Patriarchy is a system that primarily advantages a relatively few powerful men at the top, but it encourages a domination structure going all the way down. So called “stronger” men over weaker ones, and then over women and also children. Think about the traditional 1950s family. In this model, there is constant jousting for position in the pecking order, constant attempts to gain power over others, constant policing of gendered norms. Those in positions of relative power want to keep others who have traditionally had less out. They use whatever weapons are at their disposal to do so, which until only about 50 years ago included both laws and customs to prevent women and men of color from having access to equal opportunities.
Fifty years is not that long a time and although the laws and even some of the customs have changed, the attitudes haven’t entirely — in part because they are constantly reinforced by this competitive hierarchical system called patriarchy. So yes, the current system hurts women and most men, and it needs to be dismantled for that reason. Men need to help change things because it’s in their long term best interests also. Back to the Eisler model — going from a dominance based model to a more partnership oriented one benefits everyone, and Eisler is asked to speak about this around the world.
When you talk about how you wouldn’t ask men to change until someone can guarantee that women will change also you seem to be coming from a place of your own personal wounding. What have women done to men on a societal (and not an individual) level in the past 5K years that is remotely on par with the horrendous way that women have been (and continue to be) treated? For example, half of murdered women are killed by current or former domestic partners. A very, very small percentage of men are killed by their female domestic partners. I’d like to live in a world where no-one is killed by a domestic partner but focusing on the small percentage of men killed or equating the numbers is not useful or practical when trying to address this issue. It can be included into the conversation, but it’s hardly the main problem. I see this as an example of what’s going on at a larger scale.
We all benefit when we live in a more egalitarian world (male, female, cis, trans, non-binary, black, white, etc.), where everyone is allowed to be who they actually are without being told that it’s inferior to be that. We all benefit when everyone has equal access to opportunities — it benefits the individuals as well as the whole. Lorelei Weldon wrote an excellent article a while back about why law firms should adopt a less antagonistic internal atmosphere and how that would not only benefit women, but also male lawyers (who suffer from the highest rates of depression and substance abuse of any industry) and how it would benefit the bottom line of the firms as well. This is what I’m talking about.