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- There is no clear evidence that matriarchies existed in the past and many scholars do not accept this.
- "Mother Goddes"
- There is difference of opinion between the academic and the popular conception of the term. The popular view is mainly driven by the Goddess movement and reads that primitive societies initially were matriarchal, worshipping a sovereign, nurturing, motherly earth goddess. This was based upon the nineteenth-century ideas of unilineal evolution of Johann Jakob Bachofen. According to the academic view, however, both Bachofen and the modern Goddess theories are a projection of contemporary world views on ancient myths, rather than attempting to understand the mentalité of that time. Often this is accompanied by a desire for a lost civilization from a bygone era that would have been just, peaceful and wise. However, it is highly unlikely that such a civilization ever existed.
- For a long time, feminist authors advocated that these peaceful, matriarchal agrarian societies were exterminated or subjugated by nomadic, patriarchal warrior tribes. An important contribution to this was that of archaeologist Marija Gimbutas. Her work in this field is now however largely rejected. Also with feminist archaeologists this vision is nowadays considered highly controversial.
- Since the sixties of the twentieth century, especially in popular culture, the alleged worship of the mother goddess and the social position that women in prehistoric societies supposedly assumed, were linked. This made the debate a political one. According to the goddess movement, the current male-dominated society should return to the egalitarian matriarchy of earlier times. That this form of society ever existed was supposedly supported by many figurines that were found.
- In academic circles, this prehistoric matriarchy is considered unlikely. Firstly, worshiping a mother goddess does not necessarily mean that women ruled society. In addition, the figurines can also portray ordinary women or goddesses, and it is unclear whether there really ever was a mother goddess.
- "it is not clear whether they, indeed, were representations of a goddess"
- "the site offers no unequivocal evidence of matriarchal culture or a dominant Great Goddess"
- "Thus the Mother Goddess may be revered in a society that is not formed as a matriarchy"
- Most anthropologists hold that there are no known anthropological societies that are unambiguously matriarchal, but some authors believe exceptions may exist or may have.
- In 19th century Western scholarship, the hypothesis of matriarchy representing an early, mainly prehistoric, stage of human development gained popularity. Possibilities of so-called primitive societies were cited and the hypothesis survived into the 20th century, including in the context of second-wave feminism. This hypothesis was criticized by some authors such as Cynthia Eller in The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory and remains as a largely unsolved question to this day.
- Here is for example a recent criticism about such views
- It is also unclear whether ancient european societies were invaded or there weer simply migrations
- On the issue of feminism in nordic societies: no such thing existed in the past. Celtic societies were patriarchal:
- Also see this:
- According to Irish and Welsh law, attested from the Early Middle Ages, a woman was always under the authority of a man, first her father, then her husband, and, if she was widowed, her son.
- Caesar provides an example of the subordinate position of women: according to him, men had the power of life and death over their wives
- Nordic societies was far more patriarchal and male dominated than current society or even the US in the 50s. They had strict gender roles and viking women were not allowed to participate in battles, not allowed to bear weapons, to use male clothes (such as pants) or to have short hair. A woman was expected to be chaste before marriage.
- They treated women a bit better than the rest of Europe, but a modern woman would still be horrified if she had to live in that society. They had arranged/forced marriages for women where the family chose the husband and often married 12-15 year old girls. Women could not participate in politics, could not be judges or hold any public office, could not trade, and could not inherit most of the property, as in viking society the oldest son inherited the family farm and the land. Vikings had foreign female slaves and viking women were largely confined to the home.
- If a woman committed adultery, divorce was the least of the penalties she might have to face, being also at risk for punishments ranging from fines to being slain if caught in the act by her husband in some parts of Scandinavia. On the other hand, a man committed adultery only if he slept with another man's wife, and his extramarital activities were never grounds for his own wife to divorce him.
- The areas where they were ahead of Europe were in that women could divorce under certain circumstances, women were protected from street harassment, and women could inherit the family property if they had no remaining living male relatives.
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