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  1. #16
    It could be worse. ~tmso Moderator N. E. White's Avatar
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    Fascinating discussion, folks. Keep it coming.

    But I do want to stress the child-rearing thing. My grandmother grew up in rural Mexico. Very agrarian society. Very male-dominated society. The thing is, my grandfather stole her. Yup. Stole her from her then husband and eight children.

    She went on to have ten more children with my grandfather.

    That poor woman was pregnant pretty much all her adult, child-bearing life. Though she could do much during that time, she was at a physical disadvantage during most of it and when not actually pregnant, she had a multitude of kids to herd around. Yes, some birth control was employed prior to modern methods, but for the most part they were not widely used or they were ineffective.

    As KatG said, child-bearing and rearing take enormous resources - whether it is communal or not - that impacts every second of a woman's life.

  2. #17
    Was: "Virangelus" A. Lynn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fung Koo View Post
    So, if religion permits, one sex goes for it or the other. This puts the religion in place before the people who follow it. I'm going at it from the opposite direction, suggesting the religion follows the people under it, whose values are shaped by the living conditions in which they find themselves.

    But then we get into a religious debate, and I think we ought to avoid that
    Agreed about the debate, indeed. Your breadth of knowledge is incredibly fascinating.

    Also, you specifically mention "if religion permits." I was speaking to society and the REGION, so wanted to make sure you didn't misread it as religion. I agree with you, that religion is written to suit those who implement it, and ie, the dominant force. What's the saying? History is written by the victor?

    In the tribes of the cold north, they could not afford to tell their women that they were inferior. The women of the north had to be just as tough as their husbands if they were going to survive, so that was a societal thing based on their region (Not their religion). That being said, it is also possible that they were so busy with survival, the men didn't have time to apply their aggression or need to dominate over the females.

    As the Middle East, indeed: It can be lush. But many people are still nomadic. Also, for the Native Americans, I understand that there were quite a disparate combination of Hunter Gatherers vs. Farmers. "The Great Plains Indians" (if I remember right) were primarily nomadic. The Native Americans from the Northeastern side of America were farmers and trappers.

  3. #18
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tmso View Post
    Yup. Stole her from her then husband and eight children.
    Crazy!

    That poor woman was pregnant pretty much all her adult, child-bearing life. Though she could do much during that time, she was at a physical disadvantage during most of it and when not actually pregnant, she had a multitude of kids to herd around. Yes, some birth control was employed prior to modern methods, but for the most part they were not widely used or they were ineffective.
    I would point out that this is a very modern example, in a culture that was subsumed by predominantly Catholic patriarchal values, and in a part of the world that has been under considerable economic duress for rather a long time. It's a great example of both external forces from nature, and ideological forces in culture, teaming up to create a situation. And this situation is by no means unique in the world, either now or in the past. I'm wondering -- how did we really get to that? Was it always this way?

    If we're figuring out where opportunities exist to imagine up a legitimate sort of matriarchal society, I think we need to go earlier, before we ended up with the ideology of the patriarchy, back when it was emerging from natural forces on human populations. If we don't go back fa enough, then we tend to get the 1:1 exchange issue, where a matriarchy is represented pretty as just a patriarchy with women instead of men. Presumably a matriarchy would have a different character if it emerged "naturally."

    As KatG said, child-bearing and rearing take enormous resources - whether it is communal or not - that impacts every second of a woman's life.
    ...and the men's. That enormous pile of resources has to come from somewhere. And if the argument is that women are laid up and unable to procure it for themselves, then we have a couple of important questions at the root.

    1) Were women always totally laid up, all day every day, with the kids? If so, then that means they were never much of a part of the food collection process. But we know this isn't true, that in many cultures women were actually a far bigger part of the food collection process than men. So, the child rearing can't really be the whole story. There has to be more to it.

    2) If the women need so much in the way of resources, and it truly is a need, then why aren't women the ones with the power in the society? The male roles would end up being wholly subservient to the needs of the women and family. Yes the men are out in the world, getting the food, fighting, trading, etc. But, is that really patriarchy? Is the power, irrespective of the patrilinear line, truly with the males? Is that patriarchy?

    Quote Originally Posted by KatG View Post
    Hunter/gatherer societies and nomadic societies are not necessarily egalitarian.
    To be clear: I don't mean egalitarian by ideology. I mean egalitarian by function -- as in, all members of the society taking part in equally important ways, with neither sex necessarily holding a significantly greater share of power.

    I'm thinking of ideologies in culture, such as patriarchy, as learned-helpnesses, basically -- normative situations that create a belief that this is the way things should be, phase 1, and then when there's change that disrupts the normative behaviour you get an ideology based on the prior norm, phase 2. Taking it from that direction, what situation would end up creating a female-dominated society where a change would create an ideological matriarchy?

    Again, I think it has more to do with child-rearing than child mortality (although child mortality correlating with gender roles is an interesting science question to collect data on.) Children were dependent on their mothers for survival for at least the first five years of life (no baby formula.)
    It can't just be the boobs -- that seems too easy. The kids get mobile fairly quickly, and in a communal raising situation, the kids sometimes fed off multiple mothers, so the feeding process was sometimes divided, freeing up the woman. Woman-as-dairy-cow doesn't quite work for me in explaining the rise of patriarchal systems. There's ample space between kids and with a shared workload to keep women active in the decision-making process of a society. Patriarchy suggests the disempowerment of women -- the become disempowered, the limitation would need to be far more strict than just the boob factor, wouldn't it?

    Poor food supply means poor milk, means poorer health and higher mortality for babies, means more babies to replace dead babies. Poorer health in mothers means more dead women in child birthing, and making more babies means more dead mothers, meaning more pressure on the living mothers to raise the surviving babies from the dead mothers that are now orphans.

    It all starts at the food. And per the above to tmso, if the boobs were really so limiting, almost all the food is coming from the men. So they can make the babies, go get the food and run society for 9 months, come back make another baby, repeat. That sounds like the basic underlying function of patriarchy, doesn't it?

    There's also the present day lens going on here. Children, at the age of 8, were basically grown up. After they were off the teat, as it were, the men tended to take over a lot of the rearing practices. It's something you see fairly commonly still in Turkey, and many other places (mostly outside of Europe and North America), and it's been going on here for thousands of years. At around the age of 8, children are divvied up into skill and trade-based roles, some more traditionally for females, some for males. The tendency here is for men and women, in their respective roles, to become the guardians of the children. So the boob definitely has a big effect on the first 5 years, but the collection of brats at home under the skirts until their 20s is fairly modern, and fairly specifically western.

    Today, children are delayed from entering the world for far, far longer than they ever used to be. The average age that children stay at home with their parents up to about 31 in Canada -- how sad is that! But that's a function of our currently sideways economy, so again an external pressure changing society, and there will be a value issue to come from it soon.

    Trade fueled education as it got more complicated, and if you controlled trade, you controlled education (and tech) and who had access to it. As societies industrialized, more and more men had access to education. Women had more access to education too over the years because of industrialization -- but it was controlled and blocked by men.
    Yet the teaching profession, particularly of children, going all the way back to early recorded history, is considered a female gender role. The question I have is -- how did the ceiling on female education get defined? Because I don't think it happened on purpose, originally. Education at the higher levels was about specialization, and the norm was the apprenticeship-model in most societies throughout most of history. The abstraction of such specialized learning, the university system, was a relatively minor force in the world up until the rise of industrialization. And even before and during industrialization, it's not as if there were no women at all in universities. But ideological prohibition against higher education for women did come about, especially in the middle of the 19th century. Why? How?

    But to be a matriarchy, as opposed to a more equalitarian culture, there would have to be a philosophical belief, religious or otherwise, that women are better suited for and have better judgement at major leadership roles in politics, war and trade and so dominate in those areas.
    Exactly. So, what conditions allow that to happen? If the notion I'm proposing of the 2 phase process of normative behaviour becoming ideology works as an argument for patriarchy, so too should it for matriarchy.

    The Amazonian myth is basically a system where instead of men running things while they were out hunting about, the women ran things from home and dictated to the men what to do. They really only needed them for baby making, so they kicked the men out. That's a fairly plausible situation, stemming from the questions I asked related to tmso's post, I think, but likely didn't happen much or last very long when it did.

    Other situations where matriarchy could happen would be either when the gestation and immediate growth period of the child is very fast, for SF settings, or in less-SF settings, you'd need high child and mother survivability and low birth rates, I think. The factors could vary from there.

  4. #19
    The only reason more neolithic and nomadic cultures are so egalitarian or rather the primary, is that they have a harder existence that requires everyone, man or woman to carry their weight and contribute and if one person fails it could doom the whole tribe or clan. So whether patrilineal or matrilineal, it requires everyone to be able to fill in wherever necessary quite possibly on a moment's notice. However, certain meritocratic societies could possibly lead to an egalitarian one if everyone is made to stand on their merits alone.

    It is also true that the growth of sedentary society was a primary catalyst for the creation of stricter gender roles in various cultures.

    The one thing that has been bothering me is how male promiscuity might be seen or handled by a matriarchal society.
    Last edited by Riothamus; September 21st, 2012 at 05:12 PM.

  5. #20
    It could be worse. ~tmso Moderator N. E. White's Avatar
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    I am not saying that women are "constantly" laid up while pregnant or once the baby is born, but that it takes up a significant amount of time and resources to deal with children.

  6. #21
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tmso View Post
    I am not saying that women are "constantly" laid up while pregnant or once the baby is born, but that it takes up a significant amount of time and resources to deal with children.
    Most definitely.

    Quote Originally Posted by Riothamus View Post
    The only reason more neolithic and nomadic cultures are so egalitarian or rather the primary, is that they have a harder existence that require everyone, man or woman to carry their weight and contribute and if one person fails it could doom the whole tribe or clan.
    That's a good way to say it. I would add that in times of plenty, though, when the food comes easy, the perilousness of existence is less of a factor. Necessity-based functions become values over time by becoming familiar, "the way things are." Changes to the level of necessity bring about ideology.

    The one thing that has been bothering me is how male promiscuity might be seen or handled by a matriarchal society.
    Does that society practice birth control? Is there a purpose in limiting pregnancies necessitating limits on casual sexual encounters?

    Would lifelong pair-bonding be a value in a matriarchal society? Why or why not? And how does that factor into a sense of what is promiscuous and what's not?

    Are males just studs, for nothing much more than breeding? Does the stock need to be controlled? Does the male have some level of status that makes it important to know who the father is?

    Would promiscuity be a lager issue amongst lower classes or upper classes? Promiscuity by women in patrilinear arrangements, in the ruling class especially, is not good for patriarchy because genetic testing didn't exist to verify lineage from the male side, so breeding control was important to control for the male parent, but the mother was always self evident -- so would the same necessarily be true in a matrilinear arrangement? The mother would always been known.

    Is promiscuity defined heterosexually (reproductive/emotional), homosexually (recreational/emotional), both? I suspect male promiscuity in consorting with females might be more of an issue than promiscuity between males if control of reproduction is the factor, but I'm not sure that reproduction control in matriarchy would necessarily be all that important -- it would depend on other values, like some notion of racial purity, or disease control.

  7. #22
    The birth control issue might vary depending on what's available or how much they know. I postulated with a potent herbal contraceptive it might depend on harvesting patterns or the desire to preserve it. It seasonal, then it's use would likely be ritualized and reserved for certain "emergencies" such as trying to save a marriage. If at modern levels, then it probably would not matter nearly as much though you might some equivalent of "slut shaming" if patriarchal society is any guide.

    I think reproduction would be highly valued especially in pre-modern societies. So male homosexuality might be frowned upon as men depriving women of their female heirs. However you might have women you look at male homosexuals the the same way men look at lesbians in our society. Of course the two sexes do fnatasize about sexual interactions between two people of the opposite sex, but I'm talking about the specific way in which it is treated. The same could be said of sexual rendezvous with other women. of course the society might know that inbreeding can be a problem, so it might be favorable for the father to be known. In a society where family alliance or clan affiliation is important it might be frowned upon in the extreme, especially if there's landed nobility or patrician families or rather, matrician families similar to Roman culture. It might also be true that men are seen as impulsive and doing so would shame the man or his family by showing a lack of control. It is also likely that shaming promiscuous men might serve the purpose of preventing or limiting the spread of venereal disease.

    Among the upper classes, if our history is any guide, then promiscuity would be more common and acceptable among the upper classes for both men and women. Female homosexuality might actually be put up on a pedestal or frowned upon depending what factors you look at.

    Of course, it might also depend on the capacity in which men are employed as you had said.

  8. #23
    Life is fantastic, yes? CMTheAuthor's Avatar
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    Wow, I go away for a day and look what happens. Time to play catch up.

    One point I feel the need to emphasize (that none of you seem to be aware of) is that quantity of food is not the only factor in health. In fact, it's pretty well established the typical diet in an agricultural society was nutritionally poorer than that in a hunter-gatherer society. Food for thought (yes, the pun is completely intentional.)

    Also, what tmso's grandmother went through is actually indicative. In early agricultural societies, a woman typically bore a child every two years or so, based on the measured growth rate of those societies. So, not a lot of flex room for harvesting the crops.

    (All info here courtesy of Guns, Germs, and Steel, since I'm going to try to be semi-professional and cite my sources.)

  9. #24
    Was: "Virangelus" A. Lynn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fung Koo View Post
    Crazy!
    I would point out that this is a very modern example, in a culture that was subsumed by predominantly Catholic patriarchal values, and in a part of the world that has been under considerable economic duress for rather a long time.
    I live on a border town, and I have a lot of dialogue with women who have come from the culture and society thought process of Mexico, versus the thought process of the average United States woman. For example, my first boss originally lived in Mexico and came the U.S. when she was eight. She says she kisses the ground she walks on everyday, because had she still been in Mexico, she is positive that she would have been on some homestead, barefoot, and with five or six children already. Now this is of course her view, and her experiences.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fung Koo View Post
    If we're figuring out where opportunities exist to imagine up a legitimate sort of matriarchal society, I think we need to go earlier, before we ended up with the ideology of the patriarchy, back when it was emerging from natural forces on human populations.
    I am very much agreed, and this thought is backed up by scholars. Per Classical Mythology, Images & Insights (by Stephen L. Harris & Gloria Platzner), Chapter 5, page 145-146:
    The extensive research of modern archaeologists has demonstrated that from the Paleolithic (Old Stone Age, 30,000-70,000 B.C.) period through the Bronze Age (3500-1000 B.C.) in Europe, female images abound (such as the Venus of Willendorf), while few images of warriors or heroes dating from before the Bronze Age have been found. Scholars... who studied ancient shrines excavated at Catal Huyuk in Turkey, on Crete, and elsewhere, argue that, long before male gods were worshiped throughout the cultures of early Europe and the Mediterranean, worship of one or perhaps a variety of Creator Goddesses prevailed.
    This idea of the Creator Goddess is the general lump term that scholars have grouped all such divine goddesses under, simply because they do not know anything else about the figures they are uncovering. Yet despite what has been found, the book goes on to detail the following:

    More recent excavations by Ian Hodder and others at Catal Huyuk, including analysis of bones and teeth of humans buried there (to look for signs of dietary differences that might indicate lifestyles differentiated by gender or social status) found evidence of a more complex siciety than terms like "matriarchy" or "patriarchy" can accurately describe.
    Fung Koo, I think they wrote that bit just for you Though this book does say that women are associated as the avatars of agriculture, and I believe some of your conversations have contraindicated that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fung Koo View Post
    1) Were women always totally laid up, all day every day, with the kids? If so, then that means they were never much of a part of the food collection process. So, the child rearing can't really be the whole story. There has to be more to it.

    It can't just be the boobs -- that seems too easy.
    Well, actually it COULD be that easy. (Occam's Razor, anyone?) The Venus of Willendorf, which is a stone statue considered typical of the Great Goddess motif, has enlarged breasts and is pregnant. This style of statue was found quite often. Even in the Patriarchal Greek and Roman society, the Artemis of Ephesus statue is depicted with multiple breasts. She was a virgin goddess, yet she was still associated with childbearing and nurture.

    The Great Goddess, from the earliest European images, typically depicted female figures with enlarged breasts and abdomen, or sometimes it is even seen in the act of given birth. They were not associated with love or sex, but rather creation as a whole. This worship of her greatness was likely generated from the fact that man did not understand the precise male role in procreation, and thus Great Goddesses, such as Gaea, gives birth to the world via parthenogenesis within herself.

    Thus, Riothamus, you may benfift in considering that women are often associated with primordial cthonic forces such as Heaven, Earth and the Underworld, or as virginal maiden- nurturing mother-and wise old crone.

    You may also benefit from looking up female rituals, the few that we have on record anyhow.
    • Female rites of passage are collective rather than individual experiences.
    • While men's rituals deal with overcoming beasts in battle, women's rituals deal with BECOMING said beast, such as the Brauronia, the Rite of Passage of Artemis.
    • Races are very common in women's rituals, such as the Navajo girls rite of passage, the "Kinaalda of Changing Woman."
    • In these rituals, women are still considered forces of creation. The above mentioned ritual was a reenactment of creation.
    • Women are considered to be more connected to the natural world. Men however, seek to dominate it.


    This is a fun conversation Keep it up!

  10. #25
    We Read for Light Window Bar's Avatar
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    Cerebral differences

    First of all, my hat comes off to all of you who have written 5,000 word treatises in the above posts. It's probably a blessing that I rarely have that much to say on anything.

    The recent neurological studies done on brain differences between men and women would be natural place to start when envisioning a matriarachy. PET-scan technology shows substantial female proclivities toward multitasking and empathy; while (as Virangelus pointed out) men lean toward hierarchical competition in almost everything. Also, females tend toward stronger verbal ability, men toward stronger spatial abilities. (Yup, we're the space cases).

  11. #26
    I am more than skeptical of the matriarchal prehistory period and sky father usurpation theories given that early societies tended toward egalitarianism and humans would have known that men had something to do with the creation of children though may not have known exactly what that role was. In the early phases there probably was no king or queen, just spirits and more powerful spirits or deities that diminished or increased in their importance based on the needs of the tribal groups. Also they tend to find horned altars and horns at many of those neolithic sites which are symbols of male divinity and fertility such as Catal Hoyuk which suggests to me that many of the symbols of male divinity were made out of horn and thus disintegrated over time. It also stands to reason that their would have also been religions where male divinities were revered. It's also possible that some cultures never made idols. We also fail to take into consideration differing customs in different cultures. It may be that some did not make shrines or figurines since they might delay other more important tasks and the sky and earth which they viewed as the domains their deities were omnipresent or that their deities were everywhere to them so they did not bother to make any of either. However in some places we do find images of horned male figures who may have been Gods. Furthermore, fertility cults would inevitably deal with sex. Sky deities are almost exclusively men as well, so it is unlikely that the sky was originally associated with the mother. Considering how humans fixate on fixed roles, it is likely it was so since prehistoric times even before the rise of patriarchal society. Though I am a staunch feminist, I think this idea is more rooted in recent thinking related to the second wave.I do think women's spirituality needs to advanced in the modern era, but historical revisionism is something I do not condone no matter who is promoting it or what vision they have. In fact, more than a few archaeologists reject the notion of a matriarchal stone age. As I have stated previously, hierarchies of gender based nature seem to be explicitly linked to sedentary agricultural cultures. So to call any societies prior to the beginnings of agriculture patriarchies or matriarchies is a stretch in my opinion. Why? Because this is the beginning of greater stratification in social structures and the beginning of inheritance and inherited positions and titles. The beginning of the social stratification models that would dominate human societies for centuries to come.

    However, I do not reject that the idea or possibility of a culture with a Goddess as the chief deity. The Japanese pantheon is anomalous in that the sun deity is female since solar deities are more often male. However, it's also anomalous that the Japanese pantheon is headed by a female deity given it's historically patriarchal structure. This also means that it is possible to have a matriarchal society with male God as head. Religions form around the best perceived morality in a given situation, so this is dependent on a number of other factors and what a culture considers important. Also, though I have heard of prominent male deities in the mythologies of southeast Asian peoples, mother goddesses are extremely important even in the modern era and are the source of many popular sects. So the importance and power of the mother is not be ignored or scorned.

    This being said Virangelus. I thank you for your last few notes. Though I think men very clearly ARE linked to the natural world in ancient mythologies, but this link is downplayed in many ways for whatever reason there may be. Anyway, your last few notes, though brief are extremely helpful.

    I also wonder about so called "third-sex" roles. How would "effeminate" males be treated? What about "masculine" females? What about those we might call in our modern society "transgender" in some way?
    Last edited by Riothamus; September 22nd, 2012 at 12:57 AM.

  12. #27
    Fulgurous Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Okay, this is going to be interesting to catch up on.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fung
    and the men's. That enormous pile of resources has to come from somewhere.
    Well, no. That was the point. The men weren't involved in raising children in many of the early cultures and in the later, bigger societies. The men were away. The men stayed together in groups, the men went off hunting, fishing, raiding, trading. As cultures advanced and slavery became widespread (including things like serfdom later on,) lower class men might have no contact with their children or be moved away from their children. The men were mobile, the women were less mobile because they had to do the childrearing. The men were involved in getting some food for the tribe, but the men were frequently not involved in childrearing. And since the men were often away -- not involved in food for the tribe on a day to day basis -- they were even less involved with childrearing.

    So the women handled the local, communal areas and women often had quite a lot of power in those areas, with matrifocal communities being common with little regular male presence. But the large groups of men in the tribe went out and increased territory, increased the number of women available to them and controlled access to other communities. The women were also more easily coerced and controlled, because control their children and you controlled them. Whereas the men were often having more children with more women in multiple territories. Losses of children were high, so societies did not necessarily value their children, often selling them into slavery with other tribes. Men most of the time controlled that trade. In a sense, men were able to move on beyond simple survival issues because women handled basic survival needs for the community, as well as the increasing use of slave labor. Women became valued less, not more. They were not isolated to go make babies because food was scarce and infants died. When food is scarce, women are less able to get pregnant and bring a child to term and survive childbirth. (And when food was plentiful, children still died easily from accident and illness.) They were isolated because they were not mobile, because their job became caretaking and making sure children survived. The more isolated that agricultural community was from other communities -- with the men going in and out and having a wife in each village -- the less women had influence and power in larger country units.

    Then you get to cities -- in cities, women had more freedom and opportunities, and more mobility, at least within a city. But they also had less communal resources and support, and their local power in a neighborhood was less than their power had been running a village. Women were also still blocked from education and trade opportunities that became increasingly important in cities. And women were still less mobile than men. For example, William Shakespeare went traipsing off with an acting troupe and then to London, while his wife was back in Avon with the kiddies whom he hardly ever saw. This was a common situation in most societies until fairly late in human history. It wasn't until about the 1950's that this pattern really started to change in large numbers and then only in parts of the world like Europe and North America.

    So the argument is not that women were so busy birthing babies they had no time for anything else. The argument is that lack of mobility and the requirement of caring for infants as well as finding food, etc., limited their opportunities, whereas men were able to expand and from that, take wider control, especially as societies became larger and more complicated. And from that, women became valued less, were ideologically viewed as property, particularly as land deals developed, and were seen as disposable. Women were still often running the local community alone and working in the fields, but were expected to do as men commanded or they were slaughtered or enslaved by bands of men (or even if they did do as told.) Agrarian societies could be very equal -- but expanding beyond small agrarian societies into wide ranging trade, even though women were often involved in trade, put women at a disadvantage. For instance, Vikings (bands of mostly men but probably sometimes some women,) could come into Saxon villages, seize the women and children, keep some of them for their village holdfast and sell the rest as slaves. That's harder to do when you're nursing a baby. (Though not impossible, and certainly working in the fields is very possible while nursing.) Many tribal societies have cultures of raiding each other and these raids tend to be done by mostly groups of men. From this comes an ideology of ritual coming of age -- to prove himself a man, a boy has to kill another man or a beast, bring back goods and women to the tribe in a raid, etc. It becomes a patriarchy because that becomes the way men have status in the society -- they must show their ability to control.

    So if you have a matriarchal society, the legal standing of men in the society would be similarly greatly limited. Men might be allowed to be mobile, or they might be restricted. And the care of children is a major issue in the society. Whether the society has slavery or not is another major issue.

    Very early tribal religions, while they varied on the details of the myth, were remarkably similar from what we've found. They consisted of an earth nature goddess fertility mother creator and her son, the sky god, who was also her consort and essentially fathered himself (and sometimes other gods and creatures.) The earth goddess would bear the sky god in winter or in spring. He would be her lover in the summer. He would die or be sacrificed in the fall with the harvest and be resurrected in the spring. (Variants were that he would be sacrificed/killed in the winter/spring and resurrected in the spring.) Variants of this idea developed into many types of myths (and regional issues may have effected that.) The sky god became more prominent, sometimes was also god of the wood, as well as the sun, lightening and the hunt, and sometimes replaced the earth goddess or ruled over everything. The resurrection/season was sometimes transferred to the earth goddess or related, such as Persephone or Sleeping Beauty. The idea that gods resided above us became more popular.

    An earth goddess is not necessarily indicative of a matriarchy, though it can be. The key determinant to an "archy" is the legal status of the genders in the society and those being unequal. In a patriarchy, for instance, a woman may be able to be the queen -- the leader, and have power and influence in certain areas, but the rest of the apparatus is run by men and women in general have a lower legal status. Likewise, a matriarchy may allow men in prominent roles and to own land, control trade operations, etc., but the men's legal status is lesser, the women control most of the apparatus and the men are blocked from opportunities due to their gender. That doesn't necessarily require controlling their sexuality, although it could involve that.
    Last edited by KatG; September 22nd, 2012 at 12:15 AM.

  13. #28
    It could be worse. ~tmso Moderator N. E. White's Avatar
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    The argument is that lack of mobility and the requirement of caring for infants as well as finding food, etc., limited their opportunities...
    If it wasn't for KatG, what would I do?

    Exactly what she said. Limit the opportunities of your males in your made up world and that will lead to a female-dominated society. Now, how you limit them is entirely up to your imagination. Maybe the norm is that all males are transgendered (females born into male bodies)?

    What is the story you are planning on writing? Were you planning on creating the society first and then coming up with a story or...what?

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    It could be worse. ~tmso Moderator N. E. White's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Riothamus View Post
    I also wonder about so called "third-sex" roles. How would "effeminate" males be treated? What about "masculine" females? What about those we might call in our modern society "transgender" in some way?
    Ah, here's where I got the idea of an entire half of a species born transgendered.

    How would they be treated? That's a good question. I know that for me, as a woman, I do not find the idea offensive in the least, and I suspect that most women feel the same (but I could be completely wrong). As such, I would imagine that in your made up society, transgendered folks would enjoy more acceptance.

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    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Riothamus View Post
    If at modern levels, then it probably would not matter nearly as much though you might some equivalent of "slut shaming" if patriarchal society is any guide.
    Males don't really get slut shamed in our modern patriarchal/post-patriarchal societies, though. As a question of lineage and inheritance, the reason women get slut shamed is because of the uncertainty of who the father is, which is the relationship between the child and parent that matters. The woman in the equation is more or less irrelevant -- even the children kings whelped on whores were potential heirs to the throne. The status of the woman involved in the production of offspring on the patrilinear line was of absolutely zero consequence. So, if patriarchal society is any guide, for matriarchal society I can't see a likely reason why it would matter who the father is. And the mother is self-evident. So I'm not sure promiscuity would be likely to be any kind of important factor at all.

    That's not to say a situation couldn't be thunked up where it did have some importance in a matriarchal society -- only that inverting the situation and using patriarchy as the guide here is probably not the way to go.

    So male homosexuality might be frowned upon as men depriving women of their female heirs.
    I'm not sure about this either. Once fertilization happens, all male sexual activity with that woman is completely irrelevant, biologically speaking, except for recreational uses (or possibly medicinal, in that sexual activity in certain periods of pregnancy can alleviate symptoms and at the end encourage the onset of labour). So for 9 months of the year, horny males have no real purpose to the woman. What would she care if he gets his rocks off with other fellas? Nothing about it disrupts the status quo.

    Again, could be thunked up to matter, but at the most basic level the taboo on homosexuality in modern society stems from patriarchy -- it's largely men that find it abhorrent (who are also the ones obsessed with blood lines and baby making), and it's in the most patriarchal value systems where the strongest taboos lay against homosexual behaviour (and not surprisingly also where it emerges the most violently). I'm not sure it would have the same relevance in matriarchal arrangements.

    It is also likely that shaming promiscuous men might serve the purpose of preventing or limiting the spread of venereal disease.
    Definitely plausible -- the rules about pre-marital sex and lifelong pair bonding in human civilization are recorded in early Egyptian dynasties as laws introduced specifically to control the spread of STDs. The suggestion is that before they became laws, some 5000 years ago, the situation was a little more free-wheeling.


    Quote Originally Posted by CMTheAuthor View Post
    One point I feel the need to emphasize (that none of you seem to be aware of) is that quantity of food is not the only factor in health. In fact, it's pretty well established the typical diet in an agricultural society was nutritionally poorer than that in a hunter-gatherer society. Food for thought (yes, the pun is completely intentional.)
    I didn't explicitly state that, but that's part of what I intended to communicate -- the drop in health caused by the change to agriculture, and the increased hardships in life that resulted from it, would have been a major force in delimiting and defining the gender roles and corresponding ideologies attached to them.


    Quote Originally Posted by Window Bar View Post
    The recent neurological studies done on brain differences between men and women would be natural place to start when envisioning a matriarachy. PET-scan technology shows substantial female proclivities toward multitasking and empathy; while (as Virangelus pointed out) men lean toward hierarchical competition in almost everything. Also, females tend toward stronger verbal ability, men toward stronger spatial abilities. (Yup, we're the space cases).
    The trouble with brain scans to support evolutionary arguments is that the neocortex, the intersection of all important brain activity, begins in life being almost completely unformed. It takes shapes very rapidly and forms several bazillon connections (to use the scientific term ) in the first two decades of life -- including all the neural connections related to socialization, i.e. culture, i.e. values, i.e. ideologies. "Proclivities" are equally, if not more so, measures of the process of nurture as they are of nature.

    The women of a matriarchal society might have entirely different observed "proclivities," all predominantly written into the brain through interaction with that society. If that society did not encourage the same things as ours does, where women are actually encouraged to be better at those things pretty much from the days they're born, we'd probably see different brain results that supported that society.

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