Patriarchy Is Dead

kyriosFrom 2010, Nichi Hodgson writing for the Guardian:

From reclaiming the F word to objecting to objectification – there’s a new feminist army determined to finally flatten the patriarchy. But here’s the really radical news: patriarchy is dead. It’s dead simplistic, dead inaccurate, and no longer a useful way of framing gender inequality in the UK. Forget about castrating patriarchy – it’s time to corral kyriarchy, the system identified by Harvard theologian Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, which explains how ethnicity, class, economics and education, as well as gender, intersect to oppress us all, men as well as women.

So, kyriarchy: the substitution of one elitist, etymological hair-splitting term for another, I hear my newly estranged sisters cry – just what feminism needs. But this is a neologism with a difference. Where patriarchy – literally, rule of the father – explains only how traditional male authority dictates to, and subjugates women, kyriarchy (from the Greek: kyrios – lord/master; archion – dominion/rule) relates how each of us, whatever our gender, is a bundle of privileges we can all too readily abuse by invoking the “master power”, whether that’s as a black female barrister, a mixed-race trans male teacher, or a white immigrant male labourer. At the same time, the term’s connotations of elite authority perfectly tap into the legacy of oppression that western feminists, from Mary Wollstonecraft to Germaine Greer, have dedicatedly derided.

Scoff at my linguistic parsing, but terminology matters. Just as contemporary feminism is so keen to detox the term “feminist”, so “patriarchy” carries a whole truckload of outdated assumptions about male-perpetuated oppression that blinker us all. Take porn for example. Patriarchy just isn’t useful when we want to talk about how its proliferation is negatively impacting on men and women alike. Kyriarchy, by contrast, accounts for the increasing numbers of men who are suffering from sexual performance anxiety or emotional disconnection with women, which can be related to x-rated overconsumption, and how female performers, who can make good money out of being the object of both male and female desire and envy, can argue they are somewhat empowered by doing so. This isn’t to claim porn stars as emancipated feminist role models; it’s just to recognise that sexual allure and money, rightly or wrongly, accord power that oppresses too…

Read more here.

10 Comments on "Patriarchy Is Dead"

  1. YaBooSucksToYouFascists | Feb 6, 2012 at 3:27 pm |

    Here’s a music video all about it:

    Kellee Maize – Mad Humans

    • well at least its about the chauvinistic part of it. This article though is more about how the chauvinism (from the feminists side) is getting in the way of seeing the real problems.

  2. Butter Knife | Feb 6, 2012 at 7:52 pm |

    I’ve always wondered how long it would take paleo-feminists to see where they went wrong. Women are just as capable of men at everything, and just as incapable too. We have women in positions of authority and power, and it’s no longer enough to pretend that women can’t cock things up just like men.

    It’s time to start REALLY looking past things like gender or race as determinants for who is fit to lead, because we’ve unequivocally proven that any combination of skin tone, genitals, religious beliefs, sexual preferences or whatever offer no correlation to quality. Between a hetero-normative male WASP and a ______sexual androgynous post-racial humanist, the best choice is going to be the one who actually knows what the fuck they’re doing. Everything else is just window dressing.

  3. ” When feminist commentators and charities working to “liberate” sex
    workers relate their tales for them, rather than letting them speak
    first-hand, that’s kyriarchy”

    When those same groups ignore sex workers who try to explain why they made their own decision to become sex workers, they accuse them of being so victimised that they don’t even realise they are victims. Which is offesive and condescending.
    Feminism was supposed to be inclusive of all women and support their choices whether they chose to be stay at home mums, or go out to work.
    Back in the 50’s the argument was should lesbians be ‘allowed’ to be feminists, and now it’s sex workers.

    As a sex worker myself I have stopped saying that I am a feminist, I am offended when a woman who claims to be a feminist decides to speak for me without listening to what I have to say, or who changes what I say to suit her own belief that no one really wants to be a sex worker.
    I made the decision to become a sex worker, no one forced me into it, I don’t have a drug addiction and I’m definitely not a victim.
    I like my job and I like the freedom it gives me, and if so-called feminists want to have some sort of old girls club that I can’t be a part of because of my chosen employment then they are no diferent to the men they claim are ‘oppressing’ them
    /end rant

    • Jin The Ninja | Feb 7, 2012 at 2:45 am |

      most 3rd world and post wave feminists are very sex positive, and most recognise sex work/ers as part of their framework. the question is NOT is sex-work feminist, but rather, what problematises sex work (as a feminist) and what makes it viable. If (a feminist) recognises that it  has multiple aspects, which is more ‘honest’, the greater responsibility is to advocate for the rights those persons (cis- trans- queer-) should have under the law, or under a future society.

      i don’t wish to make a false equivelancy, but it is not dissimiliar to abortion. the ethical and feminist issues are multi-layered, but the majority of feminists agree that it is about the RIGHT to choose (not about what one does with that choice), and most post-feminists agree that body autonomy is a paramount issue for personskind.

      i agree that some old school feminists have a very pre-defined gender and moral role they feel feminists should play, but i certainly am not among them, and most of the younger ones fully reject the framework (which btw also has been applied to trans-womyn) that is exclusive rather than inclusive.

      • gwen jackson | Feb 7, 2012 at 7:16 pm |

        strange… your posts are typically so rational and well organized that I was SURE you must be a guy (well, an asian guy, I definitely didn’t have you pegged as a product of the American education system)…interesting…

        • Jin The Ninja | Feb 7, 2012 at 7:57 pm |

          i am a (half) asian guy- and while i spent some time at MS/HS in the US, i had mostly an international school education followed by CDN university.

    • gwen jackson | Feb 7, 2012 at 7:10 pm |

      inappropriate content removed by author.
      I love that ‘edit’ button, I never have been good at censoring myself on the first try…

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