What does the term “Breaking Down Patriarchy” mean?

We mean “Breaking Down Patriarchy” in both senses of the word: “breaking it down” into small parts in order to understand it (like “let’s break down this math equation to see why it works), and “breaking it down” as in dismantling it. We aim to understand patriarchy through studying its history, and dismantle it (carefully, intelligently, and compassionately).

Does “breaking down patriarchy” mean breaking down men?

No. I love the men in my life with all my heart, and I love boys and men in general and want all human beings to thrive, regardless of gender. Patriarchy is a system, and if we work together bravely and gently, we can dismantle a harmful system and build one in its place that works better for everyone… including men and boys!

Will men have to give up some things?

Re-balancing the power structure will require that some men will have to concede power that they are accustomed to – in governments, in religions, in the academy, in marriages, etc., and we acknowledge that that process can be painful. We are grateful for men’s willingness to do the hard work of making positive change. Restructuring unjust systems has happened throughout history (we are all the beneficiaries of such restructuring), and it requires humility and courage. 

How can you claim that patriarchy governs society when so many women dominate men? 

While it is true that some women have had power, such as Queen Elizabeth in England or Oprah in the United States, those remarkable women are exceptions that prove the rule. (For example, think of how absurd it would be to ask: can you think of any men who have held power in England or the United States throughout history?) Furthermore, though some women are powerful forces within their families, even those families cannot be considered “matriarchal” because the women are not benefiting from a system that privileges them. They are powerful despite being women, not because they are women – they cannot, for example, use their status as women to overrule their spouse the way men historically have (and still do).

Is this yet another White Feminism project?

No. One of the most powerful experiences I’ve had while creating this podcast is reading the works of women of color – works I had never read before, which invited me into the sacred space of empathy and enlarged understanding. I consider all human beings my spiritual siblings, and I have been profoundly moved as I have learned more about the lived experiences of “family” members that I had not known before. Also, I’m fortunate to have a diverse group of brilliant, supportive friends, and I will be forever grateful to each one of my reading partners for bringing their unique perspective (and countless hours of work) to these texts. 

I looked at your reading list, and it’s focused on Europe and the United States. This will only provide a partial view of patriarchy’s effect in the world.

True! Because this is an education project, I decided to start with what I knew (my ancestors are from Europe and I grew up in the United States). Also, European/U.S. culture has been exported throughout much of the world via colonialism, so understanding this brand of patriarchy helps us understand gender relations in other places that have been impacted by European and the United States’ ideologies and practices.

I am really excited, however, to expand the project to other areas in subsequent seasons of the podcast.

What’s your endgame?

In a word: Egalitarianism. Egalitarianism is the belief that no group has the innate right to rule over, preside over, or have power over another group.