"Though individuals may hold patriarchal ideas, when we talk about “the patriarchy,” we aren’t putting responsibility on any one person.
Rather, we’re referring to an unjust social system that enforces rigidly divided gender roles, and in doing so oppresses people of all a/genders. This system is often made up of social, political, and/or economic mechanisms that promote cis male dominance over all other a/genders.
One of the most prominent voices to challenge the forces of patriarchy is feminist scholar bell hooks who has been writing and teaching about radical social issues since the 1970s. hooks has explained patriarchy as:
A political-social system that insists that males are inherently dominating, superior to everything and everyone deemed weak, especially females, and endowed with the right to dominate and rule over the weak and to maintain that dominance through various forms of psychological terrorism and violence.
This view of the patriarchy does not implicate lone men. Rather, it positions men, too, as victims of an oppressive system.
And how are they victimized? In countless ways.
For example, since patriarchal societies tell men they’re expected to be sex-driven, violent, dominant, and emotionless, when they don’t live up to these rigid expectations, they’re punished from a shockingly early age.
Just think about all toddlers who are told that “boys don’t cry.” And then think about how these kids grow up assuming toxic masculinity is the only way to protect themselves against one of patriarchy’s favorite strategies: the constant reminder that there’s nothing worse than being perceived as feminine.
At first glance, it might seem like a/gender minorities are the sole victims of patriarchal thinking. But when we dig just a little deeper, it becomes clear that this is far from the case.
2. The Foundation of Anti-Feminism Is Often Misaligned with People’s Actual Values
There have always been people who will denounce efforts to help evolve our understanding of gender roles and who are against expanding rights to traditionally marginalized groups.
For example, there was opposition to women’s suffrage, there was opposition to the birth control pill, and there remains opposition to the fight for basic human rights for people of all a/gender identities and sexual orientations.
But the origins of the modern anti-feminist movement generally emerged out of specific opposition to legal abortion and to the – Oh my god! How has this still not passed? – Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)... ...feminism is fundamentally an egalitarian movement that aims not only to fight sexism, but also all other forms domination.
So far from stripping these men of power, it’s actually a really good tool to help them advance in the face of the actual forces that are holding them back."