect each gender, you actually tend to get more agreement.

    Liked by 1 person

    • cursede says:

      Yeah it’s definitely the framing of this suff that is the most difficult barrier to over come. That vast majority of people already think a lot of our social norms are dumb, they just need to be more aware of them, which can only happen through good conversation.


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