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[T]he kyriarchy is the social system that keeps all intersecting oppressions in place.

—Sian Ferguson[1]

A subset of the axes of privilege intersecting and extending into their equivalent axes of oppression.

Kyriarchy (from Greek meaning rule by lord) is an interlocking set of cultural, economic, and legal rules and systems that work to keep multiple groups oppressed for the benefit of a ruling group or class. Axes of oppression all contribute to creating a sociological landscape of hierarchical levels of privilege.

Patriarchy is the subset of kyriarchy that oppresses women and non binary people to the benefit of men. White supremacy is the subset that oppresses people of color in favor of white people. Dyadism oppresses intersex people. Cisnormativity oppresses trans people. Heteronormativity oppresses queer people and privileges heterosexual people.

Who is oppressed and who benefits varies depending on time and place, but generally speaking, the ruling class is small group, and everyone else is oppressed. However, not everyone is oppressed in the same way.


For every dollar a white man earns today in the United States:

  • A Hispanic or Latina woman earns 53%, while a Hispanic or Latino man earns 59%
  • American Indian or Alaska Native: 60% vs. 69%
  • African American: 64% vs 72%
  • Native Hawiian & other Pacific Islander: 66% vs 74%
  • Asian American: 87% vs 110%
  • White women: (non-Hispanic): 78%[2]

Here we can see the intersection of race and gender. With one exception, all people of color earn significantly less than whites, and women always earn significantly less than men.

In a similar fashion, Gallup polls over the years have shown that Americans have been most willing to vote for white, protestant Christian men, with women, people of color, people of other faiths or no faith lagging behind.[3] Similar facts hold true for cissexism and heterosexism.


Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, a feminist theologist who coined "kyriarchy".[4]

The term "kyriarchy" was coined in 2001 by Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza in her book: Wisdom Ways: Introducing Feminist Biblical Interpretation.[5] It is closely tied to intersectionality and Third Wave Feminism.[6]

See also

External links