a social institution that apparently arose during the transition from the matriarchal to the patriarchal clan, when men were struggling to win the dominant position in society. Men’s societies had their leaders and secret language, rites, and religious ceremonies. During the disintegration of the primitive communal system, men’s societies, sometimes called secret societies, frequently became embryos of state power. Men’s societies were widespread in Melanesia and West Africa, and they are known to have existed in Micronesia and the Americas. Vestiges of such societies may be found among several ancient peoples, notably the Spartans, and among such contemporary peoples as the Nuristanis.