Re: gynocratic?

Kelley Hays-Gilpin (KAH2@A1.UCC.NAU.EDU)
Thu, 24 Feb 1994 09:18:00 -0700

(This is my first attempt at including part of a previous
message in my message and I'm not sure if I have it right.
My text wrap seems to have disappeared)
In partial response to:
"Which leads to my next question. I've noted,too, that
such terms as "patriarchy" and "matriarchy" are not much used
by anthropologists (although they are terms much embraced by
other professorial types these days on campus and their students).
Am I correct in my observation? If so, how come? And, please
could someone straighten out for me--"matrilineal," "matrilocal,"
"matrifocal," and "gynecratic" ????

Maureen Korp, PhD
Religious Studies
University of Ottawa

mkorp@uottawa mkorp@acadvm1.uottawa"

I've noticed this too. Archaeologists like me find it difficult to
figure out if human remains accompanied by all the trappings of wealth
and high status were a powerful leaders or powerful leader's spouses,
so we certainly shy away from terms like matriarchy and patriarchy.
I haven't seen them recently in anthropological literature on gender
but they are sure there in the popular press on Goddess religion.
Our students read books like "The Chalice and the Blade" and
"Language of the Goddess"--at least, mine do--and I think it would be
a good thing to give them some well-reasoned thoughts on all this.
Anyone want to jump in?
Here's a summary of my understanding of the usage of the other terms
Maureen mentions. any clarifications are most welcome.
matrilineal: as in matrilineal descent. A person belongs to the kin group
of the mother. May or may not coincide with residence and inheritance.
matrilocal: when a young man and woman marry, they live with the kin group of
the woman. May or may not coincide with descent and inheritance.
matrifocal: as in matrifocal family. The mother-child bond is the only
constant bond. Social and biological fathers come and go. Sometimes
this seems to refer to the maternal grandmother of a child as the primary
Gynocratic: I have never seen this one in anthropological lit. I have seen
gynocentric used to refer to ideological systems in which the deity or the
most important deities are conceived as female, also to describe
iconographic complexes in which women are depicted more than men. This is
a problem where I work in northeastern Arizona. In the 7th century art
I'm studying the figurines are female and most of the rock art depicts
males. You could get androcentric or gynocentric by choosing your medium.
Of course, I am trying to look at the whole complex, but many of the
popular studies of Goddess religion focus on figurines and that's all.
What do these figurines really represent? What is their relationship
to power and ideology? I think inferring matriarchy from them is a
little weak. I would like to know from the socio-cultural camp what
you all think of these concepts in these enlightened times. If you
think they are useful concepts, what are the material correlates of
gender power relations?

--Kelley Hays-Gilpin
Navajo Nation Archaeology Dept.