This proof of sexual equality isn’t quite what it seems

Our prehistoric forebears are often portrayed as spear-wielding savages, but the earliest human societies are likely to have been founded on enlightened egalitarian principles, according to scientists.

A study has shown that in contemporary hunter-gatherer tribes, men and women tend to have equal influence on where their group lives and who they live with. The findings challenge the idea that sexual equality is a recent invention, suggesting that it has been the norm for humans for most of our evolutionary history.

Sexual inequality, in the sense that men entirely dominate women, isn’t really something that anyone really believes, is it? Other than the nuttier feminists that is. That women spend 80% of the money in a modern society doesn’t really show that men determine all that much, does it?

The argument is instead that there’s equality but difference:

In the Philippines population, women are involved in hunting and honey collecting and while there is still a division of labour, overall men and women contribute a similar number of calories to the camp.

Which is what they found.

In other words, they’re playing with the meaning of the word “equality”. All too often these days it means “the same” instead of the meaning they’re using here “of equal importance even if different”. And do note that lovely finding: a division of labour is normal, a division of labour based upon gender that is.

10 thoughts on “This proof of sexual equality isn’t quite what it seems”

  1. Women were bigger in those days, of course. Today’s etiolated decorative item is a modern development. When the mob from up the river think your spot would be much improved if you weren’t living there, women can wield a rock tied to a stick as well as the next humanoid.

  2. So Much for Subtlety

    The scientists constructed a computer model to simulate the process of camp assortment, based on the assumption that people would chose to populate an empty camp with their close kin: siblings, parents and children.

    So in other words their study is not merely bollocks but bollocks on a stick. You can get whatever result you like with computer models. Previous studies of the calories that women collect among hunters and gathers such as the Khoi San have been fraudulent. The anthropologists drove them to their foraging grounds for instance. In a car.

    For another they are ignoring the impact of war, or at least violence that might one day grow into war. Such things greatly impact where you live and with whom.

    The study suggests that it was only with the dawn of agriculture, when people were able to accumulate resources for the first time, that an imbalance emerged.

    Every decent study of hunters and gathers point out that some men are much better hunters than others. Some men reliably bring home the meat. Some do not. The former have a lot more wives and children than the latter. I mean, this is not hidden esoteric knowledge. It is the heart of Napoleon Chagnon’s work for instance. In many ways the inequality in these groups is larger and more vicious than in settled societies. It is one thing for another man to have all the shiny goods. It is another for him to have all the young and pretty wives.

  3. So Much for Subtlety

    Roue le Jour – “When the mob from up the river think your spot would be much improved if you weren’t living there, women can wield a rock tied to a stick as well as the next humanoid.”

    Umm, no I don’t think it is. All the experience we have of women is that their response to violence is to roll into a ball and wait for the survivor to claim her. That is as true when women dealt with sticks with rocks on the other end as it is today when American soldiers are attacked by Iraqis.

    Even female fighter pilots routinely fail to press home attacks. Testosterone really does have an impact on how people behave.

  4. Oh… it’s the Guardian.

    There is an old, old legend on the Left that prehistoric times were some sort of Golden Age of equality, before evil capitalists invented money to oppress people.

    Feminism is a cultural Marxist movement and inherited this legend from its communist forebears. Of course, they tweaked it slightly to fit their female supremacist ideology: pre-agricultural societies were feminist! Bull-necked lesbian mammoth-hunters and herb-gathering ethical sluts and Wiccan priestesses coexisted with sensitive Mesolithic men as equals, if not Matriarchs. And there was no war or capitalism or despoiling Mother Earth or gender roles. And it took a village to raise a cave-child.

    Then a global conspiracy known as Patriarchy emerged to oppress women and trick them into femininity.

    It’s a Garden of Eden myth, similar to how the black Muslims in America teach that their noble ancestors were flying around the Pyramids in helicopters before the evil white man stole their knowledge and subjugated them.

    Anyway, some points on the article:

    Early men and women were equal, say scientists

    Scientists, eh? Tell me more.

    Mark Dyble, an anthropologist who led the study

    I believe the expression is: LOLZ.

    Anthropology isn’t science. It’s daycare for academic window-lickers who fantasise about how wonderful mud-hut-based societies are – as long as you have malaria jabs and a solar charger for your iPhone.

    Take effeminate male-feminist Mark Dyble for example. Would he have lasted five minutes in the Mesolithic? No. Does he look like a div kid? Yes.

    Of course, there was a sort of equality in ancient societies. An equality of poverty, filth, flies and disease. And murder – from what we know of hunter-gatherer societies that persisted into recorded history, a large percentage of the males die violent deaths at the hands of their fellow tribesmen.

    Hmmm… I wonder what causes young men to kill each other? Answers on the back of a cavewoman’s leather knickers.

    So patriarchy, property, marriage and capitalism are survival strategies that raised our primitive ancestors out of the muck and the murder, and allowed them to create cities, law, and spacecraft. If they’d focused on “equality” we’d still be huddled in tents, picking the fleas out of each others’ body hair.

    You’re welcome, lefties.

  5. An alternative theory.

    Sexual dimorphism shows males dominating females.

    Our superior minds are not there for dealing with nature, but for dealing with each other. Deceit and violence are in our natures. Predicting these needs big brains, following vultures not so much.

    Rape was the commonest means of mixing the gene pool. (Thesinger, or T E Lawrence, reported it as recently as the 20th century in Arabia.)

    Kidnap was normal to provide a slave class and future wives.

    Our capacious memories are there to aid survival, by being able to hold a grudge.

    Humans are not very innovative. We emerged ready armed with control of fire and rudimentary tools, and then did nearly nothing for 150,000 years. The stone tools section is always the most boring part of the museum.

    I could go on…

  6. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Steve always wins the fucking thread. It’s not fair.

    When Napoleon Chagnon pointed out the utterly hair-raising levels of homicide, rape, wife-stealing etc. in Amazonian Indians he was roundly pilloried by nob-ends like this Dyble character (or his 1960’s precursors). Ter Ellingson and Lawrence Keeley both destroyed the Rousseauian idea of man in harmony with himself and nature (Ellingson’s book was called The Myth of the Noble Savage and Keeley’s War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage). Steven Pinker wrote a massive doorstop of a book (a brilliant one) showing exhaustively that life in primitive societies is appallingly, almost unfathomably awful. Like 20–50% of males dying through violence, with the comparable figures in Western Europe being something like 0.07%.

    I honestly think half these people get their anthropology from The Clan of the Cave Bear.

  7. So Much for Subtlety

    Bloke in Costa Rica – “Ter Ellingson and Lawrence Keeley both destroyed the Rousseauian idea of man in harmony with himself and nature (Ellingson’s book was called The Myth of the Noble Savage and Keeley’s War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage).”

    Keeley’s book in particular is remarkable. Well worth it.

    It doesn’t matter though because the anthropologists don’t care. They are on an ideological crusade. Since 1945 when Franz Boas rejected his past history of writing about race and genetics to try to drive anything but Blank Slateism out of the field. As evidence is irrelevant to their political claims, they will go on ignoring Keeley et al.

    “I honestly think half these people get their anthropology from The Clan of the Cave Bear.”

    That would be an improvement.

  8. SMfS

    Nope. Excavations of prehistoric battle sites produce robust female skeletons with combat wounds.

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