Men’s Rights Activists have scored yet another major victory over the imaginary feminists who live in their heads. On Facebook today, the moderator of the A Voice for Men page asks a question that no straw feminist can answer:
CHECKMATE FEMINISTS, in your FACE, there were QUEENS, where is that EVIL PATRIARCHY NOW???
Well, pretty much where we left it. Apparently AVFM’s Facebook admin has never actually bothered to read anything feminist scholars have ever written about patriarchy. Or even a dictionary definition of the word.
Because, guess what, AVFM admin? “Patriarchy” doesn’t actually mean that women have zero power or influence in society, but rather that men (as a class) hold much more power in society than women (as a class).
Here are a few definitions of “patriarchy” I found on the internet with a couple of basic Google searches:
You will notice that all these definitions include qualifications to them: disproportionately, largely, more likely.
While the term patriarchy does describe societies in which women as a class are subordinate to men as a class, feminist historian Gerda Lerner has noted, it “does not imply that women are either totally powerless or totally deprived of rights, influence, and resources.”
In other words, feminists are indeed aware there was a Queen Victoria.
But ask yourself this, AVFM admin: How did she get the power she had?
While royal succession can be weird and complicated, the basic rule — and it’s a pretty patriarchical one — is that when the king dies, the job goes to the oldest legitimate son.
Princesses are promoted to Queen only if there are no legitimate male heirs. The job goes to a woman rather than some less-directly related man because, within the largely patriarchal structure of the monarchy, preserving the bloodline is more important than making sure there’s always a man in charge.
In the case of Queen Victoria, Wikipedia notes,
She inherited the throne aged 18, after her father’s three elder brothers had all died, leaving no surviving legitimate children.
So three guys had to die for her to get to the front of the line.
The existence of queens doesn’t prove that patriarchy is a myth; it just shows that patriarchy is more complicated than the simplistic caricature that antifeminists like to pretend is what feminists believe.
Patriarchy is never the whole story. There have been, and still, a number of other power structures in society and culture that intersect with patriarchy in complex ways. Feminists have been talking about these intersections for decades now — that’s what intersectional feminism is.
But MRAs aren’t actually interested in the details of feminism. After all, straw feminists are a lot easier to debate.