Patriarchy: The term patriarchy is old as civilization itself; however its origins are unclear. It is an ancient term in Greek meaning “the rule of the father” (LeGates, 2001: 11). Originally patriarchy was used to describe the herding societies of the Old Testament, in which the authority of the father over family members was absolute (LeGates, 2001: 12). However, in the 1970s this term acquired its feminist meaning when Kate Millet used it to describe male domination over women (LeGates, 2001: 12). She stated that “every avenue of power within society -military, technology, university, police etc- rests in the hands of males” (LeGates, 2001: 12). The term patriarchy is older than feminism itself and it is a prime characteristic of Western civilization (LeGates, 2001: 23). It has virtually affected every aspect of women’s lives. Hence it is important to define patriarchy because it explains the reasons for the treatment of women throughout history and what it means to their future and success in life. It is difficult to make generalizations of patriarchy because its impact on individuals varies according to ones race, class or culture (LeGates, 2001: 12). Also, “patriarchy is not so much about individual men or women and their personal and familial relationships as it is about institutions and values, politics and culture, concepts of authority and order (LeGates, 2001: 12). .
From birth, women were trained to be subservient to male authority (LeGates, 2001: 14). Women were assigned to the private and domestic sphere of life while men were assigned to the public sphere. Husbands were viewed as the “breadwinners” and provider of the family, whereas wives were responsible for cooking, cleaning and raising children. Furthermore, men have also monopolized philosophy, literature, and language, hence marginalizing women (LeGates, 2001: 15). Men have been equated with reason, intellect, strength and so fourth, whereas women have represented emotion, madness, weakness etc (LeGates, 2001: 15).