Patriarchy is a social structure in which men
are considered to have a monopoly on
power and women are expected to submit.
The rule of the father
• Patriarchy is a social system in which
males hold primary power, predominately
in roles of political leadership, moral
authority, social privilege, and control of
property; in the domain of the family,
fathers or father-figures hold authority
over women and children.
Patriarchy is a system of domination
enforced through violence and the
threat of violence.
It is a system developed and controlled
by powerful men, in which women,
children, other men, and nature itself
Patriarchy is generally not an
explicit ongoing effort by men to
It is a long-standing system that
we are born into and participate
in, mostly unconsciously.
“Power conceals itself from those
who possess it.
And the corollary is that privilege
is revealed more clearly to those
who don’t have it.”
A few examples of male privilege
• Privilege of a Gender That Confers Authority
• Privilege to Show Skin and Dress as you wish
• Privilege of Seeing Yourself Widely and Positively Represented in the Media
• Privilege of having political officials fight for issues that pertain to your sex
• Privilege of having major religions in the world led by individuals of your sex
• Privilege to Move or Date Without Fear of Harassment, Assault,or Rape
A few examples of male privilege
• Privilege to be less interrupted than
members of the opposite sex
• Privilege to take up more space
• Privilege of Easy Bathroom Access – Even
When There Are No Bathrooms
• Privilege to have or not children without
• Privilege to be paid more for your work
• Privilege to have access to sex / porn /
But a System of Privilege and
Oppression Hurts Us All
Feminism stands opposed to oppression.
Most common reactions to male
• Defensiveness: “I’m not going to feel
guilty for what I inherited. If some people
don’t have those same privileges, tough
• Paralyzing guilt: “This is just so unfair,
but what am I supposed to do about it!? I
never asked for this, and one little person
can’t change a system that’s been around
for hundreds of years!”
Reacting with guilt or
defensiveness does not help
• “Guilt is a profoundly conservative emotion and
as such is not particularly useful for bringing
about change. From a position of insecurity and
guilt, people do not change or inspire others to
• “If we inherit injustice, we should never feel guilty.
We are not responsible for that past. However, if
we choose to do nothing about it going forward,
then we have plenty to feel guilty about.”
• The Construction of Masculinity, Michael Kaufman
The two major trends explaining
• Gender is in our DNA
• Patriarchy is natural.
• Human biology and genetics
explain male control
• Gender is a social construct.
• Patriarchy is learnt.
• Sociobiologists • Social constructionists
The two major trends explaining
The two major trends explaining
• Bateman's principle: male
dominance is a
human universal as a result of
our biological makeup
• Influence of hormones
• Females almost always invest
more energy into producing
offspring than males and, as a
result, females are
a resource over which males
• Pressure on men to be
• Since the feminist
movement in the 1970s and
the flood of women into the
constructionism has gained
even greater traction.
• A growing body of research
has found key points of the
biological argument to be
Understanding the role of male
• The first signs of patriarchy were the ancient humans of the
Neolithic Era, which encompassed from about 10,200 BCE to
between 4,500 and 2,000 BCE, who relied on a system where
men were the hunters of a tribe and women the gatherers.
• During this time, the realization occurred that it took a
male and female to produce offspring.
• It is theorized that with this realization, these Neolithic
men first became aware in their role in paternity.
• With the domestication of animals and the development of
animal husbandry, the function of the male in the process of
procreation became more apparent and better understood.
Engels: Private property is “the
world historic defeat of female sex”
With this new concept of ownership came the
desire to have private herds left to the
descendants of the owner.
• These same men also began to take private ownership over
their individual herds. Prior to this development, the people
of the Paleolithic Era had shared both land and supplies.
• Because of this new desire, it became necessary for women
to be virgins before marriage and for them to abstain from
adultery after marriage so that men could have the
reassurance that their offspring were their own.
• With this new control over women began the earliest
Patriarchy was furthered at the end of
the Neolithic Era when women began to
be traded as commodities.
• This was seen in arranged marriages between families or villages,
women being used to have sex with visitors as a deed of hospitality
by tribal chiefs, and the ritual rapes during festivals to insure
• Women were treated as commodities, and from a young age
became accustomed to this identification.
• Women’s values lay in their reproduction, especially in farming
• In these villages, more people were needed to work the land and
sustain the population, so women were expected to produce a
large amount of offspring.
• Children became an economic asset, and if women were unable to
produce them, they were seen as all but worthless.
• The idea of women being only good for their womb has progressed
even into today’s society.
Patriarchal dominance moved from
private practice into public law
• Beginning of institutionalization of patriarchal family
• Kings power based on men who depended on him, as much as
families depended on the man: archaic state was shaped
• From 1250 BC on, sexual control of women has been an essential
feature of patriarchal power: foundation of the state.
• Marriage becomes wife purchase.
The decisive transition was the
institutionalization of slavery
• First form of hierarchical dominance in human history with the advent of
• The majority of those first enslaved were women. Sales contracts appear in
• Veil helped to distinguish married and respectable women from slaves
• Commercial prostitution derived from enslavement of women
• Practice of raping women of a conquered group is essentialto the structure
of patriarchal institutions:Rome built on rape of Sabines.
As culture evolved, the patriarchal
society grew increasingly misogynistic.
• Ancient Greece played a large role in the increase of patriarchal practices.
• A primary democracy can be seen in ancient Greece called the polis. This
gave men somewhat equal rights; compared to the aristocracy they had
known before. As men gained equal rights, women lost many of theirs.
• The family had before been a biological unit, but now took the form of a
political and economic unit.
• Wives and mothers became obligatory, and women who did not follow the
traditional functions faced legal consequences.Women were the legal
wards of either her father or husbandand had no rights of their own; they
could not inherit property.
• A woman during this time did not even have custody over her children as
they belonged to her husband.Additionally, if a woman committed adultery,
they would either be banished or executed where men, who would
occasionally sufferpenalties, had many legal sexual outlets. There were
highly trained courtesans and male and female prostitutes (Radek).
• As men were able to find sexual freedom with these outlets, most women
could not leave their homes without permission from a father or husband.
Importance of creation myths
• Gender symbolism in creation stories proves a reliable guide to
sex roles and sexual identities in a given society
• Peggy Reeves Sanday: out of 112 creation stories, 50% male
deity, 32% divine couple, 18% female deity
– When world created by male, 17% of fathers cared for infants.
– When world created by couple couple, 34% did.
– When world created by female,63%
Major god-figures and symbols
underwent sex change
• The Power of creation and fertility was
progressively transferred from Goddess to God.
– Who creates life?
– Who brings evil into the world?
– Who mediates between humans
and the supernatural?
• The masculinizing of religion resulted, always and
everywhere, in hostility towards the woman and the
The symbolic devaluating of women is one of the
founding metaphors of the Western civilization.
• Major gender symbols and metaphors of Western
civilization are derived from Mesopotamian and Hebrew
• Two key metaphorical constructs:
2. Greek philosophy
The Book of Genesis contains most
significant symbols concerning gender
• Final fusion of texts in 450 BC
• Creation of Jewish monotheism: vast cultural
transformation: transition from matrilineal to
• There is no longer any maternal source for
the creation of the universe.
• God granted power of naming to human
• Man is the mother of the woman.
To her temptation, cause
of humankind fall from
From Eve Created
from man’s rib
Proof for 2.000 years of divine sanction
for the subordination of women
Women cannot speak to God any
• Prolonged ideological struggle of
Hebrew tribes against worship of
Canaanite female deities must have
hardened emphasis on male cultic
leadership and tendency towards
misogyny, which fully emerged in the
post exilic period.
Male gods take power from the forces of the
chaos identified with fertility goddesses
In Greece, the Theogony defines
Zeus ascension to power
From all powerful Zeus
swallowing his wife
Methis and giving birth by
himself to Athena
To Pandora who opened the
way to all evil (Hesiod)
Three brothers share the world
Imposes his will
Conquers and rapes
Conquers and rapes
Patriarchal gods rule the world
• Rule from the distance
• Expect total obedience
• Fear that their power might be challenged
by their children: see them as threats
(Zeus swallowed pregnant Methis)
• Mums unable to protect their children
from male authority
• Sons reject their own vulnerability
Thucydides or Herodotus were the first
historians: since 2.500 years, the
construct of history is a male product.
Greece was built on a dominator system
• Greek mythology:cruel and barbarian Zeus
maintaining supremacy and raping goddesses
and mortal women
• Sentencing to death of Socrates for
corrupting youth: supports education of
women, challenge to the system
• Human rankings are based on force, therefore
• Aristotle in Politics:
– Some are meant to rule and others to be ruled
– Foundations of androcratic philosophy
– Slaves ruled by men, women by men, the rest
violates natural order
When mother-murder is not a
“The mother is not the parent of the child
Which is called hers. She is the nurse who
tends the growth
Of the young seed planted by its true
parent, the male…”
Leading metaphors define and
shape our cultural heritage.
• Symbolic construct is key in the
• Subordination of women thus became
completely accepted since it appeared
natural to both men and women.
• It is seen natural, and thus invisible.
• Thanks to myths and stories, women have
not realized they are oppressed.
For nearly 4000 years women have
shaped their lives under paternalistic
• The basis of paternalism is an unwritten contract
– economic support and protection given by male for
subordination in all matters
– sexual service, unpaid domestic service given by the
• It was a rational choice for women under
conditions of public powerlessness and economic
• Women also shared class privileges with men in
exchange for their special economic political and
Patriarchal culture rewards total
obedience from men and women
• A man has to be able to
kill or to repress his
• No room for
• Children are sacrificed
• Inner child is sacrificed
You will not be loved unless you
obey: mothers shaping their children
to conform “for their own good”
You need to choose between
conforming or being rejected
Ignorance of your own history
keeps women subordinate.
• Women have for millenia participated in
the process of their own subordination
because they have been psychologically
shaped to internalize the idea of their own
• Indoctrination from early childhood on.
• Male hegemony over the symbol system:
educational deprivation of women and
male monopoly on definition.
The patriarchal system can function
only with the cooperation of women
• Reforms and legal changes while ameliorating the
condition of women will not basically change the
• Patriarchy is secured by different means:
– gender indoctrination,
– educational deprivation,
– denial to women of knowledge of their history,
– dividing of women,
– discrimination in access to economic and political
– and by awarding class privileges to conforming women.
Women have internalized and
transmitted these values.
• Women, more than any other group, have
collaborated in their own subordination
through their acceptance of the sex
The problem is not men as sex
but men and women socialized
in a dominator system
• Our dominator-dominated way of relating to other human
beings is so internalized by birth that we are not aware of it
• Some rule and some are meant to be ruled.
• A mind socialized to submit to male authority will tend to turn
to his protection of a strong leader in times of crisis.
• In Bible, Koran, communism… obedience is supreme virtue
• All is not hopeless if we recognize it is not human nature but
a dominator model of society that drives us to war.
3M years ago: hominids evolved
• Bipedalism: narrow female pelvis and birth
canal due to upright posture
• Human babies born at a greater stage of
• Require support and help for years to move,
• Division of labor necessary for group
survival: women did the mothering
• But men and women still were equal, no
MYTH N.1: Patriarchy is natural
Man the hunter, superior in strength, naturally protects
and defends the more vulnerable female.
– Big game hunting was auxiliary pursuit
– Main food supply came from gathering and small
hunting done by women and children
– Women provided 60% of the food.
– Cooperation was necessary: hunter provides meat
supply while gatherer needed for subsistence food.
– Separate roles did not mean hierarchical.
Myth N.2: Patriarchy has been
– It developed over a period of 2.500 years from
3.100 BC to 600 BC, at different pace in
– Patriarchy is a system that originated in history,
which means that it is neither eternal nor
Equality between the sexes was
the general norm in the Neolithic
• Key point: discovery of sites of Catal Huyuk and Hacilar (Turkey)
• Evidence of gynocentric religion in Neolithic times
• Pre-patriarchal society was remarkably equalitarian.
• No mayor difference between the houses.No glaring social inequalities.
Priestesses and priests. Linking rather than ranking.
• Neither was subordinate to the other: by complementing one another, their
power was doubled.
• Genitals of both men and women showed by clothes: pleasure bond. More
natural attitudes towards sex. Use of contraceptives.
• Reduced aggressiveness through free and well-balanced sexual life
• Greater male physical strength was not the basis for social oppression.
• Technologies of destruction were not important social priorities for the
farmers of European Neolithic age.
• From Old European sedentary horticulturalists,no fortifications or
weapons, peaceful coexistence, egalitarian to herding units, stock breeding
In this world of peace and creativity,
women were self confident
• Religion supports and perpetuates the social
organization it reflects.
• In societies where supreme Goddess was
perceived as wise provider, women would
internalize a very different self image.
• They would see themselves as competent,
independent, creative, inventive.
• Predominator mind recognized its oneness
with nature, interconnected life system.
No sign of warfare in over 15
• In Neolithic art: no imagery idealizing armed
might, cruelty or violence-based power
• No military fortifications
• Everywhere in art: symbols of nature, serpents
and butterflies as symbols of metamorphosis,
• Primary purpose of life was not to conquer and
loot but to cultivate earth and provide material
and spiritual for a satisfying life.
• Prevailing paradigm: We assume (cf 2001) that
metals were first and foremost used as weapons.
• Not true: Neolithic people used weapons for
ornamental and religious purposes.
Crete: The Archaeological
• Technologically advanced and socially complex ancient culture of
• Starts in 6.000 BCE, colony of immigrants from Anatolia brought the
Goddess and settled down in Crete
• A unique civilization with no signs of war.
• Nicolas Platon: “The fear of death was almost obliterated by the
ubiquitous joy of living."
• Jacquetta Hawkes: Absence of idea of a warrior monarch
triumphing in humiliation and slaughter of the enemy
• No scenes of battles or hunting.
• Power was not equated with dominance, destruction and
• Power was a responsibility and represented the interests of people.
• Proves that the city-state does not require warfare or hierarchism or
subjugation of women
Myth N.3: Male dominance is universal
– In some societies, sexual asymmetry carried no
connotation of dominance or subordination.
– Elise Boulding: Man the hunter is a myth to
preserve male supremacy and hegemony.
Myth N.4: Anatomy is destiny
Woman’s reproductive capacity confines her chief goal
in life as motherhood.
– Ahistorical: Anatomy was destiny
– Men and women do not live in the state of
nature any more.
– We cannot follow the same roles that were
essential to the specie in the Neolithic.
– To claim that of all human activities, only female
nurturance is unchanging and eternal is indeed
to consign half the human race to a lower state
of existence, to nature rather than to culture.
Myth N.5: God has always been male
• Before the secret of fecundity was
understood, female was revered as the
giver of life.
• The great goddess, the divine ancestress,
has been worshipped from the beginnings
of the Neolithic periods of 7.000 BC until
the closing of the last Goddess temples
about AD 500.
• Koran: “The pagans pray to females”
From India to the Mediterranean,
she reigned supreme
• Ashtoreth ou Astarte was known in Canaan as the
Near Eastern Queen of Heaven
• Archaelogical evidence that her religion flourished
thousands of years before the arrival of the
• Astarte, Elat or Baalat principal deity allover
• Same religion during minimum 7.000 years in Iraq,
Iran, India, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan,
Palestine, Egypt, Sinai, Libya, Syria, Turkey,
Greece and Italy: all around the Mediterranean.
Yet, our memory is very short
• We only remember the past 3.000 years of
• But the partnership system of the Paleolithic
dates back over 30.000 years!
• Neolithic age of agriculture revolution is over
10.000 years ago.
• Catal Huyuk was built 8.500 years ago.
• And Crete fell only 3.200 years ago…
The world started shifting with the
Northern invasions from 2300BC
• Series of migrations from Indo Europeans, Indo Iranians, Indo
Aryans: aggressive warriors from Black sea, Caucasus, India, Iran
• Viewed themselves as superior people
• Ability to conquer, with a priestly cast of high standing
• Brought with them concept of light as good and dark as evil (racism
as well and casts)
• Supreme male deity, storm god, high on a mountain, blazing with
light of fire or lightning
• Female deity associated with snake or dragon, most of the time evil
To switch to a patrilineal system, a total control
of knowledge of paternity was needed
• Political maneuvering for power over land and property accessible
to them only upon the institution of a patrilineal system
• First step: discredit the local religion:
– Levite priests purposefully misspelled her name and referred to her on
masculine gender or always linking her to male consort
– Bible talks about Pagan religionof Canaan as idolatry
• Second step: destroy the religious centers and the resisting cities
– “Destroy their altars, break their images”
– Purposely and violently destroy their religionand replace it with their own
– Canaan: promised land but not an empty land!
– Entrance in promised land seen as peaceful moment after 40 years in
desert and slavery in Egypt
– In reality, full cities were slaughtered (we left no survivor),added
traumatized virginwomen to their tribes as Hebrew left Egypt with higher
number of men
Today we are living in an age of
• Patriarchy is inextricably linked to militarism,
hierarchy and racism.
• It threatens the very existence of life on
• We are in the process of becoming.
• A feminist world view will enable women and
men to free their minds from patriarchal
thoughts and practice and at last to build a
world free of dominance and hierarchy, a
world that is truly human.
We are reaching the limits of the
• Our masculine militarism is the most energy
intensive activity: converts energy into destruction
and waste without any useful fulfillment of basic
• Ruths SIvard: World Military and social
– The cost of a new single nuclear submarine equals the
budget of education of 23 countries.
– One intercontinental ballistic missiles= feed 50M
children, build 160.000 schools, open 340.000
• We need a metamorphosis in culture premises
Now even nature seems to be
rebelling against androcracy
• Rational man subdues nature, poisons his
• We see the limits of the system: destruction of
rain forests, species dying out, loss of arable soil,
population growth at fantastic rate
• Supermaterialistic and consumerist lifestyle
• Media propaganda glamorizing male violence
• Persistence of dominator gender stereotypes
• Harm of structural adjustments of World Bank
Androcratic system’s first line of defense
has been reassertion of male control
• Thoughout history, violence against women has
been the androcratic systems response to any
• If androcracy is to be maintained, women must be
suppressed at all cost.
• And if violence is mounting now, it is because
never before the male dominance has been so
vigorously challenged (Mushrooming of NGOs).
• When feminine rises, aroused and fearful
androcracy thrusts back.
When challenged, the androcratic system
reasserts masculine stereotypes
Fundamentalism is also an
• Neither capitalism nor communism has
fulfilled its promises.
• Disillusionment: return to fundamentalism
• Frightened by increasing signs of
impending chaos, turn back to
In Greek Mythology, fathers are
destructive of their own children
From the perspective of Jungian psychology, patriarchy may be
seen as an expression of a stunted, immature form of masculinity
and thus as an attack on masculinity in its fullness as well as on
femininity in its fullness
Who do you decide to be?
• Hero looking for his
• Teaming up with his
• Unite with other men to
fight authority and power
• Powerful father trying to
murder his son
• Fearful of superior power
• Looking for prestige and
• Under an armor and a
• Suppressing feelings or
Patriarchy crushes male and female
• Limited freedom
• Inner sensitive child
crushed by authority
• Constant pressure to
prove your virility
Small fluctuations can lead to
• Today we are nearing the possibility of a second
social transformation, this time from dominator to
a more advanced version of a partnership society
• Fear grows but revulsion against violent
repression is strong like in Burma or Pakistan
• cf Peace Nobel Prizes: Malala, Aung Suu Kyi, ...
• Similarities between our time and turbulent years
of Roman empire (one of the most powerful
dominators societies of all time) when broke down
• Chaos theorists: increasing systems
A new world is possible
• Caring labor needs to be fully integrated: economic and social
• Human spirit has been imprisoned, needs to live free from war
• Changes in man-woman relations from recrimination to openness and trust
• Result in prosperous economy
• Decentralised economy,cooperative units of production and distribution
• New myths to reawaken the lost senseof gratitude and celebration of life
• Reconnecting us to innocent psychic roots
• Sexual bonding for pleasure and love
• New myths,epics and stories where human beings are good and men are
peaceful, power of creativity and love
• After bloody detour of androcratic history,women and men will be free
We need a critical mass of new images
• In modern totalitarian societies: main industry is manufactureof myths
• Nazi Germany: dark short Adolf Hitler sells myth of racially pure Aryans
• Nietzche’s view of women: pleasant domestic animal
• Nazi Germany one of the most violent reactions to gylanic thrust
• Fatal error to underestimate the power of myth
• Humankindis hungry for meaning
• Need to create new myths,new symbols
• Symbols and myths have changed in the past so they can change
• Original meaning of crosses was health and happiness
• We need to challenge destructive myths of hero as killer like Theseus or
Rambo or James Bond
• Children of both sexes need to value caring and affiliation more than
conquest and domination
The achievement of full equality between
sexes is a prerequisite for world peace
• When the power of the blade and dominator
model is actually threatening all human
• Male dominance, male violence and
authoritarianism are not eternal givens.
• A more peaceful and equalitarian world is a
real possibility for our future.
• Are we finally reaching the end of a 5.000
year androcratic detour?
There is growing awareness,
• Alfred Adler: For both men and women, this ranking of one
half of the humanity over the other is poisoning all human
• Interconnectedness, new science of empathy, love
• How to make conflict productive rather tan destructive
• Suppressive dominator approach to conflict still prevails but
feminine approach to conflict resolution offers hope for
change (Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King)
• Gandhi’s aim: to transform conflict
• The vision of power has to shift: either you control people or
they control you.
• But the greater the development of each individual, the better
• “Sisterhood is powerful"
A critical mass of people can
create a new archetype
• From the individual change
to the collective influence
• Until we create a new model
• Where we trust love more
We all have patriarchy in us to
some degree and it’s hurting us.
What do we do about it?