Using pre-historic hunter/gatherer societies to dispel the myth of "natural" gender roles of men a

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posted on Jan, 1 2013 @ 01:56 PM
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"Men go out and hunt, Women stay at home cooking and looking after the family"

Ive heard this rhetoric many many times, often as a way to "put women in their place"
So ive done something women are not suppose to do, ive questioned what many believe to be fact. What ive found was somewhat surprising, but in another sense - not surprising at all.

This Article is long, but if you can, please take the time to read it. I will however list a few points it makes because some people shamelessly comment on threads without reading the material provided. You know who you are!


Over the next six decades, Czech archeologists expanded the excavations at Dolní Ve vstonice, painstakingly combing the site square meter by square meter. By the 1990s they had unearthed thousands of bone, stone, and clay artifacts and had wrested 19 radiocarbon dates from wood charcoal that sprinkled camp floors. And they had shaded and refined their portrait of Ice Age life. Between 29,000 and 25,000 years ago, they concluded, wandering bands had passed the cold months of the year repeatedly at Dolní Ve vstonice. Armed with short-range spears, the men appeared to have been specialists in hunting tusk-wielding mammoths and other big game, hauling home great mountains of meat to feed their dependent mates and children. At night men feasted on mammoth steaks, fed their fires with mammoth bone, and fueled their sexual fantasies with tiny figurines of women carved from mammoth ivory and fired from clay. It was the ultimate man’s world. Or was it?



The article continues to make the following points:


Olga Soffer, James Adovasio, and David Hyland now propose that human survival there had little to do with manly men hurling spears at big-game animals.... it depended largely on women, plants, and a technique of hunting previously invisible in the archeological evidence—net hunting.



Net hunting is communal, and it involves the labour of children and women. And this has lots of implications.



Women and children have set snares, laid spring traps, sighted game and participated in animal drives and surrounds—forms of hunting that endangered neither young mothers nor their offspring. They dug starchy roots and collected other plant carbohydrates essential to survival. They even hunted, on occasion, with the projectile points traditionally deemed men’s weapons. I found references to Inuit women carrying bows and arrows, especially the blunt arrows that were used for hunting birds



life back then was a hell of a lot more egalitarian than it was with your later peasant societies...Paleolithic women were pulling their own weight



Before the fifth century b.c., no tribal hunters in Asia or Africa had ever dared make their living from slaying elephants; the great beasts were simply too menacing.... To her surprise, the famous mammoth bone beds were strewn with cumbersome body parts, such as 220-pound skulls, that sensible hunters would generally abandon. Moreover, the bones exhibited widely differing degrees of weathering, as if they had sat on the ground for varying lengths of time. To Soffer, it looked suspiciously as if Upper Paleolithic hunters had simply camped next to places where the pachyderms had perished naturally—such as water holes or salt licks—and mined the bones for raw materials.



But hunters at Dolní Ve vstonice could have set nets of this size to capture hefty Ice Age hares, each carrying some six pounds of meat, and other furbearers such as arctic fox and red fox. As it turns out, the bones of hares and foxes litter camp floors at Dolní Ve vstonice and Pavlov. Indeed, this small game accounts for 46 percent of the individual animals recovered at Pavlov.



In many historical societies, she observes, women played a key part in net hunting since the technique did not call for brute strength nor did it place young mothers in physical peril. Among Australian aborigines, for example, women as well as men knotted the mesh, laboring for as much as two or three years on a fine net. Among native North American groups, they helped lay out their handiwork on poles across a valley floor. Then the entire camp joined forces as beaters.



n light of these findings, Owen suggests that it was women, not men, who brought home most of the calories to Upper Paleolithic families. Indeed, she estimates that if Ice Age females collected plants, bird eggs, shellfish, and edible insects, and if they hunted or trapped small game and participated in the hunting of large game—as northern women did in historical times—they most likely contributed 70 percent of the consumed calories.



So then... It would seem that women AND children contributed quite a lot in terms of survival. They were not clinging to men desperately so that they could survive and die from childbirth instead of starvation or being killed by an animal. I get the impression that human society back then worked as a unit. They seemed smart enough to not limit their chances of survival by adopting pitiful gender roles and expectations based purely on what sex you where born as. I cannot actually believe how distorted the facts have been in order to support the idea that "men are providers, women are nurturers"

So perhaps if history was taught correctly, and the existence of egalitarian societies was accepted as a natural occurrence, people might finally wake up and get past the primitive idea's that subject and unfairly limit each gender. Gender roles are social constructs and they are wrong.

Please discuss.
edit on Tue Jan 1 2013 by DontTreadOnMe because: IMPORTANT: Using Content From Other Websites on ATS




posted on Jan, 1 2013 @ 02:58 PM
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In pre-Christian societies the sexes were much more equal than many historians and archeologists would like to believe.
While there were gender roles, specifically toward women of child-bearing age, the women in many of these societies held a lot of power. It was the woman of the house who controlled the finances and food distribution.
Most men and women today would find it very difficult to live the way their ancestors did, performing the gender specific duties mandated by nature.
While women and men are for the most part able to perform the same duties, the separation of roles is logical when you consider the survival of the species. Someone has to Hunt and Protect the Tribe; all could fight and in many societies all were trained in the use of weapons, but only women could bear children. While a woman was pregnant her ability to perform many duties traditionally ascribed to men were severely restricted, purely by the fact that she was pregnant.
While women were restricted in what they could do, men were also.
My point is that the separation of gender roles was not a “man made” separation, rather one made by nature.



posted on Jan, 1 2013 @ 03:05 PM
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Not sure if I agree that gender roles are purely social constructs and wrong.....we built civilization to where it is today based on these roles we played in the past....they had some merit for the times obviously. Your article also shows that gender roles weren't so cut and dry in the past either. That said, I would add to your statement by stating that forcing a child to act "girly" or "manly" against their will is wrong....not the idea of gender roles in and of itself.

I enjoy a lot of aspects playing the role of a "man". I like carrying something heavy for a woman or holding their hand as they walk across slippery ice in those god-awful pointy, heely shoes that have no grip what-so-ever. Chivalry is cool, and I like it. It's a way to show how much we men really appreciate everything women in our lives have done for us, because we LOVE to be nurtured and looked after, well, I do at least.

Anyways, just making the point that your whitewash of gender roles is descriptively inadequate, and needs a little fine tuning to reflect the truth of the matter, which is so often a theme in opposing viewpoints....the black is wrong, the white is wrong and the truth is hanging out somewhere in the gray area.

Women, as well as men, should be free to pursue their own good in their own way as long as it brings no harm to another.

Peace



posted on Jan, 1 2013 @ 03:43 PM
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Only if you were getting your information from the Flintstones is this article groundbreaking. Otherwise it is fairly consistent with the current viewings of anthropolgy and archaeology.

The view of "natural gender roles" as defined by 'females clinging to males' is a myth and I am unaware of any academic literature that takes that view seriously. Most people get a simplified version of the narrative and never have to suffer through the actual reading in college.

One thing that is important is that male mortality was and is higher. From fetus onward. So while hunting implements are found in male burial mounds, the skeletons of males have rodeo injuries. In an era before formal medicine a significant injury was a death sentence. These injuries typically coincide with large game hunts, where brute strength played a role in bleeding an animal to death (firearms typically involve killing an animal via hydrostatic shock). Which ever way you want to spin it, male strength is often more pronounced than female strenght, even after you removal social pressures for muscle development. Moreover, male bones and ligaments are more dense than female's. This means that a rodeo injury is less likely to be fatal for a male, than a female due to the force needed to destroy the same structure.

Neanderthals, and possibly early homosapiens, were polyamorous. This would be a good survival trait, because when the transition happened from sustenance to surplus (that is enough meat from a rabbit to an excess from a bear), comparative anthropology puts forward that women probably used sexual selection for control -an activity we see today in primates and some tribes in the South Pacific. In fact, some of the women in those tribes engage in activity that would be fit for the Penthouse forum. Simply, the "natural" role of males in early humans was one of replacability.

It wasn't until humans began domesticating animals and plants for an agrarian society did women become relegated as property, but that is another story.



posted on Jan, 1 2013 @ 03:56 PM
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Originally posted by Thingol
Not sure if I agree that gender roles are purely social constructs and wrong.....we built civilization to where it is today based on these roles we played in the past[....they had some merit for the times obviously.


With respect, there is nothing to say that civilization could not have advanced even further had not not suppressed the roles of women in particular. I would like to know your reasoning as to why you feel gender roles are not purely social constructs? The article seems to suggest that they are.



Your article also shows that gender roles weren't so cut and dry in the past either. That said, I would add to your statement by stating that forcing a child to act "girly" or "manly" against their will is wrong....not the idea of gender roles in and of itself.


I would say that the article is absent of any pre-defined roles Egalitarian society is based on all humans being of equal worth and social status - which would make it difficult to subject either gender to "roles" or adhere to principles.


I enjoy a lot of aspects playing the role of a "man". I like carrying something heavy for a woman or holding their hand as they walk across slippery ice in those god-awful pointy, heely shoes that have no grip what-so-ever.


But should you really class something like being helpful as a "male" aspect?



Chivalry is cool, and I like it.


Its a term that's been made up to describe specifically a male being helpful to a female.


It's a way to show how much we men really appreciate everything women in our lives have done for us, because we LOVE to be nurtured and looked after, well, I do at least.


Dont we all.


Anyways, just making the point that your whitewash of gender roles is descriptively inadequate, and needs a little fine tuning to reflect the truth of the matter,


Which would be?


which is so often a theme in opposing viewpoints....the black is wrong, the white is wrong and the truth is hanging out somewhere in the gray area.

Women, as well as men, should be free to pursue their own good in their own way as long as it brings no harm to another.



What i really wanted to highlight in the article was that women are fully capable of surviving, but somewhere in human history, gender roles were constructed and they have limited both men and women in their progression. By teaching men they are only good for brute strength, they may never acknowledge and recognise their other unique individual aspects of their personality - They may, for example, make better nurturers. They might be better at gaining and passing on knowledge. They could be natural visionaries.
If you teach a woman her only place is to nurture then you are faced with the same limited outcomes. She'll never recognise that she might be more resourceful than others, she may never apply her mind to the science's because "its not her place"
When you tell someone "this your role" you ignore all of the qualities they possess and instil only a few wanted traits - How strong are you/how well can you nurture? This thinking in itself i feel is somewhat destructive and undermining of mother-nature.



posted on Jan, 1 2013 @ 04:14 PM
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Originally posted by GreenGlassDoor
Only if you were getting your information from the Flintstones is this article groundbreaking. Otherwise it is fairly consistent with the current viewings of anthropolgy and archaeology.

The view of "natural gender roles" as defined by 'females clinging to males' is a myth and I am unaware of any academic literature that takes that view seriously. Most people get a simplified version of the narrative and never have to suffer through the actual reading in college.

One thing that is important is that male mortality was and is higher. From fetus onward. So while hunting implements are found in male burial mounds, the skeletons of males have rodeo injuries.


The article further states that hunting implements were found in female burial grounds. Men were also found buried with pots and such, perhaps they were not hunters?



In an era before formal medicine a significant injury was a death sentence. These injuries typically coincide with large game hunts, where brute strength played a role in bleeding an animal to death (firearms typically involve killing an animal via hydrostatic shock).


Did you not read the part about hunting using nets and how it does not require brute strength? You must have skipped over it




Which ever way you want to spin it, male strength is often more pronounced than female strenght, even after you removal social pressures for muscle development. Moreover, male bones and ligaments are more dense than female's. This means that a rodeo injury is less likely to be fatal for a male, than a female due to the force needed to destroy the same structure.



Indeed, but what difference does that make when you are not hunting by using purely brute strength? If you can catch an animal in a net that provides 6-pounds worth of meat and have the majority of your diet consists of berries and other naturally growing consumables - Then really what difference does strength make? Women and children just as much as part of the hunting as what the men where - they lacked gender roles and they survived better for it.


Neanderthals, and possibly early homosapiens, were polyamorous. This would be a good survival trait, because when the transition happened from sustenance to surplus (that is enough meat from a rabbit to an excess from a bear), comparative anthropology puts forward that women probably used sexual selection for control -an activity we see today in primates and some tribes in the South Pacific. In fact, some of the women in those tribes engage in activity that would be fit for the Penthouse forum. Simply, the "natural" role of males in early humans was one of replacability.


Would very much enjoy a link to back up this claim



It wasn't until humans began domesticating animals and plants for an agrarian society did women become relegated as property, but that is another story.


Yes it is, but im just publicly debunking the myth that women have always been dependent on men to go out and hunt. Which makes them sound rather... pathetic. History has falsely reported on how it all came to be and look what we've done fitting people into boxes based purely on their gender, its monstrous!



posted on Jan, 2 2013 @ 05:59 AM
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Originally posted by RedmoonMWC
In pre-Christian societies the sexes were much more equal than many historians and archeologists would like to believe.
While there were gender roles, specifically toward women of child-bearing age, the women in many of these societies held a lot of power.



And what roles are you referring to? Because this article is saying that both men and women hunted, They were not separated by gender roles so i fail to see what you're roles your referring to?



It was the woman of the house who controlled the finances and food distribution.



Is that an opinion or do you have something to back it up with?


Most men and women today would find it very difficult to live the way their ancestors did, performing the gender specific duties mandated by nature.


There are no "gender specific duties mandated by nature" That's exactly what this article dispels.



While women and men are for the most part able to perform the same duties, the separation of roles is logical when you consider the survival of the species.


There were no separated roles, they all worked together regardless of gender and still survived? I would say, had it been the case of "Men go hunting, women stay at home" they wouldn't have gotten very far.



Someone has to Hunt and Protect the Tribe; all could fight and in many societies all were trained in the use of weapons, but only women could bear children.


Again, have you got any evidence to back up this claim? This article (if you bothered to read it) Clearly states that Men, Women AND children took part in hunting. It also states that MEAT was NOT the main staple of the diet as to much meat will lead to protein poisoning and then DEATH. Yes, women bared children, but that was not all they did (As if often made out)


While a woman was pregnant her ability to perform many duties traditionally ascribed to men were severely restricted, purely by the fact that she was pregnant.


But those "duties" were not "traditionally ascribed to men" The nature of surviving out in the wild is an instinct for every living thing regardless of gender. People and animals will do what they need to survive - and that doesnt require "Brute strength" its requires knowledge and practise of skill.



While women were restricted in what they could do, men were also.
My point is that the separation of gender roles was not a “man made” separation, rather one made by nature.


My point is there never where "Natural gender roles" People worked as a unit, regardless of gender, in order to survive. They didnt limit their chances by subjecting themselves on the idea's of "strength vs nurturing" capabilities. They didnt try and kill six a half thousand pound mammoths because they would surely die, so they hunted smaller pray, such as foxes, and besides that, their diets consisted mainly of naturally growing foods - berries and roots etc.

Gender roles were made by man. This is clear evidence of the assumption.



posted on Jan, 2 2013 @ 07:23 AM
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Very good read, I've been reading it at work for an hour. Nice find



posted on Jan, 2 2013 @ 09:30 AM
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reply to post by SearchLightsInc
 


1. We've known about transgender graves from the early neolithic for years now. This robs you of that straw man myth your dispeling, as it shows that there were gender roles, but sex did not necessarily assign people to those roles. So if you're wondering why some men were buried with pots and in the orientation of a female (e.g. the way the body faces), the answer could very well be you're looking at somebody whose considered phenotype was potentially that of the opposite sex.

2. No, I did not skip over it, but apparently you did or do not understand the difference between small game and large game. 6 pounds of meat means you're catching something about the size of a large house cat with a net. When you consider that humans are carniverous apes and our early nutrition consisted of mostly meat sources, the need to switch from small game to large game becomes apparent.

3. Any anthropolgy source that cover "hetaerism" will get into the polyamory bit. The problem, is proving it, as we don't have writings from the paleolithic or upper neolithic, so a lot of the conclusions are drawn via comparative anthropology. If you want a popular book you can pick up at your local library try Ryan's Sex at Dawn.
edit on 2-1-2013 by GreenGlassDoor because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 2 2013 @ 10:13 AM
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Originally posted by GreenGlassDoor
reply to post by SearchLightsInc
 


1. We've known about transgender graves from the early neolithic for years now. This robs you of that straw man myth your dispeling, as it shows that there were gender roles, but sex did not necessarily assign people to those roles. So if you're wondering why some men were buried with pots and in the orientation of a female (e.g. the way the body faces), the answer could very well be you're looking at somebody whose considered phenotype was potentially that of the opposite sex.


The article says nothing about transgender but specificity states "female" and "male" It clearly shows there weren't any gender roles. Which helps dispel the myth of their being "natural" gender roles.



2. No, I did not skip over it, but apparently you did or do not understand the difference between small game and large game. 6 pounds of meat means you're catching something about the size of a large house cat with a net. When you consider that humans are carniverous apes and our early nutrition consisted of mostly meat sources, the need to switch from small game to large game becomes apparent.


Would love to see some evidence to back up this claim



3. Any anthropolgy source that cover "hetaerism" will get into the polyamory bit. The problem, is proving it, as we don't have writings from the paleolithic or upper neolithic, so a lot of the conclusions are drawn via comparative anthropology. If you want a popular book you can pick up at your local library try Ryan's Sex at Dawn.


What?



posted on Jan, 2 2013 @ 10:35 AM
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reply to post by SearchLightsInc
 


Seriously, take an anthropolgy class if this stuff interests you. Any community college worth its weight will have one plus the lab work that goes along with it. You wouldn't have to ask me to prove anything because you'd already be familiar with things like the "killer ape theory".

So rather than having to play your silly game, let's just make it easy: what "myth" are you dispelling? Name it.



posted on Jan, 2 2013 @ 10:53 AM
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Originally posted by GreenGlassDoor
reply to post by SearchLightsInc
 


Seriously, take an anthropolgy class if this stuff interests you. Any community college worth its weight will have one plus the lab work that goes along with it. You wouldn't have to ask me to prove anything because you'd already be familiar with things like the "killer ape theory".

So rather than having to play your silly game, let's just make it easy: what "myth" are you dispelling? Name it.


The myth i stated in the very first line of the OP...

What makes this so silly is that im discussing the subject of an article with someone who did not read the very same article i posted... Nor do you understand the point of this thread it seems. I thought it was perfectly clear by the title, i am dispelling the popular assumption that nature has assigned "gender roles" to men and women, when clearly, that is not the case, the article listed backs up my claim.

Surely i couldn't have been any clearer?



posted on Jan, 2 2013 @ 11:02 AM
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Gender conformity is a human invention, just like clothing and language.
I'm sure in some instances division of labor would be beneficial, but not gender based



posted on Jan, 2 2013 @ 11:16 AM
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By the Ay I finished the article, it was very interesting to say the least. I've always questioned the dominating theory that men were and are dominant over women.

I grew up living in the middle of the woods. My brother and I set traps (I'm male). My mother grew some vegetables and we had a few fruit bearing trees as well. My father would go hunting, but in fifteen years only ever got two deer. We lived quite nicely on the rabbits and squirrels, some crayfish too.


We also grew various herbs and seasonings to flavor the food, and for medicine as well.





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