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Brainstormies:

As part of a project a friend is doing, I've been charged with designing a matriarchal society in a fantasy setting. (Dwarves, FYI.) His suggestions included some Celtic and Eastern societies, and I will definitely look them up, but I'm going to be working on this project for months, at least, so I'd like to be comfortable with it.

My main concern was how a true matriarchal society would function while keeping the men masculine. Then, I wondered if there were any Biblical principles I could apply. So far, I've been studying Proverbs 31, which yielded textiles, farming, and real estate right off the bat. I thought I'd ask if any of you had ideas, suggestions, wish lists.

For example: Matchmakers are already usually female, so why shouldn't mothers handle the arranging of marriages?

Any pros, cons or other (real or imagined) matriarchal societal suggestions would be appreciated. I could use a conversation about this with someone who is not a 20-year-old male.

PS: Something I'd rather avoid at the moment is a very typical reverence for fertility. It would make me so happy if I could find a very special place in this society for women unable to have children. What would they do?

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( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
audrich
Aug. 23rd, 2010 09:50 am (UTC)
I can't really think of any Biblical refs, sorry I can't help.. I'll try and rack my brains though.

As regards your other question, I would always imagine women without children; either married or unmarried would be the wisest women in the group. My imagined rationale behind his would be that their thought processes would be unencumbered by the day to day drudgery of child rearing and therefore would be in a position to focus their attentions on the betterment of the group as a whole, whether this be in medicine or teaching, lawmaking or leadership. If it is the ‘mother’s role to rear children, the women without children also have equally important functions – the group would not survive without both positions being upheld and championed by the other. In this way, the childless women ‘look after and guide’ all of the group, so in a sense, they are the most important mothers of all.

I hope that helps?
alliesings
Aug. 23rd, 2010 12:20 pm (UTC)
Aww, Aud, you are such a blessing. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
audrich
Aug. 23rd, 2010 01:28 pm (UTC)
I'll keep thinking, esp about the Bible refs *wonders where her concordance is*

xx
write4jesus
Aug. 23rd, 2010 12:30 pm (UTC)
I like what you said, Aud. Just because they can't have children, doesn't mean they can't care for other people's kids, and they definitely would have more time for careers and/or ministry and/or caring for their husbands.
audrich
Aug. 23rd, 2010 01:29 pm (UTC)
Kitteh!! ♥

alliesings
Aug. 23rd, 2010 03:52 pm (UTC)
Oh, I think I'm going to write Aunt Rachel into this story. When she is not sitting, doing needlework with the other wise women, the children know to find her outdoors creating works of art. She teaches them how to care for their pets.
write4jesus
Aug. 23rd, 2010 08:36 pm (UTC)
aww, you're sweet :) *hugs*
nigelgriffin
Aug. 23rd, 2010 10:40 am (UTC)
Hey hun,..this is Becky...this is my RP account. ;-) The Invisible Dude.

Anywho, I can't think of a Biblical example to use, but the Hapes Consortium from Star Wars had a Matriarchal society. I did a little elaborating on what had been created there for the old Star Wars RP.

The women were the rulers and mothers. The young men were sent out to get the "wanderlust" out of their systems when they were young so they could come back home and become productive members of society: raising the young, seeing to the running of the household..basically stewards and nannies.

The women focused on state building, manipulating blood lines.

There are inherent downsides to Matriarchal societies. As you know from work, put a group of women together and you get cattishness, manipulation and cliques. On the flip side, women do discuss things before they usually get to physical blows.

Two other examples from literature and TV come to mind. The Episode Haven from ST:TNG, but the males were afemininite there and the women masculine. Also the Amazons from Greek Mythology. They would raid and steal men to have children with them and when they did have them, keep the girls and sent the boys back with their Fathers.

alliesings
Aug. 23rd, 2010 12:19 pm (UTC)
Oh, yay! SciFi is great for these tropes. Helen herself is a good example of the pros and cons of female leadership. Maybe I'll rewatch the episodes of Ishta's people. OTOH, I want the society to be balanced, where both groups are valued and neither really serves the other, but names, for example, would come from the mother's line. Methinks Amazon Dwarves would be mighty scary.
nigelgriffin
Aug. 23rd, 2010 09:59 pm (UTC)
Very scary. ;-) Though with those beards, few would realize they are female. *giggles*
missyrambles
Aug. 23rd, 2010 06:41 pm (UTC)
What about mixing Paul's discussion in Romans or Corinthians (I don't remember which) on the blessings of not having a family to distract you from God's work with the Old Testament example of Deborah leading the nation of Israel into battle. (With her right hand man, General Barrack, who was obviously not effemanite -- did I spell that right?) Just an assumption on my part, but if Debbie was married with kids, how could she have had time to think through battle plans and sit under that tree to judge the people's court cases? At the very least, her hubby would have missed out on lots of quality time.

You've pricked my curiosity and my imagination. Can't wait to read more...
alliesings
Aug. 23rd, 2010 08:36 pm (UTC)
Like Melissa, Deborah means honeybee...

Her husband's name was Lapidoth, ( http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=Jdg&c=4&v=1&t=KJV#top ) but I suppose we are left to speculate about what he did all day. It's possible she was even widowed young or something.

From http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/112050/jewish/The-Prophetess-Deborah.htm :
Deborah was the wife of a man whose name was Lapidoth, which means "torches." Our sages tell us, that at the advice of his wife he furnished large wicks and oil for the lights of the sanctuary of Shiloh, which burned like torches. Thus, our Sages say, was the effect of this holy woman on everyone around her: spreading the light of Torah. Similarly our Sages explain that she sat under a palm-tree to show to the world that the Jewish people was all united and turning their eyes again to G-d, like the leaves of the palm turn upward together, towards heaven.

I like the idea that she did work with her husband at times. Maybe she crafted wicks under the tree while people came to her for advice.

Judges 5:7 [The inhabitants of] the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel, until that I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel.

So, I don't know if that means she literally was a mother, as no children are mentioned. One Jewish translation says ...arose as a mother to Israel.

I'm also going to read a little about Abigail. I wonder where my "Life of David" notes are...
missyrambles
Aug. 23rd, 2010 07:09 pm (UTC)
More thoughts:

The Mohawk Indian tribes were matriarchal; you could do some research on how those operated. I read a book about them once, and I believe both males and females were valued and relatively equal.

Also, God obviously put both sexes here together because we need each other's perspective. Females tend to make decisions based more on the emotional factors affected, while males tend more toward ignoring the relational side of things - a cut and dried, that's how it goes sort of mentality.

My imagination sees a prettier, easier, more welcoming society with women in charge, but it may not be as efficiently run. As Becky mentioned, cattiness would be an issue, and hurt feelings could more easily occur.

BUT, my number one change if females ran the world would be that one week out of the month each woman would take a vacation! :-) Each high-profile woman would have an assistant to step in for her while she took a mental break. If not, can you imagine how many wars would be raged all because someone in charge had a rough "that time of month."
alliesings
Aug. 23rd, 2010 10:22 pm (UTC)
Very practical. :D
blueashke
Aug. 23rd, 2010 11:22 pm (UTC)
I would consider pulling some things from The Red Tent - it's an accurate description of how the women in that time ran their own area of the camp, and could easily be adapted to them being fully in charge, with the men more truly focused on the hunting and gathering. Realistically, a good woman throughout history did much of the business with regards to households already, expanding it to them making the final decision should be plausible.

My island project in Mrs. Travis' Geography class was a matriarchal society, and I got an A, just a thought (not that I still have the computer from 13 years ago, but yeah lol). Good luck!
(Anonymous)
Aug. 23rd, 2010 11:46 pm (UTC)
The Iroquois had a system with elected male chiefs, but only older women were allowed to vote, so ultimate power lay with clan matriarchs. They were also matralineal (children belong to their mother's family). This strengthened the ties between clans since the men all effectively belonged to two clans, their mother's and their wife's, and and had brothers married into third and fourth clans.
missyrambles
Aug. 29th, 2010 07:15 pm (UTC)
Hey! I was in the shower the other day, and a thought popped into my head. What if in your society, barrenness was a SIGN that the woman had been set apart for something important. I don't know how mystical your culture will end up being, but let's say that God chose a woman for a certain task - He would make her barren so that others would know she was special. Then a multitude of aptitude tests would follow to find out what her certain calling is.

I liked the idea, anyway. *grin*
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