What are the problems of a patriarchal society? There is a resurgence of the term ‘patriarchy’ in recent years. The justice system is symbolised as a woman, but note, she is blindfolded and what appears to be a snake at her feet. Her body is sexily clad and the sword in the hand points downward in a non-offensive attitude. There is no doubt the statue was created by a man, or was it a tongue-in-cheek woman?
Currently, there are a total of 27 women globally, holding top jobs in the political arena. Women who have broken the ‘glass ceiling’ in a ‘man’s world’. Still, many question the existence of the rule and power of a patriarchal society. That is despite the strides made in gender equality over the past century, when the limitations on women was to the extreme. An anti-patriarchal movement is on the increase in a variety of ways. The latest uprising being the protests in male-ruled Iran.
Patriarchal Rule in History
This is not a bible study, but merely an observation from history. Some Christians may be offended by this article.
Abraham is the archetype of patriarchs. He had a strong partner in Sarah, but there was a hiccup with Hagar, the Egyptian handmaid. Isaac followed with the love story of Rebecca. Then came the third generation of patriarchs and Jacob. This was the beginning of the patriarchal breakdown. Jacob, (Israel) had two wives, Rachal and Leah, which made for family enmity on a grand scale.
King David didn’t do too badly with his six wives, giving Israel its golden era. Then came his son, Solomon, with his 300 wives and 700 concubines. The patriarchal society fell into total disarray, even though Solomon was said to be the wisest of all men. Oh, the heights men can reach and the depths to which they can fall.
Religion and politics took the patriarchal society to new heights, with all its inherent problems.
Modern Patriarchal Society
Gains have been made in equality in the last century, but we are far from what the bible says: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus”. Equality is nowhere near this high standard. It won’t reach it in our generation or many generations to come, unless there is supernatural intervention.
Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s former chief strategist says, “Women are gonna change this society. The anti-patriarchy movement is going to undo 10,000 years of recorded history.”
Pro-patriarchs claim that instances of sexism are individual and isolated. They don’t accept the existence of the persistent structure of inequality, and that movements like the ‘Me Too’ have gone too far. “It is nothing more than a hysterical war-cry of feminists. They are determined to hunt down men who are guilty of nothing more than behaviour that was once considered perfectly acceptable.”
In their opinion there is a natural difference between genders, ordained by God or biology. A difference that needs to be protected against rampaging feminism.
Natural Patriarchal Society?
The claim is that a patriarchal society is ‘natural’. These people refuse to acknowledge that the majority of writers were male. Law, poetry, religious books, philosophy, history, medical treatises and scientific texts, were largely written by men. It was men writing for the benefit of men.
Jane Austen wrote: “Men have had every advantage in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in a so much higher degree. The pen has been in their hands.”
An entire generation said it was not recommended to educate girls in the not too distant past. Girls would only get married and their education would be wasted.
Invisible Patriarchal Society
Patriarchy prefers to remain ‘invisible’, having had several centuries of practice. It is expert at what it does. A patriarchal society aims to be accepted as the ‘norm’ and remain ‘unremarkable’. It is like the ocean, that can look peaceful and beautiful on the surface but hides a lethal undertow.
Some say that patriarchy will be harder to unravel than it was for suffragettes to get the vote. Max Weber, the German sociologist, historian, jurist and theorist said in 1864, “The very longevity of patriarchal traditions and norms props it up through the inviolability. Something that has existed from time out of mind.”
Problems of a Patriarchal Society?
A patriarchal system encourages male leadership at the expense of women. The charity, Rape Crisis, estimates that in Britain 11 rapes are carried out or attempted every hour of every day. Women are still judged differently when it comes to sex. The “patriarchal gaze” rules supreme in education, religion, culture and the media.
Women are subjected to economic dependence, violence, domestication. They are pushed to the peripherals of decision-making. The argument over abortion is just another aspect of a patriarchal society.
There is work categorized as ‘men’s work’ and ‘women’s work.’ Until there is some economical or national disaster, such as a World War. Once the crisis is over, society returns to the patriarchal ‘norm’.
Multi-layered Patriarchal System
A multi-layered patriarchal system has five major characteristics. Obsession with control, male dominance, male identification, male-centred power and male privilege. It is deeply energising to those who use it in what has been dubbed the ‘manosphere’.
Female CEOs of major companies have had to fight hard to reach the top. Yet women have proven to be 10% more productive than men in the work force and they increase the ROI (Return on Investment). One of the Lehman Brothers said, “If one of the Lehman sisters had been on the board, the bank probably would not have failed.”
Before its demise, Lehman Brothers was one of titans of Wall Street. It was the fourth biggest investment bank behind Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch. The Lehman Bank still holds the record for the largest bankruptcy in United States’ history.
Subservient to Men
Women have a role in a patriarchal society that demands them to be submissive and subservient to men. It is interesting to note that in the world of birds it is the male who has the brightly coloured plumage. Me thinks, the Creator is having a laugh at man’s dumbness.
Since time immemorial patriarchy has not permitted social, cultural or economic equality for women. That is despite some countries ruling that coercive control is a criminal offence. No longer should the male-controller be permitted to reign supreme.
Men are the highest authority and unable to be questioned or directed by women in a patriarchal society. It overvalues the masculine and turns women into second-class citizens. An extreme patriarchal society is built on a system of oppression and misogyny, exploitation and the brutalisation of women.
However, patriarchy harms not only women, as men compete against each other. A man’s life becomes shrouded by the need to see himself as better than others. This makes him more aggressive.
Patriarchy in the Open
The feminist, Virginia Woolf, was the first writer to bring patriarchy out into the open. In 1938, she wrote, “The opportunity for women to amass capital and property on equal terms as men, means that women would change from being victims, to becoming the champions of the capitalist system.” This would make it harder to control women. At the turn of the last century women could not even hold a passport in their own name.
Oppression can only be lessened if it is identified, understood, and effectively treated. This may take radical, or revolutionary change, as is currently seen in the widespread protests in Iran. Even school children are discarding the hated hijab.
Bold Young Feminists
A new generation of bold young feminists is on the rise. They have not internalised oppression. They are calling sexism, narcissism, and misogyny for what it is.
Men increasingly appreciate not having to do the lion’s share of providing for their families. Many are taking on the full weight of child-rearing and housework. Simultaneously, we see more women confidently gaining positions of power in the work place. However, a legal right to equal pay has not resulted in the eradication of the gender pay-gap.
Only Matriarchal Society in Existence
The Mosuo women are China’s last surviving matriarchal society. There are about 40,000, who practice Tibetan Buddhism. Lineage is traced through the women of the family. Israel is the only other nation that traces the lineage through the female.
The Mosuo society is also matrilineal, meaning property is handed down the female line. This isolated ethnic group is also noted for the improved benefit to the health of the entire community.
In nature there are matriarchal societies. Lions are the only feline species that live in groups, known as prides. Like baboons and elephants, lions are matriarchal. The females hunt, guard their territory, and stay with the pride for their entire life. While the male lions look magnificent with their huge manes, they are notorious for not contributing to the life of the family, apart from killing progeny that is not their own. It is believed they do this in order to bring the female back into heat.
Narcissism and Misogyny
Between the Mosuo society and the matriarchal societies of nature, maybe the human patriarchal society should take a long look at itself. The problem is, that the narcissist and the misogynist reign supreme. Despite Cartesian François Poullain de la Barre asserting in 1673, “The mind has no sex.”
Dan Burstein says, “Speaking of sex symbols, there is no more phallic symbol in existence than the Washington Monument, and the Capitol dome can be viewed as breastlike.” The world’s tallest obelisk was built in memory of President George Washington. It was overtaken as the world’s tallest structure, by the Eiffel Tower. Was that the French way of snubbing the American patriarchal society? It was women who instigated the French revolution.
I trust you have enjoyed this tongue-in-cheek look at the patriarchal society. Women ruling the world would probably be little different to a world ruled by men, though would dispute this when we look at some Astounding Women from the Mists of Time. It’s a pity we can’t find a suitable balance, seeing we have just mourned the passing of the most famous woman in the world.
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