Could you imagine a world where men and women's roles reversed? What if all elections were led by females? In this opposite arrangement, men would become nurses and take care of small children in nurseries, while women would dictate politics and international affairs. What if men had to change their surname upon marriage?
This may all seem a bit far-fetched from reality, but in fact, matriarchal societies, where the woman's role is dominant and the male's is submissive, used to dominate the world thousands for thousands of years prior to the rise of the patriarchal orders of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism. In the patriarchal world that we live in today, male deities and disciples such as Jesus Christ, Mohammed, and Sidartha are worshiped. In fact, according to Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, God is a man - the sacred Father, as he is described in the holy texts.
Archeologists have uncovered much evidence that suggests that prior to the worship of the father God represented by the all mighty sun, humans used to worship the mother Goddess represented by the earth.
For example, Sakti, the Goddess of life, was worshiped in ancient Hindu culture as the superior diety more than 5,000 years ago. In fact, there are thousands of ancient female deities worshipped in ancient cultures across the globe. For more information on this topic, a highly suggested reading is When God Was a Woman by Merlin Stone. This book will surely change your views on modern religions.
Today, several remote and secluded cultures still function as their ancestors did; the females are the bread-winners and inheritance is matrilineal. A few examples include the Nagovisi, Khasi, Garo, and the Masuo tribes.
The Nagovisi live on a large island west of New Guinea called South Bougainville . The women there own, control, and cultivate their potato farms, while the husband is simply considered an assistant.
Both the Khasi and Garo tribes live in the hills of Northeastern India 's Meghalaya state. Property and tribal administrative positions are strictly passed from mother to youngest daughter in both tribes. Marriage arrangements are either handled by the parents or the daughter herself, but never the son. Some of the Khasi men once complained that the women are too aggressive and that they [the men] are tired of being babysitters.
In the hills of Yunan province in China , there is the Masuo tribe, called the Naxi by the Chinese. There, the oldest woman is considered the house head and she is responsible for all financial decisions. Just like the other tribes mentioned, the male is required to move in with the female's family house after marriage.
So as we have seen, the role of women in history, family, politics, society, and religion has changed much over the years. In a paper on women's role in Thai society written by Dr Siriwan Ratanakarn, an expert on Women/ Thai studies at Bangkok University , she talks about the important contributions made by such women as Nang Suang, Sikhara Maha-Devi, Nang Nopamas, Queen Suriyothai, Queen Saovabhaphongsri, and Queen Sirikit. She states that these women have helped shape Thai culture, customs, and traditions either as regents themselves or direct advisors to their kings. She also points out how, during the Sukhothai period, women were portrayed as equal partners to men. Through literature, however, we can note that women's status became much lower during the Ayuthaya period, where they are portrayed as obedient wives and daughters. Siriwan believes women have come a long way in Thailand since then.
"Unfortunately, there are still many women in the rural areas who have been trapped by their poverty and lack of education but comparing Thai women's role with other countries in the region, I do feel that we have come a long way."
"I think women should get involved more. There are still not enough women serving in the National Assembly and Senate. How can Thai women voice their needs loudly? The best way is to voice it through our sisters who represent us in the National Assembly and Senate. Our ideas and needs should be taken seriously by the government."
END OF ARTICLE