How Patriarchy Killed My Great-Grandmother

By defining power as only belonging to white males, Western patriarchy created a doomed system.

My Great-Grandmother, Mary Haines, died at home in 1885 from what was then called childbed fever. She was 29, and she had just birthed her fourth child.

In its epidemic form, as in hospital settings, childbed fever had a 70 to 80% death rate. It was a gruesome death. Some women went crazy; most did not. All experienced severe abdominal pain. As it turns out, Mary’s death was completely preventable. It was caused by the dominating assumptions of patriarchy.

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