On Heide Goettner Abendroth’s book, Matriarchal Societies

Let me start by saying I was really excited to start reading this book. If matriarchies truly have existed, I thought, then they can surely exist again, or at least what is left of them can be protected and preserved while the rest of us continue to flounder about as we progress perilously through the advanced stages of patriarchal cancer, blogging obsessively, if we choose, on the topic of the Great Matriarchies that Once Were, as if in doing so we could turn back time.

But being an optimist at the time I started reading this book (more accurately being under the psychological control of a male with Blackfeet ancestry who had been named an indigenous elder at some multi-tribal pow-wow at Stanford University and who claimed to have interest in building, and in fact running, a revolutionary new matriarchal society, which I’m sure will make a great story when I am fully recovered from his abusive programming), and being an excessively abstract thinker almost wholly intellectually satisfied with the theoretical brain candy presented in the Introduction, I had been evangelizing about the virtues of indigenous matriarchal societies to anyone who would listen. I spoke of a wonderful world in which women have real decision-making power, there is no rape, and the life-creating power held by females is honored by men and centralized in every facet of the culture. To me, the existence of such societies was proof that patriarchy is only one possible social arrangement of males and females, that masculinity is socially constructed, and that there still may be hope for us all to turn this man-made trainwreck around before humans go extinct.

In between reading the Introduction to the book and digging into Chapter 1, I had a series of disturbing/enlightening conversations with friends and in the blogosphere on the topic of gender as a social construct vs. biological essentialism, through which I had been invited to think more critically about the prospect of females ever living in harmony with males. Yes, I conceded, patriarchy is made by men… but… but still, I insisted, it’s all in the book!!!

So then I had to actually read the damn book.

The author, like many advocates of a return to matriarchal society, makes it clear in the beinning that matriarchy is not the reverse of patriarchy – patriarchy is a system of power over and matriarchy is a model of non-hierarchical power centered on life itself, rather than weighted towards either sex.

When I first heard this description of matriarchy, I remember feeling proud:

“Yay! I DO have value! I am not just a dirty, stupid, worthless bitch who needs to be told by men what to do every second of the day in order to avoid falling out of favor with God.”

Deeply internalized misogyny is obviously not a good place from which to arrive at the negotiating table.

But thanks to having had a solid week of radfemming it up with a new friend in between reading the Introduction to the book and Chapter 1, the very first example given by Abendroth of a matriarchal society made my eyes bleed in horror and sadness at what suddenly and irreversibly struck me as the enormous level of psychological denial required to maintain this mass hallucination that men have any value whatsoever.

Ok, details: So the author introduces the Khasi of Northern India. To summarize, Khasi women take responsibility for all of the important economic, cultural, political and spiritual functions in society because, it is implied, men just can’t be trusted with them… Wait a second, that sounds familiar:

“But honey, it’s just that you’re so much better at running ceremonies and distributing goods fairly amongst clan members. You are just so impressively strong, I admire the way you carry a child on your back while hauling unimaginable burdens over mountains and across rushing rivers to the market… why, I bet you’re as strong as any man! And, as the youngest daughter, you’re also naturally really good at raising the kids while providing for our dying elders as well as for any clan member who is ever in need, anywhere, at any time, even if you are dirt poor.” 

I shit you not, all of this was in the fucking book. The dramatization is obviously my own, but I have accurately represented Abendroth’s description of Khasi society. And this is supposed to inspire us. To give us hope. To guide us. But it just made me angry, because I am supposed to accept that in matriarchal societies, honoring women = manipulating them with flattery. How is this any different from patriarchy, in which men write Mother’s Day Hallmark cards, praising woman slaves for their sacrifice and virtue?

It is true that Khasi women do hold the final authority in the clan, own all the property, are in charge of all the food, and can even kidnap males for procreation. And the men say they are all cool with it. This is indeed reflective of the greater power women have in matriarchal societies relative to men, and men’s consent to such an arrangement proves the necessity of depriving men of such power. But instead of making me feel all empowerfuled and excited for women, it just made me ask: If only women can run a functional society, and men can only run a dysfunctional society, then isn’t matriarchy just a big apology and cover-up for men’s inherent inferiority as human beings? And who benefits from these awkward arrangements that keep this basic reality of humanity a secret? Who has the most to gain from silence and complicity in the global Testigate scandal?

Men, duh.

Matriarchy is for men. Men are inapable of functioning as equal* members of society and as such, can only be a drain on women. Women. Do. Not. Need. Men. In a society of only women, even one in which males are periodically pulled from the swamp for reproductive purposes (which, based on current polulation levels, is not even necessary for women to exist), the word matriarchy would be redundant because it means “a system of society or government ruled by a woman or women” and donating sperm is not a sufficient definition of social membership. So aside from its inclusion of Amazonian women, who were more straight up separatist than “matriarchal,” the whole field of matriarchal studies is an excuse to justify men’s parasitic existence at women’s expense and I’m through with it. That concludes my book review.

*Since I have made use of the word “equal,” it’s worth pointing out to anyone who may not previously have considered it, that women who want equality between the sexes have been majorly duped into begging for the return of crumbs when males have stolen from females the entire batch of cookies. Men are not equal to women in value, on a biological level, and so offering us equality is a concession and a bunk deal loaded with what men must consider in private company to be hilarious and ingenious levels of irony. 

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13 thoughts on “On Heide Goettner Abendroth’s book, Matriarchal Societies”

  1. “the whole field of matriarchal studies is an excuse to justify men’s parasitic existence at women’s expense and I’m through with it. That concludes my book review.”

    Yes! Finally someone is speaking about this topic. Even though you were coerced into reading it by some holy indigenous man. I’ll admit it I hate men who think they are all spiritual and gifted and posses powers that females innately have. When they actually steal all of their wisdom and understandings from females.

    What a great way to phrase it, matriarchies never made sense to me because all I saw was women doing all the work, while men sit on their asses and hunt, fish, and have war and then be able to come back and get their PIV. That’s garbage. No wonder anthropologists and leftists LOVE to call these hunter-gatherer and pastoral societies as being gender equal and harmonious. Anarchists and primitivists are obviously lazy pieces of shit who don’t like to be exploited by other men but want to continue to exploit women.

    Men who say they want matriarchy just don’t have the balls to admit that the world would do way better if men just disappeared, and that their existence is inherently problematic for females. Or that all men naturally want to rape and that it’s not gender that forces them to violate others. And that biology does matter!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, skulldrix. It’s good to hear from someone else who gets it!

      I feel particularly vulnerable to spiritual abuse by indigenous men in the US because my own ancestral cultures are rooted in far away places. So many guys who share that stuff with women like me have sexual motives. When the single greatest contribution they could make to the anti-civ movement would be to permanently hibernate their penises. I actually used to think that I OWED this guy the use of my womb to help perpetuate his lineage. That is what the unqualified labels of “colonizer” and “settler,” absent of radical feminist analysis, did to my brain. It’s the logical conclusion of leftist/manarchist decolonization politics – give the white women over to the natives.

      And yeah, I said it, anarchists are leftists. You can’t call yourself a radical unless you identify the root of the problem, which is men. If you’re male and think you have any role whatsoever in building a new society, besides helping to kill off other men before offing yourself, you are part of the problem.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Indigenous men sleeping with white women would actually destroy their lineage, meaning they’d outbreed themselves. The whole spreading the Y only works for colonizing men, white men in this case, because they have hierarchically organized access to all women.

        That’s why in the U.S. there is a such a large class of mulatto/multi raced stock of women, I belong to them, identified as black. Basically a whitewashed colonized group of african descent. That’s why race is such an effective hybrid of patriarchy because it gives men more access to women.

        Men at the bottom get the women at the bottom, and the women on top. Men at the top get the women at the top, and women at the bottom.

        But all men are always trying to rape women, whether losers of the war, or winners . It’s all about raping women.

        Yeah that’s pretty fucked up about how men use women as exchange. Natives rape the colonizer’s women, colonizers rape the natives women. Each man rapes both of their women. Meanwhile women who get raped by men of other races, classes, groups are called whores. While women who stick to men of their own groups are virgins and breeders.

        Anarchists are unapologetically leftists, they want all men to share access with all women without hierarchy, rules, or laws to define who gets who.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Reblogged this on when women were warriors and commented:
    ” If only women can run a functional society, and men can only run a dysfunctional society, then isn’t matriarchy just a big apology and cover-up for men’s inherent inferiority as human beings? And who benefits from these awkward arrangements that keep this basic reality of humanity a secret? Who has the most to gain from silence and complicity in the global Testigate scandal?

    Men, duh.”

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Elephant society seems to me about right. Elephants have terrific memories, unlike humans, which may be why they get it right.

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    1. Elephants live in the wild, though, there are no resources for the males to profit from – otherwise, they might stay around the females.
      I’d rather look at bees. Unlike Hollywood wants to make us believe, bees are almost all female, and there are only a few males to ensure reproduction. A pity humans can’t lay eggs, this model probably wouldn’t work as well with humans.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Powerful, powerful, powerful! when I am called out as a “man hater” I now respond with “don’t hate them….too much of my valuable energy has been spent “hating” men. No, I don’t even acknowledge their worth or necessity any longer. We have spent way too much time trying to get along with, cover up for, have sex with, etc etc etc and not enough time learning how to treat our sisters, how to empower our sisters, how to not be in competition with our sisters, how to love our sisters in a way that is pure and deep and spiritual! Thank you for your ‘book review’ I have now crossed it off my list of books to purchase! Blessed be!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, it’s like we’ve been trying to put together a puzzle for all these years, with one piece stubbornly refusing to fit anywhere, when all along the solution has been to just chuck out the extra piece.

      To focusing on women! Hear hear 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I wish to find books on this topic as well. What I do know I know from before I even heard about separatism: I read a creation myth from a tribe of American Indians, and unfortunately I forgot the name. In the myth the creator made a bunch of humans in male and female pairs but then the myth goes on to explain why some people don’t want to be married or partnered and in detail the myth describes a woman who lives alone, the lone male who was meant to be her partner goes to her home asking how she will survive without him–basically harassing her. Now I wonder if this is not something that was so common, they had to explain why women didn’t want to be with men in their creation myth?
      And a few years ago there was a story in the news about a village of women who separated from men–and of course the men came to harass them and question how they would survive without men. This was somewhere in Africa but I don’t remember the country nor the tribe.
      And even if the Amazons were a myth created by the Greeks to scare women back to kitchen, why would they need such a horror story if no women separated in the first place?
      I know there are a few books out there written by radical feminists, but these, at least to me, are little hints that female separatism has happened many times throughout the humankind’s history.
      Here’s something you might like, http://www.feminist-reprise.org/docs/lwmbunch.htm

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve read about that town somewhere in Africa too. They are women accused of being witches or something like that. You make some good points.

        One book I like is The Female Man, by Joanna Russ. It’s not separatist exactly, but it’s a good idea of what a female-only society would be like.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Gene Roddenberry based his ‘star trek’ world on a matriarch society.

        Men don’t prioritize educating/protecting/ feeding children on any large scale to improve the next generation of people and build better societies. You can still find men that can see this, and agree to it but -Not as a majority, men protect each other’s right to obtain sex in any way possible, even if it hurts women and children at large in open society. [protecting a convicted pedophiles’s access to children because he changed his driver license to ‘woman’ comes to mind].

        Most societies under patriarchy still designate women and children as a resource to be used by men. This is a major problem for humanity.

        Kind of like ISIL at it’s worse, and in the richest nations of the world, normalizing prostitution/sex trafficking and rape as part of a woman’s/child’s life and using wage poverty and lack of funded resources to coerce them into it is the ‘norm’ for every civilized male run system.

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