Patriarchy is the oppression of men

Patriarchy is Oppression of Men

We cast others into the roles of agent and patient. Agents do things, patients have things done to them. People prefer to deliver pain to agents, even those agents who act in the benefit to others, than patients. Agents, good or bad, are seen as both capable of enduring more pain than patients and elicit less sympathy when they do so.[1]

This dichotomy divides people into those who can expect to draw upon the resources of society to be protected and provided for, and those who can’t.

This dynamic can also be titled ‘hyperagency’[2]. Hyperagency is the perception that a group of people has more agency than they actually do. Being cast in the role of hyperagent has significant drawbacks for groups so cast and throughout history we can see groups of marginalized people cast into this role as scapegoats. They are seen as having disproportionate influence on society, thus responsible for all of its ills, thus punishment or confinement of the hyperagent group is justified.

Hyperagents suffer from hyposympathy relative to hypoagents. Hypoagents are greatly enfranchised over hyperagents in their ability to expect and demand that others protect them when they are victimized and provide for them when they require it. Hypoagents weild power through the creation and exploitation of hypersympathy. Hypersympathy is an artificially inflated sympathy based on reducing other’s perception of one’s agency.

Hyperagents, on the other hand, are considered the appropriate dispensers of violence on the behalf of hypoagents. Hyperagents are also expected to buffer hypoagents from directly experiencing violence or depredation.

Men, in every society on earth, are cast into the role of hyperagent. They are expected to assume positions of overt power in the family and in the political, legal and financial spheres. This is an expectation of their gender role and one they have to fulfill least they be seen as ‘not a man’ and thus worthless to their families and society.

Needing to be emphasized is men’s lack of agency regarding assumption of the position of hyperagent.

Men are forced to assume the role of hyperagent in various ways. Some men have it thrust upon them as a condition of being male; for example in communities that have a cultural practice of appointing men as heads of households (even though there is evidence indicating that men have less actual control over their households relative to the true head of the home, the woman who has taken him as husband.) Men are also expected to acquire hyperagency through participation in systems that expect sacrifice of emotional and physical health as a cost of participation.

Forcing men into hyperagency as a condition of their gender role enables a vast reserve of vulnerable men—made vulnerable by society’s relative indifference to their suffering and deaths–for society to sacrifice when and where it requires such sacrifice.

Without the perception of male hyperagency, cultivated through cultural rules about ‘heads of households’ and the ‘stronger sex’, there would not be this battery of human bodies to throw into the woodchipper.

This creates a self-reinforcing cycle. Generals exist because there are tens of thousands of privates willing to give up their lives on his order; tens of thousands of privates exist because men have been thrust into the role of hyperagent thus society will turn a blind eye to their deaths; men have been universally stereotyped as hyperagents because Generals are male. But Generals are male because only men are so motivated by the expectation to assume hyperagency that they will endure the emotional strain of sending thousands of people to their death. (Regardless if that emotional strain is lessened by the fact those people are mostly men.)

Men die in war precisely because our leaders are men.

(In fact arguing that excluding women from positions of power is oppression of women when those positions of power only exist because other men are willing to sacrifice their lives to create them seems to be moral slight of hand of the worst sort.)

Far from being empowering, a man’s role as hyperagent is disempowering.

Every cultural institution that casts men into the role of overt hyperagent disenfranchises men as a group emotionally. They become victims of hyposympathy and are incapable of rousing concern from others for their vulnerabilities. (Instead their vulnerabilities arouse contempt and ostracisim.) Simply, the more cultural institutions that presumptively exclude women from the role of hyperagent, the more women are perceived as hypoagents relative to men, the more hypersympathy women receive and the more men suffer from hyposympathy.

In a system, where overt hypoagency benefits women by enfranchising them with hypersympathy, women policing the behavior of other women—including resisting overt political enfranchisement of women as the female founded and lead Antisufferage movement demonstrates– to make sure all women play the role of hypoagent is makes complete sense.

Rather than dupes of the patriarchy, these women are protecting the dynamic that produces the hypersympathy that they then exploit to benefit themselves.

Conversely forcing men into the role of hyperagent represents a real and often deadly loss of empathetic potency. It puts men into an inferior position relative to women when negotiating for sympathy from society at large.

And no one in history ever asked men’s permission before forcing their participation in all of this.


[1] “Moral Typecasting: Divergent Perceptions of Moral Agents and Moral Patients”

[2] Credit to GirlWritesWhat for coining the term ‘hyperagency.’

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