What Is Patriarchy in World History?

Patriarchy is a social system in which men hold primary power and authority, and women are excluded from it. It has been a dominant feature of human societies for thousands of years, and its effects can still be seen in many aspects of modern life.

The Origins of Patriarchy

The origins of patriarchy are not entirely clear, but many historians believe that it developed alongside the rise of agriculture. As early humans settled down to farm, they began to accumulate property and wealth. This led to the development of hierarchies and social stratification, with men holding more power than women.

Over time, patriarchal norms became entrenched in many societies around the world. Men were seen as the natural leaders and authorities, while women were relegated to subordinate roles as wives and mothers.

The Impact of Patriarchy on Women

The impact of patriarchy on women has been profound throughout history. Women have faced discrimination in areas such as education, employment, and politics. They have also been subjected to violence and abuse at the hands of men.

In some societies, women have been forced to cover their bodies or wear restrictive clothing in order to conform to patriarchal norms. They have also been denied basic rights such as the right to vote or own property.

Resistance to Patriarchy

Despite the pervasive influence of patriarchy throughout history, there have always been individuals who have resisted it. Women’s rights movements have emerged around the world over the past few centuries with the goal of challenging patriarchal norms.

These movements have taken many forms, from protests and demonstrations to legal challenges and policy advocacy. Although progress has been made in some areas – such as greater access to education and employment – there is still a long way to go before true gender equality can be achieved.

The Future of Patriarchy

While patriarchy remains a powerful force in many parts of the world today, there are signs that it may be weakening. As more women gain access to education and employment, they are challenging traditional gender roles and expectations.

There is also growing awareness of the negative impact that patriarchy can have on men themselves. Many men are now questioning the rigid gender norms that have been imposed upon them, and seeking more fulfilling and authentic lives.


Patriarchy has been a defining feature of human societies for thousands of years, but it is not inevitable. With continued efforts to promote gender equality and challenge traditional gender roles, it is possible to create a more just and equitable world for all people – regardless of their gender or sex.