patriarchal society



We explain what patriarchal society is, how it originated and its relationship with machismo. Also, how can it be fought.

In a patriarchal society, men predominate over women.

What is a patriarchal society?

A patriarchal society is a socio-cultural configuration that grants men predominance, authority and advantages over women, who remain in a relationship of subordination and dependence. To this kind of society it is also called patriarchy.

To this day, most of the societies human beings are patriarchal, despite the fact that over the last two centuries there has been progress towards equality between men and women. In addition to thousands of years of habit, patriarchy is supported by a cultural tradition and a series of institutions social and political, more or less openly.

For example, in many religious texts such as the Bible the authority of the man over the woman is made explicit (he says that he will "rule" over her, as over the animals) and the latter is called to a life of obedience and modesty.

Of course, patriarchal society does not manifest itself in all cases in the same way. In some societies it can be more brutal (as in traditional Islamic societies, where the woman must cover herself from the man's sight and has less civil rights) or looser.

However, there is clear evidence to what extent this type of society is ingrained in our history. For example, until the middle of the 20th century, women in the West did not even have the right to vote.

Origin of patriarchal culture

Most of the approaches to the subject agree that patriarchal domination arose at some point close to the development of the farming. Thanks to this new practice, primitive human society settled down and abandoned nomadism, depending on the cultivation of the land and the domestication of animals.

This change occurred 12,000 years ago during the so-called Neolithic Revolution. As a consequence, the private property, since the first peasants watched over their own possession of arable land.

In the same way, a property regime was established over women, who would give men children to work the land. Thus, society was organized around patrilineage and male administration of resources, since the strongest men were better suited for agricultural work.

However, there is debate around this type of conclusions, who run the risk of assuming patriarchy as a "natural" order. On the contrary, in the evolution of human societies it is not so much the biology what intervenes, but the social dynamics and cultural.

Patriarchy and machismo

The main expression of a patriarchal society is machismo. This results in a attitude aggressive, possessive, lordship, on the part of men towards women, who are thus reduced to a secondary category in matters of decisions, property ownership and legal exercises.

Machismo has many different ways of manifesting itself, even under the guise of speeches protectionists who victimize women and assume that they are weak, incapable, and therefore in need of the man to watch over her and decide for her.

In turn, machismo engenders forms of discrimination all types: wages lower limits for women for doing the same job, lower professional ceilings, and even forms of violence such as sexual harassment, and even femicide.

How do you combat patriarchal society?

Feminism has historically fought patriarchal society.

The fight against patriarchy is not a simple matter, nor does it concern only women. A more egalitarian society would also benefit men, allowing them to escape stifling and toxic patterns of masculinity, which teach them to repress their feelings, to bond through violence, or to confuse love with possession.

In that sense, the fight against patriarchy would go through:

  • The "deconstruction" of toxic masculinity. Normalize less traditional forms of masculinity, allow the diversity and the acceptance of the less conventional ways of “being a man”.
  • Give women a voice.The inclusion of women in society as an equal happens, necessarily, to give them greater participation quotas in it, to make visible their contributions, their efforts and their sufferings, and to allow the voice of women to enjoy the same respect, consideration and authority than that of man. This is a long road of cultural change that cannot happen overnight.
  • Understand the feminism. Far from what many believe, feminism is not a school of thought new, nor does it promote hatred of men, nor does it aspire to a matriarchal society. It is a way of critical thinking that exposes the articulations of machismo that cannot be perceived because they are very normalized by custom. Informing yourself about it and learning to value the contributions of feminism is one way to fight against patriarchy.


In theory, matriarchy would be the social and political regime in which domination would fall on women, that is, the opposite of patriarchy. Such an organization has never existed in the history of mankind, unless it is recorded.

However, many scholars of the anthropology They agree that judging by current hunter-gatherer cultures, which primitive humanity would have resembled, women at some point played a much more active and leading role in society, which would have even allowed polyandry.

On the other hand, there are cultures today that value the distribution of properties (especially land) based on maternal transmission, in what is known as matrilineage. This gives them a much more dominant role in the management of society, but it does not mean that it establishes something that can properly be called matriarchy.

!-- GDPR -->