The acknowledgement of the patriarchy is the center of feminist thought. The patriarchy is simply a fancy word for the meaning behind “This is a man’s world.” The white, able-bodied, heterosexual man is considered to be the default within the patriarchal society, meaning that this category holds the privilege, thus holding the power over society. Think of almost every United States president, the default character in almost every video game, and almost every main character in a variety of books and movies.
Now, this does not mean that white, able-bodied, heterosexual men are inherently evil for having the cards they were dealt with at birth. This simply means that white, heterosexual men are society’s default, given full privileges in a society that has been created for them and by them since its creation.
It is these things – respect, dignity, and other basic human rights – that every human being deserves, no matter their circumstances of birth. But not everyone in this country receives these rights due to biases based on gender, race, religion, and abilities. Feminism seeks to eradicate these biases to create a society that acknowledges and implements the human rights of everyone.
The patriarchy reinforces gender roles – boys are blue, girls are pink. Men are dominant, women are submissive. Men are aggressive, women are passive. Men are by nature smarter, and women by nature are less intelligent and must be guided. Men are trusted, and women are untrustworthy – unless they are parents, and the nurturing mother is trustworthy while the father can’t be trusted to be just as caring. Men understand how to lead, and women understand how to be lead. I could go on.
The patriarchy tells society these lies. Feminism brings these lies to the public eye and starts the conversation necessary to debunk these lies.