Matriarchy? No Thanks

A while ago when I wrote about my understanding of what patriarchy is as a system, Mr Bish asked me what I thought matriarchy would look like. It’s interesting that replacing patriarchy with matriarchy seems like an obvious choice. It’s similar to the idea that wanting to take down capitalism means you must be a communist. The idea that there are only two options is in many ways part of the problem.

I’m not interested in the idea of replacing male dominance with female dominance. This is because I don’t think ‘male’ is the biggest problem here – dominance is the problem. Assuming that a group of people are automatically better than another group of people is the problem. It doesn’t matter much to me who the default people who should be in charge are, I’m not going to agree.

No system is ever going to be perfect. My ideals around politics involve including as many people and as many views as possible. I think we need people whose job it is to speak for the land, the water, the unborn future generations and so forth. I believe in holding power at the lowest levels possible and with as much participation as possible. I believe in cooperation and working towards consensus wherever possible. I am deeply averse to work-shy scroungers living off the rest of us – and by this I mean rich people. 

I’d like ways of doing things that aren’t so gender oriented. Call something a matriarchy and you’ve brought gender straight back into the equation. As someone who doesn’t really identify with gender I get pretty tired of the way gender is part of politics. The assumption that being born with a penis and being comfortable with that is the major qualifier for being in charge is nonsense. As one of my psychology lecturers said, many years ago, it wasn’t literally the case in the past, that you had to whack your dick out on the way into parliament, but it might as well have been.

The most useful measures of people are the hardest to take. We’d benefit a lot more from being led by people who know what they’re doing. People who understand stuff. Also people with wisdom, compassion, listening skills, long term thinking, imagination and problem solving skills. As a species we’ve become unreasonably attached to whatever we can measure most easily. Having the culture defined by a gender, or the dominance of a gender makes as much sense as putting the tallest people in charge, or the ones who have proven they can stuff the most eggs up their bottoms. Just because you can count it, doesn’t make it good!

Compassion and wisdom are hard to measure. Unlike other kinds of expertise, we don’t even have exams for them. Compassion is not a female trait and wisdom is not a male trait, and any human system that doesn’t involve compassion and wisdom is going to be problematic.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

17 responses to “Matriarchy? No Thanks

  • druidcat

    Wise words. Although interestingly, in kinky terms, dominance (successfully at least) requires empathy and compassion. Otherwise it’s abuse. Very telling to consider the connotations of That Word.

  • bish

    Mmm, you’re calling for a meritocracy, and that is unlikely in these times. That our so-called government was able to say with some authority “I think the people of this country have had enough of experts” and be re-elected speaks volumes on how deeply we have taken to heart media friendly soundbite politics. We are living in a game show where we do not understand the basic rules, and only stand confused and anxious in the waiting room, waiting for our own life to be directed by the glamorous but empty headed compere. Where is the exit? How do we promote merit in a landscape where everyone’s opinion is as good as everyone else; where the lowest common denominator is the deciding factor? Who can ring the lip of the bell-curve? Not me, obvs.

    • jswhite

      The problem I see with a meritocracy is that it would still lead to a superior-inferior dichotomy in practice. Those seen as less worthy of consideration, due to lack of ‘merit’, are given no say-so in what goes on, because they don’t contribute enough for consideration.

      Now we’re replacing gender with merit, which does nothing for the disadvantaged, disabled, or impoverished who may not be able to perform adequately to merit help or representation.

      What we need is an end of corruption and a solid foundation of people helping people because it’s necessary for the survival of all…which is even harder to do than some political system of wealth, gender, merit, or might.

      • alainafae

        Perhaps a meritocracy not of people but of ideas? Placing merit onto individuals is, in my opinion, another problematic approach. While it sounds nauseatingly trite to my ears at times, I resonate deeply with the sentiment of people who, when confronted by fame (on any scale) for a feat, give their success over to the greater good, whether for them that is god(s), family, community, humanity, etc. To me, the merit lies in reconizing how a feat demonstrates the individual’s *integration into and awareness of* the web of existences (human & non-human, past & future generations), not how it distinguishes them *from*. Merit that does not lift everyone with it is not really merit at all, I think. That doesn’t mean “everyone’s a winner” and no one can be “the best” at something, of course, we all have our strengths & weaknesses, but I think that in being the best and in being the winner one can uplift everyone else, whether defeated competitor or spectator, by giving the merit “back” to the collective. I hope this is making sense! It’s still rather early in the day here, and I may not be at my most coherent.

      • Nimue Brown

        Agreed. we could start by acknowledging that the lone genius is a bit of a myth, that most thinking happens in teams, communities, with support from other people and so forth. I might come back to this for a blog post.

      • Nimue Brown

        What would be critical here is how we define merit in the first place. For me, it has to include lived experience. I think we can hold the idea that everyone has something to contribute, and also the idea that people have specific expertise – and not assume that being an expert at one thing qualifies anyone to lead on other issues would help a lot.

    • Nimue Brown

      small voice that I am, I intend to keep yelling, because as far as I can see, that’s all there is.

  • jswhite

    Glad to see a post like this. Matriarchy doesn’t solve anything…and women don’t corner the market on love, compassion, or good deeds.

    The male gender isn’t the scum of the earth. Dominance, inferiority politics, and hatred is.

    I wish more people would look beyond the gender binary – which clearly doesn’t exist as it’s always been defined.

  • poetthatlikesvellum

    Is it possible, in the world we live in now, to realise men and women, despite a few select men that found it necessary to supress women’s role in history, actually played equal roles in prehistory (evidence there, archaeologically)? I am using history as a measure of how men have brutally tried to make women submissive, and further elevated their status as they made their way into recorded history. Is it wrong of me to wish women were in more positions of power, globally? Is it wrong of me to say meritocracy was fabricated as a fairytale we tell children, when they are on the precipice of initiating their study to learn who they want to be? Is it wrong of me, in 2022, to wish an end to destructive misinterpretations of Darwin, that we have held to passed the beginning of the 1900s? I think a full reversal would be healthy: consider it the healthy necessary stairstep to self-actualization and consciousness that power is invented: much like the ole’ priests in the temple that knew something others didn’t, that dominated others afraid of the horizon, only to submit to war lords that dominated by force, which still remains prevalent. Each utilized fear in their own way, weaponized the fear of what others didn’t know. So, I will agree, neither system is very much valuable in the grand scheme of things, but in order to realise that isn’t it necessitated, to have voluminous years where women dominate the power structures? Also, is it valuable to have men-children that don’t know, value, or understand and appreciate the responsibilities women take care of in the home while they are gone at a job? Not every child grows up like this, but women and men do not prioritize teaching men about how to take care of themselves. The thought that’s prevalent is that they’ll run into a “good woman”, and I have to bulk at a note of insensitivity when jokingly referring to BDSM, because whether we want to admit or not women have been stuck in this false dichotomy that has been manipulated, wielded, tortured out of them for generations so that some man can imagine sitting at his mahogony desk ahead of his corporation because his mom said, “You can do it!” when he was four.

  • celticchick

    Balance is the best option, but I don’t see that happening.

  • darrack1

    The problem with politics is simple, anyone who wants to be in charge, shouldn’t be.
    Unfortunately, no political system aside a truly benevolent dictatorship allows for this criteria to be met and a truly benevolent dictatorship is impossible, due to the lack of true benevolence in any dictator.

    The closest to a benevolent dictatorship in recent times would have been Chavez in Venezuela,. who was doing well, taking oil money and using it to improve the lot of the poor, vastly increase literacy, with vast programs on social justice, social welfare, health care and lifting people out of poverty
    Unfortunately, nationalising the oil industry to use the vast oil wealth which had previously been in the hands of a small elite to improve the lot of the masses was labelled as ‘communism’ by the American government, who ideologically were opposed to a countries vast oil wealth not been in the hands of private individuals but been used to improve the lot of its citizens.
    Possibly this was on account of America been run by billionaires and vested interests in keeping wealth with the elite perhaps not wanting an example on their doorstep of a countries vast mineral wealth been used for the betterment of the masses, literacy and universal health care…
    I mean, just because Venezuela was a democracy and Chavez was an elected president, didn’t mean that his dangerous socialism didn’t need to be stopped by the champions of democratic freedom…
    Unfortunately for the Americans their attempt to install a tin pot military dictator in the way they did in Chilli a couple of decades previously, when Chilli elected a socialist government, failed…
    But having failed to oust him, American political money and economic sanctions set out to ruining the Venezuelan economy, and successfully undermined it , and then set about blaming Chavez for the chaos they had sown to make sure socialism in south America failed again…

    Chavez dying didn’t help as his successors don’t live up to his reasonably benevolent dictatorial intentions. And we will never know how successful Chavez might have been if not for the American (rich) interference…

    Sorry, that became something of a rant … ahem…

    The problem with politics is simple, anyone who wants to be in charge, shouldn’t be.

    • Nimue Brown

      People who want power-over are a nightmare, agreed. But every now and then you get someone who just wants to get things done in a helpful way. I can think of a few, and they give me hope.

      • darrack1

        When I lived in Leeds, I had a green party local councillor who actively did stuff to improve there ward, and sent out a letter every 3 months detailing what they were doing and why.
        The vast majority of the time these were not core green party things, just doing stuff to better the lot of their constituents
        Sure how they chose to do things was influenced by their politics, but they were also pragmatic, doing things that people wanted doing, whether it was an environmental issue or not.
        They got my vote every time simply on this basis, rather than the liberal candidate I would otherwise of voted for, because the liberal candidate cared more about playing politics, and point scoring, than getting things that needed to be done done.
        So yes, there are a few good ones out there… Not enough though,
        Mainly I think this is because those who would be the good ones are often put off by the politics involved in politics

      • Nimue Brown

        I am one of the people put off by the politics of politics 🙂 But I am also a bit evil, so… maybe that was as well.

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