Saturday, February 18, 2012
The word Matriarchy conjures up images of a culture where women have total control of men and total control of the society and everything that goes on within it. Which is not true. Matriarchy is not the exact opposite of Patriarchy. In a Patriarchal society, women are repressed and are not allowed simple freedoms that we take for granted today. Men actually do have power over everything and even a woman's word is deemed foolish and unimportant. In a Matriarchal society, women have power, but so do men, there is no repressing of the other therefore making it an egalitarian, or equal, society. There are many authors, archaeologists and anthropologists alike who say that a matriarchal society never existed. I think this is a little closed minded, as there have been hundreds and hundreds of cultures before us that lived for thousands of years. Is it really impossible to think that maybe some of those cultures could have been matriarchal?
Along with the term Matriarchy, we have Matrilineal, where the lineage goes through the woman instead of the man, and Matrilocal, which means that when a man and a woman get married, they live with the bride's family instead of the grooms family. Even though some scholars dont want to believe in Matriarchal societies, it has been proven that there were some in history. For example the Iroquois Indians were said to live in a matriarchal society. Where women and mothers had political influence, could fight in battle, grow crops, among many other liberties. Author Doug George-Kanentiio in his book "Women are the Center of Iroquois Life", writes that "Nature, we believe, has given women the ability to create; therefore it is only natural that women be in positions of power to protect this function."
There has been evidence to suggest that in parts of India, Asia, Celtic societies and indigenous tribes had matriarchal societies. It is very well known that ancient Celtic women had equal power and influence to men. They fought in war, made important decisions and had property ownership. Celtic women were known to be fierce warriors fighting right beside their men in battle, the most famous of these warrior women is Queen Boudicca of the Iceni. The Picts of Scotland were said to be a Matriarchal or Matrilineal society as well. Although not much is known about these great and fierce people, this little fact was said to be recorded by Roman historians.
There are also some animals that operate in matriarchal societies, like lions. It is a proven fact that lions live in a Matriarchal society. The Lionesses do the hunting, general protection of the tribe, taking care of the cubs and many other duties. The male lions have their place though, as they are used to take down big game, and for protection of the tribe from another male lion trying to take over. The Lionesses also outnumber the male Lions by alot. Therefore allowing the male to breed many times to create a larger tribe.
Author Heide Goettner-Abendroth, is known for her extensive research into matriarchal societies. She goes on to say in one of her published papers, "Matriarchies are all egalitarian at least in terms of gender—they have no gender hierarchy, that, for many matriarchal societies, the social order is completely egalitarian at both local and regional levels". This theory that a Matriarchal society is in all actuality, an egalitarian society, has been proven many times over. So it could never be the opposite of Patriarchy.
Some other cultures, which were Goddess based, like ancient Crete were said to live in an egalitarian society as well, where the divine feminine was revered. Men and women each had their duties and they lived in a happy and peaceful society. The Goddess in Crete was personified in the land and her sacred creatures. For example, mountains and caves were seen as some of Her sacred places, and bees, serpents and bulls were seen as some of Her sacred animals.
For more info on Matriarchal cultures check out the book "Societies of Peace" by Heide Goettner-Abendroth.
I hope you enjoyed learning a little something about Matriarchy!
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
Posted by Tara at 6:50 AM