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Song of Whales: The Matriarchy and Women’s Appreciation

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

There are songs around the world that rise up to be heard. These songs have the power to unite communities and cultures, even to create stronger bonds and alliances. Whales have the power to communicate with hundreds of their kind, as their voices can go the distance. Much like the whales, women have the ability to unite and strengthen communities. For centuries, women have provided for and helped society advance in many ways. For example, chemotherapy was pioneered by female oncologist Jane Cooke Wright. Computer algorithms were created by Ada Lovelace and computer software was created and designed by Grace Murray Hopper, who also developed a compiler that could translate written language into computer code. It is crucial to remember that women have been a strong foundation for advancement in this world. 

Whales, specifically Orca (killer) whales, are raised in a matriarchy. Being a woman in today’s society means that you are raised in a patriarchy. 

Although this is the structure that we exist within, I have discovered that much of the life experienced by women is experienced largely through matriarchy. Think back on some of the happiest moments in your life, the things that make you feel the happiest to be a woman. Sharing girlhood, the strength and support that you may find in female friendships, as well as the vulnerability one has with each other are things that are contributed by women. I have found that the most constant and healthy love in my life has come from my long-term friendships with women. On the days that I feel down, I have my girlfriends to turn to, to rely on for care and nurture. 

Orca whales have traditions and survival skills passed down through generations by their mothers and grandmothers, they help each other survive. Orca whales are known to lead a long life, anywhere from 50 to even 90 years in the wild. Why do these animals live so long? The answer comes down to simple terms: to ensure the survival of their young. 

There have been scientists who specialize in studying these life patterns in orca whales. In the Pacific Northwest, they have found that young orcas with grandmothers were more likely to stay alive than those without. Even more interesting, they also found that a calf’s risk of death dramatically increases in the two years following their grandmother’s death. 

There have been countless documentaries, such as “Secrets of the Whales,” that go in-depth on these topics. One of them is that it is likely that older orcas carry with them crucial information and survival skills that they then pass down to their kin. Helped by their tight-knitted family formations, whales ensure each other’s survival. I find this is reflected in human society too. Mothers tend to nurture and be primary caregivers to their children, asm they help teach valuable life lessons and skills that can assist them as they navigate through life. Whales and women are much alike. 

Another factor that is helpful in relating to whales is the way that much like women, female orcas also go through menopause. Researchers at the University of Exeter in the U.K. have found that female orcas “were more likely to lead groups than males were, and that females over 35 years old tended to lead rather than younger females. Having a menopausal leader was even more likely during lean years with less salmon.” Much like women, whales keep taking care of their families well into their older years. 

Whenever there is little light in this world and you feel disconnected from the greater aspect of nature, remember that you are like the whales, majestic and powerful. Remember that much like the whales, your voice can go the distance. 

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Dulce Ordonez is an English Creative Writing major at FSU, pursuing a double minor in Political Science and History. Currently she is an editor for Her Campus and a staff writer for FSView. She loves reading, writing, listening to music, and creating art. You can find more on her Instagram @d._.ordonez