A radical feminist view – how patriarchy hurts us

Radical feminism is a philosophy emphasizing the patriarchal roots of inequality between men and women, or, more specifically, social dominance of women by men. Radical feminism views patriarchy as dividing rights, privileges and power primarily by gender, and as a result oppressing women and privileging men.

Radical feminists tend to be more militant in their approach (radical as “getting to the root”). Radical feminism opposes existing political and social organization in general because it is inherently tied to patriarchy. Thus, radical feminists tend to be skeptical of political action within the current system, and instead support cultural change that undermines patriarchy and associated hierarchical structures.

Radical feminism opposes patriarchy, not men. To equate radical feminism to man-hating is to assume that patriarchy and men are inseparable, philosophically and politically.

Patriarchy is a social system in which the father or eldest male is head of the household, having authority over women and children. Patriarchy also refers to a system of government by males, and to the dominance of men in social or cultural systems. It may also include title being traced through the male line.

Patriarchy is a society where women are dominated by men.

I like to split it into three categories:

Male Domination: Men run the show. They have hierarchical power (and privileges) over women institutionally, socially and on an individual basis. Sexism, in this day, is not gone by any means.

Male Identification: Acting out a gender role as a typical “man”. Masculinity is often viewed as better than or more powerful than femininity. Women are subjugated and therefore identifying as a man, and acting out rigid male gender roles is contributing to patriarchy.

Male-centricity: Society is centered around male needs. It’s all about pleasing men, becoming what they find to be desirable. You can see this just by looking at any Women’s magazine! : “What do men find sexy?” “How to snag your man.” etc. I believe that many women contribute greatly to patriarchy by being very male-centric and also by believing that men should dominate and that sexism is natural or normal. When we see images in the media of how women “should look” according to male desire, those of us who collude with patriarchal ideals will never achieve these unrealistic ideals of female beauty.

Patriarchal relations can be viewed in many different facets: sexuality, the household, male-on-female violence, paid employment, cultural institutions, and the state. These are not mutually exclusive sites of exploitation: historically, the state has tolerated male-on-female violence within the household, for example.


11 responses to “A radical feminist view – how patriarchy hurts us

  1. I love that cartoon. It’s such a classic. I pray everyone finds their hammer.

  2. There’s no such thing as ‘partriachy’ – we live in a matriarchy. Women are responsible for 79% of all consumer spending decisions. The reason women’s magazines focus so much on ‘landing the right man’ is because women need to find a man who can earn money so that they can spend it.

    • What does that have to do with patriarchy or matriarchy? If we were to be living in a matriarchy, that would mean that women would be running the show and making decisions on the larger scale. However, we do in fact live in a “mans world” where women are most definitely oppressed and objectified and put into positions where they are only valued for their looks. A lot of women align themselves with patriarchy and accept their given “roles”, so go on woman-hating but it aint gonna help any of us out…

      • I am certainly not ‘woman-hating’ – there are many women I love, respect and admire deeply.

        Do you really think we live in a ‘mens world’? Really? Men die several years before women in most societies, they have higher rates of suicide, depression, addiction, stress. 93% of all workplace deaths happen to men. Men account for 99.4% of deaths in combat (US & UK forces). Of the occupations which take a person away from home and the comfort and love of family (truck driver, sales exec etc.) most are overwhelming male – men make the sacrifice to earn money to support their families. Despite this, approx. 50% of marriages end in divorce, and in those cases 75% are driven by women – secure in the knowledge that the state and the courts will ensure that in any separation she will benefit the most.

        It’s true as you say that ‘women are…objectified and…valued only for their looks’. However, again I would point out that 79% of consumer spending is controlled by women (source: Proctor and Gamble) – it is women to whom those advertisers, filmmakers and publishers are appealing.

  3. The worst thing about male dominated society is that no one ever question why the only optimal way always profit the males. Why males have to earn more salary and why women most likely take care of the children and quit school because of marriage and kids.

    And that boys have to behave after the socially typical male pattern and that women also need to do this. It really locks kids imaginations and get them to situations that might not be good for them later on in life.
    Or the fact that women need to look good and be pretty but on the other hand silent and kind. And men need to be strong and show very little emotions and be distant to domestic stuff like cleaning and washing the laundry.

    You have a very nice and smart blog. Very striking and analytic! I am very happy that you are a man, who write this. I wish you all the best and wonderful things in life!
    =) Huggies BJ

    You can read my blog too, but you have to run it through translation because i write in the swedish language.

  4. hahahah i saw the picture and thought instantly that you were a dude!
    I beg your pardon.

    I think sweden gives more opportunities for feminism than for instance Somalia or Mexico or Afghanistan. People here are more freeminded and not under such big patriarcal influence.

    Women on the other hand need to help each other instead of fighting against each other. We need to beat the slavery of patriarchy!

    Anyway have an awesome week! / BJ

    God my english is bad haha

  5. “79% of consumer spending is by women”.
    You mean 79% of *reported* spending is by women.

    Don’t forget that men have several more expenditures that need to be hidden and they have lots of connected dudefriends to help him with that.

  6. that was awesome i really like the arguements

  7. Christopher Findlay

    The concept of a feminist sociological theory is ridiculous. Feminists use the same argument when talking about the figures of rape victims and domestic abuse victims. Don’t get me wrong, rape and domestic violence is shocking, but you simply can’t ignore the other side of the coin. More men in Britain are beaten with the use of excessive force than women, when do you ever hear figures like that on the news? Out of every 5 domestic abuse cases, 3 of them are female victims, 2 of them are male. By the sounds of the ways it’s portrayed you would expect them all to be female! The old joke of don’t drop the soap in the shower makes fun of male rape, when do you ever hear feminists speaking up about that. Feminism is the strive for equality for men and women within society. So why don’t feminists quit moaning about an apparent patriarchal society and try and help men as well. If it’s the strive for equality then try and make it equal instead of brushing problems that would make your argument weaker under the carpet.

    • Yes, patriarchy hurts men just as much as it hurts women… as a male violence culture means men are violent towards each other (war, fights, jail, etc) and also any one perceived as vulnerable can easily become a victim/survivor (children, women, etc). I know men are abused as well, I just happen to work at a domestic violence shelter and 99% of our callers are women being abused by men. We need to create a culture that makes it safe for men to report abuse… we have had a few men in the shelter actually and two out of three came in because they were abused by a male. Sadly, I think its just not acceptable in our society for men to show vulnerability – which is why they choose not to call shelters or crisis lines… however I will say I can guarantee you the overwhelming majority of victims are women. And children as well.
      Just found some pretty interesting statistics:

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