Yes, I think it’s much harder to have a truly egalitarian society with a lot of people. As Hodder pointed out, this society had a lot of strict controls, and so although it had good things about it, it came at what was probably a high price for some people. One of the reasons Catalhuyuk fascinates me is that they lasted so long with such a large population. Most hunter-gatherer bands were 20–50 people.
The importance of a female deity is actually huge, in that it informs everything else about the culture. I have been meaning to write something on that for a while, but it will be an intensive labor since so much will need to be documented. I know what I want to say, but based on prior experience, unless it’s got citations up one side and down the other, it will get a lot of pushback from some quarters.
We’ve probably never had an actual matriarchy, which would simply be a dominance hierarchy with women having significant power and privilege over men. Matrifocul societies on the other hand, even when they have distinct roles for men and women, emphasize balance and relative equality. When you have a culture based in balance, in the importance of both male and female, you have a more partnership-oriented society (as distinct from a patriarchal dominance hierarchy).
When your primary deity is the Great Goddess/Queen of Heaven/Divine Ancestress who gives life to all including the land (which is what we had for most of history) and a part of her worship involves sexual pleasure and the “sacred marriage” between the goddess and her consort (which is later reflected in other ways in the society) which celebrates life, and nurturance, and love you’ve got a culture that is very different from the one in which a stern male god (who has no consort) inspires fear and threatens fire and brimstone if you don’t obey him. In short, a partnership-oriented religion based in nurturance and pleasure vs. a dominance-oriented religion based in fear and pain. Celebration of the importance of women in the culture vs. treating women like property.
In traditions that go back to the dawn of civilization, the female vulva was revered as the magical portal of life, possessed of the power of both physical regeneration and spiritual illumination and transformation. Far from being seen as a “dirty cunt,” woman’s pubic triangle was the sacred manifestation of creative sexual power. And far from being of a lower, base, or carnal order, it was a primary symbol of the powerful figure known in later Western history as the Great Goddess: the divine source of life, pleasure, and love.1
Eisler, Riane. Sacred Pleasure . HarperOne. Kindle Edition.
This is the gist of it. There are 27 mentions of attempts to stomp out this Goddess-centered worship in the bible and they had a tough time of it because in many ways, it’s a lot more appealing and a lot less controlling. More about that when I get to that story, but thanks for your comment.