GYNARCHY


Gynarchy is a political system, a government, or even a society that is run by a woman or women. A society that traces ancestry through the female line, and worships a mother goddess is also considered as a gynarchy. Gynarchy is also called gynecocracy. The term gynarchy and gynecocracy are not commonly used in everyday language. There are also other similar words that hold similar meaning to gynarchy and gynecocracy. The word “gynaecocracy”, for instance, means a government run by one woman. The concept of gynarchy and all other related concepts are encouraged by feminists.

The most common form of gynarchy is the matriarchy. In fact, these two terms can be used interchangeably with matriarchy as the more common term. A matriarchy is a society in which the women, most especially the mothers, hold the highest positions or roles of leadership, responsibility, and authority. Many academic scholars claim that in all history there is never a society which is purely matriarchal. In other words, in these so-called matriarchal societies, men still hold positions of authority but, in certain circumstances, the rights of the women are given more importance compared to that of the men. One example are the Iroquois. They were a group of several North American tribes. In the case of this people group, women could own properties and leadership passed through the maternal lines. Once a woman got married, her properties did not mix with those of her husband’s. The married couple also stayed with the woman’s family, and if the husband could not properly do his responsibilities, the wife could divorce him and he would be forced out of the house. If they couple had children, the children stayed with the mother. As for leadership in the group, any unsatisfactory chief could be removed from position by a council of women elders, and the chief’s sister would be the one who would choose the successor. The proper term for this kind of society is actually “matrilineal”, or that is, the ancestral descent is traced through the mother’s line.

 There were also situations in ancient societies wherein there is a “forced gynarchy”. Since tribal wars were very common, all males in the tribe had to become warriors. Due to the constant wars, those that were left to take care of the villages and the communities were women. Women’s leadership was strengthened especially if only a few men returned to the villages after these wars.

At present, gynarchy is more of an advocacy than an actuality. As already stated, many feminists are pushing for a society ruled entirely by women. This, however, is an extreme point of view on the matter. There are some feminists that view gynarchy not as female dominance but rather placed women on equal footing with men. There are some societies at present which cannot be considered patriarchal or matriarchal; rather leadership and authority are equally shared by both sexes. In fact, their form of government or leadership is similar to that of the Iroquois. Some feminists believe that social order can be kept if there is equality between men and women in all aspects of life.

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