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social sciences

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Because neither gay men nor lesbians contribute to the patriarchal structure of the family (which serves to [re]create new workers for the paid and unpaid labor force), they are considered counter-productive to industrial society and hence are stigmatized. Thus, prejudice and discrimination are direct results of the patriarchal mindset.

Institutions such as the church, state and national laws, the media, education, and biological and psychological theories all serve to instill and maintain this heterosexist social ideology. Social control over expressions of sexuality and gender is also maintained through violence, either actual or threatened.

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According to the patriarchal perspective, gender refers to the rules that govern the behaviors and roles of men and women. "Real men" and "real women" are expected to act in predictable ways that are assumed to be biologically determined. Of course, genetics are not left to chance, and both men and women are socialized from birth into their appropriate gender roles.

By conceptualizing men and women as inhabiting mutually exclusive categories, patriarchal society is able to organize itself along gendered lines--men and women each have their proper places, and society runs smoothly because the rules of gender are followed. Conversely, by calling these supposedly natural (and therefore inevitable and fixed) sex/gender categories into question, transgendered people challenge one of the very foundational ideas supporting the structure of patriarchy. Accordingly, transgenderism is stigmatized in this type of society.

Antagonism towards homosexuality and transgenderism is not a timeless, natural phenomenon, but rather a post-matriarchal social construction born out of male domination.

It is believed that patriarchal beliefs emerged from the desire of men to be absolutely certain of the paternity of children, for inheritance purposes. This led to hostility against "non-normative" forms of sexual and gendered behavior. Ironically, however, it has been in these late stages of hyper-capitalism that struggles to end gay, lesbian, and transgender oppression have been more powerful and effective than at any other time during patriarchal history.

Andrew Matzner

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social sciences >> Overview:  Compulsory Heterosexuality

Compulsory heterosexuality is the assumption that women and men are innately attracted to each other emotionally and sexually and that heterosexuality is universal, a view that leads to an institutional inequality of power that privileges heterosexual males and denigrates women, especially lesbians.

social sciences >> Overview:  Goddess Religions

Goddess religions, especially those that feature a singular Great or Mother Goddess, honor female energy for its role in fertility and the creation of new life.

social sciences >> Overview:  Lesbian Feminism

The dominant ideology among politicized lesbians during the 1970s and 1980s, Lesbian Feminism was based on the premise that lesbianism and feminism were inextricably linked.

social sciences >> Overview:  Lesbian Sex Wars

The lesbian "sex wars" of the 1980s, centered on issues of pornography and s/m, constituted one of the most significant debates among second-wave feminists in North America and Europe.

social sciences >> Overview:  Misogyny

Beliefs and actions described as misogyny range from intense hatred of women to a more subtle disdain that considers women as inferior beings who must be dominated by men.

social sciences >> Overview:  Radical Faeries

A movement that emerged in the late 1970s, the Radical Faeries identify with the gender variant sacred outsider that has appeared and reappeared in many cultures throughout human history.


Eisler, Riane. The Chalice and the Blade. New York: Harper and Row, 1987.

Engels, Frederick. The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State. New York: International Publishers, 1972.

Feinberg, Leslie. Transgender Liberation: A Movement Whose Time Has Come. New York: World View Publishers, 1992.

Gimbutas, Marija. The Civilization of the Goddess: The World of Old Europe. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1991.

Johnson, Allan G. The Gender Knot: Unraveling our Patriarchal Legacy. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1997.

McCubbin, Bob. The Roots of Lesbian and Gay Oppression: A Marxist View. New York: World View Publishers, 1993.

Stone, Merlin. When God Was a Woman. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1976.

Walby, Sylvia. Theorizing Patriarchy. Oxford: Blackwell, 1990.


    Citation Information
    Author: Matzner, Andrew  
    Entry Title: Patriarchy  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated December 31, 2004  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  


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