Patriarchy is a dominance hierarchy. The opposite of a dominance hierarchy is a partnership-oriented system, not another dominance hierarchy that has different people in power.

The fact that you don’t seem to understand this indicates that you don’t actually know what the term patriarchy means. Patriarchy is not really about bad men oppressing women. It’s an entire social system that harms men as well. And no, it’s not what we have around the entire world, and it’s only been a part of the human condition for the past 10K years or less.

For the purposes of being able to compare, let’s look at what 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.

Hierarchies of actualization are employed in partnership-oriented structures to create cohesion and order in a way that is not based in intimidation or for the purposes of maintaining top-down rankings. “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.” This is in contrast to the domination stories that “justify and idealize domination and violence, which are deemed inevitable, moral, and desirable.” Such is the case in the state, the family and the workplace, as well as all other aspects of society. The Center for Partnership Studies

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