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How and why do Feminists use the concept of 'Patriarchy'?

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Joe Levy Politics Homework How and why do Feminists use the concept of 'Patriarchy'? Feminists believe that gender, like social class, race or religion, is a significant social cleavage. Radical feminists argue that gender is the deepest and most politically important of social divisions. Feminists have therefore advanced a theory of 'sexual polities', in much the same way that socialists have preached the idea of 'class politics'. They also refer to 'sexism' as a form of oppression, drawing a conscious parallel with 'racism' or racial oppression. However, conventional political theory has traditionally ignored sexual oppression and failed to recognize gender as a politically significant category. As a result, feminists have been forced to develop new concepts and theories to convey the idea that society is based upon a system of sexual inequality and oppression. ...read more.


Patriarchy is therefore commonly used in a broader sense to mean quire simply 'rule by men', both within the family and outside. Millet for instance, described 'patriarchal government' as an institution whereby 'that half of the populace which is female is controlled by that half which is male'. She suggested that patriarchy contains two principles: 'male shall dominate female, elder male shall dominate younger'. A patriarchy is therefore a hierarchic society, characterized by both sexual and generational oppression. The concept of patriarchy is nevertheless broad. Feminists may believe that men have dominated women in all societies, but accept that the form and degree of oppression has varied considerably in different cultures and at different times. At least in Western countries, the social position of women significantly improved during the twentieth century as a result of the achievement ...read more.


The face of patriarchy they highlight is therefore the under-representation of women in senior positions in politics, business, the professions and public life. Socialist feminists tend to emphasize the economic aspects of patriarchy. In their view, patriarchy operates in tandem with capitalism, gender subordination and class inequality being interlinked systems of oppression. Some socialist feminists, indeed, reject the term altogether, on the grounds that gender inequality is merely a consequence of the class system: capitalism not patriarchy is the issue. Radical feminists, on the other hand, place considerable stress upon patriarchy. They see it as a systematic, institutionalized and pervasive form of male power that is rooted in the family. Patriarchy thus expresses the belief that the pattern of male domination and female subordination that characterizes society at large is, essentially, a reflection of the power structures that operate within domestic life. ...read more.

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