Matriarchal Politics by Heide Goettner-Abendroth

Today’s blog is a sequel to: “Matriarchies Are Not Just a Reversal of Patriarchies: A Structural Analysis.”

On the basis of modern Matriarchal Studies, we can develop the vision of a new matriarchal, egalitarian form of society. This is called “Matriarchal Politics.”

The path to such a society has to combine matriarchal spirituality with politics, to create another kind of economy and another society. How this can be achieved is clearly portrayed by traditional matriarchal societies. Their economy, politics, social life and spirituality are inseparably connected: their goal is to provide a good life for all and this is assured through their structure and conventions.

Of course, we cannot go back and simply transfer historical patterns to the present.  It is unlikely that we will return to societies based on the blood-relatedness of clans or sole dependence on agriculture. History and its social development cannot be turned backwards. But for our own path into new matriarchal, egalitarian societies, we can gain much stimulation and great insights from patterns which have been tried and tested for millennia.

Economically, we have arrived at a place where it is no longer possible to further increase large scale industrial production and western living standards, without running the risk of totally annihilating the biosphere of the earth. A way out of this is the subsistence perspective, a style of economy for local and regional units that work independently and are self-sufficient. The resulting quality of life is more important than producing a great quantity of goods.

It is important to support existing subsistence economies the world over. Women are the main carriers of these economies. They need to be supported and helped to expand, rather sacrificed to the global market and development (or maldevelopment) models. Bio-regionalism, and the recognition of the value of women’s work, is a matriarchal principle.

On the social level, it is important to rid ourselves of the increasing “atomisation” of society, which drives people deeper and deeper into desperation and loneliness, making them ill and destructive, providing fertile ground for violence and war. What is necessary is the creation of affinity groups or “siblings by choice,” intentional communities of different kinds, neighbourhood associations, and regional networks. These affinity groups are not mere interest groups, which are quickly created, but also quickly disbanded. They must be formed on the basis of a spiritual-philosophical rapport of the members which allows the creation of a symbolic clan. Here, far more commitment is present than in a simple interest group.

Following matriarchal principles, such symbolic clans are generally initiated, borne by and directed by women.  Right now women can instigate them, and many have already done so. Their guiding principle must be the needs of women and children, which are the future of humanity. This is in contrast to patriarchal extended families and political men’s clubs and associations based on men’s desires for power and control which have contributed to oppression and exclusion of women and others. The new matri-clans, however, must integrate men fully, but according to a matriarchal set of values, which are based on mutual care and love rather than power. Men will have a better life in this kind of society than in patriarchy. It should be a political aim to support the creation of such communities in every possible way.

On the level of political decision-making, the matriarchal consensus principle is of utmost importance to reach a truly egalitarian society. This can be practiced in the here and now and everywhere. The consensus principle is the primary impulse for building matriarchal communities. At the same time, it prevents factions, sub-groups or individuals from dominating the group. It brings about a balance between the genders and also the generations, for adolescents and older people have the same standing as everybody else. Furthermore, consensus is the genuine democratic principle, for it provides what formal democracy promises, but never delivers.

Following this principle, the small units of these new matri-clans are the true decision-makers, but this can only be practiced on a relatively small scale, with the largest units being size of regions. According to the subsistence perspective, flourishing and self-sufficient regions are the political aim – not big nation states, state unions, and super power groups which are merely serving to increase the power of the powerful and reduce individuals to “human resources.”

On the spiritual-cultural level, we are bound to bid farewell to all hierarchical religions with a transcendent view of the divine and a claim to the absolute truth. This has led to the vilification of creation, the environment, humankind, and especially, of women. The aim is a re-enchantment and sanctification of the world as a whole. For according to matriarchal values, everything in the world is divine. This leads to everything being honoured and celebrated in a free and creative way: nature in her manifold appearances and various beings in their diversity, and the organisation of the human communities in different ways.  Women would be celebrated at one time, at another men, another young people, and another older people: honouring their special skills and abilities and their “dignities.”

Every step we take towards this aim of creating a new matriarchal, egalitarian society is worthy of a celebration.  For each one of these steps is an act in the creation of a new her-story, which could provide an example of how all of humanity could live a happier life.

In this way, matriarchal spirituality can once again pervade everything and thus become a normal part of everyday life. At the same time, what again becomes apparent is matriarchal tolerance, for nobody has to “believe” anything. There is no dogma and no teaching, but instead the continuous celebration of manifold, multi-faceted life in the visible world.

Read more in: The Way into an Egalitarian Society: Principles and Practice of a Matriarchal Politics


Dr. Heide Goettner-Abendroth is a mother and a grandmother. She earned her Ph.D. in philosophy of science at the University of Munich where she taught for ten years (1973-1983). She has published extensively on philosophy of science, in addition to various books on matriarchal society and culture, and is a founder of Modern Matriarchal Studies.  Her magnum opus: Matriarchal Societies. Studies on Indigenous Cultures across the Globe, (Lang 2012, New York) defines the topic and provides a world tour of examples of contemporary matriarchal cultures. She has been visiting professor at the University of Montreal in Canada, and the University of Innsbruck in Austria. In 1986, she founded the International ACADEMY HAGIA for Matriarchal Studies and Matriarchal Spirituality in Germany is its director. In 2003, 2005 and 2011 she organized three World Congresses on Matriarchal Studies in Europe and the U.S.A. In 2005, she was elected by the international initiative “1000 Peace Women Across the Globe” as a nominee for the Nobel Peace.

14 thoughts on “Matriarchal Politics by Heide Goettner-Abendroth”

  1. I do believe men have had and can have a better life in a matriarchal society. I think of my brother who married when he was 17 because his girlfriend was pregnant and was expected to support a family. In matriarchy the girl’s family would have supported the child and he could have visited his girlfriend for companionship and sex as long as they continued to enjoy each other’s company. There would have been no messy divorce, no fighting over child custody, and no child support to be paid. My brother would have stayed in his maternal family and would have bonded with my children and the children of our female cousins. Sounds good to me.

    To your list I would also add the need to retrain boys and men (and to a certain degree women and girls as well) to view generosity and kindness as the highest values to be embodied and practiced by everyone.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. I have never had a job I really liked. I actually come from a conservative political thought process, but the current order has restrained me from becoming who I want to be. I would love a Woman run society, i.e. a matriarchy. I would like to be married to a professional woman and be a full time father. Raise my kids from infancy, change all their diapers etc., I love to cook and shop. Housework is no problem. I am not allowed or expected to do any of things right now. Ashame.


        1. In a modern matriarchal society, which will be based on communities, we don’t have a reversal of the current sex roles which you suggest: women making carreer, men doing housework. But in intentional communities, everybody has a lot of diverse working possibilities and chooses those which he or she fits best.
          And in such a community the members live up to matriarchal values like caring, nurturing and perfect reciprocity, be the member a women or a man. The full range of personal abilites and preferences can be practiced. In that way, men really live better than they do in patriarchy.

          This might sound utopian, but I know some communities who are trying their best to live in that way. I am convinced that they are the cells of a new kind of society. Men are often the founders, because they want to get rid of the patriarchal way of life.

          A last note: in my lectures and study courses, more and more men are participating and want to learn about matriarchy, because they are looking for another way of life than the current one.


  2. You present excellent ideas. What can we do to put them into action in a world run mostly by a bunch of dictators? I also do not see men wanting to make any changes in their privileged lives. How do we get things started?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think we need to start with the men who have been harmed by patriarchy and are aware of that, for example boys who have been beaten by their fathers, or teased for being sissies. There was a time when I thought it is not my job to change men, but if it isn’t ours, whose is it. We too have to step up, but let’s not start with Trump and his kind, let’s start with men who are open to finding a different way.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I know it has harmed me and prevented me from finding a career woman. I never had a job I liked and I couldn’t handle graduate school. I became a “wage slave.” I would love to care for my children full time and provide all the support for my professional wife if I could fine such a woman. I would gladly assume diaper duty, housework, shopping, cleaning. I hate to be chauvinist here, but I think sex would be so much better for men under a matriarchy.


    2. Dear Barbara

      You question is very good, and I like very much to discuss it with you.

      However, I think, we should not look at the dictators and all the horrible situations that go on in this late patriarchal world of today. Our focus should not be on situations that prevent us from acting, but on things that are possible and can be done. Look at our foremothers in history, who were in a much worse situation than women are today; but they succeeded in their fight for women’s rights to vote, to learn, to have academic professions, and so on.

      How can we use our possibilities today? How can we continue with the fight of our foremothers?
      I think, the most important deamnd today is that women get half of the economy in their hands, that means 50% for women and 50% for men. Today, women strife individualistically for money and, therefore, are economically weak. They don’t have a common economic basis – as women had in matriarchal societies!

      This is the way: 50% of the national wealth of each nation really belongs to women, but it is daily stolen from them by male projects like military, transnational corporations, monumnetal ego-architecture, huge sport stadiums and events, etc. This must stop!
      To be clear: 50% of the national wealth would not be for individual women, but for women’s matriarchal projects of all kinds, be it intentional matriarchal communities or every kind of a social, artistical, intellectual etc. co-operatives.

      Thus women must take the lead to achieve this. They can incluce pro-social men who want to support this new way of life. In fact, these men are many, but they are isolated today or they are already working in alternative movements.

      To achieve this goal, we have to do the same what our foremothers did: to fight, to spread this information, to create activist groups, to go on the streets, to create a movement via internet, to create local, regional, national strikes of women, to contact women politicians of high position (and progressive men there) and convince them to collabotae, and many other possibilities….

      (see for more detail the MATRIARCHAL MANIFESTA, published at International Academy HAGIA)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I felt the same way about men – like damn it – why should I put my energy into this black hole – but eventually I reached the conclusion that women are stuck with the job – like it or not – men are not going to choose this way of being in the world by themselves. I like your idea of starting with the men who have been most harmed…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful to have this wisdom re-introduced for now! Thank you Heide Goettner-Abendroth.

    I’m working on some stories that may help men. (For the sequel to The Swan-Bone Flute, reviewed here by Max Dashu) I think if men can tell their own stories, of how they were damaged, and be listened to warmly, with no judgment, that could be a beginning.

    Some men are reaching out for this – in XR, in co-counselling, the green movement. (And some are not!!)
    The question is, can we (all of us) to it fast enough to stop killing all life?


  5. As a man, let me just say that despite benefitting from the patriarchal establishment, I’m still open to the idea of a better system. Hell, I would prefer one. Largely because a better system is so easy to imagine, but also because a better system would better benefit me and everyone else.
    I would rather have people doing jobs because they’re good at them, not because of their sex organs.


  6. Dear Heide Goettner-Abendroth

    I am a Dalit activist doing research on annihilation of India caste system which has very close nexus to patriarchy in India. Unfortunately, the study of the matriarchal societies within the historic aboriginal Adivasi societies is a much neglected area. What were the PROCESSES which led to the dissolution of the ORIGINAL matriarchal society in India? Could you please point the finger in the right direction for LATEST books, research papers, authors who may have covered this territory.

    Thank you in advance for your kind help.

    Amarjit Singh


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