1.23 three steps into machism

Hunter-gatherer bands, stumbled in overpopulation-situation, in which the males have become warriors and aware of their importance for the survival of the band, take over the ancestral female dominance. That is the beginning of male dominance. The second step into machism is that men decide to build a men’s initiation house, somewhere in the forest or in a deep cave wideness, separating young boys from their mothers and from the world of women, stealing the holy flutes and other paraphernalia, and start their own male initiation ceremonies. The third step is institutional violence against women. This occurs only in the fiercest tribal warfare. In all tribal societies all over the world we see one of those three gradations of male dominance.

Chimpanzees are examples of how an overpopulation-situation, causing warfare between competing groups, also contributed to male dominance. But can we observe machism in our relatives, the chimpanzees? No. Among chimpanzees, dominant alpha males do need the support of women. As soon as this support fails, they lose their dominance.

From the very beginning of our species, defense was a male business. Males took care of the defense against big cats and hyenas, enabling woman and children to gather the food in safety. But while in itself this defensive task may have led to male dominance in overpopulation situation, it is not something that automatically also produces machism.

What made human males into machists? This is an important issue, because since the advent of overpopulation until modern times women have suffered from male violence and aggression, against our innate GH-nature. It is only recently (in our Western consumer societies) that women have begun to regain their ancestral high status. So what may be the historical root of machism in humans?[1]

As a general hypothesis, we may suppose that machism is characteristic for some horticulturalist tribes that live in overpopulation stress all over the world, but not for all of those. First, an example of a group where male dominance has been established, but without machism. An example are the Amazonian Xavante, described by anthropologist David Maybury-Lewis. The Xavante have chiefs, have extensive boys initiation ceremonies, but without violence against women. Because the Xavante live in relative peaceful coexistence with their neighbors, so not in permanent stress.

As an example of a band where not just male dominance, but also machism emerged, we propose another Amazonian band: the Yanomamö, described by Napoleon Chagnon. Their groups live in permanent threat of warfare. Chagnon observed[2] that young boys and girls are treated differently: the girls have to help their mothers at early age and spend a great deal of time working, while the boys spend their childhood playing with other boys. The boys are also encouraged to be fierce. When a toddler slaps his father in the face, father is glad and encourages his child to slap harder. From early childhood they see their mothers and sisters beaten up by their fathers and other men, for the slightest omissions. Even his mother encourages the young boy when he inflicts a blow on his sister. The boys are quick to learn their favored position with respect to girls.

[Note that this is characteristic of all the wild tribes, including the Arab, and thus for Muslims and many other not-western cultures. Even Western societies have not yet transcended the ‘tribal tribes’ stage. See Donald Trump: the example of stage I and II of our human nature par excellence. Civilization progresses painfully slowly.]

How can this cultural attitude have emerged in an ancestral egalitarian GH-society with female high status? Because an overpopulated world brought new situations, where for the first time women found their food sources plundered by intruders. In such a situation, they wanted fierce men to defend their food sources from stealing intruders. As overpopulation progressed, women also wanted fierce men to protect them against raiders who might abduct women who were collecting fire wood or garden produce. In such a hostile overpopulation-world, the ‘fittest’ groups are the groups with the most violent males.
Therefore, in these groups women will see violence as a good quality in males and promote this warrior-attitude in their men and sons.
It is because of the constant threat of being attacked by a hostile group that the Yanomamö have lost their traditional initiation rituals and religious festivals, and have serious problems with male youth.

The Xavante are not involved in warfare and still have their initiation rituals, age groups, songs and dances.
By advancing colonist plantations their habitat is so shrunken that they have ceased to be nomadic and live in horseshoe villages on the open savanna. But still women build the ‘beehive’ houses and collect the food, while men hunt tapir and deer, and plant crops (maize, beans, pumpkins) in shifting cultivation.

They have no problems with male youth because of their strict and hard young initiation period. And by the eight age groups in which the men live their lives every five years to their old age.

 

 

  1. First of all: is it not a pure AGR-characteristic. Some Australian aboriginal groups know machism, while on the other hand the continent traditionally did not provide the basic condition for agriculture (grains, fruits or vegetables that can be conserved until the next year). Agriculture was imported only recently, by English colonists. So by tradition, all 263 Aboriginal tribes are GHs.
  2. 67 The Fierce People (1983), chapter 4
  3. First of all: is it not a pure AGR-characteristic. Some Australian aboriginal groups know machism, while on the other hand the continent traditionally did not provide the basic condition for agriculture (grains, fruits or vegetables that can be conserved until the next year). Agriculture was imported only recently, by English colonists. So by tradition, all 263 Aboriginal tribes are GHs.
  4. 67 The Fierce People (1983), chapter 4
  5. David Maybury-Lewis Millennium (New York, 1992)

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Used abbreviations

GHs: gatherers/hunters (the phase from 2 million years ago to 10.000 years ago)

AGRs: agriculturers (the phase from 10.000 years ago till now)

NT(s)Neanderthal people

MSA(s): Middle Stone Age people (African NTs)

AMH(s): Anatomical Modern Humans (H sapiens people), like we are

(m)ya: (million) years ago

ANBOs: Ancestor Bonobos (ape-men), our earliest human ancestors

Paleos: all scientists that are important for our story.

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