The ecumenical religion of patriarchy

I subscribe to a whole bunch of fundie-survivor/recovering fundie blogs. Libby Anne has a terrific list here of the sort I mean, which she describes as “blogs by individuals who grew up in the Christian Patriarchy or Quiverfull movements and have since questioned and left.”

So I’m used to having posts like the one I quote below pop up in my Google Reader, and I was just kind of skimming quickly without noticing specifically which blog this was from:

… this is what The Cult taught: Historically, there is no such thing as a “teenager” — there were children, and then there were adults. A child is a child until he/she reaches puberty, and then he/she is biologically an adult. “Teenagers” are a modern invention, caused by a godless, indulgent consumerist society, family breakdown, peer pressure, advertising and a lack of discipline in childhood.

Therefore, parents could avoid having their children turn into teenagers by raising them correctly, by instilling the fear of God in them, by teaching them to take on as many adult ritual and behavioral responsibilities as possible when they were still young, and by carefully sheltering them from the wider society. …

I hadn’t heard of The Cult before, but I assumed it was the writer’s shorthand for the Bill Gothard gang, which was where I thought I’d heard this bit about teenagers before. I kept reading and tripped over this:

… Because if we sheltered our kids, they would never get the idea that supposedly typical teenage behavior is in any way normal or acceptable, so they would be much less likely to act that way. And if we kept them securely inside our conservative, insular Muslim bubble as much as possible, then community expectations that they act maturely would be constantly reinforced, and it would be that much harder for them to be rebellious “teenagers.”

Muslim? Wait a second … this isn’t No Longer Qivering? I scrolled up to the top and only then did I realize that this was a post from Sober Second Look — a blog much like many other fundamentalist survivor sites, but dealing with liberation and recovery from oppressively patriarchal Muslim fundamentalism rather than from oppressively patriarchal Christian fundamentalism.

Libby Anne had the same reaction to that same post: “My God, They Really Are the Same.”

This is absolutely word for word identical to what I was told growing up in a Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull evangelical homeschool family. Exactly.

I mean, we’re talking so exact that you could replace a few words – substitute “homeschooling” for “The Cult,” say, and “prayer five times each day, fasting the entire month of Ramadan, and wearing the hijab” with “reading the Bible regularly, praying constantly, and dressing modesty” – and if someone showed it to me I would think I’d read it in No Greater Joy, Above Rubies, a Vision Forum catalog, or any other Christian Patriarchy or Quiverfull magazine.

… So very many of the ideas we were raised on are common to fundamentalism across religions. And yet, we thought we were so very different.

Those similarities are revealing.

Here we have identical gender hierarchies set up with identical approaches to two very different sacred texts. The patriarchal boy Christians and the patriarchal boy Muslims have both selectively gleaned what they needed or wanted from their respective scriptures, and their parallel projects reveal that whatever scripture happens to be the one being mined isn’t really important.

The true religion for PBCs and for their Muslim counterparts is patriarchy itself. Given the choice between patriarchy and the Bible or between patriarchy and the Koran, these boys will choose patriarchy every time.

In other words, their purported allegiance to Christianity or to Islam is just a pretext, not a cause. It is secondary at most, and barely even that. The PBCs and the patriarchal Muslims share the same core religion, and it is neither Christianity nor Islam.

Think of this patriarchal religion like Q, the hypothetical lost Gospel source whose existence we can deduce from studying the Synoptic Gospels.

The first three books of the New Testament — Matthew, Mark and Luke — share a bunch of parallel passages. We’re pretty sure that Mark was written first, and that it was later used as source material by the authors of Matthew and Luke in putting together their later, longer accounts.

That’s easy to see from reading all three books. Chunks of Mark can be found repeated verbatim, or with very slight changes, in both Matthew and Luke.

But there are also other parallel passages in Matthew and Luke that do not come from Mark. That might mean that Matthew copied them from Luke or that Luke copied them from Matthew, but that isn’t what scholars who have closely studied the earliest manuscripts think. They think instead that Matthew and Luke were also both using some other common source — “Q” — which they both drew on in the same way they both drew on Mark’s Gospel.

We have Mark, but we don’t have Q. All we know of it is what we can infer from those identical passages appearing in Matthew and Luke.

So think of patriarchal religion as being like Q. We can’t study it directly because its devotees all pretend they’re actually adherents of some other religion. They pretend to be Christians or they pretend to be Muslims, but really their main allegiance lies with this hidden religion of patriarchy.

We can examine this hidden religion the same way we can examine Q, by studying the parallels — the identical dogmas and rules and teachings shared by patriarchal Christians, patriarchal Muslims, patriarchal Jews, patriarchal Pagans, patriarchal Hindus and even patriarchal atheists.

They claim allegiance to so many different texts and traditions, yet they all wind up in the same place. And the closer I look at these supposedly disparate patriarchal boys across lines of religion, the more I find myself saying just what Libby Anne said, “My God, they really are the same.”

  • Magic_Cracker

    I have often wondered, “Why patriarchy?” Anatomically modern humans have been around for hundreds of thousands of years, but patriarchy for maybe 10,000 years. What was going on  that made patriarchy the It Boy of social organization at the dawn of recorded history?

  • walden

    The “ur-text” is not exactly hidden.  The Hebrew scriptures are shot through with patriarchy.  
    So the modern or progressive Christian enterprise needs to disentangle these culturally-bound concepts from true “revelation”.
    The patriarchal enterprise in contrast, privileges these concepts and regards them (or many of them) as fundamental to the faith.

  • Morilore

    Half-assed uninformed speculation incoming:

    Primitive agricultural societies are more labor-intensive than hunting and gathering, you increase the labor force by increasing the population, the population is most rapidly increased if all fertile adult women are kept pregnant and nursing at all times, this makes women dependent on men, this results in/requires that men have all the power.

  • Aeryl

     This ignores the fact that women are perfectly capable of performing primitive agricultural work and were needed more in the fields than in the birthing bed. 

  • Lliira

    10,000 years is way, way overstating it. 5,000 years AT MOST, and only in certain societies.

    Further, trying to figure out why it happened by reasoning from biology does not work in any sense. Different cultures treated men and women differently. Patriarchy was far from a foregone conclusion, as very many cultures proved and prove. Reasoning backward and acting like this crap we’re stuck with in our particular culture was somehow inevitable — no. It was not. It is not. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NR2MMC4EJXJWJMLH6IF457XL64 Alex B

    “Reasoning backward and acting like this crap we’re stuck with in our particular culture was somehow inevitable — no. It was not. It is not.”
    I don’t see anyone who’s doing this. I’d be very interested in learning about where patriarchy came from, and what cultures that developed it shared, and also what was different about cultures that didn’t develop patriarchy

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     Even most egalitarians are willing to admit that under certain external pressures as occur naturally in large parts of the world in the presence of early humans but the absence of civilization, there are basic biological advantages that make power-grabs by  the males make good evolutionary sense. (Like how human reproduction without modern medicine kills a lot more women than men, making it, on balance, a good idea to limit admission to the riskier occupations to the gender with a lower baseline mortality-rate-due-to-childbirth)

    There’s also certain naturally occurring external pressures that make it good evolutionary sense to eat your children or mate with your sister or wear a mullet. That doesn’t make it a good idea to enshrine those things as the laws of your civilization ten thousand years later when you’ve invented science, medicine, sanitation and mousse.

  • Lliira

    Nope. For the first few thousand years of agriculture, women = farmers. Men = hunters and soldiers. With lots of overlap either way. It is impossible to keep fertile women pregnant/nursing at all times, and no society has ever done it, not by any stretch. Also, pregnant and nursing women worked their asses off.

    “Requires”? NOTHING “requires” that men have all the power, EVER.

    Here is what happened: war. Men were the soldiers because men were more able to fight physically than women, and because men were less valuable than women, fertility-wise. A very few men attained a lot of power through war. Doing so, they attained a lot of women through war (keeping other men from being able to have them — but then, there’s war to get rid of those other men). The entire society was set up by these powerful men in order to aggrandize themselves.

    People seem to forget, in these conversations, that very nearly every single person in those times in the societies we’re talking about (Mesopotamian, pre-Biblical) was a slave. Man, woman, child, didn’t matter, you were a slave. The power differential between men and women did not exist as a power differential between men and women. The difference was between the teeny tiny population of non-slaves and that of everyone else — and women could own slaves and do with them as they wished, just as easily as men could.

    The idea of “freedom” came about eventually, and it was freedom for property-owning citizens. The more freedom became distributed, the more tightly men started clinging to ideas of manhood as equalling freedom. From the Greek ideals of manhood (which required womanhood to be stomped into the ground), to the Renaissance ideals of manhood (ditto), to the Victorian ideals of manhood (they tried to give women the sop/chain of angelic motherhood and we’re still trying to shake that off), to the frenzied, terrified masculism of today’s right-wing religions, professional sports, and Hollywood.

    The separation of men and women into such extreme differences in power only happened when men were freed and decided to act like their former masters. It was not inevitable. It did not happen among many large Native American tribes. Further, “patriarchy” is a misnomer when talking about society in much of Africa, where lineage is traced strictly through women and uncles are the important male figures in children’s lives, not fathers.

    It just so happens that we trace our cultural history from these particular ultra-violent sects which just so happened to decide to smash women to the ground and treat sex like something dirty and dangerous. It did not have to be this way.

  • Magic_Cracker

    10,000 years is way, way overstating it.

    Perhaps. But not my point.

    5,000 years AT MOST,

    Very debatable. Beside the point.

    and only in certain societies.

    Yes. Agreed. Certain societies. All over the world. At roughly the same time.

    trying to figure out why it happened by reasoning from biology does not work in any sense

    Which I didn’t do.

    Patriarchy was far from a foregone conclusion,

    Never said it was.

    as very many cultures proved and prove.

    Indeed. Hence my question — how and why did patriarchy come to dominate? 

    Reasoning backward and acting like this crap we’re stuck with in our particular culture was somehow inevitable — no. It was not. It is not.

    See above. I never said it was inevitable. I just want to know why it happened. What was it going on X thousand years ago that made (some) people in those(certain societies that the egalitarian way of life they’d been living for hundreds of thousands of years needed a radical overall.

    I’m not suggesting there was some single inciting incident, or that a band of hunter-gatherers had a tribal meeting and voted in patriarchy, but people don’t change the way they’ve been living for hundreds of thousands of years for no reason at all.

  • Morilore

    “Requires”? NOTHING “requires” that men have all the power, EVER.

    Sorry about that.

    Your post seems more knowledgable and factual than what I wrote.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    RAW wrote a wonderful reductio ad absurdum of patriarchy in one of his “Historical Illuminatus” books. More or less it went such: if what empowered men to lead was possession of the willy, then would it not follow that the leader of men should be the man with the largest, proudest willy, and that political discussions would all lead to men measuring their willies against one another? 
    The woman thinking of this then laughs at her own idea.

    If anyone actually knows what I’m talking about please post the excerpt; I’ve been searching for it. 

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    It would not seem men would have to be superior in war by dint of their statistically superior muscle mass. Once weaponry is developed, much of that advantage goes away, and what remains can be made up for by ruthlessness and ambush. 

    All it would take would be different social norms and socialization leading to a different concept of war: one that completely eschews honour in favour of minimizing losses and maximizing enemy casualty. 
    I used this for a society in one of my SF universes where the people had been conquered by a vastly superior force which they were only able to overcome through sneakiness, poison, and ambush. Said values become rather entrenched in their later society in both genders.

    That they later become a matriarchy is less from said values as it was one particular hero figure. 

  • http://twitter.com/WayofCats WayofCats

    I know how patriarchy works NOW: it’s a way for immature and insecure men to feel superior in the absence of any good reason.

    Perhaps it has something to do with it at the start?

  • Morilore

    It would not seem men would have to be superior in war by dint of their statistically superior muscle mass. Once weaponry is developed, much of that advantage goes away, and what remains can be made up for by ruthlessness and ambush.

    I recall seeing a Youtube video showing a reenactment of a fight between two mail-clad knights from the European medieval period.  It looked like a bar brawl; the narrator explained that swordfights almost never work the way they do in movies because if swords hit swords, they can break or degrade.  In other words, at least some weapons prior to gunpowder were not powerful enough to be effective equalizers.  However, even the weapons used by societies are inflected by their cultural norms (consider swords and clubs vs. bows and arrows), so you are probably still right.

  • http://twitter.com/RyanWithCupcake Ryan

    A side note: You present the Q hypothesis as more established than it really is. While it is certainly the majority position, there are plenty of Biblical scholars who support alternative hypotheses to explain the synoptics.

  • Carstonio

    With all the Q references, I picture John de Lancie as Satan tempting Jesus.

    The PBCs and the patriarchal Muslims share the same core religion, and it is neither Christianity nor Islam.

    Instead of crosses or stars and crescents, its adherents should wear pendants shaped like male genitalia, for that is their real god.

  • Carstonio

    My own theory is male jealousy of the female ability to bear children, the fear that males are irrelevant by comparison.

  • Carstonio

    Even most egalitarians are willing to admit that under certain external
    pressures as occur naturally in large parts of the world in the presence
    of early humans but the absence of civilization, there are basic
    biological advantages that make power-grabs by  the males make good
    evolutionary sense.

    I could understand strict gender roles under such conditions, but why would evolutionary sense entail having women as subservient to men? Hypothetically, a preindustrial society could have those strict roles but still have equal status for both genders in tribal and familial decision-making. This theory implies that women naturally rebel against bearing and raising children and have to be forced to do so for the good of the society.

  • Kevin

    Men are on average bigger and stronger than women so we can physically control them. This  didn’t start five or ten thousand years ago. It’s feature of human nature. 
    It ought not to be true but it is.
    The patriarchy isn’t a modern invention. It’s a modern name for an ancient thing. There was no golden egalitarian age when men and women rode around hand in hand on pink unicorns.
    The reason this evil is  so persistent is not due to the scheming Patriarchs, it’s because the denial of human nature is so persistent.

  • Morilore

    There was no golden egalitarian age when men and women rode around hand in hand on pink unicorns.

    The reason this evil is  so persistent is not due to the scheming Patriarchs, it’s because the denial of human nature is so persistent.

    You are actually objectively wrong.  Prehistoric hunter-gatherer societies were more sexually egalitarian then agricultural societies.  There may have been no “golden age,” but that doesn’t mean that patriarchy is “human nature.”

  • Kevin Alexander

    You are actually objectively wrong.  Prehistoric hunter-gatherer societies weremore sexually egalitarian then agricultural societies.  

    Evidence please. Even in the last remaining hunter gatherer societies men did men stuff and women did women stuff but the men still ruled and got the lion share of the resources.

  • quinnthebrain

    The reasoning I’ve seen in my studies that sort of makes sense if you squint is the notion that with the arrival of the agricultural revolution (different places at different times, but generally thought to begin about 10,000 yrs ago), societies shift from hunter/gatherer to sedentary, and begin to acquire more stuff.  Land chief among them.  Then the big issues becomes “who inherits my stuff?”  Men wanted their own heirs to inherit their stuff, thus the need to control women’s sexuality to insure that her children were in fact his children.  And bob’s your uncle, patriarchy is encoded.  

  • LL

    One thing that still kind of amazes me is the power of a really shitty idea. 

    If you live long enough, you’ll be part of some group (doesn’t even matter what kind – family, employees, church, stamp-collecting club, whatever, just a group of somewhat likeminded people with specific goals) and there will be some issue/problem/goal and everyone will be asked for their input/ideas, and someone will come up with a stunningly idiotic one. Often, this person is the person in charge. And nobody will mention how stupid the idea is. And the group will act like it’s best freaking idea they’ve ever heard, even while a couple of them look sideways at each other, as if to say, “Holy shit, we’re actually gonna do this incredibly stupid thing.” 

    Because when you are the one person who tells everyone else that an idea is stupid (or even if you phrase it in kinder terms), about 98% of the time, nobody else in the group has the gonads to back you up. They will knowingly proceed with a terrible idea rather than be known as the malcontent or the person who’s being “negative.” And when it all goes tits up, nobody will thank you for being right. Certainly not the idiot who came up with the shitty idea to begin with.

    My theory, anyway, on human history. It’s filled with self-evidently shitty ideas that very few people had enough courage to label as such.  Esp. if the shitty idea benefits some people at the expense of others. From these people’s perspective, it’s an awesome idea, because, duh, it works for them. THEY don’t have a problem with it, therefore, there’s no problem at all. 

    I suspect this is the basis for patriarchy. There’s no actual reason or logic behind it. From an evolutionary perspective, patriarchy makes no fucking sense at all, despite some people’s amusing attempts to slap some sort of “biological imperative” on it, to give it the patina of science. Sometime way back when, some man (or group of men) decided that they’d like to be in charge of everything, esp. the supply of, let’s say, female companions. So they invented a bunch of stupid rules that gave them control over the supply, told everybody else those rules came from God(s) and there you have it. 

    People are stupid. And they’ve always been stupid. They’re slightly less stupid today, compared to, say, 5,000 years ago. But they’re still plenty stupid. 

  • Turcano

    The short answer to this question is a combination of two factors: doubt over paternity and patrilineal inheritance, both in terms of material wealth and especially in status.  Once people start accumulating wealth and status to the point that they can’t consume it all over their lifetime, they have to leave it to someone else, the logical choice for that someone else is their children, and people would rather leave these things to their own children rather than to other people’s children.  Until 1978, maternal parentage was never in doubt, but there is always doubt, no matter how small, in terms of paternal parentage.

  • Worthless Beast

    We all know the justifications for patriarchy in religious circles – when people reference the “women in subjugation” verses and how some even cry “But Eve at the fruit FIRST!!!”

    Having read the Skepchick article… what is it that atheists use for justification?  It would seem to be “You’re an athiest female, therefore you don’t have any religious hangups holding you back from sex, you like, should totally have sex with me!”  I guess? It would sure seem like “complaining about being propositioned” equals threats from people who forget that there are many non-religious reasons why a woman might not want to drop everything and have sex, or see propositioning as a compliment that a man deigns to give her. 

    Urgh.

  • banancat

     I don’t know what book you’re talking about, but penis-measuring contests have been a metaphor for dominance displays or trivial disputes for a very long time.

  • LL

    As for how all this dumb shit (patriarchy) got started, I imagine it started when there were enough people on earth to require some (really dumb) way of deciding who gets what and who’s in charge (let’s say about 8000 B.C.). If you’re some very small group of nomadic people or  maybe just a family, it’s kind of in your best interest to treat the others well, or at least not be a colossal asshole. To cooperate, rather than dictate. You gotta sleep sometime, and you’ll sleep a lot better if you don’t have to worry about being stabbed/bludgeoned to death by the person you’ve spent all day treating like crap. If you’re smart, you don’t want to piss off the people who might have to help you fight off a large predator, or gather food or build a shelter. Your life depends on cooperating, rather than sitting back and telling everybody else what to do. There aren’t a lot of other people, much less female ones, to worry about controlling. You’re mostly worried about yourself and your family, rather than making sure all the females of the other wandering groups behave in a particular way or dress a certain way. When the human race is a hair’s breadth away from extinction, that tends to lend some perspective as to what’s really important. 

    But once there were enough people to form actual communities, your welfare probably didn’t depend quite so much on cooperating with everybody. So you could be a dick to some of them and as long as you still had enough allies, you didn’t have to worry about the ones you’ve screwed over. And then once there were enough people to make all the different groups start coveting the good shit (females, food, weapons) that each group had, you figure why not just go take somebody else’s shit, it’s easier than working for it yourself. That group there has that awesome location right by the river, let’s go kill the males who might be any trouble, keep the fertile females, and move in. That other group has tons of goats, let’s go get ‘em. And so on. 

    Thus, “civilization” was born. 

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     Possibly, but by the time weaponry is developed, power has already accumulated in one place. And historically speaking, there is always a high cost in moving from concentrated power to less concentrated power: it either takes a long time, or involves a lot of heads on pikes.

    There is a recurring historical pattern that whenever there’s a societal collapse, power tends to concentrate, and when times get better, it takes several times longer for power to disperse than it took for it to concentrate.  And if that societal collapse involves things like “death rate in childbirth increases” or “infant mortality increases” or “survivors think they need to make lots of babies NOW to avoid extinction”, that concentration of power tends to be away from women (Even though in many cases this takes the form of “women become highly valued”, because “highly valued” has a tendency to morph into “treated like a valuable commodity“)

  • Becca Stareyes

    You also get bullshit evolutionary psychology arguments that pretty much consist of ‘stereotype/cultural norm must be genetically inherent to all wo/men, therefore do what I say’. Or the standard excuse that because atheists have thrown out religiously-justified patriarchy that they are magic, unbiased, egalitarian beings who are somehow immune to having been raised in a patriarchal society. 

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     To elaborate a bit more: when times are tough, there is a tendency across most societies to come up with a reason to treat people as property. Depending on the preexisting conditions and how bad it gets, this will often extend across all demographics; men, women, children, old, young, etc. You end up with a small number of people who — not necessarily due to any pattern at this stage — either de jure or de facto own everyone else.

    Under a wide variety of these ‘times are tough” scenarios, it ends up being the women from the underclass  who are more valued as property and more protected. Which means that as fortunes wax and wane and people shift in and out of the privileged class, there’s a concerted effort to keep the “high value property” right where it is. 

    (And this is not all that different from how inequality is persisted even today: when times get bad, things get bad across the board. When they get good again, the people who were at the top when things were bad make sure that they don’t get better for whatever groups it benefits them to keep down)

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     One qualifier on that, though: A lot of historical thinking about medieval swordfighting derives from the opinions of 19th century historians, who, being used to the smaller, lighter swords of their own era, made not-always-justified assumptions that the larger, heavier swords of earlier eras were clumsy, brutish weapons. There is reason to think that trained swordfighters of the period would actually have been trading on skill rather than brute strength.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     Shortest answer: Because separate but equal never works out in the long term. Even if it manages to start out that way, the second one side gains an advantage, it figures out how to hold on to it.

    (In fact, it often *did* start out vaguely egalitarian. And then one side gained an advantage and then it wasn’t. The intermediate step is usually “There is a crisis so us hunters need to use our gazelle-killin’ rocks to protect the womenfolk, who are on average less mobile due to some of them being pregnant”)

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     I had a professor decades ago who claimed that almost all primitive societies tend to be matriarchal until they discover that men serve a purpose in reproduction, whereupon they very quickly switch over to being patriarchal.

    As she didn’t give specific examples, I have no idea how accurate this is.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    Having read the Skepchick article… what is it that atheists use for justification?

    Actual example of thing I have heard atheist women say has been used by atheist men for justification:

    “The world must be peopled!” — Much Ado About Nothing, Act II, Sc. 3

  • LMM22

    Ugh, Jesus Christ, people — could we eliminate the armchair anthropology? I’m sick of these discussions, because it seems to consist of a bunch of sexist males on one side and speculation (and appeals to theoretical situations) on the other side. I do think that evidence of convergent social evolution under certain conditions (e.g., most agricultural societies of a certain kind are patriarchal, even if the degree and kind varies) suggests that there are reasons why that feature would be favored, even if it’s not necessarily ideal. Patriarchy may not have been a foregone conclusion, but there’s a lot of evidence that the odds were *really* heavily weighted in its favor.

    That being said (to skip to MY armchair speculation), I think one major issue we’re encountering in fundamentalists is that of “bad faith” (to use the term as Sartre meant it) — that of a mass of people acting out a role they know they are not defined by. Patriarchy in the face of a more egalitarian society looks different (I suspect) than patriarchy as it was — just because that, when that’s the way things are, you really don’t have much to prove by being holier than thou. (I’ve heard that imams are complaining about this — young people are asking them about the “Muslim way” to do things that, until now, were seen purely as secular acts.)

    To Fred’s point, though, I’m going to draw a distinction between the patriarchy of atheists and that of most theistic groups — and it’s one that’s not in the atheists’ favor. We conflate them now, but the sexual revolution and the Second Wave feminist movement were two entirely different movements, separated by about a decade or more (there’s a good argument that the sexual revolution started in the ’20s). Between the two of them, there’s a fairly miserable period in which, essentially, it was acceptable for men to see women as purely sexual beings — and the women really had no way of saying no. Pre-sexual revolution, women could, to some extent, protect themselves from objectification (and sexual advances) by following the code that was handed to them — I’m a good girl, I don’t have sex before marriage, my father would object if he saw you kissing me. Post-Second Wave, women could appeal to the fact that they just weren’t attracted to someone. But between those two periods (see, e.g., Mad Men), women were expected to be sluts, and they really had no socially accepted way to refuse to have sex with someone. (*)

    Most patriarchal theists want to return to the era before the sexual revolution. Most patriarchal atheists (from what I’ve seen) want to return to the era before women’s lib. Patriarchal theists (in theory) want women to be chaste and subservient. Patriarchal atheists want women to be sluts and subservient.

    (*) The story I heard was that much of the Second Wave got off its feet at a rally against the Vietnam War when a female speaker was jeered off the stage. I’d give you a cite for this, but it’s late enough that I really can’t concentrate on anything.

  • Worthless Beast

    The “I am not religious, therefore I am objective (and magically am always right!) ” is something I’ve run into before (on the Internet).  Not even in regards to sexism, either… I remember running into the argument of “I know more about your religion than you do because I took a one-semester college class on comparative religions and am a mighty atheist!” that evolved from a response on a fan board to a thread about a *piece of fiction* where I was pointing out religious symbolism and parallels therein…  This person was a female, though… I can imagine arguments getting really stupid if we were manly men discussing the place of women or something similarly serious…

    Even though I’m just a stupid Theist, I’d feel creeped out about being propositioned in an elevator by a stranger. Nothing to do with religion or sexual repression – everything to do with thinking people who proposition strangers with “coffee” (it’s never coffee) are creepy.   If it’s evo psych people want, it’s in the best interest of all women to not mix genes with creeps.

  • Keulan

    The Slate article from Rebecca Watson is only telling one side of the story- her side, and her supporters. She’s ignoring the distinction between the trolls that she feeds and reasonable atheists who disagree with her (and her supporters’) particularly unskeptical version of feminism. Not to mention the fact that Watson and her followers make vague claims of sexism at atheist events but refuse to provide any evidence to back them up.

    My point is, most of the atheists who disagree with Rebecca Watson are have good reasons for it if you bother to ask. We’re not misogynists like she and her followers say.

  • Nathaniel

    “reasonable atheists who disagree with her”

    Do tell. This should be a treat.

  • Morilore

    Having read the Skepchick article… what is it that atheists use for justification?

    Essentially: denial that sexism is a thing in atheist circles.  They deny that sexism and sexual harassment are serious problems in their communities and claim that feminists are artificially constructing “deep rifts” in the atheist movement in order to suborn it into “dogmatic feminism.”   The fear beneath all of this is probably the fear that women are trying to “shame male sexuality” (through “dogmatic feminism”), which really means that they are terrified of facing accountability for sexually objectifying women.  See LMM22′s comment.

  • stardreamer42

     No, YOU come up with evidence for your claim — which contradicts pretty much everything I was taught in anthropology class. I think you’re pulling this stuff out of your ass.

  • stardreamer42

    “Teenagers” are a modern invention, caused by a godless, indulgent
    consumerist society, family breakdown, peer pressure, advertising and a
    lack of discipline in childhood.

    The first 5 words of that sentence are the grain of truth at the root of this tree of idiocy. “Teenagers” are in point of fact a modern phenomenon, but the cause is the enforced period of dysfunctional conflict between physical maturity and legal adulthood — which in turn is caused, in part, by our technological culture. Until quite recently (historically speaking), it was possible for a young man or woman to take on an adult role in society — get a job and/or get married — and thereby be accepted as an adult, by approximately age 16. The extended “childhood” that results from not providing that path as an option causes a lot of social unrest among the young people who are caught “betwixt and between” — ready for adulthood, but unable to be recognized as such in our society. And there’s no easy fix for this.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I had a professor decades ago who claimed that almost all primitive
    societies tend to be matriarchal until they discover that men serve a
    purpose in reproduction, whereupon they very quickly switch over to
    being patriarchal.

    Wait. There are people who seriously blame patriarchy on Ayla from Clan of the fucking Cave Bear?

    I mean, Auel invites us to do exactly that, but I didn’t think anyone actually believed it, with the possible exception of, you know, Auel.

  • EllieMurasaki

    denial that sexism is a thing in atheist circles

    That argument stops holding water about when one looks at http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Atheism%20Plus and compares the upvote-downvote numbers.

  • Ursula L

    Hmm…

    I think we may know the “Q” source that is common for both Islam and Christianity.  

    Judaism.  

    And particularly all the Old Testament texts that have made up your fascinating “Biblical Families” series of posts.  

    Both Islam and Christianity explicitly draw from Judaism.  Christianity drawing from Judaism, Islam from Christianity and Judaism.  It would not surprise me at all if you found blogs from women who have left the most conservative branches of Judaism that read the same way.

    It might also be interesting to look at Sikhism, which draws from Islam and Hinduism.  I know less here, but does it have a conservative version that picks up on the same misogyny?  

  • Deb Hurn

    interesting idea that Patriarchy is like a primary religion
    but I don’t really think so
    I think it is just as simple as testosterone
    that’s just what testosterone does
    it makes for competitive aggressive behaviour, necessary for survival
    necessary for achievement to a certain degree also
    and therefore anything smaller, weaker or “other” is to be eliminated or controlled by being diminished further
    it is biological… then cultural
     

  • Deb Hurn

    Oh, and I always find I read the title of Piper and Grudem’s book as “Recovering *From* Biblical Manhood and Womanhood”
    quite genuinely unintentional
    its a funny word, ‘recovering’, these days
    few would read it as ‘reclaiming’
     

  • Ursula L

    Wait. There are people who seriously blame patriarchy on Ayla from Clan of the fucking Cave Bear?
    I mean, Auel invites us to do exactly that, but I didn’t think anyone actually believed it, with the possible exception of, you know, Auel.

    Auel, like the professor in question, began writing decades ago.  The original “Clan of the Cave Bear” was written in the 1980s, I read it while I was still in high school.

    My understanding is that this was an anthropological theory then, and a new and interesting one, which Auel picked up as part of the setting for her fiction.  

    Note that the Clan is patriarchal, and that the division of labor in the different groups they encounter in their travels changes.  She explicitly mentions, at one point, that some groups divide with the care of children versus hunting being a male/female thing, and other groups having it be the elderly caring for children while younger adults do other work.  Auel wasn’t putting all her eggs in the basket of one anthropological theory, she was exploring how suddenly understanding the connection between sex and reproduction might Change Things. 

    I don’t think that this is really an either/or situation.  

    There are current anthropological theories (such as the one presented in Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human) that point to an early pre-human female/male pairing where the problem of both cooking and protecting food from being stolen while you’re busy cooking it was solved by having larger males and smaller females pair up for the task.  This creates a push towards patriarchy – a smaller female needs a larger male to fight off other males while she cooks for the two of them.  

    There are also theories, such as the Grandmother Hypothesis, that point to pre-humans starting to develop longer, post-menopausal lifespans when older females started helping care for the children of their daughters, which provided a survival advantage for the grandchildren of longer-living grandmothers.  This creates a push towards matriarchy – younger women need to stick by older women for the care and protection of children.  

    Humans being humans, I see no reason to think that both things didn’t start to happen at once as humans began to evolve more complex social connections and intelligent survival skills.  And different cultures wound up drawing from different patterns of social organization in different ways.  As humans, we collaborate and take care of each other, in many complex ways, and that’s how we get things done that are more complex than what one person working alone can do.  

  • Anton_Mates

    What was it going on X thousand years ago that made (some) people in those(certain societies that the egalitarian way of life they’d been living for hundreds of thousands of years needed a radical overall.

    As I understand it, it’s largely just a matter of having more stuff.  It’s hard not to be egalitarian when your society doesn’t have much in the way of long-lasting material wealth; you can’t hoard up a barnful of resources and then dole them out to hundreds of people in return for their loyalty.  If you do spend your time hoarding as much as you can, you’re probably depriving your neighbors and they’re just going to shun you as an asshole.  And being shunned is usually very bad for your life expectancy, if you’re a hunter-gatherer.

    So it’s not necessarily that a lot of societies became more patriarchal when they developed agriculture and herding and such, as that they became less egalitarian period and all power imbalances were amplified, including those between sexes and age groups.

    I’m not suggesting there was some single inciting incident, or that a band of hunter-gatherers had a tribal meeting and voted in patriarchy, but people don’t change the way they’ve been living for hundreds of thousands of years for no reason at all.

    Patriarchy in the sense of older males having the most overt* social control goes back into prehistory, so far as we know.  It’s certainly found in the majority of hunter-gatherer societies, for instance.  In the arena of courtship and marriage, most marriages are arranged by the future spouses’ parents.  Among those parents, the fathers usually have the most say–frequently the only say–in the decision.  Daughters are married off at a younger age than sons, and are less likely to be allowed to choose their spouse themselves or veto a marriage to someone they don’t like.**  Wives are much more likely than husbands to be punished for adultery, and are punished more severely.  And so forth.  There are plenty of exceptions, of course, and for all we know it was never the case that all human societies were patriarchal to this degree, but it’s definitely the most common pattern.

    It should be noted, too, that the phenomena Lilira mentions of matrilineal descent and the avunculate (uncles favoring their sisters’ kids over their own) are not particularly counter to patriarchy.  Both systems are good to Older Men with Stuff, if paternity is pretty uncertain in that culture.  

    Matrilineal descent is good for a man because his daughter’s children are more likely to be his genetic grandchildren than his son’s children are.  His son’s wife might be having kids by another man, but his daughter can be pretty sure that her kids actually, y’know, came out of her.  Likewise, his own wife might bear the kids of another man, but his sister’s kids are definitely her own, and therefore definitely his genetic nieces and nephews.  In such cases, matriliny and the avunculate allow men to be more confident that the status and wealth they’re handing down will end up with their actual blood relatives.

    On the other hand, in cultures where a man basically buys a wife (or multiple wives) from her family, it’s better to hand down wealth to your son, even if you’re not quite sure he is your son, because it makes his marriage chances so much better.  Your daughter doesn’t need wealth to get married.  Hence, in those African societies, matriliny has tended to disappear once they started keeping cattle, which are generally used as bridewealth

    *I say overt control, because when mothers do exercise control it tends to be in subtler ways that are missed in a lot of ethnographic accounts.  So almost certainly spouses’ mothers have more control over the marriage decision than these accounts imply–but even so, probably not as much as the fathers do.

    **Divorce, interestingly, is very common in hunter-gatherer societies and can usually be initiated by either spouse.  So your parents get to say who you marry–and you may not get to refuse, especially if you’re a younger girl–but you get to walk away if it doesn’t work out.  Of course, the woman may walk away pregnant and the man doesn’t have to worry about that.

  • The Guest Who Posts

    Even if that’s a necessary effect of testosterone (which I’m not sure about, but I’m not a biologist), that wouldn’t explain why women also do all the things you mention.

  • Carstonio

    Without disagreeing with your theory, my question was why a man-controlled society have more evolutionary advantages than a woman-controlled one, not how the society ended up with one or the other.


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