I see it as one hierarchy that has multiple facets, which have become more complex as people who used to be solidly near the bottom have gained more wealth and power. The apex is still overwhelmingly occupied by rich, white, Christian, heterosexual men who still have the most power, the most seats in government, corporations, etc. There are more CEOs named John then there are women CEOs of major companies.

One of the points of contention when talking about patriarchy is that a lot of men don’t have experience of the benefits that are supposed to be conferred on them. That’s because it’s not just a male/female thing or a rich/poor thing — it’s a lot more complex than that. It’s always best to be a rich, white, man. In some situations, it’s next best to be a middle class or working-class white man. In a few instances, it’s better to be a rich white woman. It depends on the circumstances.

“Men often deny the existence or at least the power of patriarchy because they do not feel a sense of freedom, a sense of real powerfulness within the system. The truth is that it constricts and restrains everyone, not just the people at the very bottom of its hierarchy.” Defining, Perpetuating & Challenging Patriarchy

Working-class men aren’t at the apex of the hierarchy. They may only have some sense of primacy over the women in their family. And being white and male doesn’t come with as much immediate cache as it used to, even for the guys not at the apex, which is a part of the reason so many of them are resisting a further flattening of the pyramid. It’s why we still haven’t passed the ERA 50 years later and there was so much push back to a black president.

“In a pyramid-shaped hierarchy like patriarchy, only a few elites can occupy the apex and everyone else vies for the highest position in the hierarchy that they can attain beneath that. Competence and ability may play some small part in ranking, but in general, these hierarchies are based solidly in traditional power. As recently as 50 years ago, the strata of the hierarchy were pretty well fixed, with white men at the top, white women below them, men of other races, including blacks next, and women of color at the bottom, with homosexuals and other marginalized groups in there somewhere near the bottom also.

It’s not quite that cut and dried anymore because we now have more women, non-whites, and gay people with wealth, education, and positions of power. However, this in itself has created tension because some people are reluctant to give up the old rankings.

As I said in this OP, the impulse to constantly evaluate whether you can take someone or take their man is a function of the dominance hierarchy.

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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