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Feminist male-perpetration patriarchy theory shares many characteristics with what most people would describe as “conspiracy theories.”  It would not, in our eyes, be terribly unreasonable to describe many formulations thereof as being close enough to warrant the label.  (Weasel words, yes, but important ones.)

When we look at conspiracy theories, there are a few key elements.  The first is extremely high-level efficient covert organization, the “shadowy cabal” so to speak.  The second is the clear division of the world into “good” and “bad” elements, creating an inherent moral simplicity and tracing all “evil” (so to speak) back to the supposed conspirators.  The third is the concept of overwhelming odds, the idea that the “whistleblower” group is inherently fighting an asymmetric battle against a vastly superior foe.  Two other characteristics are often (but not always) present: the argument of antiquity (ancient conspiracy), and the lack of factual or evidentiary support.  (The latter is generally present, but one example of a factually-supported conspiracy would be Watergate.)  There are many other common characteristics, but we’d describe these ones as the “core” of what makes a conspiracy theory what it is.

So does male-perpetration patriarchy theory meet these criteria?  We [Masculists]would argue that the answer is probably “yes.”

The first criteria is the most obvious: patriarchy theory, in essence, makes the claim that since before the beginning of recorded history men as a class have conspired to subjugate women, have succeeded almost completely and universally, and have done so without any evidence of such a conspiracy ever coming to light. They’ve succeeded at doing this despite (for most of history) having no way to communicate with each other over the wider world, and have never (to current knowledge) been overthrown in any major society.  The second isn’t hard to see either.  Male-perpetration patriarchy theory neatly divides the world into an “oppressed” and an “oppressor” group, which are conveniently split along sex/gender lines.  Virtually all the evil in the world can be ascribed to the “patriarchy,” which in context is basically equivalent to “men.”

So what about the “underdog” viewpoint?  Frankly, it’s not hard to see either.  Feminism is one of the dominant social ideologies of our time, receives millions (directly and indirectly) of dollars in government funding, and has more lobbying power than any other social movement we can think of.  It’s wrought incredible change on our society, both for the better and (all-too-often) for the worse, and it’s been steadily gaining influence throughout the last five decades.  Despite this, many feminists basically claim that nothing’s changed, that society is still completely against them and that they’re a small group of valiant freedom fighters rather than an extremely well-funded lobby industry feared by pretty much everyone.  Feminism, in short, ignores its own power and influence.

The remaining two are pretty simple.  The “patriarchy” is generally accepted as coming from antiquity, no meaningful evidence of a global male conspiracy to oppress women, and much feminist evidence regarding the current status of women and men is severely tainted.

Latour’s assertion that conspiracy theorism is to a degree derived from Marxist-inspired critical theory is particularly interesting given the context, as that same theory is a pretty fundamental part of most modern feminism.  Surprising?  Not really.  This is something that has in the past affected a number of human rights movements.  Most, however, have largely outgrown it.  Feminism, unfortunately, has not.

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