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Were men dominant in most or all hunter gatherer, paleo societies ?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 17, 2011 at 4:45 PM

Since I am not an anthropologist, and these issues were raised in a previous discussion I need to state the little that I know about it and try to discuss it here. From a material point of view, if compared to any industrial or even most neolithic societies, almost any paleolithic society was poor: they have little or no machines, food reserves, houses, cars, etc, not even much food reserves; in that sense they were all very poor. On the other hand they enjoyed life in environments were food was present, nature was plenty, company and leisure time was available every day. In terms of sexual standing many groups were monogamous while others used to share their women (innuit for instance, for those who travelled outside of their camp) and even in other groups a woman might have had several men. Typically there was a division of labour resulting in hunting activities for men, and more gathering activities for women. Anyway I believe that in many of those groups men were surely very tender with their woman (I do not say wife bc they may not even have had a ritual marriage) if only because otherwise, women might have left them! So overall were women often, sometimes, never dominated or not?

Ac1e55cf06c2180f4008ff01953d10dd

(3524)

on September 07, 2013
at 01:28 AM

No problem, you can go ahead and close it. since the issue was raised in the middle of a very extended question yesterday, talking about modern paleo and comparign to hunter gathere, etc, I thogught it could be of interest to try to share watever we knew about it. Otherwise you use presumed ideas, often imaginative ideas and you may not know what the others know, or what are the ideas that illustrate their opinions. Now if you think this does not belong here, go ahead, close it, I will not be offended.

Ac1e55cf06c2180f4008ff01953d10dd

(3524)

on March 17, 2011
at 05:38 PM

No problem, you can go ahead and close it. since the issue was raised in the middle of a very extended question yesterday, talking about modern paleo and comparing to hunter gatherer, etc, I thoughtht it could be of interest to try to share whatever we knew about it. Otherwise you use presumed ideas, often imaginative ideas and you may not know what the others know, or what are the readings and ideas that illustrate their opinions. Now if you think this does not belong here, go ahead, close it, I will not be offended.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on March 17, 2011
at 05:31 PM

OK i've gotten two requests to close. There are lots of good anthropology discussion lists out there. This is not one of them. I recommend Anthro-L or evol-psych. Or starting a blog. Or paying for your own stack exchange site. This is not censorship, this is pruning the forum to keep it high-quality and on-topic at the request of several users.

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2 Answers

1
Aebee51dc2b93b209980a89fa4a70c1e

(1982)

on March 17, 2011
at 05:16 PM

0
9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on March 17, 2011
at 05:29 PM

  • Unfortunately sexism doesn't fossilize well. There is absolutely no way to know most things about how women were treated in the paleolithic.
  • We can attempt to extrapolate from apes and surviving hunter-gatherer groups, but we have to remember that the other great apes diverged quite a long time ago and that hunter-gatherers aren't representative of the paleolithic.
  • Of surviving hunter-gatherers, we have wide variety in how women are treated. Unfortunately one of my fav resources on this topic is broken: http://foragers.wikidot.com/ but regardless I would love to be an Efe Pygmy women (men and women share tasks together, fathers help out with children, serial monogamy) and would definitely not want to be an Inuit (forced labor and polygamy) or Kitavan women (women's bodily fluids considered disgusting, gang rape). Hunter-gatherers aren't a monolith, they are diverse.
  • Anthropologists don't use the word "dominated." They are interested in whether there were gender roles and whether or not women's roles caused them to be looked down upon or lose freedom.

That said, I don't think this question has anything to do with the paleo diet or the paleo diet lifesyle. I would vote to close this as off topic. It belongs in an anthropology forum.

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