Conditioning us negatively to matriarchy is, of course, in the interests of patriarchs.

Most anthropologists hold that there are no known anthropological societies that are unambiguously matriarchal, but some authors believe exceptions may exist or may have.

Matriarchies may also be confused with matrilineal, matrilocal, and matrifocal societies.

Possibilities of so-called primitive societies were cited and the hypothesis survived into the 20th century, including in the context of second-wave feminism.

This hypothesis was criticized by some authors such as Cynthia Eller in The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory and remains as a largely unsolved question to this day. Several modern feminists have advocated for matriarchy now or in the future and it has appeared in feminist literature. Radcliffe-Brown argued in 1924 that the definitions of matriarchy and patriarchy had "logical and empirical failings .... Most academics exclude egalitarian nonpatriarchal systems from matriarchies more strictly defined.

A few people consider any non-patriarchal system to be matriarchal, thus including genderally equalitarian systems (Peggy Reeves Sanday favors redefining and reintroducing the word matriarchy, especially in reference to contemporary matrilineal societies such as the Minangkabau ), but most academics exclude them from matriarchies strictly defined.

In 19th century Western scholarship, the hypothesis of matriarchy representing an early, mainly prehistoric, stage of human development gained popularity.

Possible matriarchies in Burma are, according to Jorgen Bisch, the Padaungs The Mosuo themselves often use this description and they believe it increases interest in their culture and thus attracts tourism.

The term matrilineal is sometimes used, and, while more accurate, still doesn't reflect the full complexity of their social organization.

In several theologies, matriarchy has been portrayed as negative. According to Heide Göttner-Abendroth, a reluctance to accept the existence of matriarchies might be based on a specific culturally biased notion of how to define matriarchy: because in a patriarchy men rule over women, a matriarchy has frequently been conceptualized as women ruling over men, The word matriarchy, for a society politically led by females, especially mothers, who also control property, is often interpreted to mean the genderal opposite of patriarchy, but it is not an opposite.