Why is patriarchy a “bad” word?

You may hear the word patriarchy and immediately think men. But why is this considered a “bad” word?  Let’s explore this.

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Allan Johnson, a well-renowned nonfiction author, and sociologist describes patriarchy as a system everyone partakes, both men and women.

 

The patriarchy, the system of our society, has images of how men and women should be perceived. Patriarchy defined by Johnson; “is based in part on a set of symbols and ideas that make up a culture embodied by everything from the content of everyday conversation to literature and film.” (Johnson 73).

 

Allan Johnson believes it’s in the power of the participants of said society that must choose how they participate. Whether that means going against the grain and objecting to a sexist joke or realizing male privilege and choosing to not use their power over women.

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He suggests the majority of people of the patriarchy have “patriarchal eyes”, in other words, they have a belief that it’s in man’s basic nature to be masculine and that there are “two and only two distinct genders” (Johnson 74).

 

This, however, is only true as it’s been learned masculinity and femininity are expected of men and women, that to go against the patriarchal concepts of society is to go against the “rules”. Johnson explains its these rules that keep people from going against the patriarchy because doing so would result in punishment so to speak.

 

And it’s because of these ingrained social concepts, such as women to be subservient and men to be dominant in all aspects of day to day life, that “when we hear or express sexist jokes and other forms of misogyny, we may not recognize it.” (Johnson 72).

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This obliviousness of male privilege is ultimately where much of resistance towards feminism comes from. The other half of the resistance comes from men that want to keep this dominance and power the patriarchy has given them.

 

Although as we participate in social systems and are shaped as individuals, it’s through socialization (the process of internalizing the norms and ideology of society) that we learn to participate in a more conscientious way that allows us to make more informed choices; introducing change in the patriarchy.

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Author: Collette Letourneaux

Aspiring Journalist. I love any feedback!

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