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Patriarchy

Patriarchy

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Patriarchy is a social structural phenomenon in which males have the privilege of dominance over females, both visibly and subliminally. This phenomenon is manifested in the values, attitudes, customs, expectations, and institutions of the society, and it is maintained through the process of socialization. Some societies are more patriarchal than others, but virtually all are characterized by the phenomenon in one form or another. Patriarchy is a function of male physical, social, economic, and political power. Females and children, along with any individuals with a nontraditional gender identity, suffer from subordination to men.

The term patriarchy comes from the Latin pater (father) and arch (rule). Historically, rule of the father was the more appropriate definition of patriarchy. Valentine Moghadam has written that under classic patriarchy, the senior man has authority over everyone else in the family, including younger men, and women are subject to distinct forms of control and subordination (2004, p. 141). Furthermore, property, residence, and descent all proceed exclusively through the male line. Today, however, this definition may be considered an overly simplistic description because the phenomenon has evolved substantially over time.

As already mentioned, to varying degrees, patriarchy is nearly universally prevalent. Although, as Gerda Lerner (1986) has noted, anthropologists have found societies in which sexual differences are not associated with practices of dominance or subordination, patriarchy does exist in the majority of societies. Often, patriarchy is associated more strongly with nations characterized by religious fundamentalism. Yet male domination and female subordination are salient features of social structure in virtually all societies, regardless of the race, ethnicity, class, or religion of the members. Most patriarchal societies have adopted characteristics associated with male domination, namely, aggression and power, as well as the consequences of these characteristics, namely, war and destruction.

Because the subordination of women to men is a feature in the majority of all societies, patriarchy is often argued to be due to biology, such as womens principal role in childbearing. However, many scholars today hold that patriarchy is a social construction. Lerner has written that there are indeed biological differences between men and women, but the values and implications based on [those differences] are the result of culture (1986, p. 6).

The existence of patriarchy may be traced back to ancient times. Lerner has stated that the commodification of womens sexual and reproductive capacity emerged at about the same time as the development of private property, thus setting the stage for patriarchal social structures. The Bible is sometimes cited as exemplifying the original father-rule form of patriarchy in many of its stories. An example is the Adam and Eve story of creation, in which Adam is created first, followed by all the animals. Then Eve is created from part of Adam so that, in a sense, he may be considered her parent (Pateman 1989, p. 451). As such, Adam is clearly in the dominant position. This is consistent with Lerners explanation that men learned to institute dominance and hierarchy over other people by their earlier practice of dominance over the women of their own group (1986, p. 9). The sexual subordination of women was subsequently written into the earliest system of laws, enforced by the state, and secured by the cooperation of women through such means as force, economic dependency on the male head of the family, class privileges bestowed upon conforming and dependent women of the upper classes, and the artificially created division of women into respectable and not-respectable women (Lerner 1986, p. 9).

The classic form of patriarchy decreased in its prevalence during the seventeenth century. The transition to what Teresa Meade and Pamela Haag have described as a broader fraternal-right patriarchy or domination of society by the brotherhood of men (1998, p. 92) is often associated with the rise of capitalist rationalism because the prior standard of fathers ruling over sons was not compatible with the demands of capitalism. Meade and Haag also note that the defeat of classic patriarchy in the Enlightenment era meant that the fathers absolute power over sons was lost and patriarchy moved to the broader civil society (1998, p. 92). This transformation occurred to the detriment of women whose work in the home was suddenly separated from what was considered to be the larger economy.

Modern patriarchy is structural, meaning that it underlies the foundations of all of societys institutions. In most societies, any accomplishments in the direction of gender equality must be made within a larger patriarchal structure. This is one reason why women are at such a constant disadvantage socially, politically, and economically. In the world today, the vast majority of leaders are men. Moreover, Laura Bierema has noted that while women make up over half the workforce, they fall far short of men in terms of pay, promotions, benefits, and other economic rewards. She has also observed that those women who are successful economically often reach their goals by emulating men, thus reproducing the masculine traits and characteristics that are associated with success. By doing so, the patriarchal systems that discriminate against women and people of color are reinforced (Bierema 2003, p. 3). Those women who actually become world leaders or advance to high positions in the business world tend often to do so on terms that accommodate the needs and characteristics of males, hence necessitating the need for them to make significant sacrifices (e.g., having a family versus a career). Otherwise they would be viewed as distinctly different from their male peers, and this would be disadvantageous.

SEE ALSO Gender; Power

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bierema, Laura L. 2003. The Role of Gender Consciousness in Challenging Patriarchy. International Journal of Lifelong Education 22: 312.

Lerner, Gerda. 1986. The Creation of Patriarchy. New York: Oxford University Press.

Meade, Teresa, and Pamela Haag. 1998. Persistent Patriarchy: Ghost or Reality? Radical History Review 71: 9195.

Moghadam, Valentine M. 2004. Patriarchy in Transition: Women and the Changing Family in the Middle East. Journal of Comparative Family Studies 35: 137162.

Pateman, Carole. 1989. God Hath Ordained to Man a Helper: Hobbes, Patriarchy, and Conjugal Right. British Journal of Political Science 19: 445463.

Christine Guarneri

Dudley L. Poston Jr .

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patriarchy

patriarchy Literally ‘rule of the father’; the term was originally used to describe social systems based on the authority of male heads of household. It has now acquired a more general usage, especially in some feminist theories, where it has come to mean male domination in general. Sociological and feminist research has documented a huge variety of instances of patriarchal domination—many of which are described elsewhere in this dictionary (see, for example, the entries on labour-market and the domestic division of labour).

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patriarchy

pa·tri·arch·y / ˈpātrēˌärkē/ • n. (pl. -arch·ies) a system of society or government in which the father or eldest male is head of the family and descent is traced through the male line. ∎  a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it. ∎  a society or community organized in this way.

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patriarchy

patriarchy Social organization based on the authority of a senior male, usually the father, over a family.

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"patriarchy." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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patriarchy

patriarchy: see matriarchy.

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"patriarchy." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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patriarchy

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"patriarchy." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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