Our Shared Shelf discussion

Miscellaneous > Should a culture based on maternal values be the goal of feminism?

Comments Showing 1-8 of 8 (8 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Devin (new)

Devin | 10 comments I recently read this book (in English): “Matriarchal Studies, Indigenous cultures across the globe” by Heidi Goettner-Abendroth.

This is the description of the book from the author’s website: “This book presents the results of Heide Goettner-Abendroth’s pioneering research in the field of modern matriarchal studies, based on a new definition of „matriarchy“ as true gender-egalitarian societies. Accordingly, matriarchal societies should not be regarded as mirror images of patriarchal ones, as they have never needed patriarchy’s hierarchical structures of domination. On the contrary, matriarchal patterns are socially egalitarian, economically balanced, and politically based on consensus decisions. They have been created by women and are founded on maternal values. This new perspective on matriarchal societies is developed step by step by the analysis of extant indigenous cultures in Asia, Africa, and the Americas.”

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it and I do believe her method of interpretation is solid.

Before reading this book I believed that matriarchy implies the domination of women over men.

Imagine my surprise, then, at reading about how of all the currently or recently existing societies led by women, none of them dominate or exploit men. None. What does it mean?!

If gender equality exists in all cultures truly led by women (my understanding is they have strong structures in place for consensus but the group of women ultimately has the final say), what other term can be accurately used to describe them except for matriarchies?

While I hesitate to say that a matriarchy is the end goal of feminism, due to many debatable cultural features of traditional matriarchies (such as cousin marriages, as discussed in the book), I do think that living in a community based on maternal values would be incredibly healing. Imagine a community based on nurture and cooperation instead of exploitation and domination.

If anyone else reads this book, please let me know what you think! Even if you don’t have the time to read the book (it is quite dense) I’d also like to hear what you think of these ideas too. Just keep in mind that, like me, you may have to read it to believe it. It is truly shocking information.

Finally, please just let me stress here that I do not hate men or believe women should dominate men. I don’t believe either sex should hold unequal power over the other. The stigma of the word matriarchy is intense and my goal of this post is to challenge that stigma and open up the valuable ideas from societies traditionally led by women for debate.

Of course, this book may also be biased and lie by omission, and this is certainly worthy of discussion. However even if the academic methods themselves must be scrutinized (as all should be), the ideas contained in this book are still valuable.

message 2: by James (new)

James Corprew "Imagine my surprise, then, at reading about how of all the currently or recently existing societies led by women, none of them dominate or exploit men. None. What does it mean?! "

Have not read the book and although while i dont think they are lying about all the information they found i do challenge its interpretation of how much equality actually exists within the societies they studied. This article points to some modern day matriarchal societies that seem to have their own flaws in terms of true equality.

I had seen another article that talked of a woman who had grown up in a patriarchal system before joining the Musou clan in China to where women are the leaders. But it was interesting because she said she was happy because women were put on the pedestal instead of the men and not vice versa.

What i took from that is that she was only happy because now she was in the powerful position, not because there was equality with the genders within their society. Other articles (like the one below) have talked about how sex and child rearing affects the men of those societies and alienates them.

Its easy to look at some of these societies and say "look, it works" but then that would be disingenuous because the societies are not truly equal as women still hold all the control.


"Since children always remains in the mother’s care, sometimes the father plays little role in the upbringing. In some cases, the father's identity is not even known. Instead, the male’s childrearing responsibilities remain in his own matrilineal household."

"Often, the man is expected to not only support his own family, but those of his female relatives."

"Women are the only ones who traditionally can inherit land. "

I also found this article interesting.


message 3: by Michaela (new)

Michaela (yuvilee) | 124 comments I don't really like the ideas of matriarchy and patriarchy. I'd hope that gender stops to be a relevant category in the future. Maybe because i believe that most differences are nurture and not nature.

message 4: by Ashley (new)

Ashley | 194 comments Emma wrote: "Is there a term for a society that isn't matriarchy or patriarchy, but in the middle?"

I believe hierarchy is the only current term we have to describe a society with power systems without implying gender role.

message 5: by Michaela (new)

Michaela (yuvilee) | 124 comments I think an egalitarian society would be great to achieve, because hierarchies will always bring problems with them.

message 6: by Krystal (new)

Krystal (crazylittlebookpage) | 55 comments I have a huge problem with society's goal to raise children on Maternal Values, Feminism is supposed to be about equality in roles. And I disagree with women being more important in child-rearing than men. If we want feminism to work we need to actually acknowledge that both men and women have equally vital roles when it comes to society as a whole. I've even heard of women refusing to breastfeed male babies because they are already going to be at an advantage when it comes to male privilege and to me this is just ridiculous thinking.

message 7: by Pam (new)

Pam | 1091 comments Mod
Seriously what?

I don't. They. Are. Babies. A. Complete blank slate.

message 8: by Krystal (new)

Krystal (crazylittlebookpage) | 55 comments Pam wrote: "Seriously what?

I don't. They. Are. Babies. A. Complete blank slate."

Right?!?!?! Like that to me is just crazy to me

back to top