Foundation

Poison of patriarchy

This video is a summary of the textual post. The thumbnail is a copy of the drawing Murder of Hypatia from the 19th-century book of Louis Figuier, by an unknown artist. Hypatia was a brilliant philosopher and astronomer from Alexandria tortured to death by Christian zealots in the 5th century

Introduction

In the previous article about cars and trucks, I promised that I will write about the absurdities of stratification, but after some consideration, I decided to use instead of the word “poisons.” Absurdity seems too weak to express the damage of phenomena, which stratification created. One of them is patriarchy,

History  

Patriarchy could be viewed as an example of the regress of humanity to the stage apehood. It is well-known that, with the single exceptions of bonobos, all our predecessors, the great apes form a strictly patriarchal social structure.  In apes case, it makes sense: the strongest, the fittest male passes his genes to his progenitors.  That is how usually evolution works. But Homo Sapiens is not another species of apes, and overcoming and abandoning the patriarchal pattern was necessary for our survival hundreds thousand years ago. During the period of Glaciers, other hominids, who, most likely, were not able to do it, parished. The greatest of Homo Sapiens is that it replaced the “dictatorship” of the leading male by egalitarianism based on altruistic cooperation instead of competition was critically necessary during the Glaciers era.

According to many modern archeologic and anthropological theories, the Homo Sapiens throughout the Paleolithic era lived in small, matrilineal groups, which can be viewed as some form of extended families. There is no evidence that one gender dominated another. However, each of the genders has it’s respective role: women were gathering edible plants and mushrooms while men were hunting for animals, which were the source of meat, skins used for closing and bones for tools. There, most likely, the existed certain forms of religious beliefs based on cult o feminity and animalism. Such conclusions are based on numerous finds of feminine figurines and cave paintings depicting animals.

Around 12 000  years ago began the so-called agricultural revolution when hunter/gatherer began to domesticate some plants and animals such as sheep, goats or pigs, becoming agriculturalists, build permanent dwellings to settle down. It looks that some groups continued the old egalitarian structure based on cooperation. However,  as time passed, it was more and more replaced by the system of owners of private properties. That introduced a possibility of stratification: the owners of larger pieces of land became more affluent and could afford a more comfortable lifestyle.

However, there is no evidence that equality of gender status was destroyed.  On the contrary, the cult of feminity seems to continue and expand what can be inferred from finding a plethora of female figurines, more shapely and ornamented than old paleolithic  “Venuses.” These agricultural societies were able to form, relatively sophisticated, complex social structures. There existed large proto-cities reaching over 20,000 inhabitants in Indus valley.

However, some hunters/gatherers evolved into a different social and economic form: the pastoralist. They based their livelihood on herding a large number of such animals like cattle, goats, sheep, and, later on, horses.

Since a large herd of animals required a substantial amount of food, pastoral tribes, in contrast to agriculturists, often were engaged in conflicts competing for the pasture land. This could be one of the contributing factors for the re-emerging of the male genetic drive of domination. There are theories  that, during the paleolithic period of hunters/gatherers, the male tendency to dominate was “suppressed by the purposeful effort of the rest of the  social group, which has not tolerated the symptom of “big man.” In the still existing pastoral societies, male domination is present but often is mitigated by leaving some social powers to women.    

Around 5000 years ago,  neolithic pastoral societies discovered that the horse could be used not only as the source of milk and meat but also for riding and pulling war chariots. That made possible fast relocations, leading to organize and expand the tribal conflicts into wars. Also, the pastoralists invented the technology of smelting the iron, to produce weapons, superior to already existing bronze. It was a catastrophic turning point: war and aggression became the ongoing factors of the history of humanity. First, it was used to dominate one pastoral tribe by another, but quickly it was expanded for conquering agricultural societies.

The presence of wars also changed relations between men and women: the aggressive behaviour which was not only tolerated but considered as a necessary attitude during wars. It extended to the weaker gender of society: the women. Their role was reduced to primarily serving men and producing offsprings.

The pastoralists from steppes of present Russia began to invade the agriculturalists in Europe and northern and middle India. The pastoralist from the Arabian peninsula, which at that time thanks to the moister climate, was pasture land, invaded the whole Middle East but stopped at  Egypt, which managed to create on its own defense system. How patriarchy took hold in China is not entirely clear, but at a similar time, it  was already present

Since pastoralists were less numerous than subjugated agriculturalists, to propagate their offsprings, they created polygamy, so one man could own several women as wives.

We can safely say that around 4000 years ago, the old matrilineal social system and femininity based religions were entirely abolished, and the patriarchy became the dominant order of humanity.  The women were socially, politically and economically placed below men. This, in a milder form, continues until now.

Violence

The new patriarchal order was imposed by undisguised and cruel violence. Some written documents attest to this process, like Lament Ur and similar, which are describing the fall of Summerian cities to the inviting Semitic tribes, which were fiercely patriarchal. Looking at numerous documents when the invaders were fully established, like the codex of Hammurabi,  we can see how strongly they emphasize the superiority of men over women.  

Echos of this violence, we can discover in various mythologies such as Greek or Judaistic. The rape of the nymph Europe by Zeus, capturing of Persephone by Hades or laying responsibility for fall from paradise on the curiosity of Eve and changing of the wife of Lot into a pillar of salt are not only amusing fairytales – they echos of what was going on.  They symbolize the use of rape as a tool of subjugation and punishing of women for disobedience.  It is difficult to imagine what really was happening, but the violent shift from gender equilibrium to male domination certainly was not smooth.

Much later, ample written documents provide evidence of the efforts to disempower women of influence,  which in a much less obvious form, still persists. All over Europe, until the 18th century, continued ceremonial burning of witches because religious Christan authorities were afraid that they were recipients of some ancient knowledge, which can undermine the power of the Church. Note that the word “witch” or Slavic “vedma” the “women of wisdom” originate PIE root “vede,” which meant knowing.  

Religions

However, sheer violence was not sufficient. To complete the legitimization of the patriarchal domination, the ruling upper class had to eradicate any traces of the preceding era. The most crucial tool in this process played the new religions replacing old, based on feminity by patriarchal ones. Some of these new religions like Greek or Norther European, later on, disappeared, because others,  more ruthless and organized, eliminated both: the old feminine ones, and the competition, which was not patriarchal enough. Those victorious continue to dominate until now, in the form of Judaism and its offshoots: Christianity and Islam, and Hinduism in India. Around 2,500 years ago, also emerged the nontheistic Buddhism in India and Taoism in China. Though they were theoretically not patriarchal, in practice, the role of women played in Buddhism was minimal and in Taoism none.

The new religions were based on some tribal legends and formulated in a coherent and convincing form by a new ruling class, the priests and poetic bards. The best known is the Judaistic mythology presented later as the Old Testament. Also, very popular because of its fascinating stories and beautiful art is the Greek mythology, which kept some feminine deities like Aphrodite, which has been morphed from ancient Astarte, the goddess of fertility or Egyptian Isis. However, without exception, the male gods play the leading roles.

The new religions were imposed upon the whole population, and any resistance was not tolerated. Eventually, in Europe, polytheistic religions were eliminated, and by the Middle Age, Christianity was ruling, while in Asia, from present Turkey eastwards, including the west-north of the Indian peninsula as well as in the whole northern Africa, became the territory of Islam. The source of both was Judaism, which in its strict form was and is limited only to its original creators, the Jews. Hinduism remains in the eastern and partially southern parts of the Indian peninsula, while in China, religion is fundamentally based on the cult of masculine ancestors with an added mixture of Taoism and Confucianism.

Independently, the pre-Columbian cultures of South America were a mixture of ancient animalistic magic and, later on, the cult of the male god of Sun.  They were leaning towards the patriarchy, but not as ruthlessly as Christianity, which was imposed after the Spanish and Portuguese invasions.

Adoration of war 

While the role of religions in imposing and reinforcing patriarchy must not be underestimated, it was accompanied by two other forms of patriarchy: the cult of wars and powerful war leaders. From the beginning, patriarchy and violence were inseparable: there is no concrete evidence that any egalitarian society transformed itself into patriarchal stratification without some kind of violence and war. At times when war appeared, a successful soldier needed physical strength and prowess, so men had a distinct advantage. Since wars were complex affairs, the participants needed leaders who, in turn, became symbols, which could be emulated and adored. Obviously, they were men.

Such an attitude toward wars has not stopped and continues until now. It penetrated the culture: literature, visual art and philosophy and became reinforced by the education system, commerce – war toys,  and in modern media war and violence is the favourite theme of the computer games. Also, the adoration and cult of war heroes became an expression and symbol of patriotism.

Battles and wars render themselves as an ideal subject for exciting and colourful literary descriptions,  such as Homer’s Iliad or Arian Vedas, which are considered treasures of literary culture and religion. The warriors also became a favourite model for the sculpture and paintings presenting them in full armour, sometimes subjugation their enemies. Roman triumphal reception of returning victorious generals or consuls and emperors were main national celebrations. Later on, when frequent, genociding invasions (Huns, Goths, Visigoths, Mongols, Crusaders) were happening one after another, their victorious chiefs are still admired for their ruthlessness and skills and often, like Gengis Khan, became the official national hero of Mongolia.  

Of course, all of that adoration applies exclusively to men, the main actors in this millennial, bloody dramas. Women were only the victims raped, murdered or enslaved. This culture of military men continues until now.  When occasionally, in some western countries, a woman serves as a high ranking officer, it is a gesture of political correctness, proving freedom from prejudice.

Economy and Politics

As civilization progressed, the wars cease to be the only way to attain superiority and power. Closely related to war were the economy and politics. Economy, based on the power of possessing large private property, even before the war, was the earliest form of stratification. However, it not necessarily implied the ruthless form of patriarchy. There existed societies,  such as Mycenean,  where in spite of the existence of luxurious private palace, women played an important social role when men were absent during their seafarer voyage. However, later on, economic power, as a rule, was the domain of men. Only very recently, women are somewhat present among the economic elite. However, among the 20 wealthiest billionaires, only two are women, where one of them by association with her husband: Alice Walton co-owner of Walmart.

The politics should be divided between the external (between several states) and internal (within one state). Initially, the first one was used for forge alliances needed for a successful invasion or defence and/or to gain economic and territorial power. Since such politics were interrelated with wars, it was exclusively the province of men.

As the size of some states grew, and their internal structure progressively was more and more complex, there emerged a need for internal political hierarchy. Its structure began with the ruler of the state, through various layers of power and wealth,  to the lowest level of bureaucracy, where each of them had its own degree of power. The people involved in high political positions, until recently, were only men with a few exceptions like Hatshepsut, the woman Pharaon of Egypt, or latter on, queen Elisabeth I of England or Emperess Catherina the Great of Russia, who successfully ruled their countries. However, these exceptions have not influenced the view that the high position of power in a state should belong exclusively to men.

Admittedly,  it somewhat changed, There are successful women politicians in some, more liberal, democracies. However, we must remember that the first democracy, born in antiquity in  Athens, women had no right to vote during elections. It changed very slowly, and only in the 19th century, women began to gain this privilege. But in one of the cantons of Switzerland, it happened as recently as 1990. It shows that patriarchal domination was very resistant to losing even small fragments of its power.

Culture

The culture is understood here in a very general sense: it embraces language, art, literature, philosophy, medicine, science, technology and mathematics.

We begin with the most fundamental element of culture – language. When the human language has developed, we will never know, since writing was invented hundreds thousand years later, and the presence or absence of spoken language has not left any genetic traces. However, judging from the existence of formidable technological development, which required close and coordinated cooperation, such as creating clothing, must have happened no later than the first Glacier period.  

The languages mirrors the development of social concepts, among others, patriarchy. Since the pre-patriarchal scripts remain undecoded, we are left only with following them kinds of writing, developed later, during the patriarchal era. They were used to describe laws, legends, financial and historical records. However, despite efforts to hide the ancient feminine aspects of mythologies, we can observe traces of old female deities and the efforts to replace them by masculine ones.

In modern languages, patriarchal domination is omnipresent, and recent efforts to moderate them are often artificial, unsuccessful and often even ridiculous. Even the word “woman” is created as the addition of “wo” to the root “man.”The key terms describing our social ideals are invariably masculine, like patriotism, brotherhood or fatherland, and the main priests in Orthodox Christianity are called Patriarchs.  The Chinese veneration of ancestors means only fathers. An interesting exception is Russian, where their country is called “Mother Russia,” and the main river is “Mother Volga.” Perhaps it is because patriarchal Christian indoctrination was not successful, and some ancient, less patriarchal cultural traces have not been as successfully eradicated as in the West.

The base of Western culture, the ancient Greek philosophy, was fiercely patriarchal. The famous philosopher Aristoteles praised not only slavery but also said: “proper wife should be as obedient to the husband as a slave to master .” All ancient Greek philosophers were men, with one exception of Alexandrian philosopher Hypatia, who was tortured to death by a Christian mob. But in general, the idea that a woman may be of some intellectual value was unthinkable for Greeks and Romans.

Later on, nothing has been changed until recently: all philosophers, painters, sculptures until now are invariably men. Even in the 20th century,  the double Nobel prize winner Maria Curie-Skłodowska was rejected to join the membership of the French Academy of Science because she was a woman. Also,  there is no single, genuinely renowned economist nor engineer who was or is a woman. It is the result of a deeply ingrained belief that women are much less gifted in such areas. Consequently, from early childhood, girls are offered dolls and boys little toy motorcars and engines. Later on, the atmosphere in schools reinforces this stereotype and women are delegated to professions which patriarchal society decides as fitting.

Can something be done?

I could continue to show the all-pervasive patriarchal indoctrination and the results, but I think what is presented above is sufficient. Instead, I decided to look at the much more difficult topic: can something meaningful be done to eradicate the millennia’s patriarchal poison?

Clearly, during the last two and half-century, this problem has been recognized, and some efforts have been made to change this painful situation. But most of the actions are somewhat superficial and not very successful. Political correctness and changing the term “chairman” into “chairperson” are not very impressive. It is because our current efforts focus on curing the symptoms rather than eliminating the root of the patriarchal disease.

If we really want to do it, we have to realize that patriarchate is only one of many symptoms and consequences of a much larger problem, which is the social and economic stratification. Without returning to the original human fully egalitarian structure adapted to the modern accomplishments in science, technology and medicine, while being aware that the masculine, aggressive genetical inheritance may try to reoccur,  the patriarchal toxins may change its format, but will not be entirely removed.

In other words, if we really want to remove patriarchal domination, we have to focus on getting rid of the stratification altogether. The piecemeal approach would not work. 

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