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I consider myself to be supportive of positive change. I welcome the influx of women into the workplace, and believe that, until men and women share both breadwinning and homemaking responsibilities equally, there will be no equality between men and women.

However, I am puzzled by feminist rhetoric, and I find it rather offputting. I am told repeatedly that feminism is for the benefit of both men and women. In contrast, what I hear in feminist rhetoric is that it is the patriarchy which oppresses, that men possess "the" power, and that the oppressed are women. Yet for me to be and remain psychologically and emotionally centered, healthy, it is critical for me to learn and acknowledge the ways in which both men and women oppress both men and women, as well as the forms of power that men wield as well as the forms of power that women wield, and to value both equally. From this perspective, the villain isn't "patriarchy," per se, but rather patriarchy *and* matriarchy, a perspective which would appear to be in conflict with feminist perspective. Can you please help me out, here? Thanks. - Edwin

Thanks for your note to FEMINIST.COM and for taking the time to figure out your thoughts and feelings about feminism.

I, too, am often confused about feminism--not as a concept or even a reality in my own life, but by how it is constanly being misrepresented. I am also extremely confused about how people can spend so much time analyzing feminism and so little time practicing it. It sometimes comes down to the problem of generalizations, which feminists and misogynists alike are guiltly of. Putting the blame on "patriarchy" is not the point of feminism. The point is to get us to a place where women--and men--have access to full political, social and economic equality. There are many reasons why we aren't at this place yet--and one of them is a patriarchal system, which is a hierarchical system that has for the most part kept women at the bottom of that strada. You are right that a Matriarchal system--based on this same hierarchy--would be just as much a "villian." However, I don't see many feminists rallying around this idea. Primarily because both rely on hierarchy, but also because the point isn't to spend our time re-stating the obvious.

I would be interested to take a closer look inside the few--very few--remaining matriarchal cultures, because I would guess that what they would reveal is a more equal environment. I would also guess that men within a matriarchal society are a lot better off than women within a patriarchal one. I hope this helps


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