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Heteropatriarchy (etymologically from hetero[sexuality] and patriarchy) is a socio-political system where cisgendered males and heterosexuality have authority over cisgendered females and over other sexual orientations. It is a term that emphasizes that discrimination exerted both on women and on LGBTQ people has the same sexist social principle.[1][2][3][4][5] Heterosexual men are not only given primacy over other gender and sexual minorities, but are also encouraged and rewarded in a heteropatriarchical society.[6]

From the feminist point of view, the term patriarchy refers to the father as the power holder inside the family hierarchy, and therefore, women become subordinate to the power of men. With the emergence of queer theory around the 1980s and the 1990s and the questioning of the heteronormativity and the gender binary, this kind of domination is not only described in terms of sex or gender (the predominance of men over woman, or the masculine over the feminine) but also in terms of sexuality (the heteronormativity, or the heterosexuality above other sexual orientations and the cisgender over other identities).[1][3][7] The term heteropatriarchy has evolved from the previous, less specific term 'patriarchy' to emphasize the formation of a man dominated society based upon the cultural processes of sexism/heterosexism.[8]

Heteropatriarchy is a system of socio-political dominance whereby cisgender heterosexual men are favoured and are routinely remunerated for presenting masculine traits. Conversely, women or people who display traits deemed feminine receive less societal privilege. Historically this has manifested in economic disadvantages such as unequal pay, or the inability for women to own land.[9]

Heteropatriarchy is a facet of popular feminist analysis used to explain modern social structure, which is based on a hierarchical system of interlocking forces of power and oppression. It is commonly understood in this context that men typically occupy the highest positions of power and women experience the bulk of social oppression.[10] This organization is reinforced by the gender norms, which ascribes traits of femininity and masculinity to men and women.[11]

One of the building blocks of this system is the normalization of the nuclear family as the typical family unit, a model that dictates the necessity of two heterosexual parents with the ability to produce offspring.[12] Within this familial structure, men hold power over women by being "breadwinners" and maintaining control over wealth/resources. This practice is supported by institutions such as religion – who name men as 'masters', the workplace – which excludes women from high ranking positions based on the possibility of reproduction, and education – which socialize boys towards respected fields such as hard sciences and girls toward 'softer', less respected careers.

The distinction of heteropatriarchy from patriarchy serves to emphasize the necessary use of sexism and exclusion of non-heterosexual peoples to create a culture in which straight men are the most highly valued citizens.

It is theorized that heteropatriarchy became the dominant ideology in ancient Greece in times of war, when brute force and strength were valued. As these traits grew into popularity, feminine traits were simultaneously being condemned and promoting the idea that women were lesser beings.[12]

This ideology has been promoted through colonization and spreading of Eurocentric culture, reaching hegemony around the world and removing other gender systems as well as other ways of understanding society, genders or eroticism.[3][13]

See also


  1. ^ a b (in Spanish) ¿Ruptura o Continuidad?
  2. ^ (in Spanish) La reproducción del enmarcado heteropatriarcal desde la praxis política lesbofeminista frente al amor y las relaciones erótico-afectivas no monogámicas.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ a b c Unpacking Hetero-Patriarchy: Tracing the Conflation of Sex, Gender & Sexual Orientation to Its Origins.
  4. ^ De la cama a la calle: perspectivas teóricas lésbico-feministas (PDF) (in Spanish). Brecha Lésbica. 2006. p. 83. ISBN 978-958-9307-61-8. 
  5. ^ (in Spanish) La persistencia del heteropatriarcado.
  6. ^ Pierceson, Jason (2016). Sexual Minorities And Politics. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield. p. 9. ISBN 9781442227682. 
  7. ^ Jeffreys, Sheila (1993). The Lesbian Heresy: A Feminist Perspective on the Lesbian Sexual Revolution. Spinifex Press. p. 208. ISBN 1 875559 17 5. 
  8. ^ Glick, Peter (Feb 2001). "An ambivalent alliance: Hostile and benevolent sexism as complementary justifications for gender inequality". American Psychologist. 56 (2): 109–118. doi:10.1037/0003-066x.56.2.109. PMID 11279804. Retrieved 26 September 2016. 
  9. ^ Kandiyoti, Deniz (2013). "Bargaining with Patriarchy". Feminist Theory Reader Local and Global Perspectives. Routledge. pp. 98–106. 
  10. ^ Connell, Raewyn (2013). "The Social Organization of Masculinity". Feminist Theory Reader Local and Global Perspectives. Routledge. pp. 253–263. 
  11. ^ de Beauvoir, Simone (2013). "The Second Sex : Introduction". Feminist Theory Reader. Routledge. pp. 40–48. 
  12. ^ a b Valdes, Francisco. "Unpacking Hetero-Patriarchy: Tracing the Conflation of Sex, Gender & Sexual Orientation to Its Origins". Yale Journal of Law and Humanities. 8. 
  13. ^ Decolonizing Feminism: Challenging Connections between Settler Colonialism and Heteropatriarchy. Feminist Formations. 2013.
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