Just a quick thought I've been having on the backdrop of our recent discussions of feminism etc.
Before I start, let me note that I will be making some generalizations about people, people whose experience I have barely a glimpse of, and I feel kind of uncomfortable doing so. Hence, a lot of attempts at e-prime. And I'm eager to hear the take of people who are more intimately familiar with what I'm talking about, meaning mainly anyone who's not a cis male. (It's not that my opinion is a-priori invalid, it's that I don't have some crucially relevant perspectives.)
It seems that with patriarchy, as with any other form of oppression (or, any other part of The MachineTM), the dominant group and the memes that justify its dominance have an ally in something probably related to Stockholm Syndrome (you know, the thing where people who are kidnapped start identifying with their captor and feeling positive and dependent about them.)
Sticking to the feminist issue, what I have in mind is this: women, as part of a (relatively) oppressed group, are basically forced to choose, consciously or otherwise, between two lame options. Either they conform with the wishes of their oppressors (not all men, but an abstract The Man), in which case they are giving up on some potential individuality in favor of the comfort of being agreeable to the people in charge; or they refuse to conform, refuse to look and act the way they're expected to, and as a result can maintain individuality, but are both likelier to suffer abuse (from oppressors and conformists alike) and are likely to be stamped off as crazy/weird/bitter/ugly/etc., enabling oppressors and conformists to easily disregard their perspective. "You're just angry because guys don't want you", "don't listen to her, she's just crazy", etc.
This seems to be a pattern so prevalent that it might be useful to think of it as the essence of oppression. Either conform, or be marginalized. The more you conform, the less easy you are to marginalize. But this is where the Stockholmy stuff comes into play. It seems almost obvious, but it's worth pointing out that conformists tend to be the least likely people to realize they are taking part in oppression. I don't know what direction the causality goes in, but everywhere I look, I see conformists who are fine with things as they are and get angry when someone suggests they're part of oppression, and non-conformists who see the oppression and are fucking pissed off for being marginalized by it.
Women who conform to patriarchy, who constantly make huge efforts to be perfect decoration and "playmates" for the men around them, seem to actually want the kind of validation the patriarchy offers them, and look down on women who do not conform as much. And women who are conscious of the patriarchy tend to refuse to conform, at least in some ways, and to look down on women who do conform.
Because patriarchy is still a dominant part of The Machine – which implies that most people carry a bunch of patriarchal memes – and because of the principle that communication can only take place between equals, a majority of society looks down on those individuals who are aware and critical of the patriarchy. Because they look down on them (us), communication is impossible. And so The Machine lives on, and like any attempt to change it, feminism can at most hope to slowly shift the balance away from patriarchy, but never to dismantle The Machine as a whole.