Repost: Practical Definitions: What is Patriarchy?

This is not meant to be a college textbook excerpt, but to introduce a basic way to think of key concepts of traditional living. Though key to any real revival of normal living, patriarchy doesn’t really exist in the modern world except in very specific subcultures. Patriarchy, specifically Christian patriarchy, is the beginning of the rule of law, with its devotion to those not of the blood.  It is a move away from clannishness and blood bonds towards something larger.  A patriarch is a specific role that only some men can hold.  The guy on the internet pontificating about how he’s the patriarch of his home is profoundly misunderstanding what patriarchy is.  A patriarch is head of a household, but a head of household is not often a patriarch.  This distinction is crucial to understanding why both the fundie “patriarch of mah haus” and the feminist “we b overrun by tha patriarchy, yo” premises are both wrong.

Patriarchy is thus rule by a small, established group of patriarchs with the wealth and authority to enforce their rule.  In Christian patriarchy, these patriarchs are under authority as well.  Patriarchy is not simply a husband being married to his wife and having headship over her. Patriarchy, reliant in the Christian form on granted authority, is by nature more organic than pagan patriarchy. A patriarchy is about ownership with responsibility.  Patriarchs are supposed to take very good care of the people and property under their demesne, including other men’s families.

This is true in any form of patriarchy, but it has a specific spiritual component in Christian patriarchy that makes this form of patriarchy superior.

Now, while this post about patriarchy speaks of it in blood and soil terms, it nevertheless contains practical examples of what it means to live under patriarchal authority.  An excerpt:

How many people would be interested in being part of a tribe or clan again? There are some, I’m sure, who opine of tribal allegiances, based upon race or religion, or something similar. But the day-to-day stress, communitarianism, and sacrifice required for maintaining such allegiances are more than most people are willing to give.

How many men who lecture about the virtues of patriarchy have ever lived in one? How many of them realize that the rule of male elders doesn’t mean that each man rules his home like a fiefdom, but that he rules the decisions that affect primarily his own household and has to consult his male elders on everything else? How many men are willing to submit to the moderating influence of family councils — the same family councils that kept ancient patriarchy from dissolving into the abuse of women and children, even when the immediate father’s rule was inadequate?

How many people who lecture about the genetic ties of race have managed to cultivate these strong tribal allegiances within their own closer-related extended families? How many of them would sacrifice for second or third cousins they’ve never even met? So why the expectation that anyone would do that for someone of the same race that doesn’t even have blood ties with them? The heart doesn’t speak the language of genetics, it just knows that family is family.

How many people who think of themselves as patriots understand that patriotism is a progression of piety? That people loved their families and were willing to die for them, so they cooperated with other families, and those groups of families grew into towns, regions, and nations? Do they really think they can keep that patriotism going in a nation with nothing but a flag holding it together, and the individual families, towns, and regions disintegrating?

As the excerpt shows, patriarchy cannot even exist in a normal society without a willingness among men to accept that their authority is partial, and interlinked within a hierarchy where they are not likely to be at the topmost levels.  In America, contrary to many beliefs, there’s not much, if anything resembling patriarchy as described either by myself or the authoress of that writing.  Patriarchy is about a web of loving obligations and connections that begin in blood and proceed through adoption to become rules and laws for a brotherhood beyond kindred.  It’s not about individual men lording it over individual wives.  That’s certainly something, but it is not patriarchy.


8 thoughts on “Repost: Practical Definitions: What is Patriarchy?

  1. I think the problem with patriarchy in the U.S. has to do with the kind of society we are.

    In a nutshell, if one examines the evidence from the founders it becomes evident while there were founders who were interested in preserving a semblance of what existed in English law, it wouldn’t be accepted by a faction who believed their liberties were of the utmost importance. The U.S.’s government, and by extension culture, is an entirely created culture. We don’t really have as strong of a heritage as some conservatives or people in the alternative right want to believe. Without some kind of strong cultural inheritance from Europe, there can’t be the type of Christian patriarchy we believe should exist. This is the problem with rebellion.

    Short version: When people sever ties from their cultural bonds with a structural foundation for authority, they have to make shit up. Many people in the alternative right believe making shit up is akin to establishing authority.

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    • And one great problem we have is thus; we have successively obliterated customs, religion, and civilization that too nearly 10,000 years to refine.

      And in Britain too, old customs were already abrogated. Henry VIII, Cromwell.


      • I think American culture is a lost cause, but as Christians there’s plenty of hope left. This country has too much rebellious lineage to ever accept patriarchy into its fold.


  2. My daddy was as close to a patriarch as a man can be in this culture. He was not an official authority, but an honorary obe? Absolutely.


    • From what I know about your dad, he was very sacrificial. Patriarchy is the kind of authority where a man has to accept the responsibilities with the privileges…not pontificate as some do.

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  3. Yes Maea, my father was a man willing to sacrifice for others. He understood that with the honor of being able to call his family, church, or town’s residents together and be taken seriously came the responsibility to care about the needs of the people he came in contact with. He truly believed “people first”. He put his money where his mouth was.

    If he saw a child in the neighborhood walking to school in winter without a proper coat, he didn’t rail against the single mother or ask “where’s his daddy at?” He sent his wife to the store to buy the coat and talked to the mother later if the situation warranted that.

    I see the same traits in my husband as well. He cares about people, and people respect his opinions because they know he cares about them and is willing to put some action behind that. So while it is true that post modern America is simply NOT patriarchy friendly, and organized patriarchy isn’t suited for our times and culture, the men who can and are willing to lead while accepting the responsibility that comes with that can be impactful in their respective spheres.

    The idea of a “patriarch” who only feels responsibility for a closed group of 6 people is really kind of silly. This doesn’t mean a man can’t be a godly leader in his home. He can and must be that. But Christianity necessarily calls for concern for and accountability to others.


    • But Christianity necessarily calls for concern for and accountability to others.

      Indeed, this is the kind of accountability which leads to reputation. What gives a patriarch his status is the quality of his reputation within the community. Patriarchy and community cannot be separated, and it would do well for the Christian alt. right to heed that.

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      • Maea said:

        “Indeed, this is the kind of accountability which leads to reputation. What gives a patriarch his status is the quality of his reputation within the community. Patriarchy and community cannot be separated, and it would do well for the Christian alt. right to heed that.”

        I’m just back from visiting my (still) ranching relatives in my home town in WA. My extended family has been doing commercially successful small ranching as a second job since forever. Here are some observations:

        –One guy can’t efficiently or effectively do all the ranch stuff by himself all the time.
        –The day-to-day stuff can fairly easily be done by one guy, but there are regularly occurring times when more help is needed or very desirable (haying, fence-building, round ups, when castrating bull calves and giving vaccinations, etc.).
        –Within an extended family group that lives in the same area, not everybody needs to own every single piece of expensive farm equipment.

        I do not pretend to understand all of the complicated informal economic interrelations between my various relatives, but I know for a fact that these relationships exist between at least five different households among my relatives in my home town. There are very large rewards to be reaped from being a good team player. I would describe the relationships as more horizontal than hierarchical, but we are Scandis, so I believe that is traditional in our ethnicity.

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