[Note from Thomas Lavalle: “Debra’s Son,” another regular reader of this blog, shares his reminiscences of growing up in a matriarchal, Goddess-worshipping home.]
I enjoyed Leo’s description of his matriarchal family because my own was somewhat similar. I’m a male, a little younger than Leo, but I also grew up in the ‘60s and ‘70s. I truly believe there were a lot more families like ours around in those years than many people think, perhaps due in part to the countercultural influences of the time.
In my case, my parents were originally sort of lapsed hippies before they met, for want of a better way of describing them. My mom then got involved in a sort of radical feminism of the sex-positive type, and combined it with her own take on Goddess worship. These two main concepts informed the way she saw the world and the way she ran her household. My dad loved and adored her, and he went along earnestly on her journey. They are still together, in fact, and she’s still very much in charge.
I’m the oldest of three children. One boy (myself) and two girls, one two years younger than I and one four years younger. We didn’t have much of an extended family, but mom had a couple of like-minded female friends who also had obedient husbands and children, and we’d all get together for parties, etc.
Our house was led by my mom from as far back as I remember, so a house where females were privileged was normal to me. My dad was attentive, affectionate, and totally obedient to my mom, but I never thought of him as weak or wimpy. He was very intelligent, strong, had good character, and was a great helpmeet to mom. He was a tax accountant who worked from home (mom insisted, so that he could do a lot of the child care), while she was in real estate and went on business trips occasionally.
Mom never preached female supremacy per se, but she had a sizable library of matriarchal works, like Bachofen’s Mother Right, Gould-Davis’s The First Sex and Diner’s Mother’s and Amazons, to name only three. She also had fictional works that promoted female superiority, and even sci-fi movies with such themes. They were never forced on us, but we all were encouraged to read or at least thumb through them, or watch them, and we did, including dad.
There was also a definite feminine atmosphere in the home. By that I mean there were art works depicting strong or vibrant women like reproductions of paintings by Klimt or small versions of sculptures like “Standing Woman” by Lachaise. The lighting and color schemes throughout the house were soft pastels, even in my room, and there was plush furniture and a lot of throw pillows. Mom didn’t allow anything very masculine, but I honestly never felt deprived. My toys were mostly learning toys or chemistry sets or something like that. Certainly no war toys, Goddess forbid.
I tended automatically to take my behavioral cues from dad while the girls took theirs from mom. That means I helped dad do all the household chores and take care of the younger kids while I wasn’t in school or on weekends. It was dad’s and my responsibility to make all the beds, do the laundry, including special hand-washing if necessary, run errands and grocery shop, pick up after the girls if they dropped their clothes on the floor, fix all meals and bring snacks from the kitchen if we were told to, etc.
LOL, the girls used to run me ragged. If they wanted something, they’d just snap their fingers and point, and I’d run to get it. They learned early that men and boys were nothing to be afraid of or deferred to. I remember my youngest sister used to make me stand still and hold my hands behind by back. Then she’d playfully slap my face, with one of her hands, then the other, back and forth, sometimes slapping a little harder and harder to see if I was tough enough to take it.
The funny thing is I never felt like I was at any disadvantage. Dad and I made that house run and we took pride in that. The fact that we catered to and obeyed the females in our lives just seemed perfectly natural, like the way
Mom and the girls rarely did any chores unless dad or I was sick. If they had to do them because we got behind or were goofing off too much, we got punished. For whatever reason, mom didn’t believe in corporal punishment, however. Her favorite mode of discipline was down time. That means, if we disobeyed twice, or we did something more serious only once and didn’t have a good excuse, mom would send us to our room and to bed—for the rest of the day and night, even if it wasn’t even noon yet. We had to stay in bed and the room had to stay dark the whole time. If we were going to act like babies, we’d be treated like babies, she said. Dad and I were both subject to this.
I remember a number of times when he had disobeyed, or he’d be a little too argumentative, Mom would suddenly say, “Okay, that’s enough. It’s nap time, Jim. You’ll see us in the morning.” Then she’d point to the bedroom. He’d go, sullen and sorry, but he’d go. The girls’ discipline, however, was different, and much less frequent. They’d lose privileges, or maybe be grounded if it was something really serious, but they never had to stay in their rooms like dad and I did.
The relationship between dad and mom was loving and affectionate, but I don’t think they had intercourse. I eavesdropped one time and, from what I heard, mom let him perform cunnilingus on her, but that was it. She cuckolded him pretty regularly, too. The boyfriends she had were intelligent and gentlemanly, and she’d invite them to the house and sometimes they’d stay over while dad slept in a spare room. It might seem strange but to the rest of us this all seemed perfectly within mom’s right. It was and is inconceivable, of course, that dad would ever be allowed to be with another woman. I truly believe he’s been chaste since virtually the beginning of their marriage.
Having said all the above, I can honestly say I feel nothing but tremendous pride in both my parents. They live they way they want to and they raised three fine successful kids, if I do say so myself. Anyway, I’m sorry this took so long, but as I said, there are more of us out there than is thought, so I just wanted to tell my particular history. Glad of course to answer any questions, but mainly I want to thank you for such a great blog, Thomas.
[The following comment from Debra’s son appears after Part 3 of Leo’s posting http://thomaslavalle.blogspot.com/2016/09/leo-growing-up-in-matriarchal-home-part.html:]
I can certainly relate to the importance of female birthdays. My mom practiced a form of goddess worship, and in addition to birthdays, she also celebrated the menarche. When my sisters experienced this, she’d celebrate with a private party for them. Only females were allowed to attend. For my mom, it was an important event on the path to womanhood.
Mom’s policy on authority was to give my sisters as much as they proved they could handle. My dad and I were the only males in the house, and the only time we were allowed to disobey my sisters was when they’d want to do something unsafe, or something against mom’s prior rules, etc. When they were adolescents and teens, they used their authority mainly for their own convenience, such as wanting snacks, or their rooms cleaned or special items laundered, errands run, etc. When they became young adults they were more interested in how dad and I were behaving and what we were doing during our free time, and whether we were taking care of the house, keeping the bills and insurances paid, and performing other duties mom required of us. In other words, giving mom a break by helping her monitor us.