Did you know that there existed a time where in some societies paternity had not been discovered and it was thought that women bore fruit like trees when ripe, childbirth was mysterious and women were worshiped and considered superior because of it? Yes the societies were matriarchal in nature and men were just an interchangeable body of workers and worshipers of the female center, the principle of life.
Yes, as a matter of fact, as utopian as it sounds matriarchal societies have and still exist in the world. This progressive, feminist world or anachronistic matriarchies as skewed as the patriarchal society (depending on your perspective) have existed in various parts of the world. This was especially prevalent among indigenous African societies who have been inherently matrilineal in orientation since the beginning of time. This socio-cultural construct changed only with the introduction of Islam, Christianity and colonial conquest which imposed patriarchal rule.
In case you are wondering what Matriarchy is, it is defined by the Merriam Webster dictionary as a family, group, or state governed by a woman, or a system of social organizations in which in descent and inheritance are traced through the female line. Just so we are clear, matriarchy doesn’t necessarily mean a society where women Lord over men according to popular misconceptions purveyed over the years, but rather a system where the aim is not to have power over others or nature but to follow maternal values.
While the legendary Amazons (probably the most widely known matriarchal society) are relegated to mythology and many other African matriarchal societies got phased out; there are several other female-led societies that still thrive in the world today. They include the MUSOU near the border of Tibet in the Yunnan and Sichuan province, the MINANGKABAU of west Sumatra Indonesia, the AKAN in Ghana, KHASI in north east India, and NAGOVISI in New Guinea among others.
Things are definitely different when gender power structures are flipped around. Many societal issues that exist today are probably absent in matriarchal societies. Some people even believe that both men and women are happier when the society holds different values from the norm. We will take a look at some of the most interesting aspects of life in a matriarchal society.
Many matriarchal societies are matrilineal in nature. This means that the line of family descent is through a female ancestor. The heritage is usually passed on from the woman and the children often get the family titles and names from their mother. These societies also follow the matrilineal law of inheritance where Property and land is also handed down through the female line, mostly to the youngest daughter of the house and there is usually no stigma in not knowing who the fathers’ child is.
Love and Marriage
In matriarchal tribes like the MUSOU, when a woman can talk to a man, have sex and go out then she is in love . Such societies consider Love to be more important than partnerships. They want to be in love and that’s the only reason the women want to be with men. When the love is over, then it’s over they don’t even consider staying together even for the children or property.
The marriage unions in matriarchal societies are usually non-binding and various types of romantic relationships are embraced. The children actually consider marriage as a horror story “If you are not good, then we will marry you off”. A good example of non-binding marriages is that of the Khasi tribe in India where the children live with the mothers’ side of the family or clan. The women can easily divorce and move on with little to no hardships and stigma from the rest of the members of the society.
Crime and Violence
It is generally known that men in mainstream societies are more likely to commit crime –and more serious ones at that-than the women. However in gender egalitarian societies like the MUSOU, there is much less crime by both men and women. The crime gap is significantly larger between women and men as women participate less in crime and violence. The people in such societies are less predisposed to the feelings of guilt or vengeance. They consider violence as a shameful act that can threaten their social standing, hence very little chances of altercations even in the most dire of misunderstandings.
The people who live in matriarchal societies have much more sex and face much less stigma than in the patriarchal societies. Their sexual lives are very distinctive and very active –partners are changed frequently and the men and women can take as many partners as they please. Child bearing with different people is also accepted. However the women get to decide who they want to spend the night with. They cherry pick the men from within the tribe and invite them for an evening tryst. Unfortunately this matriarchal utopia has some drawbacks where curious tourists have descended upon tribes like the MUSOU under the mistaken suggestion that the women offer free sex.