Feminism: Patriarchy, Egalitarianism and Gender Roles

Patriarchy is a result of sex differences, and women are happier in places with more male dominance in society and marriages with traditional gender roles

Within feminist literature, there lies something called patriarchy. The overall definition is that its a power structure in society in which men dominate high positions of power and women are excluded from it. While I think my uniform definition is accurate, we should look at what research has to say.

  • Wilson (2000) defines patriarchy as
  • “a cardinal concept of the radical second-wave feminists, who define it as a system of social structures, and practices in which men dominate, oppress and exploit women.”

  • Beechey (1979)  notes that
  • “At the most general level patriarchy has been used to refer to male domination and to the power relationships by which men dominate women.”

Mitchell (1974) refers to patriarchy as a kinship systems in which men exchange women and the power fathers have within these systems.

Hartman (1979) says that patriarchy is male power over women.

So patriarchy can be taken as male dominance in society and over women. While doing research, Becker (1999) quoted Alan Johnson on what drives patriarchy:

What drives Patriarchy as a system – what fuels competition, aggression, and oppression – is a dynamic relationship between control and fear. Patriarchy encourages men to seek security, status, and other rewards through control; to fear other men’s ability to control and harm them; and to identify being in control as both their best defense against loss and humiliation and the surest route to what
they need and desire. In this sense, although we usually think of patriarchy in terms of women and men, it is more about what goes on among men. The oppression of women is certainly an important part of patriarchy, but, paradoxically, it may not be the point of patriarchy.

What’s interesting is Johnson’s points on what fuels patriarchy. Men want power and so they compete to gain things like status. Most likely Johnson doesn’t see this as a result of sex differences that lead to male dominance in society, but rather as a result of an unknown force – or something along those lines.

Instead of patriarchy, feminist want an equal society – something egalitarian. In my opinion, this want maybe a way to make society equal, but women are happier in patriarchal societies. The patriarchy is also a result of sex differences between men and women (something feminist seem to deny).

Patriarchy as a Result of Sex Differences

Sex-Differences Deniers

Before we get into the evidence that male dominance is a result of sex differences, it’s important to note that some feminist and researchers seem to deny sex differences – they hold an environmental null-hypothesis on what makes men and women different.

  • The sexes are inherently in everything alike, save reproduction systems, secondary sexual characteristics, orgasmic capacity, and genetic and morphological structure” (Miller 2016).

Even the American Psychological Association cited Hyde (2005); Hyde performed a meta-analysis on 46 studies and came to the conclusion that there are no big differences between men and women in personality, cognition and leadership. Surely, Hyde is right as her work was cited by the APA…right? No. Giudice (2015) found that Hyde based her results on an effect size based on Cohen’s criteria, something even Cohen suggested NOT to do.

Giudice found that on average:

males are more dominant assertive, risk-prone, tough-minded, cold-hearted, emotionally stable, utilitarian, and open to abstract ideas. Females are more
nurturant, warm, altruistic, submissive, risk-averse, tenderminded, emotionally unstable, and open to feelings and aesthetic experiences. These differences tend to be larger in more gender-egalitarian countries, and together define
a global dimension of personality masculinity–femininity.

Joel et al. (2015) did a study on male and female brains, they found sex differences in the brain but not that there exists a male/ female brain. First of all, Giudice et al. (2016) found that Joel et al. used faulty methodology. They also found that brain features correctly predicted a subjects sex 69-77% of the time. In replies to Joel et al., Rosenblatt (2016) and Glezerman (2016) found that there are typically male and female brains.

Chekround et al. (2016) said that

We wholly agree that a strict dichotomy between male/female brains does not exist, but this does not diminish or negate the importance of considering statistical differences between the sexes.”

This article also gives a good reply to Joel et al.

While this is simply what I could find, people should take any study that claims no sex differences with heavy salt. Men and women do differ, and these differences lead in favor of men – which lead to societal dominance.

Patriarchy and Sex Differences

The dominance of men in society shouldn’t be seen as something wrong, but rather something due to biology. Referring back to Becker and their quote from Johnson on what drives patriarchy, they are correct. These sex differences lead to patriarchy.

The fact that men are more dominant and competitive is influenced by biological sex differences, which can be seen by child development studies and genetics.

Male Dominance and Aggression

Benenson (2013), Geary (2010), and Geary et al. (2003) found that males are more likely to engage in co-op group activities, form larger groups when compared to females, and to engage in frequent and intense competition against other males. Male groups are also characterized as stable internal-hierarchies of status and dominance. In game experiments, males form groups for the purpose of winning – while females form groups on the basis of emotional attachment (Levin 1987).

Maccoby and Jacklin (1974) conclude that “the males greater aggression has a biological component.” Ellis et al. (2008) said that males tend to be less altruistic and are pro social behavior across a range of domains; like sharing possessions to organ donations. Showing that males have lower levels of agreeableness and nurturance.

In aggression differences: Archer (2003) found that across age groups, males engage in more direct aggression (physical and verbal) and females tend to engage in indirect aggression. Card et al. (2008) found similar results for physical and verbal aggression in children and adolescents in their meta-analysis.

The fact that males are more aggressive and dominant shows that they want to win – they want to be on top. This already explains part of the patriarchy in respects to the dominance of men.

Sex Differences in IQ and Patriarchy

The fact that men are more over represented in high status positions is a result of their dominance, and it’s also a result of their higher IQ. The fact that the sexes differ in intelligence matters as IQ correlates with job status – and a higher IQ would lead to a higher job position.

The sex differences in intelligence seem to favor men over women, but it also shows itself as a double edged sword. Men on average are smarter than women, but the bell curve for men is thicker; meaning that there are a lot of dumb and very smart men. The results for IQ difference by sex are inconsistent. Some find a difference and others find no difference.

First, a meta-analysis by Sewell (2007) found that men lead in g (click here to understand what g is) by 2 points.

Nyborg (2004) noted that the inconsistency other researchers have found is due to inadequate analysis, males outscore women by about 3.8 points, and that males lead in g.


According to Nyborg:

This hypothesis (Nyborg, 2003, p. 215) posits that the over representation of high g males helps explain why males generally stand out in higher educational and socio-economic spheres, and why an official investigation of the power structure ‘‘should’’ find that 88% of the most influential people in Denmark are males (Christiansen, Møller, & Togeby, 2001). In general, g is the best single predictor of occupational status and income (e.g. Nyborg & Jensen, 2001) and of how people perform in life at large (e.g. Gottfredson, 2003). The combined evidence thus supports hypothesis 4,
saying that the exponentially increasing over representation of high g males may by and large explain why males typically out-compete females at the highest steps of the societal ladder.

Lynn and Kanazawa (2010) found an advantage of 1.8 IQ points later in life because of the slower maturation in boys. Irwing and Lynn (2006) find an IQ advantage for men by 4-6 IQ points. When we average it out (1<x<6), we find an average IQ advantage for men by about 3.5 points. While this advantage may seem small, it doesn’t mean that the IQ differences between men and women won’t have large real world effects.

This explains why most of the smartest people are mostly men.

As for IQ and job status: Herrenstein and Murray (1994) reported on a twin study in which they found that someones IQ correlates with their future job status. Early in the study, the boys and girls in the sample took an IQ test and then their job status and levels of schooling were measured on standard scales after they were at least 26 years old. The IQ scores they got when they were 7 or 8 were correlated with the status level of their adult jobs as their adult IQ would’ve been. Jensen (1980)  also found that the correlation between rated occupational status and an individuals IQ ranges from .50 – .70.

Both male dominance, aggression, and higher IQ’s explain why men seem to dominate in society.

Egalitarianism and Equality

Feminist think that removing these sex differences and replacing patriarchy with something egalitarian will help society, but it won’t. Women are actually happier in patriarchal societies with larger male dominance and less egalitarian attitudes.

Meisenberg and Woodley (2014) looked at 96 different countries spanning from 1981-2010 investigating female happiness and its correlation to the gender gap in education; proportion of male-to-female leaders; females in the labor force; and females in the non-agricultural labor force. In all cases, the correlation was negative – meaning that women are happier in places with a larger gap in male and female educational attainment, less women leaders, and less women in the work force.

Lima (2011) did a similar analysis as Meisenberg and Woodly, but they looked at relative female life-satisfaction and women’s rights (which was defined by the CIRI Human Rights Database). Looking at 80 countries, women’s labor force participation and egalitarian attitudes were negatively correlated with relative female happiness.

Lalive and Stutzer (2009) looked at the regional Switzerland level. The phrase “women and men shall have the right to equal pay for work of equal value”  was used as a measurement of gender egalitarian attitudes among communities. Communities with more egalitarian attitudes had smaller income gaps, but employed females in communities with higher egalitarian attitudes towards gender had statistically significant lower levels of life satisfaction.

Marriage and Gender Roles

When it comes to the individual level rather than the national level, women are happier in marriages with traditional gender roles.

Wilcox and Nock (2006) found that traditional views on marriage were associated with higher marital satisfaction, even after controlling for social, economic, and demographic variables.

Amato and Booth (1995) used longitudinal survey data from 1980-1988. They found that as a wives attitudes became more egalitarian , their perceived marital quality decreased. For husbands it was the complete opposite. They noted that marriage quality 8 years prior didn’t predict the changes, rather it was gender attitudes.

 Lueptow, Guss, & Hyden (1989) used GSS data from 1974-1986, women who held more traditional views on gender – like agreeing with the statement that “women should take care of running the house and leave running the country up to men” – reported higher marital and individual happiness.

Thus, it seems that patriarchy is a result of biological sex differences and that women are happier in patriarchal societies. Feminist are wrong to say that the patriarchy should be removed as biological sex differences won’t allow that. It’s common to say that sex differences are a result of socialization and environmental gene expressions, but something should be said about this.

The reason men and women may act differently is because of reinforcements. If parents value certain behaviors from their child or daughter, then they’ll encourage that behavior. Girls and boys may also be pre-disposed to act certain ways in which their behavior shapes their environment. This is called the gene-environment correlation (Levin 1997). This is a topic for another day, but the evidence suggests that patriarchy is normal and preferred,  in respects to female happiness.










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