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Men and patriarchy are continuously maligned nowadays as prime factors behind the ills of the societies that mankind has built for thousands of years. Economic class hierarchies and grossly uneven distribution of goods; violence, from schoolyard fights to global wars and potential nuclear obliteration of life on planet Earth; subjugation and abuse of whole classes of people ("inferior races", women, homosexuals); the drive to dominate nature and its destructive ecological results; greed and the accumulation of unneeded goods; and so on. The ills that, rightly or wrongly, have been attributed to patriarchy, are countless.
How did patriarchy come about? Thanks to the work of anthropologists like Marija Gimbutas, we have very good theories about this.
The broad outlines of the story are as follows. Back in the Paleolithic, personkind worshipped fat, round, and above all, female, Earth/Fertility Goddess figures, as exemplified by the famous Venus of Willendorf. Hunter-gatherer societies are known to be quite equitative, and there is no reason to expect Paleolithic bands to have been any different in this regard.
So we have small bands of hunter-gatherers with no real class structure; the only identifiable division of labor is a fairly natural one, based on sex and age, where the females and elderly gather plants and seeds and tend for the young, while the males in prime age hunt. And these productive activities were not equal in yield; gathering provided at least 75% of the caloric intake, meaning that women were the primary economic producers.
The brutality of Paleolithic life meant that all labor was directed at subsistence-- even the crafting of statuettes of the female deities, or the painting of representations of game animals must be understood as subsistence labor, even if it had no real effect. Since there was not a surplus of production, these societies simply could not sustain a class that lived off the work of others. And, indeed, this was the case.
But then comes along the Neolithic with the agricultural revolution. Land becomes a valuable commodity. As agriculture spreads, land becomes scarce. Out of this arises a new social order based around property. And of course, since property can only be based on force, this leads to a series of easily observable changes in the societies, which still plague us to this day:
This is a standard feminist story (which could be told in far more detail) so far, which, although being very controversial, is quite plausible. However, to get to the point of this article: the story leaves a crucial fact out. Who discovered agriculture? Given the division of labor in Paleolithic society, it is an inescapable conclusion that the discovery of agriculture, the seed (no pun intended) which germinated into this forest of social strife, must have been the product of women. We are thus, in presence of what must be the greatest irony of human history-- patriarchy came into being because of the actions of women!
Thus, patriarchy and all of the accompanying social ills that plague our communities today can be traced to the actions of women who, out of their curiosity and inclination towards laziness, transformed the production relationships and technology of their societies in such a way so as to alleviate their work load as gatherers. However, in hindsight, this turns out to have been very misinformed.
There is a lesson to be drawn from this. Quite simply, women should know their place in society, and execute the tasks that tradition has set out for them. Anthropology, through the present example, shows that when women attempt to change their status within society, evil ensues.