Don’t let the title of this post mislead you. While I have a certain preference for the female persuasion (girls rock! and all that jazz), I do not believe in the world being led by only men or only women.
A matriarchal society is one in which power lies with the women, and especially among the mothers, while a patriarchy is a society in which power is that of men. Yet neither of these is ideal, at least in my opinion. Wicca is about balance. The balance of light and dark, good and evil, male and female – one extreme without the balance of its opposite is cause for chaos and displacement. The world as ruled by the patriarchal Catholic church is ripe in this chaos. Misogyny and fear of women is just as terrible as women hating men.
A living example of a matriarchal society is that of the Mosuo in Southeast China. Women control the culture, living alone and practicing sex freely with any man who suits their interests. Men are seen as sole tools of procreation (or sexual entertainment) and children born belong to the family of the mother. They do not marry as we know it, though they do sometimes have lifelong relationships – meaning they aren’t necessarily sexually promiscuous all the time! The mother is responsible for her family (children, uncles, nephews) and decides inheritances, and she is the one to pass on the name.
The article, found here ( http://news.softpedia.com/news/Mosuo-One-of-the-Last-Matriarchal-Societies-36321.shtml ) says this: There is no preference for a particular gender. In most cultures the female will join the male’s family when she gets married. A couple with many female children will lose them after marriage, and have no one to care for them in old age; if they have male children, their sons (and their sons’ wives) will care for them and this results in a strong preference for male children.
Among the Mosuo, since neither male nor female children will ever leave home, there is no particular preference for one gender over the other. The focus instead tends to be on maintaining some degree of gender balance within a household, even by adoption or “children change”.
On the other hand, is the patriarchal society, where today it can be found in Bali. This Indonesian country follows a similar “caste” system to that of the Hindu (Balinese beliefs actually stem from ancient Hindu). When a woman marries, she joins her husband’s caste and is forever at his mercy. It is not abnormal for women to be abused in this society. Divorce is not a viable option, particularly for a woman with children. Upon marriage in some patriarchal societies, the woman loses all possessions and rights. Through divorce she would not only be left with nothing – no clothes, no money – but would also have to leave behind her children.
Many patriarchal societies tend to promote abuse to women, whether on purpose or not. In India, the tradition of a bride’s dowry still reins, and it isn’t uncommon for young brides to be murdered for that dowry. They believe girls are a burden to the family because they are not expected to work – so in one family releasing the bride to another, they are thankful to be rid of the burden and reward the husband’s family accordingly. There are even rampant instances of infanticide among female children in China and India, where sons are desired and daughters are not.
Even more terrible is the “honor killing” accepted as practice in Iraq. If a female brings dishonor on her family – by not marrying the man proposed for her, by marrying someone else, or by being raped – the family will murder her. ONe source, found here (http://www.articlesbase.com/culture-articles/patriarchal-societies-promote-womens-rights-abuses-807135.html) says this: One of the many women murdered in ‘honor killings’ in Iraq was Shawbo Rauf Ali, a 19 year old who was accused of being involved in an extra marital affair by her husband, who made this assumption based on a sole ‘unknown number that appeared on her cell phone’ (Salih, 2007). Hawjin Hama Rashid, a Women’s Rights activist in Iraq stated that ‘honor has been a prime motivator of violence against women, because in such a patriarchal society women are considered the honor of their men’, (Salih, 2007).
Unfortunately, a lot of this inequality on the part of patriarchal societies lies with religion, such as that of Islam. However, to the women in these societies, they don’t recognize the inequality because its all they’ve ever known – they believe through religion that their place is below the husband. So, while we find these situations terrifying and disgusting, they do not.
Both these types of society belittle the other gender. What we should strive for is the balance of the two – a domestic partnership between a couple, where neither is left out or uncomfortable. Where both families come together and children are loved equally. Where power lies with both parties and respect is shared.
So, yes, I’m a goddess worshipper who thinks girls are better than boys – anything you can do I can do better (within reason…I don’t have muscles, anyway) – but when it comes down to it seriously, I believe in equality of the sexes. Not only in positions of power, but at home. No, I’ll never take a man’s name, but that doesn’t change the fact that if I choose to spend my life with someone, I will do it with all of my heart, developing our partnership until it is the best ever.