A PATRIARCHY, like a matriarchy, assumes certain things. Many of these are explicit and easily contested. But many are subtle or suggested and are thus far more difficult to counter; far more pervasive too. One such thing is the relationship between patriarchy and dignity. Patriarchs struggle to distinguish between their own sense of self-worth and their status as it exists in the eyes of others. Because their standing is founded in large part upon some genetic attribute, as opposed to their ability or skill, with that comes the assumption that their position engenders respect, on nothing more than the basis that they represent something inherently superior. The result of this is a disjuncture between their behaviour and its reception. Patriarchs naturally assume their actions will be respected, and are perplexed when their attitude causes discontent.

O nlookers who think in patriarchal terms might well understand. Likewise, it is unlikely they will ever complain - something that has its own detrimental consequences. But for those who believe one's behaviour speaks for itself, that assumption is neither here nor there. For them, the nature of a decision rather than the status of its architect determines their response to it. And so a patriarch will be dismayed at any resultant criticism and feel his dignity impugned; in response he might advocate for greater control over those things that might facilitate any such dissatisfaction. In their mind, they bear no responsibility for upholding their own dignity - it is predetermined and their behaviour is housed in this invisible shield. That, however, is an anti democratic notion: the choices one makes are the basis on which a reputation should be endorsed or discredited. In turn, it encourages despotism, for if a reputation is set in stone, what does it matter how one behaves?