Why do women in the patriarchy get the bad end of the deal?

In order to answer this question we need a little human history: Because mankind went through an agrarian revolution approximately ten thousand years ago – the social transformation from nomadic hunter-gatherer cultures to resident agrarian cultures. From the nomadic hunter- gatherer cultures still in existence which survived in solitary places on earth until a few decades ago, social anthropology could deduce how the majority of mankind might have lived before the agrarian revolution. The following facts can be safely assumed to be characteristic of typical nomadic hunter-gatherer cultures:

  • Individuals living in groups of several dozen individuals at most
  • Hierarchies in the group were relatively flat: All adults individuals could – in an emergency – survive alone in the wilderness
  • Children and seniors were supported by the whole group

Then the agrarian revolution came. The organised cultivation of staple foods at a fixed place made more food available than before. That enabled population growth and a faster rate of innovations as far as progress of technologies and tools was concerned. In order to guaranty the new food supply people needed a stricter social system with several (also new) hierarchical levels, in order to be able to manage the tasks required for agricultural food production.

The classical characteristics of an agrarian culture are:

  • It consists of individuals in groups of several dozen or more; but population size can be de facto open-ended
  • Steep hierarchies: Each social class delivers some tasks which the other classes could not – or not adequately – manage (e.g. farmers, officials, leaders).
  • Only a few adults individuals could – in an emergency – survive alone in the wilderness.
  • Children and seniors are only supported by the respective social class from which they originate.

Today, mainstream societies are still following this principle. A few substantial changes, e.g. universal health and/or old age insurances only entered some Eurocentric/Western societies’ mainstreams in the second half of the 20th Century. However, there is something very few people know about the agrarian revolution: It led to an extreme change in the way human sexuality was lived. In nomadic hunter-gatherer cultures, all the resources necessary for survival belonged to the whole group – and were inherited by the entire group after the death of one of its members. In an agrarian society, however, fair re-distribution to all members of the group was impossible due to the grown group size, and with less resources-per-person than in the old hunter-gatherer situation. Therefore the distribution system changed. Possessions necessary for survival were now passed on within the smallest unit of the group – the family. The big question became: Who gets the farm? Now possessions were handed down from the father to the children: “patrilinear” inheritance. A farm might belong to a couple – a woman and a man – at the same time, who shared the leading position with equal standing. As far as the inheritance was concerned, however, the children still had to be direct descendants from this specific man.

In hunter- gatherer cultures, it was a negligible criterion who the biological father of the children was. For an agrarian society, however, who fathered which children became essential information for the question of their inheritance. The price for that, however, was the total repression of female sexuality: Because in a time without reliable methods of contraception, abortion or paternity tests there was only one secure possibility of determining one’s paternity without doubt: The biological mother of the child must have, without any exceptions whatsoever, only ever had sex with the biological father of the child. Originally, the concept of inheritance simply replaced the old survival strategy of passing on the resources necessary for survival, and just transferred the old strategy to the family unit. When the inheritance cycle had repeated often enough, however, the inherited possessions obtained an extent far beyond that needed for mere survival. That way, dynasties with enormous properties and wealth and, as a consequence, unproportional political power and influence developed automatically. These elites have no interest to lose that special status again, of course. This is why it becomes extremely important for the members of such a dynasty that their possessions remain within the family and that the family is holding together. Now the criterion who fathered which children becomes even more important. The issue is no longer just survival; now the issue is to stay in power. Now it is no longer enough to control the sexuality of the women within the dominant elite; the women of any competing or even lower social class must also be controlled. Because the people of the lower classes must be kept from achieving a foundational social solidarity via a healthy realisation of their sexuality; otherwise, they might attempt to overthrow the dominant elite and redistribute those parts of their wealth not nescessary for survival amongst the public. The women of that elite must exemplify the suppression of sexuality through their own lives (at least seemingly), so that the women from the lower social classes, which are needed to enable the high status of the elites, do not develop any ideas “above their station”. These processes evolved, over the course of millenia, into a perfidious system spread by the dominant elite via religion, propaganda, legislation, and national institutions. Meanwhile, this system has been internalised and is passed on from generation to generation by education. In this way, most individuals – who never question, let alone remove these patriarchal introjects – subconsciously collaborate to keep the respective elites in power and themselves – quite literally – impotent.

How do those in power manage to repress healthy sexuality?

As already mentioned in Why do women in the patriarchy get the bad end of the deal?, it was essential for all elites, at all points in history, that their possessions remain in the family or dynasty. This is why they had to be absolutely sure that the heirs genetically belong to the family. Without contraception, abortion or paternity tests there is only one secure possibility of determining one’s paternity without doubt: The biological mother of the child must have, without any exceptions whatsoever, only ever had sex with the biological father of the child.

The doubtful “success” of this method over the course of millenia shows in modern DNA tests done with a wide variation of human populations from different cultures and continents: These tests showed that approximately every 10th child was not sired by the presumed biological father as named by the biological mother. As safe contraception, abortion and paternity tests exist in the 21th century, the original problem of the ancient agrarian societies could be solved in a different way: Today, even if their mother is sexually active with more than one man at a time, her children will always have a clearly allocatable father.

Since the aim of survival, however, was replaced by the preservation of power for a few dominant elites millenia ago, the argument is all the same: The aim is the suppression of the mainstream populations’ sexuality by various strategies – to effectively prevent societal solidarity against these elites. Unprotected straight sex leads to pregnancies and as a result, children. At this point all global mainstream societies (Eurocentric/Western, Russian, Muslim and Asian) have developed sophisticated strategies in order to prevent women from living their sexuality with more than one man – or person – in a healthy way.

Strategy 1: Restriction or prohibition of contraceptives or abortion.

Thus women will experience unplanned pregnancies and have to involuntarily stay pregnant, too.

Strategy 2: Elevation of the mother-role of women and simultaneous degradation of those women who do not follow this ideology.

The French Revolution of 1789 demanded equal rights for women as part of the slogan “liberté, egalité, fraternité”. In opposition to that, 19th century societies developed the indirect suppression strategy to elevate the mother-role of women. In case of childless women or women who assign their biological child for adoption, the entire social environment tries to divert them from the idea and often patronises them into an unwanted mother-role. Expectant women or those who are already mothers are urged by their social environment to be the exclusive attachment figure for their child or children and to put all other tasks or life projects on hold. If the targeted woman resists, other people will shame her for not being “a good mother”. If she then resists further, she falls victim to the moral hammer: The mainstream society ostracises her to the point where she receives less or even not any support by her community (family, neighbourhood, employer, public institutions).

Casual sex is therefore linked with the following problems:

  • the danger of an unplanned pregnancy
  • the enormous difficulty to terminate an unplanned pregnancy
  • and the reduction or even termination of support and solidarity from most people in her social environment.

This creates a situation in which casual sex is associated with fear and vilification, and, as a consequence, women pursue it more rarely. If a woman accepts the demanded mother-role including the rearing of her child(ren) with as few attachment figures as possible, that lifestyle will consume all of her time and energy resources, further reducing her options for a fulfilled sex life.

All of these strategies produce families with many children, in which their parents exemplify these twisted sexual morals from a very young age on. Their descendents are even more susceptible to manipulation than the previous generation; they maintain the system by their weight in numbers and conservative moral values. Compare the described images to typical catholic or muslim families with many children.

Strategy 3: Restriction, degradation or prohibition of sexuality which cannot lead to the conception of children.

The repression of straight sexuality causes people to change their sex life to alternate forms of sexual endeavours, which cannot cause pregnancy. Thus women and men might shift more towards oral sex, handjobs and – in case they are bisexual – homosexual encounters. Saudi Arabia, one of the most repressive countries on earth as far as sexuality is concerned, has – compared to its total population – one of the highest estimated numbers of unreported cases of same-sex couples.

From the perspective of the aforementioned elites, loopholes like these must be shut down, too, of course.

Therefore, all sexual variations except those forms of straight sex which can cause pregnancy get the moral hammer or are made illegal, see criminal persecution of homosexuals or diverse “victimless crime” sex laws directed at the same ideological aim in many countries.

It is an interesting fact, that today’s substantial discrimination against and persecution of homoromantic people as well as biromantic individuals living a homoromantic lifestyle was not the actual aim at all, but is rather a side effect. Originally, said patriarchal strategies were directed at heteroromantic, but bisexual individuals to prevent them from shifting to a sex life that wouldn’t result in pregnancy. For exclusively homoromantic and homosexual people, the sheer extent of this discrimination would not even be necessary – they constitute a portion of the total population which is much too small to pose a serious threat for the established system.

A powerful tool to spread this strategy is insufficient sex education at schools and in mainstream society which gives the impression that the vaginal sexual intercourse of a straight couple is the only form of sexuality worth talking about. Variations such as oral sex, handjobs, mutual masturbation or homosexual encounters are simply omitted or represented as “petting” which is considered inferior – or at best, foreplay – to vaginal sexual intercourse.

A loophole for this strategy are pornos. Here, the oppression strategy is to produce porn films with a script which displays unwanted sex variations in an unrealistic (and often disrespectful) manner that they lose their attractiveness for all sexes. The elevated depictions of sexuality produce pressure to “succeed” in the same way in sexual encounters in real life. If the way sex is depicted in most pornos is not questioned, people will get disappointed with their sexuality and might give up the variations whose impossibly high standards they cannot reach. A solution for this problem – providing a real loophole against suppression by idealisation – might be amateur pornos which were filmed without a script, that simply show average people having fun with all variants of their sexuality.

Strategy 4: The strategies from 1 to 3 packaged as religious teachings

Many global mainstream religions have issued pointless limitations for the sex life of their believers:

  • Sex is only permitted with one single person and only in a marriage
  • Contraceptives and/or abortion are sins
  • Homosexuality is “against nature”
  • Masturbation is a sin
  • and many more

These ideas are prevalent in Islam, early Christianity, the Catholic Church, the protestant church in milder form, as well as in various evangelical free churches. Presently, all of these religious communities still encourage some of those values! In the 21st century, however, the biggest influence in this direction is probably Islam.