Patriarchy is a term for societies in which male is the favoured gender, and in which men hold power, dominion and privileges. This power is often held at individual, family and community level, such as the dominion of fathers over their unmarried daughters and husbands over their wives, and is reinforced by societal and cultural norms, religious teachings, media portrayals of female inferiority, and in some cases by laws limiting women's rights.
Patriarchal religions tend to be less tolerant of equality amongst all people; tend to have very diminutive roles for women; and frequently place little value on things of the home including raising children, cooking, cleaning, and that dreaded laundry.
The effects of patriarchy are not limited to women. Patriarchy works to limit the legitimate roles that men can play in a society and sets unreasonably high standards on what men are supposed to be. Thus, in a patriarchal society, men who do not conform to certain standards of toughness and/or physical strength or ability may be marginalized.
Feminist authors have argued that throughout history, patriarchies have come with the penis driven violence and destroyed the lovely, peaceful, perfect, innocent matriarchies that once existed throughout the world. While this is bunk, there is little doubt that men perpetuate more than their share of violence on innocent women.
 Christian patriarchy
The Christian patriarchy has defined man as weak and vulnerable and made woman "all-powerful" in their lure to sin. When Eve offered the apple to Adam, so overcome was he by her power of womanhood that he could not resist nor think for himself. Women, to the poor weak Christian male, are either lovely and innocent like the Perfect Model Woman, Mary, or they are vile and hate-filled like Mary Madelene or Eve. A modern patriarchal adherent coined the offensive term "Feminazi" for those women he was unable to control and who dared think on their own.
Many of the people who desire a return to "traditional values", and who like to get involved in the issues of women's bodies are really just pining away for a return to a patriarchal world where they didn't have to clean their rooms or do the dishes.
 Patriarchy and feminism
Recognising and opposing patriarchy is a major theme in feminism, and especially in radical feminism. Feminist analysis points to the many aspects of patriarchy in our society and how these are perpetuated, often subtly and unconsciously, in social norms and popular culture. Since patriarchy is all-pervasive, and - despite the achievements of feminism - continues to be a powerful force in even the most modernised societies, it is often referred to in feminist discourse as "the patriarchy".
Patriarchy denialism is common among men's rights advocates and other critics of feminism whose privilege blindness somehow keeps them from realising that society is still male-dominated, or who misunderstand the concept and think that feminists believe in a deliberate conspiracy of all men against all women.