Human beings live in fairly egalitarian and cooperative tribes and then communities for most of human history up until about 10 thousand years ago when natural disasters seemed to coincide with incursions from war-like and patriarchal northern tribes. This brought not just a power disparity between men and women but larger social stratification for the first time. Once you start worshipping gods of war and destruction rather than the life-giving goddess, and some people have vastly more wealth and power than others, it becomes hard to go back to a more egalitarian system. The book I quote from below, The Chalice and the Blade, is a much more comprehensive answer, but here’s some:

“It is only in the comparatively recent past when warlike northern tribes overtook the egalitarian communities that had existed for most of human history and patriarchy began to truly take hold. Patriarchy describes not just the coercive control of women, but a society-wide class system that privileges some people over others in a social hierarchy.”

But by the fifth millennium B.C.E., or about seven thousand years ago, we begin to find evidence of what (English archeologist, James) Mellaart calls a pattern of disruption of the old Neolithic cultures in the Near East. Archaeological remains indicate clear signs of stress by this time in many territories. There is evidence of invasions, natural catastrophes, and sometimes both, causing large-scale destruction and dislocation. In many areas the old painted pottery traditions disappear. Bit by devastating bit, a period of cultural regression and stagnation sets in. Finally, during this time of mounting chaos the development of civilization comes to a standstill. As Mellaart writes, it will be another two thousand years before the civilizations of Sumer and Egypt emerge.

It (Indo-European peoples) characterizes a long line of invasions from the Asiatic and European north by nomadic peoples. Ruled by powerful priests and warriors, they brought with them their male gods of war and mountains. And as Aryans in India, Hittites and Mittani in the Fertile Crescent, Luwians in Anatolia, Kurgans in eastern Europe, Achaeans and later Dorians in Greece, they gradually imposed their ideologies and ways of life on the lands and peoples they conquered.

Eisler, Riane. The Chalice and the Blade . HarperOne. Kindle Edition.

Patriarchy hurts most men as well because only a few of them are near the apex of the dominance hierarchy but they uphold this social system too.

“Many women uphold patriarchy, despite the ways that it disadvantages them, because of the ways that it feeds into greed and fear but also an unwillingness to pay the price for bucking the system. Misogyny is the policing arm of patriarchy, and women who deviate from what is expected of them by patriarchal standards often find themselves facing censure and punishment for that — from men but also from other women. But also, this is the ocean we’ve all been swimming in our entire lives and all of recent human history. And because we’ve absorbed the rules (as stated above) through a kind of cultural osmosis, adherence to them is often subconscious.”

A new study out shows that married white women, are more likely to see their best interests being linked with their husbands rather than with other women. The dominance hierarchy and trying to stay as close as you can to the top of it is more important to most people, including women.

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Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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