Posted: Apr 08, 2020 4:14 pm
by Spearthrower
Fallible wrote:Is this actually true? Do we know that only men hunted?

Know? No. But it's a reasonable hypothesis based on the available evidence.

Perhaps most tellingly is the widespread signs of skeletal damage in male remains from neanderthals and early modern humans that's not present in females (although there are clear signs of human violence against females as well as males) suggesting a much more robust physically demanding life-style. It doesn't ensure that only men were hunters and women were cave-keepers, but it does suggest that whatever males were doing, it caused them to sustain an awful lot of broken bones.

Then there's the comparative element, looking at extant groups of hominids like chimps, males much more frequently hunt than females. Intriguingly, when female chimps hunt, they more typically use tools than males who just go batter the living shit out of the target prey with their hands. This is due in no little part to the fact that females rear young - young infants cling onto mama, and it wouldn't typically be a sound idea - evolutionarily speaking - for her to put them in harm's way. Considering how even within recorded history, most human females were married young and turned into incessant baby-rearing machines, and given that our ancient ancestors lived shorter, tougher lives, I think it's safe to assume that in ancestral hominids and H sapiens until very recently (perhaps even still), women were the primary care-givers to infants and children, and consequently took part in safer activities.

I'd say it's fair to think there's a biological basis for the gender discrepancy built into our societies historically, but it doesn't mean that the value system is or should be built in, nor that we can't think our way out of our sociobiological heritage.