Far more people are familiar with the term and concept of patriarchy than they are matriarchy and its due to modern widespread of patriarchy in practice. However, there is archaeological evidence (such as statues of Venus for example) that matriarchies existed for centuries and women were praised for their ability to bear children. It’s a concept that is not strictly concerned with the dynamics of power, although that is a layer of it.
A matriarchal society is not only one that is governed by women, but one where lineage or heritage is traced through women (also known as matrilineal societies).
In some matrilineal societies, upon marriage, the wife’s brother holds jurisdiction over domestic matters. International Women’s Day falls on March 8th every year. To commemorate it’s 2018 celebration, A British online newspaper called The Independent, published an article describing several examples of contemporary matriarchies around the world. That’s right, they don’t just exist in the myths of the Amazonians and Wonder Woman!
Places such as Mosuo, China actually don’t have words that translate to “father” or “husband.” The largest known matriarchal society is in Minangkabau, Indonesia where the population is over four million. There are actually micro-societies within the United States that erupted in the 70s after women’s liberation movements—called Womyn’s Lands. One began in Florida and now calls the mountainous region of Alapine Village in Alabama home. In these places’ women are in charge of businesses and managing property and men are responsible for livestock.
In one population of the Limon province of Costa Rica, called Bribri, women are solely responsible for making a ritualistic drink from the sacred cacao tree plant. This closeness to collective spirituality grants them a high position on the social hierarchy. The closeness to nature is what gives these women their sacred power, but in a society where manual labor is culturally centric, you can see how patriarchies preside!
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