What Is Patriarchy AP World History?

Patriarchy is a social system in which men hold primary power and predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, and social privilege. This system has existed throughout history and is still prevalent in many societies today.

In the context of AP World History, patriarchy has played a significant role in shaping the course of human events. From ancient civilizations to modern-day societies, the impact of patriarchy can be seen in various aspects of life.

The Origins of Patriarchy

The origins of patriarchy are subject to debate among historians and scholars. Some argue that it emerged with the advent of agriculture, as men took on more prominent roles in providing for their families. Others suggest that it arose as a result of warfare, with men assuming leadership roles to protect and defend their communities.

Regardless of its origins, patriarchy became deeply ingrained in many societies over time. In some cases, it was reinforced by religion or other cultural practices that emphasized the superiority of men over women.

The Impact of Patriarchy on Women

Women have historically been marginalized under patriarchal systems. They have been denied equal access to education, employment opportunities, and political power. In many cultures, women were also subject to strict codes of behavior that limited their freedom and autonomy.

These factors have contributed to gender inequality throughout history. Even today, women continue to face barriers to equality in many parts of the world.

Examples from History

One notable example of patriarchal society was ancient Greece. Women were expected to remain at home and were not allowed to participate in public life or politics. Similarly, in ancient Rome, women had few legal rights and were largely confined to domestic roles.

During the Middle Ages in Europe, women were often denied access to education or other opportunities for personal growth. They were also subject to strict codes of behavior that emphasized modesty and obedience.

In more recent times, the feminist movement has challenged patriarchal systems around the world. Women have fought for and won legal rights such as the right to vote, access to education and employment opportunities, and protection from discrimination and violence.


Patriarchy has been an enduring feature of human societies throughout history. It has had a profound impact on women’s lives, limiting their opportunities and denying them equal rights. While progress has been made in challenging patriarchal systems, there is still much work to be done to achieve true gender equality.