Essay about The Existence Of A Patriarchal System

Essay about The Existence Of A Patriarchal System

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The existence of a patriarchal system has been one of the corner stones of gender studies since the first application of feminist methodology to historical thought. However, the definition and meaning of patriarchy have significantly altered since Max Weber sought to clarify term. Weber stated that “Patriarchalism means the authority of the father, the husband, the senior of the house, the sib elder over the members of the household and sib; the rule of the master and patron over bondsman, serfs, freed men…of the patrimonial lord and sovereign prince over the subjects.” While statement and others like it served for many years as a starting point, the definition has begun to disintegrate under a flurry of activity by historians of early America. These academic studies have found rich ground in the shifting social structures of the new world in the eighteenth century. The multi-national and multi-ethnic nature of the region has led to new debates on the origins and nature of patriarchy. This historiography will examine several of these works, and by considering the opinions and criticisms that currently occupy the studies of patriarchy, it will assist in defining the current state of the field.
The central points of contention on patriarchal studies lie within methodology, as traditional gender studies have looked at patriarchal systems solely through the lens of gender, and the general oppression of females within that system by Male power structures. Works like The Creation of Patriarchy, by Gerda Lerner were highly influential in this line of inquiry. Books like Lerner’s, position gender as the primary factor in the creation of a patriarchal society, and primarily focus on the role of women and the consequences of their subordi...


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...hich viewed it as given and in changing fact, that should be studied only through the lens of gender. However, these new studies have begun to alter that perception, and despite the criticism from some corners that explorations of patriarchy should continue to maintain the focus on women, the floodgates have opened. Questions of patriarchy in early America are becoming more varied seemingly by the day. Were the Virginia colonies more patriarchal than Massachusetts? How did Native American and African conceptions of masculinity change the patriarchal order? What role did religion have in reinforcing male control? These questions and many more wait to be answered. Unfortunately this paper can only scratch the surface of the rapidly building historiography on this topic, but it is certain that a new and more nuanced history of patriarchy is currently under construction.

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