Things that make no sense to me, #79024

The opening paragraph of the Wikipedia article, “Patriarchy“:

Patriarchy is the structuring of society on the basis of family units, where fathers have primary responsibility for the welfare of, hence authority over, their families. The concept of patriarchy is often used, by extension (in anthropology and feminism, for example), to refer to the expectation that men take primary responsibility for the welfare of the community as a whole, acting as representatives via public office.

Critique. *flaps hand imperiously*

Categories: gender & feminism


12 replies

  1. The talk page is at once hillarious and horrifying.
    EG. Mr Alastar Haines had this to say:
    “Science does not criticise patriarchy, it reports on its existance and provides explanation of features of sexual dimorphism. As I have said before, I’m happy for the feminist criticism section to go. Feminism is moral opinion, not science, and can be removed. If it stays, the article begs for a pro-patriarchy section.”
    But then the whole thing appears to be a bunch of guys arguing over the definition of patriarchy but agreeing that Patriarchy as it is understood by feminism should be dealt with elsewhere, to wit, Patriarchy_in_feminism . All this hurts my ironies more than I can bear.

  2. More from the article:

    Patriarchy is advanced as being advantageous for human evolution and social organization on many grounds, crossing several disciplines. Although biology may explain its existence (see below), arguments for its social utility have been made since ancient times. The main lines of argument are either pragmatic—namely, the reproductive advantages of male-as-provider—or ethical—that any perceived male authority is contingent upon underlying perceptions of duty of care.

    Amazing. If only we realised that patriarchy is good for us, we wouldn’t have all this feminist nonsense!
    Deborahs last blog post..Whale for dinner

  3. Fascinating, thanks for pointing it out.

  4. Oh thank God one is not teaching women’s writing or feminist theory any more. One would be inundated with essays full of Wikipedia definitions of patriarchy saying it was a fine thing and what was all the whining about.

  5. *Flaps hands imperiously* is pretty much the best description possible for my reaction. So long as we add *then cries* to the end.
    Caras last blog post..OMG Teh Pill Killz

  6. Despite having a pretty depressing conversation about the patriarchy with my partner (where I read him the first paragraph, and he asked what was wrong with it – I’m putting that down to how it’s harder to graps something you hear than something you read) I’m going to use this article in a week one lecture to illustrate why using Wikipedia for university work is a really bad idea.
    I just checked in a collated reference tools database the uni library subscribes to – Oxford Reference Online. ‘Patriarchy’ returned a result in 16 Oxford dictionaries / companions / encyclopaedias (from different disciplines – sociology, economics, geography, public health etc) – and they all lead off with the concept of rule and domination.

  7. Laura, that’s great. Keenly critical analysis of web resources is a really key skill for university, and needs to be explicitly taught (possibly over and over again).

  8. The talk page is at once hillarious and horrifying.

    omg yes, yes, yes. If these chaps were at all interested in debunking the literalist-masculinist-closeted-nerd stereotype, they’re really not doing very well at it.

  9. In many traditional sociological writings, patriarchy means *only* a society where inheritance is passed on through the male line; a matriarchy is one where it is passed through the female line (hence a lot of confusion among the general public about the existence of matriarchal cultures, as inheritance practice does not always reflect a higher status of women in society). So, I think it would be fair to say that different disciplines have different usages for the term, and it seems a bit arbitrary to pick one, as if it is the only meaning.

  10. But hasn’t the jargon distinguished between p/matriarchal and p/matrilineal societies for quite a long time now, for exactly the reason that other disciplines were looking at authority/rule/dominance structures and not just inheritance structures?

  11. Yes, that’s been “patrinileal” for a long time, and Wikipedia prides itself on being online and therefore up to date.
    Plus, what Laura wrote.

  12. I thought so too, but when in an academic seminar about patriarchal society the other week, it was quite clear in the comments that several (male) members of the audience had not moved with the times (which seriously made me wonder how they had understood the presentation). But, yes I agree that, generally, most feminists and sociologists now use m/patrilineal.

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