Wednesday, January 11, 2012


I was reading an article on the Mosuo people of China that was linked on FB by Muslim Feminists, or is it referred to as Metis' Muslim Feminists group? Either way. So while, upon further reading, the Mosuo are not strictly a matriarchy it did get me thinking.

What would a matriarchy be like, really? There wouldn't suddenly be a lack of murder or theft or rape, I think, because people will do bad things in any society. I don't think that it would solve all the world problems, as I once did.

Would a matriarchy just be exchanging one kind of inequality for another? Not that women would do things the exact same way as men have done them only with women at the top of the food chain, which is the common sci-fi/fantasy trope when the author wants to have a Shocking!alien society. But if you're ruling based on, well, anything really, but we're doing gender here specifically, then there's always going to be a sex that is subjugated to one degree or another.

This was originally going to be a post with a question of what you guys thought a matriarchal society would be like but as I've typed and thought about it in my own clumsy way I've realized that I don't think it matters. Either way you go on this someone is going to be on the bottom of the pyramid.

So the goal shouldn't be to make a patriarchal society into or more like a matriarchy but to make a society where gender doesn't matter. Where everyone is equal.

Though I think that this is one of those things that is a good goal to work toward but I don't think will ever actually happen. It goes so hard against our nature to categorize and rank things.


  1. Yeah, I think for that to happen we'd almost have to fiddle with everyone's hormones from birth and all but erase sex and gender altogether. Which I'd be fine with, but I think most people wouldn't be, at least in the near future.

    I think in a matriarchy, there would still be inequality, but it would likely be a very different and less damaging type of inequality, in my opinion. With the roles reversed like that, there isn't the same threat of violence as there is in patriarchy. Although, of course, that could just be because I have grown up in a society where most women generally aren't taught to be physically strong and so we are less able to protect ourselves. It's entirely possible that in a matriarchy women would be as strong as men (or even stronger), I just don't see it as being very likely.

    Also, this quote:

    "Men live better where women are in charge: you are responsible for almost nothing, you work much less and you spend the whole day with your friends. You're with a different woman every night. And on top of that, you can always live at your mother's house. The woman serves the man and it happens in a society where she leads the way and has control of the money. In a patriarchy, we men work more -- and every now and then we do the dishes. In the Mosuo's pure form of matriarchy, you aren't allowed to do that. Where a woman's dominant position is secure, those kinds of archaic gender roles don't have any meaning."

    LOL! Wow. See, not the sort of situation we have for women in patriarchy. I love how this basically winds up being men as breeding stock and women running the whole show. Business, family, whatever. Boys, get out of our way and go play sports or something. It's definitely still an inequality, but I gotta say I'm kinda liking it. At least in theory.

    1. Replying directly to your comment in 3...2...1...

      I'm personally still squiggy about people messing with genetics. Too easy to go the wrong way entirely and start recreating the eugenics of the not so distant past. It's an attitude adjustment, changing the way people think, that has to happen in my opinion and I don't think that that's going to happen any time soon, if at all. But I think if we're working toward that goal then we can make improvements and that's really all I'm hoping for.

      I'm not sure that the inequality would be less damaging. Damaging in different ways, certainly, but less damaging? I don't see it and I'm not just thinking of the physical. You can do a lot of harm to another person without ever lifting a finger.

      I'm actually not down with the setup from the article! :) Parts of it I like, others seem to just put the men in the role of the women in our society and I don't think that's any better.

    2. Yeah, I get that. :) I didn't even necessarily mean intentional meddling - I don't think all areas of the world have the same types of physical differences between sexes, and I remember reading at one point that the foods we eat and the chemicals in our water and lots of other factors like that mess with our hormones anyway, so it is possible that one day the world will be that way by accident.

      But anyway. Even though I think full equality is likely impossible without some change like that, even recognizing that we don't have equality is a big first step. The worst thing is when people ignore the problem or even push it aside because they don't discriminate so it's not "their problem." It's everybody's problem, and as long as those attitudes exist everyone needs to be aware of them and make a conscious and active decision to stop oppression. It's not enough not to oppress people ourselves. So yes, changing the attitudes is a big step in the right direction.

      That's true, I guess. I don't know. I think, again, it depends on the attitudes of people involved, which is going to be different depending on a lot of factors. I was thinking more in terms of non-oppressive inequality. I'm not equal to my boss, but that doesn't mean I'm treated badly, you know? When the physically stronger group is also in political, familial, monetary, and every other place of power, it's too easy for them to turn a blind eye when the weaker group is oppressed. It doesn't have to happen that way, but it seems it often does. I guess I saw matriarchy as not so much women in control of men, but women having control over themselves, because without that kind of structure it winds up being women having no power to protect themselves. But that might also just be my personal hangups and sexism.

      See, I don't see men being put in the role of women here, because they don't have the same expectations put on them. It didn't seem like they were oppressed, just ignored. If anything, it almost seems to place them in a weird extended adolescence. Like Susanne noted, no personal responsibility. They never have to grow up and contribute anything. Which has its own problems, of course, and it's not actually a good system. It also feels a little like a big joke the guys have set up: "Oh yeah, you ladies are totally in charge! You handle the house and the money and everything, and I'll just be over here taking a nap." He even mentions that the women serve the men. I'm not sure it would actually be a very happy or empowered existence for women. But I think what I liked about it was the sort of separation that seems to be there. It's not a typical husband-and-wife setup where one person rules the other and their family, but where all the adults do their own thing and have their own roles. As inequality goes, having everyone stay on their own side and mind their own business doesn't seem like a terrible way to go about it.

    3. What other kind of meddling is there but intentional? Or are you thinking like a radiation accident? And then we have mutated Hulk babies all over the place! ;) I don't know that we'd ever hit androgyny but it's an interesting possibility.

      And it might be that I'm thinking of matriarchy as the flip side of patriarchy so the hang-up could be mine. I'm just imagining it as a society where women not only have control of themselves but also of the men. The reverse of what we have now. Where the women make all the decisions, control the money, politics, etc. Yes, the men would still be physically stronger but that's not the be all end all of power, you know? I think having any group in charge simply because they happen to be that group (male, female, white, etc) is a terrible way to do things and it becomes a breeding ground for abuse no matter who is in charge. Or at least that's the way I think of it.

      Ah, and I was seeing it as a kind of feminine role. That of the decorative sort of play thing almost. Men exist only to make babies and to do 'man things' with no say in how the society is run because they're not suited for it, etc. The extended adolescence thing is something that could also be used to describe the way women were treated for a very long time.

      All that being said, the Mosuo aren't really a matriarchy, exactly, according to the information of the second page I linked to which is a lot more informative and less opinion based than the first article. So it's hard to judge what a matriarchy might really look like based on them, or any other society in existence.

  2. I read part of that article and saw the bit Sanil posted and was like "eh, who needs that?" I really didn't like the attitude of the guy. Personal responsibility is a GOOD thing!

    I like your idea of equality between the sexes as a goal.

    1. You should go to the second link. It goes to a site that is a lot more factually based and informative than the original article.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...