What is Patriarchy and how does it define men’s lives?

The Patriarchal Worldview

From antiquity through the Enlightenment and beyond, philosophers (Aristotle), physicians, and theologians have defined women as beings necessarily inferior to men. Women’s capacity to birth new life and the connection to the earth it implies have been systematically and exhaustively interpreted as proof of women’s inferiority to men. The human ideal, as explained by central Western thinkers, from Plato to Descartes to Bertrand Russell , has been one that values transcending the body, emotion, interrelationality, and the natural world. Thus the sphere to which women had for so long been relegated, that of the private—the home—was fundamentally devalued.

But this view of humanity is anything but value free. It is, in short, a patriarchal worldview. Gender theorist Judith Lorber writes that patriarchy began as a form of social organization in which father’s ruled legal dependents such as wives and children within the family or clan. The contemporary manifestation of patriarchy, however, expresses itself as both a political and social system

that insists that males are inherently dominating, superior to everything and everyone deemed weak, especially females, and endowed with the right to dominate and rule over the weak to maintain that dominance through various forms of psychological terrorism and violence — bell hooks, The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love (2004), p. 18.

As future posts will begin to make clear, this model of manhood is hurts women, children, less powerful or less privileged men; it also very often destroys the happiness of the men who dedicate themselves to such a model of existence.


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