These terms have come to be used in larger American discourse in ways that are almost universally pejorative and negative - as synonymous with masculine oppression and power-over women. Thus, the especially aggressive and brutal exemplars of male culture have become equated with patriarchy - or seen as arising from patriarch itself as a root cause.

For many religious conservative communities, patriarchy is not essentially or inherently wrong or destructive - and can be practiced in ways that honor women as equal partners, albeit seeing men and women as having distinct roles.