What Is Patriarchy?

‘Patriarchy is what makes us think that ‘balls’ are symbols for aggressive go-getting behaviour; patriarchy also makes us thinks that this is the type of behaviour that should be rewarded above all others. And patriarchy also means that any man who doesn’t ‘live up’ to this stereotype is thereby considered a lesser man – perhaps even, horror of horrors, ‘a girl’. Those men who don’t easily fit into the alpha male category have the choice of being taunted as ‘pussies’, or learning to behave in an acceptably ‘ballsy’ way that enables them to keep up with their peers’.

Can Men Be Feminists?‘ by Caroline Criado-Perez for the NewStatesman.


  1. I love this definition, unfortunately, I don’t see a lot of evidence that many people subscribe to this view. 😦 I wrote a blog post entitled, “Feminism is a Misnomer” and nobody seemed to accept that feminism has become a kind of equalism. Yet, I didn’t seem to have any feminists make a comment, so I don’t know where someone like you would stand on this… would love to hear your insight. Here’s my post, if you’re curious:


    • benstupples says:

      Hello there!

      Thank you for visiting my blog. I must say, the wide range of topics you discuss on yours is impressive.

      Having read ‘Feminism in a Misnomer’, which raises some interesting points (such as feminism being ‘inherently divisive’), and read the comments by other readers below, I am slightly shocked at how some people define feminism. By definition of the OED, feminism is ‘the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes’. It has not become a kind of equalism, a doctrine that maintains ‘all humans are equal in fundamental worth or social status’, it has always been about such a matter. The danger with feminism is that, as an abstract noun, it is susceptible to subjectivity, meaning that people often form a definition, often without realising, to suit their own prejudices. This thought process helps to explain your point about feminism being ‘inherently divisive’, and it also allows us to understand why some people seem to be so vehemently against supporting women’s rights. Anyone who thinks a feminist in today’s society is ‘a rebel’ and ‘an anarchist’ is ignorant. The inception of feminism was an idea, and ideas alter over time. Feminism, therefore, has changed, evolving with each generation and adapting to its environment, one that is becoming increasingly liberated. Obviously, like some of those who have commented on your post, some self-proclaimed feminists misinterpret the definition of feminism: they are the individuals who give feminism a bad name. These feminists are constantly fighting against society; they never want to be a part of it. Consequently, though they might think they are, they are not fighting for equality: they are fighting for a social revolution. In response, some might argue that feminism is a social revolution – and I would agree with them. Initially, feminism was indeed a social revolution – it is still one of the most significant movements in modern history – but now the revolution has passed. Women have now achieved the primary aims for which they fought (the political vote, for instance), meaning that there is no need anymore for radical feminism. Women, generally, have earned the respect of men – they have certainly mine, and they always will do. They now have the power, therefore, to make the changes they wish to see in society, and I hope they do – so long as such changes promote equality, not inequality, between our sexes.

      What do you think of that argument? As a male, I do not tend to express my views on feminism very often, mainly because I feel they would spark too much controversy. Feminism is a fight, I feel, that women are more than capable of fighting, and eventually winning, by themselves.

      • Great argument. It seems to mirror my thoughts exactly. I think that we should, though, as males, express our views on everything, including feminism. Why be afraid of a woman screaming at us (I’ve had this happen)? That’ll only be to her detriment. Generally, after they cool down, they’ll realize their mistake and apologize anyway (I’ve also had this happen).

      • benstupples says:

        Honestly, I have no justifiable reason for why I have been so hesitant to express my views on feminism. My next post, I have decided, will be on such a matter, and I have you to thank for that decision – cheers! Out of interest, what is your opinion on the patriarchal, the alpha-male culture that exists among most male social groups? Do you ever get frustrated by this laddish culture?

      • I suppose I got the desire to express my views from Richard Dawkins. When I read his book, The God Delusion, to be honest, there was nothing new in it for me. However, there was one thing that he mentioned at the end of the book that changed my life. He said, when religious people say mean or unscientific things, why do most atheists just politely change the subject. These should be things we should care about. Stop being so polite! 🙂

        As for the idea of patriarchy, I’m not sure. But I do know that this concept is not a scientific theory, so I’m skeptical of it. Whenever any group creates a theory within their group, and others just go along with it and try to explain why it’s true, there’s the possibility of self-deception among said group members.

        In general, the idea of male dominance cannot be disputed; however, I think that in some parts of the world there has been huge progress, to the point where it’s not really an issue. My real concern is in the parts of the world where there has been little or even no progress (Arab states come to mind). This, in my opinion, is where feminists should be focusing their attention these days.

      • benstupples says:

        Good point, again. I am, in my defence, from England – a nation whose population is famed for being over-polite, often embarrassingly so. It comes down, I guess, to whatever you prioritise more: not upsetting people or expressing what you believe to be right. That simple change of conversation topic sweeps away a whole argument in one breath. The older I get, the more I realise how that is such a futile attitude to uphold! The truth, as they say, will out!

        You are right about the Arab world. Being so rich in oil, some of the countries, such as Qatar, are being heralded as the future of modern civilization. However, whilst they drive modern civilisation, their attitudes towards women is so antiquated. Having come back from holiday, friends have told me that ‘fashion police’ observe the women in some parts of such countries, checking to see if women are dressed appropriately. Can you imagine the same thing happening in the western world? The problem in this instance, though, is that the societal standing of women in these countries is directly linked to Islam, to what scripture says. Before they can consider improving the lives of women in the Arab world, feminists will have to challenge the people’s faith in their religion considerably – something I cannot see happening in the foreseeable future, sadly. What, in your opinion, can feminists do?

      • Yes, it is ironic that an Englishman told me to be less polite then 🙂
        I am in total agreement with your analysis of the Islamic world. It’s really sad too because all people living in these Islamic countries get painted with this same brush by bleeding heart liberals who say: “But this is their culture! You must respect their culture!” Well, no, it’s not “their” culture. Every person interprets Islam (or doesn’t at all) differently. To say that all Muslims want women to be veiled is ridiculous. To say that all Muslims agree with honor killings is ridiculous. The same so-called liberals who think they are fighting for the rights of another country’s culture are actually HURTING the rights of individuals in those countries.
        The solution? We need to counter the views of these so-called liberals (I say “so-called” because I do consider myself to be liberal, but I do NOT side with these morons) every chance we get. There must be an active criticism of the treatment of women in Islamic countries from the outside, without worries about politeness. Will this provoke a backlash? Perhaps, but it will also raise awareness of the oppressed and may bring about an internal women’s rights movement.

      • benstupples says:

        It is ironic indeed!

        You have got me thinking seriously about this subject – something I have not really done recently.

        I understand the point that a lot of people, regardless of whether they are liberal and conservative, might say that such women in the Middle-East or North Africa are content with their situation, that they are well looked after by their husbands, that the women never complain, etc.. However, although I understand this point, I am equally frustrated by it: such a point of view simply advocates ignorance. To think that, to quote Alexander Pope (with no intention of sounding pretentious), ‘whatever is, is right’ is ultimately a pessimistic point of view. Where is there any room for improvement in society? How can we strive to create a brighter future for the following generation? You are right: to support such repressive cultures can cause considerable damage, both to their countries and our own.

        I have no doubt whatsoever that any criticism of the social standing of women in the Middle-East or North Africa would, if read by a widespread audience, cause uproar – the subject is one of the world’s most delicate. However, like the matter of human rights in China (or the lack of it, I should say), it is something that, in general, is often ignored by the mass media. I do not know the reasons why – to state any possible reason would be just speculation – but money invariably plays some small part in the covering up of such issues. Could you give me any examples of these ‘so-called liberals’? If you can find any articles written by them on this matter, it would be good to respond to them.

      • My thoughts align with yours exactly, it seems.

        As for what I call the ‘so-called’ liberals, it’s surprising that you need some examples because they have a very strong voice. They come in two forms, as far as I can see: first are the guilt-stricken white people who are desperate to prove that they are not racist; and second are Muslims to prey on this mentality and play the victim card over and over.

        Examples of the former would include, first and foremost, George Galloway (watch videos when him and Christopher Hitchens are on a panel together to see Hitchens excoriate him every time), many writers at the Huffington Post (check this post out http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/17/newsweek-muslim-rage-cover_n_1890124.html ) — this post is angry about a picture that actually DOES actually represent a reality in the Arab world; truly, however, this is most likely hatred of one of my idols, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who wrote a great article in Newsweek in this issue), and there are many writers from other places, but to be honest, they aren’t usually famous writers. These are just people who exploit this guilt that exists in Western citizens.
        On the other side, Muslims who exploit this guilt include definitely Reza Aslan, but I can’t think off the top of my head of others; however, there DEFINITELY IS others! Many, many others, but also, many of these writers are not famous, they just exploit Western guilt.


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