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What Is a Patriarchy?
I have my thoughts, but I want to know yours.
I’ve just finished Richard Reeves’ book (review coming up). If his analysis is true, the future looks bleak for men. And then I wondered: Does the bleakness mean we are no longer living in a patriarchy? What makes for a “patriarchy” anyway? There are, of course, a hundred thousand academic definitions, but I don’t find them helpful or clarifying. So I thought I would reach out to the wisdom of the crowds.
Below I have three societal conditions, which, for the purpose of this exercise, we will assume are completely independent of each other. Each can be true (for one sex or the other) or false (true for neither). Please read and leave your thoughts/answers in the comments.
A society in which one sex occupies most high leadership positions. (Cabinets, c-suites, etc…)
A society in which the average member of one sex is more powerful in everyday terms than the average member of the other. (More money, more social status, or generally more agency in life…)
A society in which one sex faces the brunt of deliberate, legal discriminations.
Which of these conditions, if any, are necessary for a society to be accurately deemed a patriarchy (or matriarchy)?
For example, imagine a society in which #2 and #3 are true and in favor of men—the average man is doing better generally and faces less legal restrictions. However, #1 is also true, but in favor of women—somehow in this legally misogynist society where the average man wears the pants, all the important leaders are ladies.
Given the concentration of highest power in the hands of women, can this society be called a patriarchy? Given the poor state of the average woman, can this society be called a matriarchy?
What I’m trying to get at is: Which of these conditions earns the patriarchy label? Is there a key combination, or can one do the job alone?
Let me know what you think below, and the comment section is open to all, so feel free to share to others.
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