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rule by women; a term used by the Swedish scientist J. J. Bachofen to signify a universal stage in the history of society, hypothesized by him to replace the age of hetaerism. According to him its basic characteristics were the reckoning of kinship through the mother and the leadership of women in public life. Further study of prehistory has shown that this was the stage of the maternal kinship system, which was based on primitive communist relations and the equality of the sexes. Instead of the term “gynecocracy,” the concept of matriarchy is more frequently used.