To begin with, we must understand that patriarchy is a political, social, and mental system that perpetuates the myth that men should be dominant. I have moved through the world becoming slowly conscious of how my gender identity, as well as my performance of masculinity, earns me significant privileges: I am taken more seriously, expected to dominate situations, given more space to practice aggressive behavior, and, most importantly, often given the benefit of doubt.
Patriarchy conditions male-identified people, especially cisgendered men, to be in opposition to women and the female body, as well as the very idea of the feminine, as a strategy to accumulate and maintain power.
Patriarchy is gender-based systematic oppression, where bias and power collude to create systems that exclude women. Patriarchy is an expression of misogyny or hate of the feminine and female body. Patriarchy conditions male-identified people, especially cisgendered men, to be in opposition to women and the female body, as well as the very idea of the feminine, as a strategy to accumulate and maintain power.
Patriarchy censors men’s emotional expression, labeling such expression as weak or feminine. Such conditioning has depleted my own access to live a fuller, more expressive life that is in more alignment with the feminine. My work to undo this patriarchal conditioning has been to work to feel deeply into my emotional body and to openly express that feeling.
In Western sanghas, systematic patriarchy has resulted in a hierarchy where power is concentrated around authorities, including staff, coordinators, and teachers. These are often men, conditioned by this system of perceived gender superiority. In the absence of accountability or shared power, the most at-risk bodies are female bodies, or those of anyone deemed weak.
At the heart of patriarchy is a duality between power and weakness. The female body becomes a symbol of any body that is designated as weak, including queer bodies, transgender and gender expansive bodies, disabled bodies, bodies holding different beliefs, and even young bodies. In orthodox Buddhist culture, patriarchy often renders the female body as an impediment to enlightenment, a tool manipulated by the male imagination to achieve enlightenment, or an object for pleasure.