Kyriarchy 101


Earlier this week, I geeked out on a little feminist theory and explored the idea of intersectionality and how it relates to activism. Today I’d like to do the same for another term: kyriarchy.

This excellent Everyday Feminism article succinctly defines kyriarchy as “the social system that keeps all intersecting oppressions in place.” Kyriarchy moves us beyond the simplistic concept of patriarchy oppressing women.

Why is this important? Well, men can be oppressed as much as women by virtue of other identities, such as being a person of color or minority sexual orientation. Looking at dominant social structures through an intersectional lens shows us that oppression is omnipresent and affects far more people than we might otherwise realize if we focus solely on gender dynamics.

As a former women’s studies major and activist, I found kyriarchy a hard concept to wrap my brain around after all those years of equating patriarchy and gender oppression with the Biggest Societal Baddie of them all. But widening our scope with the idea of kyriarchy leads to a much more nuanced theory, which in turn can lead to much more robust activism.

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4 thoughts on “Kyriarchy 101

  1. It makes complete sense, though kyriarchy is a new word for me. But the mechanisms are used to keep power concentrated in the same place; this election cycle is absolutely the product of a desperate attempt to continue that practice. It’s the breakdown of the oppressive systems that have worked for so well so long that makes the right wing so insane when it comes to President Obama.

    That was fun. I never talk about this stuff on my blog. I love the A to Z Challenge!

    A Bit to Read


  2. Wow, new word but a good one. There are so many factors involved in power/oppression, it would be a positive thing for this word to be more widely known… if only because people sometimes find things easier to accept if there is a one-word label for it that they can look up in the dictionary. Or google.


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