• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

What are the major difficulties around the concept of 'patriarchy'; has the term outlived its usefulness?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

What are the major difficulties around the concept of 'patriarchy'; has the term outlived its usefulness? The term patriarchy has many definitions, but it broadly means male supremacy over women in society. It can be said to be a "system of male authority, which oppresses women through its social, political and economic institutions" (Humm, 1989 p89). There are several major difficulties around the term. There are conflicting ideas within feminism about what exactly the term means, and as such there is no one set definition of it. The universality of the theory can also be questioned. Furthermore the theory itself can be said to be patriarchal. It can be argued the term has outlived its usefulness, as due to changes in the law, the roles of men and women are viewed as more equal. However, on the other hand it can be argued these changes are not carried out in practice, and that patriarchy still is a useful concept. As stated in the introduction, patriarchy means male supremacy over women in society. The word patriarchy comes from Greek, and means 'rule of the father' (Wynter, 2000). It is commonly used by all feminists to explain the oppression of women by men. The government, the church, the judiciary system and the media are among the institutes in society, which are said to enforce patriarchy. ...read more.

Middle

Muller argues it is "a social system in which the status of women is defined primarily as wards of their husbands, fathers and brothers" (Muller, 1995). Millet sees patriarchy as being independent of capitalist and other modes of production (cited in Humm, 1989). This view would be greatly criticised by socialist feminists as they view patriarchy and capitalism as being inextricably linked. Although there is a basic, broad idea of what patriarchy means, there are still a great number of interpretations, which all differ and concentrate on different areas. The universality of patriarchy may also be questioned. The term is often used to cover all areas of male dominance in society, which can encounter problems. Instead it can be argued that more than one term should be used to describe male supremacy over women, or that the definition of patriarchy should be much broader. Patriarchy can be further problematic as it is often argued that the theory itself it patriarchal. It can be argued the theory is an example of female chauvinism, which is similar to patriarchy. Although patriarchy is a key component of feminism, it has been argued the term has outlived its usefulness. Certain changes in the law are cited as evidence that patriarchy has outlived its usefulness. Laws such as the 1975 Equal Pay Act demonstrate that now women have the same rights as men. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is the belief among a number of feminists that the term 'patriarchy' should not be completely dismissed, but should be changed. Mitchell (1974) argues the term should be retained, but should only be used to describe the rule a father holds over his wife, children and household dependents (cited in Andermahr, 1997). Rubin argued the word patriarchy should be replaced by the term 'sex-gender' system, which could be applied universally (cited in Andermahr, 1997). These show that to some feminists 'patriarchy' is still a useful term, but simply needs to be up dated or modified. 'Patriarchy' is the concept at the centre of feminism, and basically means male supremacy over women. It has many difficulties, which include the differing views from different feminists, and the fact that there is not one agreed meaning of the concept. Also, the universality of the term may also be questioned. Furthermore, the theory itself can be said to be patriarchal. The question supposed that the term is outlived, which is supported by the fact changing laws have made the positions of men and women equal in theory. However, it is argued by many feminists that this theory of equality is just that and is more often than not never carried out in practice. Although women have come a long way, and achieved a number of reforms the position of men and women remains unequal. Although 'patriarchy' is a problematic concept and women's position has changed, it is still a useful term to refer to and explain male supremacy over women. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Sociology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Sociology essays

  1. Discuss the concept of 'Double Colonization'; how do postcolonial women writers contest both patriarchy ...

    They thus opine that women are different from men and so have a different set of biological experiences, which do not get manifested in their writings. * Women's writing and Women's language: The study of language in which women express their feelings and emotions is a very important aspect of gynocentricism.

  2. Determining the Elite within Politics and the Judiciary.

    This is not to suggest, of course, that these constitute an integrated circle with an internally consistent outlook; the power of Whitehall may be used to blunt ministerial initiatives that emanate from the Prime Minister." (Stanworth 1984 p283) As explored earlier in the paper, the previously pervasive nature of the

  1. Mateship has long been a major aspect of the national image as projected by ...

    The anti-war movement, the emergence of hippies and the music and drug scene in the 60s had a great impact on not only the society but also the male image. The strong and tough male image that has been valued in traditional mateship for a long time were challenged by

  2. Money and Power still remains with Caucasians

    Quota sampling This method is not random but it takes members of a certain population in for studying. Market researchers prefer this method and randomly select people off the streets who fit the population being surveyed. The problem with this method is that the researcher may make a mistake and place someone in the wrong category.

  1. The Concept of CSR

    According to the DTI, an increasing number of companies of all sizes are realising the benefits of being socially responsible with 80% of FTSE-100 companies now providing information about their environmental performance, social impact, or both Two global organisations that see CSR as integral to how they do business are McDonalds & Marks & Spencer.

  2. What do you understand by the term 'patriarchy'? Is the concept still relevant to ...

    who stated that patriarchy is in fact a set a gender relations, a form in which men dominate women. Thus patriarchal gender relations are the underlying basis through which male power over women and hence women's inequality is reproduced (Little, 1994).

  1. Pitted against Patriarchy

    Interestingly, not all but most of these are by Nationalist, Catholic writers about Nationalist, Catholic women. But what of the Unionist/Protestant voice? And why is it so silent? These are questions which I shall seek to address and discuss during the course of my dissertation.

  2. History of womens oppression in Afghanistan.

    RAWA show photographs of amputation, public executions and women getting stoned to death. (8) RAWA refrain from using what Gamson (1992) calls 'reification'. They do not aim to blame actor-less entities like the system, society or human nature. This is a strategy some movements use but it primarily promotes social control rather than collective action.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work