Johnson defines Patriarchy as a society in which men hold the power. This means that men sit in positions of power and authority ranging from political to economical. Likewise it means men hold control over how things run, including women. He literally says it is a society that is male-dominated, male-identified, and male-centered. This means patriarchy is simply where men hold power, but more in depth it means a society where men dominate everything ranging from control and power, to positions, to language. To further understand what this entails, lets view those three elements that Johnson identifies with a patriarchal society.
Male-dominance is defined as a situation or society in which the male is given more power than the woman. Johnson specifically notes that this is through the power difference between men and women. This aspect allows men power over language, hence we have terms such as pencil and phrases like “Man he grill.” When we look at what this can mean for our society, it creates a trough that women start in as they try and become members of society. This power vacuum has led to such issues as women having lower pay rates than men.
Some general examples of this we see are that men dominate the sports world (i.e. women aren’t allowed to play football) or that all of our presidents have identified as male. We have had 44 presidents and all 44 have been male; we have yet to even see a female candidate in the actual election (though there has been work towards improvement with a female vice president candidate and female primary candidates for parties). Still this does not appease the fact that men still dominate society and we have yet to take the steps to eliminate this and create a paradigm shift to allow women to truly become equals. A personal example of this would be having played soccer in high school where our men’s team got a charter bus and dinner during playoffs while our women’s team did not. While it did not phase me at the time and I chalked it up to the fact that we did better in the playoffs, our women’s team was the conference champions for all the years I was involved while our men’s team always finished second.
Male-identified is when you determine what is good by masculine terms, not neutral ones. This also creates an imbalance that defines bad by effeminate terms. It boils down to how we use our language as well. We refer to ourselves as “homo sapien” which means “Wise man.” When we name our own species with such a masculine term or even when we call ourselves mankind, such as Neil Armstrong in his speech to the world when he stepped onto the surface of the moon and said, “One small step for man, One giant leap for Mankind.” When we look at this aspect in society, it creates a rift between self and personal representation. People are unwilling to truly define themselves as they really are for fear of ridicule.
Some examples of this are things such as the biggest insult of a man being to call him a girl or else our general language (i.e. “man the grill” or “policeman”). Like the worst insult for a man is to call him a woman, the worst insult for a female is to call her gay or a whore. When we see it happen or hear it happen, we simply laugh and blow it off. This will not lead to a resolution, but instead causes a larger rift that must be crossed. Personally, a way I have seen this before is through a friend. His wife has a Ph. D. and when registering them for a workshop, the man behind the counter saw their names and asked if it should be Dr. and Mrs. instead. He personally got upset because she had worked hard to get her Ph. D. but it says a lot about society.
Male-centered is the idea that the only people worth our notice are men. If you look at the fact of how we advertise and the popular medias, they tend to focus on me. Most advertising either shows men how they could be or women how they can appear to men. Likewise when you look at TV shows and news networks, you see them dominated by men or else by the sexy woman, not always the one given the job for her brains. To fight this is the responsibility of all living people, particularly since half the worlds population is genetically female. This lack of focus on the female is a reason it took so long to truly begin to care about women’s health.
You can see this when you look at the fact that our men’s sports are almost the only ones seen on TV unless there is none on or it is a championship. Likewise you see it when you look at the fact that our ads only show men in their entirety, not generally women. A personal example of this (or rather my trying to avoid it) is that I prefer to watch women’s soccer over men’s for the sake of less showboating. Men tend to do more in their shows to make themselves stand out, hence there are moves named after them in sports. It causes problems because having those moves named after men give more recognition to men. We see this issue also occur in how long it has taken for women to be accepted as part of our fighting forces (until recently they were not allowed in Submarines or aircraft carriers and still are not allowed to serve on the front lines. This imbalance causes our terms, lifestyle, and thoughts to be male dominated. To truly change our society, we need truly balanced identification, such as identifying that women are just as able to coach men as men are to coach women (i.e. a woman coaching a team in the NBA just as men are able to coach in the WNBA)
So with our definition of patriarchy laid down before us, what can we glean from it? Until we create a movement, a paradigm shift to change the world, we will simply continue to take small steps that will never reach true equity (equality is where everyone gets a pair of shoes, equity is where everyone gets a pair that fit). Like this shift is needed, we must also understand and push the idea that this shift is everyone’s responsibility, not simply those with training or those affected by it. Everyone is affected by this so we must focus on demonstrating that to everyone so they understand why they should care. We must also offer them the tools and ideas so they can help effect this change.