Keep up with new developments, people
A comment on another blog I read on a regular basis has driven me a just a little bit bonkers. People hear a theory at some point in their lives and it just won't let go of their grey matter. It may have been a really good theory when it was introduced, but as we learn more things - especially about prehistory, our understand of ourselves needs to change as well. Here goes:
Look at how we lived for 90% of our time on this planet. Males, in general, are physically stronger than women (We know testosterone increases muscle mass), and it was men who did most of the "hunting and warring." (If not all).Women did the "gathering," which is a more social behavior, and is not as competitive.In a hunting or war party, (Although I've never been in either) I imagine you don't speak as much, and it's very competitive. In a way, it makes sense because it balances us. Imagine if women were just as aggressive as men. We'd be in even more trouble than we are now. I'm not saying people "have" to be a certain way, but there's little doubt evolution has played a significant part in our "gender roles."
Um, the "man the hunter" theory has actually been pretty well debunked over time. Men, evidence is finding, were probably the primary hunters (or scavengers) of large game, usually in groups (which seems to me to be a pretty, ahem, social, cooperative activity as is going together as a war band to destroy your rivals). Women were the primary getters of food through gathering, fishing, as well as hunting small game and birds. And this idea that women are not as aggressive as men? Said commentor has obviously never been to an after-Thanksgiving sale at Target or the Filene's Basement bridal event.
And, I would argue that evolution has actually has very little to do with modern gender roles, except maybe behaviors related to child bearing, specifically as evolution totally discounts the impact class has on gendered behavior. Poor women have always had differently appropriate gender roles than middle class and upper class women. An example. In our society, there is the assumption that the traditionally appropriate gender role for women is to remain in the home as homemaker and child-rearer. However, this has only ever been a possibility for the middle and upper classes. Poor women have always had to leave the home to do work of some sort, whether that is farming or working as a store clerk. This leads to a particularly difficult conundrum for poor women - they find themselves demonized for having children and yet working and, should they receive some sort of state or federal assistance, they are demonized as lazy, no good, leeches on the system, living off the taxes of others. Yet, if they choose not to have children because they know they can't afford them, they are demonized as being unnatural women.
I guess the main problem I have with the comment is this idea that there must be balance. Dualism bothers me. Men = aggressive. Women = cooperative. Men = bad. Women = good. Men = strong. Women = weak. I've never found a dualism that was ever true. Human skills, behaviors and strengths fall along a huge spectrum, not a black and white filter.