Sexual Politics

Several comments today set me thinking about men and women, and sexual politics.

These days the discussion mostly centres around the equal abilities and rights of men and women in most respects, and the need for this equality to be reflected in status, pay, etc.

But rather than dive into all that, I’d like to ask: What happened in the remote past that resulted in the emergence of a patriarchal society in which men were the masters and women were servants? Because it seems to have been that way for thousands of years. And yet before that, it seems it wasn’t.

I’d like to sketch out one possible explanation why some societies were patriarchal societies, and some were matriarchal.

And in looking at this I’d like to consider something that women can definitely do much, much better than men can do. And it’s that women can have babies, and men can’t.

I’ll start with matriarchal societies,  and to do so I’d like to go back 100,000 years to the beginning of the last ice age (which only ended about 10,000 years ago). Humans were around in fairly small numbers throughout this ice age. Their numbers never seemed to grow much. And during that ice age, several human cousin species – Homo Erectus and Homo Neaderthalensis – died out. Homo Sapiens – us lot – is the sole surviving hominid species.

And this rather suggests that life was pretty difficult for humans and other hominids during the ice age. And that life was hard work, with neither plants nor animals being very abundant. Toiling humans probably died young. They may also have died of exposure when temperatures dropped very low. And because they died young, it was necessary to keep the numbers up. So women probably had to produce lots of children, to keep the numbers up. During this time, it was probably human female fecundity that kept the human race in existence at all. And accordingly, women were given very high status, in what was a long era of the Great Mother. In fact, matriarchs probably controlled human societies.

And that’s how it was throughout the ice age, and probably for several thousand years after the ice age ended, and gave way to our current warm inter-glacial period. At the start of this new warm period, plants grew more strongly, animal numbers rose, and it became a lot easier for humans to find food, and so they didn’t have to work so hard, and also they didn’t die as young as they had during the ice age. And as a result of this, human numbers started rising, and humans started colonising the whole planet (if they hadn’t done so already).

But after a few thousand years, as human numbers kept on rising, new problems start cropping up. In some places, human numbers outstripped the ability of the land to support them (and all this was before humans started cultivating the land), and they either died or invaded other human-occupied territories. Wars started breaking out. And it was the men whom the matriarchs sent out to fight.

And it was at this point that human female fecundity ceased to be as beneficial as it had been during the ice ages, and started being a big problem. And something had to be done about it. The women who had once been the greatest human asset became its greatest liability. And this was the end of the Great Mother. Whereas once the birth of a daughter would have once been cause for celebration, it now became cause for grief. Sons became far more preferable than daughters. And human society flipped from being matriarchies to patriarchies. Men became the bosses.

And they imposed stringent regulations on reproduction. Only women who had been licensed to reproduce (in marriage) were permitted to do so. Unlicensed women were kept out of sight, more or less under armed guard, and sworn to lifelong chastity. Women either married, or they became nuns. In both cases, they were tightly chaperoned.

At the same time, quite a few men became the male equivalent of nuns: they became monks, with similar vows of chastity.

But the restrictions on men were probably never as strong as those on women. Hence the emergence of the sexual “double standard” by which it was wrong for women to be sexually promiscuous, but all right for men. And this double standard arose because the more that women were sexually promiscuous, the more babies were born. But the more that men were sexually promiscuous (with a restricted number of women), it made little difference to the number of babies – because men don’t have babies.

And this was the beginning of an era of sexual repression, in which women were almost completely forbidden from sexual relationships, and men were also (but not completely) forbidden.

And there would have been a great deal of sexual frustration, not only among all the women locked up behind closed doors in nunneries and marital homes, but also among men who found few sexual opportunities in an almost woman-free world.

And so this was probably when prostitution began. And this institution allowed a lot of men to have sex with a relatively few women, many of whom were probably infertile. And this was possible because, in theory, women can have sex with hundreds of men in one day, in ways that men can’t reciprocate.

And it was probably also a time when homosexuality became rampant, as frustrated men turned to other men, and frustrated women to other women. And also adults turned to children. And animals. Because none of these sexual practices produced children.

And that’s how it has remained for the past few thousand years. And if it has begun to change now, it’s because human food technologies have improved vastly, and also human birth control measures, and much else. Educated young women can now have as much sex as they like without also having babies. They no longer need to be kept locked into marriages and nunneries to stop them doing so. And so sexual morality has relaxed. And many more marriages break up as a result of marital infidelity. And women have begun to reclaim their status in society in the Western world, if not in other more backward countries.

There could probably be a lot more added to this account of changing sexual politics, and the changing status of women, but to my mind it’s one which is above all a rational account, of humans facing one set of problems (too few children living too short lives during the ice age) and then the exact opposite set of problems (too many children living for too long when the warm interglacial period got under way) responded accordingly. And it’s not an account which is in the least bit about equality or rights or fairness and all the other things that currently dominate the discussion.

If anyone’s interested, I wrote quite extensively about sex and reproduction on my Idle Theory website here and here and here. And about ice ages here. They’re not things that I’ve been thinking about recently, so these are some quite old ideas of mine that I’ve been articulating tonight.

Anyway, that’s the gist of my theory. And I reckon that when the next ice age starts (and it’s due to start pretty soon, because these interglacial periods never last long), and we all start dying like flies, the girls will probably soon be back in charge.

About Frank Davis

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20 Responses to Sexual Politics

  1. Marvin says:

    A good theory Frank, but the origin of patriarchy is much more recent, about 6 to 8,000 years ago, centered in the north of Africa.
    There is no archeological evidence for an earlier time. No moats, forts etc.
    This also makes sense because the humans around at the time would have migrated south during the ice-age, to warmer climes.

    What today is the Sahara desert, used to be lush, green, rainforest, with rivers and lakes.
    And for some reason (still unknown) it started to dry-up 6 to 8000 years ago and desertification spread outwards to what is today the Middle-East.

    What was once a plentiful food supply, slowly became scarce and tribes with no food attacked those with the food.
    If the conquered tribe had a settled, farming existence, they were subjugated and put to work (growing more food) by the conquerers.
    In this way the chief of the conquering tribe and his henchmen acquired the food surplus.*

    Now the chief has an economic interest in curtailing the sexual activity of the masses, (they are there to WORK for HIM).
    And especially his wife/wives, because he needs to be certain that the children who will inherit his wealth are his own!!!
    This is the origin of womens sexual repression by men.

    Also worth noting, is the sadism, unique to patriarchal societies since they emerged.
    This is due to the mass sexual repression of those societies (originally instilled by the ruling class and their agents).

    An absolutley stunning PhD thesis on the topic of patriarchy is available here…
    It’s expensive but well worth the read.

    *This is the primary accumulation of capital (the origins of ‘capitalism’ – ‘groans’)

    • Frank Davis says:

      the origin of patriarchy is much more recent, about 6 to 8,000 years ago

      That’s round about where I have it too, after the last ice age ended, and humans had started to multiply as never before.

      centered in the north of Africa.

      What evidence is there of that? I’ve never heard of it.

  2. Zaphod says:

    I think that Matriarchy will return, and it will very interesting.
    Males are not designed for responsibility. They are expendable risk-takers.
    That’s why most criminals are male.
    The skilful, or lucky, risk-takers get to sire the next generation.
    A natural selection process for maximising skill or luck?

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      If it werent for those risk takers youd be speaking german right now and clicking your heels together.

      • Edgar says:

        Marvin and Zaphod? Post-modern anthropology undergrads who imagine that HHGG is a complete sociological survey of the evil empire of western homo sapiens. Actually, guys, among the Golgafrinchans were the great majority of ‘social scientists’ whatever the fuck they might be.

        • Zaphod says:

          Okay, he is THAT Marvin, but I’m a completely different Zaphod!
          Or maybe just the other head? I forget.
          Yeah, the Golgafrinchan thing does bugger up all the theories, but you should never let facts get in the way of a good theory! :-)

  3. harleyrider1978 says:

    39% of lung donations from smokers

    More than one in three lung transplants in the last three years have been from donors who smoked, Health Minister Earl Howe has disclosed.
    In a written reply, Lord Howe said that between April 2009 and 2012, 39% of lung transplants were from donors “with a past history of smoking”.

    He said all lungs were carefully evaluated to ensure a donated organ does not go to waste if “clinically viable” and there is someone who could benefit.

    Due to a shortage of organs, the patient’s probability of survival is greater if lungs from smokers are accepted than if they were declined.

    Lord Howe said specialist nurses in organ donation evaluate the donor’s smoking history and pass this to the transplant team to make a clinical decision on whether to accept the organ.

    He said the Government was constantly seeking to raise awareness of organ donation and encourage people to add their names to the NHS organ donor register.

    Read more:

  4. harleyrider1978 says:

    UN to Seek Internet Kill Switch Next Month, Documents Show

    Last week, the UN and the dictatorship ruling Azerbaijan hosted the so-called “Internet Governance Forum” (IGF) in Baku under the banner of “Internet Governance for Sustainable Human, Economic, and Social Development.” Critics slammed the forum, the notion of “Internet Governance,” and especially the host regime, known for its barbaric repression of free speech. But while no binding decisions were made there, UN leaders and despots from around the world took the opportunity to prepare for the upcoming ITU summit in Dubai.

    The widely condemned ITU plan calls for reforms that would stifle free speech, regulate social media, force Internet users to pay “fees” for services like Skype and e-mail, and much more. Among the chief problems cited by analysts is a plan to allow UN members — mostly dictatorships — to demand that the ITU shut down content they do not approve of. The scheme would also create a global Internet surveillance regime while permitting governments to restrict or block online information. Anonymity on the Web would become a thing of the past, too.

  5. margo says:

    Well, I’d say you’re right to focus on female fecundity as a key to it all, but I doubt that’s ever been an advantage to women in terms of gaining status or power. And even in hard ice-age times, why would the idea that the species must continue ever occur to anyone’s consciousness? A child is another mouth to feed, and having one slows a woman down and makes her vulnerable (not least, to the male’s superior brute force, which is surely the real key to it all). I also doubt that women ever sent men out to fight; I’d say that was always a male decision.
    Among other species, the female frequently has to protect the young from the father and from other males. This happens in our own species, too, in various ways. I think the ‘protective father’ idea is a feature of quite advanced civilisation, not a primitive one, and probably is also about preserving acquired wealth and passing it down through the male genes. From that perspective, women and children are the property of men.
    I very much doubt that there’s ever actually been a society in which women wielded power outside of the home, though they may often seem to rule the roost within it.

  6. harleyrider1978 says:

    Anybody got any background on this DM2 and smoking lowering insulin levels.

    “After decades of studies, accumulating lines of epidemic evidence have
    suggested that chronic smokers have a higher risk to be insulin
    resistant, exhibit several aspects of the insulin resistance syndrome,
    and develop type 2 diabetes”

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      I shoulda known it leads right back to the WHO! Theyve created a new syndrome / disease

      Criteria for MetS
      The MetS, which is a clustering of risk factors, must be differentiated from the clinical criteria used to identify affected persons.1 The purpose of the latter is to use simple measures to detect individuals who have risk-factor clustering. Detection criteria have evolved over the past decade. The recommended measurements for detection have been conditioned in part by views of the pathogenesis of the syndrome. For example, in 1998, the World Health Organization (WHO) task force on diabetes identified insulin resistance is the dominant cause of the MetS.9 By these criteria, clinical indicators of insulin resistance were required for the diagnosis. But with growing evidence for a critical role for abdominal obesity, the latter has assumed a more important position among diagnostic criteria. The latter led to the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) criteria for the MetS in which the need for demonstration of insulin resistance was replaced by an increased waist circumference (abdominal obesity).6 In the past 2 years, clinical criteria have been largely harmonized. This harmonization is reflected in the American Heart Association (AHA)/ National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) update of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) criteria,1 and the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) recommendations.10 The WHO criteria9 along with those of the AHA/NHLBI1 and IDF10 are summarized in Table 1. Recently a large number of studies have been carried out to determine the prevalence of the MetS in different populations. The majority of epidemiological studies have used NCEP criteria,6 but there have been several comparisons of NCEP criteria with WHO and IDF recommendations for estimating prevalence.

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        It appears the World health Orginization created a whole new syndrome/disease out of this insulin resistance junk. It doesnt take a big leap to figure out after they lowered the BMI average and then toss in lowering the glucose levels to jump straight to smoking causes!

        Read more here:

        • harleyrider1978 says:

          Body Mass Index (BMI) is defined as the ratio of weight (in kg) to height (in meters) squared and is an inexact measure of body fat, though it supposedly establishes cutoff points of normal weight, overweight, and obesity.

          Old definition: BMI > 28 (men), BMI > 27 (women)
          People under old definition: 70.6 million
          New definition: BMI > 25
          People added under new definition: 30.5 million
          Percent Increase: 43%

          The definition was changed in 1998 by U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.


          Old Definition: Blood sugar > 140 mg/dl
          People under old definition: 11.7 million
          New Definition: Blood sugar > 126 mg/dl
          People added under new definition: 1.7 million
          Percent increase: 15%

          The definition was changed in 1997 by the American Diabetes Association and WHO Expert Committee on the Diagnosis and Classification of Diabetes Mellitus.

    • margo says:

      There are an awful lot of words there like ‘could’, ‘might’, ‘suggest’ and ‘indicate’, and nothing very definite. It sounds like another long-shot to me.
      From living with a diabetic (Type 1) for a number of years (in the past), I learnt that the sugar/insulin balance was disturbed by:
      emotional upsets and physical illness like injuries, flu and a cold. Booze seemed to lower the sugar level and then raise it, but smoking didn’t seem to have any effect at all.

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        Thanks Margo,every once in awhile the nazis toss another log on the fire………….
        but with everything they say always look deeper and you find its always another play against something else to build a case that led to nothing. But it appears this led to another bunch of made up WHO enacted syndrome……lump it all together and call it a disease or a syndrome or touch it so close you can make a disease connection via meta analysis.

  7. harleyrider1978 says:

    Here we go again with lowering thresholds to sell more Big Pharma drugs………

    DSM-5 Field Trials Discredit the American Psychiatric Association

    The $3 million DSM-5 Field Trials have been a pure disaster from start to finish. First, there was the poor choice of design. The study restricted itself to reliability — the measurement of diagnostic agreement among different raters. Unaccountably, it failed to address two much more crucial questions — DSM-5’s potential impact on who would be diagnosed and on how much its dramatic lowering of diagnostic thresholds would increase the rates of mental disorder in the general population. There was no possible excuse for not asking these simple-to-answer and vitally important questions. We have a right to know how much DSM-5 will contribute to the already rampant diagnostic inflation in psychiatry, especially since this risks even greater overuse of psychotropic drugs.

    • margo says:

      yes, that’s what they do – create diseases, invent ’causes’ and market the drugs to ‘cure’ them.

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        Theyve created LIFESTYLE EPIDEMICS out of thin air……….I believe this is more inticate than the first eugenics movement now back when Darwinism was mainstay science for the progressives and victorians.

  8. beobrigitte says:

    There are some remnants of matriarchal societies, so it would seem all things go “full circle”.

    Educated young women can now have as much sex as they like without also having babies. They no longer need to be kept locked into marriages and nunneries to stop them doing so. And so sexual morality has relaxed.
    And many more marriages break up as a result of marital infidelity. And women have begun to reclaim their status in society in the Western world, if not in other more backward countries.

    Indeed, many more marriages break up as a result of marital infidelity; in times when a woman was financially dependent on a husband she did not have much of an opportunity to survive after a marital breakup. Nowadays most women work (the cost of living can rarely be met by the traditional set-up man = work – woman = housewife) and with that they are less likely to tolerate a straying male and also are more able to meet more people.

    Nevertheless, even though things are changing people’s attitude adjusting takes a little longer. Women are still conditioned to be the person seeking to protect the offspring which makes a lot of them susceptible to listen to fear mongering. When the subject “health” is addressed, it is usually aimed at fearful women. Do these women not understand that they are being abused for someone’s ideology?

    We still have a long way to go for achieving REAL equality.

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