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Men see with arrogant eyes which organize everything seen with reference to themselves and their own interests. ~ Marilyn Frye

Patriarchy is a social system where in gender roles dictate the availability of positions of leadership and the scope of social privileges in preference to males.


  • Consider a birdcage. If you look very closely at just one wire in the cage, you cannot see the other wires. If your conception of what is before you is determined by this myopic focus, you could look at that one wire, up and down the length of it, and be unable to see why a bird would not just fly around the wire any time it wanted to go somewhere. Furthermore, even if, one day at a time, you myopically inspected each wire, you still could not see why a bird would have trouble going past the wires to get anywhere. There is no physical property of any one wire, nothing that the closest scrutiny could discover, that will reveal how a bird could be inhibited or harmed by it except in the most accidental way. It is only when you step back, stop looking at the wires one by one, microscopically, and take a macroscopic view of the whole cage, that you can see why the bird does not go anywhere; and then you will see it in a moment. It will require no great subtlety of mental powers. It is perfectly obvious that the bird is surrounded by a network of systematically related barriers, no one of which would be the least hindrance to its flight, but which, by their relations to each other, are as confining as the solid walls of a dungeon.
  • If we take a survey of ages and of countries, we shall find the women, almost - without exception - at all times and in all places, adored and oppressed. Man, who has never neglected an opportunity of exerting his power, in paying homage to their beauty, has always availed himself of their weakness He has been at once their tyrant and their slave.
    • Anonymous (attr. Thomas Paine), "Women, Adored and Oppressed" (1775)
  • When we wrote Ecofeminism we raised the issue of reductionist, mechanistic science and the attitude of mastery over and conquest of nature as an expression of capitalist patriarchy. Today the contest between an ecological and feminist world-view and a worldview shaped by capitalist patriarchy is more intense than ever. This contest is particularly intense in the area of food. GMOs embody the vision of capitalist patriarchy. They perpetuate the idea of ‘master molecules’and mechanistic reductionism long after the life sciences have gone beyond reductionism, and patents on life reflect the capitalist patriarchal illusion of creation. There is no science in viewing DNA as a ‘master molecule’ and genetic engineering as a game of Lego, in which genes are moved around without any impact on the organism or the environment. This is a new pseudo-science that has taken on the status of a religion.Science cannot justify patents on life and seed. Shuffling genes is not making life; living organisms make themselves. Patents on seed mean denying the contributions of millions of years of evolution and thousands of years of farmers’ breeding. One could say that a new religion, a new cosmology, a new creation myth is being put in place, where biotechnology corporations like Monsanto replace Creation as ‘creators’. GMO means ‘God move over’.Stewart Brand has actually said ‘We are as gods and we had better get used to it.’

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

  • The dictionary definition of patriarchy at Wiktionary
  • Encyclopedic article on Patriarchy at Wikipedia
  • Media related to Patriarchy at Wikimedia Commons