Friday, January 2, 2009

Matriarchy: The Power of Collective Female Leadership

Men have been the favored crowd, the popular crowd, for quite a while in Western culture. This “boys’ club” has been handed the podium, family inheritances, career advancing favors, center stage in literature, visibility in the media, sexual entertainment, and social leadership positions as far back as most of our schools’ history books go. And with that public favor they have managed to hoard decision-making power about everything from public policy to the entertainment industry.

And because this society’s favors for men have made “the boys’ club” the place where the public spotlight is, the place where all the fun is, women have often chosen to emulate men’s apparent social and material success by adopting the male behavioral strategies that supposedly have led to it. This includes men’s standards for treatment of others, as well as men’s attitudes towards women. Many women choose to conform to these standards themselves and apply them to other women simply to be included and avoid the nine circles of hell associated with being an outcast: being excluded from public leadership, left out of board rooms and after parties, ignored as cultural role models, forgotten in history books, trivialized in entertainment, criticized by boyfriends and husbands- wait… come to think of it, that’s also the cost for women’s inclusion by the boys’ club.

But beyond issues of self-censorship, women have resorted to adopting the behaviors and strategies of this self-serving group of men and their male leadership style. This is the group of men who have led Western societies into scandalous and genocidal religious wars since the Crusades, who have pirated the natural resources and lives of other cultures since European colonialism and slave trading, who have trashed and mismanaged their own natural resources and painted themselves into a corner with environmental collapse, who have repeatedly shot themselves in the foot with overspending and looted the people under their leadership to cushion themselves from the consequences: this is an undisciplined group of bullies and blundering idiots.

The problem is that women have lost touch with themselves in the attempt to emulate male aggression and other destructive coping mechanisms from our society’s traditionally male leadership. When the most badly behaved group of people is rewarded the best social treatment in the form of professional alliances, social fawning, and exemption from family obligations and the rules of fair play, their society is demonstrating a system of rewards and punishments that encourages the well-behaved among us to throw away their good social habits for the sake of social advancement.

In our society, violent crime, as well as sexually violent crime, is predominantly a male problem. Typical annual statistics are as follows: 83% of spouse murderers are male 1, 79.9% of all non-fatal family violence is committed by men 2, 75% of dating partner murderers are male 3,
87% of all stalkers are male 4. Men commit 100% of rape against women, and 70% of all rapes against men; similarly, 92% of physical assaults against women and 86% of physical assaults against men are committed by men 5. This is not violence towards an external or national threat for preservation of oneself and one’s country. This is violence turned against one’s own culture and support system.

Perhaps this cultural phenomenon of violence among men is a sign of too much power being handed to those without the social ingenuity to know what to do with it.

Over the last decade, researchers in the social sciences have conducted studies on high school students in Western cultures to determine gender differences in their learning and educational processes. These studies have found that male thinking styles and methods of coming to conclusions are “exclusionary”, eliminating other points of view and perspectives from consideration in favor of an individual one. Their problem solving style is one of immediacy, basing their solution on the context of immediate circumstances to get quick results without considering larger contexts such as environmental or human impact. This is reflected in their social style in group settings, where their approach to group dynamics tends to be hierarchal and competitive to the degree that others are excluded from group activities 6. This aptitude for reduction, immediacy and individual competition might make men very valuable for meeting short-term goals requiring visibly noticeable results and measurable impact, but perhaps not so much for meeting goals like social cohesion or long-term sustainable production.

In contrast, researchers found that girls and women demonstrate “connective” thinking when problem solving, immediately recognizing the connections between abstract solutions in the lab or classroom and practical results for the environment and community. Their style of making conclusions is “inclusive” of other people’s perspectives and points of view, assimilating other alternative possibilities to the one they’re promoting. Likewise, their social behavior in groups is socially inclusive and their approach to group dynamics is holistic rather than individualistic 7.

Women’s instinctive leadership style, like their thinking style, reflects their group consciousness, comprehensive problem solving, and awareness of others’ welfare. It is evident in their mothering of young children, their multitasking, their tendency to instigate social reform movements and start up charity work, and their prevalence in the social services. Their aptitude puts them at an advantage in fostering social solidarity, sustainable economic growth, and cultural quality of life- all things our society could use more of.

These differences in thinking styles are perhaps partially due to differences in brain construction and operation between women and men. Researchers in neuroscience have found that hormones effect brain development, resulting in a higher degree of intercommunication between the different areas of the brain in women, and a higher concentration of activity to localized areas of the brain in men. Their studies on gender differences between female and male brains suggest that female brains process multiple aspects of information at the same time, and more quickly, and process communication more thoroughly than male brains do 8. This implies that women are able to perceive the multiple aspects of a problem, or multiple alternatives for achieving a goal, at the same time, and then effectively communicate the solutions to others. Meanwhile, male brains are more singular in focus at any one time and are more perceptive of physical aspects of a situation like rates of speed and time, or human sexual behavior. This indicates that men excel in specialized tasks, or in achieving more specific goals 9. Overall, these findings would suggest women are most likely more effective social leaders, providing more holistic strategy and perceptive direction, while men are excellent as executers of such direction.

However, the development of the male thinking style into social aggression is apparently not inherent in male hormones or physiology. Rather, as a fascinating study by anthropologist Peggy Sanday shows, male expression of aggression towards others is socialized, based on the external factors of cultural orientation and segregation from women. It is a cultural habit, not a male instinct 10.

Similarly, the female behavior of catering to the male crowd and sabotaging other women, and sometimes men, seems to be more a peculiarity of certain cultures than an inherent norm. This is especially evident when examining the gender dynamics of other cultures.

By comparing cultures traditionally led by male solidarity groups to cultures traditionally led by female solidarity groups, it becomes apparent that when women follow collective male leadership their quality of life goes down and their behavior slowly conforms to unchecked male behavior, which is usually anti-social and violent 11. When men follow collective female leadership, this is not the case.

The leadership styles of women observed from a number of non-Western cultures demonstrate consistent results in the areas of social stability and quality of life. Societies where women are the primary decision makers for public policy, political action, and/or economic management result in egalitarian gender relationships, the elimination of male violence towards women, and greater provision of nutrition, healthcare, and education for their children compared to societies where men dominate decision-making. They are often associated with peaceful national prosperity 12.

In other words, under female leadership both female and male behavior improves, relationships stabilize, and quality of life goes up for all.

Specific examples of the benefits of female leadership can be found in documented and observed matriarchies, a couple of which still exist. Matriarchies provide great examples of female-style thinking in operation. Such societies feature women collectively exercising political and economic authority or power, in some cases attributed to them by right of a culture’s religious beliefs and in other cases gained by them because of the vital or economic importance of their labor to the society 13. In addition these cultures are known for their lack of male aggression towards women; in turn men are eligible for certain political or religious positions delegated to them by female leaders 14.

In a scholarly documentation of all known and researched societies worldwide between 1750 B.C. and 1960 (A.D.), 32% of these societies qualified as matriarchies by this definition. Some feature women in public positions of power, like the Lovedu (South Africa), or the Abipones (Argentina); others have women in collective economic control and leadership, delegating public roles to men, like the Ashanti (W. Africa), the Iroquois (N. America), The Tchambuli (New Guinea), and the !Kung (Africa). Some feature female collectives that hunt and war independently from the men in their culture, like the Eastern Cree (N. America) and the Abipones. Others show women integrated with men in their culture while retaining certain legal privileges over them, like the Minangkabau (Indonesia) 15.

But all exhibit the features of female-style thinking in their operation, and all are essentially matrifocal. In matrifocal societies, female solidarity and interpersonal alliances are strong and male conformity to female values follows.

A society becomes matrifocal when collective female decisions and activities override the importance of male activities for society because of the concentration of socio-economic power among women 16. Men then focus on and respond to the interests of women as social habit, because that’s where the public interest is, that’s where important things are happening, and that’s where all the fun is. As a result, men come to emulate and learn from the female values of the women. Women constitute the “popular crowd” in their society because of their success, and because of their solidarity, which seem to go hand in hand.

Interestingly enough, the pattern of values found in the female leadership styles of matriarchies seem to closely resemble the female thinking and problem solving styles found among female students in Western culture 17.

Upon further study, it becomes apparent that matrifocal societies, or matriarchies, are led by female-style thinking. Female leaders do not hoard decision-making power, despite their ability to do so, unless absolutely necessary on a temporary basis to prevent social dissension. Instead, they often prefer to delegate their political duties and share government leadership with men for the sake of labor efficiency and the men’s sense of social inclusion. In some matriarchies, these delegated positions are more for show or symbolism than political function. In other matriarchies male positions are more functional but limited by female leadership through female selection and female veto. Either way, this strategy increases social cohesion by benevolently providing visible social identity for men, while simultaneously extending women’s capacity to rule and keep watch over both the public sphere and the family sphere, leaving them time for childcare and economic productivity 18. The majority of matriarchies result in sexual egalitarianism between women and men 19. They are much less likely to be engaged in war than patriarchies 20. Most matriarchies seem to rule their society peacefully through the power of attraction, accumulating prosperity and showing generosity with it towards their followers and allies. Their priorities seem to be social peace and a high quality of life, economic stability, efficiency in human resources, and future survival of their society. And being their priorities, those goals are met.

The benefits of matriarchy for women are evident: supportive social networks and mutual aid groups, economic self-sufficiency, economic security for one’s children, control over the home environment, responsive public policy-makers. And according to researchers, matriarchy would certainly be in the best interest of children. However, the benefits of matriarchy for men and society as a whole are easily overlooked, mainly because these societies are unlikely to make international news. They’re too peaceful and contented, and aren’t prone to invading the countries surrounding them.

To give an example of matriarchal social values in action, I will offer a quick description of the Lovedu, a royal matriarchy in South Africa that was still in existence, although on a much smaller scale, as of 2001. For over 400 years the tribe was ruled by a succession of bachlorette queens which had a reputation among neighboring tribes and even roaming European invaders as politically savvy, avoiding altercations and battles through “skillful diplomacy”.

By excellent management and public policy, these queens increased economic productivity by making labor enjoyable and full of benefits, like free food and alcohol on the job, and avoided unnecessary rules and regulations for public life and work. Their diet was vegetarian and extremely healthy and well rounded.

This motivated them to be extremely hardworking. The economy prospered, and by investing in quality of life for society members and avoiding war they managed to maintain and accumulate that prosperity. Human resources were applied to the mastery of botany for food and medicine production, maximizing use of their resources for self-sufficiency. As a result, the Lovedu were a contented and self-supporting, stable society.

Women were independent and well respected in Lovedu society. They ruled religious life and, many of them occupied important political positions along with men. Critical diplomatic positions were occupied mostly by women, and both men and women in these positions were referred to as “Mothers”. Because of the abundance of impressive female role models, men were sexually attracted to the confidence, maturity and independence of older women and pursued them romantically. Marriages were performed by mutual consent.

Their foreign relations strategy was to diffuse political tensions with generous offerings of land and brides for intermarriage. In this way, each queen always managed to secure protective treaties and form prosperous alliances with their neighbors, increasing the monarchy’s respect and renown in the area.

Anthropologists who observed their culture first-hand considered them to have a “genius” for social life 21. As Ann Jones explains:

“Lovedu wealth was not based on trade; cattle and land passed from one household to another as gifts, and security lay in faith in reciprocity and the equivalence over the long term of services and obligations.” 22. This was how all Lovedu were raised and this mentality was positively reinforced with social inclusion.

One has to admire the frame of mind that would lead a group of people to behave in such a trusting and productive way, and yet wonder where it came from. It seems that Lovedu culture and society placed a high value on such personal behaviors as “appeasement, compromise, cooperation, helpfulness, tolerance, generosity”, and the ability to live at peace with others. They disapproved and looked down on the practice of individual competition, aggression, exploitation, and all forms of coercion, quarrelsomeness 23. The attributes the Lovedu lived and governed by were the group-inclusive and holistic tendencies of female-thinking styles.

It seems the benefits of being accepted and popular in this society outweighed the short-term gains of selfish behavior, creating strong positive reinforcement for conformity to these values. The social expression of disapproval for anti-social or self-centered behavior provided the negative consequences that reinforced people’s positive behavior.

And there you have it. Rule by attraction rather than intimidation, unless you count the fact that other cultures feared losing the advantages and benefits of being associated with the Lovedu queen and on good terms with her.

Today, this culture is just a small-scale version of what it used to be, due to the monopolizing effects of European colonialism and Westernization in the area. Like all societies, matriarchies come and go. But the wisdom of socially oriented female instincts remains powerful in potential. When feminine aptitude is applied to social and economic development on a mass scale through female solidarity, collective goals such as social peace, egalitarianism, economic prosperity, sustainable resources, environmental preservation, productive foreign relations, universal child health care- they all become viable. Women live in safety from assault. Men are influenced and guided by female values while the most useful aspects of their male-thinking style are developed and their productive social potential is realized. Society at large enjoys a better quality of existence.

And as usual when it comes to female leadership, men benefit from it.

Oh, and as for how collective female leadership deals with the occasional signs of male attempts to hoard political power from women? They usually assert their dominance over men in the form of an agricultural and foraging food supply strike, or collective confrontation and public male humiliation. Or, as in the case of the Abipones, sometimes women enforce a mutually agreed-upon tribal ritual where they inflict public whippings on all the men in the village to keep their male egos in check.

But who says assertiveness and strict discipline aren’t inherently female values too? ;)

1 U.S. Department of Justice, (2005)
2 U.S. Department of Justice, (2005)
3 U.S. Department of Justice, (2005)
4 U.S. Department of Justice, (1998)
5 U.S. Department of Justice, (2000)
6 Pierce, (1998), Zohar, (2005)
7 Pierce, (1998), Zohar, (2005)
8 Gurian, (2001), Moir, (1989), Pringle, (2008), Rodgers, (2001)
9 Gurian, (2001) pp. 29-42, Moir, (1989) p.47, Pringle, (2008), Rogers, (2001) pp. 26-27
10 Sanday, (1981) pp.9,165-172
11 Sanday, (1981) p.156-160
12 Sanday, (1981) pp. 131, 165-177, UNICEF, (2007)
13 Sanday, (1981) p. 114
14 Sanday, (1981) pp.114-115, 165
15 Jones, (2001), Mead, (2001), Murdock, (1969), Sanday, (1981), Sanday, (2004)
16 Sanday, (1981) p.116
17 Pierce, (1998), Zohar, (2005)
18 Sanday, (1981) p.115
19 Sanday, (1981) p.177
20 Sanday, (1981) p.174
21 Krige, (1943)
22 Jones, (2001) p.17
23 Jones, (2001) pp. 15-17


Gurian, M., Henley, P., & Trueman, T. (2001). Boys and Girls Learn Differently!: A Guide for Teachers and Parents. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Jones, A. (2001). Looking for Lovedu: a woman’s journey through Africa. New York: Vintage Books.

Krige, E. J., & Krige, J.D., (1943). The Realm of a Rain-Queen: a study of the pattern of Lovedu Society. New York: Oxford University Press.

Mead, M. (2001), Sex & Temperament: in three primitive societies. New York: HarperCollins.

Moir, A., & Jessel, D. (1989). Brain Sex-The Real Difference Between Men & Women. New York: Dell Publishing.

Murdock, G.P., & White, D.R. (1969). Standard Cross-Cultural Sample. Ethnology 8: 329–369.

Pierce, G. (1998, Winter). An Inclusive Paradigm for Education-Valuing the Different Voice. Initiatives, 58(3): 57-66. Retrieved February 11, 2007, from The Contemporary Women's Issues database.

Pringle, A. D. (2008). How Boys and Girls Brains Differ. Master research module posted at the University of Science, Arts and Technology website, retrieved December 23, 2008, from

Rogers, W. & Rogers, R. (2001) The Psychology of Gender & Sexuality, Buckingham, England: Open University Press.

Sanday, P.R. (1981). Female Power and Male Dominance: On the origins of sexual inequality. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Sanday, P.R. (2002). Women at the Center: Life in a Modern Matriarchy. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

U.S. Department of Justice, NCJ 169592. (1998). Stalking in America: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey. Washington, DC: Patricia Tjaden & Nancy Thoennes.

U.S. Department of Justice, NCJ 183781. (2000). Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence Against Women: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey, at iv. Washington, DC: Patricia Tjaden & Nancy Thoennes.

U.S. Department of Justice, NCJ 207846. (2005). Bureau of Justice Statistics, Family Violence Statistics: Including Statistics on Strangers and Acquaintances, at 31-32. Washington, DC: Matthew R. Durose et al.
UNICEF. (2007). The State of the World's Children 2007. New York, NY: UNICEF.

Zohar, A. (2005, January). Physics Teachers’ Knowledge and Beliefs Regarding Girls’ Low Participation Rates in Advanced Physics Classes. International Journal of Science Education 27(1): 61-77. Retrieved February 5, 2007, from The Academic Search Premier database.


Anonymous said...

I really believe this is the best short synthesis of the available literature on the topic of matriarchy. I wish it could be made more widely available so that everyone interested in the topic could read it.

I particularly like the emphasis on female solidarity. A female-led society and culture is not just individual women taking over individual slots in the present culture. Nor does it require changing all at once and in its entirety our present male-dominated culture. The key to changing culture may be female solidarity--sisterhood. A recent article in the November 2008 issue of Atlantic by feminist by Sandra Tsing Loh concludes that while men rule by competition, women rule by building networks. The article is entitled "Should Women Rule." The answer is assumed to be "yes" (thankfully progressive public opinion is tending in this direction), but the question is how. Solidarity, networking, acting in concert is the way for women because most women don't have the extreme competitive instincts alpha males have.

I also like the idea of public disciplinary actions that put down males when they try to lead or dominate in the old ways. Most people don't understand the social function of humiliation or rather, humbling; they see it is a tool of oppression. But, understood in the older religious context, it has a function that needs revival: limiting the operation of the (male) ego.

Such a ritual would have to be mutually agreed upon. I like what Elise Sutton said one time. If women can use symbolic and mild violence against men, it brings out their "brazen" side. It's a quality that takes self-confidence to a higher level. No apologies. You adjust to my world, not me to yours. If you don't like it, tough. That brazen quality is what will take us into the new world.

And women like you will be in the van.



Blanche Black said...


You might be interested in an article on the Gulabi Gang, a band of 10,000 village women in Northern India who fight for justice for women when the government neglects or refuses to do so. They stick fight, and when their efforts are met with male resistance they administer justice themselves, physically. I recently added the link to the blog under the "Good Advice" category as "On a Female Justice System".
Nice to hear from you.

-Ms. Christina

Dan said...

This is an uncommonly well documented and thought-provoking analysis that provides a cogent argument for the benefits of matriarchy. This is not merely an oversimplified writing of “men are violent and women are cooperative.”

In particular, her statement, below, is absolutely on-target:

"When the most badly behaved group of people is rewarded the best social treatment in the form of professional alliances, social fawning, and exemption from family obligations and the rules of fair play, their society is demonstrating a system of rewards and punishments that encourages the well-behaved among us to throw away their good social habits for the sake of social advancement."

In addition to the problems that have been documented as a consequence of living in a patriarchal society, this statement has particular meaning historically (think of totalitarian regimes for example). In the current economic environment we are witness to the egregious rules by which corporate America rewards its own excesses, even when its performance is poor. That there are few checks and balances on the excessive compensation given to corporate CEOs is well established. The dynamics of power in corporate America epitomize the defects in organizations in which financial rewards are given at the expense of long-term planning and performance.

For those who assume that my writings are those of a woman, they are incorrect. I am a man in my late 40’s who found this piece stimulating rather than a diatribe; thought-provoking rather than an exercise in close-mindedness; and has a positive outlook rather than a negative outlook.


john said...

I think any true relationship between a Dominant Woman and a submissive man must take social and political consideration in to account. As I've said before, female dominance has to be more than sex and physical interaction. It has to be grounded in the understanding that female authority has benefits for all and that for too long women have been marginalized in a patriarchal power structure.

For me, as a self-identified submissive male, matriarchy is a must. I can't imagine how a truly submissive man wouldn't support a return to a more matriarchal-oriented society or, at the least, publicly refer to himself as a 'feminist' and be openly supportive of women in every respect.


Coyote said...

Fascinating essay I truley enjoyed it. You manage to illustrate your points well without railing on either sex (too much).

I believe you are correct, women who try to change things by asking the same questions as men, are doomed to repeat men's mistakes. The questions a person asks frames the understanding of something. With the western world's economy, and perhaps culture, on significant permanent change, or perhaps even collapse, it is time women should abandon the the questions men ask and begin to ask their own (again).

Blanche Black said...

Nice to hear from you.

I will correct you, though- I do not rail on either sex at all. These articles function as cultural critiques and focus on strategies that reunite the genders, which were divided by the separation in value assigned to them by male leadership in the first place.

Feminism, and even Female privilege, reunite the genders by providing them with common self-development opportunities and common social experiences.

Miss Roulette said...

... Whatever happened to good old fashioned egalitarianism? Really? I don't see this as a 'reunion' of anything; just more of the same, personally. Jumping on the bandwagon and flying the 'awareness' banner is not the same as taking an unbiased, objective, point of view and seeking to back that hypothesis up with adequate research. That's not what I took away from this article.

In fact, I continue to find things that 'academically' bash either sex, regardless of the author's expressed or unspoken intent. Quite frankly, as someone with an academic background in both psychology and sociology, with particular focus on power dynamics and what constitutes social 'norms' and 'deviance', I'm pretty tired of it.

I would consider this to be more of an opinion piece rather than academic, and I appreciate the effort gone into it. Though, I find the resounding message -- 'female-led or bust' -- to be the same-old gripe I've heard a thousand times, just better dressed in semi-scholarly robes.

That's just my opinion. At the end of the day, I feel there's merit to both of the sexes, and true political, social, and economic harmony can be achieved by healthy interpersonal dynamics contributed by both.

Where is this ever-raging debate of 'girls against boys' really getting us, anyway? Except, perhaps annoyed. I know I am.

Blanche Black said...

Ms. Roulette,

I can sympathize with your skepticism, as there are many women who are attempting to develop and express their own theory on how a woman can best relate to men without accepting or endorsing sexism. So many in fact that sometimes these women try to distinguish themselves and their theories by stating everything they don't agree with that another woman has put forth. However, I have yet to see any situation where discord between the two gender groups has been resolved by fostering discord among the members of one of them.

The article is not about inequality, or accusation, so there is no gender bashing. Of course women and men are equal – equal in potential to give. That does not mean they are the same, or that they give in the same way.

The article is about leadership, and which gender has a natural talent for egalitarian leadership based on historical track record. In this article, as in my other articles, it is not men as a collective that I criticize; it is the anti-social behaviors of those men who segregate themselves from women by excluding them socially and politically, as well as the hypocrisy of conformist women and men who indulge them with favoritism, that I mock. And that I do with glee.

The article is not a literature review, however it is inspired by the impressive scholarly study conducted by the anthropologist Dr. Peggy Reeves-Sanday and reinforced by the findings of eight others reputable sources. I hope the similarities in the results of all of these studies are brought forth through it, and I hope the implications of these similarities are considered by all who claim to care about gender desegregation.

headslave said...

Mistress Roulette is going to feature a discussion of your piece on her next podcast. I am looking into the research of your post


-I am unable to find the study whereby you claim "In a scholarly documentation of all known and researched societies worldwide between 1750 B.C. and 1960 (A.D.), 32% of these societies qualified as matriarchies by this definition."

-You claims for women's brains being more interconnected and better able to process information, find the right answer, and communicate it, is not supported by the Pringle study you cite. That study finds that men and women have different areas of specialization and expertise, but does not say that women's brains are better at all around problem solving.

-Furthermore, you link between inclusive versus exclusive thinking leading naturally to better governance seems entirely conjecture.

-How can you claim that you do not engage in gender basing? Your post makes broad claims that men rule Western society and are responsible for its ills because they are not able to handle the power that society has given them. You close the post by saying that whipping might do better to keep the male ego in check. If this isn't gender bashing, then there is really no meaning to the term.

Blanche Black said...


I suppose your Mistress also has her own personal police force on the lookout for me.

Well, if your Mistress insists.

I am willing to elaborate on the resources and focus on them separately from my own theory, as I believe all readers can benefit from examining them directly. I encourage those interested to consider the concepts presented in the resources themselves and develop a personal theory on the topic of female leadership from them. I think more cross-discipline work needs to be done on this subject.

1. "-I am unable to find the study whereby you claim "In a scholarly documentation of all known and researched societies worldwide between 1750 B.C. and 1960 (A.D.), 32% of these societies qualified as matriarchies by this definition.""

This is the study written about in Female Power and Male Dominance by Sanday. I will be referring to the copy from Cambridge University Press printed in 1981. The study itself is discussed in detail in the 'Appendix A, Sample' section on pages 232-235. The translation of data into statistics and an analysis of society types is featured in Chapter 8, and specifically on pages 165-172, and Tables 8.1-8.6.

It is on page 165 where the statistics on female led societies, male led societies, and societies with mixed leadership are discussed, and she refers readers to Appendix F, (pp. 253-256), in the book. Appendix F features Table F.3 on page 256 where these percentages are presented in more detail. She provides definitions for her terms like "male dominance" and "female power", which clarify what attributes in a society they are referring to. On P.164 in Chapter 8 she defines what she means by "male dominance" in a society. In Chapter 6 on P.114 and P.116-117 she defines what she is referring to when discussing female "power" and "authority".

It is important to note what researchers Martin and Voorhies observe about the differences between female leadership and male leadership. In Chapter 8, P.177, Sanday cites that Martin and Voorhies link matrilineal societies to accommodating and integrative characteristics, and link patrilineal societies to acquisitive and internally divisive characteristics. Sanday says their work further implies that patrilineality is more likely to be associated with sexual inequality, and matrilineality with sexual equality; and, based on her study, she agrees with them.

Another passage worth noting is on P.115, (Ch.6), where she explains how a society can feature women who dominate economically or politically while having publicly visual leadership positions delegated to men. You can read about Sanday's more recent work with matriarchal cultures in Women at the Center: Life in a Modern Matriarchy.

Blanche Black said...

(Dear Headslave, cont.)

2. The Pringle Study "-Your claims for women's brains being more interconnected and better able to process information, find the right answer, and communicate it, is not supported by the Pringle study you cite. That study finds that men and women have different areas of specialization and expertise, but does not say that women's brains are better at all around problem solving. "

Let me indicate what Pringle says that gives me reason to think female leadership would result in a more egalitarian and peaceful society than male leadership would:

Pringle, P.23 : "Boys and girls also differ in their approach to group work. Girls are more sensitive to those around them while boys will focus on the task to do, insensitive to the others in the group. Cooperative learning comes more naturally to girls and is a style that they prefer. Boys are much more motivated by competitive activities. It is also very important to boys to establish a pecking order in the group while girls are more likely to work together without a definite leader or group hierarchy."

And this is what gives me reason to think that women's brains are more interconnected and better able to process information from multiple areas of the brain at once for purposes of problem solving:

Pringle, P.8: "In one blind test on fourteen brains obtained after autopsy scientists found that “in women an important area of the corpus callosum was thicker and more bulbous than in men.”7 This allows for more communication between the left and right hemispheres, allowing more parts of a woman's brain to work together simultaneously. The hippocampus is larger in women. The amount and speed of neuron transmissions in the hippocampus is also higher in females, which enhances short-term memory storage." ...

and that they are better at communicating so they can relay whatever needs to be relayed:

Pringle, P.8-9: "Researcher Sandra Witelson has found that “women's brain cells are about 15 percent more densely packed than men's in the prefrontal cortex, the portion of the brain located behind the forehead.”9 This is an area responsible for processing language. Another study, commenting on the degree of difference in neuron concentrations between men and women, said, “The differences are so large, and the variance is so small, that there is not even any overlap in the distributions between male and female. The brain tissue of every single woman in this study has a significantly higher concentration of neurons than any man had.”10"

The other studies I cite by education researchers on gender differences in information processing show similar results.

(My thoughts: What's important to me about these studies is how they reveal men and women are equal in potential for productivity and social usefulness. They just have different strengths and function better in different kinds of work, as the study implies. From results like these it just seems to me that women function better as social leaders and men function better in more focused and clearly defined types of work.---End of personal thoughts).

Blanche Black said...

(Dear Headslave, cont.)

3. Inclusive vs. Exclusive thinking:

"Furthermore, you link between inclusive versus exclusive thinking leading naturally to better governance seems entirely conjecture."

To that I say:

Pierce, Gloria. (1998, Winter). An Inclusive Paradigm for Education-Valuing the Different Voice. Initiatives, 58(3): 57-66. Retrieved February 11, 2007, from The Contemporary Women's Issues database.

Look for the part about "inclusive thinking" vs. "exclusive thinking".

4. About gender bashing:

"Your post makes broad claims that men rule Western society and are responsible for its ills because they are not able to handle the power that society has given them."

Let's start with: "...broad claims that men rule Western society..."

Mmmm.... well, the statements I make about men ruling Western society come from the generally agreed upon fact that all Western societies have featured male presidents up until some recent and exceptional breakthroughs, and that the large majority of the rest of their government positions are also occupied by men. Western societies are also traditionally recognized as patriarchal rather than matriarchal.

"..and are responsible for its ills because they are not able to handle the power that society has given them."

As for men being responsible for its ills, the male leaders I am referring to as a group of "undisciplined group of bullies and blundering idiots" in the beginning of the piece is just a reference to the people in high positions of financial power that have been identified as being responsible for the national mortgage crisis and multiple bank collapses. Not to mention the ills accomplished by the previous administration's political leaders. All of them were men.

The U.S. Department of Justice seems to think that men are responsible for the vast majority of our violent crime ills as well.

Whipping men: It is a reoccurring theme on my blog that men's social conditioning in our culture is inferior to women's social conditioning in it's success rate for developing social empathy, self-sacrificing generosity, altruism, and consideration for others. This cultural divide is what undermines the development of intimacy between the genders and puts men at a disadvantage socially. The rest of my blog is devoted to advocating female reconditioning of men in intimate relationships. A lot of this involves developing discipline strategies.

Whipping is just one way some people like to do this. And apparently, that style of male behavior modification transcends cultural barriers.

-Ms. Christina

Anonymous said...

I agree completely.

I think there are many signs that women in the west are also taking power away from men. In university it is common for classes to be 70-80% female. They also get the highest grades. It is not that men are falling behind, it is that women outperform men as soon as they are no longer held back or discriminated against.

Studies also show that businesses run by women, or that have many women in top positions, make more money.

Governments run by women are less corrupt. Some third world countries have put women in charge of administrations to combat corruption successfully.

It seems to me that the vast majority of young women know they are superior to men and that men should serve their interests in society and relationships of any kind. I know many young women who plan on hiring women over men as well, when they are in the position to do so, due to their higher level thinking style overall.

I've never been in a relationship with a dominant woman. Yet each non-dominant or non-feminist woman I've been with made it clear they were at the centre of the relationship, and that it was my job to cater to their every need because either they felt they inherently deserved it as a woman or it is 'just the way things are', and many even justified it by saying women are better than men. Young women these days seem to have this mindset thanks to feminism's pervasiveness in our culture. Even non-feminists know women rule.

It is just a matter of time before women over take men and put men in their place. Once you remove restrictions on women, this is how things naturally progress.

It may be hard for men to admit, but deep down we all know women are better than us and deserve whatever they want from us. In public men scoff at this, but in relationships with women they always give in.

Thanks Christina for sharing your wisdom!


Blanche Black said...


Sounds like you've been reading Womenomics, by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay. Their work seems to support your perspective.

-Ms. Christina

Julie said...

«Overall, these findings would suggest women are most likely more effective social leaders, providing more holistic strategy and perceptive direction, while men are excellent as executers of such direction.»

Simple logic! And fortunately we are heading to this now that our superiority over male is demonstrated and our domination grow and grow in every aspect of life (school, work, etc.). It's time for them to serve and obey us. We are the natural leaders and they are the natural executers.


Blanche Black said...


Thanks for your comment. Although, I would like to clarify the point being made in that section of the article, which some readers could take out of context.

I am not saying that men are unimportant and women are all-important. Nor am I saying that men's input from their professional and personal experience is unimportant.

I am saying that the relationship between women and men is symbiotic, and that women should make the final decisions when it comes to managing resources or social groups. At this point, many studies have been done that show women to be more successful at managing resources for businesses, the financial industry, and families. They have an edge over men in directing operations and groups, among other things, and so it's in everyone's best interest that they use those skills for everyone's benefit.

Men have many abilities and natural inclinations that give them an edge over women in certain types of performance and goal achievement, which makes them quite valuable and desirable for any woman in leadership.

When a man applies his abilities to goals set by female leadership, he makes himself most beneficial and necessary to others.

Anonymous said...

I've found your blog casually, and I find this anthopological view on matriarchy very interesting. I'll try to read more on Sanday's work. I'm looking for scientific theories on the benefits of matriarchy. I'll keep reading you, there's a lot of info here. Sorry for my english is not great.

I have turned my family into a matriarchal family, and it's been a great experience, for all. I must congratulate you for your reflections on this issue.
Take care,