Friday, July 11, 2008


Now I know there's probably plenty of you who have heard of kyriarchy (keer-ee-arck-ee), but for those of you who haven't...check this out.

Patriarchy, for me, doesn't cut it. It cuts it to gender. As you can see, I'm not that simple. Kyriarchy is a term I adopted four years ago and I feel now it's time to show my true colors of what I think of patriarchy. Two words: old skool.

Kyriarchy - a neologism coined by Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza and derived from the Greek words for "lord" or "master" (kyrios) and "to rule or dominate" (archein) which seeks to redefine the analytic category of patriarchy in terms of multiplicative intersecting structures of domination...Kyriarchy is best theorized as a complex pyramidal system of intersecting multiplicative social structures of superordination and subordination, of ruling and oppression.

Patriarchy - Literally means the rule of the father and is generally understood within feminist discourses in a dualistic sense as asserting the domination of all men over all women in equal terms. The theoretical adequacy of patriarchy has been challenged because, for instance, black men to not have control over white wo/men and some women (slave/mistresses) have power over subaltern women and men (slaves).

- Glossary, Wisdom Ways, Orbis Books New York 2001

Let me break this down for you. When people talk about patriarchy and then it divulges into a complex conversation about the shifting circles of privilege, power, and domination -- they're talking about kyriarchy. When you talk about power assertion of a White woman over a Brown man, that's kyriarchy. When you talk about a Black man dominating a Brown womyn, that's kyriarchy. It's about the human tendency for everyone trying to take the role of lord/master within a pyramid. At it best heights, studying kyriarchy displays that it's more than just rich, white Christian men at the tip top and, personally, they're not the ones I find most dangerous. There's a helluva lot more people a few levels down the pyramid who are more interested in keeping their place in the structure than to turning the pyramid upside down.
It's about recognizing the power-over relationships that exist because of property, religion, security, economics, citizenship, and geography. Let's not pretend that just because there are not many propertied males mucking around the fem blogosphere, there aren't queen bees and wanna bees exercising the same kind of behavior. So when we talk about woman asserting power over other womyn, we're talking kyriarchy. When you witness woman trying to dominate, define, outline the "movement" or even what an ally should be - that's the kyriarchal ethos strong at work.

(All bolding emphasis mine)
I can hear Sudy's brilliance blowing your minds from here...


  1. Very interesting. I had never heard of kyriarchy before. I cant find any articles in Swedish either.

    You taught me a new word.

  2. ooh, i like! i know, the word/new way of framing things...not exactly the fact of it

  3. Bring it to the Swedish masses Drik!

    LadyBrett, I feel you. In my "about me" I had to go over the "I believe in" stuff a few times because I was like "hrm, I don't BELIEVE IN Patriarchy...I believe it exists..." :P

  4. Yup! I will ask some of my friends to see if they know it, and then I'll spread it. Like stardust!


  5. Love it! I have never heard this term before, but I will definitely be bringing it up in my women's studies classes this coming school year.

  6. ill be sure to let all the single mothers at work know about this. it will definitely change their lives for the better. way to go theoretical internet feminists


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