Monday, 6 September 2010

Chapter Six - Why The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, Is Not Ruling The world

When Dr Ruth Shady began to make know her findings at Caral the local people were proud that the earliest civilisation found in America was in Peru, but they were also very puzzled. The question that she is frequently asked is: “Why did our ancestors have the capacity to build such an important city, and we live so poorly and don’t have the ability to do similar things?”. The only answer she is able to give is: “the society was organised with a population that worked to do things collectively for the collective good.” ( Though she didn’t go on to point out that whereas today everyone works for the benefit of the ruling elite who keep the wealth of the country in their own hands.
The Peruvian government is now feeling the political ramifications of these finds. Already they have cut her funding making it very difficult to continue her excavation or preserve what she has already discovered. Universities in USA have offered to fund the site, but their condition is that they themselves will take over the excavation. So it seems there are political moves to sack Dr Ruth Shady and put someone in charge who will toe the political line. Which could mean censorship of what is being discovered.
So it seems ancient discoveries are very political. If it became common knowledge that thousands of years ago people lived in peace and equality, then people world wide will begin to ask the same questions that the Peruvian peasants are asking today. This is turn could create new political and religious movements that will challenge our present ruling elite. Because if in the past we lived in a world of peace and equality then why can’t we do the same today? This is why archaeology today is becoming increasingly political, as it is questioning the way our world has been ruled for the last five thousand years.
The stability of any ruling elite is a belief that life is better now than any time in the past, because if the people are to believe that life in the past was better. It would create great unrest as they will want to recreate the better conditions of the past. So the leaders need to be able to tell the people, “you never had it so good.” This is what the ruling elite have successfully convinced the people over the last couple of thousand years through censorship and destruction of all knowledge of early civilisations. Now this is changing, there is evidence that people in the past where able to live in peace and equality that is unmatched by any country today. Then if this knowledge was to become common knowledge, people will ask why can’t we do the same today? Which could cause a worldwide revolution that could undermine all governments all over the world. It is no wonder there is a attempt to censor all the archaeological finds from the Neolithic age.
As I have pointed out before many Feminist are uncomfortable about the findings of the Neolithic age to the degree that some are as critical of the concept of pre-historic matriarchy as many male chauvinists. Even women like Riane Eisler and Marija Gimbutas have claimed that the people in the Neolithic age lived in a age of sexually equality. Which is a very politically correct Feminist line.
The problem is that we have no writings from the Neolithic age has been satisfactory translated. So we know nothing about the social system of that era. This means there is not real proof that people then lived in a matriarchy, patriarchy or an equal society. (Though the fact they worshipped Goddesses and lived in a non-violent society is more likely to suggest matriarchy or equality.)
The suggestion of sexual equality in the Neolithic age does present a few problems for men. It means that when women had power they used it to create a equal society. Yet when men later had power they used violence to dominate society and women. This then makes men out to be the “bad-guy”, while women come out of it being paradigms of virtue. So many men would be very resistant to ideas of pre-historic equality, as it puts them into a very bad light. It seems to prove the children’s saying, “What are little boys made of? Snakes and snails and puppy dog tails. What are little girls made off? Sugar and spice and All things NICE.” For this reason, many men would prefer the opposite extreme where women did rule men harshly in those days and preferably walked around in black leather and carrying whips in which to beat men.
Another problem with a equal or matriarchal society is how did women prevent men from competing with each other and with women? A clue to this is what I mentioned in the last chapter. If men live in a society without violence and competition then their testosterone levels greatly decrease. So men in these societies would be more amiable then than in the later very brutal patriarchal societies. Problem solved then. Just keep men away from violence and competition and everything will be all right. Except how did it happen that these peaceful non-violent men of the Neolithic age suddenly became the brutal savages of the Bronze and Iron ages?
Marija Gimbutas suggests this happened through invasion. In that violent patriarchal tribes from the North conquered the peaceful matriarchal communities. That doesn’t solve the problem because how did these Northern tribes become violent and patriarchal? A possible explanation is that life in the North was so harsh, it brutalised the men. Raising their testosterone levels and they became violent and competitive with women. Resulting in them dominating women through violence. That explanation sounds reasonable enough but there is another explanation that comes from the myths of Pandora and the story of Adam and Eve.
Pandora was the Ancient Greek’s Eve, in that she was the first women and lived in a Golden Age like that of the Garden of Eden. She was given a jar or box and one day she opened it to find out what was inside. Then from it out come all the plagues of illness, envy, spite and revenge that have been with us ever since. This at first sight seems to be a absurd and fanciful tale and a attempt to blame women for all this ills of the world. Yet if we look at modern research on the Stone and Neolithic ages we find it is a metaphor of what could have happened.
When palaeontologists and archaeologists began to discover the remains of humans during the Stone Age they were surprised to discovered in carved statues and wall paintings there was far more images of women than men. At first they didn’t take the feminine images seriously and female statuettes were routinely discarded as just fertility images or Stone Age pornography. It was only because some people in the art world got interested in these statuettes that we know about them today. As palaeontologists found they had a profitable sideline in selling female statuettes to art dealers.
Yet the surprise of scientists that Stone-Age people seemed to be more interested in making images of women rather than men has a lot to do with the Judeo-Christian attitudes. For the last two thousand years it has been accepted by the main religions of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and to some degree Hinduism that god is a male. We have then been so brainwashed into believing this, that it is hard for us to think of a Creator that is not a male. Including it seems scientists whom many profess to being unbiased and logical atheists.
Yet it was not always like this and from the evidence coming from the Stone and Neolithic Ages, it seems people then naturally assume our Creatix was a women.
When humans first became self aware they began to ask themselves, “what created the world?” It then would be natural for them to assume that the intelligence that created our world would be feminine. Because if we look at animal and human life we find that life is created within the bodies of females. In fact it must have seem to our ancestors that women had great magical powers to create life like this. So it would be logical for them to assume that the whole of creation was born from the body of what they called, “The Great Mother”.
This belief it seems gave women great power and status in human societies, because if the Creatrix was female then all women were created in the image of the Great Mother. This then made women very sacred and holy because it was only women who could create in the same way the Great Mother had done. This is seen clearly in the many images found in Stone Age and Neolithic sites that show images of the sex-act, the genitalia of women represented as V or slit symbols and the very many naked images of women themselves. The picture that comes from these ancient times is that people then regarded the sex-act, menstruation, childbirth and breast-feeding as all being very sacred, because they were all part of the process of creating life.
Some palaeontologists have speculated that people in the Stone Age were unaware that the sex act produced childbirth. So women suddenly producing children would be seen as a wondrous miracle where men had no input. They also went on to imagine that when men realised this role in conception, he no longer worshipped women as magical beings and took over the role of Creator himself. To support this theory we do find in Ancient Egypt that the God Atum created the world in a act of masturbation. The problem is that we do find the sexual act portrayed in Stone-Age art. So the people then, may not be as daft as we assume they might be. Also the input of men in the act of creation can be over in two seconds, (wham, bam, thank you ma’am). Which is not anywhere equal to women carrying a foetus for nine months, the pain and drama of childbirth itself, then the ability of the women to feed the newborn baby from her breasts. Not to mention all the mysteries of menstrual, which was seen as something very holy and sacred in matriarchal societies, and something as unclean and taboo in later patriarchal societies.
So we can see from this that the ancient religion of the Great Mother would be a very feminine religion and empathise the feminine virtues of compassion, caring, nurturing, loving and creativity. This is supported by the fact that in the first civilisations of the Neolithic age, warfare and violence against other people was completely unknown. We only begin to find weapons of war, fortifications and images of violence in the later bronze and iron ages. Where it seems people began to worship male warrior gods.
It seems that men started to began to dominate our world about five thousand years ago through violence and conquest. They then also created male dominated religions that made the Creator a male and claimed that the sexual act; menstruation, childbirth and breast-feeding were all unclean, sinful and taboo. Even today few women dare to breast feed in public. While back in the 1950s and 60s male doctors all but banned breast-feeding claiming that cow’s milk was better for the child! It was only later scientific research showed the obvious fact that that human milk was best for human babies. As it had been discovered that mothers pass on their immunity through the breast milk. Unfortunately there is still resistance because mothers are not encouraged to keep breast-feeding too long, and to switch to cow’s milk as soon as possible. In spite of the fact that the research shows that mothers keep on feeding their immunity to disease to the baby right up to time the baby is weaned.
Some Christian women, even now will after birth still go to priests for a cleansing ritual to clean them of the “sin” of childbirth. Children also go through the cleansing ritual of baptism, which originally was to clean them of the sin of being, “born of women”. So we can see through patriarchal attitudes an attack on the importance of women’s roles. As Feminists have pointed out so often, child rearing is the most devalued work in our society. When some Feminist in the 1960s and 70s suggested that women should be paid to bring up children they were laughed at and ridiculed. After all bringing children and caring for them is clearly not as important as the work of a general who make plans to wipe out whole cities with nuclear weapons, or politicians who tell the public lies, to get votes.
So this is the difference between matriarchal and patriarchal religions. The feminine Goddess religions were about the celebration of whole act of creation from the sexual act to giving birth and breast-feeding. So it empathised the maternal instincts of women of compassion, caring and love. The masculine religions on the other hand have throughout history have been about the glorification of violence. Where religious wars have been commonplace and still go on even today. The irony of this is that in Christianity, Jesus preached love and compassion yet Christianity has been one of the world’s most violence religions, throughout it’s history.
This has been the great tragedy of the last five thousand years. While humans believed that the world was created by the Great Mother, the feminine maternal instincts of compassion, nurturing and love became the ideal for everyone. Then people began to question this belief and accept that our Creator could be male and female. This allowed people to accept masculine principles and instincts of competition and aggression. In time this was allowed to grow until it turned into violence, and conquest. Creating the world we know throughout recorded history of war, oppression, poverty and suffering.
So we see a similar story to that of Pandora’s Box. Some Feminists have commented that because Pandora and Eve are blamed for bringing all the ills into the world these are anti women stories. Yet blame also implies power. Suggesting that in the past women did have power and gave it away.
In societies that worshipped the Great Mother, women would be the superior sex because only women had the magical power to create life. This would then make men the inferior sex who would have no real power or status except to serve women. It then must have occurred to many women that perhaps this was a bit unfair. So we find that the Great Mother then has a son, this son soon becomes the lover or brother of the Great Mother and they became co-creators. This probably reflected on the growing status of men in society as women allowed men to have equal rights.
The anthropologist Eva Meyerowitz discovered the way one African tribe change over from matriarchy to patriarchy. Living in Ghana she got friendly with the Akan people and learnt their history, which she wrote in four books. It seems in the past they were once a matriarchal tribe ruled by a Queen. Then over time some Queens allowed their sons more power to rule men’s affairs. Slowly over time if the son was more assertive than his mother then the son would take more power to himself. While on the other hand if the Queen was more assertive then things stayed as they were. So in this way the power of women in the tribe was slowly eroded over many generations. Then when the British came they only dealt with the men and ignore the Queen and the power of the women. Which confirmed to the men they didn’t need a powerful Queen and she was overthrown in colonial times and all the power given to the King.
In some ways this research confirms the ideas of Steven Goldberg that women are not assertive enough to allow men to slowly take over. Yet women did rule in the past suggesting in this tribe women were once far more assertive in the past than they are now. Suggesting that the patriarchal age came into being not only because of men’s aggression but also of women’s apathy in allowing it to happen. This apathy could only come about through women not realising that men would create a world of conflict and suffering if they ruled the world.
So it is probably true that equal rights between men and women is possible, in the change over from matriarchy to patriarchy. Anthologists have studied Stone-Age culture who have practised this in modern times. Perhaps in a hunter/gather community this wasn’t a problem but in an age of agriculture, it sowed the seeds for its own destruction. People who have become dependants on their crops to feed themselves become very dependant on having a good harvest most years. One bad harvest is not a real problem if grain is saved from previous years. Three or more bad harvests in a row is a real problem and can destroy a civilisation.
In situations of starvation people can become very selfish and violent. Archaeologists have even found cases of cannibalism being practised in very bad drought conditions. Starvation created a true situation of the survival of the fittest. This means that men being bigger, stronger and more aggressive will have a big advantage over women in taking what small amount of food that is left. So men will gain dominance over women through violence. Then once the drought is over it is doubtful if men will give up their dominant position and continue to dominate women.
Now this wouldn’t of happened if women still retained a strong sisterhood. They could of stuck together and ganged up on the men in starvation conditions. Ensuring it was them and their children that was fed first, an example of this was written by Paul Vallely a Christian aid worker.
In visiting many refugee camps he was used to them being taken over by the local alpha males who run them like a Mafia, where food was used to as a weapon to give the alpha males greater power over the population, and if the food aid charities objected, they were threatened with violence. Yet in a place called Tendelti in the Sahara desert he found something different. This was a refugee camp of ten thousand people most of whom were women. (The men had either died in wars or were still fighting wars). The women organised the food aid in a very different way, in that they gave the small amount they received equally to the children. While the adults lived on mokheit and the other scant famine foods in which the desert people turned to at times of desperation. It seems that without alpha men in the camp it greatly increased the survival chances of all the people within it.
The above shows what women can do if they organise themselves into a strong sisterhood. They will put the welfare of the children first and try to share what food they have fairly. Unfortunately if the sisterhood is broken down through patriarchy or equality, women then become very vulnerable to the violence and dominance of men.
The story of Pandora’s box and Adam and Eve suggest that once women were the dominant sex and people then lived in a non-violent Golden age and later Silver age. Then women decided that making men the inferior sex was unfair. This is represented by Pandora opening the box or Eve tempting Adam to eat from the tree of knowledge. The very act of doing this suggests that Eve was in charge.
Unfortunately in giving men equality resulted in him eventually becoming competitive with women and dominating society through violence. This resulted in our present world of violence, injustice and poverty. As the Bible points out this was a tragedy for both men and women as Adam found that outside the Garden of Eden were he had to, “work by the sweat of this brow”. In other words in a masculine world of winners and losers there are few winners and many losers. So the losers in a patriarchal society which includes both men and women found themselves having to work, not only to support themselves, but the ruling and warrior classes and the patriarchal priesthood.
The problem is that whatever theory you subscribe to does seem that women will always have problems in the long run in trying to tame men. If women are able to create a society where violence and competition is unknown and it brings down the testosterone levels of men. Or they convince men that the Creatrix is a woman and so all are Goddesses in the same mould. It doesn’t always mean that men will always be like this. There is always a chance that a natural disaster may happen and in the fight for survival, men’s testosterone levels may rise again.
While men are naturally aggressive and competitive there is always the chance that this aggression will break out into violence and brutality. So is that it? Does it mean that although women can tame men, in the end men’s instinctive competitiveness will break through and we will be back to the violent world we have seen over the last five thousand years.
The question is, is it natural and normal for men to be violent and brutal? The evidence from the whole of recorded history, with its countless wars, genocide and torture and would be a resounding “Yes”. Yet five thousand years is a very small period in the four million years humans have lived on the Earth. Were men always very brutal and violent during that period? Most palaeontologists would probably say, “yes” to this as well. Unfortunately most palaeontologists are men and seem to be very chauvinistic men at that. So we will have to accept some bias in this assumption. There is another way to look at our early ancestors that shows us in a completely different light.
Recently I learnt of surprising statistic. It seem that of all the British soldiers that experienced military action during the Falklands War, more of them have since committed suicide, than died during the conflict. There is an even more shocking statistic about the Vietnam War. Where THREE TIMES as many ex-soldiers that saw action, have since committed suicide, than died in the war. Though this figure is hotly disputed there is still an agreement that it is still a very large number. So if men do get very traumatised by war where many kill themselves afterwards. It begs the question, if war and violence is normal and natural for men? It is true some individual men enjoy war and enjoy killing as we see in the case of serial killers. Though there is still a high suicide rate in men who have committed multiple murders. So it seems that men can be made into killers through brutalisation, but do they really want to be like this?
If killing traumatises men, it also begs the question whether all the wars and massacres we see in history is also normal and natural for men. As previously pointed out the Japanese military had to brutalise their troops in the Second World War to turn them into trained killers. The German army also brutalised their young men in the same war, to again make it possible for them to kill without mercy.
So we are back to the nature verse nurture debate. Is violence and male dominance over women only possible by the brutalisation of men? Or is it “all in the jeans” and men are naturally programmed by their genes to be violent and dominant over women? I would personally think it was the third option and that it is a bit of both. We can see clearly that if you brutalise men that will become violent and will dominate others less violent then themselves, like women. So men do have this potential, which is probably programmed in his genes, but without this brutalisation it seem that men are not naturally violent. Nor do they naturally dominate women. As we can see today in Western societies where men are less brutalised then they were in the past, and seem far less inclined to commit violence on women.
So was this true in the Stone Age, which makes up 95% of human existence? Were men violent brutes then, or were they able to live lives of peace and harmony in those days. We cannot know because we have no written record of those times, but their is evidence coming from the behaviour of one ape that throw a very different light on the behaviour of early humans.
Since Darwin, it has been accepted that humans have evolved from apes. The general public know about four different species of ape, Orang-utan, Gorilla, chimpanzee and Gibbon. You will see all these apes featured on wild life programmes on TV. Yet there is one other ape that doesn’t get the same coverage, and that is the bonobo. Along with the chimpanzee this ape, the closest species to us. So we can learn a lot about our ancestors by examining the behaviour of both apes. Interestingly people are comfortable with the behaviour of chimpanzee because the males are very violent and brutal. (Just ordinary, good o’ macho males) Yet they are not so comfortable about the behaviour of bonobos and this is because they are the, “the make love not war, ape.”

No comments: