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A Rose By Any Other Name ( Hidden Patriarchy And Male Privilege)

"Feminism is a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians."

~Pat Robertson, multi-millionaire televangelist and former presidential candidate, 1992



Before discussing “male privilege” it is first important to define what privilege means in an anti-oppression setting. Privilege, at its core, is the advantages that people benefit from based solely on their social status. It is a status that is conferred by society to certain groups, not seized by individuals, which is why it can be difficult sometimes to see one’s own privilege.


Privilege is: About how society accommodates you. It’s about advantages you have that you think are normal. It’s about you being normal, and others being the deviation from normal. It’s about fate dealing from the bottom of the deck on your behalf.

Since social status is conferred in many different ways —everything from race to geography to class —all people are both privileged and non-privileged in certain aspects of their life. Furthermore, since dynamics of social status are highly dependent on situation, a person can benefit from privilege in one situation while not benefiting from it in another. It is also possible to have a situation in which a person simultaneously is the beneficiary of privilege while also being the recipient of discrimination in an area which they do not benefit from privilege

Male privilege is a set of privileges that are given to men as a class due to their institutional power in relation to women as a class. While every man experiences privilege differently due to his own individual position in the social hierarchy, every man, by virtue of being read as male by society, benefits from male privilege.

When first dealing with the concept it might be easier to approach it from a systematic, rather than personal, approach. Consider,

[T]rue gender equality is actually perceived as inequality. A group that is made up of 50% women is perceived as being mostly women. A situation that is perfectly equal between men and women is perceived as being biased in favor of women.



Male privilege may be more obvious in other cultures, but in so-called Western culture it’s still ubiquitous. In fact, it’s so ubiquitous that it’s invisible. It is so pervasive as to be normalized, and so normalized as to be visible only in its absence. The vast, vast, vast majority of institutions, spaces, and subcultures privilege male interests, but because male is the default in this culture, such interests are very often considered ungendered. As a result, we only really notice when something privileges female interests.

Most people do not think twice about a woman who shares the same name as her husband; they simply assume that the shared name is his family name. This is an illustration about how male privilege operates in stealth. When a wife does not share the same name as the husband, however, it often leads to confusion and even anger. This is because the male-oriented option (wife taking husband’s name) is seen as default, and the neutral option (both parties keeping their original names) is a deviation from that norm and therefore comes across as privileging the woman because it doesn’t privilege the man.

And if you don’t believe me, you’ve never been a married woman who kept her family name. I have had critics/anti-feminists hold that up as proof of feminist “sexism.” My long time friend even told me that he could never marry a woman who kept her name because “everyone would know who ruled that relationship.” Perfect equality –my husband keeps his name and I keep mine – is held as a statement of superiority on the part of a wife or woman.

In this case the inequality is perceived, in part, because taking one’s husband’s name is considered “normal” for a woman, whereas choosing to keep one’s own name deviates from that. Popular culture often labels this behavior as “emasculating” to a man, but never bothers to question how a woman might feel being asked to give up something that has been part of her since her birth. This is an example of a culture of male privilege —where a man’s position and feelings are placed above that of the woman’s in a way that is seen as normal, natural, and traditional.

It is important to keep in mind that the above example is not an outside incident; male privilege is an institutional problem that has a long history associated with it.


Men need to get it through their heads that they, too, are under the heel of power structures that have no interest in promoting their welfare. They must understand that the rights and privileges that they have hitherto been enjoying fall far short of the privileges they could enjoy were they to try and achieve them. The internecine warfare that occurs between women and men, people of color and white people, straights and gays, as they all squabble like schoolchildren in an attempt to gain or deny rights, is exactly what those in power want.

Many anti-feminists promote patriarchy because essentially they say they care about equality for women and that we’ve already gotten there; and that all the other concerns of feminists is not important because the sex-differences are meant to be. frequently they dismiss feminist concerns about sexual harrassment, about women being forced out of their careers and back into the home, or about date-rape, saying that these things are not about equality and are oppressive to MEN.


I am writing this story because of a post by absofab where people questioned the need for feminism and the prevalence of hidden patriarchy. I hope this puts a little perspective on this issue.

I would like to know, how do you feel about wives taking the husbands last name, children taking their fathers last name, is this proof of patriarchy?
Vivagalore Vivagalore 31-35, F 11 Responses Apr 8, 2012

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I kept my maiden name professionally when I still worked, and still have a bank account in that name. But (just for the sake of interest) in the UK marriage is a deedpoll and both parties can change their name to anything. Taking a spouse's name is an entitlement and a tradition but not compulsory.

I wonder how homosexuals work it out when they marry

I kept my maiden name solely because I felt attached to it. It speaks of my Sicilian heritage and taking my husbands English name just didn't feel like me! The funny thing is that my husband didn't have an issue with it, however, others did! I'll never forget my maid of honour giving me a lecture on my wedding day about how wrong I was for keeping it. And I've been accused by others of being a feminist. The reality is that it has nothing to do with proving a point and everything to do with my attachment to it. Keeping my name doesn't change the fact that I'm committed to my husband for life. Changing my name wouldn't have made me a better, more loving, faithful wife. I would have just had a different name. And if one wants to have a unified family name, why does the women have to change their name? Why can't it be the guy? The interesting part about me is that I'm actually quite traditional yet in other ways I'm independent and free-spirited. I'm a hybrid of feminism and anti-feminism and I like it that way!

So much of what you say is true. I think it is ridiculous how people assume that women who keep their maiden names are feminists. Are all of the actresses who have gotten married, but kept their maiden names feminsits? Answer: hell no. Many women keep their maiden name for various reasons and it rarely has to do with feminism.

People with no imagination need labels to help them classify things. lol

What a lot of people don't realize is that names are organized differently in different countries. In some countries surnames are last names, in other countries they are first names, in some countries the women take on their husband's surname, and it replaces the surname they were raised with, in others they don't take on the husband's surname, and in others they take it on and just add it to their other names so what is tradition for one person and their family may not be tradition for another.

If you want to be fair we should force people to duel hyphenate. So you would be dente-bubkiss-avvelenato and he would be notlarry-avvelenato-bubkiss. There needs to be some showing of commitment or the devorce rate might decline. People are naughty.

teeheehee.... I think we should just abolish the whole last name thing and everyone can be confused as to who is who

No no no... isn't the world confusing enough? So did you take your hubs last name? Are you dente-soniclife?

I did take his last name but not right after we got married. (long story lol)

Well I think you should make it a story in this group. Show us your fine feminist flexibility.

Okay ! But it's not that entertaining

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"Feminism is a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to . . . practice witchcraft, . . ."<br />
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How funny. I recently read that Greenbare is wiccan, but he clearly hates feminists (and women altogether it seems like). <br />
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I faced a difficult situation when I married my current husband. I could have gone back to using my maiden name, kept my name from my previous marriage (my ex's name) which I had used for about 6 years, or taken my new husband's name. The problem is that if I had gone back to my maiden name I would have had one name, my husband and two of my children would have had another, and my other two children would have had another (my ex's name). For that reason I chose to take my current husband's name. That way he, and I, and our two children all have the same name which makes things much less complicated. I also chose to drop my middle name and use my maiden name as my middle name. I had used my maiden name for four years after I married my first husband because it is the name that appears on my degrees. My ex kept pressuring me to take on his name. He kept telling me that failing to do so showed I didn't take our marriage seriously and I didn't respect him. Eventually I gave in and did it. <br />
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I honestly wish I hadn't because it seemed to increase his arrogance and egotism after I did. Its as if he felt that by doing so I was giving up my autonomy and was agreeing to become his property.

The equality of men and women is an interesting notion. One that I believe we will never live to see I'm afraid. Simple human characteristics ba<x>sed on the simple law that survival is of the fittest dictate that men will highly likely always be the dominant gender. A reversal of these roles will require an extinction of all males who believe in patriarchy and a fostering of a new breed of males who are subject to matriachal rule. This is impossible.<br />
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Being that men are in power and have all the necessary tools to remain in power, it is sifficult to see how women could ever manage to achieve this equality between sexes. That's just my point of view. <br />
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No one is likely to want to change things in a situation where they are the one's that receive priviledge. We see the same issues concerning social classes, race, nationalities and of course gender. It is a well known fact that if you are born in a certain country, of a certain class, a certain race and male, you are considered the most "priviledged" person on earth. It's amazing isn't it? Yet this sytem remains in place. Why? Because the one's that are in power do not see the need to change things. Why would they?<br />
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I'm afraid not many men will empathise with women for this very reason. Simply put. We have it good. I love and respect women, but like most men I grew up with a set of rules that dictate how I relate to women and likewise women have grown up with a set of rules that dictate how they relate to men. Social injustice is a common thing, but I have found that being angry is counter productive. it makes you easily dismissable, branded an extremist and castigated for "disturbing the peace". False peace I might add.<br />
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Many have suffered these social injustices and many will contnue to do so. It is survival of the fittest. One has to have power over the other. That is the way in which human beings function. We are selfish creatures, it is in our nature to want to dominate one or the other and the "weaker" subject will ALWAYS be dominated. Be it because of a physical attribute, intellectual, social or even spiritual. The one that has a need will always fall subject to the one that can provide. That's just how it is. And I'm afraid we can't really do anything about it.

Why do you believe that the only alternative to patriarchy is matriarchy???

Isn't it wrong to do nothing about injustice because you believe their will always be injustice? Of course nothing will ever be truely fair or just for all people but its important for people to strive to better themselves and their societies. You wouldn't have to kill off a generation to make a change out of patriarchy, it starts with small changes in perception and small changes in what is acceptable ... certainly a whole generation of men didn't have to die to allow the sufferage movement to pass and the role of women is changing and is very different from previous generations, revolutions aren't the only way to change a society or culture... sometimes its evolution that brings the change.

I agree with most of what you say. We should fight injustice with all our might. But we must also acknowedge what we are capable or incapable of doing. We must also acknowledge our human nature, which is to dominate. We as human beings like to dominate the weaker subject. We dominate in relationships, sometimes we do this subtly, but we still dominate. Other's do not have the strength to dominate, therefore they succumb to being dominated. We as human beings will NEVER be equal, despite what anyone would like to think. There will always be people that have certain ideals about life and the world around them. And amongst those people are strong individuals who like to dominate. Alpha males &amp; females. As long as this type of breed of people is alive, they will always seek to impose their way of thinking upon their weaker counterparts. So, we acknowledge that racism is wrong. But that doesn't stop people with a view that their race is superior from thinking the way they do. Will this type of thinking ever dissipate? The issue of race has been prevalent is certain cultures at certain times for thousands of years. You would think that after all these years, the human race would have learned/evolved enough to acknowledge each other as equals, but sadly this is not so. Why? Because in every age, throughout the generations, there are people who always wish to dominate. And in order to do this, one must have followers, a reason why they should dominate. So racism may be experienced on a lesser level today, but who's to say that we don't see the coming of another Hitler in a centuries time? It's a reoccuring theme almost. The same goes for feminism. They were certain tribes and people who believed in the equality of man and women. In fact, there was an African tribe in which women were the leaders and men their subjects. And in certain places in... Greece??? Certainly Sparta. I forget... Women were considered to be almost equal to men. Women and men would wrestle and drink together and it was not seen as shameful. Homosexuality was seen as the norm. So did humanity digress from this evolutionary step? Or is it that they came a moment in our history when a certain group of people, where "wiped out" and from that moment, a different group of people emerged who were taught new ways of thinking. Clearly evolution of thought is not involved here. It is simply the imposition of thoughts and ideas from one group of people onto another. This is why I say that for women to ever be seen as equal to men, the generation of men who deems women to be inferior should first be culled, for a lack of a better word. And a new breed of males who believes in the equality or dominance of women must be fostered. The idea of women being equal to men is not a popular one in this generation. How do you suppose that this be changed?

Men are socialized to think in terms of hierarchies...in terms of competition...so if women "win", then they "lose." Women are socialized to NOT "act better than" the women around them, to "get along." So to a woman (or someone socialized as one) it seems more logical that just because women gain...does not mean men lose. To men, however, who are more trained to think in terms of challenge, competition, and rank...the idea that women want to be "equal" often translates to "They want to be in charge!" Does that make sense? I did a report on Deborah Tannen's book "You just don't understand!" and I really recommend it.

Scorpio, I see where you are coming from with this, but I don't agree with your conclusions. Men and women can get along together just fine when there aren't rule makers (such as the church, as a single instance) telling individuals how their relationships should be run, and what the proper attitude is. As long as the people involved in any relationship are consenting adults and they aren't treading on anyone else's toes, either can be the boss. Equality of the sexes, just like homosexuality and skin colour, shouldn't even be an issue.

Hey Hylierandom. I don't know how I've just seen this, must've been a busy week. I'll try to catch up with that story of yours when I get the chance. Thanks for your comment. :-)

Hey Damselfly, I agree, men and women can and do get along just fine without the rules set by others. Issues like race, gender and sexuality SHOULD NOT be an issue but sadly they are. Why is that? I personally don't believe that equality between sexes will ever be achieved. We are made differently. There are people with type A personalities that will always wish to dominate and there are some with subservient personalities. Some people would rather let someone else lead, some would like to lead, and some that are in between can take the lead and submit when necessary. But that's just my opinion. Its okay to disagree. :-)

Oh Scorpio, what you don't realize is that even in traditional relationships, frequently it is the woman that has power. In fact, I find the more traditional a man is, the more easily manipulated he is. I come from a traditional, patriarch background and like the line from the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" where the mother says "The man may be the head but the woman is neck that turns the head" , smart, traditional women know how to manipulate their man!!! Feminism on the other hand is very upfront and honest. Most feminist speak their mind and get chauvinist men's back up. But they don't get what they want from these guys. On the other hand, other more traditional women, use their feminine, girly power to stroke men's ego and get exactly what they want. It's a game!!!

I strongly dislike the idea of manipulating people -- especially a spouse. It seems to me a sure recipe for dissatisfaction and, eventually, divorce once the spouse catches on. And if he never catches on, either he's stupid or he is up to something he doesn't want YOU to know about.

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My husband and I both had last names that were difficult to pronounce and spell. When we got married, we changed our last name to Razzamatazz. Then we smoked a cigar.

Yeah, but you smoked the cigar because you were horny right?

As a feminist I want to go on record as saying, "cigar smoking" is okay as long as you both consent to it...but you must always spit and never swallow.

Haha!!!

Do you nip the end off, first?

Hey! Ouch!

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Shouldn't everyone be allowed to choose?<br />
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If a couple chooses one name over the other, whether it be customary or not, it's not necessarily a sign of sexism or privilege. Over the years, I hear more and more stories of couples who choose the name that's cosmetic or easier to pronounce.<br />
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Anthropologically speaking the reason children are given the name of the father is due to the very reason you mention: the mother cannot be denied. Obviously, that has less merit today, it's just a social convention. Why make it more than it is?<br />
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You guys have seen my contributions. Am I a woman-hating misogynist? Are you sure? My wife took my name.<br />
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Freud once said, "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."

I think you missed the point, of course a couple should choose what they are comfortable with, that is exactly what we evil fembots want... but I do feel there is a patriarchal bias that adds pressure on women to take their husbands lastname. Noone thinks a man who wants his wife to take his lastname is misogynistic, we are simply saying that it a subtle male privilege.

P.s. freud said a lot of things, he also did a fair amount of drugs.

Which is why he was AWESOME!

Yeah but he didn't do sarcastic drugs he did the drugs that make you cringe (wink)

P.S. legalize crack!

Perhaps crack is the only answer. Imagine a world filled with people with no concern for others only in supporting their addiction to the drug. It would be an ideal set up. There would be no debate about anything other than, "How am I gonna get my crack?" Sure there would be lots of death, murder, STD's, anger etc. but all in all we would have an excuse as to why we do all the stupid **** we do......Oh thats the crack talking............I need to hand out cigars now

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pat robertson, another idiot like his brother rush limbaugh lol. and while it's not an issue of mine, i think all of the ruckus over a woman keeping her maiden name after marriage is ridiculous. what is the big deal?

Agree. If a woman wants to keep the name she was born with, that's her business.

One thing I do not agree about, however, is the use of "Ms" or "Miz".

However at may be in other languages (in French, "madamoiselle" is a diminutive and therefore somewhat pejorative when applied to a grown woman), in English, "Miss" means a that woman using the name she was born with, while "Mrs." means that she is using her husband's name -- that's why formally one says "Mrs. John Smith" and not "Mrs. Amanda Smith."

I love your quotes! Good old Pat....what a lunatic. I'd like to read all your writing, you are teaching me. I am thankful for women like you, those who can so eloquently and convincingly enlighten us all through your well researched and considered opinions. And that gumshoejane2, here's a big warm hug across the wires and airwaves!

Awww, thank you so much mwithw, you made my day!

The "name" issue is absolute proof of male privilege! I remember questioning the fairness of wives taking husbands last name as a 10 year old, I kid you not! As a child I couldn't understand why the surname HAD to be the husbands, why not flip a coin to decide, why not combine last names? Why not choose a completely new name altogether?<br />
As a woman in my 20's I continued to struggle with this concept which to me seemed ridiculously sexist. My name was mine, it was who I was, why on earth should I change it? I have had numerous "arguments" with boyfriends who all pretty much said the same thing... it is tradition and it signifies commitment and respect. One young man even said that the issue was a deal breaker for him!<br />
I married at 28 and was fortunate to have found love with a guy who loves to please me. I did choose to keep my own last name and am very content with that choice. Our kids do have their fathers last name, a decision I sometimes regret. The reason I gave into the daddy last name? I felt GUILTY! I felt I would be hurting my husband and his family! Tell me that is not male privilege!

I can completely understand, and when you give your children their fathers lastname and keep your own people will question why they don't have the same lastname as you. Until DNA testing paternity was never certain, while on the other hand maternity is guarnteed, so it never made sense to me that all these years children took the name of their "father"

I am just curious as to what kind of an impression it makes on kids who have parents with different last names. I have many friends who have parents who did this, and they did not feel like they were a part of a "family unit". One of these friends said that the household didn't feel "cozy" like her other friend's houses; her parents didn't seem to harmonize very well and it seemed as if it would be very easy for one of them to walk away. The reason why I personally believe that one should take the other's name (I think the wife should take her husband's name, but that's just my opinion) is because someone can't just walk away as easily.

Agreed Vampire. Thank you for commenting!

In my country, a woman can (and normally do) take her husband's last name, while at the same time keeping hers, should she wish so. The children are normally given their father's last name, but there exists a possibility that they can be given their mother's last name, or even carry both. Both of the later options are rarely practiced n Serbia, due to the fact that patriarchal model is still widespread, especially in the southern regions.
Interestingly, this is only about 50% of the reasons why men complain about it (the traditionalists). The other main reason is the sense of unity of a family. It is considered a general consensus when it's said "the (insert family last name here) family" it is a happy stable home, the couple is happily wed. But, when the mother keeps her maiden name (without the husband's following), saying something like that no longer includes her.
Of course, I should add that the husband is also free to take up her last name instead, and that the children are free, according to the law, to change their last name to whatever they wish it to be, once they are of age.
As, Vampirecleaningdahouse already said, it's factually not so important. The concept of importance of last name changing is an idea, rather then a fact. An idea rooted in tradition, as well as in religion. and such deeply rooted ideas are powerful.
As a perfect example, look at me. Not once have I even considered what kind of an effect would it have on me, should one day my wife-to-be choose to keep her maiden name, right up to the point where I read this story. And now as I think about it, I cannot avoid the answer that I would be deeply hurt, should she decide not to take my last name without, at the very least, adding it behind her own. Interesting, isn't it?

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