Male Promiscuity in Matriarchal Societies

There’s a thread going on in IMHO right now about the double standard applied towards promiscuous women in the US, UK, Australia, and Canada and it has evolved into a discussion on the biological urges of the two sexes, which I’m mostly disinterested in.

It did make me curious about what promiscuous men were thought of in female dominated cultures though. Are there any contemporary matriarchal societies in the world today that anyone knows of? I can’t think of any. If not, what about in ancient times? I know Egypt was, for one. Are there any existing records of ideas on male promiscuity there? Anywhere else?

There’s one in Tehuantepec, a town in Oaxaca, Mexico, but I don’t know anything about them.

IIRC there is an ethnic subgroup in southwestern China that is still a matriarchal society where the males have very few rights/property/etc. I can’t remember the name of the tribe/clan/area. A google search on Chinese + matriarchal + society brings up references to the Achang, Yi and Jino ethnic minorities. I believe the article I read was a few years ago in the WSJ.

Minoan society, possibly, though the records are so scant my guess is there isn’t any ancient commentary on male promiscuity in that society. Even the extent of the speculative Minoan matriarchy is an open question, really.

Ancient Egypt on the other hand, probably doesn’t count. In the Old Kingdom non-royal women were quite explicitly NOT in a priviledged position:

We have mentioned how the Instruction of Ptahotep advises a noble to cherish his wife as a valued and productive piece of property, and it could be argued that women were basically chattels, though perhaps the most valuable of chattel.

From The Culture of Ancient Egypt by John A. Wilson ( 1951, University of Chicago Press ).

While relative status of women may have improved into the Middle and New Kingdoms, I don’t think there is a great deal of evidence pointing to a real matriarchal society, only a more egalitarian one ( i.e. rights to divorce, own property, etc. ). The high status of the divine royals and occasional female rule ( quite rare, even then ) doesn’t necessarily translate to a matriarchal society any more than Elizabeth I’s reign equalled an English matriarchy. Of course my references are a bit older, so I am open to correction on this.

One can find some near-modern, but not contemporary examples of at least shared power in at least a few Amerindian societies, the Iroquois ( Haudenosaunee ) perhaps most prominently, where clan matrons had clearly delineated powers including the ability to make and unmake chiefs ( they didn’t sit directly on matters of policy, but could more obliquely steer the polity in such fashion ). Not really matriarchal, but closer to it.

  • Tamerlane

The Ladies of The Lake - A Matriarchial Society