One Woman, Two Votes

Date of this entry: November 15, 2010 - last updated April 1, 2018

Hello. I am a man. This website and the "one woman, two votes" idea are solely my doing, as far as I know. In other words, I'm not fronting for any woman or group. The women I have broached these ideas to (and there haven't been many) have mixed opinions. This website doesn't get much traffic either, but I'm thinking that may change soon.

Genesis for the One Woman, Two Votes idea. In 1999 or 2000, I attended a talk by Alice Walker at King Middle School in Berkeley. During the talk Ms. Walter brought up the Basically, beginning with the election of 2000, One Woman equals Two Votes I have consulted with one or another of my (what I see as) could-be-more-empowered women friends or family beforehand, and promised to vote the way she was going to vote, in order to "double their vote" i.e. to give them two votes in effect (and me none, but so be it). I have done this every election since then. Two different women have served (somewhat trepidatiously) as the relevant "one woman" in the equation; the first woman in 2000, 2002, 2004, and the second in 2006, 2008, and 2010.

Results: Both women seem to have become somewhat more empowered over the course of their respective engagement. Progress is subjective though, mostly, a bit anecdotal maybe. I need to survey them formally, but, both being rather shy in nature, I'm inclined to believe that they probably wouldn't claim any empowerment progress for themselves, or if they did, they wouldn't credit my experiment with any responsiblity. So be it, I may be full of it... I'll get back to you on that...

I have just started working on this website. I wish to promote the idea. I think it has merit. My personal feeling is that men have screwed up the planet pretty well. Their main forte seems to be fighting each other, and harming a lot of innocent people, usually mostly women and children in the process. And accomplishing very little. I think we men need to turn over the management of the planet to the women. Not that I personally manage much of anything other than myselI, I don't think they could hardly do worse, and the possiblities of improvement are immense, don't you think? Most men seem reluctant to give up power, however, and sometimes women seem reluctant to accept it, maybe more indicative of how much their abilities and possibilities have been ground into dust by the men in their life. (see: Mira Sorvino's story>

(I need help here with webpage construction, comment boards, writing, organizing, etc.). I think this should be a primarily male driven idea, this giving to women 'two votes', don't you? But the women will need to take it from there, use the extra vote wisely, consciously, calling on their maybe gender different perspective when such exists on any matter.

I'd also like to explore the idea of what I heard Alice Walker once lecture on, "grandmothers' circles" and "Government by Grandmother" - here's a link and here's another:

(end of entry, Nov 15, 2010)

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In 1570 five Iroquois tribes-- Mohawk, Seneca, Onondaga, Oneida, and Cayuga-- formed the Iroquois Confederacy (McCall 7). The confederacy could also be called an oligarchy, because the Iroquois became ruled by a small group of people (Doherty 12). There were 50 delegates in the confederacy, all men, each chosen by the clan mother (Doherty 18). Delegates were named sachem, of which the Onondaga had fourteen, the Cayga ten, the Mohawk and Oneida nine, and the Seneca eight. In addition to Sachem, who could vote during meetings on the Onondaga land, there were Pine Trees who were both male and female advisory council members (McCall 9) (Doherty 18). Pine Trees became advisors because of their heroic feets and accomplishments as warriors (Doherty 18). In 1715 the Tuscarora joined the league, and it was renamed the League of Six Nations (McCall 9). Benjamin Franklin was familiar with the League and helped fram many parts of the new United States government off of the Iroquois's ideas (Doherty 13).


3 A major problem with contemporary European sources, both French and British, from the 17th and 18th centuries, was that Europeans, coming from a patriarchal society, did not understand the matriarchal nature of Iroquois society.[35] The Canadian historian D. Peter MacLeod writing about the relationship between the Canadian Iroquois and the French in the time of the Seven Years' War wrote: "Most critically, the importance of clan mothers, who possessed considerable economic and political power within Canadian Iroquois communities, was blithely overlooked by patriarchal European scribes. Those references that do exist, show clan mothers meeting in council with their male counterparts to take decisions regarding war and peace and joining in delegations to confront the Onontio [the Iroquois term for the French governor-general] and the French leadership in Montreal, but only hint at the real influence wielded by these women". One of the central features of traditional Iroquois life was the "mourning wars" when Haudenosaunee warriors would raid neighboring peoples in search of captives to replace those Haudenosaunee who had died.[141] War for the Haudenosaunee was primarily for captives, and the usual factors that were considered benefits of war for the Europeans like expansion of territory or glory in battle did not count for the Haudeenosaunee, who only cared about taking captives.[142] A successful war party was one that had taken many prisoners without suffering losses in return; killing enemies was considered acceptable if necessary, but disapproved of as it reduced the number of potential captives.[143] Captives were seen as far more important than scalps. Additionally war served as a way for young men to demonstrate their valor and courage, which was not a prerequisite for becoming a chief, but also essential if one wanted to get married and hence have sex.[144] A man considered a coward was viewed as unattractive by Haudenosaunee women who saw bravery in war as a very attractive feature in a man.[145] In the precontact era, war was relativity bloodless as First Nations peoples fought one another in suits of wooden armor.[146] In 1609, the French explorer Samuel de Champlain observed several battles between the Algonquins and the Iroquois which featured hardly any killing, which seemed to be the norm for First Nations wars.[147] At a battle between the Algonquins and the Iroquois by the shores of Lake Champlain, the only people killed were two Iroquois warriors when Champlain demonstrated the power of his musket to his Algonquin allies.

wiki Women in society

Further information: Clan Mother and Matriarchy

The Iroquois have historically followed a matriarchal system. No person is entitled to 'own' land, but it is believed that the Creator appointed women as stewards of the land. Traditionally, the Clan Mothers appoint leaders, as they have raised children and are therefore held to a higher regard. By the same token, if a leader does not prove sound, becomes corrupt or does not listen to the people, the Clan Mothers have the power to strip him of his leadership.[196] The Iroquois have traditionally followed a matrilineal system, with women holding property and hereditary leadership passing through their lines. Historically women have held the dwellings, horses and farmed land, and a woman's property before marriage has stayed in her possession without being mixed with that of her husband. Men and women have traditionally had separate roles but both hold real power in the Nations. The work of a woman's hands is hers to do with as she sees fit. Historically, at marriage, a young couple lived in the longhouse of the wife's family. A woman choosing to divorce a shiftless or otherwise unsatisfactory husband is able to ask him to leave the dwelling and take his possessions with him.[197] The children of a traditional marriage belong to their mother's clan and gain their social status through hers. Her brothers are important teachers and mentors to the children, especially introducing boys to men's roles and societies. The clans are matrilineal, that is, clan ties are traced through the mother's line. If a couple separates, the woman traditionally keeps the children.[198] The chief of a clan can be removed at any time by a council of the women elders of that clan. The chief's sister has historically been responsible for nominating his successor.[198] It is regarded as incest by the Iroquois to marry within one's matrilineal clan, but considered acceptable to marry someone from the same patrilineal clan.[199]

Clan Mother

Iroquois Clan Mothers[edit] The Iroquois clan mother is responsible for the welfare of the clan. She names all the people of the clan and holds a position in nominating, installing and removing the male chief, the Hoyaneh ("Caretaker of the Peace"). They are considered the life givers. Each clan mother has a Faithkeeper who is responsible for ceremonial preparations, weddings, funerals, and other rituals.[8] The clan mother's position is hereditary; her title rests within the clan and is usually passed on to her female relatives, looking first at her eldest sisters, other sisters, then her eldest daughter and other daughters.[9] The Kanien'kéha word for clan mother, Oiá:ner, translates to English as "righteous" or "she is good". The Iroquois had 9 clans divided into three elements. The land element was represented by the wolf, deer and bear clans; the air element by the heron, snipe and hawk clans; and the water element by the beaver, eel and turtle clans.[10] The Haudenosanuee League was founded according to their legends by a prophet known as the Great Peacemaker who brought the Five Nations together sometime in the 12th century, and since his first convert was a woman named Jigonhsasee and generally his first followers were women, the institution of the clan mothers was a tribute to this aspect of the story.[11] In Haudenosaunee legend, before the Great Peacemaker, what became the Five Nations were dominated by a brutal struggle between an all-male, cannibal cult called the "Hunters" vs. the all-female society of farmers called the "Cultivators".[12] In the story, not all the men joined the cannibal cult, and instead stand by their women, revering the "corn mothers" (another term for clan mother) who knew how to farm, and defeat the cannibal cult.[13] In tribute to Jigonhasee's work and his other female followers, the Great Peacemaker had decreed that men and women were to be equal and the clan mothers were to choose the leaders of the League.[14]

For the Haudenosaunnee, the universe was divided into two halves that needed each other to co-exist as for them, the concept of east was meaningless without the west and the concept of the west was meaningless without the east.[15] In this way of understanding the universe, male and female were different aspects of the world that needed each other to co-exist in order for the world to continue, and as such, women were seen as the equals of men.[15] The councils of the clan mothers, whose powers were equal to the councils of the chiefs, were a way of balancing out the male and female to achieve social harmony.[15] One Iroquois told the American author Jeanette Rodriguez: "Within our society, we maintain a balance between the responsibilities of the women, the responsibilities of men, of the chiefs and of the faithkeepers. All of our men in between have to keep this balance so that at no time and no place does anyone have more power than the rest; for our leadership to function, all must have equal power. They must speak to one another".[16] In Haundenosaunee mythology, it was the Sky Woman who came from the Sky world inhabited by the supernatural beings who fell from the Sky world down to what became the earth, and who is the mother of all life in this world, thus making women more worthy of respect.[17] For the Haudenosaunee, it was the Sky woman who created all life on the earth, and women as the bearers of life, are seen as her heirs, being seen as spiritually part of the "mother earth" that nurtures all life.[18] The Sky woman was considered to be the First Clan Mother, and her daughter, the Lynx Woman, the Second Clan Mother.[19] Since Turtle Island (i.e. North America) was created for the Sky Woman when she fell to the earth, the Haudenosuanee traditionally gave ownership of the land to women.[19]

Reflecting this identification of "mother earth" with the feminine, for the Haudenosaunee farming was strictly women's work, and the staple crops of corn, squash and beans were known as the "Three Sisters".[20] One of the laws credited to the Great Peacemaker declared that: "The lineal descent of the People of the Five Nations shall run in the female line. Women shall be considered proprietors of the nation. They shall own the land and the soil. Men and women shall the status of the mother".[19]

However, the Haudenosaunee were by no means anti-male; in the Sky Woman story, the spirit of the North Wind seeks to seduce her teenage daughter, the Lynx Woman, by taking the forms of various animals until finally the North Spirit spirit takes a form she cannot resist, that of a handsome young man, and thereby fathers two twins.[12] The 19th century American feminist Matilda Joslyn Gage was greatly influenced by seeing the power of the clan mothers, which she deemed "mother rule" or a "matriarchate", and by their the Haudenosaunee creation story, where it is a goddess who lives in harmony with nature rather than a patriarchal God who created all life in the world.[21]

Finally, the clan mothers conduct the cross-over ceremony which marks the end of childhood and the beginning of adolescence.[22] The cross-over ceremonies consists of much fasting, teaching, a period of seclusion and finally a ceremony involving singing and dancing that marks the symbolic beginning of adolescence.[23] The Haudenosaunee view life as consisting of several stages starting with conception itself with sex regarded as a sacred act that symbolically united the dual male and female aspects of the universe in order to create new life.[24] Sex is often described by the Haudenosaunnee as the sacred "Rite of Conception" that begins new life, and for the Haudenosaunee the Christian concept of Jesus's virgin birth is bizarre.[25] Birth is viewed as the second stage of life, with the clan mothers formally welcoming the newly born child into the world.[26] The end of "toothlessness" when toddlers grow their teeth is seen as the end of infancy and the beginning of childhood, which is the third stage of life.[27] The crossover ceremonies marking the end of childhood and the beginning of first adolescence and then the end of adolescence and the beginning of adulthood are seen as the fourth and fifth states of life.[28] The cross-over ceremonies involved much fasting over a 20-day period, and clan mothers generally provide advice and encouragement to the young people undergoing the fast.[29] During the fasting phrase of the cross-over ceremonies, clan mothers often provide advice and encouragement to the fasting young people.[30]

Historically, the clan mothers selected the 50 sachems who ran the Haudenosaunee League that comprised the Five Nations of the Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, and Seneca, and who became the Six Nations when the Tuscarora joined the League in 1722.[31] The clan mothers would consult other senior women in her clan before naming a chief.[32] The clans formed the local government in the League, and most importantly, the clans cut across the differences between the Five Nations as each of the Five Nations were divided into the 9 clans.[33] The clan mothers also had the power to dismiss any chief or sachem who was felt to be falling in his duties, though the clan mother had to give three warnings first.[34] The power of the clan mothers to name and dismiss chiefs ensured that a female perspective was always maintained on political decisions.[35] Anyone seeking to be adopted into an Haudenosaunee family had to approved by the clan mothers.[36] When the Tuscarora joined the League, they had petition the clan mothers of the Five Mothers for permission to join, starting in 1711, and it was not until 11 years in 1722 that permission was finally granted.[37] The Iroquois call themselves the Haudenosaunee ("the people of the longhouse") and reject the name Iroquois, which was the derogatory name given to them by the Algonquins meaning the "killer people". As the French were in contact with the Algonquins before they met the Haudenosaunee, the French adopted the Algonquin name for them, much to the chagrin of the Haudenosaunee, who consider the name Iroquois to be offensive.

The clan mothers were in charge of the various clans that made up the Iroquois League and as the Iroquois were a matrilateral society this meant that children were born into their mother's clan (i.e. if a woman belonged to the bear clan, then all her children belonged to the bear clan).[38] It was considered to be incest by the Iroquois to marry within one's own matrilineal clan so traditionally marriages were between clans.[39] Marrying someone from the same patrilineal clan was considered acceptable.[40] The importance of the clan mothers was often missed by Europeans in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, who coming from patriarchal societies, tended to assume that the chiefs and sachems had the same powers as European kings, which was not the case.[41] The scholar Barbara Mann has charged that the impression that the councils of the clan mothers was "secondary" to the councils of the chiefs is a misunderstanding caused by Europeans who could not understand the gender equality in Iroquois society, and in fact the councils were equal.[42] The councils of the clan mothers met the councils of the chiefs at least every month under a full moon, but meetings could be held more frequently if there was an emergency.[36] The American scholar Elisabeth Tooker denied the popular claim that the Haudenosaunee League inspired the U.S. constitution of 1787, noting the U.S. constitution did not allow women to vote or hold office until 1920, and even today there is no guaranteed female representation in the executive, legislative or judicial arms of the U.S. government; in short, there is no counterpart to the clan mothers within the American system of governance.[43]


The Iroquois Confederacy or League, combining 5–6 Native American Haudenosaunee nations or tribes before the U.S. became a nation, operated by The Great Binding Law of Peace, a constitution by which women participated in the League's political decision-making, including deciding whether to proceed to war,[92] through what may have been a matriarchy[93] or gyneocracy.[94] According to Doug George-Kanentiio, in this society, mothers exercise central moral and political roles.[95] The dates of this constitution's operation are unknown; the League was formed in approximately 1000–1450, but the constitution was oral until written in about 1880.[96] The League still exists.

George-Kanentiio explains: In our society, women are the center of all things. Nature, we believe, has given women the ability to create; therefore it is only natural that women be in positions of power to protect this function....We traced our clans through women; a child born into the world assumed the clan membership of its mother. Our young women were expected to be physically strong....The young women received formal instruction in traditional planting....Since the Iroquois were absolutely dependent upon the crops they grew, whoever controlled this vital activity wielded great power within our communities. It was our belief that since women were the givers of life they naturally regulated the feeding of our people....In all countries, real wealth stems from the control of land and its resources. Our Iroquois philosophers knew this as well as we knew natural law. To us it made sense for women to control the land since they were far more sensitive to the rhythms of the Mother Earth. We did not own the land but were custodians of it. Our women decided any and all issues involving territory, including where a community was to be built and how land was to be used....In our political system, we mandated full equality. Our leaders were selected by a caucus of women before the appointments were subject to popular review....Our traditional governments are composed of an equal number of men and women. The men are chiefs and the women clan-mothers....As leaders, the women closely monitor the actions of the men and retain the right to veto any law they deem inappropriate....Our women not only hold the reigns of political and economic power, they also have the right to determine all issues involving the taking of human life. Declarations of war had to be approved by the women, while treaties of peace were subject to their deliberations.[95]