"Patriarchy is a social system in which the role of the male as the primary authority figure is central to social organization, and where fathers hold authority over women, children, and property. It implies the institutions of male rule and privilege, and is dependent on female subordination. Historically, the principle of patriarchy has been central to the social, legal, political, and economic organization of Hebrew, Greek, Roman, Indian, and Chinese cultures, and has had a deep influence on modern civilization.
Most forms of feminism characterize patriarchy as an unjust social system that is oppressive to women. In feminist theory the concept of patriarchy often includes all the social mechanisms that reproduce and exert male dominance over women.
Patriarchy is a multidimensional condition of power/status. Whyte's 1978 comprehensive study examined 52 indicators of patriarchy, to which corresponded 10 relatively independent dimensions. The ten dimensions are:
- lack of property control by women
- lack of power of women in kinship contexts
- low value placed on the lives of women
- low value placed on the labor of women
- lack of domestic authority of women
- absence of ritualized female solidarity
- absence of control over women's marital and sexual lives
- absence of ritualized fear of women
- lack of male-female joint participation in warfare, work, and community decision making
- lack of women's indirect influence on decision making