Film & Media Studies Theory

Whitman College – FMS 387

The Hegemony of Patriarchy: Men v. Women

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NOTE* I have a different edition of the text, so my page numbers are different!


My example of hegemony can be clearly seen in history, as well as in today’s culture. It is the idea of patriarchy: and not the system in which the father or eldest male descends the land through the traced male line- but rather, the patriarchy between men and women. The idea that men are better than women: smarter, more accomplished, and dominant. Though it’s not nearly as bad as it was, we can all agree that women are still subjugated today; men are still the leaders of the modern world. They are the presidents, CEO’s, managers, owners and bosses.

Historically, men have always been dominant. In that sense, Gramsci’s argument holds true, “…when it is in power it becomes dominant, but continues to ‘lead’ as well…” (215). Additionally, as Gramsci argues, men’s place in society is not determined by the qualifications of his job, but rather the social relations that characterize these positions: dominance, power and leadership. Men in these positions are exact reflections of how they are represented in society.

But it is important to note that the other side of Gramsci’s argument holds true as well. “It should not be understood to refer to a society in which all conflict has been removed. What the concept is meant to suggest is a society in which conflict is contained and channeled into ideologically safe harbors” (80). Clearly, the issue of women’s equality is still significant. Although women have negotiated power as well under this patriarchy, they are still subjugated. In other words, slowly over time, women have been granted rights and concessions, but patriarchy still endures. Most importantly, as Storey explains, women have conceived this idea as ‘natural’. Many of the attitudes of women today are that of normalcy and acceptance. That is, hegemony is “maintained” (80). Many still do accept their roles as housewives and understand their ‘duties’ as a woman in this society. They do not resist this hegemony; continuing to work jobs in which they are paid less than men, they continue to endure sexual harassment and don’t always fight for rights that, under this system, systematically undergird women subjugation. As a result, this hegemony is sustained. Women have negotiated to a point, but “they can never be allowed to challenge the economic fundamentals of class power” (81).


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