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An example of the Patriarchy Flip subtype.

Some societies are thought to exist as matriarchies, where women hold power and rule over society, both in modern day and historically. However, in fiction, the first known fictional matriarchies to be described in any detail were called "gynæcocracy", and was hypothesized by Aristotle and Plutarch, but Amazons go back even further, to Homer. They usually vary widely from supposed real-life matriarchies, and can be considered separate.

The treatment of matriarchies varies from author to author and by time period, but they tend to follow a few major patterns.

  • Patriarchy Flip: Identical to patriarchy, but with the genders flipped. Men are treated as lower class citizens, often used for free labor and subjected to Arranged Marriages. Commonly used to illuminate human patriarchies and make a point about gender inequality by asking, "what if it were the other way around?"
  • Straw Matriarchy: A Dead Horse Trope, this is how early philosophers portrayed matriarchies, as a warning against allowing women in power. Women were depicted as fundamentally incapable of governing or utterly evil and castrating in their power-wielding.
  • Enlightened Matriarchy: A more benevolent or enlightened rule than patriarchy. A form of non-sexual Author Appeal for certain feminist writers, especially second-wave feminists in the 1970s. On its way to being a Dead Horse Trope, at least in its more extreme versions, after the advent of third-wave feminism, which introduced the question of what happens to trans and nonbinary people under a system that favors a single gender.
  • Sexy Matriarchy: A fantasy where the women in power are attractive and often scantily clad, with strong overtones of domination (often of the Romanticized Abuse kind), hypersexualized lesbianism, or both. A form of Fanservice Author Appeal for certain writers, and common in BDSM Speculative Fiction.
  • Original Matriarchy: Sometimes an author creates an entirely new system of government which is ruled by women, and yet neither the same as any existing patriarchy nor shown to be inherently better or worse (or sexier).
  • Matriarchy in Name Only: Where the society is purported to be a matriarchy, but, for all intents and purposes, functions very similarly to a patriarchy or an egalitarian society.

Note that if the society is ruled by a queen, the succession of the crown has to be either solely or at least preferentially down the female line — otherwise it's just Heir Club for Men or (in the case of equal primogeniture) an aversion thereof. Also note that a society may be matrilineal (descent is traced through the female line), matrilocal (husbands join/reside with their wives families), or matrifocal (where fathers have little or no role in family life and child rearing) while still being a patriarchy. Matriarchy is solely about women having power in government and society.

A Lady Land will generally fall under either the Patriarchy Flip or the Straw Matriarchy type.

Many instances of Bee People are matriarchies, due to the social structure of real life bee colonies.

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Examples of a Patriarchy Flip

    Anime & Manga 
  • Ōoku: The Inner Chambers is set in a Gendercide Japan where women have taken over all ruling roles due to the Heir Club for Men becoming impossible to maintain, and dominate society in general due to a five-to-one gender ratio. Despite this, men are on average treated better than women (and certainly better than women were treated pre-Gendercide): Partially because no-one changed the society of pre-Gendercide Japan and just let women fill most of the roles held by men (female rulers take on male names and titles, and men still hold the monopoly on force as the concept of women samurai is considered unthinkable), and partially because of men's Gender Rarity Value (with the man-killing Redface Pox killing 80% of men who catch it, they don't want more men to go out and catch it and die). In the end, this means that when the Redface Pox is eliminated by vaccination, it takes less than three generations for patriarchy to reassert itself: Between stabilizing gender ratios and the Boshin War, the institutions are simply filled with men again. The victorious Meiji government then rewrites Japan's history, removing all traces of matriarchy and making all the female rulers men (and their male consorts women) posthumously as they consider the concept of women rulers shameful.
  • Kekkaishi: The Tsumimura and Yukimura can be either matriarchal or patriarchal depending on who inherits the Kekkaishi power. In Yoshimori's case in particular, his mother is the matriarch, while his father is the House Husband. However, Yoshimori's mother inherits her power from her father, Yoshimori's maternal grandfather, therefore her family as regards her own parents is a patriarchal family. The opposite case is for the Yukimura: Tokine's late father was a patriarch, but his mother (Tokine's paternal grandmother) is a matriarch. The family names Tsumimura and Yukimura are inherited accordingly, therefore Yoshimori inherits his family name from his mother, not his father.

    Comic Books 
  • ElfQuest: The future stories show planet Abode as being run by a human matriarchy, which seems to be a cross between this type and Enlightened — Abode seems to be a pretty decent place to live, but it's implied that the matriarchy is by no means free from corruption.
  • In Cerebus the Aardvark, the Cirinists create a fascist matriarchal state once they seize the government from Cerebus.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: After Solo and the Masters of Neptunia are defeated a matriarchy is installed to prevent them from rising to power once more. The matriarchy is depicted as enlightened but they end up overthrown by the masters a few years after being formed.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • America 3000 has a rather extreme example of this, with the women treating men like animals to be enslaved and exterminated. With all the intrigues and hypocrisy besetting their political system, it would seem almost like a Straw Matriarchy except most of the men really are animalistic savages, and the newly civilized men are not shown to be much better at running things in their own upstart civilization. The rest of the movie is about how the civilized men and women manage to bury the hatchet and reintegrate with each other.
  • Eleonore Pourriat's short film Majorité Opprimée (Oppressed Majority) envisions a man enduring harassment (and, ultimately, sexual assault) in one of these. Subverted at the end, when a Nested Story Reveal shows that it's a woman in the "real world" getting catcalled as she walks down a street after dark. Pourriat then made a similar film, I Am Not an Easy Man, where a Frenchman travels to a parallel world with basically the same plot but it's expanded into a feature length story.
  • Barbie (2023) portrays Barbieland as one of these, as the Barbies hold all positions of authority while the Kens are relegated to second-class citizens. While the Kens aren't outright mistreated, they're viewed with Condescending Compassion by the Barbies as it's clear they're not respected. When the main Barbie and Ken experience the real world, Ken is astonished that people actually see him and treat him as an individual. As a result of this and Barbie's continued rejection of him, Ken becomes inspired to try to remake Barbieland to how it "should" be and instigates a rebellion that leads to a role reversal. The film ends with Barbie Talking the Monster to Death and apologizing to Ken for her mistreatment of him, with Barbieland striving to become more equal.
  • Bit: Duke dreams of a world in which men are oppressed by women instead of the opposite, and suffer as they did (i.e. a Patriarchy Flip of the most vicious kind).

  • Dragonkin territory in An Outcast in Another World is ruled with an iron claw by the Dragon Queen. The world of Elatra is a borderline example of this, as while each race and nation is ruled by one of their own, none of them can truly go against the Dragon Queen if she puts her foot down due to how monstrously strong she is.
  • The Wheel of Time series packs in quite a few variants on Matriarchy into the various cultures of the world.
    • Justified in the case of magic: all magic-users in the setting (called "channelers") are women, because the male aspect of the magical source is tainted and anyone who uses it goes mad and dies. This, combined with the slowed aging resulting from magic use, has created a number of magical societies throughout the world that consist entirely of women. This also provides a "Just So" Story explanation for matriarchy within the setting generally: The Hundred Companions were a group of men who rashly attacked the Dark One and got their side of the source tainted by his counterstroke. The resulting madness and chaos resulted in a world where every society is at least a little reluctant about the idea of men having authority.
    • In Altara, a man gifts a woman a knife as a proposal of marriage and says that if she is displeased with him she may use it to kill him. This is not hyperbole, as barring exceptional circumstances a woman will not be found guilty of murdering her husband even if there is clear proof she killed him. Furthermore, wives are expected to slice up their husbands as punishment for minor infractions.
    • In the city-state of Far Madding, men are financially dependent on women, have no political representation, are raised from birth to be obedient towards women, and can never hold any position of authority over a woman.
  • Heart Of Gold features two variants of humanity, coming with blue skin (blueshi) or golden (gulden). The gulden society is a traditional (very) sexist patriarchy, but the blueshi is a mildly straw matriarchy, with women doing the work and running their end of society. Men are treated well compared to the gulden women, but are expected to give up their careers upon marriage and retire to their wife's family estate.
  • Labyrinths of Echo: In one book, the protagonist and his colleague found themselves in a hilariously over-the-top Patriarchy Flip. He wonders why his friend didn't catch what's going on despite being a much better detective... and then have to explain what's "Patriarchy" to begin with, because World of the Rod got nothing closely resembling either.
  • Hainish: In "The Matter of Seggri", the titular planet is this variation. There are about sixteen adult women for every adult man, and the women treat men (who are made to live apart from larger society) variously as intellectually lacking sex objects or "treasures" to be coddled and patronized. Men are seen as more emotional than women and unable to use logic and rational thinking, whereas women are seen as pragmatic and rational.
  • Saga of the Exiles series featured this, right down to female soldiers.
  • Vorkosigan Saga:
    • Cetaganda is a matriarchal empire, although it has a patriarchal warrior caste with a matriarchal eugenics caste is above them. This is further complicated by the fact that there is an Emperor who wields power outside of the haut women, and has some oversight of the eugenics program as well.
    • Barrayar runs on Heir Club for Men, but there's ample evidence that the women hold the true power, while letting the men play their games. More than once, a cabal of women will influence Emperor Gregor's rule, highlighted in Captain Vorpatril's Alliance.
  • In Royce Day's The Red Vixen Adventures noble inheritance in Foxen society is matrilineal, though there's nothing stopping males from obtaining titles. And one of the short excerpts on the author's LiveJournal indicates that in the military Noble caste vixens can start as officers while males have to work their way up.
  • In Robin Jarvis' Deptford Mice books, the squirrels are ruled by a wise, magic-wielding female known as the Starwife. Further back in their history, there were five royal houses of black squirrels in total, each one with its own queen regnant. Gradually these realms were destroyed in various tragedies, with the exception of the Starwife's realm in Greenwich Park, London which remains even in the 'present day' of the books.
  • Spectral Shadows has Serial 11, where it's happened so that males are the submissive gender, while females are the dominant gender. And this is a status quo that's enforced to various degrees in different towns. Some, like Chris Corners, don't push it as much, while others like the more conservative Suburbia, will consider you a bit of an outcast if you don't. Also instead of "womanizing" there's "malizing"
    • Part of the reason this has happened though is because the Funny Animal people that now inhabit the planet learned that it was a male-led society that lead up to the destruction of the humans, and so in a bid to stop males from reaching power, females are now the rulers.
  • Egalia's Daughters: A Satire of the Sexes takes place in a gender-flipped version of the 1960s, where the "wim" have always been in power and "menwim" are currently at a stage where they're patronised, and treated as household stationary and sex objects.
  • Implied in The Witchlands when it's mentioned that the Marstoki Empire is a "female-dominated" society. As the story is yet to visit Marstok, it's unclear how far this extends, although it's made clear that the country is always ruled by a woman.
  • The Nightrunner and Tamír Triad series by Lynn Flewelling has Skala, a kingdom with a matrilineal line of queens. The legitimacy of this tradition is enforced by a prophecy: "So long as a daughter of Thelátimos' line defends and rules, Skala shall never be subjugated." This particular example fits in the "flipped patriarchy" category because they rule in the same manor a king stereotypically would, including being skilled warriors and commanders. However, certain Enlightened characteristics of their culture are implied to be due to their matrilineal succession, such as: equal rights and opportunities for both genders (and LGBTQ+ citizens), culturally sanctioned and legally protected prostitutes (of both genders), etc.
  • In Ciaphas Cain the planet Nusquam Fundamentibus is a relatively mild version of this. The various military and political leaders are all female and several comments imply that women are the primary breadwinners for most families with men being expected to Stay in the Kitchen. There is one male officer in the local guard regiment but he was given a commission for bravery and comments that he's the first male officer in the regiment.
  • The Kingkiller Chronicle: Ademre are a Proud Warrior Race ruled by women. All members practice their Fantastic Fighting Style, the Ketan, which makes even a mediocre Adem fighter the match for several normal soldiers. The Adem believe that morality is more important for skill in the Ketan than any physical advantage. They also believe that woman are more naturally moral than men. Therefore, woman are both better fighters and better people than men. All of their leaders are women for this reason.
  • The Courtship of Princess Leia:
    • The Hapes Consortium has something of a Patriarchy Flip, with women ruling and men as subordinate, though they don't seem to be mistreated otherwise.
    • Dathomir meanwhile is much more worse. From what's seen, many men are slaves of the women, with the right to rape them if they wish.
  • Earth's Children: Attaroa creates an awful example with about the most deplorable conditions conceivable-not only do women rule (under her leadership), but men are all slaves and slowly being worked to death, in hopes of wiping them out (they don't know how reproduction works, thinking after this happens women will just only have girls).
  • The Heroes of Olympus: The mythical Amazons are depicted as a female-led society in which men exist within their ranks, but are relegated to non-leadership roles such as menial labor. Unlike the Hunters of Artemis, who are strictly female misandrists, the Amazons like men just fine, though they prefer that they Stay in the Kitchen. Despite this, it's shown that the Amazonian society isn't a female utopia; because of their warrior-oriented culture, potential leaders have to undergo Klingon Promotion.
  • The Legend of Drizzt: Drow society is usually a strict matriarchy, with every House headed by a Matron Mother who rules them. Males are taught to believe themselves inferior in relation with females, a gender hierarchy very harshly reinforced. Their cities are run by councils made up of Matron Mothers, with males having no voice in the government.
  • Bazil Broketail: The Cunfshon Isles are clearly dominated by women (specifically witches), though the degree varies. Some regions like Defwode are quite known as misandrist. Women from other regions though don't show this misandry, respecting men (such as Lessis of Valmes).
  • Lensman The matriarchal society of Lyrane II is this, with the women being athletic, ideal physical specimens and killer telepaths who refer to themselves only as "persons", while the men of their species are referred to as "males" - these are stunted, dwarfish creatures who are retained only for the purpose of breeding for a limited time, then they are executed and their bodies disposed of. The Lyranians reacted harshly to what in early 21st century terms is called "toxic masculinity", but - as one of them confesses to Kim Kinnison, trying to breed the combativeness out of them led to racial deterioration. Males of off-planet races are loathed, and only barely tolerated even when they are responsible for saving the Lyranians from extermination. This has been going on for so long that the concept of a 'female' is foreign to them.
    • Co-operation with them is so difficult that Kim Kinnison takes the controversial step of making his fiancee a Lensman, little knowing that the omnipotent Arisians' approval of this scheme (and their provision of a Lens for her) is motivated in part by her being his opposite-sex penultimate in a breeding program as old as humanity itself.
    • This is taken to its logical conclusion in Children of the Lens when the Boskonians approach the Lyranians looking for a proxy race of front-men (or any beings, really) to replace the Kalonians. The latter, a two-gendered near-human race whose women have no function beyond the birthing of men, are close to the Boskonian ideal (the top echelon are sexless eldritch monsters that reproduce by binary division) but can't quite meet it. The Lyranian persons, on the other hand, just need a bit of technological help to make that final jump...
  • The Rising of the Shield Hero: The Kingdom of Melromarc is of matriarchal line, so the Queen has higher authority than her husband, and crimes against women are very frowned upon. A plot point is that at the beginning of the story, the Queen is absent because she's had to deal with a pretty big diplomatic mess caused by the King, and she resolves to set things right once she's back.
  • Bravelands: Hyenas have a matriarchal society. The female hyenas have all the authority and handle all the important tasks. The males are thought to be lazy and slow and only slightly more capable than cubs.
  • The gay republic of Proud Pink Sky sees this in the lesbian districts: Delos, Flora, and Diesel are all run along matriarchal lines.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: In the episode "Angel One", there is a society where men have fewer social rights than women. The men are also the fairer sex, smaller, weaker, hairless, wear soft cloths, and use perfume.
  • Star Trek: Picard: There are at least two Romulan institutions which are female-dominated.
    • The Qowat Milat is an all-female sect. On rare occasions, the warrior nuns may teach a man their ways (such as Elnor), but even after he completes the training, he can never be higher than The Apprentice in terms of his official position within the order.
    • Although the Zhat Vash accepts men into its ranks (such as Narek), the cabal is run by women, and only women are allowed contact with the Admonition. When Oh speaks to the female initiates, she informs them that their foremothers were the first ones to visit the octonary star system, which indicates that the precursor of the Zhat Vash was also matriarchal.
  • One universe featured in Sliders was "The Weaker Sex," where the typical roles are reversed. Women hold every position of authority with men being assistants and such. Hundreds of years ago women got sick and tired of watching men go off to war and killing each other so they revolted. There's no war anymore, no violent crime. Wade unsurprisingly digs this idea, whereas Arturo gets easily frustrated - so much so he gets coaxed into running for mayor just to make a statement. Quinn, meanwhile, faces a bit of sexual harassment and Rembrandt winds up as "the other man" in a relationship. Overlaps with Enlightened, but the sexism means it still falls into this category. Another episode "Love Gods" finds the sliders in a universe where a gender specific biological attack has killed nearly every man on earth. The few surviving men are held in breeding centers as a desperate attempt to continue the human race and the male cast members are mistaken for escaped breeders and hunted. This is an example of Original Matriarchy rather than straw matriarchy as the predicament is not the fault of the female rulers of society. On the other hand, the female rulers are instituting a eugenics program of some kind that permits only young attractive women to breed. This means that the wife of a man, taken from her into a breeding camp, is not even allowed to see, much less sleep with her husband, as she's deemed "not attractive enough". This world is also in the middle of a new Cold War, this time between the US and Australia, as both nations have been the least affected by the Gendercide. Population now serves as a measurement of a superpower's strength, and it's not uncommon for countries to steal "studs" from one another.
  • The gender-flip alternate universe in the Red Dwarf episode "Parallel Universe" is an amusingly exact patriarchy flip, complete with Wilma Shakespeare, Nellie Armstrong, magazines full of 'deformed' blokes who make Rimmer feel rather inadequate, and 'boring masculinists'. The female Rimmer and Lister have the exact same neuroses as the ones we're used to — the only deviation is the Cat's counterpart, who's still male but a Dog.
  • The Drahvin in the William Hartnell-era Doctor Who serial "Galaxy 4" are confused when the Doctor calls them 'women', asking what one is. She goes on to explain that they do have such a thing as 'men', but only as many as they need and the rest are killed ("they consume food and have minimal function"). The Doctor seems to consider this to just be their culture, but Steven is (reasonably) upset with the idea — he complains several times that the Drahvin's refusal to listen to his point of view is sexist, even accusing them of wanting to kill him because of his sex.
  • Pandora: Hypatia is a brutal example, with women ruling and men being their slaves.

  • In Scythian Mythology the Top God is the goddess Tabiti, whereas in most other Indo-European pantheons its a male sky god who leads the gods. Their culture is believed to have inspired the Amazons, as they had more gender equality than most in the region, which included women warriors. For the Greeks it may have all been too unthinkable, so they concluded the Scythians had female rulers. In fact, they're mentioned as having had kings.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Realm in Exalted is a subtle case of Patriarchy Flip. Governed by the Scarlet Empress, women are preferred in some quarters of the military and governance, but both male and female Dragon-Blooded are expected to fully contribute to the Realm (and its population) to the best of their ability.
  • In Anima: Beyond Fantasy Daphne, the Kingdom of Roses, works this way with women ruling and being warriors, etc. while men behave in the way the former act elsewhere being soft, etc. and basically staying in the kitchen, caring and raising children, etc.
  • The Dark Eye has an interesting example in that the flip happened over time in the setting's history. The earliest inhabitants of Arania were a semi-nomadic pastoral culture with strict separation of gender roles: men were responsible for herds and warfare while women handled...well, the boring stuff. Over time, however, they transitioned into a settled culture of merchants and farmers. Suddenly all the economic power lay with the women instead of the men, who grew increasingly marginalized because those strict gender roles prevented them from doing anything other than their more and more irrelevant traditional herding and raiding. This softened up a little over time, but women still hold most of the economic and political power in Arania and men are mainly expected to work on looking good and marrying well.

    Video Games 
  • Troia of Final Fantasy IV is a theocracy/mageocracy of sorts ruled by 8 female Epopts. Their military is entirely female.
  • Alexandria in Final Fantasy IX is a fairly bog standard monarchy. The leadership of the kingdom is passed down to female heirs instead of male ones, and the regular army, like that of Troia above, is entirely made up of women.
    • The male Knights of Pluto, led by Steiner, also get a lot of grief from the female soldiers.
  • The Viera race of Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy XIV is governed by women exclusively. Men live seperately from the women along the outskirts of their territory, acting as sentinels and only being permitted into the cities for the purpose of siring children.
  • Radiant Historia has Granorg, ruled by the corrupt and vain Queen Protea. What saves this example from being a straw matriarchy is the rule of her successor, Eruca, who is shown to be compassionate and wise.
  • Ōkami has the Draconians, who are ruled by an Empress after the death of their Emperor.
  • In Yoake Mae Yori Ruri Iro Na, the Kingdom of Sphere is a fairly standard monarchy, except with the line of succession going down female rather than male lines. The benevolent aspects have less to do with female rule and more to do with the fact that the previous Queen and her heir-apparent are benevolent people in their own right.
  • In Luminous Arc 2, Carnava has been ruled by a line of Queens for so long the manual points out the title "kingdom" has actually become misleading. The current Queen, Sophia, is portrayed as a Reasonable Authority Figure even when she works against the player party and has them imprisoned - The Mole was feeding her bad information. When the cards are laid on the table, she apologizes and immediately starts supporting their cause again.
  • Atlantis in Atlantis: The Lost Tales is ruled by a Queen, the main god in their religion is a woman and women are shown to be more respected. Until the evil consort takes over, when women are made into second-class citizens.
  • We aren't given much information on the lissit tribe in Telepath Tactics, so details are uncertain, but they do follow a matriarch and the only warriors we see are women.
  • After the End: A Post-Apocalyptic America has both the Gaian and the Ursuline faiths. The Gaians, who blame the men who ruled the old world for the end of it, place Enlightened Matriarchy as an ideal, although the results are much closer to a standard patriarchy flip (the main difference is that Gaians have to be a bit more gender equal than most others, and that's mostly down to hardcoded game mechanics — except for succession it mostly isn't actually possible to invert gender preferences and restrictions). The Ursulines, a Catholic off-shoot, are a near-straight flip with their clergy, with only-female Cardinals and an Abbess-General playing the papal role, though unlike the Gaians this is not really down to an actual preference for female rule (it just happened to be a female monastic order that Canadian Catholics looked to for organization in preference to the Pope in St. Louis after the End), so Ursuline feudal lords are just a bit more tolerant of female rulers, with nothing keeping them from male-preference succession.
  • Baseline Crusader Kings II added this with the Holy Fury expansion and its 'Enatic Clans' option for reforming pagan faiths. Enatic Clans operate as a gender-flipped version of the 'Agnatic Clans' option, which is based on the same system as Islam: It locks you into a one-gender only succession law, commander and councillor appointment in return for giving you access to the powerful 'Open'/Turkic succession law.
  • Crusader Kings III has an option for Historically Accurate male-dominated succession, gender equal succession (both males and females can inherit) and female-dominated succession. While the previous game has a penalty for switching to female-dominated succession mid-game, and fairly stringent requirements to do so in the base game, in this game, switching the inheritance rules at the beginning of the game has no drawbacks (except for the fact that almost every kingdom will start off with a slight malus for being ruled by a male, which will rectify itself over the course of a couple of generations of rulers).
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • This as the case for the Khajiit race. While the (historically male) Mane is the unofficial "head of state" of the Khajiit people, it is the Clan Mothers who hold the real power in Khajiiti society. They control the harvest and refinement of Moon Sugar, which is sacred to the Khajiit, and thus it is they who are seen as the most influential.
    • This is a trait of the Aureals (aka Golden Saints) and Mazken (aka Dark Seducers), two forms of lesser Daedra in service to Sheogorath. Their society is extremely matriarchal, with females filling all leadership positions. It helps that the female Aureals/Mazken are both physically larger and more powerful than the males.
  • One of the worlds you can visit in the Portal 2 DLC "Perpetual Testing Initiative" is indicated to be one. The Cave of that world mentions a ruling council of matriarchs and a gender regulatory committee, with Cave and Greg under some Paper Thin Disguises to try and fool them.

  • Digger: The hyena tribe is mostly a Patriarchy Flip, though with a few original elements as well. Males can hold important posts, but it is shown to be far from the norm: there is only one male, Owl-Caller, on the Elder council, and he is extremely deferential to Boneclaw, whereas the female elders argue with her as near-equals. Justified, since this is how Real Life spotted hyenas operate, with the highest ranked adult male below all females and juveniles in female's care.
  • Drowtales: Drow society is this, with a small bit of Original — women dominate because they tend to be innately superior at using magic and (at least among the majority Dark Elves and Drowolath) tend to be physically stronger and larger than the males. This is in contrast to the Light Elves and Drowussu which is not a coincidence where the physical aspect is inverted and Light Elf society is traditionally patriarchal, while Drowussu still officially have female leaders but behind the scenes are more balanced in terms of their leaders' gender ratio.
  • Outsider: Due to Loroi men being much smaller than the women and only making up about a tenth of the population, Loroi society is highly matriarchal. Almost all vocations, including commerce and especially the military, are seen as the province of women; men, in contrast, live in seclusion within specialized cloisters — the prevailing belief is that, as the rarer and weaker sex, they need to be protected and kept secure — and mostly serve to father new generations; outside of this, there are few vocations open to them outside of certain philosopher orders.
  • The Overture: The Rondelin Empire is an extremely conservative society run by women. Childbirth is considered the most important function for all people and, as men cannot bear children, they are viewed as "incomplete". While men still labor, they are forbidden from holding or spending money so all funds either go to the man's wife or mother. Men are also required to keep their eyes hidden while in public and must wear special blindfolds while traveling.
  • The Weave: The Court of the Fairy Queens has several queens installed as the heads of the noble families, none of whom seems to even have male advisors, and in one case, it's explicitly made clear that a prince, in opposite to a princess, is not allowed to inherit or represent anything and can be married off by force.

    Web Original 
  • Nilenira in The Movolreilen Saga. Men are pretty much considered to be human forklifts and plows, except when used for breeding.
  • Spectral Shadows has this in Serial 11, where females are pretty much the dominant gender in the Patriarchy Flip fashion. How severe the flip is varies from town to town.

    Real Life 
  • Most social mammals have matriarchies of some sort, with females governing the herds and males usually either living on their own (elephants, cetaceans) or being present but not particularly socially relevant, even when forming harems (horses, for example; it's a matriarch that leads the herd, not the stallion). The same often holds true with social insects, such as bees, ants and termites, whose males exist solely as a sperm supply for the queen.
  • Among many species of spider and mantid, the female is the larger and more aggressive, and courtship can be a very delicate affair for prospective male suitors, often resulting in their death even if they succeed.
  • If you have ever seen an anglerfish, it was a female. Male anglerfish are tiny and have no role in life other than to find a female and latch onto her, becoming an appended symbiote that exchanges his sperm for her blood. Over time, the male will gradually dissolve into the female, leaving only its still-functioning testicles behind.
  • Some people claim Minoan Crete was like this. Artifacts depict women as warriors and leaders with male harems surrounding them.
  • Spotted hyenas are probably the most well known example. The females are bigger and more aggressive than the males, and (usually, see below note ) dominate them. Male hyenas will often rank even below female cubs. Higher-ranking hyenas take precedence over all food, so if there is not enough to go around, the males are often the first to go hungry, or eat the less choice foods such as bones and scraps.note 
    • Hyena society is complex enough that strength and gender are not the only factors in determining a hyena's rank: social support, inheritance, and whether the hyena was born to the clan or is a dispersal from another clan play important roles. Newer research has found that in rare, exceptional circumstances, a male hyena can even rule a clan: Hyenas often take the rank directly below their mother, so if a matriarch's son fails to disperse (males usually disperse, so this is rare) and his mother happens to die or leave the clan (dispersing is rare for a female), he may "inherit the throne" from his mother and become the highest ranked in his clan. This is probably more likely to happen if he has no willing sisters to take that rank.
    • Occasionally, a male may also co-dominate (share a rank) with a female if he can successfully gain the necessary social support from his mother and/or sisters.
    • Part of the reason males tend to be so low ranked is that in adulthood they usually leave their native clan to join a new clan (to find unrelated mates, it's an instinct to prevent inbreeding), and new hyenas tend to rank low by default, even if female. It's just that females usually do not leave their native clan.
    • It's not all bad for males though, as females tend to prefer to mate with males that they have friendly relationships with, and a male's daughters will often be less aggressive towards him (despite that the father does not help raise the cubs.)
  • Jacanas (also known as lily trotters, or Jesus birds because they walk on lily pads and other vegetation floating on water with their ridiculously large feet) are a family of waterbirds in which females compete with each other for, and in some species, defend harems of smaller males. The males brood their eggs after they lay them and raise the chicks alone, and have special adaptions for parental care, like the ability to pick up chicks with their wings, something that the females can't do. Like male lions do with unrelated cubs, females will attempt infanticide on unrelated chicks, to free up the male to brood her chicks. The male may try to defend the chicks, usually unsuccessfully.
  • It's thought that the high proportion of found mammoth remains (2/3) which turn out to have been males is evidence of this sort of social structure. Like their elephant cousins, male mammoths probably dispersed at an early, inexperienced age to seek mating opportunities, often falling victim to natural hazards which their sisters, safe under the watchful eye of a wise matriarch, would avoid.

Examples of a Straw Matriarchy

  • The society in the The Two Ronnies serial The Worm Who Turned starts out as a Patriarchy Flip (complete with men wearing dresses), becomes a particularly egregious Straw Matriarchy (apparently, expecting men to cook is against the natural order of things) and naturally, this being The Two Ronnies, includes a dash of Sexy Matriarchy (the Secret Police consists entirely of attractive women in tight uniforms with bare legs, for no clearly explained reason).

  • In Blackveil by Kristen Britain, there is an in-universe example in the form of the play The Mad Queen Oddacious, who was a crazed despot eventually dethroned and killed by her people. Historians are unsure if she was an actual historical figure. The protagonist muses that the play was probably created to warn of the evils of women being allowed power, especially since it gained in popularity during the rule of Queen Isen.
  • In Prized, the sequel to Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien, Sylum is a matriarchy. The reason why is because for some reason, 9 out of every 10 births are male and a large percentage of those men are infertile, so girl babies and women are a prized commodity. The protagonist Gaia comes here and is startled by the differences from her society. The leader of the town is called the "Matrarc" (matriarch). In this society, men do not have the right to vote. The society ends up being sexist to both men and women, because women are forced to have at least 10 kids and single women and presumably lesbians are considered outcasts.
  • Star Wars Legends has the Hapans, a race of narcissistic Human Alien Designer Babies who adopted a matriarchal society after most of their men were killed off by the Jedi for becoming Space Pirates four thousand years ago. Men were treated as second class citizens and breeding stock while rarely being given positions of power, and as a result many followed their ancestors and turned to piracy in an attempt to escape the confines of their culture.
  • In The Plains of Passage, Ayla and Jondalar come across a matriarchal society, which had been taken over by the women fairly recently. It wasn't going well at all because the women didn't have all the skills the men had (although this was a consequence of the chief being crazy and not thinking things through rather than of women being inherently unfit to rule). The chief, Attaroa, was insane, murderous, and sexist, to the point that all the males were slaves kept in a giant pen in the middle of the camp, half-starved, denied medical care, and often worked to death. The population was dwindling because Attaroa didn't let the women have sex with the men, assuming they'd give birth only to girls as a result, and even threatened to execute women who gave birth to boys.
  • Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs: The protagonist Leon is reborn as a poor rural Blue Blood noble in a setting where men unmarried by 20 are considered past expiration and thus used as Cannon Fodder or just worked like a slave. The noble women as a whole are mostly characterized as Spoiled Brat Rich Bitch who only see men for their earning potential, using their servants to bully. Married noblemen are exploited by their wives who live opulently with their Beast Man Exclusive Servants in the capitol (with said servants being their de facto gigolos), and possibly other lovers, while the men usually take on The Mistress and live separately. The system came about due to a centralist Government Conspiracy to keep the lower noble's money near the capitol where it could be taxed, and to rein in their constant warlordism. Commoners are noted to be more normal. The system ends up being reformed partially due to its disastrous effects on soldiers' morale.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The earliest tales of the Amazons from Greek Mythology, as a warning against female rule.

    Western Animation 

Examples of an Enlightened Matriarchy

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 

  • Fallout: Equestria: As in canon, Equestria was ruled by two goddesses and most of the ponies in charge were mares. During the war, this only increased; while many companies led by stallions rose to power, ultimately the ones on top were the six Mares of the Ministries, appointed by Princess Luna to win the war however possible. Because of this, every Stable was ruled by an Overmare, the sole exception being Stable 24, which had an Overstallion. Since the Stables were social experiments to try to figure out where Equestria went wrong, it only made sense to see if stallions could do better. They didn't.

  • The First Sex by Elizabeth Gould Davis speculated that early human society was made up of matriarchies. They were characterized by pacifism and democracy, which was later overthrown by a far more barbaric patriarchy.
  • Merlin Stone posited a theory of prehistoric cultures in When God Was A Woman, in which all prehistoric societies were utopic matriarchies later destroyed by patriarchal Indo-Europeans.
  • In The Wheel of Time Andor qualifies an example of an Enlightened Matriarchy. The throne is always held by a queen, but aside from that the rights of Andorans do not vary by gender.
  • In the Heralds of Valdemar series by Mercedes Lackey, in Karse, the "Son of the Sun", the leader of their theocracy, is a woman this time around, by direct divine intervention. This would normally just be a gender flip, but she is also reversing the excesses, pogroms, and corruption of the previously patriarchal theocracy. She single-handedly changed Karse from being one of the major antagonists and "evil" forces in the novels to one of the good guys.
  • Children of Mother Earth by Thea Beckman, in which men are forbidden from carrying weapons, but otherwise everyone is allowed to do everything. A utopic setting, with the plot mainly derived from the fact that a Nazi-like culture invades the country and has to be "fought" off by the pacifist inhabitants.
  • Isaac Asimov and Janet Asimov's The Norby Chronicles: The planet of Izz has been ruled by (mostly) women since paleolithic times. However, since there are very few labour-intensive jobs, society as a whole is fairly egalitarian, with almost everyone spending more time inventing games and hobbies than real work. There are a few biases that act like a flipped patriarchy, most notably in the sense that women are expected to be brave, combat-focused, and leaders, while men are expected to submissively defer to them.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Hunters of Artemis are composed of women or girls who gave up love in exchange for immortality and youthfulness. As a result, they dislike and consider men as beneath them, often trying to recruit uninitiated women into their ranks. This gets deconstructed later on, however, when a lesbian couple is revealed to be two ex-Hunters who fell in love with each other. Since Artemis forbade all kinds of romantic attachment, including same-sex, they ended up having to leave and become mortals.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Eden-like colony of Chroma seen in episode 5 of Raumpatrouille is portrayed as this. The women, led by SHE, are in charge, men are shown working as scientists and gardeners. The planet was settled by former rebels on the losing side of the First Galactic War who turned to the ways of peace because the women took charge.
  • An early episode of Boy Meets World has a career day where Topanga comes as the President of the United States. She says that men are now used for breeding and they have eliminated a need for the military.

    Video Games 
  • The Azadi Empire in Dreamfall: The Longest Journey is ruled by a conclave of Six Empresses, with women taking all important political positions (except military, which is still the male domain). Even in-game, opinions differ: April sees them as nothing more than the straight-up evil imperialists, Kian believes the Azadi state to be best of all possible, while Brian Westhouse acknowledges their imperialistic tendencies but points at their truly remarkable cultural and scientific achievements.
  • The Kaldorei in World of Warcraft though it also overlaps with the Sexy Matriarchy variant to some degree. And also, how "enlightened" they are depends on who you ask. The religion centers on the goddess Elune, and is controlled by an entirely female priesthood. The military is also primarily, though not entirely, female. The leader of the society is also traditionally female: whether a Queen like Azhara, or just a de facto dictator like Tyrande. This does lead to some Values Dissonance when dealing with the rest of the Alliance, since human society was until recently pretty misogynistic. However, it's not as if men have no positions of power in this society. Princes can rule regions, many famous generals are male, most mages and druids are male. And then there is Illidan and the demon hunters, but they are outcasts from society.
    • There is also a questline in which Xavius creates visions of Malfurion to confuse Tyrande. He supplies the visions with voice lines, none of which are particularly convincing for anyone who knows the character. Some interpret these as Xavius projecting his feelings for Queen Azhara onto Malfurion: which definitely hints at a bit more of the Sexy Matriarchy variant at least having been more common in the past.

  • In the world of Gifts of Wandering Ice, women are in charge. Men can be become clan leaders too, but only if they prove clearly that they understand the value of human life as well as a woman who raised a child does. There were very few male chiefs.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Contrary to popular belief, among horses, a lead mare is usually in charge rather than a stallion. Studies have found groups of all geldings (neutered males) or with a gelding leader tend to be more anxious and less relaxed than those with a female leader, suggesting this is even instinctual to horses.

Examples of a Sexy Matriarchy

    Anime and Manga 
  • This version often appears in harem-series (and ecchi in general), especially in those where only woman have access to superpowers.
  • The Continent in Queen's Blade is ruled by a Queen chosen via a series of tournament battles. Being an extreme ecchi series, the female fighters rarely wear more than a Chainmail Bikini, and even the all-female angels are often depicted as being rather scantily clad and buxom.
  • Lupin III: Part II has Search the House of the Mystery Women episode, which features an example of Sexy Matriarchy with the women of the titular house: a remote giant mansion in the middle of nowhere populated by beautiful, blissful girls wearing at most see-through gowns, bikini bottoms and other skimpy clothing. Furthermore, their leader reveals that they secretly despise men and due to their treasure (a drug which leaves any woman who drinks it into a blissful stupor) they actually have no use for men to keep themselves happy. Unsurprisingly, the Homoerotic Subtext is abundant.

    Comic Books 
  • The Koda are depicted this way in Genął. They are scantily clad, lick blood from the bare skin of their Kerubim leader, and are insatiable in the bedroom with "poor" Grunge.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • This describes the matriarchial society of human colonists in Ghosts of Mars pretty well. While women hold the majority of power, it's mostly a leather-clad Fetish-Fuel Future with dominant lesbian leader figures, and women sleeping their way to the top by getting it on with their superiors is seen as expected. The men are still macho, though.

  • In Piers Anthony's If I Pay Thee Not In Gold, the rulership switches between matriarchy and patriarchy depending on which gender currently has magic. Each lasts several generations. At the start of the novel, it has been a matriarchy for many generations, and men are kept in near-slavery. Given the author, the sexual aspect was inevitable.

    Live-Action TV 
  • An episode of Sliders, "Love Gods", sees most of the men in the world having been killed via germ warfare. Women generally take over society, while the surviving men (at least those with a healthy sperm count) are kept in compounds. The men are to impregnate the best possible women in order to rebuild the population, especially before another country does so (the men that succeed the most are afforded many luxuries). Naturally, when our heroes get there, the male characters are instantly mobbed and taken into custody.
  • In the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Bound", we learn that those Orion "slave" girls apparently being the slaves is all a big ruse; actually, it's the Orion men who are the slaves, with the women running everything behind the scenes via their powerful pheromones.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 

  • The Mistress' Domain in Oglaf.
  • In Wapsi Square, Lanthas was this, according to Jin's mom, who is quite sure that since this is a patriarchial society, fathers and sons have no difficulty talking about the women the son has slept with.

    Real Life 
  • Other World Kingdom, a micronation located in the Czech Republic. Though not officially recognized as a sovereign state, it maintains its own system of laws and governance—which are based entirely around BDSM and femdom play. Technically also a Patriarchy Flip, but for the purpose of kink rather than political reform.
  • While not "sexy" as in "sexually appealing to humans" (hopefully), bonobos or pygmy chimpanzees have a matriarchal society where sexual activity is used as a greeting and to resolve conflicts, and can occur between pairs of any gender combinations, and permanent monogamous relationships are virtually nonexistent.

Examples of an Original Matriarchy

    Fan Works 
  • Fanfics for My Little Pony, due to the canon's use of this trope, often end up depicting Equestria (or Dream Valley, for Generation 1 fics) as either a Matriarchy or an outright Lady Land.

  • The alien Jan in Alien in a Small Town have a Hive Caste System, and so are naturally ruled by their breeding females. They're Silicon-Based Life, and Jan Matriarchs age into effectively living, sentient mountains.
  • The eponymous Jaran in Kate Elliot's Novels of the Jaran have a complex matriarchal structure. Women are the power both in the family and politically, and it is deeply ingrained in their culture that men respect and obey women. There are two exceptions to this: marriage and war are under male domain. This society is not depicted as particularly better or worse than a patriarchal society.
  • In The Wheel of Time:
    • Many smaller independent villages are an Original Matriarchy, they are governed by two separate (theoretically equal) groups. The Village Council is all male and the Women's Circle exclusively female, but members of both bodies will privately admit that really, the women are the ones calling the shots.
    • The Aiel exhibit a similar governance (and similar admissions of who holds the true power) though in their case they are led by a Clan Chief (male), a Wise One (female), and the woman who owns the Hold.
    • The city-state of Tar Valon is a Magocracy ruled by the Aes Sedai Magical Society, which have been exclusively female for the 3000 years since the Dark One tainted the male half of the source of Functional Magic. Other citizens, however, enjoy equal rights under the law.
  • Yilanè in West of Eden have a matriarchy, which may or may not be due to their sexual dimorphism.
  • In Lois McMaster Bujold's "Borders of Infinity" novella, hundreds of POW's are trapped in an always lit dome. They lose all hope and civility. The only order is the ‘women's area', which women cooperate to guard, to remain safe from rape. The (male) protagonist, Miles, must appeal to their leader to start his uprising.
  • The teen novel Epitaph Road, which tells the story of a boy in a society where a virus, which turns out to have been deliberately released, drastically reduced the male population and led to a society ruled by women.
  • Antaris of Chanters of Tremaris is a magocracy and, due to the high notes in their sung magic, all of the ruling magicians are female.
  • The Helmacrons in Animorphs, possibly meant to be an Aversion of Insect Gender-Bender. Their species' defining traits are being very small and also completely freaking insane, which extends to how this trope plays out. All the leaders are female, but they're also ritualistically killed before taking office, since dead people never make mistakes and thus are better leaders. Males are Never Given a Name (Marco dubs the one that they meet "Wuss") and treated as slaves, but once given a pep talk about standing up for themselves they prove just as bombastic and crazy as the females. Also, slaves captured from other species are automatically classified as male regardless of their actual sex, and will be killed if they disobey an order. Incidentally, being executed makes them eligible for leadership roles, which possibly means that they're now considered female.
  • Queensland, the country in A Brother's Price. Men are only about three to five percent of the adult population, and are regarded as more delicate and fragile than women, mostly relegated to House Husband duties. Women are far more collective than they would be in a simple patriarchy flip. Sisters, born to a set of sisters married to one man, look to the firstborn among them, their Eldest, as an authority.
  • In Black Jewels, the Blood society runs on this. The highest rank in the Blood caste system is queen, with the highest male rank being warlord prince, which is slightly below a queen. Most of the rulers are queens, with a few warlord princes and princes ruling here and there. Women enjoy great sexual freedom and have the final say on a child's paternity, able to deny parental rights to their child's father even if the father acknowledges the child. Ideally, the system is supposed to ensure both genders' rights by a series of nuances and protocols between women and men. For example, since women are unable to use their magic during period or pregnancy, the men in their lives must protect them. In another example, men are allowed to choose which queens they serve and are usually drawn to a certain queen, and can leave her service if they wish and are free to kill a queen who has become corrupt or tyrannical. Under the manipulation of the High Priestesses Hekatah and Dorothea, the system in Terreille became a straw matriarchy in some places and a matriarchy in name only in others, though the ideal system remained in place in Kaeleer and was later restored in Terreille following the evil priestesses' defeat.
  • Shadow of the Conqueror: In countries that abide by the Matriology religion—like Frey—women and men both abide by a strict Mars and Venus Gender Contrast where Women Are Delicate and A Real Man Is a Killer, but women are the heads of every household and a singular queen is the ultimate ruler.
  • In the Wings of Fire series, all dragon tribes are ruled by queens who, with a few exceptions, achieve their role through Klingon Promotion. While many of the queens are some flavor of crazy, this generally seems to be due to the nature of the world, and good queens, such as Glory after her coronation, do exist. Male dragons are also not discriminated against in most aspects of society, though queens' sons are often ignored, in an inverse of a Heir Club for Men situation.
  • In The Marvellous Land of Snergs, a shelter for abused kids is run by an all-female association managed by Miss Watkins. All members are presented as good-natured, compassionate women who are definitely competent at their jobs.
  • Green Antarctica: The Ghault. Since their women were forbidden from drinking alcohol while pregnant, they tended to outnumber the menfolk, who had a bad habit of dying young from violence. As a result, they tended to assume high positions of authority. The result was an inflexible, conservative culture ruled by Witch Queens, several of whom would rival Hali's Kings in Yellow in their viciousness and cruelty.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Motherland: Fort Salem: The alternate US seems to be dominated by women, as they occupy both the top government and military positions. However, it doesn't exactly reverse social hierarchy in the US either, and there's no sign of explicit misandry. It seems to be a result of the fact that most witches we've seen are female, and so by association women in general obtained more power, thus falling into the Original Matriarchy category. It's also notable that black and Latina women are visibly equal with white ones. Nor does anyone care if a person is LGBT. The matrifocal commune Tally is from would be one by default as well, since no men live there. Except for this, it's not depicted as really too different from the modern US regarding fashion, government, technology etc. In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, an in-universe rendition of America the Beautiful also replaces "brotherhood" with "sisterhood". The Cession is run by a mostly female council, with representatives from different native tribes (Salish, Shoshone, Lakota, Ojibwe, Muscogee, Iroquois and Cherokee).
  • The Dark Crystal Age of Resistance reveals each Gelfling Clan had an Always Female ruler, the Maudra, and the All-Maudra ruled them all.
  • Supernatural has an episode featuring a race of human-looking women who are Amazons and operate as an all-female society. They seduce human men as sperm donors, and then the rapidly growing girl children must kill their father in a coming of age ritual. This causes conflict for Dean, when his daughter Emma comes looking to kill him.
  • The Wilds: Gretchen wants to create what she calls a "gynocracy", where women lead instead of men, as she thinks patriarchy is ruining human civilization. She placed the girls on the island to prove they were more capable, with a male control group that would show the opposite.
  • First Kill: Legacy vampire society is run by the female heads of their families, with the keepers of the Emerald Malkia (a kind of magical snake) as the preeminent family, led by their eldest woman. There is a ruling Legacy Council made up of the matriarchs which governs them all.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Later depictions of the Amazons from Greek Mythology, particularly by modern authors. Some say that the stories of the Amazons were based on Iranian tribes like the Scythians and Sarmatians, in which women fought alongside men and held political power (though not exclusively).

    Tabletop Games 

  • Keeping with how herds work, the original 1980s incarnation of My Little Pony takes place in a land ruled by mares. Majesty is a queen in-all-but-name (especially in the UK comics) and there are several princesses as well. Dream Valley is a pleasant Lady Land, though it's haunted by a lot of villains. There are males, known as the Big Brother Ponies, but they're depicted as preferring a separate existence as nomads, and otherwise treated as equals to the females.

    Video Games 
  • The Lands Between of Elden Ring are ruled by Queen Marika the Eternal, and the Elden Lord/Lady, are explicitly referred to as "King/Queen Consort" to denote that Marika is the one with true political power; of course, this is more about Marika being the literal god of the local religion, but it should be noted that out of the three Empyreans, potential successor of Marika, two are women and the third, Miquella, is stuck in a kid's body and is presented as very androgynous (and may have a feminine alias as Saint Trina). Caria, the nation of sorcerers, was also headed by Queen Rennala.
  • The Nora tribe in Horizon Zero Dawn are an example in which rank is dictated by the number of children and grandchildren one has, based on the Nora reverence of motherhood. They are ruled by a council of High Matriarchs, who are all great-grandmothers that speak for generations. Lesser matriarchs are grandmothers. There are leadership roles not restricted to women, such as the War-Chief and Seeker that have more of an active role, but these roles are still currently held by women anyway.
  • Two examples in Tyranny:
    • In the Tiers, only women are allowed to hold land, but likewise, only men are allowed to captain ships, with occasional exceptions on both sides for truly extraordinary individuals. Indeed, the Bronze Brotherhood has both men and women, but the women are also called "Brother" and live under the legal fiction of being men as a way to formally disavow any land-owning rights.
    • The Beasts. It varies from tribe to tribe, but in general, among Beasts, Might Makes Right. And the women are not just formally the only ones allowed to rule, but simply significantly larger and more powerful than the men. Indeed, Kills-in-Shadow expresses surprise and mild curiosity at a male Fatebinder acting the part of Alpha.
  • Mass Effect: The salarian males take up most societal roles including soldiers and scientists while females only make up 10% of the population, however they almost always end up being the political leaders of their society something the males rarely achieve. This is because they are more or less cloistered on their home planet due to being so rare and necessary for their race to survive. Mass Effect: Andromeda implies the salarian social structure was disrupted with the Andromeda colonization project, since many stir-crazy salarian females left Sur'Kesh to go to Andromeda.
  • Sword of the Stars: Tarka society is mostly run by noble-class women. While the public leadership positions are exclusive to Changed males due to their dominating presence and charisma (Tarka males become sexually mature, or "Changed", only through a voluntary process that requires the help of Tarka females, and less than one in twenty males receive the Change), the fact that two Changed males cannot physically stay in the same room without a physical altercation (and that non-Changed males immediately submit to them) means women are required to keep the machinery going. Needless to say they make full use of this to make sure the Changed receive the information and prodding needed to make the 'right' decisions, and general Tarka prejudices make certain positions and careers difficult to hold for males (including non-Changed ones) because they're seen as unintelligent and too emotional to do well in them.
  • Final Fantasy XIV has two different clans of miqo'te: Seekers of the Sun and Keepers of the Moon. Keepers have a matriarchal society where women are considered the leaders of their family, with adult men typically living comparitively solitary lives as wanderers who occasionally visit tribes to trade and sire children. This also applies to Keeper nomenclature, which adds a suffix to male names to denominate the order of their birth ('a for firstborn sons, 'to for secondborn, 'li for thirdborn, etc.) This is in stark contrast to Seeker tribes, which are strictly patriarchal and led by a single breeding male whose daughters all take his given name as their surname.
  • League of Legends features the many tribes of the Freljord, all known of which are led by women: Ashe of the Avarosan, Sejuani of the Winter's Claw, and Lissandra of the Frostguard. While men are still valued as fighters and authorities (Ashe is married to Tryndamere, who is considered king), women are always respected as the de facto rulers — it's implied that this connotation is based on the Freljordians' reverence of The Three Sisters who originally united the land in ancient times.
    Ashe: In the north, a great chieftain is called "Warmother". Who but a mother has the right to risk lives in war?

  • In Out-of-Placers, the Yinglet species is a fairly complex example for biological reasons. Females are both rare and less afflicted by the species-wide Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny! problem that keeps most male Yinglets from ever rising above the roles of spear-fodder and/or general scavenger. They also have a lot of control over their own reproductive processes: As they mate with multiple males, they can select specific traits from each partner that they want to reinforce and attempt to breed them into the next generation of eggs. The Matriarch of an enclave is in charge of selecting which males get to mate with which female as well as the primary keeper of knowledge, giving her a huge amount of power over the council of Patriarchs (the males with the most skill and experience in their specific fields) who oversee the day-to-day operations of the enclave as well as the overall direction of Yinglet society. Interestingly, this system was set up by a male Yinglet, a legendary hero figure who designed enclave society to minimize unrest (before the enclave system, male yinglets spent a lot of their time fighting each other over the few available females) and maximize the efficiency of their directed breeding ability.

    Web Original 
  • In the world of Roll To Dodge: Savral, the regions of Avis-Sfal and Spyrus consist of a number of independent human villages led by magic-using priestesses. Within these villages, men are never the focus of players' interaction, in contrast to many other regions where the players interact with mostly male NPCs. It's implied that these societies are matrifocal, since the Tgan High Priestess' brother occupies a position beside her and no husband figure exists. While the roles of men in these societies aren't clearly defined, both the Tgan High Priestess and the priestess Zbse encounters doubt men can rule effectively.
  • Hamster's Paradise: As the name suggests, the matriarch harmsters live in societies dominated by the most vicious females. The reason this particular species has female leaders is because they are significantly larger and more aggressive than the males as a result of living on the isolated continent of Mesoterra which is home to the maniacal ripperoo, a deadly predator that is also the primitive ancestor to the all harmsters, favoring bigger females able to fight them off and produce greater numbers of offspring. The lead female is also the only one allowed to breed in her tribe with any children of other females being killed, the only way for a new female to be able to reproduce is to kill the current leader. The exact treatment of the smaller, more numerous males varies from culture to culture: the militant Hamazons treat them with as utterly expendable, the fanatical Ripper Sisterhood have them conditioned to be mindlessly self-sacrificing and the pragmatic Badland Bandits still have female leaders but don't abuse their males due to seeing it as needlessly wasteful.

    Western Animation 
  • The Crystal Gems of Steven Universe are this by default, since they don't actually have a gender due to being sentient rocks, but their projected bodies are always female presenting and use female pronouns. They aren't better off or worse than humanity due to explicitly being female. Despite their advanced technology, their race is highly class based and act as viruses by draining a planet's resources to create more gems, prompting Rose Quartz to lead a rebellion against her leaders.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil:
    • Mewni, the home world of the title character. All of the rulers mentioned have been queens and Star's royal family history seems to be made up entirely of women. The only kings mentioned are Star's father and the husband of her ancestor, Eclipsa, but in both cases, they appear to be kings by marriage, with their wives having inherited the throne. Star's father also took her mother's surname upon their marriage and the all-female lineage carries the same surname, implying it is standard practice. Although it is shown that princesses/queens in Mewni are at least expected to act like "proper ladies" and generally follow many medieval etiquette norms, the queen appears to be the one with more authority (such as sitting on the Magical High Commission and leading the Royal Council) and indeed, when Eclipsa was dethroned and Moon went missing their respective daughters were immediately considered the new ruler, rather than their husbands.
    • In the backstory, Queen Skywynne had a son, Jushtin. She was happy with him being Mewni's first male ruler, and he proved to be a great diplomat. But between his low magical ability and the weight of tradition, the people disliked him, and Skywynne eventually had a daughter Solaria to take the throne instead. Jushtin stepped aside without complaint. In hindsight, Jushtin was a much better choice than Solaria. She almost ruined all the alliances Jushtin had created through Fantastic Racism, created a Super-Soldier caste to massacre any non-Mewmans, and one of those soldiers becomes the final Big Bad of the series.
  • Equestria, in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, is a land ruled by Princess Celestia, an Alicorn who causes the cycle of day and night. Ponyville itself is run by a mare, who was democratically elected as the village mayor. Equestria is generally peaceful and harmonious... but it is My Little Pony. Equestria, from what we've seen, appears to be a pretty gender-equal society, with both mares and stallions in a wide variety of roles.

    Real Life 
  • Bees, ants and many other social insects live in a matriarchal society where males pretty much exist only to father young.
  • Bonobos. So much so that a male's rank is determined by his mother's rank.
  • Elephants; males leave their birth herd when they reach maturity, going on to become lone bulls if strong enough or form bachelor herds.
  • Meerkats live in family groups that are led by a dominant female, in spite of the males being substantially larger. She decides when and where the group travels, whether or not outsiders can join (usually not), whether rulebreakers (that is, those who disobey her) get to stay in the group, and reserves the right to breed for herself, even to the point of killing her own grandchildren.
  • Orcas, also known as killer whales, live in family groups led by a senior female, usually the other members' mother or grandmother. In most studied populations, male orcas are giant mommas' boys and live with their mothers their whole lives. After a mother dies, her adult offspring's chance of dying increases, but it is a much more dramatic increase in sons than in daughters, who sometimes distance themselves to raise their own families.
  • Naked mole rats have an insect-like society with a queen.
  • Domestic cats. A lot of feral cat colonies are entirely composed of female adults and kittens, so matriarchy is default, but if there's a few tomcats in the colony the "alpha cat" is still more likely to be a queen. Though weaker, female cats can sometimes dominate the males through bluff; females are much quicker to hiss and swat. And tomcats would rather save their energy for the mating competitions, anyway.
  • Zigzagged with lions. They have a reputation of being ruled by a "king", but for similar reasons as elephants, some zoologists consider them matriarchal. A typical lion pride is dominated by lionesses, who are given the task to do the daily hunting work while the few lions stand around doing nothing, though the fact that the adult male(s) in a pride takes "the lion's share" (the male eats the prey first even though the females are usually the ones who caught it) screams "patriarchal!" to many. Also, the males' primary role is to keep outside males from challenging them and taking over the pride; if they are usurped, the new males will kill all of the existing cubs (as females will only become fertile if they have no cubs to take care of), with their mothers being helpless to stop it.
  • Some of the woman-led villages of Kenya fall under this, at least those aren't a strict Lady Land. Villages like Nachami and Supalake will allow men to live there, but only if they accept the village's rules and in no case will the men be allowed power.

Examples of a Matriarchy in name only

  • The Oz books tend to have many female rulers. Ozma, Dorothy, Glinda, and the North Witch are very capable leaders, and the female rulers of the lesser kingdoms in Oz are usually more capable than the men. However, you do get cases like the East and West Witches, Langwidere, or Coo-Eh-Oh which are God Save Us from the Queen!. Author Appeal was at work as Baum was a suffragist (and married into a family of suffragists).
  • Rihannsu: The Romulans in this telling have matriarchal cultural norms, with women outnumbering men in positions of power, but there's no noteworthy difference in treatment between men and women: the Hereditary Republic craps on all the lower classes equally regardless of sex.
  • The Castle in Septimus Heap has always been ruled by Queens, but the world shows no signs of being anything but a gender-equal setting.
  • The Droods from the Secret Histories series have tried other types of leadership over the centuries, but keep defaulting to an autocratic Matriarch when such social experiments go wrong. Other positions of authority within the family's ranks are gender-neutral, and that of Serjeant-At-Arms seems geared for hefty, intimidating men.

    Video Games 
  • Suikoden V's Queendom is technically a Matriarchy, in that the monarch is always a queen. However, her armies are commanded by her husband, whom she does not choose and is decided by the outcome of a grand tournament. Likewise, the Queen does have executive power but in practice the Senate (which seems to comprised entirely of men) own enough land and have enough soldiers loyal to them that the Queen must play politics in order to avoid them obstructing or dethroning her. The only other women in positions of power in the Queendom are a retired Admiral of the Royal Navy who now serves as mayor of a single town, and the leader of the Queendom's religion, who lives in a small settlement on a remote mountain (and in the case of the latter during the story, it's the Queen's cousin, Haswar, adding a hereditary element to the matriarchy). In the Golden Ending, this is on the way to being reformed: the new Queen is still a young teenager, so she's not married: the Commander of her armies is her older brother (the player character), and the Senate is much less poisonous and self-interested.

  • Homestuck: The troll society is matriarchal with the ruling class, Fuchsia Bloods, being an exclusively female group. Porrim is exceptionally critical of it as it only really empowers a select group of women, enforces a Fantastic Caste System, fascism, and gender roles (with Porrim's own blood class being pressed into caregiving). She further notes that it all feels especially hollow since the current empress is under the heel of Caliborn a destructive He-Man Woman Hater.

    Real Life 
  • Various human societies around the world (most often the Iroquois and the Mosuo) are sometimes misleadingly referred to as "matriarchies" by the media and non-anthropologists. They are usually societies in which women have greater societal power or influence than usual, rather than being actual examples of female-dominated rule. Thus, they are not true matriarchies. In addition, people sometimes erroneously identify matrilineal societies (societies where kinship is passed down from women rather than men) as being matriarchal. Specifically:
    • The Iroquois Confederacy's central government is composed of 50 chiefs, who are nominated and can be removed by an assembly of elder women. However, it is the male chiefs and not the female elders who make actual decisions, not to mention that this assembly has never been terribly important and most Iroquois governmental decisions are made on a local level anyway.
    • Among the Mosuo (who live near the China/Tibet border), women have a very high degree of choice among sexual partners and can choose to make and break relationships essentially whenever they want; the only person with veto power over her relationship is the eldest woman in her family, who also holds a great degree of power over the family. However, men ALSO have this level of sexual freedom, and powerful positions are only or mostly occupied by men (e.g, all Mosuo cultural priests are men).