“Patriarch” means “father.” In a patriarchy, belonging to the society, or legitimacy, comes from fathers through ritual and law. Patriarchy provides ruling power to men. “Matriarch” means “mother.” In a matriarchy, belonging to society, or legitimacy, comes from mothers through childbirth. Matriarchy distributes power throughout a community. Matriarchal systems are more likely to have female and male deities and priests. Monotheism is usually considered patriarchal, although worship of the Goddess, or God the Mother, is found in monotheistic models of matriarchy. Patriarchal gods include Zeus, Apollo, and Jehovah; matriarchal goddesses include Demeter, Aphrodite, Artemis, Isis, Afrekete, and Ishtar.
In the nineteenth century, Swiss scholar Johann Jakob Bachofen theorized that prehistoric societies were matriarchies. He attributes to matriarchy the origins of family, the creation of civilization, the beginnings of social structures, and the start of agriculture. Agriculture, however, led to patriarchy. American ethnologist Lewis H. Morgan described matriarchy within North American indigenous tribes, such as the Iroquois. Morgan influenced the German socialist Friedrich Engels, who theorized that private property, competition, and individualism sprang from patriarchy in Der Ursprung der Familie, des Privateigentums und des Staats (1884, The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State, 1902). In A Room of...
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