Episode 50: The Gender Knot, by Allan G. Johnson

The Gender Knot

“…every man’s standing in relation to women is enhanced by the male monopoly over authority in patriarchal societies.”

The Book

The Gender Knot: Unraveling our Patriarchal Legacy is a 1997 book by Allan G. Johnson. In this book, Johnson explains and addresses the concept of the patriarchy and how it deeply affects the lives of both men and women. He stresses that avoiding “the path of least resistance” is the key to combating gender inequality, and lays out of a guide that encourages every person to fight the patriarchy in their life.

The Author

Allan G. Johnson was born in 1946 in Washington, D.C. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Sociology and English at Dartmouth College, and his PhD in Sociology at the University of Michigan. His dissertation focused on women’s roles in Mexico City, and after receiving his PhD, he worked at Wesleyan University in the sociology department. After he left Wesleyan, he worked at Hartford College for Women, teaching sociology and women’s studies. During this time, he wrote a number of books, including The Gender Knot: Unraveling our Patriarchal Legacy, in 1997. After several decades of teaching, lecturing, and writing, Allan G. Johnson passed away in 2017.

“To see herself as a leader, for example, a woman must first get around the fact that leadership itself has been gendered through its identification with manhood and masculinity as part of patriarchal culture. While a man might have to learn to see himself as a manager, a woman has to be able to see herself as a woman manager who can succeed in spite of the fact that she is not a man.”

The Gender Knot, Allan G. Johnson

Our Guest

Kasey Cruz

Kasey Cruz was born and raised in sunshine state, California. In the year of 2020, she graduated with a Bachelor’s in Kinesiology and a minor in Adapted Physical Education. She currently works as a personal trainer, an F45 coach, and a strength & conditioning coach for aspiring young athletes. Besides working out, she loves to spend her time connecting with her Guamanian (Chamorro) heritage by learning the Chamorro language and cooking dishes with her grandma. Her favorite is freshly made lumpia and shrimp kådu (nothing tastes more like home then Grandma’s cooking)! In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her puppy Mila and finding new plant shops in the Bay Area to add her indoor plant collection. A quote she lives by, “Let us fill our hearts with our own compassion- toward ourselves and towards all living beings.”

Amy’s Takeaways

This book is one of the best resources I’ve read for clear explanations of how patriarchy actually works. I wasn’t convinced by every one of his arguments and observations (and Erik also read it and was bugged by his condemnation of all kinds of competition, including team sports), but there were so many insightful examples, I found myself highlighting nearly every page. I highly recommend reading this one if you want to develop a clearer understanding of patriarchy, and have well-researched information at the ready for your next thorny conversation.

“We must remember that as deeply as the patriarchal tree shapes our lives, we are the leaves and not the roots, trunk or branches. We are too easily blinded by the good/bad fallacy that says only bad people can participate in and benefit from societies that produce bad consequences. …men do not have to feel cruel or malevolent toward women in order to participate in and benefit from patriarchy as a system. This is a crucial distinction that makes the difference between being stuck in a defensive moral paralysis and seeing how to participate in change.”

Listen to the Episode



Share your Comments with us below!

Explore More Content