Somewhere between the Middle and Upper Paleolithic eras, also known as the Stone Age, pair-bonding and gender roles made their debut among our ancient ancestors. These anthropological and societal trends arose from the two basic aspects of survival instinct 1) self-preservation and 2) procreation, two sides of the same sexual coin, thus defining and channeling our human destiny.
Behavioural anthropologists believe that, at some point, our ancient Neanderthal predecessors underwent a change in physiological base. Instead of maintaining the status quo ante of sexual promiscuity, males began to stay with, bond with, and dominate a particular female as primary mate. With the advent of this pair-bonding, and through the untold millennia that followed, gender roles became firmly established. This functional specialization between male and female would assure the survival and continued evolutionary development of the species.
“The modern humans of the Upper Paleolithic, with their labor division and diversified food sources, would have been better prepared to secure a continuous food supply, this way protecting their reproductive core — women and children.” *
Prehistoric men were hunters and defenders. They led and they bred. They were the decision-makers, enforcers, and reigned supreme. Females were held in submission. They gathered and cooked food, dressed skins, made crude garments, copulated on demand, gave birth, and raised children. At puberty, boys went through manhood rites, learning how to hunt and defend like their fathers. Girl children were taught domestic arts as their mothers had been taught. Their genetics dictated it so. It was unlikely that a Stone Age woman would ever consider a single feminist thought. It was in the nature, culture, and custom of females to obey. Men treated their women as they saw fit, gently or brutally, according to their nature, as long as behaviour was appropriate to the mores and taboos of their clan.
However, it is also likely that this anthropological/societal acceptance of male superiority brought with it the dawn of domestic violence. A dark, stereotypical, and perversely amusing image comes to mind:
“It is likely that domestic violence has been mixing with romance ever since the first cave man clubbed his fiancée and dragged her by the hair into his cave. Apparently, this ancient behaviour has resisted extinction.” **
(Read the poem, NEANDERTHAL by Linda Ann Nickerson)
* Difference Between Male and Female Jobs Brought Our Success Over Neanderthal , by Stefan Anitei
** From “The Essence of Empowerment: From Cave to Cosmopolitan,” a motivational speaking presentation by Nancy R. Koerner