Patriarchy is a social system in which men have primary power and predominate in roles such as political leadership, moral authority, social privilege, and property control. Some patriarchal societies are also patrilineal, which means that property and title are passed down through the male lineage. Patriarchy is associated with a set of ideas, a patriarchal ideology, that serves to explain and justify this dominance, attributing it to inherent natural differences between men and women. Sociologists disagree on whether patriarchy is a social phenomenon or the result of innate gender differences. Patriarchy has historically manifested itself in the social, legal, political, religious, and economic organisation of a variety of cultures. In practice, most modern societies are patriarchal. Patriarchy literally means “the rule of the father”.

Historically, the term patriarchy was used to refer to autocratic rule by the male head of a family; however, since the late twentieth century, it has also been used to refer to social systems in which power is primarily held by adult men, particularly by writers associated with second-wave feminism such as Kate Millett; these writers attempted to use an understanding of patriarchal social relations emancipate women from male dominance. Sylvia Walby, a sociologist, defines patriarchy as “a system of social structures and practices in which men dominate, oppress, and exploit women.” Most societies have observed social stratification along gender lines, with men holding the majority of power.


Most prehistoric societies were relatively egalitarian, according to anthropological, archaeological, and evolutionary psychological evidence, and patriarchal social structures did not emerge until many years after the end of the Pleistocene epoch, following social and technological developments such as agriculture and domestication. According to historian Robert M. Strozier, no specific “initiating event” has been identified. Gerda Lerner contends that there was no single event, and that patriarchy emerged as a social system in different parts of the world at different times. According to some scholars, the spread of patriarchy began around six thousand years ago, when the concept of fatherhood took root.

The origin of patriarchy, according to Marxist theory, is the emergence of private property, which has traditionally been controlled by men, as articulated primarily by Friedrich Engels in The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State. According to this viewpoint, men directed household production and sought to control women in order to ensure the transfer of family property to their own (male) offspring, while women were subservient to men. Lerner refutes this notion, claiming that patriarchy existed prior to the development of class society and the concept of private property. Domination of women by men can be traced back to 3100 BCE, as can restrictions on a woman’s reproductive capacity and exclusion from “the process of representing or constructing history.” According to some scholars, the appearance of the Hebrews coincides with “the exclusion of woman from the God-humanity covenant.”

The archaeologist Marija Gimbutas contends that waves of kurgan-building invaders from the Ukrainian steppes established male hierarchies in the early agricultural cultures of Old Europe in the Aegean, the Balkans, and southern Italy, leading to the rise of patriarchy in Western society.

According to Steven Taylor, the rise of patriarchal domination was associated with the appearance of socially stratified hierarchical polities, institutionalized violence, and the separated individuated ego during a period of climatic stress.


Despite the fact that many 16ths and 17th century theorists agreed with Aristotle on the place of women in society, no one attempted to prove political obligation on the basis of the patriarchal family until after 1680. Sir Robert Filmer is closely associated with patriarchal political theory. Filmer finished a work called Patriarcha before 1653. However, it was not published until after his death. In it, he defended the divine right of kings as a title inherited from Adam, the first man of the human species, according to Judeo-Christian tradition.

[1]Throughout the nineteenth century, a number of women began to question the widely accepted patriarchal interpretation of Christian scripture. One of the most prominent of these was Sarah Grimke, who expressed skepticism about men’s ability to translate and interpret passages about gender roles without bias. She proposed alternative translations and interpretations of passages concerning women, and she applied historical and cultural criticism to a number of verses, arguing that their admonitions applied to specific historical situations and should not be interpreted as universal commands. Grimke’s criticism of biblical sources was used by Elizabeth Cady Stanton to lay the groundwork for feminist thought. She wrote The Woman’s Bible, which advocated for a feminist interpretation of the Old and New Testaments. Feminist theory, which criticized the patriarchal Judeo-Christian tradition, exacerbated this trend. In 2020 social theorist and theologian Elaine Storkey retold the stories of thirty biblical women in her book Women in a Patriarchal World and applied the challenges they faced to women today. Working from both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament, she analyzed different variations of patriarchy, and outlined the paradox of Rahab, a prostitute in the Old Testament who became a role-model in the New Testament Epistle of James, and Epistle to the Hebrews. Michael Grossberg coined the term “judicial patriarchy” in his essay, A Judicial Patriarchy: Family Law at the Turn of the Century, stating that “the judge became the buffer between the family and the state” and that “Judicial patriarchs dominated family law because within these institutional and intraclass rivalries judges succeeded in protecting their power over the law governing the hearth.”


India is considered to have followed Patriarchal form of social structure where men heavily and predominantly control the major portion of the work moving from politics, decision making powers, agricultural activities to being the main earning member to do for a living. Women happens to be assigned with the work of household, taking care of children, looking after after their spouses when they arrive home from work. As per the recent data extracted by the World Bank in 2017 there are 

Indian debates on socialism and patriarchy are complicated by a significant shift in the analysis. The subject of research and debates was not just capitalism and its relationship to patriarchy. Rather, patriarchy came to be discussed in term of the modes of production and reproduction, specific to Indian realities. These were understood regarding the family and household; kinship and caste; culture and religion, and the Indian state, whose policies have a dynamic beaming on all other social structures. Indian discussion addressed and added their concerns to the more substantial feminist arguments. Indian feminist analysis and arguments linked the family and the economy to demonstrate, how the economic power of men and their domination of production was crucially linked to, and determined by, the organization of the family and the household. The household thus emerged as an important constituent of both production and patriarchy.

The sphere of reproduction was understood in terms of a sex-gender system, which identified with concrete social structures and relationships, in this case, kinship networks. Along with the household, kin networks were seen as central to both the exercise of male power in the familial and social contexts, as well as a women’s status, or the lack of it, at home and outside. Both production and reproduction were seen as involving exploitations of human labour on the one hand, and of female reproductive capacity, on the other. The caste system was seen as central to both forms of exploitation and as linking them in explicit ways, and it has been argued that distinctive caste patriarchies exist in India.

Debates about capitalism and women’s sub ordinance often became debates on developments and the role of the modern states. This led to the theorizing of the state as both patriarchal and as a potential challenger of patriarchy. Various studies are available which is documenting the same. Their invisibility, position of women in the social, political and economic system, is clearly more an outcome of the ideology governing public policy relating to women. Hence, women are noticeably absent from the discussions of development theory too.

[2]India is one of the countries where the female population is less than the proportion of the male population. According to UNICEF India’s Report on Child Sex Ratio, the birth of female’s children is declining steadily. Figures from 1991 showed that the sex ratio was 947 girls for 1,000 boys. Since 1991, 80% of all districts in India had recorded a declining sex ratio, with the state of Punjab being the worst in leading the statistics. States like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana have recorded more than a 50-point decline in the child sex ratio in the same period. Kerala is the only one in India where the overall sex ratio is constantly in favorable to women. However, the numbers today, have started to improve once again. A woman in Indian society has been a victim of humiliation, torture and exploitation. There are many episodes of rape, murder, dowry, burning, wife beating and discrimination in society. Men predominate the Indian society; hence women are a victim of male domination in the respective sphere of life; especially in economic life, over decision making on resources, on the utilization of her earnings and her body. Hence, a woman’s life lies between pleasures at one end and danger at another end.

Women in India have been a subject of exploitation in various aspects such as violence, dowry deaths, economic exploitation, vulnerability, educational deprivation, etc. Culture and tradition have bound the Indian society since ancient times. The patriarchal system and the gender stereotypes in the family and society have always shown a preference for the male child. Sons are regarded as a means of social security and women remained under male domination. Due to her subordinated position, she has suffered fears of discrimination, exploitation and subjugation. She became the victim of several social evils like child marriage, sati, polygamy, purdah system, female infanticide, forced pregnancy, rape etc.

In such incidents, many times, the mother-in-law of the woman also has a role to play. This discrimination and violence against women affect the sex ratio in India also. The main causes of violence are unequal power relations, gender discrimination, patriarchy and economic dependence of women, no participation in the decision-making process etc. In India, the literacy rate of women is much lower than men because boys receive more schooling than girls. India is one of the 43 countries in the world where the male literacy rate is at least 15% higher than female rates. Educational deprivation is intimately associated with poverty.

However, in India, modest improvement is gradually coming up in the educational level of women. After the independence, many steps have been taken to improve the lots women. The present govt’s program “Beti Bachao, Beti Padao” is also remarkable step by the government to fulfilment the need and aspiration of the girl child. Many laws have also been passed. A National Commission for Women was set up to act as a watchdog on the women issues in 1992. Many programs in the areas of education, health, and employment have been initiated for development of women, rural as well as urban. 

The review of the status of women in India tells the story of a fall in the status of women to an abysmally low position from a relatively high-status and notability of the Vedic times. The fall in status has led to a socio-economic and religious-cultural deprivation of women. Of course, there are certain initiatives in the country, especially after the independence towards raising the status of women. But still, there are many miles to go to reach out the goal of gender equality.

Poverty is one of the important characteristics of India, and nearly 45% of rural people are below poverty line. Most of them are just surviving with their day-to-day earnings. If we take the International Poverty Line (1994) into consideration, in India, there were 47% of the population at below $1 a day category and 87.5% at below $2 a day category. Better healthcare and higher educational opportunities are far reaching dreams for their children. She (girl child) is treated as a ‘silent lamb’ born to suffer all evils in male-dominated societies.


In the recent times, there have been changes in thinking pattern of people with growing urge to have accepted women as they are and letting them acquire their needs and desires. However, these changes have not been making a significant impact or they have just impacted for the sake of showing. According the data proposed by the NCRB, crime against women have increased significantly in the past 10 years. The gap between urban and rural India has been increased. Many attempts are being made to lower the gap but still the condition is abysmal. The urban society has been working constantly in achieving equality for example, Hindi Film Industry has now started to mention the names of female Actors before the male ones and have even made changes in the Pay Scale of women actors as earlier, male actors were paid higher than women, Supreme Court of India in its recent judgement has instructed the central government to allow women to be inducted into the National Defense Academy and Officers Training Academy. Patriarchy rules politics too, but there are women who wants to change this idea. Urmila Singh has been helping women in Bihar nurture their political ambitions for over two decades now. She remembers how the 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution in 1993 had reserved a third of seats in all local bodies for women, and how Bihar was the first state in the country to increase that provision to 50 percent in 2006. This has since led to a series of positive changes as far as political participation of women in Bihar is concerned, Singh says, but there is still a gap. One that she, as the founder of Sakhiree, a local NGO that works to empower women politically and socially, is working hard to fill, as dates for assembly elections in the state come nearer.

The gap that Singh is referring to is this: Bihar registered more women voters than men, with 59.92 percent women, against 55.26 percent men, in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, according to a report by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR). In the same elections, however, only 9 percent (or 56 individuals) of total candidates contesting from Bihar were women. In the end, of the 40 MPs that won in the state, only three were women.

As far as the state assembly elections are concerned, while chief minister Nitish Kumar has repeatedly come to power on the strength of women’s vote, only 28 women MLAs were elected to the Vidhan Sabha (state legislative assembly) after the 2015 assembly elections in Bihar, which is six fewer than 34 in 2010. So ahead of the state polls likely to be held in October / November, Singh says her aim is to get all political parties in Bihar to field 50 percent female candidates; right now, the representation of women in the State Assembly is barely 11.5 percent, falling from 14 percent in 2010. This disparity is similar across states in the country. “Purush satta samaj se ladne ke liye mahilaon ko aage aana hoga,” says Singh—Unless women come forward to fight the male-dominated political system, and make their presence felt in the Parliament where they have a say in the policies that impact them, no real, lasting momentum can be achieved in the social, economic and political empowerment of women. Politicians, activists and concerned members of the public have been championing the cause of equal gender representation in politics for decades now. The World Economic Forum, in its 2020 Global Gender Gap report, also states that when it comes to bridging the various areas of inequality between men and women in India, the political representation is on a faster rise compared to other aspects. Specifically, while India was ranked as low as 144 out of 153 countries when it comes to gaps in economic empowerment and 150 out of 153 countries for inequalities in quality of health and survival, the country was in the 18th position when it came to political empowerment of women.


There are many women and men who believe in equality and equal treatment but there are women who are taking radical stance towards patriarchy. There have been many examples where women, in order to wham patriarchy have started to develop such a radical stance against men that they seem to promote matriarchy, which in itself not acceptable. Patriarchy and Matriarchy are both radical ideologies that creates and promotes disparity predicated along the gender line. Author, Twinkle Khanna, in her recent interview explained the concept of feminism by metaphorically comparing the need of man in woman’s life with a Purse. She stated that purse in women’s life is a ‘want’ not a ‘need’, she explained that men are like market of purse we choose one and take it. These explanations are in itself derogatory for men. It is understandable and carry a serious concern that women have been subjected to exploitation and disparity but in order to get rid of such hardships, women have started to develop a radical stance that promotes Matriarchy. An ideology that carries a differential and biased approach cannot be replaced by another biased approach. Therefore, Matriarchy and Patriarchy are both hateful ideologies against genders and women who promote Matriarchy are as same as Men who promote Patriarchy. Therefore, there must be Archy rather than patriarchy and matriarchy.


Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

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We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.

We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge

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