#PatriarchyIs is a hashtag started by @Karnythia (and she sent some great tweets on the topic herself) to add some nuance and complexity when the term “patriarchy” gets used. Often it is portrayed as solely about the way that men think (it’s not, as bell hooks let us know; like other oppressions, who has power to enact it/how varies, but it impacts everyone’s thinking and is institutional) when in fact it is a system of oppression that privileges men but also how that privileging occurs varies when other oppressions intersect.
In a short zine, Understanding Patriarchy, bell hooks defined it as such:
Patriarchy is a political-social system that insists that males are inherently dominating, superior to everything and everyone deemed weak, especially females, and endowed with the right to dominate and rule over the weak and to maintain that dominance through various forms of psychological terrorism and violence.
The examples in my tweets above reveal how this oppression intersects with others (as oppression is not linear). The essentialist notion that maleness should be privileged and the further from cishet White male identity one is, the more “legitimate” the other oppressions become is a facet of patriarchy. So clearly racism, sexism, classism, misogyny, misogynoir, homophobia, transphobia, and transmisogyny etc. can be seen as factors in my examples since patriarchy facilitates these oppressions. This is how phrases such as “imperialist White supremacist capitalist cisheteropatriarchy” (and it’s based on a term bell hooks coined) describe the interlocking oppressions that create intersectional experiences.
While patriarchy privileges cishet White men above anyone else—especially when they have more than just White privilege and phallocentric power (the latter which they relegate to Black men through controlling images [i.e. the “buck” and “rapist of White women”] and denying them access to power based on race, while those same Black men have patriarchal power intraracially), but also capitalistic power—patriarchy also relegates White men into the role of unfeeling, “rational” bots who create and excuse oppression and believe it’s natural law. Even the arbiters of oppression can box themselves into their own dehumanization by living as oppressors.
“No one can be authentically human while he prevents others from being so.” - Paulo Freire
“My grief has been seeing and experiencing in them [men of colour], as I have seen and experienced in other men, that which destroys beauty in anyone: oppression of those over whom one has power.” - Alice Walker