I shall suggest, instead, that most often men and women have been partners, supporting each other rather than exploiting or manipulating each other.
I'm not sure, but I think it's in her introduction to The Second Sex
that Simone de Beauvoir argues that the reason the feminist movement has been so different from other movements concerned with social change and equality (e.g. the Civil Rights movement or working class movements), is because women and men need to interact out of biological necessity. The bourgeois need not see the proletariat with much frequency if they don't want to, and the same goes for a member of a racial/ethnic majority when it comes to members of a racial/ethnic minority. Working towards the common goal of biological reproduction does not mean that women have not still been exploited or manipulated in other areas. In fact, marriage and children have often been used as a means of entrapping women (think A Doll's House
). I can flesh out this last premise more if necessary.
But rather than seeing culture as patriarchy, which is to say a conspiracy by men to exploit women, I think it’s more accurate to understand culture (e.g., a country, a religion) as an abstract system that competes against rival systems — and that uses both men and women, often in different ways, to advance its cause.
Why are understanding culture as a patriarchy and as an abstract system mutually exclusive? Surely the structure of patriarchy can exist within the confines of the larger structure of society. Also, that's a very unique definition of "patriarchy", and I fear that the word "conspiracy" is working to downplay the very real, well-documented ways in which women have been exploited within patriarchal systems throughout history.
I'm not intentionally trying to be combative with the author, but I see some things in his reasoning that concern me. I made it up to "Trading Off" right now, and I'm tired. I'll get back to this later.