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The Matriarchal Studies school led by Göttner-Abendroth calls for an even more inclusive redefinition of the term: Göttner-Abendroth defines Modern Matriarchal Studies as the "investigation and presentation of non-patriarchal societies", effectively defining matriarchy as non-patriarchy.

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A few people consider any non-patriarchal system to be matriarchal, thus including genderally equalitarian systems (Peggy Reeves Sanday favors redefining and reintroducing the word matriarchy, especially in reference to contemporary matrilineal societies such as the Minangkabau ), but most academics exclude them from matriarchies strictly defined.

In 19th century Western scholarship, the hypothesis of matriarchy representing an early, mainly prehistoric, stage of human development gained popularity.

Conditioning us negatively to matriarchy is, of course, in the interests of patriarchs.

We are made to feel that patriarchy is natural; we are less likely to question it, and less likely to direct our energies to ending it.

Some people who sought evidence for the existence of a matriarchy often mixed matriarchy with anthropological terms and concepts describing specific arrangements in the field of family relationships and the organization of family life, such as matrilineality and matrilocality.

These terms refer to intergenerational relationships (as matriarchy may), but do not distinguish between males and females insofar as they apply to specific arrangements for sons as well as daughters from the perspective of their relatives on their mother's side.

Possible matriarchies in Burma are, according to Jorgen Bisch, the Padaungs The Mosuo themselves often use this description and they believe it increases interest in their culture and thus attracts tourism.

The term matrilineal is sometimes used, and, while more accurate, still doesn't reflect the full complexity of their social organization.

In several theologies, matriarchy has been portrayed as negative. According to Heide Göttner-Abendroth, a reluctance to accept the existence of matriarchies might be based on a specific culturally biased notion of how to define matriarchy: because in a patriarchy men rule over women, a matriarchy has frequently been conceptualized as women ruling over men, The word matriarchy, for a society politically led by females, especially mothers, who also control property, is often interpreted to mean the genderal opposite of patriarchy, but it is not an opposite.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), matriarchy is a "form of social organization in which the mother or oldest female is the head of the family, and descent and relationship are reckoned through the female line; government or rule by a woman or women." A matriarchy is a society in which females, especially mothers, have the central roles of political leadership, moral authority, and control of property, but does not include a society that occasionally is led by a female for nonmatriarchal reasons or an occupation in which females generally predominate without reference to matriarchy, such as prostitution or women's auxiliaries of organizations run by men. According to Peoples and Bailey, the view of anthropologist Peggy Reeves Sanday is that matriarchies are not a mirror form of patriarchies but rather that a matriarchy "emphasizes maternal meanings where 'maternal symbols are linked to social practices influencing the lives of both sexes and where women play a central role in these practices Barbara Love and Elizabeth Shanklin wrote, "by 'matriarchy,' we mean a non-alienated society: a society in which women, those who produce the next generation, define motherhood, determine the conditions of motherhood, and determine the environment in which the next generation is reared." According to Cynthia Eller, "'matriarchy' can be thought of ...

In fact, it is not easy to categorize Mosuo culture within traditional Western definitions.

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