Word of the Day: Kyriarchy

Posted: October 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

Word of the Day: Kyriarchy.

Kyriarchy 101

According to glossary of Wisdom Ways, Kyriarchy is a term or neologism created by Elisabeth Schussler FIorenza to redefine a new system that is different from patriarchy. Kyriarchy is “best theorized as a complex pyramidal system of intersecting multiplicative social structures of super-ordination and subordination”. What this translate to is that it is a system in which power or privilege is determined with other factors such as social structure, current environment setting, and situation. This is in contrast to the patriarchy system in which the male is the dominant power over females in a pyramidal structure.

In Jogeek’s blog, she explains to people what kyriarchy means and how it relates to us in society. Jogeek refers to it as a “complex social structure” where “various groups gain and lose ground” in their privileges and social power. She explains how kyriarchy intersects each other and how in different scenario certain people will have better privilege than others. She explains that people must understand that privilege is determined by the social construct at the current moment. “Privilege doesn’t change, but it’s effect DOES,” what this quote from Jogeek means is that you will always have the same privilege for you being who you are, but the extent of how much you benefit from what privileges you have will be determined by the people around you, the environment around you, and the situations around you.

An excellent example that Jogeek gives that I find truly shocking and amazing is Joshua Bell’s free performance in DC Metro Station. In this Bell performed for an hour in the metro station receving only about $32 in donations while his show sold out at $100 a seat. What Jogeek is trying to show us here is that because Joshua Bell changed his environment and clothes, people believed him to be a homeless man performing for donation. Because of this change, it caused his privilege of being a well-known violinist with a $3.5 million dollar violin to become less useful situation such as in a metro station where no one notices or gives him that social power. However, another point made is that even in different situations and setting, kyriarchy states that you don’t lose your privilege just as Joshua is still a well-known violinist.

Finally Jogeek states that if we want to fight against racism or sexism or any other -isms we must recognized and acknowledge that we can’t just go around attacking people without knowing their power structures or experiences. We need to accept the fact that everyone has different privileges and that it is something that they are not personally in control of.


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