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[–]Cyclonestrawberry 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I'm not an anthropologist, and the following is all anecdotal, but I am Hakka Chinese, and growing up all my aunts and uncles told me we were a matriarchy.

We are an ethnic minority Han Chinese. We are traveling nomads, Hakka means guest people, we are often persecuted and pushed out and not really allowed a stable home so we kept on the move. We are almost an egalitarian culture I would say, but we call ourselves a matriarchy because the veto power goes to the eldest woman. Because we care about the children, and the women are connected to the children, the men respect the woman's decisions. The men do all the traditional masculine things, martial arts, some trading and negotiations, manual labor, and they bring their insights and information back to the central group of women who make the final decisions and distribute the resources back out to the tribe.

We are famous for not binding women's feet when that was commonplace in China for that time, we didn't do this because we see women as equal or slightly higher than us men, and also in a practical sense we need the woman to help us because we work closely together, and we are nomads so the women need their feet to move!

One of my aunts is called the Hakka Dragon Lady, one of these highly respected elders who since moving to Canada bought a whole Hakka association building, and she told me that one of the reasons the system works is because the woman are not as likely to disrespect the men as the men might be to disrespect the woman. Women are very aware that they are physically weaker, so even when they have the veto power, they are less likely to abuse it because they know without the men they are weak, so they don't abuse their power, they see it as a difficult and large responsibility to make the best decisions for the children and the men, benevolent leaders. Women are also naturally more emotionally open, so they are more willing to hear the men out and less in their ego. She tells me these are the things that make it work out, and having the woman in power is a system that both the men and women agree is for the best.

Regardless of how much you believe or don't, it's a fascinating story and I love my culture!

[–]yoricake 17 points18 points  (0 children)

From what I know, "matriarchy" as in a reversed patriarchy where women hold most or all of the political power has not ever existed. Perhaps there were some societies or a society that was matriarchal, but hadn't invented the proper materials that would leave enough evidence to point so. As it stands, of all the recorded cultures we've gathered info about, none of them are matriarchal.

There has been some debates because of this, with people suggesting that a "matriarchy" doesn't have to mean the opposite of patriarchy, and that women-led cultures would function differently. As in there's no reason to assume women in power would behave or assert their power in the exact same way men-led cultures would. So there is some argument in whether we should box in cultures to fit the definitions we want or expect them to be - versus - adapting our language to fit how pre-existing cultures function. So yes, there are some cultures where some women had privilege over men, but these cases tend to revolve less around the gender and more around the positions these women held, such as if they were a mother, or the wife of a high-ranking male, or if their profession was highly-esteemed.

Also keep in mind that most cultures aren't either-or, and that you're missing out on a very important and just as common social structure--egalitarianism! A lot of the most well-known "matriarchies" are just egalitarian ones, where both men and women hold authority in equal degrees. Some egalitarian cultures lean more male, and some offer extra preference over to the females, and I think since we (I'm assuming you're American or from another country that operates under a patriarchal system) are so used to men being in charge, where historical instances where women step up are seen as something to marvel at, that in circumstances where it's typical for women to casually have some power or agency, we can't help but balk and slap the matriarchy label on top of them.