The election of an unabashedly patriarchal man as US President was a shock for many: despite decades of activism on gender inequalities and equal rights, how could it come to this? What is it about patriarchy that seems to make it so resilient and resistant to change? Undoubtedly it persists in part because some people benefit from the unequal advantages it confers, but is that it? Is that enough to explain its stubborn persistence?
In this highly original and persuasively argued book, Carol Gilligan and Naomi Snider put forward a different view: they argue that patriarchy persists because it serves a psychological function. By requiring us to sacrifice love for the sake of hierarchy, patriarchy protects us from the vulnerability of loving and becomes a defense against loss. By uncovering the powerful psychological mechanisms that underpin patriarchy, they are able to show that forces beyond our awareness may be driving a politics that otherwise seems inexplicable.
This new book, co-authored by one of the world's most influential feminist thinkers, will be of great interest to anyone who is concerned about our messy psycho-political times.
Carol Gilligan is Professor of Humanities and Applied Psychology at New York University and the author of In a Different Voice, one of the most influential feminist books of all time.
Naomi Snider is a Research Fellow at New York University.