patriarchs3imagesPatriarchy did not begin with the Bible, but its practice was adopted and reinforced by the biblical authors. The more male centered and male identified a tribe or society becomes, the more oppressed its female population is. What happens in religious cultures that have their focus centered upon the male is that their gods take on an increasingly male identity and all traces of the feminine side slowly fade away. The ancient goddesses were revered for their life giving qualities, but as the status of men was elevated female attributes were degraded and male attributes elevated. The sperm became the life force of continuance, whereas the female was relegated to only being the fertile soil in which life grew.

 

To understand the ramifications and far reaching effects of patriarchy one must first understand the patriarchal mindset. Patriarchy is a system that eliminates the competition by denying equal rights to women and defines the standard as maleness, thus the viewpoint of that culture becomes male centered. When religions like Judaism and Christianity which are male identified, dominate a society the perspective of that society becomes male, thus the female is defined in terms of the male. From patriarchy is born feminism, which is an attempt on the part of women to reclaim their own identity and equal rights as human beings. There would be no need for feminism except for the existence of its counterpart…patriarchy. Patriarchy has done nothing to promote values based on human equality; rather it has demoralized those who endeavor to put their humanity first.

 

One would hope that any established system would benefit all of humanity, especially if it is a system that is supposedly supported by a creator god…this of course is not the case with the system of patriarchy which elevates one gender over the other. No benefit whatsoever can be extracted from patriarchy that does not have a greater counterpart found in egalitarian systems. Every patriarchal society to one degree or another restricts women’s rights. The argument that the hierarchal order of male headship is superior is flawed on many levels; the first being a necessity to posit male superiority in the area of leadership and secondly the need for male centeredness. Neither of those is required in an egalitarian system which flourishes on a much higher moral level than patriarchy.

 

Christianity perpetuated the spread of patriarchy through it teachings of male headship and domination revolving around the order which its god decreed and sanctioned. An undeniable fact which the tenants of Christianity rest upon is founded on the idea of a god ordained hierarchal order which places the male at the top and always in a position of ruler-ship. In modernity the church is the last bastion of justification for patriarchy which claims god as the reason for its male hierarchy. Women in those patriarchal religions are looked upon as lesser beings and given roles of subservience which are defined in accordance with male values, since the whole patriarchal system revolves around male identity. As long as religions cling to the idea of the inequality of gender based on their doctrines, patriarchy will have a place to continue its abuse of women all the while leading people down a misguided path of ignorance.

 

While Christianity is slowly breaking free from its patriarchal roots, one must take pause to remember that the same god who prescribed patriarchy as the order of rule in the Bible also condoned and gave laws concerning slavery. The same mindset that believed men should rule over women, also believed that certain races should rule over other races and considered them less than human…this is the legacy of patriarchy which has its roots in the mindset of primitive man. It is only through progressive thinking which goes in direct opposition to the decrees of the biblical god that has allowed human rights to be applied to all people regardless of race or gender. The god of the Bible will forever be inscribed with the mark of injustice concerning the equal value of humanity. Though a great effort was made to redeem the god of the New Testament from his biased mentality the tie was not severed, consequently patriarchy continued in full force allowing women and slaves to be denied their equal rights as human beings. Any system that promotes the idea of gender or race superiority for whatever reason is flawed and should be exposed…history is the sentinel that bears witness to the destructive power of patriarchy. Every patriarchal society to one degree or another restricts women’s rights by the very nature of denying women the right to fully participate in all areas of governing and leadership.

 

The Bible cannot be untangled from patriarchy, for it composes the threads that weave together its doctrines, without male identity there is no Yahweh and there are no patriarchs around which Judaism is centered. Without male centered Judaism there is no Jesus and no Paul, thus there would be no Christianity, which is itself dependent upon the patriarchal system of male ruler-ship – starting from its god to its mortal leaders. Does it not seem odd that in every patriarchal religion on the planet women are denied human rights of one variety or another and men are not? It is always the women who are denied rights that men are allowed and oddly it is never the other way around. One will never see a man giving women rights that he is denying himself, nor being restricted freedoms that women are allowed. Ultimately that brings us to the questions of…who bestowed upon men the right to determine what freedoms and choices a woman should or should not have and why are men justified in making decisions concerning women’s bodies, whereas women are not. How would men feel if women arbitrarily started making laws and imposing rules upon them for no reason other than their being male?

 

The primitive patriarchal mentality says, because I am male, I am stronger, therefore I can dominate the female and impose any rules I want upon her and she can do nothing about it. Women have an extreme disadvantage when it comes to protecting themselves against the abuses of men because of their vulnerability in bearing children. It has only been in the last sixty or so years that reliable birth control (pills) has been available, allowing women to plan their pregnancies to some degree. However, many developing countries are still behind in the availability of contraception for most women. Having children or being pregnant makes women much more vulnerable to abuse and domination by men along with men generally being stronger than women. The patriarchal mentality when coupled with religion is a very destructive force which compels men to act in ways that go against their conscience, teaching them to think in terms of gender and race instead of the fact that all people are humans first, thus being entitled to equal rights.

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