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Does anyone know more about the only culture where women...

(20 Posts)
PosieParker Fri 02-Nov-12 09:08:08

were top? I think it begins with M... Merdinan or something.

They were wiped out by an earthquake. I wonder how they evolved socially.

summerflower Fri 02-Nov-12 11:19:49

I don't know the name of the culture, but there was an argument in the mid-late 19th century, that pre-historical societies had been matriarchal. I read a review of a book on this a while back, so I'm a little vague.

Anyway, the argument of the book, according to the review, was that the idea of pre-historical matriarchal societies functioned in the late 19th century to uphold patriarchy, because, it was argued, these matriarchal societies in pre-history had failed and been replaced by patriarchy which had stood the test of time.

The book also questioned whether these societies had actually ever existed or were a myth to fill a particular function at the time (given that women were demanding equal rights).

Not sure if that makes any sense. I will dig the article out later. I thought the book sounded interesting.

alexpolismum Fri 02-Nov-12 12:36:01

Search for "Mosuo" - it's a culture in China that still exists as a matriarchal society. Sorry, I'm a bit busy, or I would find you some links

MadamFolly Fri 02-Nov-12 14:00:09

Many Hunter-Gatherer societies would have been matriarchal. This is due to convenience since the men had to spend a fair amount of time away on hunting trips so the women had to run the tribe or it wouldn't be done.

Anniegetyourgun Fri 02-Nov-12 14:18:33

Think I heard the Iceni were matriarchal, not sure how accurate that is. Boudicca certainly flogged a mean chariot when she wasn't doing the ironing.

grimbletart Fri 02-Nov-12 18:35:11

Here's a Mosuo link. Though notice that political power is in the hands of men, so some query whether it is truly matriarchal.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 02-Nov-12 18:43:58

I wear the trousers in my house, does that count? Everyone knows that I'm in charge and dh tells anyone who listens.

UltraBOF Fri 02-Nov-12 18:45:03

Are you thinking of Themyscira? wink

ConsiderCasey Fri 02-Nov-12 23:06:19

If politics is still played out by men I wouldn't call it completely matriarchal although the position of women at home sounds far different to the patriarchal head of the house bullcrap that we've had until recently. It makes total sense for kids to stay with their mother's family and for the uncle to take responsibility. That way both sexes have the joy of a relationship with children, there's no control of anyone's bodies and both boys and girls are equally valued.

Sounds like men fare way better under a matriarchy than women do under a patriarchy.

FastLoris Sat 03-Nov-12 00:29:49

summerflower - you might be thinking of Fraser's "The Golden Bough" or Robert Graves's "The White Goddess".

Sadly, as appealing and poetic as the construct is, I think it's pretty much agreed among contemporary scholars that it isn't actually real. Or at least there's no real evidence for it.

Graves was a wierd guy with all his muse worship. Ingenious quasi-feminist excuse for leaving your wife and shagging a younger woman.

UptoapointLordCopper Sat 03-Nov-12 18:42:41

Mary Beard reviewed Hanna Rosin's book here and said what summerflower said earlier.

summerflower Sat 03-Nov-12 22:32:25

Interesting review, thanks, I hadn't read it, I'm curious about that book now.

The book I was referring to was 'Gentlemen and Amazons: the myth of matriarchal pre-history' by Cynthia Eller. It was reviewed in the Women's Review of Books. It sounds fascinating - basically suggests, according to the review, that scientists in Britain, Germany and the US working independently came up with theories about primitive matriarchy in the 1860s, but gentlemen scholars all agreed that patriarchy was an improvement in evolutionary terms.

summerflower Sat 03-Nov-12 22:33:49

Agree about Graves, by the way, I read an article the other day about him and one of his muses. It was quite bizarre.

PosieParker Thu 08-Nov-12 10:22:18

I think it was pre Jesus. A 1500 year war free society, although they did a little human sacrifice.

WomanlyWoman Thu 08-Nov-12 11:23:12

A lot of feminists believe that pre-history was matriarchal, although some dispute it, or see it as irrelevant. One of the reasons for this belief is that over 90% of human figures discovered from this period, (anything 5000 years ago), are female.

LeggyBlondeNE Thu 08-Nov-12 16:30:25

> over 90% of human figures discovered from this period, (anything 5000 years ago), are female.

That's figurines right? Cave paintings are mostly stick-figures at that point, and include lots of archers as I recall (could be either sex, but big game hunting is male dominated in every modern culture for which we have data).

In terms of our long evolutionary past, our nearest relatives are both quasi-patriarchal (chimps) and quasi-matriarchal (bonobos - they have male hierachies but the females have been suggested to have a lot of influence on who the alpha male is if they gang up together), so we could have been either originally. Most bio anthropoligsts I know tend to see matrilineality is the ancestral state, but I think it probably switched in both directions.

TeiTetua Thu 08-Nov-12 17:30:31

I recall reading that almost all the 3-dimensional carvings of human figures from prehistoric Europe are women, and almost all the 2-dimensional drawings are men. The women can be very artistically made, while the men are just stick figures. Cave paintings show some gorgeous animals, but if there are humans shown, they're the male stick figures, though maybe not made at the same time (later graffiti?)

If you want to hear about gender issues in primitive cultures, there are plenty which survived long enough to be recorded, and not many of them were/are anything but pretty completely patriarchal. Suggesting that if Europe was different a few thousand years ago, it was an exception.

PosieParker Thu 08-Nov-12 20:50:06

It's on the bloody Andrew Marr History of the world, I just can't remember.

Frans1980 Sat 10-Nov-12 20:55:12

Iceland and Sweden are matriarchal. In those two countries the people with the money and power are women, not men.

WomanlyWoman Fri 16-Nov-12 10:50:48

I just remembered learning about the work of anthropologist Margaret Mead Some of the tribes she studied were reportedly very different to our own in terms of gender roles and expectations.

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