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Matriarchy -- evolution to Patriarchy


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This essay supports a few posts in the Reimagined Mahabharata blog ( in which I assert that South Asia had three matriarchal cultures in 4000 BCE that participated in a great revolution around 2000BCE that is the source of the Mahabharata.

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Matriarchy -- evolution to Patriarchy

  1. 1. Matriarchy   Kamesh  R.  Aiyer    May 4, 20131Matriarchy:  The  mother  of  Government  Kamesh R. AiyerThis essay was written in support of the posts in the “Reimagined Mahabharata” blog,specifically the fifth one on the three matriarchal cultures of South Asia.The  Evolutionary  Framework  of  Matriarchy  Anthropologists are often cautious in making absolute statements, but poets are not soconstrained. Robert Graves’ asserted, in The White Goddess, that a matriarch-centeredorganizational structure is the “natural” state of human bands. It is tempting to say thatthis is obvious – mothers stay home and control the family and the “base camp” whilemales go off on long journeys and move from band to band. But this is not a given – forexample, two primate species closest to us, the chimpanzees and the bonobos, appear toexhibit completely different social organizations. Bonobo bands are female-centric andrun by the female head, chimpanzee bands are male-centric and run by the alpha male.There are many behavioral differences that go with these different organizations, but onebig difference is the relationship between bands and between individuals within bands.Similar behavioral differences are displayed by other mammals – elephants for example,form female-centric and female-run bands. Lions appear to form male-centric butfemale-run bands. Canines – wolves, foxes, dogs, etc. – seem to form gender-neutralbands. There are other behavioral differences between these animals but the form of theband seems to underlie many differences – the similar band organization betweenbonobos and elephants may underlie similarities in band behavior.
  2. 2. Matriarchy   Kamesh  R.  Aiyer    May 4, 20132The choice of organization for most animals appears to be genetically specified, butthe demographic and productive nature of the environment drives the selection pressuresthat lead to genetically mediated choices. For instance, it appears that the differencebetween chimpanzees and bonobos can be traced to a key difference in habitat – thebonobos have no competition in the niche they occupy north of the Congo river, whilechimpanzees compete directly with gorillas south of the Congo. Inter-speciescompetition for this niche leads to intra-species competition between chimpanzee bandsfor food and security. Battles are frequent between chimpanzee bands, but have neverbeen observed among bonobos. Chimpanzee males are larger than chimpanzee females –this makes them better fighters and as a result (possibly) resulted in a social hierarchy inwhich males are valued more than females. Evolution has selected for male-centric andmale-run chimpanzee bands. The bonobos, on the other hand, are not subject to suchcompetition and intra-band competition for resources would be rare (or non-existent, ifour observations are valid). Band members form friendships with members of otherbands and occasionally appear to visit each other.Population control is achieved in chimpanzees by oestrus (“heat”) – sexual receptivityof females is limited to certain times during the year, thus limiting fertility – and byinfanticide. When a female chimpanzee is receptive, the male (or males) have anincentive to prevent other males from accessing the female. At the same time friendshipsamong males allows the more powerful to share females with the weaker protégé. As aresult, a power hierarchy develops among male chimpanzees that is then used to controlthe females. Infanticide happens for many reasons, but one of the most common is whenthe alpha male of a troop is overthrown by another unrelated male. Infanticide is both
  3. 3. Matriarchy   Kamesh  R.  Aiyer    May 4, 20133direct, with the new male killing unprotected young and indirect by self-inducedabortions by females. Some pregnancies are terminated by the stress of forcedrelocations or by the loss of range forced by competition.Infanticide does not happen because the new alpha male hates the children of the oldmale. While the mother is nursing she will not go into oestrus. By killing the nursingbaby the male ensures greater access to sex.1Thus, sex is subordinated to power (maintaining control over the band) and evenserves a reward/punishment role.Population control among bonobos is also achieved primarily by oestrus, but with awrinkle – a bonobo female in heat can be barely distinguished from one not in heat.Males, too, are almost the same size as females. As a result power hierarchies do not helpcontrol access to sex. Instead, many social interactions are accompanied by gender-neutral sexual acts – hugging and pecking as well as mutual rubbing of genitalia. Thematriarch of the band, the alpha female, is welcomed by all other females as a friend, andconversely, a female not welcome by others will never become a matriarch. Favoredmales are welcomed with sex and unfavored males are ignored. Control of the band is adistinct second to the use of sex to maintaining relationships.How does this relate to human bands? Humans form bands that have variantstructures, from matriarchal to patriarchal or even gender-neutral, small to large, fromsets of related individuals to apparently randomly formed groups. The plasticity of humanbands allows these bands to adapt to a variety of niches. A band may be matriarchal ifthe niche provides a cornucopia of resources and inter-band competition is either non-1At the same time, a male will not kill his own children – we do not know why, but pheromonal or hormonalreactions may be responsible. It seems unlikely that the male chimp knows that the sexual act leads to pregnancyfollowed by a baby.
  4. 4. Matriarchy   Kamesh  R.  Aiyer    May 4, 20134existent or not possible (if there is only one band, for instance). If, as a result of bandgrowth and the formation of new bands, resources become tight, inter-band sharing maybe replaced by inter-band conflict, which could lead to the formation of defensive troopsand the value of the man vis-à-vis the woman would increase. Over a small number ofgenerations (possibly even in one generation) a band might go from being matriarchal tobeing patriarchal.But in the context of a rich environment with no apparent constraints on resources,men do not have much of a role in the human family. Like bonobos, a man is not somuch larger than females, and cannot force a unified band to allow access if the womendo not want it. For this reason, we think that all three cultures that developed in SouthAsia were matriarchal.The  Role  of  men  in  a  matriarchal  band  In a matriarchal band, the females become pregnant, give birth to children, and jointlytake care of children. It is very obvious that the mother is the creator and sustainer of lifein the band. What makes a man necessary to a band? There are three big reasons:1. He is a spare hand that is always available2. His slight advantage in strength makes him useful in inter-band conflicts3. As the father of some of the children in the band he can help raise themWe will address these in turn. In times of plenty, the male eats more and may or maynot bring in a correspondingly larger quantity of food and other resources. In difficulttimes when food is scarce, he needs more and is not likely to be any more productive thanany other female. So the man’s role as provider is questionable.
  5. 5. Matriarchy   Kamesh  R.  Aiyer    May 4, 20135The male viewed as a spare hand that is always available compares unfavorably withadding another female member to the band who is not pregnant and does not carry ababy. As we said above, the male also eats more, so he creates a burden when a sparehand is not needed.The notion that the father of a child should play a role in raising the child is of recentorigin. Before a band can take this into consideration, the notion of fatherhood has to bedeveloped. That the father is the man who had copulated with the mother a month or twobefore her periods stopped and that the stopping of a woman’s period is the harbinger ofher visible pregnancy is a cultural and intellectual discovery of great consequence. Itmay seem unlikely to us that humans could ever have been ignorant of the causalrelationship, but there is sufficient anthropological evidence that human bands existedthat had not made the connection between sex and childbirth. That is, the discoveryprecedes the moral assertion that the male must help take care of his child. This raisestwo questions – how and when did the discovery happen, and, what were theconsequences of the discovery.Why is fatherhood not immediately obvious? The psychological basis of howcausality is recognized is one reason – psychologists have shown that the separationbetween a cause and its effect must be less than 300 milliseconds, otherwise causality isnot automatically recognized by the human brain. A child watches a ball on a screen hitanother ball – if the second ball moves within 300 milliseconds, the child will describe itsmotion as caused by being hit by the first ball. If the second ball takes more than 300milliseconds to move the child will have difficulty drawing the causal connection. And ifthe second ball moves many seconds after being hit, the child will absolutely deny a
  6. 6. Matriarchy   Kamesh  R.  Aiyer    May 4, 20136causal connection. Conversely, the brain will assume a causal relationship between anytwo events that occur within 300 milliseconds of each other.The point is, it is difficult for us to intuit causality when two simple behaviors followeach other but not within 300 milliseconds. To recognize a valid causal relation forother, more complex, events is only possible by deliberate and conscious thoughtbuttressed with protocols that minimize alternative causes and highlight singular effects(as the scientific method is intended to do). The birth of a child takes place nine monthsafter conception (actually the last menstrual period before conception, but this precisiondoes not matter for this argument) – there is no intuitive procedure by which therelationship between the cause (copulation) and the effect (conception, suspendedmenstruation, pregnancy, childbirth) can be discovered. Given that frequently conceptiondoes NOT happen only makes it harder to relate cause and effect.If the man’s role as “father” is unknown or unrecognized, the only role for the man isas a sexual partner, a boy-toy if you will. But this changes when fatherhood isdiscovered.The  Discovery  of  Fatherhood  The key discovery is that the men’s role in fathering children is associated with asingle sexual act and only that one act. As we said before, we are so accustomed toknowing this that it seems impossible that anybody could have thought differently.However, anthropologists have discovered that many aboriginal societies do not have ourexplanation for fatherhood. The interesting thing is that they recognize “fatherhood” butwithout any connection to the sex act.
  7. 7. Matriarchy   Kamesh  R.  Aiyer    May 4, 20137In a large fraction of cases, the connection between the father and the child is startlingand obvious – the child looks like the father, has hair and eyes like the father and as he orshe grows up exhibits behaviors unique to the father. Clearly this father had something todo with creating this child. But what is this something? And how to relate this to themany cases in which the child does not look like anybody or looks like a grandparent ofeither the mother or the father, while the child and the person we think of as the father arecompletely un-alike?Cultures have come up with many explanations. One explanation is that the fatherinfluences the child in the mother’s womb by being present every day (and night). Therelationship is magical in essence and the occasions when it does not happen have amagical explanation – an enemy witch prevented the influence, or the mother atesomething that neutralized the father’s role, or another male had a more powerfulpresence and shielded the mother from the father’s influence. The difficulty of drawingthe connection would have been exacerbated in cultures that had bacchanalia – festivalsduring which adults broke customary practices, including sexual exclusivity – often in thespring around the equinox. Then most of the fertile women became pregnant more orless at the same time a few months later, and the pregnancy could be explained as acommon effect of spring. And if one woman’s child does not look like her partner, whileanother woman’s child does, why, “influence through presence” explains it all.All the pregnant women participated in the spring bacchanalia -- circumstance couldbe interpreted in many ways. Pregnancy occurred through participation because it was amagical phenomenon or a divine gift. “Go take part in the bacchanalia” would be theadvice to young girls who wanted to be mothers. Since the rest of the world is also
  8. 8. Matriarchy   Kamesh  R.  Aiyer    May 4, 20138blooming, pregnancy could also be interpreted as the way spring affects humans. Thereis no way for a human band that is not involved in agriculture and does not raisedomesticated animals (all of humanity before 8000 BCE) to make the causal connectionbetween pregnancy and a role for the father in that pregnancy.It has been suggested that the discovery of fatherhood comes about by analogizing themale ejaculate to the female’s menstrual blood. This is a far-fetched suggestion. Oneejaculate looks like another and there is no obvious reason to believe that this hasanything to do with one woman getting pregnant while another does not. Malesmasturbate and the ejaculate is treated as an excretion. The possibility that masturbationis aided by imagining a sexual encounter only enhances the sex act as a thing-in-itselfwith no dependence or connection to other human activities. Anthropologist again havereported on cultures in which the suggestion that ejaculate had anything to do with child-birth occasioned derisive laughter. Women produce fluid as well, and that, we know isnot responsible for pregnancy – this makes the male ejaculate hypothesis even moreflaky.It is not as though sex was not important in the ancient world. “Venus” figurinesfound in a wide variety of Eurasian pre-Neolithic bands attest to some kind of obsessionwith the female figure and female sex organs. The number, variety, and distribution ofthese small clay figurines makes it clear that sex was not far from people’s thoughts.One speculation is that these figurines were given to men as payment for work or aspresents. The men would then use these as tokens that could be exchanged for food orsex. Sex became a superior form of masturbation, another necessity of male life afterfood, while the ejaculation fluid remained an irrelevant detail.
  9. 9. Matriarchy   Kamesh  R.  Aiyer    May 4, 20139Another observation could be that male animals fight over control of a band offemales – for example, stags fight over does in the spring and lions drive away most othermale lions from prides. Such behavior even occurs among birds – roosters drive awayother roosters from groups of chickens. But the connection between this and pregnancy istenuous – most animals become pregnant in the late spring, while the male’s jealousbehavior lasts throughout the season. Even the observation that among birds the malecan be observed to help feed the stay-at-home mother until the eggs hatch and then helpto feed the fledglings only establishes fatherhood as necessary for protecting the motherand raising the child, not that the father did anything specific to conceive the child.The bottom line is that no thought-experiment or testing protocol can decode themystery of conception.So how did humans figure out that a specific sexual act is the cause of conception?The answer lies in human observation of domesticated animals, when these animals havebeen raised for some reason other than their meat. For instance, dogs domesticated forcompanionship and security, or cows and goats domesticated for milk production, orsheep domesticated for wool. A caretaker or owner would note the animal’s distresswhen in heat, also note that a cow does not go into heat when producing milk for a calf,note that a cow-in-heat mounted by a bull becomes pregnant soon thereafter, and notethat the calf has some characteristics of the bull, even if the bull never sets eyes on thatcow again.Even with the above practical knowledge, entire cultures can draw the wrongconclusions – witness the story of Jacob and Laban in the Bible, in which Jacobinfluences the color of goats and lambs by feeding them in the presence of striped and
  10. 10. Matriarchy   Kamesh  R.  Aiyer    May 4, 201310solid wooden rods. And that story was written down at a time when (we think) peopleknew better, or should have known better. The hypothesis that sex causes conception isfundamentally bizarre and unbelievable even when asserted by the wisest people.An additional philosophical/cultural step is needed – the rejection of humanexceptionalism. Again and again, the wisest humans have made the assumption that weare different from animals. At the core this is the belief thatJust because an observation is true of an animal, it does not have to be true ofhumans. We are different.That belief is a particularly tough nut to crack. But crack it must in order to draw theconclusion that sex leads to conception.Once these steps are taken by the opinion-makers in a culture, the people will acceptthe reality of fatherhood. And when that happens, the elements of a rationale forpatriarchy are put into place.The  rise  of  male  power  If many members of a band are sick and unable to work, a man bonded to a womancan help with gathering food and other work. This can happen even without a disease –for instance, if most of the women become pregnant. If work has to be done in the fields,the men of a band may be slightly more productive than the women as they could workfaster and better. But, as we pointed out earlier, these do not make or break the band.Meanwhile, men claiming paternity for specific children and not for others, or claiming abond with one of the women and not the others, pose a risk to the integrity of the band –they cannot be trusted to take care of the children who are not their children, or thewomen who reject them (or whom they reject).
  11. 11. Matriarchy   Kamesh  R.  Aiyer    May 4, 201311But, if a band is in conflict over resources with other bands, any man bonded to awoman of the band is potentially a fighter for the band. As a culture grows in size, thepossibility of conflict over resources makes it inevitable that the value of fighting menwill increase. This results in the appointment of a tanist, a term used by Robert Graves toidentify the male war-chief of a matriarchal band. The tanist is responsible for puttingtogether an army that will fight the enemy; the tanist is also responsible for suitablyrewarding these men and disbanding the army when no longer needed. This makes itnecessary that the tanist be personally committed to the success of the matriarch.Unfortunately, fatherhood is not good enough to bind the tanist to the matriarch. Themale social hierarchy binds the men to each other and to the tanist, but, sex does not bindin the same way. Matriarchies are nothing if not pragmatic – the matriarch’s lover cannotbe trusted. Traditionally the tanist role goes to the matriarch’s brother or the matriarch’sson.As a result, settled matriarchal societies that are in conflict with surroundingsettlements develop a male power hierarchy headed by the brother of the matriarch astanist in parallel to the traditional female hierarchy headed by the matriarch. Such asociety needs to show the army, now mostly male and headed by the tanist, that they arehighly valued. During wartime this is easily accomplished with appropriate rewards foracts of heroism on the battlefield. But even such societies surrounded by hostilesettlements are not constantly in conflict. During the limited periods of peace the bandmust show that it continues to value men despite the lack of opportunity for the men todemonstrate their value.
  12. 12. Matriarchy   Kamesh  R.  Aiyer    May 4, 201312One way to improve the valuation of men in peacetime is to transfer some roles ortasks performed by women to men and/or to devalue some of the roles played solely bywomen. The transferred tasks need to be ones perceived as important. Other roles thatcould also be played by men but not transferred to them need to be portrayed as of lesservalue. The tasks assigned to men should be ones that can be suspended or abandonedduring wartime – i.e., they are of symbolic importance, while the tasks assigned towomen are ones that cannot be suspended. This transfer and re-valuation of roles is aslow process that is speeded up as the intensity of warfare increases. During peacefultimes, the presence of an army of males performing symbolically important tasks doesnot result in peace – instead the male armies engage in provocative activities that keepborders tense and make conflicts endemic. This increases the need for a watchful armycapable of suspending traditional assignments.As the need for an army, for defense or for offense, extends over many years, andmaybe multiple generations, the tanist demands the right to control the assignment ofresources that are critical to a functioning army. This will include power over budgets,taxes, fees, access to “justice”, and so on, rights that subvert the material power of thematriarch. Power shifts, from the old power structure under the matriarch to a new onebuilt around the tanist. If, or when, that happens, the stage is set for a coup in how poweris transferred.The  coming  of  the  Patriarch  In the initial stages of the takeover, a settled band would be headed by a matriarchand her brother, a war-leader tanist. The traditional successor to the matriarch is herdaughter – the tanist is her uncle. This is not tenable as he is not as bound to his niece as
  13. 13. Matriarchy   Kamesh  R.  Aiyer    May 4, 201313he was to his sister. So, in the early phase, the tanist brother of the dead (or retiring)matriarch would also retire and be replaced by the brother of the new matriarch, i.e., thenext tanist is the old tanist’s nephew. This is not, generally speaking, a problem – thematriarch’s death of old age probably indicates that her brother is also old and ready toretire. Even if the brother is not ready to give up the role, the traditional power of thematriarch ensures that the tanist will be deposed and replaced by his nephew.But as matriarchal power weakens, a powerful tanist could retain power after hissister’s death, possibly by acting as “regent” for his nephew. The situation would befragile and susceptible to violent change. One way to maintain stability is to createpractices that retain an organic relationship between the tanist and the new matriarch (hisniece). For instance, succession can center around the death of the tanist and not thematriarch. Something like this could have happened in ancient Egypt during the thirdmillennium. The change was dramatic – when the tanist, called the Pharaoh (“The GreatHouse”) died, his son succeeded him as Pharaoh, and succession was not tied to the deathof the matriarch (the “Great Queen”, i.e. the lady of the Great House). Her daughter stillbecame the next “Great Queen”.There is a hitch – the Pharaoh’s son becomes the Pharaoh and the Great Queen’sdaughter becomes the Great Queen. But traditionally, the tanist is the brother of thematriarch, and that relationship must be conserved. So, the new Pharaoh must be bothhusband and brother of the new Great Queen. In order to avoid full incest, the Pharaohmust be a half-brother of the Great Queen (son of the previous Pharaoh but with adifferent mother). Thus, he is both the tanist brother of the Great Queen and her husband,the Pharaoh.
  14. 14. Matriarchy   Kamesh  R.  Aiyer    May 4, 201314The daughter of the Pharaoh born of his half-sister is destined to be the next GreatQueen. His sons, with other women, are candidates to be the next Pharaoh. If the GreatQueen dies early, he can continue as Pharaoh, possibly with a symbolic marriage to hisdaughter. If the Pharaoh dies first, the Great Queen abdicates and a new Pharaoh andGreat Queen are crowned. If the Great Queen did not have daughters, the Pharaoh wouldnominate one of his other daughters to be the next Great Queen.A side effect of this succession model was that the other daughters of the Pharaohwere often not allowed to marry as their husbands might attempt to usurp the throne. Toprevent a coup of this nature, the daughter could not be allowed to marry or have loverswho might inspire revolution. Egypt is a prime example of how a patriarchal, patrilinealsuccession model can be jury-rigged onto a matrilineal, matriarchal system.The transition from a matriarchy to a patriarchy thus occurs in multiple steps – first,the matriarch loses power to the tanist; next the tanist does not retire when the matriarchdies; then the tanist decides that the next tanist should be his own heir rather than thebrother of the new matriarch; and finally, the role of matriarch becomes a symbolic oneperformed by the tanist’s own wife.The  Matriarchal  Mystique  –  a  defensive  reaction  Matriarchies did not go away without a fight. The fight is not conducted through war,but takes place in a political and social framework. The patriarch’s demand is simpleblackmail – we, the males, are needed for defeating the enemy and saving our tribe,therefore we should rule. One response to this is to create a “matriarchal mystique”around the person of the matriarch. Such a rationalization is not needed when the bandwas primarily female and males were visitors. But once the men become an integral part
  15. 15. Matriarchy   Kamesh  R.  Aiyer    May 4, 201315of the band (a necessity when the band settles down to form a village or town), and claimprivileges, the matriarch’s powers have to be protected. Cultural practices appear thatjustify the matriarch’s power – first and foremost are practices that ascribe magicalpowers to the matriarch and magical rituals that sustain the tribe. We may think of theseactions as superstitions, but they come into being to defend against patriarchy.Men do not menstruate and there is no reason to believe that men knew ofmenstruation when bands were all (or mostly) female. But with settlement, men becomea permanent fixture in the band and learn about menstruation. Menstruation is bloodyand therefore arouses fear; it stops during pregnancy, a mysterious event associated withgrowth and fertility; often, all the women in the band menstruate at the same time, alsomysteriously. Menstruation is magical and is the first mystery protecting the matriarch.The magic of menstruation expresses itself in the following mysteries:a) The fertility of the matriarch is seen to determine the success of agriculture. Asettlement culture depends on agriculture. Agriculture is an inherently riskyway of supporting a settled population – droughts are frequent and lead tofamines, and more than one drought is typical in every generation. The analogybetween the land producing food crops and females of all animals producingchildren is a compelling one. The connection between menstruation andfertility extends the analogy. The menstruating woman is analogous to thefertile land and just as she cannot produce a second child while still producingor raising one, the land cannot yield a second crop while yielding a currentcrop. As the woman ages, she becomes barren and this coincides withmenopause, the end of menstruation and an inability to have children.
  16. 16. Matriarchy   Kamesh  R.  Aiyer    May 4, 201316Menopause resembles a drought. These observations lead to a belief in amagical relationship between the fertility of the land and the fertility of women,in particular the fertility of the matriarch. The matriarch is the earth-mother,blood is rain, and children are the food.b) Rituals associated with the spring festival make fertility possible. The onset ofspring is often the beginning of a planting cycle and coincides with manyanimals and birds going into heat and becoming pregnant or laying eggs. Innorthern latitudes (though not in South Asia) the spring planting season is theonly planting season. Women do not go into heat, like many animals, so thespring festival in which all the fertile women take part is a metaphor forpreparing the soil for planting.Magical thought, i.e, use of metaphor and analogy to observe and explain externalevents as mirroring “internal” events, is a common superstition. The above observations,viewed through magical mirrors, generate the hypothesis that women, in general, and thematriarch in particular, influence the fertility of the soil. This is not an arena in whichcontrolled experiments are possible, and the occasional random coincidence of greaterfemale fertility (more children) and a productive crop supports the magical belief., whilenothing negates it. The matriarch’s power, being magical, is already a mystery – now themystery is put to use as a defense against the power demands of a tanist.A second defense of matriarchy is to co-opt some of the men into a shared powerstructure, creating a republic governed by “aristocratic” men and women. It relies onseparating out a power-wielding class from the rest of the men, thus using some men (the“leaders”) to rule. Only very rarely is the result a democracy. One of the hallmarks of this
  17. 17. Matriarchy   Kamesh  R.  Aiyer    May 4, 201317stage is the institutionalization of methods to prevent the accumulation of power in asingle man (and it is usually a man). The pot-latches of the Trobrianders is a typicalexample, but so are the distributive feasts described in Hindu myth. The bushmen of theKalahari will occasionally gang up on anybody who shows the desire to become powerfulby working harder during good times to save for the future.Springtime is associated with other magical rituals that show the matriarch’s powerover nature. She is born anew, sometimes in fire (Robert Graves identifies a bon-fireritual in Greek mythology that may exemplify this)2mirroring the fire used to clear forestfor planting. She goes into seclusion when menstruating to mirror the land lying fallowthrough the winter. She conducts rituals that structure life in the band during the year.These rituals begin (and end) in the spring festival – a bacchanalia during which men andwomen pair up, for that season or that year, and sometimes for life. The women whoparticipate ensure the fertility of next year’s crop by displaying their own fertility.Other rituals throughout the year also act to restrain potential patriarchs. Ritualbattles for the role of consort to the matriarch may keep the aspiring patriarch busy andexhausted; redistributive feasts that the aspiring patriarch is expected to host that oftenimpoverish them (and thus limit their power); rewards with fame and honor that isolatethe hero and alienate them from their supporters; etc..In summary: if there is no competition with other bands, the tanist, or other aspiringmale ruler, will be unable to increase his power. The transition to patriarchy occursunder the stress of competition leading to a militarized society which abandons2The annual bonfire during the spring festival of Holi commemorates the death of the monstrous Holika, the sisterof Emperor Bali, who enters the fire with her nephew Prahlad. She is supposedly immune to fire, but through theactions of the god Vishnu, she burns while Prahlad lives. This story is a relic of a time when the matriarch magicallysurvived a bonfire.
  18. 18. Matriarchy   Kamesh  R.  Aiyer    May 4, 201318redistributive feasts, honors war heroes with inclusion rather than isolation, and girds forstruggle by building up its food stores.