Real Men on Top

Patriarchy doesn’t put men on top, argues Robin Dembroff. Instead, it elevates those who most approximate cultural ideals of manhood.

Robin Dembroff (Yale)

The word ‘patriarchy’ is attached to a big promise: the promise of a unified explanation for gender injustice across places and times. But the received view – that patriarchy is a system that privileges men over women – fails us. It distorts or erases the reality that many groups of men (such as gay men and Black men), as well as androgynous people, also experience systemic forms of gender disadvantage. Patriarchy doesn’t put men on top. Instead, it elevates those who most closely approximate cultural ideals of manhood – ideals that say what men are and should be. Or, put simply, patriarchy puts real men on top.