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  Patriarchy (Greek, ‘rule by the father’) is a family or society dominated by men. Feminists have sought to identify the mechanisms that support patriarchal structures. Different feminisms look at different areas of patriarchal ideologies. Feminist anthropologists and sociologists have challenged the analysis of social structures based on men as head as families. Feminist economists have looked at the way in which economics has not accounted for invisible and unpaid work by women. Feminist literary critics have rewritten the patriarchal canon of male authors by rediscovering and republishing forgotten women writers, giving a new criterion for assessing the importance of popular literary genres. Some feminist theorists have used socialist analysis of class structure and psychoanalytic theories of gender construction as methodological tools to help uncover invisible patriarchal structures. Juliet Mitchell, for example, in her influential book Women\'s Estate, uses both these methodologies to identify four main areas in which patriarchy exercises its power: production, reproduction, socialization and sexuality.

Many feminists contend that the central mechanism of patriarchy is the way in which male domination is disguised as a ‘natural’ phenomenon. For many women patriarchy is experienced in the form of the father beyond whose authority there can be no further appeal. Patriarchy is often characterized by some feminists as being linear, monolithic and unable to tolerate divergent viewpoints. Feminists have shown that the patriarchal construction of femininity has relied upon a male-defined biological view. Jacqueline Rose describes the female experience of femininity as an injury, because in a patriarchy femininity is used to disable women to secure male power. The power of patriarchy has been identified by feminism in (amongst many areas of life) politics, economics, religion, science, education and academe, and in all of these areas the male point of view is invisibly privileged and is taken to be universal. One of the more recent debates that has emerged in feminism concerns the possibility of women\'s participation in these fields without the necessity of adopting a masculinized role.

As well as identifying the mechanisms of patriarchy, feminists have also developed different strategies for disrupting and overturning it. Feminists interested in popular culture have looked for the contradictions within a text or film showing the foundational flaws of patriarchy. Such feminists have often read texts and film ‘against the grain’—celebrating the moments when women break out of the patriarchal order before they are brought back into the family fold. Feminist film-makers, photographers and writers, have in many different ways invented new languages for exposing patriarchal structures in pre-existing texts. Monique Wittig has theorized lesbianism as a strategy for escaping patriarchal conceptions of femininity and female sexuality. Luce Irigaray has categorized power itself as being patriarchal; her books are a rejection of patriarchy and its intrinsic power, a celebration of women as decentred, multiple and contradictory. Other feminists reject the refusal to speak of power and seek, instead, to analyse the historical and economic conditions that maintain patriarchy. Such women, such as Linda Nicholson, often make use of postmodernism to fix the location of the patriarchy as a specific viewpoint and to criticize patriarchal theories that try to speak in a transcendent and universal way. TK

See also matriarchy.Further reading Lorraine Gamman & , Margaret Marshment, The Female Gaze; , Juliet Mitchell, Women\'s Estate; Psychoanalysis and Feminism.



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