This comment was from NickMostly on the post When Angry Commenters find Common Ground
I think patriarchy was a useful term that has since become dilute to the point of being nearly meaningless. But if we narrow its scope a bit to describe a society organized around the principle of men (specifically white, land-holding men) holding power to the near exclusion of all others, I do think it apropos.
Over time that power imbalance has shrunk (due in no small part to the efforts of early feminists), and comparatively the privileges men have today are but shadows of what they once were. While some privileges remain, most that do appear to be largely due to lingering effects (e.g. there’s no law preventing women from becoming CEOs, but antiquated attitudes keep some women out of the job).
At the outset feminism did (and still does, theoretically) have as its goal a more egalitarian society. The idea that “Women Are People Too” is more than mere platitude. But women are people too, and this is one problem with feminism as a movement. It has its rifts, its factions, and its extremists. And while in the main feminists try to pursue a more egalitarian society, they do so having been socialized in the society they are attempting to change. Meanwhile the more radical elements are pursuing an altogether different agenda, one that is explicitly about inverting the balance of power rather than equalizing it.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that women are at both extremes – at one policing the gender norms in society, and at the other trying to transform those norms to their advantage. After all, they’re just people.
photo: joeshlabonik / flickr