What is the patriarchy?
As already said, I claim that the biggest problem of social interactions of Eurocentric/Western society – including most of its alternative subcultures – is the confusion of sex and love. I have also already described how this confusion can be resolved in practise by a precise use of differentiating language. Next I will look at the system which intentionally maintains, promotes and uses this confusion: the patriarchy.
Patriarchy is defined in Wikipedia as follows:
“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 the women and children. Some patriarchal societies are also patrilinear, meaning that property and title are inherited by the male lineage and descent is reckoned exclusively through the male line, sometimes to the point where significantly more distant male relatives take precedence over female relatives.”
I complement this definition with a bit of background information: The social roles of “woman” and “man” are instilled into all individuals who grow up in patriarchal societies from birth. Every role contains certain behavioural patterns concerning gender identity and sexual attraction. As children learn mainly by example and imitation, not only of their parents, but the entire environment of a child (relatives, neighbours, education system, the economy, advertisements of all kinds, consumer behaviour, popular culture, media, etc.) influences their social role. The behavioural patterns learnt emerge when their sexuality awakens – and unconsciously influence the thoughts, attitudes and activities of all adult individuals.
It is common that the respective social roles are confused with biological sexes – the claim is that there are not two social roles, but rather two absolute genders – woman and man. This way of thinking is a patriarchal construct called the gender binary which erases other genders, such as intersex people. In reality, the two social roles are not a biological or genetic constant, but only a set of behaviours which is forced onto the specific sexes by education:
- Individuals with a vulva are raised in the social role “woman”: It’s a girl!
- and individuals with a penis are raised in the social role “man”: It’s a boy!
This is why the majority of adults with a vulva will take the social role “woman” while most of the adults with a penis will act on the social role “man” most of the time. Minorities such as transgender individuals and non-binary genders equally participate in patriarchal role allocations in exactly the same way: They, too, were once raised in a certain role, and they will unconsciously take either the social role “woman” or “man”. Who, however, begins to notice these conditioned patterns can – unconsciously or intentionally – change their role independently of their gender.
As a consequence, all combinations of gender and social role are possible: Apart from women in the social role “woman” and men in the social role “man”, there are women in the social role “man” as well as men in the social role “woman”. Many transgender individuals experience a shift in their social role some time into transition, particularly when their social environment starts assuming the corrected gender (woman or man) and treats them in the associated social role (role “woman” or role “man”). Some, however, continue to assume the social role they were raised in, despite their transition to another gender.
Intersex individuals and non-binary genders either adopt the social role with which they grew up, or the social role pertaining to the binary gender to which they feel closer. Switching between social roles is also possible: While most adults unconsciously “prefer” one social role, some situations can trigger a temporary “switch”, causing the respective person – suddenly or gradually – to show behaviour that is typical for the other role.
Sexual orientation has nothing to do at all with the social role: Any lesbian woman can take up the social role of
„woman” in the same way as a heterosexual woman, only their erotic and romantic desires are addressed to different sexes. So, although rarely, a woman might adopt the social role „man” or a transgender man the social role „woman”, etc.
For all genders the patriarchy can be summed up by two simple denials:
- Women do not want sex, only love.
- Men do not want love, only sex.
That is the great patriarchal falsehood, which is packed into the social roles of „woman” and „man” in every patriarchal society (the Eurocentric and various others, also and specifically in Muslim society) as some truth of nature. This falsehood may, if it is formulated that bluntly, seem to be a well-known absurdity. Since it is, however, firmly embedded in most individuals’ unconscious mind, a lot of education will be necessary to remove this false and destructive idea.