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Matriarchal societies living near/within patriarchal societies - Gtx0 ?>


Matriarchal societies living near/within patriarchal societies
Posted: Posted May 27th, 2019 by linguistcat
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We don't have a lot of data for this (there is a matrilocal and some would argue matriarchal cultural group in parts of China, but that's the only one I can think of), but what changes to a matriarchal culture seem likely if they lived near or within a larger patriarchal group.

I'm going to start off by assuming that, if the matriarchal group is smaller, they would likely choose men to interact with members of the other group. And even if these men were not leaders in their own right, would be high ranking individuals.

Obviously it might also depend on other aspects of both cultures, and how open the smaller culture is, but I'm sure there would be other changes as well.

This is for my cat people who live secretly among humans in Edo Japan. Female cat youkai are both more common than males and don't tend to be weaker on average, so just on numbers there would be more female leaders than males in their society, even if the measure of leadership was battle prowess. And since new cat youkai tend to come from long lived cats as opposed to sexual reproduction among the youkai themselves, the normal reasons among humans given for women to take certain jobs and avoid others don't apply. However, since they live among humans, they do need to blend in somewhat, and taking on some cultural aspects does help with that.

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It is, or was, my understanding, that the alternate-historical novel “One Thousand White Women”, by journalist Jim Fergus, was based on a real event.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Thousand_White_Women
The Northern Cheyenne, (So I think/thought Fergus reported), were matrilineal (at least), and maybe also matrilocal. They weren’t matriarchal, I guess; at least their Chief was usually a man, so I gather.

Their leadership decided they ought to try to integrate themselves into white society. So Chief Little Wolf asked President Grant to send a thousand white women to marry into the Cheyenne. By Cheyenne lights, any child born of such unions would be white.

But of course white society was patrilineal. So the average white person didn’t understand it that way at all. Theydve thought those children would be Cheyennes, like their (hypothetical) fathers. So they were outraged, incensed, and disgusted.


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The counterfactual premise of the novel is that the US government decided to take Little Wolf’s offer up.


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I have a feeling that’s as close as you’re likely to get to a RL example of what you’re asking about.

I don’t know of any truly matriarchal society that’s well-documented in RL history.

There are plenty that are matrilineal.
There are plenty that are matrilocal.
There are at least a few well-known ones where real estate and herds are almost always owned by women. (The Navaho, IIANM)
And many in which women’s opinions, en masse, are politically influential and important. (For instance, if the men voted to go to war, they still couldn’t go unless and until the women voted to supply them with enough corn and moccasins.)

But for most of them the Chief is always or almost always a guy.
Theoretically it might be the women, in effect, who chose the Chief; but he had to be a guy.
The Northeastern Native North American tribes included some such societies in pre-Revolutionary times.

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The legendary Amazons may have had a factual basis. But too little is known about them. For instance I don’t think it’s really settled that they truly did exist.

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Pirate captains in the New World during the Eighteenth Century were elected. They actually had authority only when a prize was in sight; the quartermaster usually called the shots most of the rest of the time. Jack Sparrow’s remark “why fight when we can negotiate?” was actually realistic; usually the pirates’ captain could negotiate with the target ship’s officers to take some of their valuables but not their ship, and leave with neither crew injured and neither ship damaged. For that purpose, the pirate crew would like to elect a captain who “had a lordly manner”.

Your youkai might also choose certain leaders partly because of their ability to favorably impress humans.

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HTH

Edited May 28th, 2019 by chiarizio
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Is it possible that having the majority of political power or final say in political situations in the hands of women is actually a better measure of a culture being matriarchal than who the "chief" is, even if the chief is always a man? I've seen some evidence that groups of men, as a generality, tend to be hierarchical, whereas groups of women don't have a strict hierarchy but rather a web-like structure of interpersonal relationships. So if that extends to patriarchal vs matriarchal societies, pointing to "This one position of power, which is selected by women - who also have a lot of say in other political matters - is always a man," might be misguided or at least a view informed by living in a patriarchal society (even if not an "extreme" version).

Although that thought already helps since, if each clan has an individual (a male, or more rarely a female who is in a position in human society that would gain some respect and influence), then humans who did learn anything about cat youkai and their social structures would assume this cat was the defacto leader, whether or not they actually were.

Posted May 28th, 2019 by linguistcat
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@linguistcat:

Yes, it’s possible.

Edited May 30th, 2019 by chiarizio
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@linguistcat:
While I don’t know of any well-documented “truly” matriarchal society in RL history,
I do remember reading about one extant “truly” matriarchal natculture.
I don’t know whether or not it is well-documented, but as I recall it was a reliable source that reported it as “truly” matriarchal.
However, I have forgotten the name and location of the society; and have also forgotten the source (both primary and secondary).
So I don’t count myself as “knowing of” it.

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Edited June 4th, 2019 by chiarizio
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Do you remember if it was a semi-nomadic tribal group? Could they live in a rain forest? If so, were they polyandrous?

Or a settled agricultural group? Could they be living in China, or at least part of Asia? If so, were they matrilocal and/or polyandrous?

If you can't remember at all (or didn't know), or if both of these sound completely off base, then that's fine. But if either of these ring a bell then I might already know of the culture.

Posted June 4th, 2019 by linguistcat
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Do you remember if it was a semi-nomadic tribal group? Could they live in a rain forest? If so, were they polyandrous?

I don’t think they were semi-nomadic. I don’t think they lived in a rain forest.
I don’t think they were polyandrous either.
I could be wrong about any or all of those.


Or a settled agricultural group? Could they be living in China, or at least part of Asia? If so, were they matrilocal and/or polyandrous?

I think they were a settled agricultural group.
Don’t know about China, but I think they were living in part of Asia.
I think they were matrilocal. But not polyandrous.
I could be wrong about any or all of that as well.

If you can't remember at all (or didn't know), or if both of these sound completely off base, then that's fine. But if either of these ring a bell then I might already know of the culture.

I think they might have lived near China though not in it.
I think they might have had polyandrous neighbors.
I could be wrong about all or some (or none?) of that, too.

The things I remember that I haven’t mentioned yet are;
The men resented(? Right word?) or chafed against the restrictions on their rights to own property and exercise legal and political freedoms.
Nevertheless the men deeply respected the women in their lives, as individuals. Maybe they also respected the women in their society as a group, while still feeling that they were unfairly denied equality.

The Native North American matrilineal and matrilocal peoples among whom the real estate and livestock are all owned by women and/or matrilines and/or women’s households, seem to be more sexually equal in their treatment of individuals. It’s just that women outnumber men by something less than two to one; women live longer** than men and age confers both authority and wealth; and women’s work is very important, around as much as men’s work (men are smiths and jewelers among other things). A man and a woman the same age with the same wealth probably are equally influential. But if the women “vote as a bloc” and the men don’t, there’s a good chance things will go as the women have agreed. If the men “vote as a bloc” and the women don’t, odds are the men will carry the question, but those odds are significantly lower than if the opposite voting lines happen. If you understand what I mean; I have a feeling I could have been clearer.
** women living longer than men might be an anachronism or error on my part.

Those* tribes in the Northeastern US were a bit different from those* tribes in the Southwestern US, especially as politics and property go.
* matrilineal matrilocal tribes

I imagine the group I have forgotten about are about equally different from, say, Tibetans.

Again, I could be wrong about almost any fraction of this.





Edited June 5th, 2019 by chiarizio
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Doing a little research, the Asian group I was thinking of seems to be the Mosuo. They are in China but near the Himalayas. They are technically polyandrous, in that they have "walking marriages", and women can choose their partners and end relationships by visiting men they like, or not, at night. Those men live with their mothers' families since women own all the real estate and such.

I can't seem to find the other cultural group I was thinking of, but I have found mentions of other modern matriarchal societies: some sources say 6 or slightly more; One or two of those are women-only societies created intentionally and more recently, so not as useful for my purposes. But it seems that there have been a few matriarchal societies historically in Asia, so I don't think my youkai being matriarchal at least among themselves would be as difficult as I was first expecting.

Posted June 5th, 2019 by linguistcat
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It sounds like the Mosuo may have been the group I’d read of. I may have been wrong about the polyandry.

Both the Northeastern and the Southwestern Native North American tribes I’m thinking of, are matrilocal.
The Southwestern ones are also matrilineal; I think (I could be wrong) the Northeastern ones are as well.
The Southwesterners’ real estate and livestock are all held by women. If the same is true of the Northeasterners, I never heard it.

It’s the Northeasterners of whom I’d read that the men couldn’t go to war, even if they’d voted to do so, unless the women voted to supply them with sufficient rations and moccasins. It’s also the Northeasterners of whom I had read that, often, it was the female part of the vote, that chose who held various one-holder offices, such as Chief.

I never read any cause proposed for why either group had the married men continuing to live with their mothers, while the married women continued to live with their own mothers.
In the case of the Northeasterners, I guessed that there was rather a lack of reasons not to do it that way, rather than proposed reasons why they should do it that way.
In the Southwest, the women owned the real estate. If that’s the Mosuo reason for matrilocality, it could be also the Navaho reason. But you’re the first writer I’ve read who said that’s the cause.

Anyway; in both the Northeast and the Southwest, these matrilineal tribesmen’s heirs tend to be their oldest sister’s oldest sons, rather than their wives’ oldest sons.
And children, or at least boys, tend to be raised by their mother’s brothers, rather than by their fathers.
Young men tend to have a “joking relationship” with their fathers.
In effect, the roles of “father” and “uncle”, tend to be swapped, compared to those roles among us.

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I appreciate your information that there may be only on the order of half-a-dozen* matriarchal societies that are well-known, well-documented, and well-agreed to be matriarchal in the sense you (and I) are talking about here. That makes me quit worrying that there were actually lots of them and I somehow overlooked them.
*[edit]should be “one-and-a-half dozen”.[/edit]
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I look forward to hearing more about these cat youkai.



Edited June 5th, 2019 by chiarizio
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@linguistcat:
Eighteen of the cultures/societies in this table:
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_matrilineal_or_matrilocal_societies
are matrilineal, and either matrilocal or uxorilocal or “separate” or duolocal.

That’s more than six. But I don’t know how matriarchal they are.

The Christian Garo of India are one of those. They practice female ultimogeniture, which makes them really interesting to me.

Are your cat youkai immortal? Do they need to have a system of assigning heirs?



Edited June 5th, 2019 by chiarizio
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Are your cat youkai immortal? Do they need to have a system of assigning heirs?


They are immortal in that they don't die of old age, and generally not from illness. They can die from a few rare illnesses, poisons and injury. Their entire "family" structure is basically by adoption or "marriage". Though aside from the clan heads, adoption is usually an older-sibling/younger-sibling relationship instead of parent-child

I was specifically looking for what are considered matriarchal, not matrilineal or matrilocal. But! It seems that being matrilocal and matrilineal greatly increases the chances a society is ALSO matriarchal, and having one or the other makes it slightly more likely. But not all matrilocal or matrilineal societies and matriarchal.

So officially among themselves, cats would probably see any buildings belonging to a woman, or the clan as a whole which is likely to be headed by a woman or a woman and her spouse.



Posted June 5th, 2019 by linguistcat
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