What you are describing only took place in the past 12 thousand years or so. True hunter-gatherer societies do not have this dynamic: “whereby relatively few men got to mate with multiple women and women tended to move home to live with their partners.” There is a completely different dynamic that takes place when you establish villages and women move to live with male partners than there is when a whole clan is nomadic. This whole premise is also presuming monogamy or harems of women, which was hardly the case for most of human history.

The great anthropologist and comparativist Sarah Hrdy tells us that, across species, including among humans, the best mother for many eons was the one who was, under particular and far-from-rare ecological circumstances, promiscuous. By being so, she could hedge against male infertility, up her odds of a healthy pregnancy and robust offspring, and create a wider network of support by lining up two or three males who figured the offspring might be theirs.

Once again, you are trying to compare apples and oranges. 😉

When a group of brothers and patrilateral cousins stays put and women marry in from various other clans, it is not surprising that the position of the females is politically tenuous. In effect, they are merely “honorary” members of an all-male clan, and it is only toward the end of their lives that they begin to assume some authority.

Boehm, Christopher (1999–11–30T22:58:59). Hierarchy in the Forest: The Evolution of Egalitarian Behavior . Harvard University Press. Kindle Edition.

There were no patrilineal clans until the last 3% of human history.

I’ve already written extensively about our pre-patriarchal past, so I’m not going to go into that in any more detail here.

Written by

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store