Re: Patriarchy: Re: What Matriarchy?

Ashley Branchfeather (
Thu, 25 Jul 1996 21:20:26 -0700

In article <4t8970$>, Susan <> wrote:

>As the argument goes (and I'm inclined to agree with it myself), all
>interpretation of "fact" comes from some sort of political and/or social
>perspective, or agenda.

I disagree with this: I admit it's common for people to have agendas in
their discussions, but many people are largely motivated by the desire to
find the truth, whatever that may be.

>Those who are explicit about it are, in that
>sense, just being more honest about it.

Are you not using this to justify a possible agenda of your own? This
seems to be another take on 'I'm an asshole, but so is everyone else, I'm
just more honest about it'.

>This means that 1) it is easier
>to attack the political perspective involved because it is openly
>displayed, and 2) it is easier to talk about, because it is there to be
>discussed, not hidden and having to be disentangled, and after making the
>effort half of the people don't really believe it was there in the first

It's sad, but true: sometimes people don't have a big egotistical agenda,
but sometimes those who do pose as those who don't, so there are no easy

In any case, I always prefer to look at each assertion on its own merits,
and I shouldn't accuse people of having an 'agenda' until I've first found
fault in the arguments they made. A statement isn't any more or less true
just because it was made by someone with an axe to grind, rather than
someone honest and clear-headed: the only exception is if they are
claiming authority - 'in my experience, ...' etc.

>I am never in favor of condemning gender roles, just in understanding

Even gender roles you might yourself be restricted by? I generally condemn
any gender role that I feel restricts my natural behaviour, as I see it.

>But I also have a great deal of sympathy with those who are
>constantly being told that their subordination is "universal",

"constantly being told"? Is this one of those painful truth things? I
think this is a straw man: I understand it's well accepted that women in
family-level foraging societies are not generally 'subordinated', so it
can't be universal.

The question is, are men systematically subordinated to women in any society?

>which in
>this particular society has traditionally been used to support a notion
>of biological origin, and in turn then claimed to be most natural,
>inevitable, and all those other tiresome biologically deterministic ideas
>that have been disproven time and again, apparantly to no avail in the
>popular mind (most recently seen in the appalling depredations on
>science of Desmond Morris, one of the people I'd cheerfully smack into
>unconsciousness if I had the chance and it didn't conflict with my
>basically pacifist ideology).

The first question should be 'is it true?', not 'does it tend to support
something I disapprove of?'. Do you see the difference here?

Were there any matriarchies? If not, why not? Then ask what that might
mean for us.

>So if occasionally people find empowerment in the notion that there might
>have been societies in the past where women could give as good as they've
>been getting in so many parts of the world in so many periods in the
>past, then the fact that there is no scientific (and I understand and
>accept all the use of that word implies!) evidence to support such an
>idea should not get in the way of celebrating the ideology behind the

'give as good as they've been getting' seems to be a way of confusing
equality with male subordination to women. I've seen this before, with
certain feminists claiming that 'matriarchy' implied equality, but with
women somehow especially 'honoured'. You know, men and women were equal,
but women were more equal than men...

In as much as you mean equality, that actually happened, and archaic
foraging sexual equality still exists in a few remaining outposts. The
recreation of such equality seems to me a worthy political goal, as do
perhaps other aspects of such societies.

In as much as you mean table-turned male subordination to women, without
evidence it's just an egotistic revenge fantasy. I'm not against people
having these fantasies, but they should remember that's what they are, and
not confuse them with what actually happened.

Ashley Branchfeather