Re: Evolution of Sexism

Mary Beth Williams (
17 Aug 1996 10:42:49 GMT

In <empty-1608962016430001@> (CU
Student) writes:
>In article <4utck6$>, (Gerold
Firl) wrote:
>> In article <4uqhed$>, (Bryant)
>> |> In article <4uo1tb$>,
>> |> Gerold Firl <> wrote:
>> A game-theory analysis of social stability shows why universal
>> cannot endure; violent societies rapidly colonize and exploit a
>> peaceful mileau. Under conditions of resource scarcity, this can
>> to increasing escalation...
>> In times of violence, men step up and women fade into the
>> In times of peace, women become more prominent. It might be
>> to look for cycles of patriarchy and egalitarianism related to
>> conditions of turmoil/violence/resource scarcity and
>> abundance.

>-- Furl's comments -- the dynamics of social stability, and
>possibility for cycles of instability --are intriguing.

Before accepting Firl's comments as true, it would be useful to
actually look at data (something he often forgets to do.) In
egalitarian societies, women do not *fade* during times of intergroup
violence/war...In fact, their social and economic importance is
highlighted during these times (who keeps the group organized while the
men are at war? Who feeds the remaining population and provisions
travelling troops?) The development of patriarchy is linked not to
violence (which is more likely a *symptom*) but to private property.

> However, I've wondered about the hypothesis that universal male
bias by
>mothers (for males) might be related to, or else compensatory for,
>genetic weakness, i.e., at every stagew of the life cycle, from
>onward, human males die in significantly greater proportions than

Have I missed something? _Whose_ hypothesis is this, and what evidence
is there to support such wild claims?

>Yet, clearly, males posess greater short-term importance to human

_Clearly_? Once again, please provide citations supporting this
hypothesis. As I mentioned previously, in hunter-gatherer societies,
women's activities are deemed of equal, if not greater, importance to
the group's survival, and as such, are accomodated (mobility, etc.,
when needed) more than men's activities. (Some reading on OFT (Optimal
Foraging Theory) would be useful in addition to the volumes of SB
spouted here.)

> Shouldn't such observed socio-cultural compensation be predicted?
> Thus, the charges of "gender bias" feminists see in our (and every)
>"patriarchal culture"is really mistaken as an expression of
>environmentally determined bias, when in reality, its sociobiological.

Perhaps this line of thinking would pan out if there was an adequate
base of evidence, but it is certainly obvious that so far, all of this
has been merely subjective and anecdotal fluff. Look at some real
ethnographic/archaeological studies, and then see if the SB argument

MB Williams
Dept. of Anthro., UMass-Amherst