Patriarchy: A Social System of Power and Inequality

Published: 2022-12-27
Patriarchy: A Social System of Power and Inequality
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Culture Sociology Philosophy
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1873 words
16 min read

Patriarchy can be defined in various ways. It generally refers to a social system in which men hold power and are considered the stronger gender compared to women who are viewed as weak and excluded from leading. It may go to the extent of being applied in property ownership in some societies, Ozyegin (2018). In a patriarchal society, for example, men are not expected to display any character of weakness such as crying and doing feminine duties and are expected to be protectors of women and the society at large. Likewise, women are not supposed to perform masculine duties and are expected to respect and obey men, act in ways to please men and maintain a high moral standard as desired by men.

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There exists such a code in a patriarchal system that whatever does not please men is not moral. Such systems make the male gender feared by the female gender in all spheres of life, because women are made to believe that everything should start and end with men, Christ (2016). The topic of patriarchy is vast as it revolves around a system where a line is drawn between masculine and feminine duties, character, moral standards and general livelihoods. Patriarchy can be portrayed in matters like sports, love and marriage, security, body and beauty, general behavioral manners among other things.

Patriarchy is whereby a man is not allowed to act in any way feminine, while a female is expected to maintain feminine behavior all through. It involves elements of gender transgression where men are supposed to be strong and fearless, should show no emotions even when they are hurt and should keep to themselves and avoid rampant conversations. But why? Is it not natural for a human being to display feelings? Why does society curtail men from showing their tears yet they are human beings and get hurt just like anyone else? This is patriarchal. Additionally, it is natural for females to display some masculinity, and it's acceptable though it should not exceed a certain threshold level. On the contrary, it is entirely awkward for a man to put on any feminine character. The society views such subjects with mimic and criticism. It's also natural for females to hold conversations in washrooms but for men, this is not natural at all, and it is rare to find men conversing when they meet in urinals because they care too much about etiquette. Well, that is where society has placed them, so they have to avoid breaking the code.

Most are the times the society, even though not the whole society, recognize men and women based on some aspects such as dress code and physical appearance and goes proceeds to use this basis in the allocation of roles, especially in careers. It is patriarchal to expect that a man needs to be in a suit and tie for them to be presentable enough. It is natural that whenever a female sees a man in suit and tie, she feels yes, this is a man! It is patriarchal to expect that a real man must be in a suit and tie clad. It is also patriarchal to select men and women for advertisements based on beauty and sexiness. For instance, a woman's career has a direct mathematical relationship with her beauty. It declines as her looks fade. For men, it is also the same case. As long as their masculine looks and male charm exist, you will continue seeing them on posters and billboards. Also, there is a set code on how girls must sit, what they should wear and what they must not wear, and how they should present conduct themselves in society. For instance, a girl or a lady is not supposed to sit with her legs apart, and should not display some parts of her body like cleavage, thighs, and others. This is seen as a lack of good manners, and such characters are deemed immoral.

The issue of relationships is viewed with a lot of care and curiosity by society. The society exercises an element of patriarchy when it comes to the kind of relationships men have. For instance, bromance and homosexuality are relationships that even though exist in the society, those engaging in them are afraid to disclose them publicly because the society expects every man to be able to participate in a heterosexual relationship. It is weird, and men avoid it, to be seen sleeping with another man in the same bed. If a man has to do that, it is only where circumstances force them, such as being roommates or staying together, but it still feels awkward. This is because society has placed them in such a situation. Also, men who are gay are naturally ashamed of themselves, and even if they might hide it, they feel that it is not okay and try to find means and ways of covering it up. Women too that engage in homosexuality end up having men in their lives. They might have homosexual relationships but secretly and they find a man in the end. Some women even have such relationships even when they are married. The society expects a woman to have a man and that is why women get married even with their secret lesbianism or try very much to keep this as a secret so that it does not ruin their marriage. Homosexual relationships might have been accepted in some societies, but they are yet kept as secrets and are rarely told out because even the victims feel it's so off. The community only accepts genuine same-gender relationships which involve no sexual engagements.

Today's society has set pieces for both male and female sexes, a form of patriarchy in practice. For instance, there has been segregation in role-playing in general where the society feels insecure with women holding some positions in political leadership, family roles and even business leadership. Likewise, society expects much from the male gender. For example, today's boy child has been forced into roles regardless of whether he can take them up or not. His feelings have been discredited based on a principle that 'a man should not cry.' He is expected to marry and provide for the family even when he is not in a position to, has to satisfy his wife in bed and must get as much money as he can, failure to which he is no man in the society. In the current society, a man is expected to be no gay and have a particular sport he likes and more importantly, it better be a masculine sport. Ladies, for instance, admire a man if he has a certain charm, especially money, intelligence, and muscles. A man is expected to never cry especially in public and should be independent. In the same line of argument, ladies are expected to be submissive, down-to-earth and humble in front of men. They are expected to be mothers and housewives and should stay indoors and cook for their husband and kids, wash and do cleaning, and support the husband in where they can. There have even been articles published on how a woman should be, how to be a good wife and things of that sort. Women have even been forced to try the hardest to know how to do house chores perfectly such as cooking. Based on this patriarchy, today's society has denied women chances in leadership, claiming they are a weak gender and cannot hold society while men still exist. Men have been placed on a level far up from the natural threshold, a level that even themselves have at times found too high to reach. Everything a man engages in is expected to be perfect! At times it hits them as a surprise to see their wives and kids praise them for supporting their family, something they feel is nothing more than a normal responsibility. The same case applies to women. All these suppositions are a madman's creation and are patriarchal conditions that do nothing more than scare human beings from enjoying life.

The patriarchy that exists in the current society in the form of feminism and masculinist perceptions took this direction right from the ancient times, though the contemporary society has changed some norms to favor one gender or the other. For instance, in some communities in southern Africa such as Khoikhoi whose main activity was hunting and gathering, men could cook, and there was nothing wrong with that. It was no big deal for them. Nowadays, it is rare to find a man cooking for his family, in their home. Additionally, there are some foods which in some communities are specifically designed for men, and women must never eat them. For instance, in the Luhyia community in Kenya, some parts of a chicken 'naturally' belong to men, and their wives must not serve them to anyone else unless they don't want to spend any more night in their matrimonial home, Raitala (2015). Isn't that interesting? Generally, some practices of patriarchy have remained in thin air even after scientific revolution and westernization of culture and remain to be buried just below the normal digital culture only to come up at times and rule out some actions and term them as taboos.

There is a need for societal change that will minimize or exclude patriarchy as necessary for a progressive world. Some changes have already been on the ladder, and so far they have been beneficial. Having women take up male positions in political leadership, in family responsibilities and even in educational career lines has been a great mile for the whole world, though there are still hiccups from several sides concerning such changes. Women have now been able to get more and more educated, taking up roles presidents and company CEOs. Men have also accepted to take up roles such as secretarial duties, nursing and sales, and marketing, which were previously viewed feminine. This has seen most countries grow economically due to the creation of cohesive and harmonious bonds within their society. Correlational changes between masculinity and feminism have necessitated this. However, more change is desired. There is a need for absolute freedom for everyone because this will feel natural. It is natural to feel the urge for sex outside marriage or outside a relationship, for example, or desire by teenagers to engage in sex. Even if such cases need limit constraints, there need to be a societal flexibility rules so that people have enough freedom. Patriarchy has an element of oppression for everyone. That can be understood from the personal evaluation on how many times someone has desired to do something, but they can't, just because it won't augur well.


Aisenberg, J. (2009). Here Come the Bromides: Living in the Era of the Bromantic Comedy. Bright Lights Film Journal, 65.Christ, C. P. (2016). A new definition of patriarchy: Control of women's sexuality, private property, and war. Feminist Theology, 24(3), 214-225.

Diaz Delgado Raitala, D. (2015). Bridewealth: an ethnographic study on the narratives and descriptions of the practice of bridewealth establishing its purposes, effects, and consequences among the Luo, Kikuyu, Kalenjin, Meru, Kamba, Maasai, Kisii and Luhya ethnic groups in Kenya.

Ozyegin, G. (2018). Rethinking Patriarchy through Unpatriarchal Male Desires. Gender Reckonings: New Social Theory and Research, 233-253.

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