Definitions and Cultural Concepts Related to the M/F Principles


A system of society or government in which the father or eldest male is head of the family and descent is traced through the male line.

  • A system of society or government in which men hold power and women are largely excluded from it.

  • A society or community organized on patriarchal lines. The masculine principle, hierarchical form of organization. (Wikipedia)

Elizabeth Dodson Gray in her book, Patriarchy as a Conceptual Trap, defines Patriarchy as “a culture that is slanted so that men are valued a lot and women are valued less; or in which men’s prestige is up and women’s prestige is down.

“Reality has always been a seamless web of interrelated systems.  Within patriarchy we have simply tried to superimpose our humanly generated hierarchical paradigms onto that reality…”

In other words, there is just one box for everyone!  In the interests of our discussion of wholeness and balance, we need to include the idea of multiplicity that states that there are many boxes, a large number of realities out there from which humans can choose, not just one.  It is not a matter of EITHER/OR (separation/masculine principle) but BOTH/AND (inclusion/feminine principle).

Might we imagine another paradigm based on the feminine principle that could also be chosen--Matriarchal, Matrifocal, and Matrilineal-or better yet both/and, a combination of the two!  This is a topic for another time but you are welcome to weigh in……

 Here are some ideas and attitudes that arise from a Patriarchal/Hierarchal/Masculine Principle way of thinking:


    -A system of society  of government ruled by a woman or women.

   -A form of social organization in which descent and relationship are reckoned through the        Female

     -The state of being an older, powerful woman in a family or group.


     -The fact of having a right to something.

     -The belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment. (Wikipedia)

Within a Patriarchal System, the masculine principle and its representatives believe that some are more deserving than others and should have special treatment.   This can be but is not always related to gender.  This cultural, institutionalized belief puts male at the top, female at the bottom, creating an inherent inequality in that institution between males and females.  Both males and females can hold this belief.

 XENOPHOBIA: Fear of differences, of foreigners or strangers which leads to prejudice against anything different from one’s self or belief paradigm.(Wikipedia)

RACISM:  Belief in the superiority of one race over another, which often results in discrimination and prejudice towards people based on their race or ethnicity. It includes the idea that humans can be subdivided into distinct groups due to their social behavior and their innate capacities as well as the idea that they can be ranked as inferior or superior. (Wikipedia)

MISOGYNY:  Dislike or contempt for or ingrained prejudice against women. (Wiklpedia) We will explore this concept in greater depth at another time.

CONCEPTUAL TRAP:  “Is to the thought world of the mind what the astronomers’ black holes are to the universe.  Once inside, there seems to be no way of getting out or seeking out.  A conceptual trap is a way of thinking which is like a room, that once you are inside, you cannot imagine a world outside.” (Elizabeth Dodson Gray)

ARCHETYPE - .A recurrent symbol or motif in literature, art  or mythology.

                       -(In Jungian psychology) a primitieve mental image inherited from the earliest human ancestors and supposed to be present in the collective unconscious.

SHADOW - In Jungian psychology, shadow describes the part of the psyche that contains qualities that do not fit neatly into a person’s self-image.

SYNCHRONICITY - The simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible cause.

PROJECTION - An unconscious mechanism that is employed whenever a trait or characteristic of a personality that has no relationship to conscious behavior, becomes activated. As a result of  unconscious projection, we observe and react to this unrecognized personal trait in other people.

SOVEREIGNTY - Supreme power or authority

        -The authority of state or person to govern itself.

        -A self governing person or state.

        -Unto oneself.

IMMANENCE - Existing or operating within; Inherent.

TRANSCENDENCE - Existence or experience beyond the normal or physical level.

HIEROS/GAMOS ARCHETYPE - The Sacred Marriage, the union of the Masculine and Feminine Principle archetypes.