Respondent 537

Does patriarchy exist?

Yes

How would you define patriarchy?

Self-sustaining and self-reinforcing privilege and power of men, particularly but not exclusively straight men, aided by the spread and perpetuation of gender roles.

How has patriarchy hurt you?

Its hurt has been passed on down the generations. On my father’s side, his grandfather was an ‘inspector of the poor’ on a Scottish island. The job came with a house, and when he died suddenly in his 40s, his wife and 7 children were suddenly homeless and had to leave the island for Glasgow, where my grandfather had to go out to work as a teenager. The sudden, forced homelessness of my great-grandmother and her children is an example of patriarchy at work – she had no security; only the value and worth of her husband was recognised by the system. My grandfather himself was a stern, strict, gruff patriarch, and my own father inherited this understanding of what a father should be. He bullied his own children, would see red if challenged in the smallest way and, as a result, was unable to fulfil the role a father should, of validating his children and their efforts, of allowing challenge to his authority while providing guidance and stability. Those things are pretty crucial, and their absence in our upbringing has left us, his children, with psychological and emotional difficulties we’re still grappling with far into adulthood. I do see that as a product of patriarchy.

How have you hurt people in a way influenced by patriachy?

The nature of privilege is that you are often blind to your own and can enjoy it and act on it with impunity. So almost certainly, yes. I know that in conversation with friends I have almost certainly used my male privilege in discussions and arguments – recognising and apologising for doing so sometimes but almost certainly not always. Certainly I’ve inherited some of my father’s quick temper and tendency to be outraged, and I do see that as a consequence of, and having roots in, patriarchal culture. I don’t have, or don’t yet have, children, so I can’t say how I might be influenced by it as a parent.

How would you define masculinity?

First of all I’d want to add a caveat: that a man or woman can embody both masculinity and femininity. There is no exclusive claim by either gender to masculine or feminine traits. It feels very problematic to assign particular traits and behaviours to either masculinity or femininity, but if pushed I think of parenting – a feminine role being that of a nurturing, caring softness, a role in comforting, nursing and reassuring; the masculine that of challenging, cheering-on, guiding. But they merge into each other and overlap, and a person of either gender can fulfil aspects of each.

Does misandry exist?

No

Have you experienced gender and/or sex related prejudice?

Yes

Very often in a way that has advantaged me. In terms of disadvantage, I’ve occasionally encountered mild prejudice as a gay man, and I mention it here because I see homophobia as an offshoot of misogyny.

What best describes you?

A feminist