Our Egalitarian Ancestors

So men and women were equal, so say anthropologists who have studied contemporary hunter-gatherer societies. Never mind the problematic equation of modern hunter-gatherers with hunter-gatherers from several tens of thousands of years ago, it’s certainly food for thought about the way in which natural selection can elicit cultural as physical adaptations (and to what extent those are defined separate from each other is of course another question).

It makes sense that the unequal distribution across the genders of relative strength, energy consumption and reproductive abilities would result in the various forms of patriarchy in an environment where cultivating the land becomes key. I’d be interested in hearing more about what proposed environmental changes would have pushed our ancestors into farming, as these theories are constantly changing though unfortunately tend to take a rather linear view of development.

Of course being the Guardian, you get the predictable stuff about male-deity centric religions being to blame which is funny considering the most virulently misogynistic ancient religions had goddesses and priestesses aplenty as well. A clash of narratives, perhaps. C’est la vie.

Related Links:

What is a hunter-gather settlement? An ethno-archaeological and interdisciplinary approach

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