At least, that’s what I tend to think. Maybe we have strong pair bonding tendencies on top of that. Maybe it’s all bullshit. I recently got in an argument on this site with a woman who found some other anthropological studies, she thinks that ancient tribes were all egalitarian matriarchies, and patriarchy infected the world 12,000 years ago and brought us violence and evil and original sin. That gave me pause, because her worldview seemed as detailed as mine, built on a few studies and a lot of intuition. But her views were exactly the opposite.
Maybe you’re both right. Follow me here.
There’s a possibility I’ve been mulling over, that polygamy, slavery, hypergamy, patriarchy (in the strict sense of male dominated tribal society, not the broader definition employed by modern feminists), and male disposability are all linked together by the chain of societal memetic evolution.
First let’s postulate that men are predisposed genetically speaking to “go out and get the stuff,” be it woolly mammoth meat or similar, and women are predisposed genetically speaking to “equitably distribute the stuff,” meaning portioning out the meat to the children. These predispositions rise from the relatively long gestation periods in humans. Getting your women trampled by the mammoths can crater your tribe’s reproductive capacity but getting a few men trampled is no big deal, so we get “women and children to the lifeboats first” from this layer. Male disposability has its roots 100,000 years back.
We also get male variability from this, since the Y chromosome is the less risky place to experiment, trait wise.
Now let’s say you had two models for society in the early days of emergent civilizations. Matriarchies and patriarchies. We had a bundle of each.
The matriarchies are as your interlocutor described them. Women in charge. Men go get the meat, women distribute the meat evenly, perhaps we have monogomous relationships in this model, but we also have in general fewer men because of that whole trampling issue. These societies don’t have the capacity for agriculture.
The patriarchies form differently. Hypergamy is an optimum dating strategy within the patriarchies, men at the top accumulate multiple wives and pass their genes on, and men at the bottom get left out. So what are they to do? They’ll revolt unless they’re controlled, and the best way to control them is slavery. Then, with the additional labor pool that slavery provides, it’s much easier to plow a field. So robust agriculture emerges from the patriarchical system in a way that it doesn’t from the matriarchical system, because of male disposibility and the tribulations of stabbing mammoths.
Well, it turns out that agriculture beats mammoth stabbing, so the matriarchies lose out.
And then as the agrarian civilizations grow, you have these extra disposable men you have nothing to do with other than plow, and you bump into the boundaries of the next civilization over, so you go to war. If you win the war, meaning you kill their men, you get to fuck their women, so this is a great motivator for men on the low end of the totem pole within their patriarchical system because the polygamous men at the top took all those hypergamous women.
And woe to a hunter gatherer matriarchy next door to an agrarian war prone patriarchy — they’re fucked. Their men will die, their women will be raped or taken as consorts or both, and their land will be plowed. And evolution forges on, systematically converting the matriarchies to patriarchies, because the matriarchies are game theoretically inferior under the rules of the game in 12k BC.
So from that article you link, I might challenge this assertion:
“It’s tempting to assume male dominance is the natural state of human society. It isn’t”
I’d rephrase it like this:
It’s tempting to assert that any gender dominance is the ‘natural state’ of human society. There probably isn’t such a natural state. But the patriarchies won out because they had grain and beer and war and slaves, and the matriarchies couldn’t get past living in caves.
It’s an idea anyway.