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Patriarchy is a lie because men would NEVER oppress their OWN WIVES and DAUGHTERS like that, Men’s Rights Redditor argues, fallaciously

Henry VIII: Always treated his wives real good

By David Futrelle

One of my favorite would-be “gotcha” arguments I’ve heard again and again from Men’s Rights Activists over the years is this attempt to outwit history itself with powerful MAN LOGICK:

Women could NEVER have been oppressed the way feminists say that they were because men would NEVER oppress their OWN WIVES and DAUGHTERS like that!

I’m not sure which particular MRA brain genius first came up with this argument, but I ran across a particularly pure version of it in the Men’s Rights subreddit recently and thought I’d share it with you all:

The “argument” here is of course fallacious; it’s a textbook example of the “argument from incredulity” — that is, “I can’t imagine how it could be true, therefore it isn’t.” That’s just not how the world works. Plenty of things have happened over the course of human history that have been what historians call “really fucking weird,” but they can’t simply be dismissed, because the evidence is clear that they really happened. (Under this administration, almost literally unbeleivable things happen practically every day.)

And in the case of patriarchy, of course, there’s a huge fucking mountain of evidence that men have not only oppressed women as a class throughout history but still do so today. I mean, it’s not just a weird coincidence that every single US President and vice president has been a dude, or that men got the vote before women did, or that women couldn’t even get credit cards in their own name until the 1970s. There are big fat books about all of this shit, MRA dudes; maybe read one or two of them before spouting off like idiots?

But even if the argument from incredulity was a real and valid argument, and one’s feelings about the likelihood of something happening could trump the facts of history, it’s not actually hard to imagine men oppressing not only women in general but their own wives and daughters.

I mean, men throughout history have beaten and raped their wives; hell, marital rape wasn’t even illegal in all 50 US states until the early 1990s. Men have abused their daughters in countless ways. In the antebellum south, male slave owners raped their slaves and then enslaved the children who were born as a result of these rapes — their own flesh and blood. (Thomas Jefferson, I’m looking at you!)

But of course patriarchy wasn’t and isn’t all about cruelty. It’s also about the very “protection” that firstherr cites in his post. Since practically the beginnings of human history, men have restricted the activities of women in order to “protect” them from the real and alleged dangers of the wider world — a supposed benefit to women that, however they felt about this particular bargain, they could not opt out of.

Patriarchal oppression can be as unsubtle as a punch to the face, or as subtle and seemingly benevolent as Joe Biden telling the brothers of a 13-year-old girl he’s just met that they need to make sure to keep the boys away from her. That’s how it’s been able to last so long.

Again, none of this is news to anyone who has studied even the barest smattering of feminism. What’s still kind of amazing to me, though, is that virtually no Men’s Rights Activists — including the supposed intellectuals in the movement — seem to have bothered to learn even the most basic basics about the feminism that they rail against all day long. instead getting their information from YouTube videos and antifeminist ideologues and other MRAs as ignorant as they are.

That’s why laughable arguments like firstterr’s here get dozens of upvotes when posted to the Men’s Rights subreddit. That’s why these guys don’t seem to have learned a thing since I started following them nearly nine years ago. They’re ignorant, incurious, and happy to embrace logical fallacies so long as they can use them to score points against some imaginary feminist foes.

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever come across a political movement less impressive than the Men’s Rights movement. Given how completely wrongheaded the basic premise of their movement is — that men, not women, are the true wretched of the earth — fallacious arguments based on utter ignorance seem to be the best that they can come up with.

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26 replies on “Patriarchy is a lie because men would NEVER oppress their OWN WIVES and DAUGHTERS like that, Men’s Rights Redditor argues, fallaciously”

People like still kill girls and women for having premarital sex but maybe that doesn’t count as oppression to this guy. Along with a billion other things that happen.

Because Saudi Arabia is totally protecting women when it throws them in prison or kills them for driving, protesting, wearing “revealing” clothing, leaving home without a male escort, or… hell, read this article: [link].

No oppression there. Do denying of basic human rights.

“Literally dying to protect them”? Dude, women have been dying at far greater rates trying to protect themselves from their oh-so-loving “protectors”!

But then again, you’d have to pull your head out of your arse to realize THAT, so…

“When my brother… was a young boy learning the Chinese classics, I was in the habit of listening with him and I became unusually proficient at understanding those passages… Father, a most learned man, was always regretting the fact: ‘Just my luck!’ he would say. ‘What a pity she was not born a man!’

—Murasaki Shikibu, The Dairy of Lady Murasaki, pages 57-58

People die all the time protecting their house and goods. Does that mean houses and goods are perceived in society as just as valuable and have as much agency as people? Of course not. Thus the idea that because some men have died protecting their wives and children doesn’t mean they were equal. This argument is fractally wrong.

In-between literally dying to protect them, they sought to oppress them.

Quick question, genius. Protect them from what?

Could it be, perhaps, from other men?

Even if I were to accept the absolutely ludicrous premise that men have never mistreated the women who they owned who were part of their family, that sure as fuck didn’t stop those men from abusing the women outside of that umbrella of family “protection”.

So in other words: “Men would never oppress the people they were literally keeping prisoner in their house and that were legally considered their property!”

This must surely rank as one of the five or so most insane belief systems ever concocted by the human imagination.


But you, firstterr, are so rational that you see right through women’s lies.

(Looks at header image) OMG, I’ve just realised who Carl “Sargon of Akkad” Benjamin reminds me of! Those dead, hooded eyes! The tiny mouth ever pursed in a supercilious expression! The beard! 😧

(Jury’s out on whether Carl has a reeking, suppurating ulcer on his thigh too)

The worst thing is, he’d probably think the comparison a compliment…

Having wives and daughters has never stopped men from enacting laws and customs that restrict everyone’s wives and daughters.

It is true, however, that those same lawmakers often make exceptions for their own wives and daughters (access to abortion and contraception being prime examples). Right-wingers don’t see injustice unless it affects them personally. His close female relations aren’t enslaved, therefore no woman anywhere is oppressed.

@Kat – I love how a belief system which hand-waves away thousands of years of historical evidence as woo is somehow more rational than the historical evidence itself. Truly, a dizzying intellect.

The thing women have needed protection from most is men, and statistically speaking the men most likely to hurt us are the same ones who, according to patriarchal logic, are supposed to be protecting us.

I would kindly suggest that Mr. Firstterr google “murder suicide” or “family annhilator” or even “domestic violence” because men routinely hurt and kill their wives and children. Obviously, not all men do this, but it isn’t an anomaly either.

Patriarchy is a lie because men don’t exist. You may think you have met one—you may even think you are one—but you’re actually mistaken. The conspiracy has deceived us all.

I came across one of these men when I made a comment about the horrible laws of Dubai – specifically the one where women can be arrested for reporting being raped.

He seemed to be under the impression that Dubai is a place where women have everything their way (not using such polite language!)!

And his user name was General Robert E Lee.

There’s a fantastic BBC documentary called The Ascent of Woman about the origins of patriarchy. I would suggest these guys watch it but it presents a history which their feelings have determined can’t be true, so it’s not LOGIC and MAN-SCIENCE.

Do these people ever define what they think “oppression” means? (Beyond “Waaah, I’m not being catered to hand and foot”?)

OK, this whole idea that all men are evolutionary inclined to put the life of any random woman over themselves is a ripe load of BS, and there are scientific studies to debunk it. Just look at this study, which clearly states that men have a much higher rate of survival than women and children:

And for everyone bringing up the Titanic, that disaster was an exception, because crewmen held off the male passengers at gunpoint so women and children could get into the boats, plus Titanic was sinking slowly enough so there even was time for the crew to make that call to begin with, in most other disasters it’s the strongest men who are the best at shoving people aside who gets into the lifeboats first.

But speaking of the OP, even if we go from a hypothetical scenario where no man can oppress his wife or daughter, that does jack all for all the women who aren’t his wife or daughter. Let’s say Misoginus McFeudallord wants to horribly oppress all the women living on his land and bans them form waged labor or walking outside without a veil and chaperone, it doesn’t matter if all his male serfs are as kind as any man could be to their daughters, they’re still being oppressed by Misoginus McFeudallord and the laws he instated, and Misoginus making a personal exception for his wife is not going to help them either.

It makes me so sad to read this because I can give examples of men I know personally (and love) enforcing the patriarchy and oppressing women they know and love. There are subtleties here and conflicting emotions.

I always wondered how men felt when they enforced patriarchy on their own daughters but could never figure out how to ask. Then I saw a man do it. I don’t think he was entirely aware of what he was doing and explaining it to him is still on my bucket list. I’m just waiting for my moment.

This happens everyday and most of it is so subtle and normalized that we don’t even notice.

I always wondered how men felt when they enforced patriarchy on their own daughters but could never figure out how to ask.

Some of them are just fucking jerks. Being a dad or husband doesn’t make one magically non-jerk.

But quite a large number of guys have internalized the idea that oppressing women is good for them, because if you oppress them in just the right way, it will protect them from the fucking jerks.

You can’t cover the lucrative men’s sports if you work in sports journalism! Think of what would happen in the locker room! And there’s not enough interest in covering women’s sports. It’s really best you don’t work in sports journalism at all. Maybe someday, after people who participate in and cover sports are able to influence the culture in a better direction, but we’ll both be dead by then. You have to give up on this for your own good.

You can’t be a professional athlete! There’s no TV coverage, so the sports will have no revenue! It’s one thing to devote your entire life to learning a career you can only make money at for 3 years if you make a million dollars a year for those three – that can set you up with a good home and pay for a new education and you won’t be too far behind in your real career. But devoting your life to learning a career that gives you housing and a 22k/year stipend is untenable! For your own good, please stop playing sports and focus on something practical, like a degree that can get you an office job.

You can’t be a computer programmer! That’s still a male dominated, sexist culture, just the way it has always been. Have you seen the statistics on how women are treated in STEM programs? Do you really want to commit to years of being treated dismissively? Do you really want to see men take credit for all your best ideas? Do something where women’s subjectivity is more valued, or at least something where you can put your name on your work so you get the credit for your own ideas!

You can’t be a travel writer! The rest of the world isn’t as enwhitened enlightened as Canada! What if you’re raped in the Philippines and you can’t even speak to the police? What if the police think you’re lying and lock you up for breaking some law against adultery or something? You can’t do that kind of thing until the world changes and rape is more rare and the police learn to treat women better. I just don’t want to see you hurt.

You can’t be a criminologist! You’d be talking to dangerous men when doing your research, and then even though it would be useful if police learned something about women’s responses to being victims of violent crime, they’re just not going to listen to you. It’s still a boy’s club, and they won’t take you seriously. It will be a waste of everything you’ve learned! It’s really best if you don’t spend your effort on people who won’t appreciate it.

…and so on. There are endless acts of oppression carried out by men against the women they supposedly love, all justified by the existence of oppression.


Also Titanic isn’t even the case worth bringing up with that belief. “Women and children first” is actually called the “Birkenhead drill” from the sinking of the HMS Birkenhead off of South Africa in 1852. The thing about it, is that “Women and children first” literally wasn’t even considered UNTIL the Birkenhead because it never really happened before, and the reason it happened in this case wasn’t even that intentional. The Birkenhead was a steamship carrying a combination of soldiers headed for colonial wars and civilians headed to Cape Colony. The boat hit an uncharted rock. After the first set of life boats went out (which were mostly women and children not out of altruism but because the soldiers and sailors were sticking around because they thought they could save the ship) the boat accidentally steamed into ANOTHER unseen rock that instantly destroyed the boat. The thing were the sailors went down with the ship was the officer realizing if the sailors tried to swim to the life boats that were already out, they’d swamp and sink them and everybody would die. So he ordered them to wait on the boat for them to sink and then try to swim for it (which some succeeded in, but most died of hypothermia or shark attack in the process).

Afterwards, people started holding this up as the ideal of naval chivalry, especially once Rudyard Kipling made a poem about. What confuses people is that we’ve forgotten that this was an IDEAL of what to do, not what ACTUALLY HAPPENS.

I’m sure this has been pointed out a bajillion times already on this site but it’s still worth reiterating I think.


… explaining it to him is still on my bucket list. I’m just waiting for my moment.

If he’s a decent bloke, which he is by what you say, make the moment. Don’t go waiting for it, because it’ll never come. He’ll appreciate it, after some time for thought.

As to how this particular guy feels when enforcing patriarchy – disappointed in myself when I realise or am shown.

This shit is really hard to catch in yourself – I’m STILL being pulled for things (thanks to some really awesome friends and an even more awesome wife and daughters) after years of trying to get out of that pattern of thought.

@Hezerpare Ahmed Pasha
Yes, I remembered that there was another sinking in the 1850’s that was held up as an exception to prove the rule, but the name escaped me. Thanks for sharing the info!

Also, the reason the “women and children first” rule was enforced on the Titanic was because there weren’t enough lifeboats for everyone on board–the ship’s designers didn’t leave enough room for them.

In retrospect, they really should have rearranged those deck chairs.

I mean, but … well, an actual 11-year-old should be able to see the problem in the logic. Fiddle with genders a bit and you get this argument:

“War is a lie because men would NEVER stab/shoot/kill their own BROTHERS and SONS and stuff”

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