Decided to make an updated post on this topic. “Patriarchy” is the cornerstone that most other 3rd Wave circular arguments rest upon. We know the wage gap is caused by sexism because of Patriarchy = We know patriarchy is real because the wage gap is caused by sexism. We know male privilege is real because of Patriarchy = We know patriarchy is real because of male privilege. Etc. You can find a complete resource responding to all these points here.
This post includes info from another post, but I feel some people are perhaps less inclined to review that one because it takes the form of a debate. So I’m basically starting with the info from there, and expanding upon it. I’ll also include the most common arguments I’ve seen, so you’ll know how to respond to them.
First we’ll begin by using the absolute loosest definition of patriarchy so that it has the greatest possible chance of survival against rational inquiry; it’s a system wherein “masculinity is favored over femininity”. That’s it! That’s the only definition we’re using, because with that definition, you can build up towards anything you want that’s more specific.
— Why does 97% of alimony cases go to women? http://www.forbes.com/sites/emmajohnson/2014/11/20/why-do-so-few-men-get-alimony/ – shouldn’t it go to men? Who are in power? Who are in charge? Who can just FORCE THE WOMAN to hand over her money and belongings to the man after a divorce? (You know, like they do in the middle east?)
— Why is Hillary Clinton beating Bernie Sanders? An old and well-off white man? I mean the patriarchy isn’t just letting her win, they’re letting her cheat her ass off and get away with it scot-free. http://www.sansmemetics.com/2016-the-year-americans-learned-their-elections-are-rigged/?utm_campaign=shareaholic&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=socialnetwork
The above should be enough to pretty much slam shut the case on patriarchy, but we’re not done. As I stated earlier, lets go ahead and answer the most popular arguments for teh existence of patriarchy. Any new arguments I find may be added later. This will be the final and most complete resource in shutting down this nonsensical claim once and for all.
Most Common Arguments for the Existence of Patriarchy in he US
1. “What about our all-male congress? Why aren’t there any women? Men are clearly in power!”
Probably this is the most common argument and is the immediate go-to point on the subject. It also reveals just how little thought goes into making this claim. To begin with, we live in a free and open society, where anyone can run for any position in our government. Men are elected to congress because people vote for them, and over 50% of voters are women. In 2012, 53% of voters were women, and they backed Barrack Obama. There were similar numbers in the 2008 campaign, where more women than men voted, and when Obama was first elected. If you’ll remember, that’s also where Hillary ran her first campaign, and lost the democratic nomination to Obama, because that’s how most women voted. We currently have an old white hetero-normative male running against Hillary in our current election season, and women plenty of women are voting for him instead of her. At no point in any election process is being male a requirement.
So we then get the question “Why aren’t women running for office then?” The 3rd Wave narrative insists that it has to be patriarchy! But this subject has been very thoroughly researched, and as you might expect, studies reveal a completely different answer. You can find one such study here:https://annieslist.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/WhyDontWomenRun.pdf
From the study:
When we move to the third box in Figure 1 and examine those members of the sample who actually ran for elective office, gender differences again emerge. Twelve percent of the men from the initial pool of prospective candidates actually threw their hats into the ring and sought elective positions; only 7 percent of the women did so (difference significant at p < .01). At first glance, this might seem like a small difference, but, in reality, it reflects the fact that men are 71 percent more likely than women to run for office.
Long story short: women simply choose not to run for office.
You can find another study here: http://www.iwpr.org/publications/pubs/building-women2019s-political-careers-strengthening-the-pipeline-to-higher-office – this is from a far left leaning feminist organization, which basically reaches similar findings: women simply choose not to run for office, and the ones that do often don’t have the skills to succeed. Just like at any job, you need skills related to that job, or you probably won’t do well.
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ajps.12158/full – another study, this one from the American Journal of Political Science. The study concludes:
Even if potential candidates have the same qualifications, harbor the same ambitions, face the same incentives, and confront the same unbiased voters and electoral institutions—in short, encouter identical decision problems—the fact that representatives are chosen by electoral means is enough to dissuade women from putting themselves forward as candidates.
– and further –
But we also know that when women run for office, they win with at least as much frequency as do men (Darcy et al. 1994).
Which just reiterates the point; women most certainly *can* run, and *can* win, but they choose not to put themselves out there and run. Men face just as much scrutiny and just as many challenges. The difference lies in personal choice.
Nothing says it better than this line:
Women’s entry into the candidate pool increases only if we simultaneously guarantee that campaigns are completely truthful and eliminate the private costs of running for office.
Right. We need to make a bunch of rules! Everyone has to be COMPLETELY HONEST! (In politics, seriously.) No name calling! No mud slinging! No personal attacks! Don’t criticize the things I say, or what I do, or where I go, or what I’ve done in the past – then I’ll feel safe enough to run!
Notice how Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren don’t need any of that? Let that sink in for a moment. Because *THAT’S* why they made it to the top. Sarah Palin routinely has her personal and family life attacked anytime she appears anywhere in the media. Say what you want about her, but I couldn’t do that. You have to be incredibly damn tough to survive, and even tougher to succeed – just like any man does.
You can find numerous other studies on this subject. Nowhere will you find “Women are kept out of congress because men laugh at them and send them home” – or any other claim involving patriarchy.
I also have personal experience working with politics. In 2014, I worked for the Democratic Party of Portland (bet you thought I was a conservative, didn’tcha?) I got an up close and personal look at just how vicious some of the mud-slinging can be. If you’re running for office, your opponent has people on their team who will go through your entire personal history and look at every letter you’ve ever written, every job you’ve ever held, and every statement you’ve ever said. Hell when Ben Carson was still in the 2016 race, journalist went so far as to seek out people he went to grade school with and interviewed them about his childhood! Utterly nothing about your life will remain private if you decide to run for office.
Most women just don’t want their personal lives in front of the whole world to see.
Most men are willing to to run that gauntlet.
Again, this comes back to personal choice. If women were being kept out of office “because patriarchy”, how on earth do you explain all the women who *DO* successfully make it in politics? Was the patriarchy just sleeping when they decided to run? Did patriarchy leave the door unlocked and the women slipped in, going “SURPRISE!” – then the patriarchy couldn’t kick them out? Clearly, some women *are* making the personal choice to run, so there goes your “social pressures” argument. Men face exactly the same social pressures when they run for office (just look at what Obama and others have had to face). They simply make the personal choice to do it anyway.
Second, women are kept out of power? Then how do you explain:
^ I mean, how is *any* of this possible if women were “excluded from power”? Going back to the Why Don’t Women Run study from above, we find:
Men are significantly more likely than women to identify a state office (17 percent of men, compared to 11 percent of women) or national office (10 percent of men, compared to only 3 percent of women) as their first choice (differences significant at p < .01). These results mirror those researchers who find that women are more likely to focus their political involvement at the local level or in positions that match their stereotypic strengths.
So then it makes perfect sense why we find so many women mayors and governors, but fewer women running for president. You can see a list of female mayors here: http://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/levels_of_office/women-mayors-us-cities-2015 (that list is too long to have on this page). Goes back to personal choice – something 3rd Wavers just hate (given how often we hear the argument “social pressure made me do it / kept me from it!”).
1.5 “Men can’t represent women’s interests / women are under represented!”
First, saying a man can’t represent a woman because he doesn’t have a vagina is like telling a brain surgeon he can’t help a patient with a tumor because he’s never had a tumor. It also says nothing about how men are supposed to be represented if we let women into congress; somehow or another, women can represent men’s interest just fine? … well, yes, they can. There’s nothing about lacking a penis that makes it impossible for you to understand how men live. And vice versa.
Second, how exactly has a mostly male congress *not* represented women? They routinely discuss and address women’s issues. For example, even though every study ever published has shown that the wage gap is a result of women’s personal decisions, it still goes before congress and gets discussed anyway.
In fact, here’s a list of legislation passed by an “all male congress” that almost exclusively benefits women:
— The 19th Amendment ratified in 1920, allowing women to vote
— US vs Ballard, a 1946 ruling preventing discrimination of women on federal juries.
— Hoyt vs Florida, a 1961 ruling which extends US vs Ballard over state juries
— Federal Fair Pay Act of 1963, guaranteeing women are paid the same amount for the same work
— Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, effectively making sexual harassment a federal offense
— Executive Order 11375, signed in 1965, which extended affirmative action to women
— Griswold v. Connecticut, a 1965 ruling granting all married couples access to contraception
— Loving v. Virginia, a 1967 decision that allowed women of any race to marry man of any race
— Executive Order 11246, signed in 1968, which prohibits sex discrimination by government contractors and requires affirmative action plans for hiring women
— Gun Control Act of 1968, which prevents anyone convicted of domestic violence from purchasing a firearm (passed with almost unanimous support from congress, by the way)
— Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, extending affirmative action to college campuses for women
— Eisenstadt v. Baird, a case in 1972, established the right to use contraceptives
— Roe v Wade, a 1972 ruling that has since made it legal to seek an abortion
— Education Amendments Act of 1972, which prevents discrimination based on gender of any federally funded program (signed by president Nixon, by the way)
— Frontiero v. Richardson, a 1973 decision that ruled against the discrimination of military spouses
— The Fair Housing Act, passed in 1974, which eliminates housing discrimination on the basis of sex
— Sprogis v. United Airlines, a 1975 ruling that prevents discrimination against women for being married
— Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, prevents discrimination for being pregnant
— Kirchberg v. Feenstra, a 1981 decision that overturns state laws that give the husband exclusive control over property that’s jointly owned with his wife
— Roberts v. U.S. Jaycees, a 1984 decision that required many male-only organizations (Kiwanis, Rotary, Lions, etc) must allow women. It’s difficult to imagine this happening to female-only organizations
— Comprehensive Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (or COBRA), in 1985, which allows women to continue receiving benefits from their health insurance policy, if the policy was connected to their job, and they lose that job.
— Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, a 1986 ruling that stated sexual harassment, even if it doesn’t cause any economic loss, is still a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
— The Family Medical Leave Act of 1993, allowing women 12 weeks of maternity leave among other things
— Harris v. Forklift Systems, a 1993 decision stating that a woman doesn’t have to show any signs of physical or psychological injury when reporting sexual harassment
— The Violence against Women Act of 1994, which in turn created Rape Shield Laws
— The subsequent creation of the Office of Violence Against Women
— Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act of 1994, which prevents anyone from stopping a woman from accessing reproductive healthcare
— Gender Equity in Education Act, passed in 1994, aimed at training teachers in gender equity, promote math and science for girls, counseling for pregnant teens, and prevention of sexual harassment
— United States v. Virginia, a 1996 ruling that stated the Virginia Military Institute was required to accept women who wanted to enroll (just a side note: the VMI considered going private to avoid this decision, but the Department of Defense threatened to pull all ROTC programs if they did. Patriarchy?)
— Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, extending statute of limitations for suing over wage discrimination cases.
Keep in mind, these are all only federal laws, and supreme court decisions. This doesn’t include state laws and state supreme court decisions.
Then we have even more laws, statutes, and court rulings that men can arguably benefit from as well, although if we believed the claims of 3rd Wavers, these would have been passed mostly for the benefit of women.
You can see a few such statutes here: https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/usao-me/legacy/2012/06/01/Federal%20DV%20Statutes%20-%20September%202010.pdf
— Interstate Travel to Commit Domestic Violence
— Interstate Stalking
— Cyber Stalking
— Interstate Travel to Violate an Order of Protection
— Household and Dependent Care Credit Act of 2001, an attempt to offset the cost of raising children through a tax credit
— Apessos v. Memorial Press Group, a 2002 ruling that an employer cannot terminate an employee who requires time off to settle a matter pertaining to domestic violence
— In J.E.B. v. Alabama, a 1994 decision that basically says any challenge whatsoever regarding the participation in the democratic process on the basis of race or gender is disallowed
— The Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare) is signed into law in 2010. Part of this act requires that private health insurance companies provide women with birth control, without co-pays or deductibles.
I actually don’t want this post to go on forever, so I can’t include literally every congressional act, supreme court ruling, and executive order that benefits only women. You can find another list that goes even further into this here: http://www.nwhp.org/resources/womens-rights-movement/detailed-timeline/ . But this claim that women “lack fair representation”, as if our “all male” congress (in a patriarchy) has never done anything for women, is absolutely mind boggling.
Can you imagine for a moment congress passing that many laws and decisions that exclusively benefit men? Yea neither can I.
…………in a patriarchy.
2. “Wage gap!”
3. “Men hold doors open for you because you’re seen as weak / men pay for dates because it’s assumed you cant pay / men do nice things for you because they’re expecting sex”.
Answered this one in a post you can see here. But if you want the short version: you can’t read someone’s mind. You don’t *know* that a man is holding a door open for you because he thinks you’re weak. He could be just trying to be nice. He could see you as strong and confident and wants to hold the door for that reason. He might even admire you, and that’s why he’s doing it. The same goes for all the other suggested motives – you can’t know those are a person’s reasons within those hypothetical examples. It’s just a story that you’ve decided to accept and interpret the world with.
I have a black friend who was getting nasty looks from his professor in college. The professor was nice to all the other students, but always seemed tense around him. Finally one day my friend called him out on it, expect some type of racist motive (3rd Wavers call themselves “intersectional” when they make up motives based on race). The professor finally levels with him.
“Ever since this semester started… you’ve been taking my parking space. Could you please stop doing that?”
My friend began parking somewhere else, and things were fine from that day forward. “Men only _______ because _______” — When applied to men as a whole, that’s just narrative. It’s certainly not “proof of patriarchy”.
3.5 “So you’re saying it’s impossible to know someone’s motives?”
Of course not. It’s easy to know someone’s motives – just ask them! People are generally open if you approach them in a non-accusatory way. I know that after spending the evening with someone who’s offering to pay for my meal, it’s certainly *not* because they sees me as unable to pay for my dinner. We’ve been dating for a while, and we know each other. I don’t have any reason to suspect a hidden motive.
But that’s not what we’re talking about. “Patriarchy” isn’t what one person does. The exact definition of patriarchy changes based on who you ask (as it happens in any faith based movement), but all definitions include some type of prevailing culture or system that operates across the entire country and affects everyone. So even if you were dating someone who paid for your meal because he thought you weren’t able to due to having a vagina, that wouldn’t be proof of patriarchy. That’s just proof that you’re dating someone who’s very….. strange.
4. “What about rape culture / thousands of rape kits that are backlogged!”
Here’s the complete and total answer to rape culture. As for rape kits, a 2011 report released from the Justice Department details exactly why that’s happening – and it has nothing to do with patriarchy, sexism, rape culture, or any other 3rd Waver buzz word.
5. “Women are still battling for reproductive rights!”
Review the list we went over earlier, and look at how many laws and decisions have been made regarding women’s reproductive rights. You have a dizzying array of rights. Men on the other hand have virtually nothing in this regard. How in the world has it gotten this backwards?
(Update 5/13/16: The above meme appears to have been successfully challenged by a number of different people. You can see the full discussion here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=795018017295411&set=a.409712675825949.1073741828.100003616618834&type=3 . A review of the facts currently shows that women still do have some advantages over men in regards to child support, but the majority of the points in the meme do not hold. Thank you for challenging the information you see on 4th Wavers. That’s how we improve.)
This is not to say the system we have is perfect. It’s fair to say that abortion clinics in certain states have been unfairly shut down, and this is a serious injustice that should be corrected. John Oliver does a fantastic job of outlining these issues here. But don’t pretend like women just have no rights a all. That’s ridiculous. And while these are issues that people are becoming aware of and trying to correct, nobody is at all concerned about the man’s rights regarding a pregnancy.
If this were a patriarchy, why isn’t this the exact opposite way around? Shouldn’t the man have a ton of rights, with the woman left out of the discussion?
You know. Kind of like it is in *actual* patriarchies? Like Iraq? And Saudi Arabia?
6. “Women don’t get maternity leave!”
…. and the reason for this… is because the US is a culture that hates women so much that we just can’t stand the thought of them at home, raising a child?
It might have something to do with the inordinate cost of paying a woman to not show up at work every day for over a year while she stays at home. That might also be why men aren’t given time off either for having a child.
This is still a problem of course, and one that should be intelligently discussed and considered. And as a socialist, I’m confident there are solutions that most likely exist outside of the price system. But this isn’t something caused by men hating women (or femininity being devalued, if that sounds better) so much that they don’t want them to go home and raise kids.
Come to think of it, if the patriarchy’s view of women is that they should stay home and raise kids, then shouldn’t we expect *more* maternity leave?
7. Women are objectified / harassed!
Objectification Theory has been debunked, and women aren’t objectified. As far as harassment goes, according to 3rd Wave sources, literally anything a man says in public, no matter what it is, can be called “harassment”. In the 10 hour walk through New York video, which was famously used by the agency Hollaback as solid proof of the “shocking and horrifying” harassment (yes, those were their own words) that women go through each day showed us such horrible catcalls as “Hello”, “God bless you”, and “Have a nice day” (those are some of the first things we hear in the video).
None of these would fit the legal definition of harassment. And you can’t point to anything someone says that you don’t personally like and claim it’s harassment (well, technically you can, since 3rd Wavers do this all the time – but that doesn’t actually make it harassment).
This isn’t to say that harassment just never happens – of course it does, just like any crime occasionally happens. Murder, theft, arson, and so on. That in no way suggests that there’s an entire nation wide culture that thinks these things are okay. That’s why we have laws against them – and 3 federal statutes specifically against harassment were listed above.
8. Women can’t go topless in public / women are told they can’t breastfeed in public!
I honestly can’t imagine a world where women go topless in public. As it stands, if you *LOOK* at a woman the wrong way – that’s male gaze. You try to explain yourself – that’s man-splaining. You give up and go sit down – that’s man-spreading. The only way to not “enforce the patriarchy” is to curl up in a little ball, close your eyes, and remain motionless until a woman gives you permission to move.
………… but even then, we’d have “man-breathing”. Your breathing too hard. That’s a sign of domination! It’s patriarchy!
Okay now women are going to go around topless? Can you just imagine? Absolutely positively *EVERY* conceivable thing a man does is going to be harassment of one kind or another. I mean if you think it’s bad now, just wait until the “free the nipple” campaign succeeds. I’m honestly waiting for rape accusations against men who weren’t even in the same area code.
I’m also not aware of the legions of women who are just dying to walk around town topless. Like that’s a serious thing all women are wanting to do, and can’t, because patriarchy.
As far as breastfeeding goes – I’d agree, that’s a problem, and personally it’s not one that I understand. I’ve never really got what people are so hung up about. Sure breast can be sexual, but that doesn’t mean they always are. But what does this have to do with masculinity being promoted at the expense of femininity? It’s more likely just a cultural hold over from more puritanical times centuries ago.
9. Women have to change their names to the man’s after marriage!
This is because marriage used to serve a very different function than it does now. In fact, marrying someone because you love them is actually a relatively new thing! Even the practice of getting on your knee and proposing with a ring is a manufactured tradition that started only in the 20th century.
Marriage used to be about alliances during war, land exchange, inheritance, and so on. If you trace back the original reasons for the name change, it gets rather complex as we go through medieval Europe, and cultures prior to that time. Marriage has meant different things during different time periods, and the practice of name changing has since gone obsolete.
It had nothing to do with “men are awesome, women are worthless, so you change your name to mine”. In much the same way chivalry has utterly nothing to do with holding a door open for someone, or treating women in any particular way. Chivalry was almost entirely about medieval battle etiquette. The only time it would apply in modern times is if a man were challenging you to a jousting tournament.
10. “The English language is male dominated! MailMAN, ServiceMAN, etc”.
First, our language has changed over the last few decades, and using gender specific nouns in describing an occupation is becoming less and less common. That’s not something that should happen in a patriarchy.
Second, gender roles evolved out of earlier survival behavior. I would like to see the typical modern day blue-haired “I need a safe space” 3rd Waver chop wood, carry stones, then kill a large animal and drag it back to the cave, and see how well she does. Chances are, she’s not going to do well at all. Her male counterpart is unable to give birth to children even if he wanted to, and probably also wouldn’t do well sitting around a cave listening to a screaming baby all day. For survival, they took different survival roles. These roles eventually became culturally ingrained as gender roles. It explains why many occupations had “man” in the name for a long while, but it has utterly nothing to do with women being inferior.
In fact, in all ancient civilizations, when these roles were first developing, women were the ones in control of society. They ran the government, owned all the property, and men were unmistakably second class. Centuries later, while the man was out plowing the fields under the hot sun in medieval Europe, the women was inside *not* getting sunburned, mosquito bitten, or called off to war anytime the king got bored.
Gender roles are not patriarchy. And neither is gendered language.
I hope by now the myth of patriarchy is clear, and how it’s ultimately the driving force behind the 3rd Wave agenda.
How can you believe that men run everything just to hurt women (patriarchy), that men are somehow inherently valued over women and are given power over them (another definition of patriarchy), that women are oppressed by men and excluded from any form of power or decision making (yet another definition of patriarchy), that men are given advantages only because they are men (because of patriarchy), that men see women as objects (due to patriarchy), even when absolutely none of these things have any truth to them…
…. and not call that “man-hating”? How is it possible to believe all that – none of which have any evidence – and not call yourself anti-man?
3rd Wave has nothing to do with women’s issues, and sure as hell has nothing to do with equality. It’s focused around, and centered on, hating men. It criminalizes masculinity and victimizes femininity. “Patriarchy” is just an pseudo-academic way of making this look like a social theory from an activist group rather than an ideology from a hate group.
That’s why 4th Wave exists. We’re checking 3rd Wave back towards reality, and hope that one day we can rescue feminism and return it to what it was originally about; empowering women, and focusing on legitimate social justice issues.