It may be that the most interesting thing about a patriarchy is how it reflects the vital meaning of gender roles in any society. More exactly, and given how pervasive patriarchal thinking is in such a culture, it becomes clear that gender shapes the nature of a society beyond any other influence. Before there is commerce, art, war, or even government, there are the sexes. What patriarchy reveals, then, is that ideas of what each gender is capable of must underscore the foundations of all such elements. Put another way, government is not established and then given over to men; men are determined from the start to create it, which in turn promotes the self-perpetuating quality of the culture as patriarchal. The male gender assumes dominance at some early stage and, having acquired, influences all developments following to reflect what is then seen as an established reality: the natural right of men to dominate. From an untraceable beginning, then, ideas of gender determine a society’s complete evolution, just as that society will continue to reinforce the founding ideologies in it evolution.
This being the case, the exponential nature of a patriarchy cannot be overstated. Every aspect of the society goes to reinforcing the gender perceptions that create it, if only because consistent behaviors tend to emphasize belief. In essence: “No situation can be complete or even entirely real unless a man is there to take the center position” (Rothenberg, 2013, p. 157). With every such situation, ranging from basic social relations to high-level administration, a dual reality is created: the men are more firmly entrenched as superior and the women are perceived as innately inferior. As the culture views any assignment or role as meaningful, only those capable of fulfilling it properly are considered; as men are inevitably and automatically perceived as such, women are inherently and just as automatically demeaned. Then, human interactions and organizations are never distinct from other human efforts, so the thinking becomes universal. What results, then, is a consistent state of oppression of women, varied only by mild acknowledgments of greater female capacities to act as caregivers. The entire culture is as one with the patriarchy because patriarchy infuses every aspect of living.
This reality then leads to two other issues. The first is the actual matter of cause. At what point, it is reasonable to ask, was it decided that men are generally more intelligent and capable than women? The answer is that it probably was not, because the history of early civilizations does not indicate great societies arising strictly from intelligence of virtue. Many reflect these qualities, but the more basic reality is that societies and nations were typically created by conquest and military strength. The rise of the patriarchy then becomes clear; as men usually possess more aggressive tendencies and greater physical ability, the societies established simply move on to promote a more general male superiority.
The second issue is one of a hypothetical reversal. That is to say, if the patriarchy must by its very nature oppress, or at least deny, women, it is equally reasonable to project that men would suffer in a matriarchal culture. No evidence exists to support that one gender dominating the other would not rely on the same, fixed principle of gender superiority. What is left then is the potential of gender equality. This is a remote scenario, and not merely because patriarchies are so common; rather, it would rely on human beings understanding and valuing innate differences in gender that are not matters of perception. Even today, feminists object to postfeminism as a reversion to traditional masculine ideologies, even as it may reflect very real circumstances of what “male” and “female” mean. To truly overcome patriarchy, then, and not replace it with an equally unjust matriarchy, humanity must move to as full and honest an understanding of gender as is possible, which would assign varying value to both genders in equal proportion and thus create equality.