Which characteristics define the matriarchy

matriarchy is called women's society and describes a society in which women exercise the essential decision-making power.

Matriarchy (from Latin mater "mother" and Greek arché "beginning, origin", also "rule") is a gynocentric social structure in which, depending on the definition used, either women hold power or which is women-centered, i.e. the social order organized around women. Besides the term matriarchy, the following terms are used for the second meaning: matricocratic or gynecocratic (Johann Jakob Bachofen), matricentric or matricial (Wilhelm Reich, Humberto Maturana), matrifocal or Gylan (Riane Eisler).

The kinship-ethnological terms matrilinear, matrilocal and uxorilokal mainly describe the rules of origin and residence. Conceptually, there is often no distinction between the central position of mothers and the central position of women.

For representatives of the women's movement, in particular of the differential branch, matriarchy in particular means a period of prehistory and early history in which women were creative and influential in culture, but did not rule. In contrast, historians and feminists alike today agree that there were no societies with female rule - in the sense of an upside-down patriarchy.

Matriarchy research began in the 19th century. Some theories of matriarchy combine hypothetical and sometimes even fantastic elements with historical facts. Since the 1970s, Heide Göttner-Abendroth in particular put them on a scientific basis. The term matriarchy is sometimes used judgmental and then also has a political meaning.

Features of a matriarchy

There are different perspectives and approaches to the question of what defines a matriarchy. Heide Göttner-Abendroth has defined the following criteria:

1. Social characteristics: The clans are structured matrilinearly (descent from the maternal line) and are held together by matrilocality and uxorilocality (residence with the maternal line). A Matri clan lives together in the large clan house. Biological fatherhood is secondary to social fatherhood.

2. Political characteristics: The political system is based on consensus democracy on various levels (clan house, village, regional). Delegates act as communication carriers between the various levels. These are so-called segmental societies, which are characterized by the lack of a central authority (regulated anarchy).

3. Economic characteristics: They are mostly gardening or farming societies. Subsistence farming is carried out. Land and house are owned by the clan and are not private property. Women are in control of the essential goods of life. The ideal is distribution and equalization, not accumulation. This balance is achieved through communal celebrations. These are so-called compensation companies.

4. Philosophical characteristics: The belief in being reborn in one's own clan and the cult of ancestors form the basis of religious ideas. The world is considered sacred. The earth as the Great Mother guarantees the rebirth and nourishment of all life. She is the one primordial goddess, the other primordial goddess is the cosmic goddess as the creator of the universe. They are sacred societies.

With this, Göttner-Abendroth has created a very comprehensive catalog of criteria. There is no consensus on the question of whether there is currently matriarchy if all criteria are strictly applied (in the case of conversions to Islam or Christianity, giving up clan houses and thus turning away from matrilocalism, turning away from subsistence farming, etc.). On the other hand, there should be fewer doubts if individual criteria are applied selectively.

Recent matriarchy

Matriarchal peoples

Ethnology still knows peoples (ethnic groups) on all continents - except in Europe - with matrilineal rules of descent, some of which also practice matrilocalism: the Khasi and the Nayar in India, the Iroquois in the USA, the Tuareg in North Africa, the Mosuo in China etc. Due to colonial appropriation, proselytizing or because of interaction processes with neighboring nations, these however rarely show all the traits of their original culture.

The Minangkabau of Sumatra are said to be the largest known matrilineal people, and they have preserved the Adat, their unwritten law, to this day. A total of over three million people still live according to these traditional rules. They are very active in trade, administration, economy, politics and culture and in Indonesia are considered a people of high education, culture, cosmopolitanism and great economic power. The Minangkabau originally had matrilocal rules of residence, but core families are now a common way of life. The structures of the Minangkabau are excellently documented by the American anthropologist Peggy Reeves Sanday, because the researcher lived among them for years. The Minangkabau are Muslims, which seems surprising at first. The strong position of the mother's brother, which is typical of matrilineal societies, enables compatibility with a patriarchal religion.

With 60,000 people, the Goajiro Arawak are a relatively large ethnic group in Colombia and Venezuela. The Goajiro are matrilineal and form about 30 large clans, each with an animal as a distinguishing mark and with its own territory. Each clan is held together by the oldest woman. Her eldest brother is the external representative of the clan and enjoys great authority. The village chief is elected from these male clan representatives, and the choice always falls on the wealthiest. The economic basis of every clan is the cattle, it is common property. The young woman goes to her husband's house when she gets married; her own clan receives cattle as a wedding gift for her.

With 19,000 members, the Yanomami who live in the rainforest are a rather small community.

Matrilinearity and domination

The kinship system says nothing about the political power distribution of a culture. A matrilineal kinship organization does not automatically mean that women have political power. It is a common feature of all societies defined as matriarchy by matriarchy research that representative tasks outside of the clan are performed by men, which has repeatedly led ethnologists to the wrong conclusion that men hold political power and that it could therefore be in the society in question not a matter of matriarchy. For the confusion of the terms matriarchy / women's rule, see women's rule.

When female chiefs or clan heads face male, this results in a general principle of duplication of offices. In matriarchal societies it is customary to distribute the responsibility for offices between two people who often have to look after the same area of ​​responsibility (→ dyarchy). As Henry Lewis Morgan states for the Iroquois, this results in a compulsion to agree and to change leadership roles regularly.

The principle of the division of offices corresponds to the agreement on all social levels, where reciprocal halves face each other. This can be within a clan or a structure of several clans that understand each other as siblings. Such dual institutionalizations are a form of implementation of the principle of reciprocity, which also underlies other institutions. [1]

Organized wars are atypical of matriarchal societies, although they have occasionally seen feuds of blood revenge. However, warfare was of great importance to some of these peoples: the Nayar in southern India were a warrior caste, the Iroquois and Hurons formed war alliances and the Tuareg occasionally took part in feuds and raids. The importance of war increased when matriarchal societies were forced to defend themselves against belligerent patriarchal peoples invading their territory. Warfare was generally defensive, but under special circumstances it could also take on offensive traits, for example among the Iroquois and the Nayar, who also defeated or superimposed matriarchal neighboring peoples. This mainly happened when matriarchal peoples were expelled from their original settlement area despite resistance and conquered a new territory that was already settled. However, this process undermined the matriarchal structures, since the position of warring men and their war chiefs was strengthened and at the same time the power of women was undermined. [2]

See also: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kategorie:Matriarchales_Volk

Source and more >> http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matriarchat 200912

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