First, a definition.
According to the fine people at Princeton University, patriarchy is (and I quote) "a multi-dimensional condition of power and status." Further, in 1978, a comprehensive study was undertaken that exemined fifty-two "indicators of patriarchy" that corresponded to ten relatively independent factors.
Those factors were:
- a lack of property control by women
- a lack of power of women in kinship contexts
- low value placed on the lives of women
- low value placed on the labor of women
- lack of domestic authority of women
- absence of ritualized female solidarity
- absence of control over women't marital and sexual lives
- absence of ritualized fear of women
- lack of male-female joint participation in warfare, work, and community decision making
- lack of women's indirect influence on decision making
There are, undeniably, some societies in the world today that are patriarchies. The first that comes to mind is Saudi Arabia. Also, there are patriarchal institutions like the Catholic Church in which women are not entirely excluded (i.e., nuns) but are kept from positions of real power (i.e., the priesthood and the papacy).
However, when you look at the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and most of the rest of the so-called "First World", what you find is that...
- women can and do easily gain control of property. They can rent apartments, buy real estate own businesses, and inherit property from and/or will their own property to others.
- there are plent of stay-at-home moms out there, but in general women are expected to find a job outside of the house and work for a living in the same way men are expected to do, and there is no meaningful wage gap between male and female workers.
- women often have more domestic authority than men; for example, they have more control of their family’s disposable income and are far more likely to get custody of their children in case of a divorce.
- there is no lack of "absence of ritualized female solidarity", and in fact the entire reason why anyone's ever heard of so-called "patriarchy" is directly because of the statements and actions of organized groups based in female solidarity.
- while several states have made abortion difficult to obtain, even in these states women retain control their own bodies and sexuality, and aside from where it is an issue of LGBT+ equality, women have the power to marry (and divorce) whom they choose, when they choose.
- Many industries (and most corporate offices) are relatively evenly balanced between men and women. As for "community decision making," statistics show that women are actually more likely to vote than men, and thus have more of a say regarding who gets elected in the first place.
Now, I realize I only refuted six of the ten points, but the truth is, I don't have to refute all of them, and you all know it.
Women in the so-called "First World" have the choice to wear what they like, can vote for whomever they like, pursue whatever hobbies they choose, engage freely in political debate and (if they so choose) even run for public office, can live where and with whom they want, have children or not, get married or not, have sex with whomever they choose, and so on.
Now, occasionally a woman might get called out or criticized by other people who believe she is making incorrect, mistaken, or even immoral choices, no patriarchal authority is going to prevent her from making them, and as long as the choices she makes are legal, no one's going to try and punish her for making them either.
There is no patriarchy. There is no patriarchy at all.
At least not here.
Are there vestiges of a patriarchal system here? I don't know, maybe. But are women here really victims of some tyrannical male overlordship seeking to punish them for making their own choices?
What are you, insane? Of course not.
Seriously, those people (be they men or women) who cry "patriarchy" every time they get criticized for doing or saying something stupid should ask the older generation of women who were around prior to the birth control pill and Roe v. Wade and the ending of coverture laws what it was really like living under a patriarchy.
They should ask women living in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and Indonesia what its really like living under a patriarchy.
Because then they might actually have something to complain about.
Then maybe they’ll have something worth actually complaining about.