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Recently I finished up Karen Traviss's final book of the Kilo-Five Trilogy, titled HALO: Mortal Dictata. The book itself was interesting enough, I suppose; at any rate, her work in the HALOverse did a lot to raise my dismally poor opinion of her work, after having suffered through the godawful hatchet job that she pulled in the STAR WARS Expanded Universe novels that she wrote a few years back.
The book itself was interesting for a number of reasons, but one of the most intriguing ideas posed within it was the notion that the Jackals of the HALOverse live in a matriarchy.
Now, a female sci-fi writer bloviating about the virtues of matriarchy is nothing new. They've been doing it for decades, usually with next to zero success. The fact that Ms. Traviss decided to introduce a matriarchy into the HALO universe is not of interest to me- it was bound to happen sooner or later.
No, what interests me is the fact that even women don't understand how to accurately depict a matriarchy.
If you read through the book itself, you'll quickly realise that although there is a female Kig-Yar character who gets rather a lot of time allocated to her in the novel, the Kig-Yar in the book are almost all male. The female in question, one Shipmistress Chol Von, is in fact surrounded by an escort of male subordinates most of the time.
In a supposedly matriarchal society, males do the fighting, the technical work, and the messy business of killing and dying.
The fact is that, for all that feminists love to go on and on about the virtues of matriarchy, they have no clue what it really means or how it actually works. I once had a conversation with my own sister where she insisted that the reign of Elizabeth I of England was an example of a matriarchy. I had to patiently point out to her that, starting with Walsingham and on down through her advisors and the ranks of the English nobility, virtually every single other person in Her Majesty's government was male.
So what, exactly, is matriarchy? Well, if we go by simple dictionary definitions, it is a system in which women hold all political and institutional power. In practical terms, this means that women make the major decisions; women determine who gets to inherit property and wealth; women decide what is fair and just; women lead the armed forces at every level.
If such a society sounds utterly absurd to you, that is not surprising. This is because, in every way, the entire construct described above is completely contrary to the basic and fundamental nature of women.
It has been said, here and elsewhere, in a near-infinite variety of ways and shapes and forms, that women fundamentally do not seek to lead. They seek to be led. It takes a very unusual woman indeed to overcome her biological and psychological aversion to leadership and actually take charge- anyone who has ever had to work for a female boss knows what I'm talking about. It is incredibly rare to find a woman who is not only comfortable with the burdens and responsibilities of command, but relishes them.
It is precisely because matriarchy is so fundamentally at odds with human and feminine nature that it is nearly impossible for even the most feminist of female writers to come up with convincing examples of matriarchy in either theory or practice.
Surely, though, there must be real-life examples of matriarchy at work that would serve as templates for authors like Ms. Traviss to use in depicting such a society in realistic fashion?
As it happens, there are indeed. The results are entirely to be expected, as long as you look at the world through a realistic perspective.
The first example comes from a fascinating, and quite accidental, experiment conducted a few years ago on Dutch television. The experiment consisted of seeing what would happen when a team of men and a team of women were put on an island and told to get on with the harsh business of survival. As any red-pill man might expect, the blokes went about building something resembling civilisation, and the sheilas essentially spent their time sunbathing and cat-fighting.
So then the producers of the show, desperate not to offend the right-on public in the Netherlands- this was back when political correctness still made sense to most Europeans- they sent three of the men to the women's side of the island, and three of the women to the men's side.
The result was equally predictable. The men in the women's camp worked their butts off the compensate for the laziness and ineptitude of their companions. The women in the men's camp had a fantastic time because they got loads of male attention for free and barely had to lift a finger.
This is no random accident. It has been observed time and again in reality TV shows around the world with similar premises.
The second example comes from probably the most well-known case of a matriarchal society in the world- the Mosou of South China. This is a society in which power is concentrated entirely in the hands of women. Inheritance is determined through women. Men are subservient and subordinate to women in social hierarchy, sexual power, and overall rights.
It sounds like a feminist's wet dream. (Ewww...) There's just one big problem with it: the Mosou have not advanced in technological terms beyond pretty much the Bronze Age, if that. And because they have pacifistic tendencies- as matriarchies do- all it will take to wipe them out is a determined and ruthless invader who doesn't much care for niceties like "sparing the women and children". You may remember, by the way, that China has been host to quite a few such conquerors- all of them male.
The reality is that a matriarchy is what Jack Donovan called "the bonobo masturbation society", in which disputes are resolved not through straightforward contests of strength and power, but through subtle manipulations of language, out-grouping tactics, and sexual favours.
The problem is that such a society is almost completely unsuited to building and preserving a healthy, stable, self-propagating civilisation. Such a society is simply incapable of defending itself against external threats. It is not equipped to compete economically or politically with more ruthless competitors.
And it is absolutely incapable of fostering lasting pair-bonds between high-status men and high-status women; by definition, a matriarchy is a society in which high-status women have complete freedom to pick the highest-status man that they can, but the realities of hypergamy and its effects on men are such that it is all but guaranteed that high-status men will immediately move to greener pastures where their status, and the efforts that they put into securing that status, is rewarded.
In the final analysis, a matriarchy is impossible for most people to imagine because it is literally ridiculous. It doesn't work in reality, and therefore it is extremely difficult to make it work in theory- much like Marxism, in fact, which was so transparently idiotic an idea that an entire host of jargon and obfuscating literature had to be invented in order to make it look like it could work.
The fact is that Camille Paglia was right: "if civilisation was left in female hands, we would still be living in grass huts". For final proof of that statement, look no farther than the Mosou, for Paglia's epigram is a roughly accurate description of their actual living standards.