Re: What Matriarchy? (was Drugs etc.)
Mon, 22 Jul 1996 11:19:10 -0700

Lowell Morrison wrote:

>>I did check the dictionary. I've also tried to understand how the term
>>came to be used for matrilineal. I think it comes from some mistaken
>>concept that in a matrilineal group, the woman would rule the household.

> The question is what dictionary did you check, My OED or the Dictionary
> of Anthropological Terms does not list matrilineal as a possible
> definition...

> Using the Wrong References can be quite a source of confusion...

I€ve been reading on some of the modern feminist and anthropological
works on matriarchy and they seem to be based on the earlier theories
proposed by Lewis Morgan and some of his contemporaries.

While these books spend an inordinate amount of time focusing on
mythologies regarding matriarchates, they provide only two identifying
factors for their proposed historic matriarchies.

1) Societies where women are the major contributors to subsistence.
2) Societies where matrilineal decent is used.

As I pointed out earlier, the major adaptive value of matrilineal decent
is in societies where female solidarity is more important than male
solidarity. In a society where women are the major contributors to
subsistence, female solidarity will usually be based on subsistence.
Thus, both identifying factors are intimately related. The matriarchy
which is being established in these books then is that of matriarchy
(matrilineal) rather than matriarchy (matriarchate).

These books are, as far as I can tell, the most recent works regarding
human matriarchies.

€The Mothers€, R.Briffault (1959)
€Mothers and Amazons: The First Feminine History of Culture€,
B.Eckstein-Diener (1965)

> Sorry, but you clearly do have the word misidentified, thus your whole
> analysis is flawed. Matralineal Societies have nothign persay to
> do with Matriarchal Societies.... Most of them infact are
> Patriarchal.

I don't think so. I can just as easily provide reference to 19th century
works which also argue matriarchy (matrilineal) vs matriarchy

You of course are arguing matriarchy (matriarchate) and patriarchy
(patriarchate). And, I have stated several times that I agree,
matriarchy (matrilineal) is not the same as matriarchy (matriarchate).
In fact, this was one of the points of my initial argument.

>>An Introduction to Cultural and Social Anthropology (in reference to
>>matrilineal decent): "The residence rule and the rule of decent both
>>reflect the greater adaptive importance of residence and inheritance
>>through the group whose solidarity is most continuously important."

> Yes, but this still does not tie to your major theses about
> Matriarchal, indeed, it is just exactly what I said. They are
> using Matrileaneal Rules to defind residency and Inheritance, not
> Politial Power within the Household which is what Matriarchal
> Implies.... Once again you have misread your own reference.

It does tie into the aspect of my post which dealt with matriarchy
(matrilineal). Again, I identified two definitions for matriarchy
(matrilineal and matriarchate). This particular comment was in regards
to matriarchy (matrilineal).

>>Solidarity is relevant to matrilineal, and matrilineal is one concept
>>for which matriarchy has been used.

> So far you have not shown this, and your quote says quite the opposite

See above reference, and ask if you want more. Even the dictionary usage
is a usage whether or not you deem it proper.

I fail to see how my quote says the opposite, as it makes no reference
at all to other works. Or are you suggesting that the quote I provided
is saying that solidarity is not relevant to matrilineal decent?

For conveniency, here's the quote again:

"The residence rule and the rule of decent both reflect the greater
adaptive importance of residence and inheritance through the group whose
solidarity is most continuously important."

>>This is where I indroduce the second usage of the word.

> Which is an incorrect usage... So that is irrelivant....

I suggest you take a breath and calm down here. The second usage was
matriarchy (matriarchate). This is the usage you are arguing for.

>>My argument? I think you misunderstand my argument. I present in another
>>post the four areas I was trying to cover. You state that I seem to want
>>to equate lineage with ruling. Where did I do this?

> You state that Matriarchal means Matralineal, Incorrect, Matriarch
> is Women Ruling the Roost, Get your Terms straight...

Wrong. I state that matriarchy (matrilineal) has been used. There is a
big difference. I personally don't like either usage of the word and
prefer matrilineal and matriarchate, as these are more specific and not
subject to the confusion created by the term matriarchy.

>>I point out that matriarchy 'has been' used to mean matrilineal. This is
>>not my usage of the word.

> You have not proven this, you just state this, and it disagrees with my
> dictionaries, and my Anthro Books....

This is nice. I've also provided dictionary references. Again, I was not
arguing which usage was proper to anthropology, but on whether or not
matriarchy (matrilineal) has been used. Above, I've provided references
of it's use in anthropological works. I can find no reference to
matriarchy (matriarchate) in any anthropological works. I do not doubt
that it can be found, but then this is all irrelavent to the point.

>>As for the existance of matriarchies (matriarchate), they do exist. They
>>just do not exist in human cultures.

> Then what other Cultures are you talking about, those of the
> Vulcans, or the Romulans? Antropology means the Study of Man, and
> when you use Anthropological Terms such as Matralineal and Matriarchy
> you are Refering to Societies of Men.........
> OR, Human Cultures.....

Ah, I was wondering when the sarcasm would begin.

First, neither vulcans nor romulans where matriarchial.

Next, this last comment was in response to your comments that
matriarchates do not exist (a global statement). Matriarchy is a term
which applies to social organization, and is not limited to human
societies. Matriarchates are found among hyenas and elephants to start.
I corrected your global comment by limiting it to anthropology (ie they
just do not exist in human cultures).

Final Note: there seems to be little logic in assuming that an argument
that states that matriarchy (matrilineal) has been used, is an argument
that 'matriarchy means matrilineal'. With this sort of reasoning it is
not surprising that you find any arguments I provide which support your
argument as contrary to my own. However, if your looking for clearly
established boundries between my argument and your own, you ain't gonna
find it where your looking. Both of us are arguing that matriarchate is
probably a better usage of the word. I would recommend reading rather
than assuming.

Also, when someone claims to have read a book that used matriarchy
(matrilineal), it is hardly beneficial in an argument to say that this
is not a definition of the word. Rather, it seemed to be more productive
to establish the difference between matriarchy (matrilineal) and
matriarchy (matriarchate), and move on. This is what I intended, but
obviously the fixation on an appropriate 'anthropological definition' is
so deep that forward movement is unlikely. I will point out though that
your argument, that matriarchy (matrilineal) is not used in
anthropology, is not only false (Lewis Morgan utilizes this definition,
as do many who followed), it is also irrelevant. The purpose of
definitions, as I pointed out elsewhere, is to clarify, not to bind