The Disappearance of Matriarchal Society
15 Jan, 2009
(Translated from Bengali into English by Abul Kasem)
In the period 600 BCE
the human society did not even had the idea of proper body attire.
They looked at the huge trees and wondered how those trees grew so
gigantic. Men and women lived in small caves. During winter they
encountered severe snow that piled up as blocks. They lived a
communal life, moving in small groups. They covered their bodies
with ox skins, and hunted wild animals, birds, and fishes. A woman
used to be the leader of each group. She was the main hunter, the
other men and women were her accomplices. During a hunting outing,
if they were hungry, they consumed the raw meat of the prey. In this
manner they collected and stored food for the following bitter
winter. Society was matriarchal, but there was no impropriety or
discrimination. The mothers had the absolute control over all male
members of this ancient society. Without any qualm, everyone
accepted her leading role.
Slowly, the system started to change.
Around 85 CE, from the ruins of the hunter-gatherer, a new, more habitable society started to emerge. People started wearing loin cloths. This emergence of a civilized society took different forms in different locations. By this time humanity had learned the use of fire. Gradually, the system of agriculture flourished. This was the appearance of human civilization. Little by little, humanity realized the need of discipline for a secured livelihood. The inevitable result was the imposition of religious instructions and canons.
This was how the concept of religion was introduced.
In the annals of history, the middle-age stands out to be the
most terrible period. This was because of the introduction of bias
and favoritism by a certain group to establish absolute control over
the other groups. In course of time, this notion of bias proved to
be false. These barbaric traditions of the middle-age are seen as a
conflict in the cultural heritage of the Romans and the Germans. On
one side was the church, on the other side the state. One party
stood for religion and theosophy, the other stood for sensual
pleasure, indulgence in the realm of poetry, hope, imbecility,
despondency, and agitation. The situation in Rome was not the same
as it was during the time of Constantine or Justin. Even then
certain measures were necessary to control the restless situation.
Without such steps, it was not possible for the civilization to
re-emerge from the darkness of the middle-age. It was because people
were barbaric to the extent that the only means to control them were
the use of extreme, dreadful, and harsh measures. As long as the
authorities held power this terror tactic worked superbly to
establish full control. To illustrate such policy, it is worthwhile
to mention the popular practice of Death Dance. In this dance a
human skeleton danced with a live human. To elaborate further, Dr
Huygens mentions the presence of innocent Parisian crowd in the
compound of the church to savor such macabre ritual. He writes:
On the three sides of the monastery, the piles of skulls and bones were openly displayed, so that the thousands of onlookers could easily grasp the meaning of equality. Underneath the monastery were the display of poems and various idols depicting postures of Death Dance. What could be a better place to exhibit such a monkey-trick in the presence of the Pope, the Emperor, the ascetics, and the dullards? It is reported that the Duke of Berry, to fulfill his desire to be buried there, carved on the entry path of the church three statues of living persons and three statues of dead persons. A century later, a huge statute was erected there to symbolize death. This statue is now housed in the museum of Louvre. This is the only extant relic of the monastery. In 1780, imitating this grievous ritual of the fifteenth century, the people of Paris constructed the Palais Royale.
From the above example can we not conclude, that to establish the
so-called civilization the use of fear tactic in the name of
religion has only one objective—that is, to establish the
This revolution was a slow process. This movement got momentum
when the mystery of fatherhood was understood, and the men started
to deny the crucial role of women in procreation. Previously, women
were the masters of the households. With the destruction of the
matriarchal system, men became the masters of households. Slowly,
the system of polygamy took shape; men now possessed many wives.
While in the past women were the foremost principals of the society,
the men now replaced them. In the hands of men women were now
fettered, reduced to men’s servitude. Men treated them as
child-producing machines. It is interesting to note that in all
religions, including Islam, the system of polygamy is alive and
On the demise of matriarchal system Engels writes: “This defeat
of women is of historical proportion. The women are now the
sufferers of this defeat. What a wonderful golden age it was for
women. Now it is ruined with the ascent of men.”
According to Napoleon a woman is like a state. It is not enough
to defeat her; she must be crushed and trampled absolutely.
As per the monotheistic religions: Eve ate the fruit of the Tree
of Knowledge. God meted out punishment to her; it was a just
At one time the union of a man and a woman was viewed as a
spiritual fulfillment—an act of devotion. Later, with the emergence
of patriarchal system this sexual ecstasy became a shameful act. The
male ascetics, in order to meet God, indulged in sexual intercourse
with women. The art of sex was viewed as act godliness. Amazingly,
with the advent of patriarchal system these same men label and
propagate this natural urge for sex as the act of Satan.
In the beginning of the Christian era powerful rulers propagated
absolute lies about women. This created an atmosphere of misogyny
around the world. This was a clever ploy so that absolute power
flows to men. Truly, Constantine and his henchmen were successful in
establishing a firm foundation of the patriarchal society. It is no
denying that today’s churches are doing a yeomen job through
laudable social services. But how could one forget the despicable
acts of burning in stakes the witches.
The practice of burning witches has a doctrine behind it—the
belief that freethinking is dangerous for women. The priests were
instructed how to identify such dangerous women, torment them, and
obliterate them utterly. Even in Islam we note that there is no
place of imamhood (priesthood) for women.
This has been a brief history of progress of humanity from the sylvan stage to the civilized stage.
Questions have been raised concerning dating of some of the events in this article. We knew the dating was somewhat troublesome. The Egyptian civilization started 3000 BCE. Indian civilization is not much less younger. The Sumerian civilization, I believe, is the oldest.
Yet, it is also true that a great many people lived in caves, jungles, in wandering at the date mentioned in this article. Even today some communities live that kind of life in various parts of the world. Undoubtedly, the dating was troublesome but also partially correct.
I let the article go mostly because of its main emphasis—i.e., the undeniable truth that most modern religions were either responsible or have been the tool for the subjugation and enslavement of women to male domination. In prior societies, women exercised greater rights and the majority were indeed matriarchal.
We know the impact of modern religion-based societies on the women. Probably millions of Satis were burned in India; thousands of new-born females or their fetuses are still being killed every year. Millions of witches were burned at the stake in Europe. We know clearly well the sufferings of Muslim women till today.
Eka is a progressive Muslim woman from Bangladesh.