Separation of Spheres

Many people mistakenly believe that the patriarchal system is about women being downtrodden and subjected to men 100% of the time. This is not the case at all, at least not in Christian countries.

The patriarchy is based on the concept of the separation of spheres. Women are excluded from the public sphere but are compensated for that by having control over the private sphere. Men, in the meanwhile, are disempowered in the private sphere but reign in the public sphere.

Since it’s normal for people to need both spheres to be developed in their lives, patriarchal societies offered opportunities for men and women to pretend they had access to both spheres. For instance, all of those all-male clubs for aristocratic men in European countries created an atmosphere of a home environment where men could have a sort of a private sphere of their own.

As a result, we can conclude that the goal of feminism is not only to restore the public sphere to women for their free use of it but also to restore the private sphere to men. Pushing men out of the private sphere to make oneself feel better or more competent is as anti-feminist as when men keep women out of the workplace.


8 thoughts on “Separation of Spheres”

  1. Patriarchal attacks that deny one full entry into the public realm are ubiquitous, though. And they can be really subtle.

    Take the example I gave the other day, the insinuation, “You don’t know what it is like to be a real person in the real world.”

    Take another one: “You are hiding something. It really cannot be as you say. You’re keeping something back.”

    Take another: “You hurt his human dignity when you exposed his actual behavior to the public world like that. You ought to be ashamed!”

    All of these kinds of attacks, which are often reflexive, and come from all sectors of society, are anti-feminist. They assume that women are only psychologically equipped to operate in private.

    The difficulty is when these assumptions are deeply embedded in the subconscious minds of everybody. Even feminists start acting as if there were obvious lines that had always been drawn somewhere.


    1. “Patriarchal attacks that deny one full entry into the public realm are ubiquitous, though. And they can be really subtle.”

      – Of course. There is a profound patriarchal drive to keep the spheres separated still. Even highly educated, professional, progressive people often slip into the separation of spheres rhetoric. It’s like a sort of a reflex, even among people who have suffered because of this.


      1. It’s like even seemingly progressive types have already created mental filters for certain types of information. If you speak in a way that doesn’t conform with expectations, you are deemed to be saying too much and too little at the same moment, and in any case, seeming to lack knowledge as to what’s expected.

        It’s a case of societal hypnosis


  2. When I saw this title, I was hoping you were referring to some new approach to understanding the classic problem in geometric topology about sphere separation. The problem was solved decades ago, but new insights are always possible!


  3. You do realize that the more exclusive all-male clubs exist in order to provide a less formal setting in which to negotiate business deals. Yes, the veterans posts, biker bars, and other working class male spaces are purely social spaces, but the upper class clubs are not only business spaces, but employees’ membership fees are often paid by companies. Typically, the upper class clubs also excluded Jewish men, or may have had a token Jew, and as a matter of course excluded black men. Women on the club premises were coat check girls and waitresses.

    Businesswomen objected to the all-male businessmans’ clubs not because they wanted to invade a space dedicated to arguing about football and the best pages in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. Businesswomen wanted to be at venues where business is discussed and deals are made.


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