How Sex Is Used To Create Patriarchy

By Brittany Beall 

Sex is used to create male dominance (patriarchy) in a number of ways. Just take a quick look at these:

The double standard

In the double standard when a man has sex with many women that’s fine. Even celebrated. He is seen as a “the ladies man” or labeled “cool.”

But if a woman does the same thing she is labeled as a “slut” and men will find that unattractive.

Men are free, women are not. Men are celebrated, Women are humiliated.

Men call the shots in dating

Men also call the shots in dating. They are the ones who ask women out, they make the plans, pick their dates up, and make the first move (everything from just a kiss to intercourse).

The next day she hopes he will call her.

Men are independent and invulnerable

Many guys still seem to think they are “uncool” if they have a girlfriend who prevents men from pursuing a lot of women.

And not having a girlfriend, while pursuing sex with many women, makes them feel independent, because girlfriends leave guys feeling emotionally dependent. And guys with girlfriends can’t just do whatever they want because sometimes they have plans with the women they love.

Random sex also makes them feel invulnerable. They can have sex without emotion and no one can get to them.

So they put on a facade of toughness to feel empowered and present a version of themselves of having no feelings — which are to be avoided since they make you feel vulnerable and dependent.

Men “score” in a game of conquering women

Being single helps guys to score in a game of conquering women. If he has sex he wins and she loses — because of that pesky double standard.

Things are changing

Of course all this is a generalization and does not apply to all men.

And many in my generation are definitely changing these standards and ideals. With more time we will see more change. Even now women are starting to ask men out on dates and guys are more open to showing their feelings. The double standard is also weakening.

And year by year women are becoming more independent and confident.

I feel very confident in my relationship with my boyfriend. I take my him out on dates, treat him, and pay for things. And he is confident enough to let me.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on October 14, 2019, in men, relationships, sex and sexuality, sexism and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 43 Comments.

  1. Men can sleep around and be glorified but when women hs more than 1 or even 1 persons he had sex with he slut-shamed. This is not necessary since men gain comics from it and women become more insurance. In many relations, the men tend to call all the shots. From something as simple as picking where to eat to coating each other. After a date, the women wait wasn hopes that he calls or texts over the next day. But it shouldn’t be expected from them women should be as confident as they are to make contact with the person the next day. Men are able to sleep with so many women because they don’t attach their emotions to it. They tend to have sex with women without feeling any emotion but the only thing they feel is the pleasure but with this mas years go by m=women are gaining more confined and independence form men.

  2. Well hang on now, if we concede this list of things “creates patriarchy”, we have to still realize that all these things are the result of women’s behavior. The so-called slut double standard is far more enforced by women than men. Men on the whole actually like promiscuous women. Women do not, because they represent a threat to their own man. Men call the shots in dating because women refuse to, they mostly passively wait to see what the man does. The comment here “The next day she hopes he will call her.” is a tacit admission that this is how it works. “Girlfriends prevent men from pursuing a lot of women.”. And there you have it, done by girlfriends, not men. And here this blog is on the one hand, wanting to free women to be promiscuous without being judged, meanwhile blaming men because women judge them for their free sexuality. Talk about double standard.

    If this article is a description of a mythical sexual patriarchy, I’ve got to ask why feminists are complaining since it is born of, and perpetuated by women. And since it is created by women, how can we in all honesty label it as patriarchy – rule by men. You’re ruled by the ones making the rules, and women are making the rules.

    • The problem isn’t men. The problem is patriarchy, which both women and men unconsciously internalized and reenact and re-create.

      The way out is to become aware of the unconscious internalization and to consciously choose to behave otherwise.

      • “The problem isn’t men. The problem is patriarchy”

        But why name a problem that is caused by women, and perpetuated by women “patriarchy”, a word that implies “men” (patri) and “ruling” (arch) ? I mean, apart from it not being caused by men, it isn’t even anything to do with ruling, it’s the grass roots social interactions of society and its individual members, nothing whatsoever to do with anybody ruling anybody else. Men like to sleep around and women are sitting on the phone waiting for a call? Nothing to do with anybody ruling anybody.

      • How is the problem caused by women?

        The literal meaning of patriarchy is rule of the fathers, which showed itself historically as fathers determine who would marry who, for instance, and having control of younger men, women and children.

        Patriarchy wasn’t actually caused by men (Or women) even though men end up having more power under it. Details here:
        https://broadblogs.com/2017/01/27/what-created-patriarchy-many-possibilities/

        Once patriarchy emerged both women and men were unconsciously socialized into it and continue to re-create it in a way that makes men take the leader role (initiating sexual contact) and women the passive role (waiting by the phone).

  3. I think that this blog does address the stigma that men having multiple partners is okay and women being a bit shamed for doing the same is wrong. This creates the false and super negative idea that women are “sluts”. The part of men being vulnerable and independent I have seen with my friends who think that if they are single you’re not cool and sometimes even talked down on which is not okay. I myself am not in a relationship but have seen people that are single be called prudes and if they were searching for a relationship them you become a “slut”. I do not agree that men are the ones who call the shots in terms of fating cause that seems a bit controlling and seems lik,e women would do whatever their partner says and thats a bit toxic.

  4. I definitely agree that there is a double standard on sex for women and men. I recently visited my friends at the University of Alabama and it was very shocking to me how normal the sex culture was there. Maybe it is because I only attend online college at the moment so I really am not getting the full “college experience”, but the concept of having relationships there didn’t really seem to exist at all. While staying in the dorms, many boys every night would come in and out an hour later after hooking up with my friends. Then after that my friends would come out and tell us how it went. It was surprising to me how comfortable they were in sharing what to me would be more personal information. I think this is a great step for girls to know that they are confident strong women who can feel comfortable for having sex as their own benefit and not depending on a boy for anything else. But in contrast, it made me feel very uncomfortable hearing frat boys talk about girls literally as objects and just base their opinions off of them and their appearance. I was sitting next to one guy who got nudes from a girl and he said out loud to me “ew she’s gross” and then continued to respond to her with heart eyes. I can’t even explain to you how appalled I was that I just witnessed that.

    • Objectifying women, making them nothing more than an object – in this case an object of ridicule and a sex object – is it means by which some men Actively work to create a sense of male superiority. Even though the guys behavior Dehumanizes these men

  5. I strongly agree with the post. I definitely believe men have dominance in sex.The double standard between men and women is completely out of control. Women and men have high expectations. Men are expected to have as much sex with as many women. While, women are expected to have one partner. Men can have numerous relationships and partners. In some countries men can even have multiple wives, a polygamy relationship. Men are considered a ladies man or a player when they have several relationships. It seems as if men feel worthy or superior when they have more girlfriends. Some friends even praise each other for having more girls and cheating on their women. For example, I remember over hearing the boys in school brag about how many numbers they collected in a week and how many of them were able to “smash”. A men score. It was like a game to them. It was pretty obnoxious to me. It’s very common for men to call women sluts when they find out the women have been infidel. Simultaneously, men praise each other for cheating but get defensive and offended when women do it back to them. Women are more confident and independent these days which is amazing. Women need to take their power back! Women deserve to have respect and equality in their relationships.

  6. “Many guys still seem to think they are “uncool” if they have a girlfriend who prevents men from pursuing a lot of women”

    I know you did not intend to generalize, but i don’t think this is quite true. I assume that there are those who want to “mess around” or not engage in serious relationships, but will at some point decide to “settle” or find “the one’. I do agree on the double standard though. There’s all kinds of derogatory names for females who may otherwise be considered “players” if they were males. I think there are far greater forces in a patriarchal society that contribute to its propagation and society’s aversion to change. Your boyfriend may be mocked or called a beta male by those who continue to hold women and men to traditional gender roles and ideas. You footing the bill for dates may seem normal, but I think there is still plenty of stigma in this regard, especially among the more conservative crowd.. It’s how we were raised and are continued to be raised to this day, our language, and self perception are only a few factors. I am an immigrant in this country but have come to adopt progressive ideas that are considered major violations of traditional “macho masculinity”, which are considered old fashioned here but are alive and well in other cultures. I was taught to hold the door open for ladies and never let them pay a bill of any kind and make sure she does not have to work a day in her life. I’d like to think of myself as an example of the generational change you mentioned because I have challenged many of the core beliefs I was taught by my parents, I am 22 but feel much older for some reason. I’m rambling at this point, but what I am trying to say is that sex is a double edged sword for both women and men. Say we lived in a matriarchy, women have the ultimate bargaining power because men cannot reproduce or pass on their legacy without them( and I think this is true to a certain extent in a patriarchy regardless). If you want to see how true this is just look at what is going on in china. Men are “buying” women from other countries because men outnumber women significantly there. The opposite can be said as well because these women are sold as some kind of commodity or product for male gratification. I guess it would make more sense to approach this subject from a more localized lens of analysis, but we don’t exactly live in a bubble. The United States exports culture and media, a paradigm shift in both may yield positive change for women all over the world. – Just my five cents.

    • Thanks for adding your five cents. In patriarchal China the fact that men are now buying women doesn’t actually help women’s status and that they are truly commodities who don’t have much say. In fact, typically they are kidnapped and then sold.

      Matriarchy would be no better. I am for partnership societies marked by equality of women and men.

      (And “Many“ Just means many and not all.)

  7. Hello and thank you for sharing this post. Language is such a powerful tool that shapes our reality and influences our beliefs. The terminology to describe a male with multiple partners tends to have a positive tone that encourages men to pursue numerous partners and the terminology to describe a woman with multiple partners has a demeaning tone that reduces the value of women. Both men and women have adopted this ideology based on gender norms. Women are conditioned to base their value on the least amount of sexual experiences they have and Men are conditioned to base their value on the higher amount of sexual experiences they have. That idea alone is counter intuitive because on the one hand, men are looking to feel manly by seeking many women partners but once men receive the ego boost from having multiple partners, the very same women that helped them feel manly are looked down upon. These sort of double standards certainly exist today; however, as women continue to progress and have more opportunities in careers, education, and overall rights, these double standards are weakened.

  8. I strongly agree with this post. I feel like sex can sometimes be such a taboo subject and it can be considered crude to talk about it openly. However, talking openly about sex does come with more consequences. It makes perfect sense that is a male dominated society, sex is just another way for men to seem superior to women. There is such a huge issue with double standards in our society. I think it is so ridiculous how some men will say that they like women with experience, but on the other hand will think a woman is unattractive for having multiple sexual partners.
    In terms of dating, there is one app that I think has made a huge step. Bumble puts making the first move in the hands of women, which I think is really great. Unfortunately, that is only one dating app amongst many and there is still dating that happens not online.

    • Thanks for your thoughts on this.

      • It seems like women still go by traditional ways though. Many women even on bumble don’t message a guy even if they have to withing 24 hours. It’s not a lot of time though either, they should change to make it atleast 48 hours. But anyways, maybe some guys sex is used for men to feel superior to women. That may be true, but I also think or more often it’s used for superiority but not toward women but toward other men. Our culture is kind of very competitive based, a dog eat dog world at times. It sets up for men to be very ego based. If many men are competitive, they will naturally place their ego and pride on aspects that are highly desired things.

        Women are quite sexually desired by men of course. So a man banging hot women places him or can in his mind, as more virile and desirable vs other men (ego stroke/competitive pride validation). It’s how he compares and can rank himself vs other men. It’s same reason why unfortunately some guys can be prideful on having a wealthy, high status occupation, because it’s higher income than other men or more prominent compared to others. Same with nice cars or a guy that’s very good in sports or say talented musician. It sets him a apart from the average man, therefore, something to be proud about. I think often the sex with many attractive women is more so of men doing it to feel superior to other men, but women unfortunately are the pawns for that. Some may do it so they can brag and validation from others.

        But doesn’t have to be so. If you’re a proud, competitive person, you can have all such feelings internally. Therefore, aim to succeed in all such stuff men would often place their pride too because it’s often based on their abilities which men will place their pride often on. Women are highly desired and it’s seen as a man’s success to have women, especially beautiful women to want sex with him. Guy’s can see it as an indicator of his strong sex appeal that is better and not other guys having or they have that’s better than other guys and loving that feeling. It’s kind of true in a way. rejection is name of the game in dating in general. But more often, a guy that has “game”, not an arrogant ass. But a good looking guy that’s charming, witty, smart will more often have more success and do better with women, especially pretty women vs average looking guys who are “average” as far as charm, humor, intelligence,wit, etc.

        It’s like how a quarterback who has natural abilities like a strong arm, good accuracy, will more often succeed more. He’ll still fail, but will do better based on his natural talents or what he can hone on vs the quarterback with average throwing arm, bad accuracy, etc.

      • Women and men both unconsciously internalize patriarchy and that’s why both enact it, and often without even realizing it. The problem is it man so much is our culture.

        And yes, getting a lot of Women is often about non-competing with each other for superiority with each other, with women in ponds in the game as you say. So still patriarchy. And luckily not all men.

        Meanwhile, a lot of guys make stuff up or greatly embellish, which leaves a lot of other guys feeling lesser-than and angry at women for not having sex with them, when women are punished for having sex with whoever they want. It works in the interest of patriarchy even though it actually harms both women and men.

      • “Meanwhile, a lot of guys make stuff up or greatly embellish, which leaves a lot of other guys feeling lesser-than and angry at women”

        And… what if some of these guys are actually telling the truth? I mean, if knowing certain things about what other guys get makes you feel rightfully angry at women, and some guys are being truthful, what then?

        And this is where we are… sexually speaking… living under matriarchy. Women control access to sex, so we are sexually ruled by women. There are no female incels. Not legit ones.

        And since sex is as critical to life as food and air, don’t men have a legitimate greivance against women in a way that women cannot have against men?

      • Most men do embellish and that is widely understood.

        If what you say were true why get mad at women instead of men?

        We live in a patriarchal society that punishes women’s sexual desire and celebrates men. This has a repressive effect on women‘s interest in sex so that it takes more to get women interested. If you want women to be more interested in having sex you should work toward not punishing women’s sexual desire.

        More details here:

        https://broadblogs.com/2016/09/26/repression-shutting-down-teen-girls-sexuality/

        https://broadblogs.com/2016/04/18/women-are-more-responsive-to-repression/

  9. I think this is a really important and emerging topic in today’s society. I actually was recently having a conversation with my girl friend about this topic because one of my guy friends made a comment about a girl he used to know in high school that “got around” and how he found that unattractive. My girlfriend and I later discussed how in middle school and high school, most guys only went for girls that they knew hadn’t been with any other guys and rumors often circulated about girls hooking up with guys, even if it wasn’t true. These rumors were always spread to hurt the girl because it somehow tarnished their reputation of being worthy to be a girlfriend, when guys were high fived and celebrated if they had been with a girl.
    Also, I was definitely raised in a household that men pay for everything, make the first move and pursue the girl. And although I did pursue my girlfriend, we now have a very equally balanced relationship. We take turns paying for outings, buying each other little gifts we know the other will enjoy, and I never feel emasculated that my girlfriend pays for me sometime. We are in a partnership and things should be equal.

  10. Yes, I do agree that sex is used to create male dominance; it has been since the beginning of time. But I also think that things have changed for both women and men throughout time. Women are starting to become more confident and independent, and men are starting to become more comfortable with being emotional. “Men are free, women are not. Men are celebrated, women are humiliated”. I feel that this statement is still very true, even today. Men will always get cheered on for being a “ladies man”, but if a women were to do the same, they will always be looked down upon. The double standard has weakened slightly, but it is still something that is still considered “cool” for men. I believe that most women prefer to be with someone who they can have a real connection with, like a beta. Yes, women do enjoy overall physical pleasure, for example, an alpha, but a woman needs someone who is kind and generous, someone who they can truly be themselves around and feel the intimacy between one another.

    • And interestingly, the earliest people’s appear to have been gender equal, based on societies that most closely reflect our earliest ancestors: forager societies. All of these societies are strongly egalitarian, on every continent on which they are found.

    • “Men will always get cheered on for being a “ladies man”, but if a women were to do the same, they will always be looked down upon.”

      Yes. You are right. Guess who is often the biggest cheerleaders? Women!!!

      Women do LOVE the ladies man. So, these men have solid allies in women as well as enablers.

      Women get to lay out the specs on what they want in a man. Fine. So, why cannot we as men get to do the same with women?

      • If men are being harmed because of the way women are raised I think they should raise concern.

        And one way that women often harm other women is indeed by slut-shaming. It seems to be because many women feel threatened by attractive women. And that’s because we value women so much based on looks. I would like a world where we value women for so much more.

  11. The notion that men must make the first move creates pressure on both sides. Males feel like they have to do something and females play a waiting game because they think that they are not obligated to show interest. I think this double standard is kind of pointless because going out is a two-way street and both parties should be contributing. I also think the double-standard with sex has gotten way too out of hand. Women shouldn’t be condemned for it while men get celebrated. I think this double-standard really limits women while it lets men think they can do whatever they want. Being “celebrated” for the ability to sleep around is why I think many males have prideful personalities because they feel like they are unstoppable by society’s judgments. I understand that gender differences existed in earlier times but society’s culture nowadays has grown to accept many things like races and sexual orientation so I feel like double standards regarding sex and dominance should be more diminished than it is. Men and women should be able to do the same things in relationships without feeling humiliated or vulnerable.

  12. I also see the double standard is weakening, and there is confidence on both sides: women are becoming more independent and confident and men are finding this very attractive in women.

  13. That’s not what I mean. It’s still considered weird and looked down on to settle for a beta if you have a choice. Most women would rather be with an alpha because the overall physical pleasure is so much more. They don’t say it like that but that’s the primal need driving them.

    • It’s not considered weird. Most women marry betas.

      It also depends on your definition of beta. The researchers who pointed out that most women marry them are talking about men who are kind and generous, as opposed to domineering alphas who prefer to have lots of women rather than just one wife. Maybe you are talking about a different definition of beta.

  14. If women really wanted beta males they would have gotten together and decided as a class to empower and support them. The fact that they didn’t means that their preferences are biological.

      • “Well, they marry them.”

        Yes, because they serve a function. Usually financial and security related.

        If women wanted betas, then why do we have a record number (more than 50%) of single women today?

        I truly believe now that women no longer need beta men for that prescribed function they are rejecting beta men. To marry a beta man today is to “settle.” Most younger well-educated and financially independent women do not want these men for romantic purposes.

        Btw, not all alpha men are domineering and oppressive as you seem to think. We are just in control of our lives and we lead. Women like leaders! They like for a man to plan the date! They like the idea that we can protect them. The like our dominance in the bedroom.

        No other group of men are cheated on by women than beta men. Do you think the over 50% of women who cheat today are cheating on alpha men?

      • You underestimate how much women like to marry their best friend. Someone who is your best friend and always there for you, shares your interests and is a lot of fun to be with is not a domineering guy who chases other women — that’s torture.

        Also you underestimate how important emotional intimacy is in sex. You don’t get that with Alphas.

        There are a record number of single women largely because of changes in our economy combined with the fact that women can support themselves.

        Traditional manufacturing jobs that once allowed men to support a family are pretty much gone due to automation and off-shoring, which creates a huge redistribution of wealth from the middle class to the very top. Some at the top don’t want a backlash against that redistribution that favors them so they fund think tanks to feed ideas that immigrants are the problem. And because of human nature and our history of immigrant-bashing since the very start of America, blaming immigrants is very effective at distracting people.

        So women increasingly find themselves in a situation where they can support themselves and don’t feel like also supporting a man who doesn’t have a job. It feels like having a giant baby, another mouth to feed, who won’t even help around the house and may be abusive if he has a macho attitude.

        I don’t think women bother cheating on alpha men. They just leave them.

  15. Women are the gatekeepers of sex. They always have been so.

    So, how is that the gender that has full control over sex a victim of such power?

    “I feel very confident in my relationship with my boyfriend. I take my him out on dates, treat him, and pay for things. And he is confident enough to let me.”

    This is your CLASSIC beta male. It is this kind of man that MOST women find repulsive. Women crave men who lead. Men who are independent. Men who traditional and masculine.

    Maybe this is one of your students who is quite young.

    • This is one of my students who is quite young.

      The thing is that in American culture both men and women tend to find confident people attractive.

      That doesn’t mean that anyone wants to be led by other people. I’m sure most sexist women probably do, at least in theory, but that’s not all women. And I say at least in theory because I grew up in a very conservative religion with a lot of sexist women. One of my friends wanted to marry a macho, sexist man and did. But then she divorced him because she didn’t like the reality of living with a sexist man. Another one of my friends also wanted the same thing and she also ended up divorced, after going through years of emotional distress.

      • “I’m sure sexiest women probably do, at least in theory, but that’s not all women.”

        Are you saying sexy women? or the sexiest of women?

        If it is the sexiest of all women, why do you believe the sexiest of women want to be led by men. I have my thoughts. Curious to hear your point of view on this.

      • Well I guess you will be disappointed. But thanks for catching my spelling error. I use voice-activated software and need to proofread more.

        The most sexist women like the idea of being led by men. That will probably clear things up.

  16. Some of what you say is true, but I believe you have totally underestimated the power of a woman’s sexuality.

    • Sexuality is a traditional source of power for women in patriarchy but it has great limits. It’s a power that is used to get people with real power to do what you want. And you can hardly get everything with it.

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