Patriarchy Arises from Ownership

My two recent essays in this space, here and here, contemplated the idea of ownership. I’d be hard pressed to find a worse idea than ownership, an idea that lies at the root of our myriad predicaments. In this brief essay, I follow ownership to its logical conclusion: human behavior.

I can already hear the cries of protest. Please, bear with me. Try to listen beyond the frantic, self-indulgent voices of relatively wealthy, heterosexual, Caucasian men.

Once we accept the slippery slope of ownership, boundaries cease to exist. We ignore, hate, and enslave those we view as “other.” And we’re easily manipulated into seeing the “other” beyond our own self-identified selves. Witness the Great Lie known as American exceptionalism.

Nearly everybody readily capitulates to a system that provides enormous benefits to a few, ample benefits to many, a few benefits to the majority, and horrifying conditions for the remainder. The system has embedded within it a monetary system designed by the few to benefit the same few at the apex of the system. These few are called patriarchs. The system is called patriarchy.

Contrary to prevailing opinion, it is not men who make up patriarchy. Not all men rule, and most men are exploited. Patri- (from pater) means “father” in Latin and Greek and can be traced to the Indo-European languages where it first appeared with the emergence of patriarchy, about 7,000 years ago.

In pre-patriarchal societies the word father did not exist separate from “mother” (one of the oldest words in all regions of the world). From the time “father” was separated from “mother,” the former word represented the image of ruler-ship, consistent with its current meaning.

The current meaning of father (aka, ruler) is normal only in the sense that civilization is normal. Of course it’s all we’ve ever known, and it’s the source of the written record of humans. But to claim civilization is normal is to deny the initial couple million years of the human experience (more than 99.7% of our existence).

Accepting patriarchy as “normal” allows us to accept the horrors of civilization as normal. These horrors include destruction, violence, and oppression. For the most part, we turn away, thus becoming willing participants in the horrors of imperialism.

And why not? To accept responsibility implies alternative action. Accepting responsibility is painful. Acting on that responsibility is tortuous, for the willing few.

Accepting reality leads to difficult introspection and, in some cases, even more difficult personal choices. It also might lead to counter-cultural acts. Acting beyond the dominant paradigm, which those in the dominant culture claim to support but actually punish, could lead — and has led — to incarceration, torture, and early death. Supporting the dominant paradigm supports destruction, violence, and oppression. For most people, the decision to support the dominant paradigm is easy.

At this late date in the history of Homo sapiens, patriarchy is the only game in the “civilized” world. It dominants every aspect of life on Earth, including our private, personal lives. Consider, for example, our closest relationships.

During my early days of teaching college classes, I had a student proudly proclaim that homosexuality was a horrible act, conducted by horrible people. Whether you believe in god or evolution, he said, you have to believe there is no purpose to homosexuality. Ergo, it is wrong.

The student was adamantly expressing his entrenched understanding of the dominant culture. Heterosexual monogamy is good. Every other sexual act is bad. Indeed, every other type of relationship is bad.

Much later, when I was teaching at a small, state-funded university in southern Utah, I stumbled across a similar tragedy. When asked for three sources to support their written perspectives in scientific analyses, students routinely cited the Christian bible and their fathers as two of the three sources. Patriarchy rocks, dude.

There is expansive evidence for homosexuality in non-human species. There is no evidence of purpose in the entire universe beyond the purposes we assign to our own insignificant lives. The entire concept of divinity is rife with assumptions unsupported by evidence. The assignation of evil to human acts beyond imperialism is ludicrous.

The marriage-industrial complex is a product of civilization. It has become embedded within dominant religions, which are uniformly characterized by the “golden rule.” Marriage, like gold and the associated rule, is part and parcel of imperialism. Men own their women, and also their children. Non-monogamous relationships are weird to the point of being dangerous.

The bottom line, as always: There is only one proper way to live. Attempting to live differently warrants punishment.


My work is mentioned frequently and favorably in an essay published 16 January 2015 at The Daily Impact. It’s titled, “Scientists to Earth: Prepare to Abandon Planet,” and it’s linked here.

Comments 101

  • Patriarchy is not really domination by the mature male psyche.

    Patriarchy looks like adolescent male rejection of the Mother.

    Mother does many things, but two key things are creating and maintaining a close loving protective family situation, and lifelong connection and immersion(with experiential knowledge) in the ‘natural’ world.

    Adolescent male energy typically rejects this form of relation and is defiant and asserts an unrealisable independent stance relating to that dependence.

    Patriarchy is the collective delusion that human civilisation does not need the mother force as a root archetype to live on the planet.

    These two things, stable fear-free connection to country and community are what Professor Bruce K Alexander selects as key to a resilient and loving individual and social cohesion.

    Conversely, Alexander asserts the interruption to or forced premature separation from these two factors produces deep anxiety,(terror), and subsequent displacement behaviours like addictions, both gross and subtle.(qv: ‘War on Terror’ = very, very, very, fucked in the head framing!!IMHO)

    The signs of this are clear in individuals poorly adapted to relational life, as they feel compelled to frequently seek the substances or experiences of choice, to feel calm and connected, stable, but only to pacify the terrified child still locked inside.

    Collectively, when an entire civilisation, or as now, an entire world, is in the grip of the rejection of the Mother force, we see adolescent defiant,’me first’, ‘I’ll live forever’ behaviour everywhere. To those not quite so disposed, this collective arrogance seems like a selfish Meme, and a madness. Many here over the years have confused this type of behaviour with ‘Human Behaviour’ by definition, but I prefer to see it as a stalled adolescent condition, unable to be free to move on to a more mature and free recognition of the Mother, almost universally associated with the Earth itself.
    Of particular note is that the two universal constraints on an individual in the world of Hunter Gatherers, being: 1) the material world we now call ‘Nature’, and 2) the community of known family of clan/tribe, are what the adolescent begins to push back on in defiance and wants independence from.

    These are the very same constraints the Uber-rich 1% have effectively sought to be free of. They typically can eat at any location in the world any night of the week, and can have the best material existence, living with food, housing and servants in many locations around the planet. They live effectively unconstrained by those two factors, Nature and Community, and are typically defiant, and rejecting of any assertion of accountability. So too their basic economic instrument: the Transnational Corporation(having a status as ‘Person’, but strangely unaccountable as a real individual usually is-go figure!)

    These two constraints have, however, only been addressed in a ‘material’ way. The psychological rejection of the Mother by the adolescent mind will never mature if it succeeds in adapting within that defiant framing. The adolescent can only ‘outgrow’ that defiant stance by being brought up against the real reliance for survival on those two factors.
    Well, we all now have to cope with the reality constraint of Catastrophic Climate Change.

    Civilisations arose perhaps in part as an attempt to collectively break free of those constraints, and have lead to the silly idea we can colonise space, which is really to leave the Mother altogether.

    My contention is that the now dominant West has sought to do that ‘materially’- with currency, and space ships, but the East attempted to do it Spiritually by getting off the wheel of reincarnation.

    All I can say is NBL, and the reality of catastrophic climate change, are a good general education on the folly of the former.
    Better would have been to adopt a mature relation to Mother, by respect and love, and understanding that only through Love, to infinity, will we truly reach the stars.(IMHO).

    Patriarchy is the collective adolescent male force organised in a hierarchy of competitive aggression based dominance governance structures, that is not typically open to conceiving of equality and inclusion either in political deliberations, or the sharing of the essentials of life.

    Now we can see how unwise an existence Patriarchy is, can we move on by growing out of it please? ;)