"That sort of view that feminism is against men it just doesn't make sense, from the beginning, it has never made sense to me. I was asked recently by a group of young women, in a young women leadership conference program in Harvard: do I think of myself as a feminist? So I said: yes, would you like to know how I define feminism? So they said yes! So I said I thought of feminism as one of THE great liberation movements in human history and it’s the movement to free democracy from patriarchy. And then I got a bunch of e-mails after that weekend of this Harvard group saying “the one thing I wrote down from the whole weekend was your definition of feminism”. But it seems so obvious to me that that’s what feminism is. I mean it is really seeing and it is easier for women to speak out against patriarchy because we are not so shame for speaking out as it is. I think Virginia Woolf wrote about that in “Three Guineas”, actually, but it’s in how in contradiction with democracy patriarchy is and the cost for both men and women. So that’s what I think feminism is and I think it is an extremely important historic movement of women’s liberation. And so of course, if that’s what feminism is: “moving to free democracy from patriarchy”, you are going to have a kick back from patriarchy. And the kick back is that feminism is anti-man and real man and all this. So I think that’s why you have to go back to say: wait a minute, that’s not what feminism is. (…)
There is a misunderstanding of (patriarchy) is this sort of men’s oppression of women. In fact here is where the psychological work is key in the developmental work because it explains why women’s voices are so important in this because, if men are initiated, boys are initiated into patriarchy around these gender things which is what is a real man and how is manhood constructed and being a man means not being a girl or being a woman and it means being on top, that’s patriarchal masculinity and this happens around 4 or 5 or 6, and girls are initiated into patriarchal femininity which means being selfless which is really the most amazing term, being selfless in order to have relationships. But we've just said: if you have no self you are not in a relationship, so it’s incoherent, really. But since that doesn't happen till adolescence, girls have more language and so they can speak about this, and if you silence girls and women then nobody talks about it.
So put all this making feminism anti-man which is truly not, or defining patriarchy not as something that divides everyone… I mean, what is patriarchy: it’s a hierarchy, which means the rule of priests, in which the hiereus, the priest is patriarch, a pater, a father, so it divides fathers, it divides some men from other men, divides the men from the boys, like African-American men were called boys, not real men, and it divides all men from women; and it places fathers over mothers and children. And in fact, in making those separations it divides everyone from parts of themselves. So, psychologically, patriarchy is always unstable. On the other hand, if you talk about democratic society it requires that kind of people having voices and being able to speak honestly from their experiences. So the psychological quality feeds into a truly democratic society, so then you come back to: patriarchy is contradictory to democracy like slavery is and like imperialism is. And I think that’s where we are right now, in that struggle, for men, for women, for people of color, the whole thing. It’s like the title of Christina Robb's book: “This changes everything”. It’s a shift in the paradigm. It’s not like taking the old paradigm and switching it some from having men on top to women on top. That’s the old structure. It’s changing the structure."
Dr. Carol Gilligan defines feminism and patriarchy.
Psychalive featuring Dr. Carol Gilligan.