General Question

wundayatta's avatar

Is it really a patriarchal world, still?

Asked by wundayatta (58714points) January 30th, 2009

And if it is, for how much longer will that be true?

Most of the images of God in Christianity and Islam and many other religions are of a male. Other religions may have more of a female presence (Hinduism, Paganism and others). There’s the glass ceiling. There’s the wage differential. And yet….

In the US, anyway, a growing majority of women populate college classrooms. Women do better in school, in general. Women are surging to fill the slots in some formerly male jobs (doctors). It can be argued that women, on average, are smarter (despite most of the smartest people (as measured by IQ) being men).

I’m sure there’s lots more, but you can bring that up in your opinions.

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52 Answers

Mtl_zack's avatar

Obama just signed a pay equity bill yesterday, if that means anything.

dynamicduo's avatar

It’s only a patriarchal world if you believe it is and abide by those rules and thoughts. I don’t, ergo I don’t live in a patriarchal world. I live in a world where one’s efforts dictate one’s success. I have never once considered myself to be at a disadvantage, or even at an advantage, because of my sex.

If anything, I think the world is becoming more of an “anyone’s” world, as evidenced by Obama’s pay equity bill. I have hope that the bill will be symbolic towards the acceptance of all people regardless of sex/race/religion/orientation.

nebule's avatar

hmmmm…in my experience and in my own perception it IS still a patriarchal world, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true of course… I’d love to be proven wrong

I grew up in a family where the male was head of house
My sisters have married into this notion too but secretly they are the heads of the house
Every company i have ever worked for has had a male in ultimate power
We have a male prime minister and there has only ever been one female
Women still; for the majority, stay at home in the confines of the analogous bird cage, keeping quiet and doing their duty bringing up the kids whilst…
The men go and get all the accolade and bring home the bacon round of applause
Men still have the protruding strength of a penis providing metaphoric power over the…
subjected sexually beautiful topless woman in various tabloids…

I do believe women are the stronger and more resilient, intelligent sex in many ways and we are slowly but surely forging a path of righteousness for ourselves, but hopefully that will come with humility and not with outrageous outcry, backlashing against the male sex – something that many people perceived feminism to be about in the 70s and 80s.

As far as i am aware also people generally do not consider God to be female, which i believe is the root of many of the issues here today.

but then as i say… it could simply all be my perception?

EmpressPixie's avatar

Yes. We still do. We’re taking steps in the right directions, certainly. As mentioned twice the 2009 version of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was just signed into law. Let us not forget the 2008 version died in Congress.

But women still earn on average $.78 to the dollar, as Obama pointed out last night. Fashion magazines still think it is classy to make spreads that emphasize the beauty of being beaten. And even when they aren’t going that direction, many fashion spread are a bit rape-y.

Fear is still instilled into women about their men counterparts, be it for honor killings or the incredibly hateful terms ”not rape” and ”grey rape”. Politicians think date rape is no biggie. Rape is being used as a war tactic in some places. In the US, we’re still covering up rapes. The chances of a man being convicted for rape are tiny. And for all these reasons, women have fear. Of course we’re still living in a patriarchal world. Women may be smarter, but they certainly can’t walk alone at night. Especially not when those who molest can still win the reality show they were on.

oasis's avatar

Here we go!!!!
In my opinion Women should do the house work,should bring up the brats,should have her husbands dinner ready when he gets home from work.
Not good enough for you to be looked after(monetary)?Then do NOT have a relationship with a man because you will only have yourself to blame.You know the score you saw your Mother wash dads filthy undies,so it’s not like you are ignorant.

Jack79's avatar

Different societies have different rules and different pace of moving forward. There has definitely been a trend to move away from patriarchy for several decades now. This means that in several societies some rules have changed, to the extend where I would even argue that there are cases where women are actually better off than men. But in most of the world there is still a long way to go.

Your point about education is an interesting one. Even though in many cases statistics may show male wages as higher on average, this happens because we are comparing a 60-year-old executive to his newly hired secretary. Since more and more women are entering university, thus getting the best jobs afterwards, it is only a matter of time before we live in a world which will be de facto run by women, with men doing all the menial manual work. Which sort of makes sense if you think about it. And which will also mean that rules will start changing faster, as women will be also passing legislation, implementing them and so on.

But let us not forget that we are looking at things while living in a world that is far detached from the realities of millions of Africans or Asians. People are appalled that muslims can have several wives, but most don’t even know about the harsh reality of being married to a Masai for example. A Masai woman would gladly share her husband with 10 wives if this gave her more freedom.

EmpressPixie's avatar

Oh! I forgot that a presidential candidate can still go on air and disparage the health of a pregnant woman as a reason for having an abortion. “This baby will kill you? Too bad! Have it anyway!”

@Jack79: Even when wage studies account for age differences and responsibility level, a 30 year old woman with the same experience in the industry and same degree makes less than a 30 year old man.

dynamicduo's avatar

For perspective, here’s my situation. I grew up in a maternal household. My mother was the salary earner and my dad was the stay-at-home mom. I as well am the salary earner between me and my partner. But we run our household equally. And currently I’m in a situation where I’m making a very large salary that’s equal to what the men make, beyond the income I produce myself through freelancing. So I have not had an experience similar to @lynneblundell and it likely has helped to guide the way I view the world.

oasis's avatar

All Women have done for me is cost me money,boy if i knew then what i know now i would have played the field,set myself up with the best of everything and lived happy ever after and still had the use of my very own fucking RAZOR.

EmpressPixie's avatar

Will this really sell clothing?

How about this?


We were talking about this just the other day—the standards of men and women when it comes to beauty. Jessica Simpson has apparently gained some weight. Do you want to know how I know? It was on the news. All of the news stations covered it. As Marina pointed out, were this a male celebrity no one would have cared.

Women are still held to an ideal of beauty that is unhealthy for them to achieve, while men have much less harsh ideals.

GAMBIT's avatar

What makes a successful man?
A loving wife. A good mother and a caring grandmother.

Jack79's avatar

Pixie, how can this happen? There is either a legal reason, which means that the country in which this happens has not yet implemented “equal pay” laws (and I did state that most of the world has a long way to go) or a practical one (for example that you are not looking at all the factors, such as bonuses). So if you are talking about two people with exactly the same job where the man gets more based on a law that says men should get more, then this law should, and soon will, change.

I’d like to point out something else:
There is a real biological difference that has to do with childbearing. However egalitarian, feminist, patriarchal or radical our ideology, the fact remains that children need to be born by females, whether in or outside wedlock. And this means that in practice women must either have a career and then children at 40 (which happens a lot in Europe), or kids first and then some shitty part-time job, or try a combination of both (which incorporates into the “glass ceiling” theory).

A development I can see coming in this area in the not so distant future (and I really think we’ll see this in our own lifetime in the West) is both medical and social: first of all the institution of marriage will collapse where it hasn’t already done so. And secondly incubation times will be minimised, with a woman keeping the child inside her for a couple of months (often using a sperm donor) and then keeping it in a hospital for a bit until she goes to pick it up. Thus being able to pursue her career without even needing to take time off. I know this sounds like science fiction to many of you, but which of your parents (not grandparents) thought there would ever be a McDonald’s outside the Kremlin, let alone a black US President?

EmpressPixie's avatar

@Jack79 There has been a huge rise of surrogates in the US for just this reason—women don’t want to take time off from careers and the father is going to be the stay-at-home, so they hire out the actual carrying of the child.

Also this happens because (as in the Lilly Ledbetter case) the base pay is the same but the women get passed over for pay raises for various reasons unrelated to performance. Keep in mind, the recent fair pay act restores the law to what it was previously, it’s not new, groundbreaking stuff really. She didn’t find out about her pay discrepancy until way later because companies prohibit talking to each other about salaries. So she didn’t know. She sued when she found out.

But since we already had equal pay laws and she was clearly screwed out of over $200,000, please don’t say that there is a legal reason for this to happen. The Supreme Court is what happened to her and they decided that the case was too late—because she sued when she found out, not 180 days from when the discrimination started.

And think of all those Lillys still out there who, due to policy of not talking about salary, suspect but cannot prove that they are being paid less.

EmpressPixie's avatar

@Jack79 Though I will give you, when you account for education, age, and experience, the pay gap is smaller. But it is still persistently there.

Jack79's avatar

oh btw after reading oasis’ posts I changed my opinion. I think we should have laws forbidding women to get any job besides prostitute or maybe stripper. And that they should not be allowed to own property. I think it’s too late for that though…damn feminists!

And there should be special razors for women’s legs. Why hasn’t anyone thought of that yet?

Jack79's avatar

”@Jack79 Though I will give you, when you account for education, age, and experience, the pay gay is smaller. But it is still persistently there.”

I don’t understand what you meant there. Could you please rephrase?

dynamicduo's avatar

@Jack79, there’s a bit of a difference between setting up a McDonald’s in a location (a physical construction of parts after getting permits), and fundamentally changing the way women nurture and grow fetuses inside their wombs. Simiarly, having a black president (a sign that previous ways of thought are being abandoned, no biological innovation here) and medically changing the way we produce offspring. Science fiction is one thing, but biology is a totally different beast altogether. While we have made strides in advancing our knowledge of biology, which helps prevent the death of premature babies, I find it hard to believe we will radically change how babies are grown from start to completion. I find it easier to believe that society will change to accept women (and men) who take a year off to raise their children. I do agree with your point that marriage will go through a drastic change in the future. Personally I don’t want to (and won’t) get married, but I want all of the benefits that marriage provides (tax benefits, the right to be in the hospital room, etc), which is why me and my partner are in a common-law relationship.

EmpressPixie's avatar

@Jack79: I edited for clarity. Hopefully it makes more sense now. Basically the $.78 to the dollar figure isn’t a very controlled number. But when you control for everything you can except gender, women are still paid less.

Jack79's avatar

I really think genetics and biotechnology will move much faster than we imagine. Even today the questions are more ethical than technical. And though I do agree that laws would be easier to change than birth methods, I also think that there will be a demand for that by women themselves. I’m not saying that this is a good thing, I’m saying I can see it happening. Just like having children in hospitals instead of homes, or c-sections, or any other medical advancement. I really do believe it will be normal in 30–40 years. But we’ll just have to wait and see if I’m right.

EmpressPixie's avatar

@oasis: I certainly hope your first response was simply a poor choice in humor.

steelmarket's avatar

@Jack79 is so correct about Americans, and even the West, being a minority percentage of the world’s population and culture. The majority of the world is still patriarchal and that view is embedded much more deeply than we realize.

@jack79, did @daloo set you up to take the heat on this Q?

oasis's avatar

I have just eaten,yes the wife cooked it.She cooked it on the cooker paid for by me,with the food paid for by me,in the kitchen of the house totally paid for by me,she picked up the groceries in a car which,yes you guessed it,taxed, insured,maintained,and Gassed up by me,hell i will even buy the thing for good measure.on and on and on and on and on…....You girls want equality?Then HURRY up cos us guys are sick of paying!!!

EmpressPixie's avatar

Oasis. You are amazing. The vast majority of American homes are dual income homes. This means both partners are working.

Edited to add: I don’t think Jack is really taking heat. He’s discussing, and doing it well.

oasis's avatar

Amazing i may be,i PAY for our forefathers mistakes.The suffragettes were right all along. You are equal!Next time the car needs fixing,fix it yourself!Leave me alone!

Jack79's avatar

@steelmarket lol no, I just felt like writing something.
@pixie ok ok got it now, you meant “pay gap” not “pay gay”. Makes sense :)

And I really do agree with oasis on a personal level, if not on a philosophical one. We can talk for hours about equality, but the fact is that I also got cheated in my marriage. Being a “new man” I did ALL of the housework and raised my child all by myself, but I also brought in 90% of the family income, since my wife just closed down her business as soon as she met me and lived off unemployment benefit. When that ran out, I gave her “pocket money”, which was about 20–30 times more money than what I allowed myself to spend per month. I also bought her a car and built “us” a house, which she just gave to her parents without asking me. And then one day she just took our child and left, which is of course illegal, but the female judges always favour the poor women in this case, despite the fact that my ex still doesn’t know how to change a nappie. So in my personal experience, women I have had the misfortune of marrying are far better off than men. But I still have a hunch that we may have gotten sucked, oasis. There really is a better world out there, where women even know how to cook.

Jack79's avatar

on a brighter note, I have to leave now: my girlfriend ordered pizza. And she’s paying! Yoohoo for equality! :)

bythebay's avatar

@Jack79 @oasis : It’s obvious to me that you two have made very poor choices in the women you’ve chosen to marry.

oasis's avatar

Tell me about it.

dynamicduo's avatar

Hey oasis, I’m on the 100% complete flip side from you! I’m sitting here working my butt off while my male partner is having fun learning things at school. I drive him in using a car I purchased, fueled with gas I bought, and he wears clothing I paid for.

oasis's avatar

Wanna go out? Oh,you never have time! Me neither

dynamicduo's avatar

Haha, so true! I’m spending all my time with my partner. Let’s have a couples date!

oasis's avatar

I can’t afford it!

dynamicduo's avatar

Me neither! :D

wundayatta's avatar

Who knew? I thought I’d get women, either saying the Patriarchy is going strong, or men saying the Patriarchy is dying, but I didn’t expect this and I can’t figure out how to describe it

It makes me wonder about how much people know about each other’s experience. Maybe I should have started there, before going on to the philosophical issue. My wife and I both work, fwiw, and she, being an attorney, makes more than I do. She doesn’t feel bad, though, because I was doing “good” work, and even now, I’m getting paid more, and the work is still “good”, it’s just not quite as “good” as what I was doing before.

But lets not talk about domestic labor, because both of us think we do more than our fair share.

tinyfaery's avatar

Well, I don’t need a man, nor do I cater to male privilege. I make money, I do laundry and clean, but I do not cook because I suck at it. My wife and I are truly equal. And I have to admit, even though I am a bisexual, that I never wanted to be married to a man. The expectations of a wife by her husband are ridiculous, a la oasis.

@oasis So basically, you are a slave to your wife, and she is a slave to you. Lovely.

Yes, this is still a patriarchal world. In many counties rape is not a crime and women cannot hold jobs or show their bodies; women are property, with a position no higher than an animal. We are so convinced that the developed world is the standard when in fact, the majority of people in the world still live with mores and trdaitions that we cannot even conceive of.

Jack79's avatar

daloon I think the problem is that you have to define the question a little. I mean on a global basis, very little has changed for most of the world’s population. In any respect, and not just gender equality. Many of the 3 billion women on the planet are treated as property. Most are confined at homes. Which is actually not as bad as it sounds to a westerner, considering the alternative, but it’s still not nice. In countries where women are customarily beaten or raped, men are customarily mutilated or shot. And in times when european women were forced to marry whoever their dad wanted, most men had to work 16-hour shifts for next to nothing. So let’s not just look at one side of the coin.

But the truth of the matter is that in most parts of the world there is still no equality, or not even efforts towards it. Which does not reduce my argument that my ex was an evil scheming bitch who deserved to be beaten 3 times a day, as per arab custom. But then again all members of her family, including her father and brother are just as bad, so I guess it’s more of a species thing, rather than gender-based. I think human beings have an immence capacity for both good and evil, and the very same person could perform great deeds, just as easily as they could become violent or unfair. This would explain husbands such as Russeau or Dickens. And this, seriously, is the central point of any gender debate. That people, male or female, will get away with whatever they can, and this has nothing to do with their gender.

wundayatta's avatar

Hmmm. I meant to say in the US only, but I see I was unclear in putting the US in the second paragraph. Anyway, I was only thinking about the US. I’m aware things are quite different in other parts of the world.

rooeytoo's avatar

I think it is a patriarchal society without a doubt. But the 2 things that have happened in my lifetime that have greatly contributed to its demise are birth control and the tampon. Oh so slowly times are changing.

I truly resent women who impede the progress by staying in the old mode by being employed in the “sex industry” that is prostitution, strippers, etc. etc. And buying into the notion that in order to be attractive to males, they must wear uncomfortable, skin tight clothing. Why do they do that?

The other point I think is relevant is that motherhood is a career choice. I think in a perfect world it would be a career that lasts until the youngest kid is at the very least in school. Unless it becomes an economic necessity after the fact, I can’t imagine why anyone would have a child and then let strangers raise it and impart their values onto the child.

Now I have to go clean the toilet and wash dirty undies.

laureth's avatar

@rooeytoo: You ask, “And buying into the notion that in order to be attractive to males, they must wear uncomfortable, skin tight clothing. Why do they do that?”

My guess is because it makes them attractive to males. Men sure look at women dressed that way more than at women in loose, comfortable clothing, from what I can tell. Guys?

Jack79's avatar

well the irony is that the fashion industry is mainly run by women and gays
I have always found this so funny

rooeytoo's avatar

Is the fashion industry run by women? Seems to me that most designers are men. But if they are women, then once again it is females buying into that “I have to do this to attract a man.” And I just don’t understand that kind of thinking. If the man is only attracted by skin tight clothing, seems like the entire relationship would have a certain slant that would make the woman more of an object than an equal partner. But then if the woman is that desperate to attract a man, she probably would not care about equality anyhow.

Jack79's avatar

what I mean is that most men I talk to (as well as myself) have very different ideas of beauty than what we see in magazines. Sure, all those twiggies are not too bad to look at, but most men prefer women to be slightly more curvy, and certainly not look that much like boys. That’s why I said “women and gays”. Nothing against gays, but they certainly aren’t attracted to women, right? I mean I think that’s part of the definition of being gay. And yes, there are many straight men in the idustry. But I still think that the overall aesthetic image we get is far from the average straight man’s taste.

rooeytoo's avatar

@Jack79 – Interesting observation, but how ‘bout what laureth said, “My guess is because it makes them attractive to males. Men sure look at women dressed that way more than at women in loose, comfortable clothing, from what I can tell. Guys?” I know you can truly only speak for yourself, there is no “us.” But what is your sense of that statement in general?

Jack79's avatar

laureth’s guess is essentially right because what she means is that men are more attracted to women who show their silhuettes (assuming they do have good bodies). And there are certain clothes that may help in this respect (the wonderbra is a typical example). So yes, of course we look at women who are dressed sexy.

My point was slightly different though, and had to do with the definition of “sexy” but more importantly, the definition of “beautiful”. And there I see a great discrepancy between the images pushed by the fashion industry, magazines etc, as opposed to what I and most (if not all) men I have spoken to actually like. I am sorry I don’t know the actual names of models so as to give you examples. But I’m sure most men would rather have a girlfriend with curves like Monica Bellucci (with several extra pounds by fashion standards) than all those anorexics stumbling around on the catwalks.

So back to the average, everyday woman, who does not plan to have a career as a model or an actress, but would like to perhaps be attractive enough to find a boyfriend: I think women fall victims to their own vanity, which is exploited by the fashion industry, dieticians, beaty salons and what have you. The average woman could easily make herself attractive to the man she likes by wearing a few simple clothes and a nice smile, while eating as much as she likes (ok, perhaps not THAT much). Yes, men do look at the package, however shallow that may sound. And sex plays an extremely important role. But that doesn’t mean we want you to starve to death, spend hours in the bathroom putting on tonnes of make up, then dress up like vampires and eventually be too tired to have a good time with us. A little more perspective would do everyone a lot of good.

Incidentally, I am very satisfied with my (very messy and sometimes spoilt) gf, who spends around 10 mins getting ready, wears very little lipstick, is skinny (but I’d like her a bit curvier) and is a wonderful person that is always there for me as a friend, has a sense of humour and is artistic, intelligent and kind.

rooeytoo's avatar

I think it is kind of funny that men are getting some of their own medicine, at least here in Australia so I assume same in USA. Mens’ jeans are getting shorter rise and fitting much tighter, they look so uncomfortable and the gut hanging out over the top looks no better on males than on females and then of course there is always the flash when they bend over. It must be happening there as well because I remember seeing a question about it in Fluther recently.

I hope the day comes when women don’t care what men are thinking and just do what they want, be who they are. Then I think it will become possible that all vestiges of the patriarchal society will disappear.

Jack79's avatar

I am Australian myself (though living in Europe) and have never even been to the US. But I know the jeans you mean. They are horrible. I got a pair as a present once, could never wear them. And women actually willingly put these on?

CMaz's avatar

Yes it is.

Nullo's avatar

I don’t see anything particularly wrong about a patriarchal society.
* digs foxhole*

laureth's avatar

10 out of 10 patriarchs prefer them. ;)

CMaz's avatar

I love parakeets.


For most of the world we live in, yes.

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