Many anthropologists now believe that cooperative breeding was the norm for our ancient ancestors and that women's autonomy was never limited by motherhood at all, because they had a vast network of grandmothers, aunts, uncles and others to help care for children. In many hunter-gatherer cultures, this is still the case, and women still often provide the bulk of the food for the tribe. Plus, Paleolithic women had children much less often than later cultures.

"In agricultural societies, it is not uncommon for a woman to have a child every year. Obviously, a woman with 5 children under the age of 5 isn’t going to have much time to provide food for herself and her children, even with grandparental help, but our Paleolithic ancestors only had a child every 3-4 years, which creates a rather different dynamic. The mistake that modern people often make is to assume that ancient life was just like now, minus the modern conveniences."

Also, at least in some circles, symmetrical features have been debunked as having much to do with genetic desirability beyond the beauty aspect.

“With the advent of the Industrial Revolution (around 1760), men left home to work each day for the first time, leaving women to completely care for the household and the children. Even when men did much of the outdoor work when the plow came into agricultural use, women still did many jobs that contributed to the overall success of the farm/homestead. This only truly altered to roles of provider/provided for with factory and other outside jobs becoming a common way to feed the family.

It is in this context that women’s desirability and worth becomes fully tied to their appearance. Symmetrical features have been thought to signal health, and therefore reproductive fitness, but recent research challenges this assumption, particularly as relates to women. There seems to be little actual correlation between beauty and health.”

I say all this not so much to contradict what you’ve written but to point out that our ideas about these topics are always evolving, and there is not universal agreement about some of it. Plus, it’s a fascinating subject that I’ve written quite often about as well.

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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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