D E F I N I T I O N O F M A T R I A R C H Y
The Economical Level
"This social order based on motherhood includes far reaching consequences for the economical level: Matriarchal economy is a subsistence economy. There is no such thing as private property, and there are no territorial claims. The people simply have usage rights on the soil they till, or the pastures their animals graze, for Mother Earth can not be owned or cut up in pieces. She gives the fruits of the fields and the young animals to all people. Parcels of land and a certain number of animals are given to each matri-clan, and are worked on communally.
Most importantly, women have the power of disposition over goods and clan houses, and especially over the sources of nourishment: fields, flocks and food. All the goods are put in the hands of the clan mother, the matriarch, and she, mother of all the clan members, distributes them equally among her children and grand-children. She is responsible for the sustenance and protection of all clan members.
In a matriarchal community, the clans enjoy perfect mutuality: every relative advantage, or disadvantage, in terms of acquiring goods is mediated by social guidelines. For example, at the seasonal festivals of the agricultural year, clans that are comparatively better off will invite all the inhabitants to be their guests. The members of such a clan organize the banquet, the rituals, and the music and dances of one of the annual festivals – and then give away their goods as a gift to all their neighbours. By doing this, they gain nothing except honor. At the next festival in the cycle, another lucky clan will step up, outdoing itself by inviting everybody in the village or neighbourhood, entertaining them all, and dispensing presents.
Since this is the general attitude, matriarchal economy can be called a “gift economy”. It is the economic manifestation of maternal values, which prevents development of an exchange economy and instead fully achieves a gift economy.
Due to these features, matriarchies can be defined at the economical level as societies of balanced economic reciprocity, based on the circulation of gifts."