Re: Patriarchy: Re: What Matriarchy?

Bryant (
23 Jul 1996 14:17:33 -0600

In article <4svmh3$>,
Mary Beth Williams <> wrote:
>I've always found the discussion of *were there matriarchal societies*
>to be loaded, a ruse for men to show just how superior all men, and
>hence themselves, are and have always been, over women.

Um, ok. But you could also (perhaps more fairly) describe the question
of why there have been so few (if any) female-dominated societies as
revealing a concern over the apparently species-typical domination of
females by males. The first question any would-be social engineer should
ask when confronted by something worthy of change is, "why does this
exist as it does?"

>focus instead on patriarchy? When did it develop? Under what
>conditions? Where/are all societies patriarchal? A great deal of
>interesting scholarly work has been done on the subject (namely by
>women anthropologists) and yet we seldom see men even breaching the

Randy Thornhill breached that topic over a decade ago, and was roundly
shouted down for trying. Then one of his main critics, Barbara Smuts (an
anthropologist and psychologist at U. Mich), decided that he was correct,
and has written a number of papers on the evolutionary origins of male
coerciveness. Male academics may be reluctant to breach the subject
because they have been spit upon (literally) by feminists angered by
their efforts. Smuts, for some reason, never cites Thornhill's work.
[I've asked Thornhill why he thought this is, and he doesn't know.
Perhaps she has deconstructionist sympathies and is challenging the
"dialogue" of academic honesty. :)]

All that said, Barbara Smuts' articulation of the origins and phylogeny
of patriarchy is certainly worth taking a look at. Anybody who is
interested can email me for refs.