Matriarchy

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Matriarchy (also gynecocracy) refers to a gynocentric form of society, in which the leading role is taken by the female and especially by the mothers of a community.

There are no known societies that are unambiguously matriarchal,[1][2][3][4][5][6][7] although there are a number of attested matrilinear, matrilocal and avunculocal societies, especially among indigenous peoples of Asia and Africa,[8] such as those of the Minangkabau, E De (Rhade), Mosuo, Berbers or Tuareg, and Basques and Sardinian people[9][10] in Europe. Strongly matrilocal societies sometimes are referred to as matrifocal, and there is some debate concerning the terminological delineation between matrifocality and matriarchy. Note that even in patriarchical systems of male-preference primogeniture there may occasionally be queens regnant, as in the case of Elizabeth I of England orVictoria of the United Kingdom.

In 19th century western scholarship, the hypothesis of matriarchy representing an early stage of human development — now mostly lost in prehistory, with the exception of some "primitive" societies — enjoyed popularity. The hypothesis survived into the 20th century and was notably advanced in the context of feminism and especially second wave feminism, but this hypothesis of matriarchy as having been an early stage of human development is mostly discredited today, most experts saying that it never existed.[11]

The notion of a "woman-centered" society was developed by J. J. Bachofen, whose three-volume Myth, religion, and mother right (1861), impacted the way classicists such as Jane Harrison, Sir Arthur Evans, Walter Burkert and James Mellaart,[12] looked at the evidence of matriarchal religion in pre-Hellenic societies.[13]

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