patriarchyissues   Sometimes its hard to put your finger on what exactly this mysterious patriarchy is.  Robert Jensen does a good job of offering an explanation.

Patriarchy

“This past year I have written about rape culture and trans ideology, in both cases anchoring an analysis in the problem of patriarchy. I’m often told that the term “patriarchy” is either too radical and alienating, or outdated and irrelevant. Yet it’s difficult to imagine addressing problems if we can’t name and critique the system out of which the problems emerge.

The late feminist historian Gerda Lerner defined patriarchy as “the manifestation and institutionalization of male dominance over women and children in the family and the extension of male dominance over women in the society in general.” Patriarchy implies, she continued, “that men hold power in all the important institutions of society and that women are deprived of access to such power. It does not imply that women are either totally powerless or totally deprived of rights, influence and resources.”

Like any resistance movement, feminism does not speak with one voice from a single unified analysis, but it’s hard to imagine a feminism that doesn’t start with the problem of patriarchy, one of the central systems of oppression that tries to naturalize a domination/subordination dynamic. In the case of feminism, this means challenging the way that patriarchy uses the biological differences between male and female (material sex differences) to justify rigid, repressive and reactionary claims about men and women (oppressive gender norms).

How should we understand the connection between sex and gender? Given that reproduction is not a trivial matter, the biological differences between male and female humans are not trivial, and it is plausible that these non-trivial physical differences could conceivably give rise to significant intellectual, emotional and moral differences between males and females. Yet for all the recent advances in biology and neuroscience, we still know relatively little about how the biological differences influence those capacities, though in contemporary culture many people routinely assume that the effects are greater than have been established. Male and female humans are much more similar than different, and in patriarchal societies based on gendered power, this focus on the differences is used to rationalize disparities in power.

In short: In patriarchy, “gender” is a category that functions to establish and reinforce inequality. While sex categories are part of any human society — and hence some sex-role differentiation is inevitable, given reproductive realities — the pernicious effects of patriarchal gender politics can, and should, be challenged.”

The rest of the article can be found on Nation of Change.

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