What follows is directed to any men reading this. Any women reading this: please feel free to add to, amend, or correct this diatribe. The LAST thing I want to do is mansplain misogyny to women.
Patriarchy can be active or passive; both flavors are sexist. Think: actual rapists vs the pervasiveness of rape culture. This is where lots of folks get tripped up. Active patriarchy is supported by passive patriarchy; it couldn’t exist without it. FAR too many men are aggressively sexist, but they still need the fertile soil of passive support in order to thrive.
Patriarchy is a lot less subtle than racism. It’s not believing women can compete with men athletically when Simone Biles and Serena Williams are both walking the planet. It’s clinging to the belief that men are just physically stronger, in defiance of the existence of Mahailya Reeves, the 15 year old girl who can bench press almost 400 pounds.
Let’s not even talk about childbirth.
It’s the fight women have endured in order to fight in the armed services because they are just “too delicate.”
Patriarchy is restricting a woman’s right to own property and generate wealth for thousands of years. It’s the anachronistic practice of a woman (and any children a relationship might bear) taking the last name of a man, as if she (and her kids) are property and not people.
Patriarchy is women inventing brewing and distilling, and men, drunk on ale and spirits, calling women witches and burning them at the stake for possessing knowledge they didn’t understand.
Patriarchy is the insane beauty standard women are held to, where their worth as humans is determined by male gaze, and the immense industry dedicated to making and keeping women insecure about their physical appearance. To be clear: A woman’s value is intrinsic and not in any way tied to her ability to attract a sexual or romantic partner.
Patriarchy is how we teach girls, who are discouraged from pursuing science, technology, engineering, and math, and the condescension men can’t hide when they find out their doctor/lawyer/engineer is a woman.
Patriarchy is needing the Bechdel test in any form of entertainment, be it movies, TV, music or literature, as if the only value women have is in relation to a man. It’s a fact that the majority of elementary school teachers are women, while they are a minority of college professors and deans, despite the fact that Fatimah bint Muhammad, an Arabic woman, established the first ever institute of higher learning in 859 C.E.
Patriarchy is organized religion being run mostly by men, while women make up the majority of practitioners.
Patriarchy is refusing to acknowledge the pay gap, or for that matter, the orgasm gap. The idea that women are deserving of less money or orgasms than men is moronic; even worse is the idea that a woman’s money or sex life only has value in relation to a man’s needs. If you aren’t personally doing what you can to end the pay/orgasm gap, you’re passively supporting patriarchy.
Patriarchy is men occupying most of the space as chefs and restaurant owners, when women have been in charge of food gathering and preparation for thousands of years. It’s profiting from the labor (physical and emotional) of women without offering equal remuneration.
Patriarchy is women paying higher insurance rates than men, despite the inarguable fact that men are more prone to dumb stunts and life-endangering stupidity. It’s the expectation of their ability to use sex as a panacea any time a man threatens their autonomy, then demonizing them for enjoying sex.
Patriarchy is having most of your world leaders be men despite the fact that women outnumber men, and are arguably better at governing than men are. Don’t believe this? Do some research on Rwanda. They have the most aggressive economic growth in the world at the moment, a direct result of the fact that 68% of their government is women.
All it took to put women in charge in Rwanda was a genocide.
I attribute women’s superior governing skills to their developing communal thought over thousands of years as a survival technique. In a general sense, if you put a man in charge, he creates policy that will benefit him (or those like him) and protects his power. Put women in charge, and they create policies that benefit everyone and protects people. If you are a part of everyone, you will benefit from women running things.
Patriarchy is the media telling you what is and is not sexist, and approving or disapproving the manner of protest and resistance. It is men deciding policy on women’s reproductive rights when self-same men have next to no knowledge of the female reproductive system.
Patriarchy is all the books you read and all the movies you watch and all the music you listen to being made by male creators. It’s also the gatekeepers of all media being male.
Patriarchy is crippling the future of your country because girl babies are discarded or mutilated at birth because they don’t hold the same value as males, and then having ten adult men for every woman, and wondering why your population growth is stymied. It’s also only attributing a woman’s value in relation to her ability to produce children.
Patriarchy is assuming all the great inventions were created by men, when in fact what men did was write history and deliberately exclude women. Patriarchy is men being medically aware the internal clitoris is as big as an erect penis, then burying this knowledge for thousands of years.
Patriarchy is walking down the street and not having to worry if you’re going to be raped by a stranger. Or a “friend.” It’s taking self defense courses because you enjoy hitting things, and not because you fear for your life if you’re alone and coming home late.
Patriarchy is assuming women take self defense classes for self-protection, and not because they enjoy hitting things.
Patriarchy is baked into EVERYTHING. It’s not all outward hate or misogyny, but it’s being okay with cis-hetero male cultural, political, and financial dominance. It’s a pathogen: you may not even be aware you have it, because you don’t show symptoms.
The only antibody for patriarchy is active anti-sexism.