Vivian C. Fox


Three great bodies of thought have influenced western society’s views and treatment of women: Judeo-Christian religious ideas, Greek philosophy and the Common Law legal code. All three traditions have, by and large, assumed patriarchy as natural – that is male domination stemming from the view of male superiority. As part of the culture perpetuated by these ideologies, violence towards women was seen as a natural expression of male dominance. This paper contains three main themes. The first establishes patriarchy as an early pattern of military societies and the subsequent emergence of the Judeo-Christian, Greek and legal cultural paradigm as ideological justification. The second provides evidence as to how the above attitudes were interwoven in European and American values. The third theme analyzes the new 18th century cultural paradigm of liberalism which rejected male dominance, lessened the manifestation of patriarchy, without removing its cultural memory, thereby, allowing violence towards women to remain.

Author Biography

Vivian C. Fox, Ph.D., Professor of History, Worcester State College, Worcester, MA