Saturday, 18 February 2017

Does Patriarchy Exist?

Forgive me for a little self-indulgence. When Big Ideas get chucked about, I like to find out what they mean. I have heard patriarchy used as a justification for feminist activism, but I wasn't exactly sure whether it existed or not. Of course, the answer is always to visit YouTube. 

Kristi Winters tends to get involved in rows with other vloggers, and is a staunch advocate of feminism. In the past, I've found her a little smug - I know that's rare in atheist circles. Nevertheless, the title of this video suggested that this might be a good place to start.

She spends quite a long time establishing her credentials and research methods (which I found quite interesting), but around ten minutes in, she gets down to business. And she does prove that the USA has a patriarchal Congress. So, yeah, patriarchy does exist.

Once she had proved this, I stopped watching to do some calculations on the British parliament. That's patriarchal, too, but not as bad: Winters' hypothesis is that patriarchy can be observed statistically, and by her method, parliament is dominated by men (two thirds of MPs), making it patriarchal.

I'm pretty happy with her conclusions - at least in proving that specific institutions are patriarchal. I also admired her serious methodology. I did notice that the trend was away from total patriarchal control, and if I was any good at mathematics, I could probably predict the year in which equality will be achieved.

(And yeah, the growth mirrors the rise of feminism, so it's not really fair to say that feminism has achieved its aim, making it redundant.)

Anyway, I've got other stuff to do, so I am not quite ready to think about the implications of this yet, and I don't believe that this proves all civilisation is patriarchal (nor does it disprove it, but I'm not mentally agile enough to go Big Picture this afternoon). Winters has presented an effective methodology for making the call on specific institutions, though. If I ever decide to write a piece on 'theatre and patriarchy', though, I have a good place to start: using Winters' definition and method, I could look at the numbers of men and women in a particular area of theatre, and base an assumption on this. 

It's possible to critique both her example and statistical selection, I know. But that wasn't what I was trying to understand. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't throwing about a buzzword. 

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