Patriarchy, and ‘what is a woman’?

Discussion continues in feminist circles over Transphobic TERF wars of words.

I wonder if Delahunty sees James Shaw as a part of ‘the patriarchy’, or are some men exempt?

I have no idea how a woman has been defined by any patriarchy. Generally women are defined by their own views on their gender.

Oxford:

patriarchy

A system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it.

‘the dominant ideology of patriarchy’

Origin
Mid 17th century: via medieval Latin from Greek patriarkhia, from patriarkhēs ‘ruling father’ (see patriarch).

Patriarchal Society According to Feminism

Definition: Patriarchal (adj.) describes a general structure in which men have power over women. Society (n.) is the entirety of relations of a community. A patriarchal society consists of a male-dominated power structure throughout organized society and in individual relationships.

Power is related to privilege. In a system in which men have more power than women, men have some level of privilege to which women are not entitled.

The concept of patriarchy has been central to many feminist theories. It is an attempt to explain the stratification of power and privilege by gender that can be observed by many objective measures.

A patriarchy, from the ancient Greek patriarches, was a society where power was held by and passed down through the elder males. When modern historians and sociologists describe a “patriarchal society,” they mean that men hold the positions of power and have more privilege: head of the family unit, leaders of social groups, boss in the workplace, and heads of government.

In patriarchy, there is also a hierarchy among the men. In traditional patriarchy, the elder men had power over the younger generations of men. In modern patriarchy, some men hold more power (and privilege) by virtue of the position of authority, and this hierarchy of power (and privilege) is considered acceptable.

This would mean that some men hold more power and have more privileges than others.

This was how New Zealand was in the 1800s, until women got the vote in 1893. Of course male power largely remained intact for some time, but that has changed significantly.

Since our first election under MMP in 1996 we have had six Prime Ministers, three of them female. Other women have been and are in significant positions of power, although statistically women remain under-represented in many ways.

This is not just the fault of patriarchal men, or men generally. About half of voters are female, and they play as much a part as men in choosing who is in power in New Zealand.

Not all women share the same feminist views – there are a wide range of degrees of feminism and support of feminism.

The same for men – sometimes ‘the patriarchy’ seems to be used as a blanket criticism of all men, which is a silly as trying to define ‘what a woman is’.

Feminist activists have played very important roles in modern society. Like any group of groups, there will be differences and conflicts.

More extreme views serve a useful purpose even if they are more prominent, they help most people find a fairly moderate balance.

I think that in the main New Zealand society has moved on from simplistic generalisations like ‘the patriarchy’. Some still use it in a ‘them versus us’ war of words, but the best way to make progress now is to unite the interests of both (or all) genders, while accepting that there are always going to be some differences between genders in what they prefer for themselves and for the country.

Defining patriarchy and ‘what is a women’ seem a bit out of date and pointless.

Leave a comment

35 Comments

  1. robertguyton

     /  September 4, 2018

    Right wingers embrace patriarchy as natural; God’s a bloke, right? Authoritarians are dead-sitters for the patriarchal system. Lefties at least attempt to unravel it. Chelsea Manning’s visit brings out the patriachial worst in right wingers here in Aotearoa.

    Reply
    • High Flying Duck

       /  September 4, 2018

      So are men who want to be women or identify as women, actually women like the Greens are promoting? Or do you agree with Renee that by allowing biological men to claim womanhood, you are actually destroying feminism?

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  September 4, 2018

        there are always reversible trans genders,or flexi genders.

        Whats good for a goose is good for an …agenda.

        Reply
        • Gerrit

           /  September 4, 2018

          Flexi Gender. Cool term, We can all be Flexi Gender.

          Blazer has the problem solved.

          Reply
        • High Flying Duck

           /  September 4, 2018

          Biologically there is men and there is women.
          Society may permit fluidity in these matters. Science does not.
          Would women want a trans woman in a women’s refuge? or a trans woman with mens parts intact wandering around a changing room?
          The vitriol and simple minded black and white stance taken by so called “progressives” on this issue is mind boggling.
          There are thankfully some people trying to add reason to the debate about genders on birth certificates, but this is an issue where if you think the answer is simple, you haven’t thought about it.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  September 4, 2018

            I can’t see any real problem if the amendment provides for the birth certificate to just have an additional note officially added that the original birth gender stated has now been changed.

            Reply
            • High Flying Duck

               /  September 4, 2018

              The birth certificate one is not big in the scheme of things – the original record is kept so reality is not changed.
              Where the biggest issues are arising is where trans women are allowed to use women’s refuges, women’s changing rooms, women’s prisons etc.
              This being one of the main problems:

              to get a feel for the topic renee_jg is a good one to follow.

              This is not to mention the inherent unfairness of women’s sports being (potentially) overrun with biological men. The financial incentives are too high for this not to happen if carte blanche is given as it was for Hubbard.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  September 4, 2018

            I have known trans women and it’s just not an issue; one accepts them as women. I would guess that a trans woman who still has dangly bits would not be walking around in the nuddy, so it would be an academic question rather than a real one.

            Reply
            • High Flying Duck

               /  September 4, 2018

              See my post above – women’s refuge, changing rooms, toilets, prisons etc. It is a big issue.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  September 4, 2018

              I never saw my friend J——- walking around in the nuddy, She still had dangly bits at that time, but she was a woman in all else. It’s unlikely that a woman who hadn’t had the op would prance around naked.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  September 4, 2018

              Women’s loos have cubicles, so do changing rooms, refuges have seperate bedrooms.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  September 4, 2018

          Sauce for the goose, not good for the goose.

          Reply
    • Pink David

       /  September 4, 2018

      “Right wingers embrace patriarchy as natural; God’s a bloke, right? ”

      All humans exist in hierarchies. The only argument is over what sort of hierarchy there should be.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  September 4, 2018

        Animals do, too. The pecking order really exists.

        Reply
      • robertguyton

         /  September 4, 2018

        We are not hens – we can choose how to manage our affairs. Just as we could choose to operate in a manner that doesn’t result in colony-collapse (climate change, poisoning our soils etc) we can also choose a management system for our communities that doesn’t destroy us or oppress some of us (patriarchy, etc.) Use your imaginations, folks!

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  September 4, 2018

          Choose your own patriarchy. I suspect lesbians do just that as do some hen-pecked husbands.

          Reply
  2. artcroft

     /  September 4, 2018

    We never see election hoardings like. The Greens: destroying the patriarchy. Let’s do this.

    But I guess if a party promises that their party list will be gender neutral but ends up with eight women in the top ten and only James and whats-his-name to balance it out… well surely anyone can read those tea leaves.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  September 4, 2018

      If patriarchy really defines women, it must also define men.

      I do wonder how many people spend their lives thinking like this.

      Reply
  3. spanish_tudor

     /  September 4, 2018

    Anyone that continues to divide the world into a “them and us”, oppressor vs. oppressed worldview is simply a Marxist idiot. It’s a discredited ideology. Move on.

    Reply
  4. Kitty Catkin

     /  September 4, 2018

    The oppressive patriarchy idea ignores things like men being obliged to support women, even divorced wives (akin to a workplace having to pay a worker who no longer works there), doing all the heavy, horrible jobs, being legally obliged to go and fight in wars (women never have been and were not expected to fight in them), being legally obliged to support a child that is not theirs….men’s health has less spent on it and men work longer and die younger than women.

    Men have traditionally been liable for their wives’ debts (the reason for shops wanting the husband’s signature on HP in the past; they were likely to be landed with a bad debt) and at one time could be sent to prison for crimes committed by their wives.

    Men were expected to support female relatives, but women were not expected to support male relatives.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  September 4, 2018

      Times have changed with your last one.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  September 4, 2018

        Well, yes. I wanted to show the fallacy of the patriarchy.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  September 4, 2018

          Phallusy, surely?

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  September 4, 2018

            Old joke….

            One hears that women were the slaves of men…what sort of slave owners work to keep the slaves and their children, as well as female relatives who don’t have a man to support them ? Isn’t the slaves who work to keep the owner ?

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  September 4, 2018

              Whaddya mean “old joke”?
              I an’t done never heared it afore ! 👒

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  September 4, 2018

              I have…..many, many, many times….

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  September 4, 2018

              It’s like Shakespeare’s (and others) word plays on ‘country pleasures’ . Yes, it did mean what it sounds like.

            • Gezza

               /  September 4, 2018

              Righto. You need to change your regular comedian.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  September 4, 2018

              I suspect that it was a 70s slogan.

  5. David

     /  September 4, 2018

    Gender is just a social construct according to my friends in the trans community. The fight between them and the feminists could be epic, with no winner or it could be like the one between progressives and adherents of the Muslim faith which is like the third rail for the PC lefties.

    Reply
  6. Gezza

     /  September 4, 2018

    Reply

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