We explain what patriarchy is and some examples of this term. In addition, its similarities with matriarchy.
What is patriarchy?
Patriarchy is a Greek term and means, etymologically, “parental government . ” Currently, this concept is used to refer to those societies in which men have power over women.
In societies classified as patriarchal, this type of domination of men over women is observed in all institutions and not only in one aspect of society , which makes this predominance continue to reproduce even unconsciously.
Patriarchy can be manifested from the family and the domestic sphere, even when it comes to seeing who occupies the positions of power in the State – and how they exercise that power -, passing through the work and academic field, to put some cases. Nor are religious institutions exempt from this kind of supremacy of men over women.
Patriarchal societies are governed by gender stereotypes . According to specialists, it is not an organization that exists “forever.” For example, Gerda Lerner locates the emergence of patriarchy between 3100 and 600 BC , in the area of the ancient Near East, where the family was the basic unit from which rules and regulations emanated. According to this author, the beginnings of such organizations have to do with war , sex and reproduction.
At present there are various ways in which the patriarchy or, at least, its rests are manifested. Here are some examples:
- Economic dependence . This happens when women have access to more precarious or less paid jobs than men have access to. It is also given when a woman’s salary is lower than that of a man who occupies the same position or, even, when the woman is assigned the role of housewife, in charge of childcare and, therefore, You cannot work and have your own salary or income . All this means that women are not in the same conditions as men and depend on them for their livelihood.
- Victim of violence . It is very common to see how in some societies women are victims of certain types of specific violence, such as sexual harassment. Domestic violence and rape are part of this type of aggression that is often naturalized, legitimized or made invisible. In many cases there are not even legal figures to file a complaint.
- Professional growth . The concept of “glass ceiling” is used to talk about the limitation or “ceiling” that women find in their professional careers. Few women truly access the decision positions within the companies, either because of a cultural issue of the company (which gives greater prominence to the man), because the woman herself self-censors (for fear of not complying with the skills and knowledgenecessary) or even because you choose your family life. In general, the most important and high positions within the hierarchy of any company are held by men. To this is added that women are often limited to access certain types of industries, such as services or textiles or certain positions such as teacher, secretary or nurse, which are generally poorly paid.
- Unsecured sexual rights . Many times women do not have the same right as men in relation to controlling their sexuality . This implies both sexual and reproductive health care and the right to decide freely and responsibly about your own body and whether or not you want to have children and, if you want to have them, to decide how many ( birth control ).
- Labor expectations . In general, there is the idea or belief that men are more dedicated to work than to the family and that women, conversely, prioritize the family. That is why it is very common that, when hiring someone, the employer turns over a man.
Patriarchy and Matriarchy
Matriarchy is not the antonym of patriarchy, but this term refers to societies in which women occupy leadership spaces in the different institutions of which they are part, in addition to having authority and being respected.
Although specialists have failed to agree to identify the origin of this type of societies, there are those who intuit that they are prior to patriarchal societies and their origins have to do with motherhood.
Some characteristics of matriarchal societies are the following:
- Administration. The woman is responsible for all administrative tasks, from the administration of food to money, work and physical spaces.
- Central figure. Within the family, the woman is the main figure but it does not prevail over that of the man (neither in the family nor in any other institution).
- Sustainable economy. They are usually agricultural communities, where the subsistence economy is imposed .
- Networks Women integrate mutual help networks in search of a community that works better.
- Links. Women can have more than one partner.
- Respect. The female figure is respected and even revered for a simple reason: it is who can give birth.
- Heritage. The goods that are inherited from one generation to the next remain in the hands of women, who are in charge of caring for them.
- Accordance. Men are not dissatisfied because they are part of such societies.
- Legitimacy. There is no coercion, but the recognition of who has the power.
- Value scale. In these societies, the sense of “having” does not govern, but the sense of “being”. The values are organized around the figure of a good mother.