I feel that someone has to address this statement to reveal its complete idiocy. It contains two assumptions: 1) that patriarchy is based on anything else than biological sex, 2) that a claim on the contrary is white supremacist.
Patriarchy is based on anything else than biological sex.
First, a brief definition of patriarchy: patriarchies are societal structures in which one dominant male (classically the father) has most power (e.g. in the form of law and custom) over all other males and females in a given social unit. Since biological sex actually exists and the vast majority of human beings are easily distinguishable into men and women at first sight it is only logical that women’s oppression would be easily perpetrated based on sex alone. Possible counter-arguments include:
- But biological sex doesn’t exist.
Yes, it does. XX and XY are the sex chromosomes allowing for procreation in the vast, vast majority of cases. I will skip all the other seemingly numerous categories invented to make it less “existent” because they are derived from the genetic level making it the decisive one. Mutations of the two basic sex chromosome combinations have led to the emergence of intersex individuals. However, they are usually sterile, rendering them largely unable to pass on traits that might have been uniquely associated with their sex chromosome combinations.
- But women and men aren’t easily distinguishable at first sight.
Even if all sexist clothing and body adornment customs ceased to exist from one day to the next most women and men would be easily distinguishable from each other, largely owing to primary and secondary sex characteristics but also inevitable body and bone structure development as pre-determined by genetic factors and life stages like puberty.
- But third genders exist in a number of societies. How can patriarchy still be based on biological sex if this is the case?
No society starts out with three gender roles if almost all individuals can be easily grouped into two sexes. It is a matter of utility - sex roles are a structuring device intended to create hierarchies in which women are systematically deprivileged. No sex role exists without a reason. So-called third genders already require a more or less sophisticated system of established and normative sex role behavior. Far from being new creations, third gender roles represent a decoupling of sex and sex role with both categories staying intact. That is to say, neither the binary category of sex nor the binary category of sex role ceases to exist. Thailand, India and Iran are traditional societies serving as examples for this phenomenon.
The patriarchy existed before our notions of biological sex were developed. In that regard, our scientific understanding of sex is predicated on cultural understandings of difference. So, is patriarchy really about biological sex or about the appearance of difference in a way that has been ascribed to gender and since been explained by the concept of biological sex?
Obviously sex isn’t arbitrary in terms of continuing the species and so forth, but is gender an arbitrary site of meaningful difference? Why not eye-colour, or handedness, to use a few common suggested alternatives? This is made more complicated by the existence of an almost universal binary understanding of gender, and by the almost universal oppression of women. Plus by the fact that one’s sex was also obviously a far more important aspect of one’s life before the invention of modern medicine which enables a woman to control part of the biological experience of sex: to not have babies so much, not need to breastfeed, not bleed as much, and less likely to die during childbirth.