Difference Between Patriarchy and Matriarchy

Key Difference – Patriarchy vs Matriarchy
 

Patriarchy and Matriarchy are two forms of social systems between which a key difference can be identified. In different parts of the world, patriarchy and matriarchy were to be seen from the ancient days. A patriarchal system is a social system in which the father is the head of the household. On the other hand, a matriarchal system is a social system in which the mother is the head of the household. Hence, the key difference between patriarchy and matriarchy is that while the father acts as the head of the household in the patriarchal system, in the matriarchal system it is the mother. Through this article let us examine the differences between patriarchy and matriarchy in detail.

What is Patriarchy?

As explained in the introduction, a patriarchal system is a social system in which the father is the head of the household. This, however, is not confined to the household alone. It can be extended to the entire society where males dominate in all social, political, economical, legal and cultural roles. For instance, in most patriarchal societies women were very much confined to the domestic sphere, where they were completely cut off from the realities of the society. One of the best examples for this can be taken from the Victorian era where women were considered as delicate, fragile, and ignorant beings. Jane Austen in her novels such as the Pride and Prejudice clearly depicts the social climate during a patriarchal reign. From this, we can comprehend that the lives of women in a patriarchal society are that of complete dependence.

In the patriarchal society, even philosophers such as Aristotle believed that women were inferior to men in all aspects. This emphasized the idea that the inferiority of women was not limited to biological differences but went as further as intellectual differences. However, feminist theories on patriarchy highlight that this is merely another social system that has been created to oppress women.

Difference Between Patriarchy and Matriarchy

What is Matriarchy?

A matriarchal system is a social system in which the mother is the head of the household. In a matriarchal society, the governance of the society is also in the hands of women. When examining the human history, there is very little evidence of matriarchal societies, because most confuse an egalitarian society or matrilineal society to a matriarchal society. The Mosuo culture in China can be considered as a matriarchal society. In this society, females are the head of the household and women dominate the economic activities. Also, in the Mosuo culture, inheritance is through the female line.

However, myths of the Amazon society can be considered as a clear matriarchal society. This is because in the Amazon societies women ruled the society. To be more explicit, Amazon queens were elected to rule over the people. They also acted as warriors and hunters as well.

Key Difference - Patriarchy vs Matriarchy

What is the difference between Patriarchy and Matriarchy?

Definitions of Patriarchy and Matriarchy:

Patriarchy: A patriarchal system is a social system in which the father is the head of the household.

Matriarchy: A matriarchal system is a social system in which the mother is the head of the household.

Characteristics of Patriarchy and Matriarchy:

Head of the Household:

Patriarchy: Father is the head of the household.

Matriarchy: Mother is the head of the household.

Power:

Patriarchy: In a patriarchal system, the father has more power and control over others.

Matriarchy: In a matriarchal system, the mother has more power and control over others.

Property Ownership:

Patriarchy: The ownership of property goes to males.

Matriarchy: The ownership of property goes to females.

Governance:

Patriarchy: The society is governed by males.

Matriarchy: The society is governed by females.

 

Image Courtesy:

1. King_George_V_1911_color-crop By Luke Fildes – Royal Collection, [Public Domain] via Commons

2. Amazons tishbein By Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons