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75 Chi.-Kent L. Rev. 659 (1999-2000)
What Is to Be Done

handle is hein.journals/chknt75 and id is 675 raw text is: WHAT IS TO BE DONE?

KATE MILLET*
We live at a moment of change, enormous change in human life.
We tend to imagine it is material change, electronic and technical.
We have almost forgotten the great social changes of the modern era:
democracy, universal suffrage, representative government, and
individual rights. But the last one hundred fifty years has seen a far
greater transformation of human relationships. Indeed, we live in the
last days of patriarchy.
Since patriarchy is the oldest and most universal form of human
organization in the historical period, the most pervasive and entire,
the fact that it is changing is of enormous importance. It has not
existed forever, of course, but it is all we know and our most
fundamental social scheme. It is behind, beneath, and below every
other form of human organization-whether it is the rule of kings or
presidents, laws or religions, families or tribes or nations. Patriarchy
is so indigenous and basic it has existed without question or
recognition for millennia. Patriarchy is the rule of male over female
in all departments of human life. It is based on custom, belief, law,
and ultimately on force.
Human social life everywhere is based on this model, whether it
be the state or the family. It plays out in every thing we do and
manifests itself even in our sense of psychology and personality. We
ascribe aggression to men, and weakness and passivity to women.
Certain activities are therefore appropriate to males and other
activities to females-because they are born that way, born into
one group or the other, because God or nature wished it so, or
because it is inherent in human biology and destiny. The two groups
are not as much complimentary as they are incongruent-the male to
rule, the female to be ruled and to serve.
We align our apprehension of the supernatural this way and
religion under patriarchy is, of course, patriarchal. So is our law, our
notions of learning and wisdom, our social and economic hierarchies,
our systems of defense, war and weaponry-even our notions of right
* I am grateful to Professor Anita Bernstein for her comments on earlier drafts of this
Essay.

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