An interesting take on “Matriarchal Social System”

…I don’t think I’m a male chauvinist or a feminist, thought I may exhibit some leaning either ways at different points based on context and rationality, but seriously I don’t want to choose any of them…

While I’ve heard of the existence of “Matriarchal Social System” since childhood because of my home town proximity to Meghalaya, which have majority of its population (Khashi & Garo) practicing Matriarchal Society, however I’ve never seen it happening in front of my eyes or never been detailed about the same.

Just to give a brief heads up, matriarchal society system is a rare social system throughout human history and society. Today, there are less than handful society that still practice, Khasis & Garos of Shillong (Meghalaya), the Nairs & Menons of Kerela used to follow which is fading and couple of societies in other continents(Some Island near Australia and some in Peru…maybe few more pockets). As the name suggest, women run the family, they inherit the family property and children retain the mother’s title which in turn comes from the maternal grandma…

Fate would have planned; on fine evening I happened to have a discussion on this matriarchal society with certain strong (female) personalities from Shillong. I thought they would have been psyched and bored with my many uncanny questions, thankfully they were quite passionate and proud about their social system, which I thought, was kind of COOL!!!. Apart from the fact that it’s new to me, I thought their perspective were really different and worth penning it down.

She started off “I’m very lucky to be born a Khasi woman and given a chance I will choose to be born a Khasi woman again”…Well, initially it did sound a tad pompous or a plain “Too Much!!!” but the course of the conversation kind of gave meanings to the reason for such an arrow straight declaration…

FIRST SPIN – “We khasi women got our women rights way before the world” was what she proudly declared. Considering the Khasi community would have been in existence for centuries, she was actually making sense. Women rights (apart from maybe States) would have come to the fore sometime around 20th century only. The topic gained more relevance, juxtaposing against the current national issue which have women related up there on the list

  • The women rights break-out post the Delhi rape episode
  • Fetal homicide – a chronic case dating back to pre-independence and continues to strongly lingers on
  • Women population in work force which is a favorite rhetoric for corporate honchos but I don’t know how much of field implementation would have happened

Not that I’m prophesying a “Matriarchal Social System” is The Panacea, but I thought it’s worth a ponder.    

SECOND SPIN – The female continues her family title which comes from her mother and if a son marries outside the community; he has the right to continue his family title, the system of which is called “Tangkur”. Now this I thought was a very claver strategy by their forefathers for expansion of their small community. This way, the population addition to the society is like “Chain Reaction” unlike the vanilla “Patriarch Social System” which add population in a linear line (only the sons get to retain the family). If you are not from a community with endangered population, you may not understand the beauty of the strategy. Maybe even the Parsis would appreciate it…I don’t know. But at least I do!!!        

THIRD SPIN – A woman with children from more than a man ends up in a dilemma on what title to be given and according to her; such dilemma is washed off by this system as the woman gives her name to all the children. Some may say scandalous, but I thought it’s quite bold and straight forward. This I thought has some rational sense in context to the Indian society, considering many men (especially in the lower strata) deserted their wives with their children for better pastures. The closest example I could think of is my house maid, whose husband ran away and hence she has to take care of her children, educate them despite her minimal income (She works for 3 to 4 houses which pay her just about 1000-1500 bucks per month per house)

Every matter in this world is made up of yin-yang and hence I’m sure this system too will have its own challenges (My next conversation will be with the Khasi men). While I may not endorse on the system nor do I want to have an opinion for I’ve never been thrown into such experience. But I thought the perspective were refreshing and nice. If you are born with such privileges which most other female in the nation are inherently deprived off, I think there is no harm in being vocal of the BLESSINGS…



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