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Friday, 13 April 2012

On "Archy"

By: Liberate Zealot

In basic terms Patriarchy is a form of social organization where the father is the authority in a family/clan/community and ancestry is traced down the male line.  In feminist terms it describes the legal, social, and relational interactions between men and women where men are in a favored position with greater power.  Even when fathers are no longer the legal head of the family the culture is still Patriarchal when the societal construction has men with a disproportionate amount of power both at the societal and (in most cases) individual level (even if this is no longer legally the case).  Many people believe once legal equality has been met (as it has in many countries, like the US) that means there is no Patriarchy and that equality has been met. However, there are many examples of Patriarchy still existing all over the world. Here are just some examples in regards to institutional powers and societal interaction. 

However, there's another word to describe the uneven power structures of societal and the oppressions that these inequalities cause women (and others) to experience.

Kyriarchy, a term coined by Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, is an expansion of the idea of patriarchy to include the multiple interconnected and interacting oppressive power structures that are present in the world. It includes, but is not limited to, racist, classist, ableist, cis-sexist, and heteronormative.  The fact is that the people in power are not only predominately men, but also predominately white, straight, able bodied, cis, and born into a higher class.  Their disproportionate power (like that of men and the Patriarchy) is dependent of the oppression and lack of power of people of color and/or queer, disabled, and poor people. 

The term Kyriarchy is used by intersectional feminists and other social justice activists. And I am trying to get better about using it instead of Patriarchy since that is a limited word that applies to one type of oppression and privilege and thus ignores the experiences of many (most) women who suffer under more than one master. 
"Feminism is not just about sexism, because women as a group are not solely oppressed on the axis of sex. "

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