That’s hilarious! But you wishing it doesn’t make it so. Shall we go back to pre-Civil Rights as well because all those black people were actually better off under the care of the patriarchal state? Snort! Correlation isn’t causation although the divorce rate is actually down in recent years. However, staying in a shitty marriage because you didn’t have any real options because divorce was so frowned upon and it meant certain poverty for you and your children is not really an indication of a well-functioning society.

Patriarchy is a social system that is a dominance-based hierarchy that includes race, class, education level and other things as well as gender. It’s pyramid-shaped and the only people it works better for are those at the apex of the pyramid — rich white men. For other men, even other white men, it’s a destructive system as well.

The good news is, patriarchy is only about 10K years old — we’ve only had it for about 3% of human history. It’s a blip — for all the years before that we had relative peace and equality. I’m sure you’ll have something to say about that, so here are my responses, already written:

Anthropologist, Christopher Boehm, writes in his book, Hierarchy In The Forest: The Evolution of Egalitarian Behavior

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 (Proto-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.

There is a growing consensus among anthropologists that we evolved not as monogamous dyads but as cooperative breeders. The culturally strong image of the brave pre-historic hunter bringing home the bacon to his mate who is waiting to be provided for is really just a cultural myth. For most of human history, small bands of men and women raised young collectively, and almost certainly mated with multiple partners.

This is a lifestyle with a lot of evolutionary benefits. Multiple mating in primates establishes and continually reinforces social bonds so that there are low levels of conflict, and there is every reason to believe the same was true of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Enhanced cooperation meant all were more likely to look after one another and their young, thus improving each individual’s reproductive fitness (the odds that their offspring would go on to produce offspring).

Meat was a very small portion of the diet of Paleolithic peoples. As such, female gatherers were central to the survival and well-being of the tribe. They weren’t sitting at home, tending the fire and the children, waiting for their one mate to provide for them. That’s a very recent and geographically specific dynamic.

Modern cultures that grow sorghum, tree, and root crops, ones not cultivated by the plow, have greater gender equality, more females in the labor force, and more political participation.

Far from being a universal and timeless societal dynamic, man as provider and head of a two-parent family is simply an extension of one recent and distinct type of culture made possible by certain conditions. How that incorrectly became codified as universal and scientifically enshrined is the topic of another story.

OK, so maybe you’re thinking, “Sure, those people had a nice village and lived what seems like a pretty good life, but in order to really create great civilizations, patriarchy was needed.” I suppose it depends somewhat on what you consider a great civilization. Patriarchy brought about not just stratification between men and women, but rather, an entire class system that had not previously existed. Some men gained wealth and power, but nearly always at the expense of others around them.

So, let’s review: For most of human history, lineage went through the mother and men and women had fairly egalitarian relationships. They lived in relative peace and harmony, both within their communities and with their neighbors. This does not mean that early societies were Utopian, but warfare was not prevalent and the coercive control of women was not a part of the social fabric. In some early societies women were actually the heads of the household, as in ancient Egypt. Herodotus of Greece wrote that in Egypt, “Women go in the marketplace, transact affairs and occupy themselves with business, while the husbands stay home and weave.” This was the case until around the 4th century BC. (1)

Class stratification also did not exist in any significant manner. Cultures kept evolving to have greater technologies, finer art, better tools, and refinements to their social systems. Patriarchy brought domination-based systems and a focus on technologies of war. It may have eventually led to palaces and great edifices as well as greater industry, but are we truly better off?

We live longer and have better medical care than in ancient times, but we also live more isolated lives, devoid of the kind of community and social connection that human beings are designed for. Loneliness in our culture is at an epidemic level that cuts lives short. We have all types of stratification and the discord and violence that arise out of a system of social hierarchy. Dominance based hierarchies produce, but they also largely benefit those at the top of the hierarchy in ways that the rest of the society doesn’t benefit from in the same ways.

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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