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  1. #76
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KatG View Post
    Well that's a nice thought, but the meaning of the word really isn't rule by mothers. The word matriarchy came from the word matriarch, which developed in the 1600's to mean a venerated older woman in a society or the female head of a family line. The latter technically are mothers, but the former just have to be female and respected in the community. In the 1800's, the word matriarchy developed, primarily in relation to the word patriarchy. It was used in the burgeoning new science of anthropology to refer to tribal social systems where the line of descent was traced through the mother, not the father.
    Err... Maternal and Paternal are the root words. Both imply parenthood. And optional childlessness, as a feature of society that involves a choice, is basically brand spanking new. From 1960 to 1972, the availability of contraceptive birth control changed the entire way we could imagine society -- the sexual revolution was about more than doin' it.

    "Matriarchy" meaning "female and respected in the community" is a modern redefinition. Every person, male or female, if childless was simply a potential parent waiting to happen. Even the division of sex relative to gender is brand new, and maternity (the root word even of mom) is a decidedly female gender role defined by sex.

    We have to be careful with anachronistic definitions. Matriarch/matriarchy and patriarch/patriarchy, when first established as a functional descriptive sociological terms, and how they are still normally used today, included reproduction and their corresponding familial roles.

    I agree that the way we are able to use the term today opens up possibilities, and certainly in fiction if not reality, but by and large we mean Rule by Mothers or Rule by Fathers. Rule by People Without Children Irrespective of Sex or Gender -- aka Rule by Singles -- is a fairly fascinating idea. The so-called "Singles Rights" movement that is starting to emerge in Western societies is absolutely fracked up, IMO, and says a lot about how screwy our values have become.

  2. #77
    Fulgurous Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Well again, let's not get into a who's values are better discussion, please, to the extent that we can manage it. The key word in there is "rule," and what the OP was looking at was constructing societies where there is an elite that holds power based on inherent status, in this particular case, being identified female, motherhood and marriage contracts not necessarily required. And that the society is then built on that notion of inherent status based on those identified as female.

  3. #78
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    I didn't say the values were better -- I just said that they've changed.

    ...which may be additive to the question of how to "do" matriarchy -- pre-birth-control and post-birth-control matriarchies would be decidedly different things. Matriarchy itself might even exist as a method of creating birth control in a society without it. Who knows?

  4. #79
    Fulgurous Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fung Koo View Post
    ...which may be additive to the question of how to "do" matriarchy -- pre-birth-control and post-birth-control matriarchies would be decidedly different things. Matriarchy itself might even exist as a method of creating birth control in a society without it. Who knows?
    Good point. As we earlier discussed, pregnancy issues become a factor.

    Quote Originally Posted by ZoOtie
    At issue is if a fictional matriarchy could be constructed that used tropes that are often attributed to mothers, at least the good ones.
    Cultural values based on the principles of saintly motherhood have been done in SFF. Then there are egalitarian societies with varying levels, depending on the power structure. The evidence that a matriarchy run by women would be less violent than those run by men is fairly sketchy outside of fictional utopias. The OP might be interested in the chemical control aspect. That's workable either as science fiction or as a form of fantastical element.

  5. #80
    lorcutus.tolere Gumboot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fung Koo View Post
    Err... Maternal and Paternal are the root words. Both imply parenthood.

    This is wrong. The root word of "paternal" is "pater" while the root word of "patriarch" is "patria". They have totally different meanings. Specifically, "pater" means father while "patria" means family, clan or home.

  6. #81
    lorcutus.tolere Gumboot's Avatar
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    I think the biggest problem with the hunt for a true Matriarchal society is that it's defined as being the antonym of "Patriarchal", however the very idea of a patriarchal society is itself fundamentally flawed, and routinely miss applied.

    While there are numerous examples of female-dominated societies, none of them achieve true matriarchal status, where females rule men. The problem is, by this same reasoning history has very few examples of true patriarchal societies either. In most societies, even male dominated ones, females had important, valued roles. From primitive times; our ancestors have particularly valued women in relation to fertility; as illustrated by the consistent importance given to fertility Goddesses whose depictions exaggerated female characteristics including the genitalia, breasts, and pregnant forms.

    Finding a true matriarchal society, where women have total control over all aspects of society and completely dominate men, may be as impossible as finding a truely patriarchal society by the same terms. What tends to happen in practise is varying degrees of egalitarianism, often with different social roles divided by gender, and outside perception of who is in control dictated by which particular gender roles we consider most important.

    One thing I've found really surprising about this thread is that no one has mentioned the Trobriand Islanders. While they, like all other candidates for matriarchal society, don't fit the description of full female control, their society does feature some rather striking and unique characteristics that might play into a hypothetical matriarchal society. The first, most obvious, and fascinating of these is that they do not believe in biological husbandry. That is; they do not believe that offspring are produced from sex, nor that males contribute in any way to the creation of offspring. In their beliefs, the spirits of the dead return to an island where they live a second spiritual life in a sort of village of the dead. When the spirit life ends the old spirit (called a baloma) wades into the sea and sheds its skin, reverting back to an embryo. The embryo floats in the sea, and will impregnate a woman while she's bathing (there's a few varieties on the actual impregnation process from village to village; in some a female baloma inserts the embryo, in others the embryo clings to sea scum and can impregnate any woman swimming in the sea, in other versions the initial signs of pregnancy are merely a sign of the body "preparing" for the embryo, at which point a bathing ceremony is carried out which allows the embryo to enter her body.

    Because descent occurs only through females, power and control is passed through the female line, but despite this men still wield a lot of the family's power, exercising it on behalf of the women. Likewise, only men are allowed to go fishing, but it is the female spirits that have power over fishing trips, and it is seen that the men go out to get fish for the female spirit. So what we might view as a male-dominated activity (only men are allowed to fish) they view as a female-dominated activity (the women send out the men to get fish for them).

    The next thing that's really interesting is that the Trobriand Islanders have no qualms about premarital sex. In fact, they start playing erotic games with each other from childhood, and both boys and girls are incredibly promiscuous, having sex with anyone they want, any time they want. It's thought that the yam that makes up a big part of their diet has natural contraceptive properties (the contraceptive Pill was originally developed from yam), which explains why they have such low birth rates despite very high sexual activity, and probably helps to explain their lack of connection between sex and pregnancy.

    What's really interesting is they think this applies equally to the animal world. They don't think male pigs are involved in their female pigs becoming pregnant, and in fact all male domestic pigs are castrated.

    Anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski noted that the female domestic pigs were in fact breeding with wild pig populations, which explains how they actually became pregnant.

  7. #82
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gumboot View Post
    This is wrong. The root word of "paternal" is "pater" while the root word of "patriarch" is "patria". They have totally different meanings. Specifically, "pater" means father while "patria" means family, clan or home.
    Patria:

    Etymology
    From patrius (“of or pertaining to a father”), from pater (“father”)



    So.... not sure what that's about.

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