Conspiracy theories are comforting. They posit an enemy - "bad guys" who are responsible for the mess we're in - and they give us a group to imagine we're struggling against, allowing us to be the "good guys."
Patriarchy is, of course, real - in the Sudan, in Afghanistan, and for tens of thousands of years of human history. "Males dominate public/political realm" is on D.E. Brown's list of human universals; it characterizes every human society that has ever been studied. Contrary to the wishes of wiccans and the like, there never have been any female-dominated societies.
In the modern West, however, almost all legal barriers to gender equality have been removed - as well as many practical ones (e.g., birth control, abortion, and the information economy). So why aren't all our problem solved? Why do men still commit the vast majority of lethal violence? Why do men still "dominate the public/political realm"? Why aren't there as many female math professors as male math professors? Why are female leading actors still mostly young and beautiful?
The comforting conspiracy theory is that all this is from socialization. Boys and girls are somehow influenced, from a young age, to take on the gender roles that they do. If we "good guys" could only change this socialization, then all the problems attributed to patriarchy would vanish.
But only an evolution denier could hold such a position (and, indeed, many feminists are evolutionary psychology deniers). A species with (historic and present) effective polygyny as high as ours is never going to achieve gender equality in anything but a legal sense.
And gynocracy, of course, is real, too - at least recently, in the West. While there are few situations in which the law prefers men over women, there are many situations in which the law protects (and sometimes "protects") women at the expense of men's interests. Here are a few:
- By United States federal law, baby girls may not have their genitals mutilated, but baby boys may.
- The near-universal prohibition on prostitution primarily affects men's interests, because men are nearly the sole consumers of sexual services of both male and female prostitutes (fantasies like the television show Hung notwithstanding). A male who is unwilling or unable to enter a mutual sexual output contract has few legal options for obtaining sexual services - certainly a very important part of human happiness.
- For a female, consent to sex does not equal consent to have and support a child. For a male, it does. A man may be forced to support a child he did not wish to have merely because he is the genetic parent.
- On the other hand, for a female, being the genetic parent is enough to establish parental rights to the child. A male must often demonstrate more than genetic paternity - e.g., a relationship with the child or attempt to support the child - in order to have parental rights recognized at law.
The above examples of what might be termed "gynocracy" are wrong, and should be rectified. But will all the problems between men and women disappear if only we get the right legal system in place? If it didn't work for women, why would we expect it to work for men? Or for any other oppressed group?
Evil exists. But there is no "enemy" except ourselves. Evolution has created organisms that compete with each other - intrasexually as well as intersexually. Our organism has developed the concepts of "good" and "evil," "fairness and "cheating," that help us live in large groups and compete successfully. But all the "good" and "fairness" in the world does not guarantee human happiness. In fact, it is human suffering that is guaranteed.
Conceiving of problems as struggles between us and our enemies is problematic because it gives false hope - hope that one can "win" the struggle. If only the right people were in charge, we think, things would be alright.
But the hope is a false one. Problems such as those between men and women are deep, systemic, and insoluble. They are part of our nature and will always exist. If we perpetuate our species, we perpetuate the problems. There will never be a time when "it was all worth it" - when we can look back on our previous struggles and pat ourselves on the back.
As we perpetuate our species, we do so on the backs of the suffering. And always shall.
On the curious proposition that women are as violent as men in relationships, see also my Demonic Males and Attack Heifers: On the Sex Ratio of Marital Violence.