Patriarchy is a nightmare. It is a system of terrorism. I don’t care about hyperbole. It is a system that has destroyed many lives. It is a system that has brought many of us to the brink of death. And it is a system that needs to be completely obliterated.
Patriarchy is a system based on cis-het-male supremacy. When I was born, I was assigned male. I quickly learned as soon as I left my parents clutches to attend first grade at age 6 that I did not fit the cultural definition of a boy. It was not until Women’s Studies in college years later that I learned that I was a victim of patriarchy. Patriarchy hates women, queers and trans people. It is a system that delights in dude bros, the most toxic variety of masculinity you can imagine.
Patriarchy is a theoretical concept. It names the system of male supremacy we live under. It is not only a word of Women’s Studies or feminism, but it is heavily featured in both. There are some who may see the word patriarchy as second wave or as dated but I believe it is timeless. As long as there is sexism and misogyny there will be patriarchy. I actually look forward to the time when there is no need for the word patriarchy because it will finally be destroyed.
Men are the primary agents of patriarchy. They benefit from it and they revel in the privilege they receive from it. They hurl their hatred at women, queers and trans people every hour of every day. It is difficult to list all the ways that men foment patriarchy because the list is endless: through violence, rape, battering, exploitation, gas-lighting, LGBTQ bashing, economic domination, emotional abuse, employment discrimination and hyper-normative gender roles. Women, queers and trans people face a lot of time having to heal from the violence: physical, mental and financial that men commit against them.
Are women agents of patriarchy? I am not sure I would use the word agents. But women are very much affected by patriarchy. There are some women whose minds are colonized by patriarchal ideology. There are some women who have severe internalized oppression. So they act in collusion with patriarchy. Even though it goes against their own personal interests, they have internalized dominant ideology and hope to curry favor with the oppressor. The same goes for LGBT people who collude with heterosexism and cissexism. It is sad when women and LGBT people don’t realize how they are aiding and abetting patriarchy.
Patriarchy is world-wide. It plays out differently in different cultures, but the persistence of gender inequality is stunning. I don’t see an end to patriarchy in my lifetime. But I do see people rising up and fighting back against patriarchy. These are people called women. These are people called feminists. These are people called radical queers and radical trans folks. The Time’s Up movement and the #MeToo movement are encouraging signs. Women are stepping up and speaking out. Feminism hasn’t gone anywhere, but it has been strengthened. We may not end patriarchy, but we will commit a full-frontal assault on it.