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(28,784 posts)
Fri Apr 5, 2013, 09:06 PM Apr 2013

Where have societies' views of women come from?

What single source has done the most to skew a variety of societies' views of what women are like, how they should be treated, what their value is to society, etc?

I can't think of any source beyond religion that has done more work to maintain sexism.

But maybe that's because of my own bias.

So - can anyone think of anything that has contributed more to the repression of females?

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Where have societies' views of women come from? (Original Post) RainDog Apr 2013 OP
Males? DURHAM D Apr 2013 #1
Well, yes. RainDog Apr 2013 #2
I don't know. DURHAM D Apr 2013 #3
I asked a question RainDog Apr 2013 #4
Sorry... DURHAM D Apr 2013 #6
goodbye n/t RainDog Apr 2013 #10
the poster to whom you responded is one seriously dedicated feminist, and probably, as I am, niyad Apr 2013 #13
Thanks niyad. DURHAM D Apr 2013 #16
you are most welcome. niyad Apr 2013 #17
Thanks for telling me off. DURHAM D Apr 2013 #14
In other words Nuclear Unicorn Apr 2013 #34
This is such a stupid response - but allow me to explain RainDog Apr 2013 #43
Except it wasn't a tautological statement Nuclear Unicorn Apr 2013 #47
I'm a female RainDog Apr 2013 #49
I accounted for the possibility of you being a female Nuclear Unicorn Apr 2013 #50
I think it probably dates back to caveman days...comes from men. Honeycombe8 Apr 2013 #5
Ah, but women in Judaism and Christianity were either mothers or saints..... PDJane Apr 2013 #8
True, I suppose. But that was a new idea at the time. Very modern and a new way of thinking Honeycombe8 Apr 2013 #11
But we don't have proof of this RainDog Apr 2013 #9
No, I haven't done a scientific study. That was my opinion, based on things Honeycombe8 Apr 2013 #12
There are cultures that exist today RainDog Apr 2013 #18
Caring for the elderly has nothing to do with the treatment of women. Honeycombe8 Apr 2013 #19
I wasn't arguing with you RainDog Apr 2013 #45
There is more balance there I think rrneck Apr 2013 #46
^This. When survival depended on brute strength, a woman needed a man to survive more than a Squinch Apr 2013 #80
I read somewhere that it was jealousy over childbearing... Whisp Apr 2013 #7
where does it come from? the abrahamic, patriarchal religions, to start (meaning, christianity, niyad Apr 2013 #15
Have you read The Chalice and the Blade by Riane Eisler? riderinthestorm Apr 2013 #33
I read it many years ago, thought I still had a copy somewhere, but I dont. Saw Riane in niyad Apr 2013 #37
And I to get "When God was a Woman" by Merlin Stone! riderinthestorm Apr 2013 #39
Great book! Squinch Apr 2013 #82
will have to order that one, as well. thank you. that one I know is not on my shelves. niyad Apr 2013 #87
In early Christianity, women often were leaders of the movement. So in Squinch Apr 2013 #81
The short answer is men, religion and capitalism. Gravitycollapse Apr 2013 #20
Lord, are you actually arguing that Riftaxe Apr 2013 #26
Uh, no, it started a hell of a lot longer ago that 300 years. a la izquierda Apr 2013 #36
Since the first man realized the value of women LittleBlue Apr 2013 #21
The answer is simple: men. Beacool Apr 2013 #22
The Bible. Zoeisright Apr 2013 #23
+1 sweetNsassy Apr 2013 #42
I believe it started when we became an agrarian society u4ic Apr 2013 #24
The soundest argument, it seems RainDog Apr 2013 #44
Good post. I would add that before war and settled communities came an ecological barrier that byeya Apr 2013 #56
Capitalism, profit maintains sexism Mushroom Apr 2013 #25
Religious institutions n/t malaise Apr 2013 #27
The concept of private property Cal Carpenter Apr 2013 #28
So you think Engels asked the right questions? RainDog Apr 2013 #62
Indeed Cal Carpenter Apr 2013 #66
I'm glad you decided to weigh in RainDog Apr 2013 #67
Fear. alphafemale Apr 2013 #29
HIstorically, whatever is convenient for males. nt raccoon Apr 2013 #30
Warrior cultures tend to be male dominated Nikia Apr 2013 #31
You have to look at evolution for that Shankapotomus Apr 2013 #32
This is not true RainDog Apr 2013 #48
Genetically, humans are slightly closer to common chimps than bonobos, I think. When a bonobo female byeya Apr 2013 #53
Bonobos and common chimps share the same % of DNA with humans. RainDog Apr 2013 #58
This study claims human ancestors had societies like bonobos RainDog Apr 2013 #85
There are still matriarchal societies today. The Mosuo in China come to mind riderinthestorm Apr 2013 #35
Also the Iroquois had an amazing civilization RainDog Apr 2013 #64
Penthouse. randome Apr 2013 #38
Fashion magazines and the media haven't done us any favors. sweetNsassy Apr 2013 #40
The anthropologist Marvin Harris showed that the more militaristic a society was, the worse females byeya Apr 2013 #41
do you have a link for this one? RainDog Apr 2013 #70
Thomas Jefferson who wrote "All MEN are created equal" and left out 76% of the country graham4anything Apr 2013 #51
Abrahamic religions. kestrel91316 Apr 2013 #52
You may find this article interesting... Maine-ah Apr 2013 #54
Yes. I'd read that one earlier RainDog Apr 2013 #61
Mass media. Rex Apr 2013 #55
Just need a clarification. Helen Reddy Apr 2013 #57
I was just tossing a question out there for discussion RainDog Apr 2013 #59
K&R smirkymonkey Apr 2013 #60
Religion, society, old traditions, nature, the media, parents, etc.. davidn3600 Apr 2013 #63
some men and women are taking each others' names RainDog Apr 2013 #65
The Jackie Gleason show. n/t L0oniX Apr 2013 #68
Pregnancy and property transfer Recursion Apr 2013 #69
but that assumes a nuclear family RainDog Apr 2013 #71
No, it assumes a tribe Recursion Apr 2013 #74
From men. MineralMan Apr 2013 #72
This is in there. Squinch Apr 2013 #83
In answer to the final question in your post - NOPE ConcernedCanuk Apr 2013 #73
Recommended reading: The Chalice and the Blade by Riane Eisler Hekate Apr 2013 #75
why don't you talk about it here a little bit RainDog Apr 2013 #76
Sorry for the post and run Hekate Apr 2013 #77
I'm somewhat familiar with Eisler's work RainDog Apr 2013 #79
You're asking for a single source, for one of human society's most complex constructs? Scootaloo Apr 2013 #78
Good question, RainDog. Interesting thread. I'm getting a lot out of it. Squinch Apr 2013 #84
A lot of good ideas here. I would suggest that it is some combination of smirkymonkey Apr 2013 #86
Social Scientists have only recently chervilant Apr 2013 #88
The Chalice and the Blade LWolf Apr 2013 #89
Gilligan didn't quite do it for me. RainDog Apr 2013 #90
Yes, I agree chervilant Apr 2013 #91
I don't think the AAH has much merit RainDog Apr 2013 #92
Unfamiliar with AAH... chervilant Apr 2013 #93
Aquatic Ape Hypothesis RainDog Apr 2013 #97
Lucy and her culture One_Life_To_Give Apr 2013 #94
I don't know about all religions, fadedrose Apr 2013 #95
Fashion designers? Neoma Apr 2013 #96


(28,784 posts)
4. I asked a question
Fri Apr 5, 2013, 09:15 PM
Apr 2013

you answered with a tautology, since sexism is the systematic disenfranchisement of one gender by another.

thanks for your contribution.


(28,784 posts)
10. goodbye n/t
Fri Apr 5, 2013, 09:30 PM
Apr 2013

edit to add - this is troll behavior, pure and simple.

and an attempt to disrupt.

I'm not alerting on it or deleting, but I hope that people can see the sort of bullshit that some here think passes for useful comments.

the only rational thing to do with such behavior is to ignore it.


(110,656 posts)
13. the poster to whom you responded is one seriously dedicated feminist, and probably, as I am,
Fri Apr 5, 2013, 09:45 PM
Apr 2013

sick and tired of the obvious. she, incidentally, has far more patience and graciousness than I do.

Nuclear Unicorn

(19,497 posts)
34. In other words
Sat Apr 6, 2013, 09:53 AM
Apr 2013

Whenever a woman acts the way you don't like she is to be dismissed and relegated to the outskirts of what you unilaterally deem is acceptable social behavior. You refuse to see her contributions in the light she intends them, instead substituting your own prejudices and biases as the norm.

I suppose indicitng the Bible makes for a convenient other to blame but the Bible isn't totally bad. It has some useful advice like, "first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."


(28,784 posts)
43. This is such a stupid response - but allow me to explain
Sat Apr 6, 2013, 10:33 AM
Apr 2013

First of all - I said, initially - maybe my attitudes about religion are a bias.

I responded initially to this person as tho she were making a genuine comment but noted that it's a stupid (tho I didn't say it in that way) comment because it's saying sexism is the foundational issue of sexism.

That doesn't actually answer the question in any way that has any meaning.

But apparently, some people here are too stupid to understand what that means and instead take it to mean I don't like her or what she has to say.

She doubles down with acting like an ass.

So, I just have to assume she's sincere in that.

fwiw - sexism existed before the bible. I would expect that you and others are not too stupid to figure that one out.

But, again, I am proven wrong.

Nuclear Unicorn

(19,497 posts)
47. Except it wasn't a tautological statement
Sat Apr 6, 2013, 10:54 AM
Apr 2013

She said "males" were the cause of male sexism.

You may want to believe there is some nefarious force outside of male-dom but even when you try to pin the blame on externals such as the Bible you neglect the fact that men wrote the Bible and have traditionally interpreted it.

People form groups based on similar traits, i.e. race, religion, political party -- and yes -- gender. To say men have formed self-selecting groups that favor their preferences based on their commonly shared traits is not a tautology, it's an observation just the same as saying, "We're having a girls' night out" (one just happens to have a more profound social impact).

No one ever shed their phobias and prejudices by blame-shifitng to external factors. Don't blame it on the Bible or society or dad giving mom a little smack or two whenever she got too emotional. It is as certain as the alcoholic has to admit their problem lies within themselves in order to truly being recovery.

And, lest I be misunderstood, I'm not asking men to walk the land in sackcloth and ashes. I'm not asking any man to stop acting like a man. You be you and I'll be me and we'll work together to not be jerks to each other.

And what I just spent a few hundred words explaining DURHAM D did in a single word. Shed your preconceptions -- and your insults such as "stupid" -- and you might see what is being explained. If all you prefer to do is insult then just drop the pretense of discussing the subject altogether because you're doing more harm than good -- and mostly to yourself.


(28,784 posts)
49. I'm a female
Sat Apr 6, 2013, 11:18 AM
Apr 2013

for the record.

If sexism is the repression of one sex by another, then, yes, it is tautology to say that sexism in male oppression of females.

I am doing no harm to myself to point out how stupid this statement is.

those who insist on making it are indicating a basic lack of understanding. as I said, initially I didn't assume the statement was made as a way to be a troll, but with the juvenile responses that continued, that was the only reasonable understanding of such a response.

if you think acting like a ass is reasonable - well, that's where we differ.

Nuclear Unicorn

(19,497 posts)
50. I accounted for the possibility of you being a female
Sat Apr 6, 2013, 11:38 AM
Apr 2013

And I still stand by what I wrote as it is written.

A man that says he beats his wife because God told him it was OK is lying. He beats his wife for any number of reasons but every last one of them distills down to: he chooses to do so. He may cite religion but he's lying/rationalizing. He is the sole determiner of his behavior. He's the only one who can start it and he's the only one who can stop it. Ignore the facade and go straight to the source.


(37,648 posts)
5. I think it probably dates back to caveman days...comes from men.
Fri Apr 5, 2013, 09:19 PM
Apr 2013

Men were bigger, stronger, controlled everything. Women had babies and needed men to protect and provide for them, esp since they had children to take care of. So men took over women and their children, like property. Later, marriage was invented by men as a way of ensuring the children were his (at least in theory).

As years passed, physical strength became less important, and mental strength became more important, societies became enlightened, the concept of human rights came along, women began to ask or demand for more rights, and so on.

Those cultures or countries that still treat women like chattel are stuck in time and are not particularly advanced, seems to me. The don't have the concept of human rights, at least as regards women and children.

Religion plays a part, but it also enhanced a woman's position in society, in some ways, in some cultures. Christianity, anyway. There was a Virgin Mother, and Mary was included in Jesus' inner circle. Men were told to treat women respectfully, etc. Women were accepted as pastors in some churches. Again, that was in theory.


(10,103 posts)
8. Ah, but women in Judaism and Christianity were either mothers or saints.....
Fri Apr 5, 2013, 09:27 PM
Apr 2013

Or temptresses. There's no middle ground, and that's where most of us live.


(37,648 posts)
11. True, I suppose. But that was a new idea at the time. Very modern and a new way of thinking
Fri Apr 5, 2013, 09:33 PM
Apr 2013

about women. People to be regarded highly.


(28,784 posts)
9. But we don't have proof of this
Fri Apr 5, 2013, 09:29 PM
Apr 2013

People have always lived in communities.

We don't know the composition of those communities, beyond the fact that they existed and that different communities interacted.

We have examples of many cultures in which females have different status.

Engels tried to figure it out that way, too.



(37,648 posts)
12. No, I haven't done a scientific study. That was my opinion, based on things
Fri Apr 5, 2013, 09:36 PM
Apr 2013

I've read over the years.

Plus, you can use common sense, and look at age old, backwards cultures that exist today.

In a culture where most things depend on strength, the strong rule. And women being saddled with a nine month pregnancy would be very vulnerable, not be able to provide for themselves even as much as non-pregnant women. Even in old cultures now, women are reliant on the men to provide for them and their children. It's probably the case that men did not even realize that they were the cause of hte pregnancies in cave man days. All anyone knew is that women had babies.

Slavery has always existed, as far as we know. The strong have always tried to enslave the weaker. Whether people or animals.


(28,784 posts)
18. There are cultures that exist today
Fri Apr 5, 2013, 10:01 PM
Apr 2013

and that existed alongside other cultures that don't bear it out - and that article link does a good job of talking about this, imo.

We have examples of people caring for others in society who were disabled - long, long ago - so I don't know if we have an accurate view of prehistory.

A lot of our views of prehistory come from the people who were already living in a culture steeped in sexism for thousands of years - and those views skewed their views of what may have come before.

So, I don't know.

I posted this to talk about something. It wasn't a challenge to argue - I asked because I wanted to know what others thought and if those things would make sense.


(37,648 posts)
19. Caring for the elderly has nothing to do with the treatment of women.
Fri Apr 5, 2013, 11:25 PM
Apr 2013

Why are you arguing with me? I gave an opinion.


(28,784 posts)
45. I wasn't arguing with you
Sat Apr 6, 2013, 10:44 AM
Apr 2013

I was sharing some thoughts.

But, somehow, that's perceived as arguing. The article I linked to has some GREAT insights into this issue.

Have a great day.

Some people here have poisoned the water (see DurhamD, above.) They make it difficult to discuss anything.

I have learned my lesson... they make DU suck.

This is an opinion that is widely shared.


(17,671 posts)
46. There is more balance there I think
Sat Apr 6, 2013, 10:52 AM
Apr 2013

Human strength on a societal level was calculated on birth rate. Since anything that got done from construction to warfare required human muscle, control of that source of energy was paramount. The source of human muscle was women, and I expect that's how certain attitudes toward them were born. Women became baby factories to supply warriors and workers for the expansion of empire. The sacred institution of marriage was probably invented about that time.

I sometimes wonder if equality is merely a function of wealth and technology.


(50,250 posts)
80. ^This. When survival depended on brute strength, a woman needed a man to survive more than a
Sun Apr 7, 2013, 04:49 PM
Apr 2013

man needed a woman (except to bear him children which were a solution to problems of labor and eldercare.)

Religion, I think, is an effect of this rather than a cause of it. Religions were just organized around the extisting structure of male dominance.

Technology has gradually reduced women's need for men for simple survival, and has reduced the advantage of brute strength.



(24,096 posts)
7. I read somewhere that it was jealousy over childbearing...
Fri Apr 5, 2013, 09:25 PM
Apr 2013

could have been in The Golden Bough by J. G. Frazer. Been a long time since I read that though. I still have it and might give it another go.

The Golden Bough attempts to define the shared elements of religious belief to scientific thought, discussing fertility rites, human sacrifice, the dying god, the scapegoat and many other symbols and practices whose influence has extended into twentieth-century culture.[2] Its thesis is that old religions were fertility cults that revolved around the worship of, and periodic sacrifice of, a sacred king. Frazer proposed that mankind progresses from magic through religious belief to scientific thought.[3]


(110,656 posts)
15. where does it come from? the abrahamic, patriarchal religions, to start (meaning, christianity,
Fri Apr 5, 2013, 09:46 PM
Apr 2013

judaism and islam). you really want to know? suggest you read "when god was a woman" by merlin stone, if you want a timeline and explanation.



(23,272 posts)
33. Have you read The Chalice and the Blade by Riane Eisler?
Sat Apr 6, 2013, 09:52 AM
Apr 2013

Another really interesting feminist take on history, archaeology, religion etc.


(110,656 posts)
37. I read it many years ago, thought I still had a copy somewhere, but I dont. Saw Riane in
Sat Apr 6, 2013, 10:04 AM
Apr 2013

a very interesting film called "Mother: Caring for 7 Billion" (www.motherthefilm.com) on population and the environmental crisis a couple of days ago. so, off to library to order a copy. thank you for reminding me.



(23,272 posts)
39. And I to get "When God was a Woman" by Merlin Stone!
Sat Apr 6, 2013, 10:08 AM
Apr 2013

The reviews on Amazon look terrific! Thanks for a good rec...

"Here, archaeologically documented,is the story of the religion of the Goddess. Under her, women’s roles were far more prominent than in patriarchal Judeo-Christian cultures. Stone describes this ancient system and, with its disintegration, the decline in women’s status."



(50,250 posts)
81. In early Christianity, women often were leaders of the movement. So in
Sun Apr 7, 2013, 04:54 PM
Apr 2013

Christianity I think it came later, and inevitably, as a reflection of the rest of the culture.

I don't know about Judaism or Islam.


(8,155 posts)
20. The short answer is men, religion and capitalism.
Fri Apr 5, 2013, 11:41 PM
Apr 2013

Western society seems to have taken a rather wrong turn around 300 years ago, at the start of the Victorian era.

With the proliferation of the religious confessional, so too came the obsession with applying the confessional to our every day lives. This, in turn, began a complex process by which we converted human sexual practice into sexual rhetoric. The consequence of this was the creation of normative sexuality, normative bodies and abject bodies. Men and the phallocentric model of medicalized sexuality placed the female body wholly in the category of abject. Vaginas were viewed as sources of weakness and hysteria.

On top of this religious absurdity came the advent of capitalism. Heteronormative sexuality was incentivized as economically and socially efficient. It provided for the necessary workforce to maintain production of means for ends. Through this, the female body necessarily became a conduit for production of human capital, and eventually capital in all form. Women lost their agency because their reproductive capacity became an essential element of the capitalist machine.

All of these mechanisms continually constructed an ideology around the debasement of women and the building up of men as leaders of industry, intelligence and morality. Women were merely abject, stupid, insane, baby factories; incapable of possessing identity without it first being filtered through the male.

And the cycle continues.


(2,693 posts)
26. Lord, are you actually arguing that
Sat Apr 6, 2013, 05:38 AM
Apr 2013

Eastern society maintained the "course"?

You have not a clue about when the Victorian era started, and i suspect even less of an idea of what society was like then.

Go read a history book for pity's sake. I suspect you will find women of that time to be not as nearly as helpless or worthless as you want them to be.

a la izquierda

(11,768 posts)
36. Uh, no, it started a hell of a lot longer ago that 300 years.
Sat Apr 6, 2013, 10:02 AM
Apr 2013

Have you ever heard of the delightful era known as the Middle Ages? Start there, work backwards.



(10,362 posts)
21. Since the first man realized the value of women
Sat Apr 6, 2013, 12:03 AM
Apr 2013

Early man realized that by keeping their women, and possessing the women of the neighboring tribe, they could overcome that tribe through basic population growth. The larger the community, the more able to resist other tribes. From that point, women became property.

Imagine if the men of one tribe killed 2/3 of the men of another tribe. This victory would be meaningless unless the women were possessed, because one man can easily keep three women pregnant all at once. So the neighboring tribe, within a single generation, would be back to full fighting strength. But by overcoming their defenses and taking their women, it wouldn't matter how many males on each side were killed, the first tribe possessed the second tribe's future. That tribe is now doomed unless they can gain their women back. Evolution took over, and every tribe that valued their women defeated every tribe that didn't. Hence why not a single culture is matriarchal, and patriarchy is universal-- the necessity of treating women like a precious object rather than equal of men is the dominant breeding strategy. Women cannot resist this strategy to assert themselves because they are physically unable to resist men. Our bodies are bigger, with more muscle, our skulls thicker to sustain more damage, our joints are formed to kill, and we are naturally more aggressive because of high testosterone levels.

This is part of the reason men are viewed as disposable. After all, we are descended from twice as many women as men. The death of a thousand men is irrelevant so long as a tribe can defend a defensible position, or can escape capture. In other words, to keep their women. Women, unfortunately, were too valuable. Their ability to reproduce made them literally the most important asset of men, more than gold or any other property. That doesn't mean they were necessarily treated well, but their lives were protected and given a special value, hence so many societal views about women being objects.

I think if women had not possessed the ability to give birth, or had equal ability to mete out violence as men, we would have a more equal society. Alas, nature and evolution had a different idea. Our views of women and men are merely the products of the dominant breeding strategy since humans first formed tribes.


(30,240 posts)
22. The answer is simple: men.
Sat Apr 6, 2013, 12:22 AM
Apr 2013

Men were physically stronger. Also, women were the ones having children. That in itself limited their horizons. For thousands of years there was high infant mortality, no birth control and multiple pregnancies. Women were kept in the home and the men were the ones who hunted and fished. They also were the protectors from outside dangers.

There have always been some women who were able to break through the constraints of their time, but they were few and far between.

Sexism is still prevalent today. For example, since Hillary became a public figure the comments about her appearance have been incessant. They bash her over her hair, clothes, voice, laughter, ankles, weight and age. Furthermore, one shocking lesson from her presidential campaign was the realization that the Left is as sexist as the Right.


(17,101 posts)
24. I believe it started when we became an agrarian society
Sat Apr 6, 2013, 01:30 AM
Apr 2013

Until then, people in tribes seemed to have looked after each other, including children. This is still done in some other countries, ie it takes a community to raise a child. The theory that women live longer than men, and beyond menopause is due to the grandmother effect - an evolutionary strategy that they could help out in caring for families while their daughters had more children, and/or foraged for food.

When we became an agrarian society, pair bonding flourished, and the nuclear family became standard. Also, once we became settled, populations expanded with a more stable food source. Humans then wanted to protect what they had, and eventually, gain more at the expense of other settlements. War became that means, and since soldiers were killed off fairly easily, more were needed. Hence the importance of 'male' children. Women's importance was as a broodmare more than anything else. Then it expanded to cheap labour.

War, I think, came before religion.


(28,784 posts)
44. The soundest argument, it seems
Sat Apr 6, 2013, 10:39 AM
Apr 2013

One of the best arguments seems to come from the idea that it was the issue of property, or the "nuclear family" as a unit of society more important than the community - that arose with the rise of property held privately - makes a lot of sense.

And the move to agriculture created a situation in which childbearing was for the purpose of economic gain - to create workers.

That seems to be about as basic as it gets - and there are still cultures that don't have that same way of being - but they're all cultures that don't settle into one spot and don't view holding property as the goal of life.



(2,842 posts)
56. Good post. I would add that before war and settled communities came an ecological barrier that
Sat Apr 6, 2013, 01:01 PM
Apr 2013

made the hunter/gatherer way of living impossible in many areas of the world.

Agriculture was independently invented in at least 7 locations - 3 in the New World and 4 in the Old World - and people remained nomadic until they had to settle down to protect their plant and animal resouces, that they had selectively chosen and husbanded, from other groups.

First came selection of the best plants and animals and settlements were secondary to agricultural practice. (Happened all over the world 7000 - 10,000 years ago)


(341 posts)
25. Capitalism, profit maintains sexism
Sat Apr 6, 2013, 04:32 AM
Apr 2013

One example off the top of my head -

Pay women less hourly rate than men for same job. Then some men who think someday they will become megarich CEOs tell women they make less money than men because women work less hours because children.


(28,784 posts)
62. So you think Engels asked the right questions?
Sat Apr 6, 2013, 06:37 PM
Apr 2013

I do think the idea that property and inheritance has informed a lot of sexism - and shaped entire cultures for generations.

Cal Carpenter

(4,959 posts)
66. Indeed
Sun Apr 7, 2013, 08:21 AM
Apr 2013

And here is a link to anyone wondering what we are talking about:
The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State]

As far as I understand, some anthropological details in that work are not precise, given things we have learned since it was written. But the conclusions still seem to make the most sense to me even with the bits that may be controversial.

I'm not saying it is the answer to everything, but I tend toward historical materialism and I found this Engels work to be very, very enlightening in terms of development of patriarchy --and-- the whole concept of private property (and how the state evolved to protect it).

It's been awhile since I read it all the way through.

Here's the passage I remember most - while it doesn't get into details about the matriarchy vs patriarchy thing, it references it and connects it to the private property thing:

Thus in the Greek constitution of the heroic age we see the old gentile order as still a living force. But we also see the beginnings of its disintegration: father-right, with transmission of the property to the children, by which accumulation of wealth within the family was favored and the family itself became a power as against the gens; reaction of the inequality of wealth on the constitution by the formation of the first rudiments of hereditary nobility and monarchy; slavery, at first only of prisoners of war, but already preparing the way for the enslavement of fellow-members of the tribe and even of the gens; the old wars between tribe and tribe already degenerating into systematic pillage by land and sea for the acquisition of cattle, slaves and treasure, and becoming a regular source of wealth; in short, riches praised and respected as the highest good and the old gentile order misused to justify the violent seizure of riches. Only one thing was wanting: an institution which not only secured the newly acquired riches of individuals against the communistic traditions of the gentile order, which not only sanctified the private property formerly so little valued, and declared this sanctification to be the highest purpose of all human society; but an institution which set the seal of general social recognition on each new method of acquiring property and thus amassing wealth at continually increasing speed; an institution which perpetuated, not only this growing cleavage of society into classes, but also the right of the possessing class to exploit the non-possessing, and the rule of the former over the latter.

(aka 'the state')

ETA: I was so happy to see your response. I figured since I hadn't given any context, I wouldn't get any response, let alone one along the lines of what was actually on my mind when I posted it!


(28,784 posts)
67. I'm glad you decided to weigh in
Sun Apr 7, 2013, 02:42 PM
Apr 2013

Because I haven't seen anything more convincing regarding theories about the origins of sexism other than Engels view.

What's interesting also, related to some discussions here, is the view that prostitution is merely the other side of monogamy. If someone wants to do away with prostitution, they'll have to do away with traditional marriage as well.



(18,497 posts)
29. Fear.
Sat Apr 6, 2013, 06:15 AM
Apr 2013

Men feared women's power over them. (Which is considerable, especially when wielded correctly.) A power of temptation and downfall steeped throughout the Abrahamic religions especially. Exceeding that of....Satan. Yeah. That's some power.

Men countered that fear with physical force, violence and indoctrination.

This caused fear in women and in most cases made them forget their power.

There were some strong women. Some of them were the wise ones who knew the remedies from herbs passed down countless generations. They were midwives. They had remedies so they wouldn't need to be your midwife. They were "witches."

They killed all the witches.
Both men and women killed all the witches.

Because they feared their power.

Of course, not all strong women were witches.

There was Joan of Arc....ooops They burned her alive, too.

More fear.

"There. You see what happens if you upset the order of things?"

Conform or DIE!


So we have elder women in African villages tasked with the ritual of genital mutilation of young girls.

Why would they do that?

Conform or be ostracized.

So we have teen girls threatening another teen girl with death because she reported a rape.


So we have nearly everyone mocking Lindsey Lohan, who is heartbreaking troubled.

Maybe that is not out of fear. But it is taking joy in the death spiral of a woman who seemed to have limitless potential as a young teen.

There's always some meanness for the sake of meanness in oppression, too.

But, mostly. It is fear.


(11,411 posts)
31. Warrior cultures tend to be male dominated
Sat Apr 6, 2013, 09:16 AM
Apr 2013

Because male physiology gives them a physical advantage over women and most women of warrior age were pregnant or breastfeeding small children.
The warrior cultures spread throughout the world, killing and/or assimilating every non warrior culture along the way.


(4,840 posts)
32. You have to look at evolution for that
Sat Apr 6, 2013, 09:22 AM
Apr 2013

In chimp societies, females are oppressed. So it is something that was around before our species.


(28,784 posts)
48. This is not true
Sat Apr 6, 2013, 11:10 AM
Apr 2013

One HUGE problem is that our society doesn't know enough about the actual living arrangements of our closest primate relatives.

Our closest genetic relatives are two species: common chimpanzees and bonobo chimpanzees.

The two have ENTIRELY DIFFERENT cultural arrangements. Common chimpanzees have cultures with male infighting for access to females - but that's about TIMING - not actual access.

Female common chimpanzees mate with multiple partners when they are fertile.

Female bonobo chimpanzees mate with multiple partners when they are fertile - BUT - females also have agency in determining who those males might be. Females have hierarchies that help to determine the viability of their offspring - females can stop aggressive males - and do - i.e. have been observed doing so.

Another huge difference is that bonobos use sex as a way to sooth tensions in the community - their use of sex isn't limited to procreation and isn't divided into "hetero" or "homo" individually - all in a community will engage in sexual actions with all others (except for incest) as a way to work out their problems.

Common chimpanzees have not developed this use of sex to build peace in their communities.

Gorillas, who are less closely genetically related to either humans or chimpanzees, have one male who controls access to multiple females.

We know that humans did not resemble gorillas in their anatomy, early in prehistory. We know humans resembled chimpanzees of one kind or another more than gorillas. What this means in this case is "anatomy is history." i.e. - human anatomy indicates relative equality based upon the relative avg size of male and female, and anatomy indicates human sperm had some competition - i.e. males were not controlling a bunch of females and fighting among themselves for access. So, our anatomy does not indicate male dominance as we understand it now in other primates.

We evolved in communities of anywhere between a dozen and a 100 other humans. We either had males who moved to another community when they reached sexual maturity or females who did - this was how inbreeding/incest was avoided. So, that community of a dozen or so proto humans probably met up with other communities at an especially fertile area with lots of fruit that ripened at a particular time - when food supplies are abundant, there is no need to fight for access to it.

In other primate communities, the way they deal with aggressiveness is to ostracize the aggressor, rather than fight. They cut off the aggressor from the community, from food sharing within the community, and from protection by the community.

So, we also have examples of the way that the power of the group overcomes the power of a bully and keeps communities more egalitarian.



(2,842 posts)
53. Genetically, humans are slightly closer to common chimps than bonobos, I think. When a bonobo female
Sat Apr 6, 2013, 12:22 PM
Apr 2013

is fertile it is not obvious to others and, probably, even herself. When a common chimp female is in her fertile state, it is obvious to all. This will account for some the their social behavior.

Common chimps do the "primate stare" meaning a male and female are sexually attracted to one another and then often are able to go off privately to have sex. When the common chimp female returns to the group, most of the males will try to mate with her.

With humans, I think it's important to remember that many behaviors are potential and will remain unexpressed if the society and ecological constrains are benign. As an example, the potential for violence is always there, but need not be expressed if the conditions to not push the person, or group, in that direction.


(28,784 posts)
58. Bonobos and common chimps share the same % of DNA with humans.
Sat Apr 6, 2013, 05:20 PM
Apr 2013

Bonobos and common chimpanzees are two species of chimpanzee - and share more DNA with one another than with humans.

The split went like this: about 10 million years ago gorillas speciated.

About five million years ago humans and chimpanzees speciated.

Then, because they had geographic barriers between them, common and bonobo chimps speciated.

We share more in common with bonobos in terms of our actions because they and humans are the only two primates that have sex when females are not in estrus. They also have sex face-to-face, as do we.

There are all kinds of behaviors in all kinds of animals that are available but not expressed - and the two species of chimpanzees are good examples of this.

I think, tho, for me, the idea is that our anatomy has not been destiny, regarding what how we live. We alter our environments all the time and those changes, rather than our genetic composition, beyond certain basic issues, have made our cultures.


(28,784 posts)
85. This study claims human ancestors had societies like bonobos
Sun Apr 7, 2013, 06:10 PM
Apr 2013

...based upon comparisons of DNA sequences - tho, as you noted, .1% more of our DNA is shared in common with common chimps than with bonobos... but WHERE these differences and likenesses exists matters greatly.

It's interesting, also, to see that we share DNA in common with both in ways that they don't share with one another.

Anyway, looking at reproductive rates for bonobos, the people who did that study think that females left their communities and migrated to a new one while the males stayed in the one they were born into - which indicates matrilineal families, since all offspring would be the child of the males b/c all offspring would be from their brothers. And this is the social structure of bonobos. Maybe this is a chicken or egg argument, tho.

But, based upon that, it would seem like the move to male oppression of females came long after we diverged from a common ancestor - or, put it another way, the common chimp is the outlier, not the norm, in terms of social organization between the three, based upon DNA commonalities.

Is that how you would read this, too?


(23,272 posts)
35. There are still matriarchal societies today. The Mosuo in China come to mind
Sat Apr 6, 2013, 09:55 AM
Apr 2013

but there are others.

The two primary factors that seem to be missing in these cultures the last time I looked into this was war and patriarchal religions. With those influences missing it seems as though matriarchy flourishes.

Please note I'm not advocating that we have female dominated societies vs male dominated societies (clearly as a progressive I'd advocate for equality).


(28,784 posts)
64. Also the Iroquois had an amazing civilization
Sat Apr 6, 2013, 11:25 PM
Apr 2013

Even tho men and women had separate spheres of influence, those spheres were equal in their ability to influence the life and culture of their group - whether going to war or not, included, because women controlled the food supply. They didn't have to supply food just because a male group had decided to go to war.

One guy in upstate NY claims that the Great Treaty of Peace, from the Native Americans, should be considered a "foundational document" of the U.S. But, he also notes, he thinks they were "disappeared" from history because the Iroquois had a society in which women "had a vote" at the table. They also had a different view of how the earth should be treated and didn't have much interest in the european idea of private property.

Something interesting, btw, in this article (which I had posted earlier, b/c it's a great source of discussion, imo), was the observation that an assumption among westerners was that Eskimo women had no agency because their husbands, as part of their custom, would not be averse to his wife sleeping with their male guests. The western-centric forced monogamy for females version was that women had no agency. But what if women did enjoy the possibility of having multiple sexual partners?

Just to say - I think it's important for females to examine their preconceptions - especially when they fit into the dominant ideology of the time and place in which they live. The biggest question I've wondered about, for the longest time - what would people be like if financial issues didn't influence their every action and decision.

Before class society, the idea of a strictly monogamous pairing of males and females with their offspring–the nuclear family–was unknown to human society. Inequality was also unknown. For more than 2 million years, humans lived in groups made up of people who were mostly related by blood, in conditions of relative equality. This understanding is an important part of Marxist theory, although much of the earliest evidence for it came from an unlikely source: from seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Jesuit missionaries who recorded their observations of the Native American cultures they encountered.

The Jesuits mostly were appalled by the level of equality they found–including the sexual freedom and equality between women and men. One Jesuit, when he encountered the Montagnais-Naskapi of Eastern Canada, reported, "I told him that it was not honorable for a woman to love anyone else except her husband, and that, this evil being among them, he himself was not sure that his son, who was there present, was his son." But the Naskapi were equally appalled by the Jesuits. The man replied, "Thou hast no sense. You French people love only your own children; but we love all the children of our tribe."19

The Jesuits recorded their disbelief at the fact that the Indians neither had, nor apparently desired, any kind of social hierarchy. This comment from Father Paul Le Jeune, writing in 1634, again describing the Naskapi, is typical: They "cannot endure in the least those who seem desirous of assuming superiority over the others; they place all virtue in a certain gentleness or apathy."

Le Jeune and the other missionaries set out, of course, to change this state of affairs. "Alas," he complained, "if someone could stop the wanderings of the savages, and give authority to one of them to rule the others, we could see them converted and civilized in a short time." But the obstacles were many. "As they have neither political organization, nor offices, nor dignities, nor any authority, for they only obey their chief through good will toward him, therefore they never kill each other to acquire these honors. Also, as they are contented with a mere living, not one of them gives himself to the Devil to acquire wealth."20

I'm inclined to think that property was the original sin that tossed humans from the garden. Religion just obscures this with myths that perpetuate tired tropes.




(64 posts)
40. Fashion magazines and the media haven't done us any favors.
Sat Apr 6, 2013, 10:10 AM
Apr 2013

I remember at 15 reading Seventeen magazines and feeling so inferior with the girls with the beautiful skin and sparkling white teeth and silky hair. Cosmo and Glamour and others took it from there with how to please men, etc. etc.

That's not the single source, but has certainly contributed to it in my opinion.



(2,842 posts)
41. The anthropologist Marvin Harris showed that the more militaristic a society was, the worse females
Sat Apr 6, 2013, 10:17 AM
Apr 2013

were treated.
He also showed that overpopulated societies - societies that were up against ecological constraints - the worse the males treated females.


(28,784 posts)
70. do you have a link for this one?
Sun Apr 7, 2013, 03:27 PM
Apr 2013

also wanted to say thanks for your contribution here.

looks like you've studied some prehistory.



(11,464 posts)
51. Thomas Jefferson who wrote "All MEN are created equal" and left out 76% of the country
Sat Apr 6, 2013, 11:40 AM
Apr 2013

Jefferson SPECIFICALLY didn't include women.
nor slaves, nor blacks, nor anyone not exactly like him

Yet, some people idolize Jefferson.


(28,784 posts)
61. Yes. I'd read that one earlier
Sat Apr 6, 2013, 06:35 PM
Apr 2013

The point seemed to be putting negatives on females, no matter what the behavior.

But I think it's really interesting that females were not considered the weaker sex, in terms of sexual appetite. It makes you wonder how much people assume certain things because ideas are part of cultural history.

Before women had headaches, they had multiple partners.

Maybe they have headaches because they're bored.

But to think this doesn't fit the current cultural narrative.

Or maybe, economically, females cannot afford to be bored.


Helen Reddy

(998 posts)
57. Just need a clarification.
Sat Apr 6, 2013, 02:59 PM
Apr 2013

You used the word "repression", is that the word you truly mean? Or do you mean to say "oppression."?

Thank you in advance.


(28,784 posts)
59. I was just tossing a question out there for discussion
Sat Apr 6, 2013, 05:24 PM
Apr 2013

Looking at culture in general, and wondering.

The explanations of cultural origins of oppression was really the idea behind my question.



(6,342 posts)
63. Religion, society, old traditions, nature, the media, parents, etc..
Sat Apr 6, 2013, 11:02 PM
Apr 2013

It's a combination of things...

Most parents today instill sexism without even knowing it. We treat our sons and daughters differently. We raise them differently. Stereotypes are all around us growing up. We tell stories like fairy tales of the princess always waiting for her prince to come and save her. We tend to want to shelter and spoil our daughters while giving our sons more freedom and motivation to control their destiny.

To the great majority of people, men are considered leaders, providers, and protectors. And that's true even today in 2013. Men are expected to provide for the family and society DOES expect this of men. Trust me as a man I can tell you that every man in this country feels that pressure. It exists. So when women are making more money...it becomes a source of animosity. It's not because he hates women...it's because the fact women are making more than he does threatens everything he's been taught about how he's supposed to fit into the society. And therefore he feels like a failure. And this is something most feminists fail to understand. Society puts pressure on women to submit to the gender roles...but it also puts pressure on men.

Organized religion does play a big role. But even atheists are sexist. So I dont think that's the only factor. A lot of it is old traditions.
A few examples.... Some people still think a man should ask the woman's father for permission to marry. Women still routinely take her husband's last name. I know people claim to do this to make things easier or more romantic...but notice you almost never see the man taking the woman's last name. Such a thing is extremely taboo in our culture and many times met with scorn. There are even some states that don't allow it. It's a deeply rooted practice designed to make sure inheritance follows the paternal line. That was the reason for it. And most of us will follow it whether we are Christian or not...sexist or not. Old traditions die hard.

So we can go on and on here with one example after another. The fact of the matter is that these stereotypes are all around us. They've been all around us. And we do give into many of them whether we realize it or not. These are extremely difficult roles to break free from.


(28,784 posts)
65. some men and women are taking each others' names
Sat Apr 6, 2013, 11:35 PM
Apr 2013

and creating hyphens. I never took my husband's name when I was married. I couldn't imagine why I should.

when I had a child, one of my religious relatives begged me to use my husband's name at the hospital so the nurses wouldn't think I had given birth to a bastard (she didn't use that word, but that was what was behind her urging.) I just looked at her like... how fucked up can you get? She was a nurse, so I assume she maintained lots of judgment for bastard children - otherwise why say such a thing?

My children have my last name and their dads' as part of their names.

Studies have indicated that females who get married and have children tend to fall into traditional roles in society, whether they choose to or not. There is tremendous pressure for this.

And, yes, we are saturated with stereotypes. That's why I have such a hard time enjoying much of popular culture - it's boring and reinforces the same old b.s. (which is part of its function - i.e. the reason why it is sanctioned, paid for, promoted, etc.)

Althusser talked a lot about ideology and how difficult it is to rise above the dominant culture to view things in a different way.

Over the long view - there has been progress. It just seems glacial and the glaciers are melting, so why not these cultural tropes that enslave our minds?


(56,582 posts)
69. Pregnancy and property transfer
Sun Apr 7, 2013, 02:54 PM
Apr 2013

Most of them come from the fact that women get pregnant. The "protective" side of things comes from the need to keep women alive more than we need to keep men alive. The "controlling" side of things comes from the fact that a baby's mother is obvious but its father is not.


(28,784 posts)
71. but that assumes a nuclear family
Sun Apr 7, 2013, 03:29 PM
Apr 2013

and not a view of family as an extended family unit, right?

Or, as the Iroquois said to the Jesuit - You French are crazy. You only care about your own children. We care about all children in our tribe.


(146,021 posts)
72. From men.
Sun Apr 7, 2013, 03:34 PM
Apr 2013

Men can beat women into submission, so they do. Thus is it and thus has it been. In more recent times, we've simply formalized it so actual beatings are not as necessary, although they still take place at an alarming frequency.

Oh, and religion? It's a product of men, too. Men wrote its scriptures. Men run it. It's men all the way down.


(50,250 posts)
83. This is in there.
Sun Apr 7, 2013, 05:14 PM
Apr 2013

Can't believe that a) it didn't occur to me right away and b) the first mention of it is in post 72.

But it is a factor.


(89,506 posts)
75. Recommended reading: The Chalice and the Blade by Riane Eisler
Sun Apr 7, 2013, 03:51 PM
Apr 2013

It certainly gave me a lot to chew on when I read it in the '90s.


(28,784 posts)
76. why don't you talk about it here a little bit
Sun Apr 7, 2013, 03:57 PM
Apr 2013

thanks for contributing - can you tell what was meaningful for you in the work?


(89,506 posts)
77. Sorry for the post and run
Sun Apr 7, 2013, 04:07 PM
Apr 2013

I'm really tired just now, so I'll just say it had a tremendous impact on my thinking at the time. Boiled down, archaeological evidence is there to show that certain cultures existed relatively peacefully for long ages until overrun by hostile tribes from the Steppes, which (among other things) caused a paradigm shift in male-female relations. The differences between the two cultures were: relatively high status for women versus lowly status for women...

Eisler uses the term "paradigm shift" -- if we had such ways of living before, and then it changed (over time), it means we could do it again (over time). What gave me and so many others so much hope at the time was the idea she laid out that we are moving toward another paradigm shift and that we can push it along...

Then Dubya was elected, and I've lost a lot of hope since then.

But I do believe it would be well worth revisiting her ideas, especially in the context of this discussion. Maybe you and I can do this again some more later.


(28,784 posts)
79. I'm somewhat familiar with Eisler's work
Sun Apr 7, 2013, 04:27 PM
Apr 2013

It's been a while since I read her, tho.

And what I wonder is how her work differs or agrees with the idea that personal property, rather than communal property (held in trust, really, for future generations), is the foundation of oppression - and that oppression was initially manifested in the idea of inheritance, and later that oppression extended to others, outside of the family, who worked to maintain another's property for that "leader."

It seems that throughout modern history we have changes and then major reactions to those changes. I think we've been living through a reactionary time. The reaction was and is against the idea of a common good, the general welfare, rather than small groups who hoard vast sums of wealth for themselves.

That's a big simplification - but even Nazism/fascism itself was a reaction to the end of monarchy and the beginning of social democracy. I think the U.S. is still living through that reactionary impetus.

The trick is to survive until it is undone. I hope we don't have to have violence to undo the current track both parties are on, but there's nothing coming from D.C. to lead me to believe Democrats are not complicit in destroying the common good for the profit of a few.



(25,699 posts)
78. You're asking for a single source, for one of human society's most complex constructs?
Sun Apr 7, 2013, 04:12 PM
Apr 2013

Good luck with that.



(63,221 posts)
86. A lot of good ideas here. I would suggest that it is some combination of
Sun Apr 7, 2013, 06:26 PM
Apr 2013

many of the reasons mentioned. It is unfortunate, but we must over come it. We need to educate our society on how to treat women from youth.


(8,267 posts)
88. Social Scientists have only recently
Sun Apr 7, 2013, 06:33 PM
Apr 2013

acknowledged their own patriarchal biases in analyses of the origins of power imbalance. In addition to "The Chalice and the Blade," I recommend

~ When God was a Woman (Stone)

~Adam, Eve and the Serpent (Pagels)

~Beyond Power (French)

~The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets (Walker)

~The Creation of Patriarchy (Lerner)

~The Mermaid and the Minotaur (Dinnerstein) (more for info on the pernicious continuation of patriarchy)

~In a Different Voice (Gilligan) (more for perspective of how patriarchy has skewed much of our social research)

Power Imbalance -- patriarchy, at present -- is an arbitrary socio-political construct, one that we CAN change. Lerner has a thorough discussion of the origins of patriarchy, and she fully acknowledges our tendency to reach conclusions without awareness of our own filters.


(28,784 posts)
90. Gilligan didn't quite do it for me.
Sun Apr 7, 2013, 09:06 PM
Apr 2013

As far as separate spheres for various strategies - in the same way that Nancy Chodorow, iir her name correctly, didn't so it for me by postulating an alternative to Freud's readings... b/c, to me, Freud was so wrong and has been proven wrong on so many things, he's sort of irrelevant.

I don't think modes of behavior are gendered in communication as much as Gilligan seemed to. But, again, I read those a while back.

Anyway, so what the "Chalice and the Blade" view seems to come down to is the idea that the Abrahamic religions are the cause of social injustice toward females.

In abstract terms.

But their gods weren't separate from their social systems.

If you look at it from the perspective of reproductive success, the warring groups have had far more success.

but if you look at it from the perspective of humans as part of the earth's entire web of life, they're like weeds choking out other forms of life - and, eventually, life itself.


(8,267 posts)
91. Yes, I agree
Mon Apr 8, 2013, 05:59 AM
Apr 2013

about Chodorow. And, I liked that Gilligan took Kohlberg to task over his gender bias -- that was a refreshing change of pace.

I remember having some reservations about Chafetz, too. Her "Sex and Advantage" is a 'macro-structural' treatise on "sex stratification." Perhaps, as with Dinnerstein and others, I'd wished she'd written in a populist style, so that her work was accessible to the gp. I'll have to revisit her...

I have a theory that polytheistic matriarchies may have experienced a radical shift in gender relationships when men balked at that power imbalance. If human sacrifice was part of the picture, they may have balked at being on the short end of that bloody ritual. IOW, I think the shift from polytheism to monotheism -- and from matriarchies to patriarchies -- was much more complicated than many cultural anthropologists have postulated. (With regards to this implied complexity, I'd bet Chafetz had a big influence on me...)

There's one other book in my library that I hesitated to mention, but it's a rare and intriguing perspective: "The Descent of Woman," by Elaine Morgan. Definitely, food for thought ...


(28,784 posts)
92. I don't think the AAH has much merit
Mon Apr 8, 2013, 04:14 PM
Apr 2013

I think there's a lot of evidence to dispute that theory from Morgan.

In a link, above, about a common pan/homo ancestor, at least one group is claiming that the precursor to both humans and the two chimp species likely had matrilineal communities - this basic idea has really never been established. But this group is making the claim that proto humans are more like bonobos, socially, than common chimps.

The "male dominance" view of prehistory is SO imbedded in our idea of prehistory it's hard to overcome - its persistence is a perfect example of ideology undermining science. Desmond Morris, etc. did a lot of harm by being popularizers of the status quo.

I know that in a lot of cultural anthro, the idea of cannibalism was often seen as a form of ideology too - the claims of cannibalism were part of the idea of "savages" that needed to be "civilized" more than anything else - but I don't keep up with a lot of that anymore so maybe people have moved on with other evidence.

But what I always come back to, any time I think about these things, is this - what was the social structure that created the perceived need to subjugate females - and I can't find any other explanation other than the idea of private property that makes as much sense.

So I wonder if gender equality is ever possible within capitalism and within monogamous marriage arrangements - tho Engels thought that communal economics would lead to monogamy by choice - I can see that for periods of time - two or three years - but not necessarily as lifelong pair bonds b/c humans aren't a pair-bonded species throughout much of our existence as we know that term in true pair-bonded species.

Which makes me think, if this is the case, the core issues are economic - it doesn't matter what religious precedents may exist if the societal structure currently in place is the "fact on the ground" that defines gendered roles.

When women are sorted into classes, with some benefiting from sexism expressed via capitalism while others remain under a double yoke of economic and social oppression - then some women find it is to their personal benefit to uphold the system that undermines all. This coincides with "elite theory" in politics - a few from outside the structural norm are allowed to participate in the system to create the belief that this is possible for all - when the reality is that it is limited and is an "escape valve" for unrest about overall repression based upon race, gender, etc. etc. - that's way beyond basic foundational ideas, but maybe it's an "adaptation" at the social level.

But this reality - because it is reality, from my view of the world - explains the hatred of women who give birth outside of the familial unit - their lives are degraded by society and society punishes them because, within the system that exists, they require assistance from a community rather than a single male other. For anyone - it does take a village to raise a child, but if you don't have the resources (through a particular male) to buy that village, you're an outcast.


(8,267 posts)
93. Unfamiliar with AAH...
Tue Apr 9, 2013, 11:34 AM
Apr 2013

Please explain AAH.

I agree about Desmond Morris. I recall lively debates about his assertions.

If we (our species) are honest, we'll acknowledge that our economic behaviors ARE our religion, our raison d'etre. And, I think you're spot on about our economic behavior defining gender roles.

I especially like your last twp paragraphs. In a thread wherein the author deliberately used sexist slurs, one respondent berated me for equating women's struggles against patriarchy with the civil rights movement and our LGBT brethrens' fight for equal rights. I think her derision richly illustrates your point that some women are 'allowed to' benefit, or thrive, in our sexist society. By encouraging contemporary women to believe we've 'won' the rights for which we've fought, patriarchal men can point to those misled few and assert "see how good things are for women now? "


(28,784 posts)
97. Aquatic Ape Hypothesis
Tue Apr 9, 2013, 01:29 PM
Apr 2013

Morgan talked about this idea quite a bit.

If economic behavior is the defining issue - then it seems that feminists should place their efforts toward changing this. Otherwise, all the offshoots are just that and the root remains.

This is also my question about religious affiliation - how can females expect change if they're upholding one of the most potent aspects of repression - i.e. a patriarchal god. They must think it confers some benefit to them regardless of the harm.

And, of course, that also calls into question the issue of marriage itself.

Rather than language, these seem to be the real issues. Language is minor in comparison. It's nit picking and detracts from the bigger issues - and requires little to no actual investment of someone's life or her place in society - while the bigger issues do make some demands as in - what are you going to do and what do you sacrifice to do it. The physical act of upholding the status quo is a much bigger and louder statement than any word choice, imo.


(6,036 posts)
94. Lucy and her culture
Tue Apr 9, 2013, 12:57 PM
Apr 2013

Given how widespread we find evidence of Patriarchy. My opinion is it dates from at least as far back as when we had a true Human Monoculture. When essentially all of our ancestors were of a single tribe. My $0.02


(10,044 posts)
95. I don't know about all religions,
Tue Apr 9, 2013, 01:08 PM
Apr 2013

but Paul said "Wives, be submissive to your husbands,".... still part of our lifestyles (mine anyway), and something like, "don't talk when the guys are there, or in church (or assembly)."

However the Old Testament gives wives a lot of authority - own property, make deals, etc. Jewish women are lucky... But I think how their men handle non-Jewish women might be different, more like the norm.

It's decades too late, but it would have been nice to be a Jewish wife, unless there are a few here who know more about the topic from their experience, not from the Old Testament.

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