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Ramblings on writing about matriarchy

Working on a matriarchal culture for a game and some stories I'm writing, and discovering to my chagrin that creating a culture is more difficult than it first appeared. One has to think of all the ramifications or things sort of fall apart.

I've come to the conclusion that I can't simply reverse the patriarchal model and put the women in the place the men are in a patrirachal culture; too many things don't work. For example, there is no such thing as illegitimacy in a matriarchal culture, because you know whose kid it is (kind of hard to miss the pregnancy and birth, after all :-).

Too many feminist writers I've read evidently haven't thought out all the ramifications when they create "matriarchal" societies. Heck, even some of the writers in the books on Wicca I've read apparently haven't done their research too well, and fall into the same trap the SF writers do, blithely talking about "'the old days of the matriarchy' as if it were historical fact.'" (to quote Marion Zimmer Bradley in one of her anthologies which I can't remember the name of right now). Sorry, but AFAIK there is no archaeological basis for a totally matriarchal culture (please correct me if I'm wrong; it's always possible I've missed something...:-). And don't get me started on the subject of parthenogenetic reproduction -- where's the fun in that? :-)

I consider myself a feminist, but think a world w/o men would be pretty shitty. I love my husband very much, and think I'm much better off having met and married him. A world with two sexes is much more fun.

But back to my writing dilemma -- I guess growing up for 30+ years in an essentially patriarchal culture (sorry, ladies, but it's true :-) has left its mark on me, and has made it harder to wrap my head around the creation of a matriarchal culture (and the ramifications of its mores, etc.). My husband and I have already come up with the idea that there would likely be no jealousy as such, at least not from the men (which leads to all sorts of fun situations with another male character from a different culture, but that's too long and involved to go into here...:-).

There is a multitude of ideas that work well in theory, but not so well in practice. Some of the "easier" ideas for matriarchal cultures that I've seen seem to fit this pattern (anyone else read the novel Motherlines by I believe it was Suzy McKee Charnas and go, "huh?" at the female tribe achieving parthenogenesis by mating with stallions? As my husband put it, more or less, "And a woman wrote that book?" :-). I suppose the challenge as a writer is to sift through that stuff and really think about how what you're writing affects the characters, on a number of levels.

Guess I think waaay too much about this sort of thing...:-)

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