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Human advancement was due to feminisation of the species.

(60 Posts)
Garlick Sun 21-Jun-15 17:21:07

Thought you might like this! From the introduction:-

Humans only emerged from the caveman era once females realised the toughest males didn't always make the best partners. Why go for brute force when you could instead choose a clever tool-maker with better social skills? This preference for more intelligent or creative males meant testosterone levels dropped and modern humans evolved to become slimmer and more easier to live with.

I'm no anthropologist but it seems to make sense.

scallopsrgreat Sun 21-Jun-15 17:41:17

That is really interesting, thanks Garlick.

I haven't got time to comment properly at the moment (supposed to be doing a job application but procrastinating as usual!) but I will comment on the use of the word "feminisation". I find it jarring even though I know why they have used it (primarily to talk about the lowering of testosterone levels and the consequential lowering of reactive violence) but they've also paired it up with 'self-domestication'. Again I know why, but...

It's an interesting take on it all though and they mention the re-emergence of inequality between sexes at the start of the agricultural period (although when sexual inequality occurred I think is still up for debate tbh).

It all still feels a bit 'man writing/imposing his view of history on us' again though. But I am happy to be persuaded otherwise by more experienced anthropologists. I think we have a couple around.

karbonfootprint Sun 21-Jun-15 17:43:36

It doesn't make a lot of sense. The only choice in those days, and in hunter gatherer societies today, was to go for the best hunter, to provide for your children. No amount of tool making and social skills would have compensated for a lack of strength and courage in hunting.

tribpot Sun 21-Jun-15 17:51:00

Surely the introduction doesn't say "more easier" - is this self-published?!

Given many technological advances have been made through warfare, I'm not sure tool making = less propensity for violence.

TheWanderingUterus Sun 21-Jun-15 17:52:29

It's not the only choice Karbon.

Anniegetyourgun Sun 21-Jun-15 17:56:30

There's more to hunting than hitting things over the head with main force, though. Let's face it, the World's Strongest Man would have a job wrestling a rhino into submission, and is a good bit smaller than youraverage mammoth. Cunning and co-operation are more effective. Let's not even start pointing out that it may not have been all men doing the hunting and women doing the gathering; men are actually capable of gathering too, if the rumours are to be believed, and I'm sure most women could have dug a perfectly serviceable trap. As we know, lions are larger and more powerful than lionesses, but not better hunters.

MarchLikeAnAnt Sun 21-Jun-15 17:58:42

Have you read 'The decent of woman' by Elaine Morgan? I think you might like it.

scallopsrgreat Sun 21-Jun-15 17:59:29

Garlick where did that introduction come from because it doesn't seem to be in the article?

scallopsrgreat Sun 21-Jun-15 18:01:13

No I haven't MarchLikeAnAnt, thank you, I'll get it for Kindle - looks interesting.

Branleuse Sun 21-Jun-15 18:07:51

thats really interesting

PuffinsAreFictitious Sun 21-Jun-15 18:17:47

Actually, tool making and forward planning is what set us apart from competing hunters. Not strength. Without tools and collaboration within groups humans wouldn't have survived.

almondcakes Sun 21-Jun-15 18:29:29

It is pretty well known that our ancestors lost the physical traits associated with male dominance.

I don't understand your point Karbon. Our species (and a number of ancestral species before us) all selected tool users as mates and not big sharp toothed big boned males. That is why we are now all sitting around in settlements typing into computers rather than watching the males of our species head butting and biting each other.

There is a massive advantage to being able to live in co-operative settlement and use tools over being able to hit things hard. Find me someone twice my size, I'll make a bow and arrow and some fishing hooks, they'll have brute strength, which of us is going to bring home the bacon? Which of us is more lethal in a fight?

YonicScrewdriver Sun 21-Jun-15 19:05:29

"was to go for the best hunter, to provide for your children. "

I believe that the hunter-gatherer diet gets/got the majority of its calories from gathering, not hunting. I am also unsure that there is much concrete evidence as to who took part in which activity or if both sexes took part in both.

As well as tools for hunting, tools for cultivating were clearly key to development.

almondcakes Sun 21-Jun-15 19:31:21

And tools for making clothes to survive in a variety of climates.

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHorrid Sun 21-Jun-15 19:42:25

Interesting article.

I was on holiday in France a few years ago and went to one of the prehistoric sites.
They showed us a spear thrower and let us have a play with it. You can get a lot more distance using one of those than just with your bare hands.

Mide7 Sun 21-Jun-15 19:47:57

Was there people commenting on a thread on here about women having a better capacity for endurance on here recently? Given that early humans were persistence hunters, I wonder if this points to females doing aome of the hunting.

YonicScrewdriver Sun 21-Jun-15 19:50:08

I'm also not sure there's any evidence that the spoils of the hunt and/or gather were kept within a family group rather than a tribal group. If the tribe finds and shares food, what matters is that all the roles are covered not who is the "best" hunter.

Other than... Dying before you could reproduce by being the worst at running/hiding would be quite limiting...

PuffinsAreFictitious Sun 21-Jun-15 20:41:20

In the hunter gatherer societies I have most knowledge of, it was the entire family group gathering rather than going on elaborate and often unsuccessful hunts that kept the social group, be that family, clan or tribe going.

Iirc, it was this balance that lead to communities settling and husbanding specific crops and animals areas where that was viable.

rosy71 Sun 21-Jun-15 20:50:35

"Humans only emerged from the caveman era once females realised the toughest males didn't always make the best partners. Why go for brute force when you could instead choose a clever tool-maker with better social skills?"

As far as I can see, this is not in the article & isn't really what the article is saying. What do you mean by cavemen?

I thought humans were successful because they had the ability to make tools and were consequently more successful than other hunters. Also, the bulk of their food didn't come from hunting anyway. Most was gathered, probably by women. I also doubt, at a conscious level, women were choosing men who made the best partners. Was there even a concept of partners as we understand them thousands of years ago?

rosy71 Sun 21-Jun-15 20:51:12

I meant for that quote to be in bold. Sorry.

Garlick Sun 21-Jun-15 21:20:15

The intro was in my feed from The Conversation! I hadn't noticed how badly written it was - probably an intern, let's be nice. I agree that the use of 'feminisation' is irritating. It's bound to be picked up by the daily mail other media as 'soft skills', but this isn't what the report actually says. They're correlating reduced testosterone levels with increased planning ability, task-sharing, cunning and creativity. According to this theory, females chose to reproduce with the smarter & faster men who were less like thugs. This suggests the lower-testosterone guys were better at protecting & providing, therefore the genetic propensity for super-testosterone was negatively selected.

I found it interesting for several reasons. It's never been clear why earlier human species gave way to modern humans: most were taller, more sturdily built and had bigger brains. If this theory's correct that cave paintings and sophisticated weapons such as spear-throwers began to appear as humans became lighter and flatter of forehead, then it does suggest that selecting out the more testosterone-fuelled strains afforded humans the security to indulge in experimentation and artwork. You can't do either of those when every day's another battle. And you can do more of those things when you're working as a team.

There's also this remarkable study, where a troop of baboons lost all its 'alpha' males (they helped themselves to a pile of discarded meat, which turned out to be infected with TB.) Surviving members chose to instigate a more equal and democratic culture. The new order has lasted two and a half generations, with the new style being defended against incoming would-be alphas. It must, therefore, be advantageous to the troop. It'd be interesting to find out whether their average testosterone level is any lower than other baboon troops!

I am convinced that gender roles developed with agricultural settlements. More food means more babies; more babies means less agile women; that means women on the homestead while men go in search of trade. All the same, gender tropes are inaccurate because male skeletons found at agricultural communities from early to late middle ages show as much wear & tear from hoeing & grinding, etc, as female ones.

So much of gender inequality is justified by assumptions about role divisions in our history. I welcome findings that disprove them.

Garlick Sun 21-Jun-15 21:26:47

I also doubt, at a conscious level, women were choosing men who made the best partners.

Seriously? Even if there was no pair-bonding, which nobody knows yet, the chaps who were best at getting food, mapping journeys, finding shelter and staying alive would be selected for reproduction. Virtually all animals select their mates.

Garlick Sun 21-Jun-15 21:30:06

Sorry - also the men would be selecting on a similar basis, presumably. It's highly unlikely to have had much to do with big tits and bums wink

almondcakes Sun 21-Jun-15 21:30:36

Middle ages is feudal though. There's another tier of power making the serfs of both sexes work.

If gender came in with the introduction of agriculture, it would be thousands of years earlier we'd be looking for it.

Garlick Sun 21-Jun-15 21:44:05

I'll have to find out whether I mean middle ages, almond ... <goes to find out what came before middle>

When, this is my favourite atlatl video.

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