I recently saw something that got my blood boiling. It was a video news clip of Fox News' Erik Erickson, editor-in-chief of RedState.com, complaining about a recent Pew report that found mothers to be the primary or sole breadwinners in 40 percent of American households with children.
Erickson, apparently threatened by women who join men in the pursuit of careers and the responsibility of financially supporting their families, went on the attack. He explained that anyone with a basic knowledge of biology knows that natures intends males to be the dominant gender, and liberals who try to upend by allowing women to become breadwinners are "very anti-science."
This statement offended me on several levels: as a woman, as someone who has been the breadwinner, and as the friend of many strong, entrepreneurial women who balance motherhood and their careers with astounding grace. But instead of ranting about the ignorance of Erickson's statement, and his apparent desire to put women back in the kitchen, I decided to let the laws of nature do the talking.
As Barbara Love and Elizabeth Shanklin write in The Answer is Matriarchy, "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."
Despite Erickson's confident statement about what biology will show, there are many examples of matriarchal societies throughout human history. But Erickson, in his attempt to use "liberal science" against us, was specifically referencing the animal kingdom. Fine. The animal kingdom has even MORE examples of matriarchal societies, many of which endure to this very day and have not undergone any changes over the course of evolution (unlike the matriarchal societies of human bent). Read on to learn more about 5 awesome matriarchal animal species (and these animals are just the tip of the iceberg of female creatures who are the leaders of the pack).
“The social structure of a bee hive is that of a matriarchal family headed by a queen. The queen has a potential life span of three years and during this time may continually lay eggs thereby establishing and maintaining a total colony population of approximately twenty five thousand bees. Almost 95% of the queens offspring are what are referred to as worker bees, with the remaining 5% developing into drones” (Life in the Hive).
“Elephants form deep family bonds and live in tight matriarchal family groups of related females called a herd. The herd is led by the oldest and often largest female in the herd, called a matriarch. Herds consist of 8-100 individuals depending on terrain and family size. When a calf is born, it is raised and protected by the whole matriarchal herd. Males leave the family unit between the ages of 12-15 and may lead solitary lives or live temporarily with other males” (Defenders.org).
“Pioneering primate researcher Amy Parish has spent more than a decade studying bonobos, whose closest genetic cousin is, surprisingly, the human race. Parish’s groundbreaking work shows how bonobos live in a society surprisingly dominated by females, who use gal-pal alliances to exert power. And that puts a revolutionary twist on long-held beliefs about what’s “natural” in terms of sex roles and female friendships. While some critics still dismiss the bonobo matriarchy as a fluke or feminist delusion, Parish and others counter with theory and evidence that show how female bonding works to control individual males despite the males’ slightly larger size. Unlike abused loner chimp females, it’s likely that the bonobo gal gang prevents males from killing the babies of rival males (as other apes do) and allows females to choose their own mates and grab the best food. In the wild, females also hunt and distribute meat, once considered exclusively a male preserve…” (excerpts from “Secrets of the Bonobo Sisterhood“).
Orcas (Killer Whales)
“Killer whale pods are based on the lineage of the mother (mothers, daughters, and sons form groups); the whales live and travel with their mothers even after they are full-grown, forming strongly matriarchal whale societies” (NOAA).
“Lions live in a matriarchal society. The lionesses work together to hunt and rear the cubs. This allows them all to get the most from their energy, keeping them healthier and safer. Being smaller and lighter than males, lionesses are more agile and faster. During hunting, smaller females chase the prey towards the center. The larger and heavier lionesses ambush or capture the prey. Lionesses are versatile and can switch hunting jobs depending on which females are hunting that day and what kind of prey it is” (San Diego Zoo).