Many Third Wave and contemporary academic feminists firmly believe in the existence of something called the Patriarchy. Patriarchy is typically understood as something which ought to be opposed and abolished, and many concrete social practices and norms are said by feminists to “belong to” or “be part of” Patriarchy.
I am skeptical about the existence of any such reality as Patriarchy. As far as I can tell, “Patriarchy” is a concept that corresponds to no reality outside of feminist ideology, much like the concepts of “the Master Race” in Nazism or “the materialist dialectic of history” in Marxism.
Of course, if there is really such a reality as the Patriarchy, I would very much like to know this.
So, with that in mind, I have the following challenge to any feminist “Patriarchy” theorists willing to take it up:
- Please provide me with a clear and concrete definition of Patriarchy, preferably in terms of genus and species, and in particular, it terms that are not incredibly vague or more obscure than the thing you are trying to define. (Definitions which do not add clarity are worthless. It is sad that I have to say this.)
- Please show me beyond a reasonable doubt that Patriarchy as defined above actually exists in the modern Western world, by means of objective evidence and data, which cannot be accounted for alternate hypotheses.
- If you have shown me that a Patriarchy, as defined by you, does exist, then show me beyond a reasonable doubt that it a bad thing that justice requires us to oppose or eradicate. (I think, for example, Steven Goldberg makes a good case for the existence of one sort of patriarchy, but one which is entirely natural, is not unjust, and would be greatly harmful to human well-being to attempt to destroy.)
Infallibly, so far, every feminist Patriarchy theory I’ve encountered has broken down on one of these steps:
- Either the definition offered is terminally vague or nonsensical, or
- The definition is clear, but the thing defined does not actually exist, or
- The definition is clear, the thing exists, but is natural, neutral, or benign.
I welcome any attempt to clearly make the case for a “Patriarchy” that is an evil thing that should be destroyed.