Re: What Matriarchy? (was Drugs etc.)

William Opiniynllyd (
25 Jul 1996 15:37:19 GMT writes:
>>[...blah blah blah, etc. etc....]
>And I said there is new evidence found in Russia in graves which point
>to the possibility of women having been warriors and leaders in a
>society. My one mistake is I dont yet have the literature, but I am
>awaiting it right now. The second I get it, I will post it.

You know, I always found the term matriarchy puzzling. I mean, for
a typical, dominating, iron-age society, I can understand why some word
ending in '-archy' is reasonable: people control one another.

On the other hand, I have a strong sense that people have not always been
this way. Something deep inside me tells me that people living in a state
of nature are not so obsessed with controlling others. Maybe this means
that the pre-patriarchal societies easiest for me to imagine would be somewhat
anarchic. (I just mean not-archic -- not disorganised or chaotic. As
social animals, I would expect some sort of instinctual organization.)

On the other other hand, people have made this claim that women used to do
all the nasty things that men do now. I think this has happened for the
following three possible reasons:

(1) We are trying to discover/invent a more "glorious" past for
women, so that they can take on more of the traditionally
male roles in our society

(2) We are trying to discover/invent a natural opposite to what
we see today

or: (3) Women in some societies were actually responsible for some of
the kinds of oppression that modern societies blame their male
populations for.

I think each of these three motives deserves to be re-explored:

(1) I think men get the most undesirable roles in our society -- hard work,
the stress of some imagined singular personal responsibility for others'
financial welfare and last but certainly not least war have contributed
to a shortened male life-span. Let's not try to get this for women, OK?
Instead, let's try to make everyone free.

(2) Opposites need to share a great deal of structure to be opposites. For
example: Day/Night and Left Hand/Right Hand, but not Green/Table or
Star/Comb are opposites. Not every conceptual opposite need exist.
What is the opposite of love? Hate? Ambivolance? Anger? Depression?
What is the opposite of patriarchy? Anarchy? Matriarchy? Democracy?

(3) Probably people throughout the recent (<= 3000 years) past have
participated in the most visible roles of oppression. This should not
be surprising: in our culture, most oppression is generated by groups
targetted for oppression rather than by the visible oppressors. (For
example, who raises little boys? Their father's aren't around, huh? So
who's left? How many black faces have you seen in the N.O.W.? How
many queer voices come from the A.D.L.? So long as groups like these
are afraid to fight for one another's rights, we are lost.)

In summary, as someone devoted to achieving an end to the oppression of women
(and blacks and gays and jews and people who are shorter than average and
men and hispanics and pagans and catholics and.... how many movements should
we have against oppression?) I think looking for "matriarchy" in the past is
irresponsible, unless what we find out can be used to figure out how to live
right now. For the most part, what it does provide some women with is the
"satisfaction" of knowing that their kind have wielded sick power before.
(And yes, I do think some people think this is "satisfying.")

-- William Opiniynllyd