Re: Women inventing agriculture

Thomas W. Rimkus (trimkus@COMP.UARK.EDU)
Thu, 6 Apr 1995 09:18:46 -0500

On Wed, 5 Apr 1995, Ralph L Holloway wrote:

> I must say, this is a sane voice. How in the world would it be possible
> to know "who" invented "anything " from the prehistoric past? Most of us,
> men and women alike, are not looking for particular gender inventors. If
> males and females were not doing just about everyhting the same way in
> the past, they must certainly have been complemental to each other. Most
> of the behaviors are so complex that I find it practically noinsensical
> to think in gender terms for the invention of particular tasks. R.
> Holloway.
> On Wed, 5 Apr 1995, Anita Cohen-Williams wrote:
> > I seem to remember a simliar discussion of this sort of female-centric and
> > prehistory many years ago. Dr. Adrianne Zihlman published something in which
> > she stated that man was the hunter because he was expendable. Boy, what a row
> > that kicked up!
> > Isn't this sort of discussion rather meaningless? Unlike a great many
> > achievements, who invented agriculture is one of the great unknown and
> > unknowable things out there.
> >
> > Anita Cohen-Williams; Reference Services; Hayden Library
> > Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-1006
> > PHONE: (602) 965-4579 FAX: (602) 965-9169
> >
> >
> >

I agree with Ralph and Anita on the inanity of assigning ownership with no
substantive way to assess the claim; there is little value in assigning
guilt or credit for such pervasive structures as agriculture,
technological development, warfare, or patriarchy on any subset of the
specie. But that is exactly what not-so-conscious extreme feminists have
attempted to do: to lay the blame for the current male dominated status on
men of the past and take the position that men of the present must now pay
the price. This is one of the underlying justifications for the current
wave of popular delusion inherent in radical feminism. One way this
delusion finds manifestation which has been addressed recently on this
list is in the control and manipulation of language in the name of
consciousness-raising to the detriment of communication. Surely we
can all raise our consciousness without loosing touch with the rest
of humanity.

Another way we see delusion is in the conscious injection
of discrimination toward men with the justification that we have to go
past equality to reach equality (kinda sounds like the 60's claim:
"Fighting for Peace in SE Asia"). I suspect that in many rad-femists this
is a thin veneer on vindictiveness.

This all adds up to a plea for humanism over feminism for those who must
have an "ism" to seek solace in.

But, if feminists are going to claim ownership of the agricultural
revolution, they must be willing to accept the blame for the problems it
has caused and some responsibility in the rise of patriarchy and
warfare. I believe these issues are inextricably linked.

BTW, who has the right to claim the definition of SCIENCE or the "proper"
subject matter for discussion here? Anyone who does so might think about
"growing up" a bit him/herself. Now that we have stopped calling each
other names and are treating each other with common respect, I think a
wide variety of topics can be addressed without anyone getting personal
or feeling left out. I learned much from the discussions on the journal,
the demise of four-field, the mathematical input to anthropology, the
dimorphism issue, and several other topics without whining that they did
not meet my vision of what is important. There will and should always be
heated debate on topics which have impact on us all; sometimes this gets
wound down on minutia. We should be willing to deal with the attendant
problems of this open forum or crawl back into the ivory tower where
the juried, peer-reviewed material will not hurt our eyes. I cannot see
the value in loosing the freedom found here for the purposes of making it
easier for the ones who dont have the time or inclination to use the
delete key.

Tom Rimkus
Madison County