Matriarchy/Patriarchy Comparison Chart

The words "Matriarchy" and "Patriarchy" seem to be opposite in their terminology. In reality they are different but not opposite. We need therefore to come up with either different words or correct meanings.

The word "Patriarchy" is the proper word to describe a situation, w world view and a political system.

Patriarchy (Gr. patri<pater=father + Gr. archos=ruler)

  1. A form of social organization in which the father or the eldest male is recognized as the head of the family or tribe, descent and kinship being traced though the male line.
  2. Government by men. Opposed to matriarchy.

The word "Matriarchy" seems at first look to be the opposite of patriarchy as noted in the above dictionary definition. "After much deliberation, I have settled on the term 'matriarchy' for the woman-oriented societies described herein, though I am not entirely comfortable with the term. The word matriarchy is an awkward one for two reasons:

  1. It overemphasizes motherhood
  2. "Archy" implies rank and rigid strata of power over others."

Other terms that have been suggested are gynist, matrifocal, chthonic, etc. but these terms add to the confusion. So until the right word comes along, I, like Kristie Nelsen, will use matriarchy.

In the comparative chart listed below, it will be seen that there are fundamental differences that are greater in their effect then simply being opposite. Not only are political systems and social structures radically different, but the entire way the universe and all life is viewed, is equally as radically different.

Comparison of Patriarchal and Matriarchal Systems

P= Patriarchy
M= Matriarchy

Philosophy — world view

P: Linear, hierarchical, atomistic, dissecting
M: Circular, cyclical, spiral, egalitarian, Holistic

P: Separation of God/man, body/spirit/mind
M: Integration of total self, and of self/community/nature

P: Polarization — world vs. god, good vs. evil, heaven vs. hell, love vs. hate — extremes, absolutes
M: All is seen in many harmonious forms, dualitites, triplicities, etc.

Community Interaction

P: Private ownership of property, inheritance: father to son
M: Non-ownership of property, inheritance: mother to daughter

P: Private ownership (by males) of: name, wife, children, land, slaves, accumulated wealth
M: Private ownership (male & female) of special, "magickal" objects, household items, etc.

P: Nature and lesser beings are seen as objects to be exploited
M: Nature is seen as being in balance and needs to maintain that balance

P: Consumer oriented — things to be used up (destroyed) leaving waste products such as trash, Sulfur dioxide, radiation
M: Human/Nature oriented, non-destructive energy sources (solar, wind, water, methane, etc.)

P: Seemingly limitless food supply, energy, resources to be used up
M: Conservation, recycling

P: Resistance to research and experimentation. Approach is by dissection. "Rational", scientific
M: Encourage research and experimentation by personal experience, observation, holistic approach, "empirical"

Religious Systems

P: Sky–Father–God (thunder-fire-sun)
M: Earth, Mother Goddess (Water, Earth, Moon)

P: Monotheistic or modified monotheistic (major god-lesser god, or nebulous ideas such as the trinity)
M: Pantheistic, polytheistic, emphasis on Goddess (mystery of child birth) and Her consort. (Gods as archetypes)

P: God in high or inaccessible places: clouds, heaven, mountain tops, fire
M: Gods/Goddesses are in low and accessible places, erp, caves, springs, wells (womb of the Goddess) and from within

P: An intermediary is needed
M: Approachable by all

P: Worship is extremely serious
M: Joyful: "All acts of love and pleasure are my rituals"

Moral System

P: Regulated by law from God, prophets, priests, ministers, or others in authority
M: "An ye harm none, do what thou wilt"


P: Sexually repressive, sin, guilt
M: Sexually open, sometimes religious expression

P: Sex is seen as either extremely sacred (for procreation only) or animal lust
M: Sex is seen as a joyful expression

P: Monogamy (except males)
M: Monogamy, polygamany, polyandry, open relationships

P: Heterosexual (homophobic)
M: Heterosexual, homosexual, bi-sexual, acceptance of others

P: Maximum difference in dress and appearance, especially hair
M: Much cross dressing, uni-sexual clothing, much ornamentation

P: The body is seen as ugly, to be covered, something of shame
M: Little body covering, much nudity, coverings accents body

P: Rape used for power and control
M: No rape

P: Possibility of illegitimate children, bastards
M: No illegitimacy, a mother always knows her child

P: Virginity (in females) considered to be a virtue
M: Self-determination is seen as a virtue

  1. Webster’s New World Dictionary, 1958 ed.
  2. The Origin by Kristie Neslen, 1979
  3. Celebrations revolve around solar/lunar/seasonal changes (8 solar celebrations and 13 full moons per year)
  4. Duality: (not opposition, in conflict) male/female, active/passive, left/right, God/Goddess. Triplicities: new/full/dark moon, maid/mother/crone. Quadriplicities: the four seasons, the elements, etc.
  5. Ownership of property beyond that necessary to sustain themselves.
  6. In patriarchal systems, battles were fought over these possessions. In contrast, battles in the matriarchal system were usually over food and hunting grounds during times of need.
  7. Non-ownership means just that, no one holds title to land or natural resources, as compared to "state" owned, "public" owned, "syndicate" owned, etc.
  8. The higher the closer to God, the lower, the more removed. Also included should be blacks and women, placed somewhere just below useful animals. This structure gives rise to the idea of the divine right of kings, priest-King ruling classes, and the right of Eminent domain.
  9. The Judeo-Christian God probably evolved from "El Shaddai", a mountain god. Also note that God was seen in a "burning bush". Moses climbed Mount Sinai (Mountain of the Moon God, Sin) to receive the 10 commandments.
  10. From "The Charge of the Goddess".
  11. From the Wiccan Rede.
  12. Some examples of religious/sexual expressions: Temple prostitutes, swinging (sex in the fields for sympathetic magick), masturbation and homosexual sex before the hunt (practiced by the Celts and some North American Indians), power of orgasm to transcend, Tantric Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, experiments by William Reich.
  13. This shows contempt for women that were not dominated, and for the offspring. Men in power needed to know exactly who were their heirs. Also The Scarlet Letter.
  14. Virginity, in this case, defined by Patriarchy, means not having had sexual relations, hymen intact, pure and unsullied.
  15. The mate/father/lover can be the same person or different people.
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