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Starry Messenger

Profile Information

Name: Decline to State
Gender: Female
Hometown: Sacramento, CA
Home country: USA
Current location: Left Coast
Member since: Sat Apr 9, 2005, 08:01 PM
Number of posts: 32,339

About Me

Artist, high school teacher and "hard-liner" (yet to be defined).

Journal Archives

Is Biology Woman’s Destiny?

Evelyn Reed wrote some of the best anthropological studies on women in prehistory and how family relationships evolved over time. I recommend her book, Woman’s Evolution: From Matriarchal Clan to Patriarchal Family, which is meticulously researched and blows evo psych out of the water. She's a Marxist scientist, but even if that isn't your cup of tea, you will get a lot out of this book.

Anyway, here is a selection from from another of her works, Is Biology Women's Destiny? since Evo Psych has reared its head again on DU.



There are a number of primitive communities scattered around the world where old matriarchal practices and customs survive to a greater or lesser extent. These are usually called “matrilineal” communities because the line of kinship and descent is still traced through the mothers alone. But the matter goes deeper than this. In such regions the father-family is still poorly developed. A man may be recognized as the husband of the mother and yet not be recognized as the father of her children or, if recognized, has only an extremely tenuous connection with them. As this is usually expressed, the children belong to the mother and her kin.

This means that the children belong not only to the mothers but also to the brothers of such a matrilineal community. In other words, the mothers’ brothers, or maternal uncles, still perform the functions of fatherhood for their clan sisters’ children that in patriarchal societies have been taken over by the father for his wife’s children. For this reason such a community is sometimes called “the avunculate.” The term “avunculate” refers to the mother’s brother as the term “patriarch” refers to the father.

These matrilineal communities are survivals from the matriarchal epoch and, however much they have been altered since the patriarchal takeover, testify to the priority of the earlier social system. In fact, by the time anthropology began in the last century, most primitive clans had already become altered in their composition to a certain degree. Pairing couples, or what Morgan called “pairing families,” had made their appearance in communities that had formerly been composed solely of clan mothers and brothers (or sisters and brothers).

But the pairing family, which was still a part of the collectivism maternal clan system, was a totally different kind of family than the patriarchal family which came in with class society. A new man from outside the clan was added to the maternal group-the husband of the woman who became his wife. However, while the husbands participated in providing for their wives and children, so long as the clan system prevailed the husbands remained subordinate and even incidental to the mothers’ brothers. The mothers’ brothers remained the basic economic partners of their clan sisters and guardians of their sisters’ children.


This concept of woman having a biological imperative for mating with a provider for her children is bunk. That's not how families were structured, and this is observed in contemporary tribal cultures.

Posted by Starry Messenger | Sat Sep 27, 2014, 08:06 PM (11 replies)
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