Rad Reading: "Understanding Patriarchy"

by Abaki Beck

Text: Understanding Patriarchy

Author: bell hooks

Quote to Highlight: “Until we can collectively acknowledge the damage patriarchy causes and the suffering it creates, we cannot address male pain. We cannot demand for men the right to be whole, to be givers and sustainers of life. Obviously some patriarchal men are reliable and even benevolent caretakers and providers, but still they are imprisoned by a system that undermines their mental health.”

Quick Summary:  In this brief article, prominent feminist scholar bell hooks describes her understanding of patriarchy in U.S. social life. She describes how patriarchy is a learned behavior for people of all genders, and in how in particular men are not as invested in dismantling it, because they don’t see it as readily. hooks also notes the role that women play in supporting patriarchy, both through actively upholding normative gender roles and through complacency. She argues that women must recognize the pain that patriarchy causes men as well, who are socialized to believe dominance over woman should be a goal and that violence and denial of human connection/emotions is “normal.” Men and women uphold patriarchy; men and women are hurt by patriarchy, though in uneven ways.Though hooks is a black feminist, the text is not particularly intersectional; it does not address racism or the role that patriarchy plays in enforcing homophobia and transphobia.

File it under: Feminism, mental health, patriarchy

Type of text: Short academic text, some jargon


POC Online Classroom strives to make readings and resources that celebrate the intellectual tradition and knowledge production of marginalized communities more accessible. Rad Reading is a new series that highlight texts to read and writers to support! We will post every Tuesday.