Meaning of Patriarchy

What is Patriarchy:

Patriarchy is called the predominance of authority exercised by a man over a group of people or society, specifically over women and children.

On the other hand, the bishop of certain Orthodox churches or the founders of a religious order is also understood as patriarchy.

The word patriarchy derives from late Latin patriarchālis, which means "parental government."

Patriarchy is a type of social organization whose authority and power rests with the male with the highest authority in the family or social group, called the patriarch. Hence, the patriarchy establishes male dominance over the female figure and the other members of a family and social group.

In this sense, patriarchy imposes an unequal distribution of power and rights between men and women. This inequality has driven various feminist movements and struggles in favor of respect and equal treatment and rights for women in relation to men.

These movements have achieved that women can occupy important social and political roles, access to education, the right to vote, greater job opportunities, respect for female sexuality, defense against gender violence, among others.

Origin of the patriarchy

Various anthropological, sociological and political studies have determined that patriarchy, as a family and social structure, dates back to around 3000 BC, and it is even considered that patriarchy also began in the Hebrew families in which this type of organization occurred.

The main indications of patriarchy derive from the fact that man imposed his will, power and superiority over the female figure by assigning different tasks and obligations such as food collection, home care, reproduction, among others.

For his part, the man was dedicated to hunting, to warfare, he was granted the right to have more than one partner, for which, in addition, he dominated female sexuality and was dedicated to instilling family and social values .

Hence, specialists have pointed out that the structure of patriarchy is based mainly on three aspects which are: kinship relations and, specifically with women, compulsory heterosexuality and the sexual contract.

Consequently, the various feminist movements have fought throughout the 19th and 20th centuries for social, political, family and cultural equality between men and women. Many have been the achievements, however, there is still great evidence that patriarchy continues to prevail in various ways today.

Examples of patriarchy

Today it is still possible to see different examples of patriarchy, some more marked than others. Below are some cases of patriarchy.

  • Economic dependency: it can occur because lower wages are offered to women, unstable jobs or because they depend on male sustenance.
  • Domestic violence: many women still suffer psychological and physical abuse by their partners for being considered as inferior and service beings.
  • Stereotypes: they can be seen after various comments or suggestions about the female figure. For example: "You can tell that there is a woman in the office."
  • Sexual harassment or rape: although there are laws to protect women, many are still victims of rape or being treated as sexual objects by unscrupulous men.
  • Labor competitiveness: many are the cases in which women obtain high job positions, however, they are not allowed to opt for managerial positions. Also, there are cases where women are not allowed to opt for more competitive jobs because of male superiority.
  • Gypsies: the gypsy community, extended in various countries, is characterized by exercising patriarchal authority.

See also Gypsy.


Matriarchy refers to the type of society whose authority and control is exercised by women. That is, in matriarchy women are the ones who exercise political authority or leadership, as well as custody of their children.

However, unlike patriarchy, women do not have advantages over men, therefore, the inequality between the two is not noticeable.

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