Re: Patriarchy: Re: What Matriarchy?

Bryant (
27 Jul 1996 12:04:09 -0600

In article <4tb3qq$>,
Mary Beth Williams <> wrote:

>I would disagree with Smuts regarding patrilocality being nearly
>universal, as this is certainly _not_ the case in many hunter-gatherer
>and agricultural societies, particularly in the Western Hemisphere.
>Mississippian society was matrilocal (see Buikstra's work on the
>subject), and most Eastern Woodland groups continue to be matrilocal,
>as well as matrilineal (my own included).

I don't recall what or whom she cited to support her conclusion. "Most"
need only mean that 51% of the cultures from HRAF or some other
ethnographic condendum meet criteria for a given trait.

>It is difficult
>archaeologically in *prehistoric* cultures to determine matrilocality
>without a great deal of either skeletal or cultural material, and,
>throughout the field, this type of research is still in it infancy.
>Hence, I would refrain from making generalizations about *past*
>non-literate societies until more data is in.

Nice point. A lot of the Amerindian groups left in the Amazonian basin,
for instance, are quite probably not representative of the larger groups
which lived along the Amazon River; only marginalized, backwater groups
are still living anything approaching traditional lifeways.

On the other hand, Smuts has an interesting comparison of ape species in
which rape is common vs. those in which it's not. The greater the degree to
which female alliances form, the lesser the degree to which rape is common
(Bonobos have the most complex female alliances, and no observed rapes;
Orangs, on the other end of the spectrum, have lone females being raped
on a regular basis.) At this point, her predictions are fairly vague and
probably amount to evolutionary story-telling. But speculation isn't a
sin, and can set minds to work on more testable hypotheses.