I’ve heard the word loads of times. I’ve nodded along when people have spoken about it, as though I understand and agree.
Patriarchy. Am I embarrassed to say that actually I wasn’t entirely sure until just recently what it meant? Yes, a little. I had an idea of what it was about. I knew it related to Women and feminism. I had an inkling it was related to the power struggle between men and women. I also knew it was probably fucked up.
Let’s start basic.
Here are some definitions I found online:
“A system of society or government in which the father or eldest male is head of the family and descent is reckoned through the male line” – Google dictionary.
“Patriarchy is the term used to describe the society in which we live today, characterised by current and historic unequal power relations between women and men whereby women are systematically disadvantaged and oppressed” – London Feminist Network.
“The bogeyman that feminists blame for women’s problems or under-achievements because their big-girl pants apparently don’t fit” – Urban Dictionary.
Before we move on, I have to say that this last definition pissed me off, a lot. I could have just left it out of my post, because let’s face it, there’s stuff like this (and much worse) all over the internet, but I felt like it proved a bit of a point. So, let’s take a moment to have a little look at who wrote this. ‘Shikaku’ has 3 definitions to his name on Urban Dictionary (yes, I am assuming he is a he): MRA (men’s right’s activist), patriarchy and rape culture. I think I can safely say that we don’t give a f*ck about what Shikaku thinks, he even goes as far as to say rape culture doesn’t exist. So, let’s ignore this definition.
** Fun fact: the Urban Dictionary creator is a white male, who once said, about the content being added to Urban Dictionary: “Racial and sexual slurs are allowed, racist and sexist entries are not”.
The rule of the father.
Patriarchy literally means the rule of the father. Society has allowed us to believe that men are strong, women are weak, men are the earners, and women take care of the home. Men have higher paid jobs and dominate politics, industry, sport and religion.
In the past (and present) women were second class citizens, I mean we’ve only been able to vote since 1928 (since 1918 as long as you were over 30 and had property). Women took their husbands name when they married and were expected to stay home and cook, clean and look after the kids. Women are still earning less than men. In January 2018 the Office for National Statistics wrote “The gender pay gap for full-time workers is entirely in favour of men for all occupations” and “for 2017 women’s pay growth in respect of age was lower than men’s pay growth”.
Fun fact: “Between 2011 and 2017, men’s pay has grown by 10.4% from £13.12 to £14.48 per hour whilst women’s pay has grown by 12.0% from £11.75 to £13.16 per hour. In 2017, men on average were paid £1.32 more per hour than women, which, as a proportion of men’s pay, is a pay gap of 9.1%. The pay gap has fallen from 10.5% in 2011 to 9.1% in 2017, but remains positive in value – meaning that on average men are paid more than women.” (Office for National Statistics, 2017).
We live in a patriarchal society that allows rape and rape culture to be the norm. Men are raping women and only receiving pitiful sentences (in 2016 Brock Turner was found guilty of raping an intoxicated 23 year old woman behind a dumpster in America. He received a 6 month sentence [yet only served 3 months] and 3 years’ probation). Hell, some countries even have a rapist as their president! Women are blamed for the actions of men, with people (men and women!) “slut shaming” them for engaging in sexual behaviour, whether this is actual behaviours or just presumed. All the while men are getting a “high five” from their mates.
So this patriarchal society we live in allows for men to consistently do better than women, it allows them to have “special rights”. They achieve more, they are paid more and they benefit more (all at the expense of all other genders). This is male privilege.
Unfortunately male privilege is toxic for all genders, including men. It means that men are expected to act in a certain way, a toxic norm of masculinity. It means they can’t show their emotions, they can’t cry, they must love sports and physical strength is valued too highly. It also means they don’t ask for support when it’s really needed (in 2017 the Samaritans reported that male suicide rates remain consistently higher than female suicide rates across the UK and Republic of Ireland).
However, male privilege, well it privileges men too. Here are just a few examples (I would be here until the end of time if I listed them all):
- Men are unlikely to be interrupted when talking and will dominate, unquestioned, most conversations
- Men are not victims to “mansplaining” (I’ll look at this in another post)
- Men are not usually victims of “slut shaming”
- Men don’t worry that a casual interaction with a stranger could be misconstrued as a sexual come on
- Men are much less likely to be killed by a partner
- Men are less likely to be raped
- Men aren’t expected to eat smaller portions than women
- Men aren’t told that “they just haven’t met the right woman yet” if they say they choose to not have children
- Men aren’t told to “cover up” when they take their shirt off when it’s hot
- Fat men face less judgement and abuse than fat women
What a shit storm.
**Disclaimer: “fun facts” are not always fun.