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Female-dominant cultures?

Discussion in 'World History' started by Mouthwash, Mar 16, 2017.

  1. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Escaped Lunatic

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    Have there been any societies where females occupied major social roles that men usually have (leadership, head of dynasties/families, warfare)? My understanding is that the division of labor among genders was just too hard to overcome in premodern economies, but I'd be happy to be proven wrong.

    A related question: were there any pantheons where female deities were in the central position, like Zeus or Odin?
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2017
  2. caketastydelish

    caketastydelish Throwing Last minute-ints

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    Sweden today that's what happens when feminists get the power
     
  3. Lexicus

    Lexicus Chieftain

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  4. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Escaped Lunatic

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    I read that. I've just seen other articles on Wikipedia which don't meet the most basic standards of thoroughness, so I'm not going to take it on faith.
     
  5. Lohrenswald

    Lohrenswald tired

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    and you think cfc is better?
     
  6. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Escaped Lunatic

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  7. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    I don't think we have any records of female-dominated cultures, but there are certainly cultures were women are dominant in certain parts of life. Among the Iroquois, for example- wait, Traitorfish talking about the Iroquois? Yes, my friends, it can happen!- men had dominant roles in diplomacy, trade and warfare, while women had dominant roles in the day-to-day organisation of village life. The breakdown of general roles was essentially internal/external, with women having authority over relationships within the community, and men over relationships between communities- between villages in the Confederacy, with other tribes and with Europeans, or with animals and spirits. It's clearly visible with the Iroquois because they practiced a highly communal lifestyle- Iroquois households were comprised of dozens of members, and most resources were shared between the whole village, and administered by semi-formal councils of older women- but you see elements of this even in some more differentiated societies, with women controlling the domestic sphere and men controlling the public sphere, and indeed this continues even in patriarchal societies, with at least some women continuing to wield substantial authority over household affairs, and many men being content to let them do so.

    The classical view, going back to Engels, was that there was sort of primeval revolution that imposed patriarchy upon a previously egalitarian society, but these days its understood as more of a gradual process, the very external/internal division which was the basis for older egalitarianism mutating into a relationship of superiority and inferiority. As societies become more complex and family units become smaller, relationships with the outside world become more frequent and more crucial, men become more able to leverage their power over women, become able to transform a distinct sphere of authority into a generalised authority over social life, of which a woman's domestic authority becomes a specific set of delegated powers. We can actually see this among the Iroquois: early after European contact, the "separate but equal" structure of male and female authority appears quite strong, but as they become more dependent on commerce with Europeans into the eighteenth century, as hunting and war become more central to their economic life than agriculture and handicrafts, and indeed as women spend less time carrying out traditional female farming and manufacturing activities to take up subsidiary roles in hunting and war, men began to take on a more dominant role and women a more subordinate role; not quite to the degree seen in neighbouring European communities, but certainly more so than seems to have been the case a century previously.

    The short answer is, there probably aren't any pre-modern societies were women have routinely occupied positions of military, political or diplomatic leadership, but the assumption that these positions indicate male superiority or female superiority assumes a certain social structure that doesn't always exist.

    The centrality of chief gods tends to be exaggerated in popular culture, which, following Medieval and early Modern scholarship, tends to take pre-Christian cosmologies are more primitive and colourful mirrors of Christianity, so Zeus and Odin become rough anticipations of the Judeo-Christian God. In practice, the structure of pre-Christian pantheons were usually expected to mirror the structure of human society, and because Greek and Norse societies were patriarchal, it followed that they were presided over by a patriarchal figure. They were heads of the family rather than centers of the universe. In addition, pre-Christian religious activity tended to be quite functional, in that deities were invoked or celebrated in accordance with the needs or aspirations of the worshipers, rather than because the deities, simply through the fact of their existence, prompted worship. Chief gods like Zeus and Odin were popular in royal courts, who tended to produce a disproportionate amount of the physical and especially literary evidence we've inherited, and again that has to be more with the social rather than metaphysical role attribute to these deities.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2017
  8. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Escaped Lunatic

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  9. plarq

    plarq Crazy forever

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    I think some porn related sub culture have femdom stuff.
     
  10. Lexicus

    Lexicus Chieftain

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    I thought according to MRAs most of the world is currently female-dominated?
     
  11. plarq

    plarq Crazy forever

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    MRA and white pride are such sissies.
     
  12. Owen Glyndwr

    Owen Glyndwr La Femme Moderne

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    The Etruscans organized their society matriarchally, iirc.
     
  13. Hygro

    Hygro soundcloud.com/hygro/

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    Middle school.
     
    Tovergieter and Owen Glyndwr like this.
  14. Ferocitus

    Ferocitus Chieftain

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    The closest I can think of are those mentioned in the Kurgan Hypothesis put forward by Gimbutas.
    (It fell out of favour for a while, but IIRC there are some very recent discoveries that lend some
    support for the hypothesis.)
     
  15. Lexicus

    Lexicus Chieftain

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    Indeed, the Kurgan hypothesis is that the indigenous culture of much of Eurasia (IIRC?) was matriarchal, before the patriarchal Indo-Europeans showed up and ruined everything.
     
  16. Ferocitus

    Ferocitus Chieftain

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    As I said, there have been some recent (within the last year) discoveries that have caused it to be rekindled (in parts).
    I just can't remember which Anthro/Paleo/Archaeology journals I read about them.
     
  17. Lexicus

    Lexicus Chieftain

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    I'd be interested if you happen to find them.
     
  18. Ferocitus

    Ferocitus Chieftain

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    Lexicus likes this.
  19. Lexicus

    Lexicus Chieftain

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    Pretty interesting. Unfortunately I'd say that finding itself is more "consistent with" than "evidence of" the Kurgan hypothesis. Will definitely check out some of the reference links when I have a little more time.
     
  20. Ferocitus

    Ferocitus Chieftain

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    There are a lot of pieces to be assembled!
    Some DNA evidence will take many years to acquire, and the computational
    and other techniques are just being developed.

    It is almost impossible to get useful DNA fragments from further back
    than a couple of thousand years in some places. Who knows how far
    researchers will have to cast their nets to find strong support for, or
    good counter-examples to the Kurgan Hypothesis.

    (Not related to Kurgan stuff, but a nice very recent move by the Simons Foundation.)
    https://www.quantamagazine.org/20170420-map-human-history-hidden-in-dna-john-novembre-interview/
     

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