Matriarchy and the Matter of Bias

“Matriarchy has often been presented as negative, in contrast to Patriarchy as natural and inevitable for society, thus that matriarchy is hopeless. Love and Shanklin wrote:

When we hear the word “matriarchy”, we are conditioned to a number of responses: that matriarchy refers to the past and that matriarchies have never existed; that matriarchy is a hopeless fantasy of female domination, of mothers dominating children, of women being cruel to men. Conditioning us negatively to matriarchy is, of course, in the interests of patriarchs. We are made to feel that patriarchy is natural; we are less likely to question it, and less likely to direct our energies to ending it.”[19]

This quote is from a much deeper exploration of the word, matriarchy, and may be found here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matriarchy

I have attempted to read through the entire article, several times, but most often end by throwing my hands in the air in confusion, or some level of disgust and depression. But the article proves the quote over and over again. We have been led to believe that a Matriarchal society (if it ever existed at all) was, and is wrong and bad, even though many indigenous societies followed a Matralineal practice of defining descent through the mother figure. A practice that also, at some time in the past, included the tradition that the home and its contents were the property of the female head of that residence, and could not be used for any purpose without her express permission and approval.

In her book, The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, Barbara G. Walker has an excellent article about Matrilineal Inheritance (p.620 – 624), in which she details how that right of inheritance was bludgeoned by the Patriarchy for centuries, using religion and the Church as a righteous authority, to finally obliterate its reality, ultimately leaving the female of the species, legally unable to own any property at all, including the writing of a will without her husband‘s consent. This Matrilineal descent, and the Patriarchal obsession to wipe it out, is a strong point toward the existence of a Matriarchal society in the time of prehistory. (You don’t work that hard to destroy what is not a threat to continued existence).

Break down the word prehistory, and it might sound something like this: Prior to his story, nothing of real importance existed. Nothing that was note worthy. At best, it is shrouded in darkness and mystery. What might be deduced can only be conjecture and thus, questionable to the highest degree.

I went to College in the 1980’s and early 90’s. One of the most important lessons I learned, early on, is that every writer has a bias, a personal set of views that will form and color her/his writing. That would include my own. I am a female, both old and tired. What I write here will definitely include my personal bias, no matter how hard I attempt to curb that reality. It is not my intent to persuade any individual to believe as I do. But rather, to open a dialogue concerning the constant and ever-prevalent abuse and dismissal of half of the human race.

I will try to do that with the use of myths and symbolism. Those are the things I have studied, as well as writing and History. It is my intention to explore the three major myths concerning Lilith. In order to do that, we must first explore how myths are made, and the manner in which they are used to define both morals and behavior, within society.

Myths are stories. Stories are one of the oldest teaching tools known to humankind. Even before the advent of Language, clans and tribes would gather around a communal fire and act out those behaviors which would best allow the group to survive. A strong warrior would act out his/her actions in battle, so the rest of the clan could learn from them. With language, the stories were told, as well as acted out. And those stories were passed down from one generation to the next, becoming oral traditions. And they continue into the present moment. Go into any library and ask for the Biography section. We still learn from one another’s stories.

And just as a writer can not escape her/his personal bias, it is the same with the Storyteller. A slight inflection of tone, a pointed glance, or the wave of a hand lends more weight to any part of the story being told. And that tone, or added movement, will have an affect on the listener. It will lodge that aspect of the story, more clearly in memory.

Think back to childhood, when someone might have read you a story from a book. The best ones were those that were infused with the sounds and looks of the feelings and attitudes portrayed within the story. Those are the ones you remember, because those actions brought the story to life. They also served to teach you the proper responses to certain life experiences.

When the ‘bad’ guy looks to be winning, we are shocked and surprised. We are also taught to fight back, or to call out for help and protection. And nowhere, has that response failed more drastically than in the experience of sexual abuse and assault, perpetrated against women and children.

March is Women’s History Month. The #MeToo Movement has brought the battle against silence to a public and worldwide forefront. It is so very long overdue. And it is only a first step against the bias toward silencing the acknowledgement of any and all human reality.

I have a question with which to open this discussion: When and how did you learn that it is best not to speak out against unwanted and inappropriate behavior?

My answer to that question can be found, again, in this prior post:

https://1sojournal.wordpress.com/2016/11/12/when-someone/

Elizabeth Crawford  3/19/2018

Notes: Image is a line weave drawing (doodle) done in colored inks.

 

About 1sojournal

Loves words and language. Dances on paper to her own inner music. Loves to share and keeps several blogs to facilitate that. They can be found here: https://1sojournal.wordpress.com/ http://soulsmusic.wordpress.com/ http://claudetteellinger.wordpress.com/
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11 Responses to Matriarchy and the Matter of Bias

  1. A very interesting post, Elizabeth. Historically religion did acknowledge women as the creators of life and that changed over time and religion was used as a tool to disparage women. Very sad. We have had to fight so hard for our rights and many still don’t have any.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 1sojournal says:

      Thank you, Robbie, and I agree. I was in my late thirties when I went to College, and as a student of History was rather appalled at how much power the Church had in defining the role and “proper place” for women. The Church was the standard bearer for the Patriarchy and still maintains that position in most places. When I went to my parish priest for counseling about my abusive marriage, I was told that as the provider and bread winner, my husband needed an outlet for the stress he incurred daily and it would be wise if I stopped thinking I was a “princess”. Needless to say, I didn’t go back for more. I have a very well developed spiritual belief system, and it was that which allowed me to finally break free and leave the marriage. But the years of abuse left me with scars and a deep doubt about any further relationships.

      Elizabeth

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  2. Sherry Marr says:

    I re-read your account of being silenced, my friend. In those days, “what others think” seemed more important to our parents’ and grandparents’ generation than the well being of their children. That was a classic response, silencing you and your sister, and “not wanting to make waves.” Sigh. As a very small child, and during my formative years, I was told, if I cried or expressed any feelings at all, “go to your room, and dont come out till there’s a smile on your face.” I wore that submissive, obsequious smile for the better part of my life. I also lived the classic life of a child of violent alcoholics: the screams and beatings during the night, and getting up the next morning, silently pretending nothing had happened, bruises notwithstanding. It set me up for years of abuse from partners, and an inability, for too many years, to talk about my feelings or object to poor treatment from people. Thank Goddess for our writing, one safe place where we could, and can, unleash our words. As I age, I express more and more of them. Making up for lost time. Smiles.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 1sojournal says:

      And I smiled at your response, Sherry. I only learned, years later, that my mother was only following what she, herself, had been taught by her mother. My grandmother cared for an invalid uncle who was also a groper, and simply told her daughters not to get too close to the man. Again, it was their responsibility to see that nothing happened, and it was all done in silence.

      When my youngest daughter told me that the babysitter’s son was touching her, I immediately took her out of the situation and found a safer place for her. I don’t have a relationship with my son because I refused to remain silent when I discovered his inappropriate behavior. I have to admit, I was relieved when he chose to cut me out of his life, rather than admit to his own wrong doing. I may have learned silence, but, I’m not that good at it. And, like you, I believe that is because I chose to be a writer. Words are a powerful weapon, and may it always be so.

      I am saddened about your experiences, as I am always saddened when I hear of the cost to all of us by such behavior. I have written a few poems about silence. If I can find them, I might post them at Soul’s Music,

      Elizabeth

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  3. Sherry Marr says:

    Each generation does better than the one before. It is true, my mom endured a harsh childhood in some ways. Your daughter must have felt so heard and protected when you responded to what she told you. That is what we wish all girl children could experience. And it is hard when a child distances themselves from us, but in such cases, I discovered, it is so much more about them than it is about us. Young souls, with much to learn.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 1sojournal says:

      Thank you, Sherry. Each night, I pray for my children, even though they are fully grown adults. I learned that from my Mother, as well. I understand that my Mother was only trying to protect us from the much harsher realities of a society that is far from kind to girl children. That is part of what I hope to change (in some small manner) by opening this discussion. Parenthood is as much of a crap shoot as any other in life’s experience…that is to say, there is both good and bad in those experiences. One can only hope we learn from both, and become better at being human beings.

      Your response reminded me of a poem, I wrote, a while back. It can be found here:

      https://soulsmusic.wordpress.com/2017/05/11/giving-birth/

      I’m still working on finding the poems on silence: wish me luck, lol…

      Elizabeth

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  4. 1sojournal says:

    This poem was written maybe thirty years ago, while I was in College. It has never been published, but it came to mind when responding to the comments here.

    Counting The Cost

    Anger, red hot liquid metal
    seeping through veins, insidiously
    distorting all that is seen, heard, or felt.

    Left to cool, becomes bitter knife
    used to cut away softness (weakness)
    of life.

    Yet, have learned that anger is built-in
    energy flow. Meant to assist, to help one
    flee (run like hell), or stand still
    and choose to fight.
    For years, I fled.

    When I was young, I was told to keep
    silent, to never speak my anger (inappropriate),
    because it might harm someone.

    No one ever told me
    that silence can kill
    that one who would keep it.

    Elizabeth Crawford 3/22/2018

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  5. annell4 says:

    Now for the second time, I have lost my reply? So this is what I will say of importance…as I read the above, I was reminded of what a fine writer you are. I love the way you put it all together, clear, well organized. You are able to communicate your thoughts. And isn’t that what it is all about?
    Your words are true.

    Thank you Elizabeth.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 1sojournal says:

      Thank you, Annell. It helps that this is an issue close to my heart and mind. But, please don’t think it was easy. It took days of dithering around, writing and scrapping whole paragraphs, and then finding it wondering off in new ways, I hadn’t thought of going. But that has always been a part of my process. And yes, you are correct, this is what it is all about. Staying calm, but clear. Feeling our way through the emotions, then finding a creative way to express them without flipping into anger or worse. That helps nothing.

      My deepest longing in doing this at all, is the hope that it will lead to some level of healing. My own, as well as others.

      Elizabeth

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  6. Myrna Rosa says:

    I appreciate so much what you have written about yourself and what you wrote about Donald Trump’s abusive behaviors. I like how you explore the role of mythology and our own personal stories, too often hushed by this patriarchal society. Thank you for this Elizabeth. It makes me think about my own silences, especially since I am most naturally an introvert – except in my witing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 1sojournal says:

      Oh Myrna, I had to smile when I read your comment. I am a self-proclaimed hermit. That’s introversion on a wide scale. And, like you, the exception is here, in my writing. I have thought, for many years, that the desire to write, most often stems from a desire to be heard. Writing is a form of active meditation. It slows us down, allows us to find a way to say what we really want to say. Creates the space for clarity, and a deeper level of truth.

      I recently read an article about individuals who are introverts, and how crowds exhaust them. I know that to be true and have experienced the same. However, the article made it clear that these same individuals are not snobs, nor do they dislike others. They simply can’t handle the stimulus of a crowd and will shut down to protect themselves. They do have friends and make for good friendships that last far longer than mere acquaintanceship allows. I know that to be true as well. I have a friendship that has lasted almost fifty years. It is based in the fact that we make each laugh more than others. That is a gift of pure gold.

      So, please keep on writing. Your story is as important as mine or anyone else. It is of utmost importance that that silence be replaced with truth, our truth.

      Elizabeth

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