Friday, March 03, 2006

ORIGINS OF patriarchy III

ORIGINS OF patriarchy PART III [cont'd from previous posts]

Swaddled & Starving in Saharasia

Virginia: [Kicking her shoes off and plopping down on Auntie Athana’s couch] “Okay, Auntie A. I’m ready. On with the story about how, 6000 years ago, the world was full of peaceful people who turned into plug-uglies.”

Athana: “Alright, Ginny. You’ll remember from yesterday that when thousands of miles of land all around them began to die, the peaceful matrists living in North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia began starving.

"As you starve, Ginny, you become totally obsessed with the ‘feeding of the self.’ You lose interest in all pleasures, including sex.“

Virginia [Index fingers stuck into ears, humming softly “lalalalalalalala….”]

Athana: “You lose all interest in the pain or needs of others. Brothers steal from sisters. Parents may eat their children.“

Virginia: “Aaaaw, Auntie A! I don’t wanna hear this. I knew I shoulda stayed home and cleaned garbage cans. “

Athana: “And then there are the nutritional effects of the sand-and-briar diet. The result: total psychosis.

“Mr. DeMeo says that, when their land died, starving matrists became nomads. At first this was just a way to find new, good land.“

Virginia: “Which they never found, right? “

Athana: “Well, some did. We’ll get to that. “

“Some Matrists sent scouts ahead to find water. The scouts were the strongest: the young men. Often the women, children and elderly left behind, died. “

Virginia: “Ouch! So the only people left to carry on the group were …“

Athana: “You got it. Starving, psychotic, teenage boys. “

Virginia: “O. My. Gawd.”

Athana: “The new nomads rode hard over rough land to get to water. This, of course, woulda been a killer on young babies. “

Virginia: “Literally! Wha’d they do about that? “

Athana: “Well, some enterprising matrist mother invented “swaddling” – cocooning babies in cloth so tiny little necks wouldn’t break at “breakneck” speeds. Imagine, though, being unable to move even a finger, day in and day out, for up to 18 hours a day. Remember, mothers have lost the ability to notice others' pain. From what we know about historical swaddling, it can be a living nightmare. “

Virginia: “Why? Whaddya mean? “

Athana: “Well, when soft baby skulls are bound, they get long and tall, like loaves of bread. Among later patrists, this became a mark of gentility. So babies were tied up 24 hours a day to make their heads even taller. Little devices allowed them to eliminate through their cloth. Listen to this, Ginny [Athana picks up James DeMeo’s Saharasia and reads]:

“The child cries and turns black, and when the mother presses on its forehead a white slimy fluid comes out its nose and ears. Thus it sleeps every night until its head has taken on the desired shape….”
Virginia: “Gotta go, Auntie A. Bye. Forgot I have something in the oven. Gotta catch it before the house burns down. “

Athana: “Wait, Ginnie – this is Big: DeMeo thinks swaddling produces deep, deep rage at mothers, and, by extension, all women. And add female deity to the list, too.“

To be continued. Next: What happened to the gangs of psychotic teenage matrist boys?
Thnx to jcash for the foto above, and to James DeMeo for the picture below (From Saharasia: The 4000 BCE Origins of Child Abuse, Sex-Repression, Warfare and Social violence in the Deserts of the Old World.)


Anne Johnson said...

I can guess the answer: They spread their doggone nasty genes everywhere, and that's why we've got the bomb.

Mike said...

So... plentiful resources, people are nice. Scare resources, people are cranky. Huh. Whodathunkit?

Athana said...

Actually, almost more important than their genes is the "culture" they created. "Culture": learned, shared, patterned and transmitted behavior. It's what makes us different from the Zulu or Iranians or the British. Our way of life. It gets codified. Passed on down through the generations. Hard to change once it gets started, because the whole of it makes sense, and if you change even one part of it, the whole really needs to change too. Thus the French tend to stay French, and Germans tend to stay German.

And it's why the patriarchal culture, once begun, just kept on getting replicated, from one generation to the next, down through time. It's like a flu that never goes away.

Athana said...

"...plentiful resources, people are nice. Scare resources, people are cranky."

Much more complex than that, Mike. Again -- it has to do with culture: learned, shared, patterned and transmitted behavior. Transmitted from one generation to the next, down through time.

Most of the peaceful, egalitarian, democratic matrists remained peaceful, egalitarian and democratic despite the encroachment of the desert. It took generations for their way of life to morph over into something the exact opposite. And even then, that opposite behavior had to become a fixed culture: something learned by children, something patterned, behavior shared by every single person in the group, transmitted by every person to every child.

Athana said...
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Athana said...
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Athana said...

And then too, Mike, "culture" is something of a mystery. What made the British the British, and the French the French? How did they get that way? Why aren't they alike? Why don't they ever change into each other? They live right next door to each other.

In grad school I had to read an entire book filled with almost nothing but different defintions of "culture." It's the central analytical and theoretical tool in cultural anthropology. It's far from a simple phenomenon. We don't fully understand it. But it's crucial to being human. It's what allows humans to exist (we aren't born with automatic operating instructions the way animals are).