“Fortunately, woman’s intellectual inferiority is no longer spoken of seriously and it begins to be admitted that, if there has not been a female Shakespeare, a Dante, a Beethoven in past centuries, this is due to social and non-biological reasons, in short, to the absence of practice and opportunities… ” Alaide Foppa
Patriarchy responds to a form of family organisation used since ancient times in which authority is exercised by the male. It is common to also refer to the line of consanguinity and kinship.
Talking about patriarchy has occurred throughout history, referring its origin to something divine, or taking it for granted that it belongs to a “will agreement”, however, “in all these models, the dominion of men over women is maintained”. Marta Fontenla
The consequences of this prevailing system are clear in:
- The lack of women’s economic autonomy
- Sexual division of labour, the Wage Gap and type of work
- Work expectations (it is assumed that women prefer to stay at home)
- The Glass Ceiling (limiting professional opportunities)
- Domestic violence
- Sexual harassment
- Sexual reproductive rights
There are two elementary institutions for the support of the patriarchal system and the reason for this power relationship; Heterosexuality and The Social Contract. Compulsory heterosexuality ensures the coexistence between men and women maintaining a mathematical balance between masculinity and femininity. Within The Social Contract exist the rights and obligations that are implicitly distributed within a group that forms a society. So patriarchy extends beyond family relationships, we perceive it within any social institution.
Sexual relations become political relations and reproductive capacity forms the basis of social oppression, where the right of women to choose motherhood is due to an economic class system based on production relations.
We can understand that this concept is embodied in ideological, economic and political content, permeating both the public and the private realms, and also that it is logical for it to also dominate the class system where groups maintain interests, identity and dominance over others under this same discourse or justification.
This is why many female authors do not distinguish between the patriarchal system and the dominant class systems, or emphasise the direct relationship between patriarchy and capitalism. And since family power, by expanding into the public realm, becomes institutions that then form states, it is not difficult to comprehend that pater families at any level – governors, heads of institutions, businessmen, etc. – have power and control over the other members of the “family” preventing their formation as political and independent subjects in decision-making processes. Therefore, it is logical that the social class of gender emerges from the family relationship where marriage and free domestic work places women in a relationship of subordinate production. The author Marta Fontanela states that;
“…men, who as a social group and individually and collectively oppress women also individually and collectively appropriate their productive and reproductive force, their bodies and their products, either by peaceful means or through the use of violence.”
Furthermore, concepts such as racism, ethnocentrism, classism, colonialism and machismo itself, amongst others, correspond directly to patriarchal practices where the supremacy of those who exercise power does not allow access to equal opportunities for their subordinates. As such these are acts of defence of the dominant groups against the dominated group. I have always had the impression that it was the other way around.
“It is through becoming aware that we are victims that we can free ourselves. To say that you don’t have to victimise is really to say that you don’t have to fight. If you do not go through this stage, how can we break free?” Mona Chollet
Despite this being an urgent, aggravating issue requiring solutions, it continues to go unnoticed, integrated and unquestioned as it is in our daily mode of coexistence. We must think about legal, social, political, economic, and sexual resolutions based on diversity. Only by attending to the deconstruction of the privileges of men will a change of life and ideology be generated that will benefit every one of us.