Re: Matriarchy - Female dominated cultures

Joel and Lynn GAzis-SAx (
Fri, 20 Oct 95 17:46:58 GMT

In article <467rb5$>,
MCM@CityScape.Co.Uk (Peter Marsh) wrote:
>I'm looking for info on any cultures which have demonstrable equity in
>gender roles or where females occupy the higher status positions.
>There was, apparently, a feature on CNN Asia concerning a
>female-dominated society in part of China. They may be called the "Mu
>Su" or something like that. Anybody know anything about this?
>Dr Peter Marsh
>MCM Research
>27/28 St. Clements, Oxford. UK. OX4 1AB
>Tel: +44 (0)1865 204211
>Fax: +44 (0)1865 793137
>EMail: MCM@CityScape.Co.Uk

The timing of this "discovery", Peter, is slightly suspect to me since China
recently hosted a UN conference for women. Government propaganda offices are
very adept at twisting situations so that they sound like something truly
unique and remarkable.

The society may be "matrilineal" which means inheritance is passed through the
female line. Men still wield the power, but it takes a different form.
Instead of the family unit being the husband and the wife with the kids, it is
the mother, her brother, and the kids. (No, the brother isn't married to her
-- except occassionally in royal lines.) The brother often goes to live in
another village near his own wife, but when it comes to the serious
discipline, Mom calls him home and he does what must be done.

Since Mom is the only disciplinarian and representative of the family
household on hand, it may appear to a casual observer that she is the one with
the power. When Uncle makes one of his visits to the household, she defers to
him. It is like Mom handing out the discipline in patrilineal societies, but
wagging her finger at the kids and saying "Wait until your father gets home!"
when they get too much out of line. The fact that Uncle lives elsewhere
requires that the woman take more of a hand.

For a classic and readable description of the differences between patrilineal
and matrilineal societies, read Bronislaw Malinowski's SEX AND REPRESSION IN

Other readers may have other contributions to make.


Joel GAzis-SAx

Joel and Lynn GAzis-SAx Main email: Visit Alsirat, the horror magazine
The Marx Brothers@Darkweb (Joel) Whoopi@Darkweb (Lynn)