from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. A social system in which the mother is head of the family.
- n. A family, community, or society based on this system or governed by women.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. A social system in which the mother is head of household, having authority over men and children.
- n. A system of government by females.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. Government by a mother or by mothers; specifically, an order of society, as in certain primitive tribes, in which the mother in certain important respects, especially in line of descent and inheritance, takes precedence of the father; descent or inheritance in the female line.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. a form of social organization in which a female is the family head and title is traced through the female line
Man – I really need to figure out where the secret lair of the matriarchy is so that I can infiltrate and become one of them.
That is why the translators have seldom used the terms matriarchy and patriarchy; and for this and other reasons they have passed over Bachofen's terms "androcracy" and "gynecocracy" in favour of Anglo-Saxon equivalents with somewhat different implications.
More generally, a matriarchy is a society dominated by women.
In formulations that still haunt us today, they treated African American and other minority female breadwinning as an expression of cultural pathology, a "matriarchy" that prevented men from taking their rightful roles as household heads.
Among Marston's many world views was that civilization was reverting into a 'matriarchy' and that females would ultimately use innate powers of 'sexual enslavement' to achieve dominance over men.
I don't think this is indicative of approval, nor promotion, by the "matriarchy" in general.
It's strange that 70s feminists came to use the term "matriarchy" as synonymous with "rule by women" as the Nurse Ratched character might symbolize.
Not many years ago when the word 'matriarchy' came into popular use it was often assumed that in primitive times women enjoyed a freedom and a superiority which in a later age she lost.
For this is one of the few civilised States -- for aught I know it is the only one -- in which "matriarchy" still prevails.
Rosin begins her article: with what she calls the "matriarchy" of the inner cities.