A woman who is making her family miserable with her “superior social skills” (whatever that means) is not likely doing it because she is anti-male and unless you can give me a concrete example that better explains your premise, I’m inclined to think you are quibbling for the sake of doing so.

I don’t know what your country is, and there are ones that aren’t patriarchal, but not many, and when I say we, I’m talking about the US where I live. Perhaps I should have been more specific. More than 50% of people in the US believe that the father is the head of the family/household (rather than that parents are co-partners). That’s a patriarchy, but even more than the gender dynamics part, patriarchy is a social system based in stratifications of all kinds centered around race, class, education, wealth, etc.

The components of a patriarchal dominance hierarchy are:

  • In a pyramid-shaped hierarchy with only a few elites at the apex, you must constantly dominate or risk being dominated. If you don’t win, you lose.
  • When patriarchy began about 6–9 K years ago, it brought not only stratification between men and women but in the larger society as well. For the first time, we had social castes and elites. People must know and conform to their place in the social stratification.
  • The rules of that stratification are enforced through creating fear, the threat of pain, coercion, bullying and the ostracization of those who will not comply. Men who are not at the apex of the pyramid are also subject to this abusive behavior and are expected to accept it, although they are allowed to abuse those below them in the hierarchy.
  • Boys and men must never embody anything remotely feminine because anything female is lower down the dominance hierarchy and is therefore less than. For example, men who have sex with men are like women, so they deserve to be harassed and punished for not conforming to established gender norms.
  • Traits that are considered masculine like control, competitiveness, and stoicism are more desirable for everyone than traits that are considered feminine like empathy, nurturance, and cooperation.
  • Those who have historically held power maintain it through overt as well as more subtle means. For example, racial segregation laws were overt, but after their repeal, many of the same mechanisms for keeping black people in their place were still observed through custom rather than law.

In other words, the dominance hierarchy called patriarchy, the kind of social system that we have in the US, is very oriented towards control and towards the binary. You are either a man or a woman, a winner or a loser, a leader or a follower, a badass or a wimp. There is not much room for nuance or for constructs that aren’t zero-sum, although this is beginning to change a little bit.

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Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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