I’ve had a difficult time with my approach to this topic. I knew it was something I wanted to write about but every time I opened my computer to visit the topic I would be at a loss for words. The main problems being, how do I write about this topic without sounding like a hard-core feminist or in a way that men, in general, don’t feel attacked? It is not my desire to pulverize the male population, but rather to take a truthful look at how patriarchal systems have impacted my life, as well as to have an open conversation about how we, as females, continue to facilitate these practices and the effects that often has on our lives, our children, and future generations.
I was born into a patriarchal system. I married into a patriarchal system. I’ve been employed in many patriarchal systems. And, my religion is dominated by the pursuit and preservation of the patriarchal system. (Men rule women drool, or something like that.)
Patriarchy is associated more with religious fundamentalism. Being born and raised in Oklahoma, I am neck-deep in the Bible belt of the nation. I can personally attest to the truth of that statement.
It is my intent to make this a four-part series. I will first start with a little background to introduce the topic. Second, I’ll outline some of my childhood indoctrination in the patriarchal system. Third, I’ll discuss how this carried forward into my adult life. And, fourth, I’ll take a look at how this is facilitated in my religious culture.
What is a patriarch? Wikipedia provides the following description; “in sociology, patriarchy is a social system in which males hold primary power and predominate 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.”
To put it another way, vocabulary.com provides; “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.”
Traditionally, most societies have been patriarchal, but it’s now considered sexist and unfair. Yet, even with that said and known, most contemporary societies are, in practice, still very much patriarchal.
One would think that the patriarchal system died with women’s liberation. The right to work. The right to vote. Women are equal. That is often the argument made, right? We don’t have to discuss it because it no longer exists. Yes, change has happened in a lot of areas, but unfortunately, the remnants of these cultures and ideology are still with us today. Patriarchy still shows up in virtually every aspect of our lives. It presents itself in our families, our churches, and our jobs.
Much like child sexual abuse, patriarchy is taboo. A topic we are not supposed to discuss. The hallmark, and the reason it persists, is because ultimately it requires acceptance without question. Asking questions, however, is what I do.
Patriarchy has been around for hundreds of years. It can’t be corrected over night. Evolutionary change takes time. It takes years, centuries even. As I navigate through this series, here are a few questions for you to ponder: (1) Do you recognize it? (2) Are you participating in it, knowingly or unconsciously? (3) Is it harmful? (4) Do you have a choice? (5) Have you lost your voice?