In the constellation of things that are hard to explain, patriarchy falls somewhere in between “quantum mechanics” and “proper semicolon use.” Although I haven’t found a magic patriarchy-explaining bullet just yet, I have found a magic bullet explaining the experience of “waking up” to it in the form of one of my Very Favorite Comics, Sinfest:
|Click here to see it all embiggened and in its natural habitat.|
If you saw the move “The Matrix” when you were young and impressionable, like I did, and you’re also one of the “lucky” people who’s been awakened to the wonderful world of profound injustice in one way or another, this comic probably resonates with you.
The plain definition of patriarchy is a system run by and for men, but in practice it’s so much more than that – it encompasses sexism, racism, ableism, and too many other -isms to count. There are Feminism 101 blogs that do an adequate job of explaining some of the basics, but if you really want to jump in feet first you should probably go check out I Blame the Patriarchy.
If you want a well-organized and pocket-sized approach to learning about patriarchy, you should probably read “The Dialectic of Sex” by Shulamith Firestone. This book pretty much changed my life.
If you have found a good way to explain patriarchy to the Uninitiated, please do let me know in the comments.