Posted by: lee E. | October 22, 2012

Some Man Talks about Patriarchy

O’Shaugnessy and Stadler begin Media & Society’s chapter 20 with the statement “Patriarchy is a system based on the law of the father,” (P. 353) and a chapter later we’re asked to continue to conceive of patriarchal systems “as essentially male,” but are now encouraged to think about the ways in which they are damaging to men.

I think if our goal is to continue towards a more balanced system or united front, it’s important to find ways of talking about the current in ways that aren’t immediately shaming to men.  In my view, patriarchy foremost favors performative behaviors that benefit systems of already-established power.   If we lump “men” together,  it becomes easy to forget about those who don’t incline towards that system or what it rewards…and we may be forcing a sort of othering of the sexes actually furthers stereotyping (from both sides) instead of moving us forward.

I would point to the Atlantic Monthly’s recent “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” article by Anne-Marie Slaughter.  I’m sympathetic, but there are a lot of men who can’t either. Whether you’re a man trying to be the patriarchal perfectionist ideal or a woman, it is crippling and impossible…for some more than others.

Hillary Clinton’s response last week poses an interesting question: Is it the scripted phrasing of a woman who has been rewarded for playing by the patriarchal rules? Or is she the post-feminist ideologue that will begin to help us all deconstruct the patriarchal pedagogy?


  1. I’m glad that you brought up that Atlantic Monthly article. One of the really interesting things to me about the discourse on “having it all” is that it’s only ever discussed in relation to women; there’s never been any expectation for men to aspire to “have it all”, which is just another way that the old patriarchal system operates and (I think) does a disservice to men as well as women.

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