It’s always so charming when someone who doesn’t really know what they are talking about seeks to “educate” me about a topic that I’ve studied extensively. Sorry, but you are the one with the reductionist theory. This isn’t judgement-laden — it’s basic sociology. Patriarchy didn’t arise because it somehow worked better for everyone -it worked better for a few people, just as it does now. This is demonstrably so. We had thousands of years of peaceful agricultural societies like Çatalhöyük that were egalitarian and peaceful, and millennia before that of the same in hunter-gatherer tribes.

Patriarchy, which by the way is a stratified system not just between men and women, brought classes and the concept of elites and peons, for the first time. It was a male-oriented, war-oriented, class-oriented system that northern tribes, such as the Kurgans brought to the lands that they conquered and infiltrated. The fact that the other previously peaceful and egalitarian societies weren’t able to withstand their onslaught doesn’t prove shit, except that they couldn’t withstand their onslaught. Just because greed and strong-arm chieftains finally got a foothold around the world over a few thousand years doesn’t mean that it was to anyone’s benefit but the few at the top of the dominance hierarchy. We lived for 97% of human history in an entirely different way. Not all change is an evolution for the better.

There has never been a matriarchy — which would also be a form of a dominance hierarchy. Heaven forbid we should replace one dominance hierarchy with another! Matrilineal and matrifocal systems are always highly egalitarian. Patriarchy is a highly destructive system, not just for women or for people who happen to be lower down the dominance hierarchy, such as blacks or gays. It is currently the reason that we have such a high suicide rate for men because the constant need to evaluate your position in the hierarchy means that you can never trust anyone else or be close to them.

When you extrapolate out a system that is based in the historical domination of men over women, weaker men, and children to the rest of the cultural landscape, you get a society that is obsessed with how it rates in relation to those around them. You also get a society where many members feel completely justified in using bullying and violence in order to keep certain people or demographics in their perceived place. In order to be a part of dismantling patriarchal norms, as well as racism, homophobia and sexual harassment, the first step is to move away from the constant desire to needlessly rank, stratify, and coerce others to stay in their perceived roles and lanes and to instead just let people who aren’t hurting anyone else alone to live.

But by the fifth millennium B.C.E., or about seven thousand years ago, we begin to find evidence of what (English archeologist, James) Mellaart calls a pattern of disruption of the old Neolithic cultures in the Near East. Archaeological remains indicate clear signs of stress by this time in many territories. There is evidence of invasions, natural catastrophes, and sometimes both, causing large-scale destruction and dislocation. In many areas the old painted pottery traditions disappear. Bit by devastating bit, a period of cultural regression and stagnation sets in. Finally, during this time of mounting chaos the development of civilization comes to a standstill. As Mellaart writes, it will be another two thousand years before the civilizations of Sumer and Egypt emerge.

It (Indo-European peoples) characterizes a long line of invasions from the Asiatic and European north by nomadic peoples. Ruled by powerful priests and warriors, they brought with them their male gods of war and mountains. And as Aryans in India, Hittites and Mittani in the Fertile Crescent, Luwians in Anatolia, Kurgans in eastern Europe, Achaeans and later Dorians in Greece, they gradually imposed their ideologies and ways of life on the lands and peoples they conquered.

Eisler, Riane. The Chalice and the Blade . HarperOne. Kindle Edition.

Moving away from patriarchy means moving away from so much stratification and in the context of the family, it means having a more overt partnership, rather than a family leader and followers. Partnership-oriented relationships look like this:

Egalitarian and equitable adult relations are the norm. Parenting is not authoritarian but authoritative. Beliefs and stories present empathic, mutually beneficial, nonviolent relations as normal, moral, and desirable.

Moving away from the patriarchal model also makes room for different kinds of family configurations, ones that might have more than two opposite gender adults in it. We do not need to remove men from having any relevance or power in order to move away from patriarchy, we simply need to move away from having institutionalized power imbalances, in either the family or in wider society.

I’ve never said anything remotely like “men are evil.” Patriarchy isn’t really about men — it’s about maintaining a dominance hierarchy through coercion, fear and the threat of violence, and that isn’t good for anybody.

Written by

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

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store