That's pretty much my assumption in all our conversations, which is why I'm not going to take you down like a wild puma on a deer over "boogeyman of second wave feminism." :)
Originally Posted by Fung Koo
I would imagine it was both. Once human populations started shifting to agriculture and staying put -- which had a number of advantages for humans -- it became necessary for most of the women to stay with the youngest children most of the time, (which meant that they were also going to be doing a lot of the work to watch over the crops,) making it even more necessary for men to roam outwards for more food sources, resources and trade, including acquiring assets by war. This necessity also gave men a number of freedoms and opportunities, as well as risks. One of those would be mating with women in more than one place, which would not then necessarily mean that the man then would work to help all his children. Matrifocal societies developed well on throughout history and cultures did sometime shape themselves to that, with men's lodges where the men stayed and boys went when they were old enough. Another system obviously was the multi-generational extended family, where the woman had a support system of relatives, her own or her mate's. How much power she had in that system depended on the culture that developed.
OK, but what does this say about the power arrangement? Is freedom of mobility a denotation of power in the kind of society you're describing here? Is it even "freedom"? Or necessity?
It would depend on the culture that developed and the circumstances of the region. The larger the culture that developed and the larger its trade with other systems, the more patriarchal it tended to get. For instance, the matriarchal and/or goddess worshiping early cultures of Japan are believed to have been subjugated by invading and more patriarchal China. The current and long term matrifocal societies of the Caribbean stemmed from slavery there. It's a pattern that has persisted throughout our globe through most of our history. The men head out on the boats or the oil rigs, etc. and the women stay home with kids and work in the canneries, the textile factories, etc. (although there is crossover.) A woman might have been a servant and able to raise her kids in the home of her employer, but her husband is not employed by the same person and not there at all or most of the time. Before that, the woman would have been a serf and so on.
But as a question of power arrangement, is this something that you're describing as patriarchal, matriarchal, neither, both, or something else altogether?
It was, that's why land ownership became very important. An entire mobile community might raid a place and then try to hold it, setting up a permanent camp. Then they would farm, raise structures and the bandit chief might declare himself a lord or a king. We know that women were in armies and part of army operations. We know that women participated in trade and craft making and businesses. We know that women ran farms, ran fortress siege defense and other defenses, that women would travel looking for better opportunities, re famine or disease. We know that women had opportunities for roles in male-dominated societies if they ran certain gauntlets or were in certain groups. We know sometimes women ruled or at least nominally ruled or ruled through the backdoor, depending on the cultural laws. But the need to care for small children, to nurse them as the easiest and most effective way, and being pregnant before that, was a major factor for women. It made them less mobile and also easier to constrain. That's why childcare issues are still big issues for feminism -- it's very easy to lock women out of areas you don't want them in through their children.
Staying still, in a society that is constantly on the move, would probably be a luxury, wouldn't it?
"A girl in every port." They didn't necessarily collect the boys. If you were say a peasant soldier in one of the Crusades, and you got an Arab woman pregnant, you just left with the army (or died.) The kid then might be considered an outcast, not because of a lack of father but because of taboos on ethnic blending. The kid then might have to roam away from the Arab culture as an adult to another culture. The peasant soldier was sent by his master because he was a serf, and on return, might find any family he had moved to another holding by his master or his woman taken up with another man. Or he might desert into a city, where if he could escape notice for a year, in some countries by law he'd become a serf no more and could start yet another family. And that still goes on today in a fashion. People did not marry (and in earl cultures probably didn't have marriage rites,) and if they did, say, in medieval times, it was not usually by a priest. Marriage was -- and still is -- a trade transaction. It's a business contract, and in many cultures for centuries, the business contract was not between the man and the woman, but between the man and whoever owned the woman, such as her family. And that also still goes on today.
This is really interesting. The men basically end up having ladies in all the different towns, right? So men move between these "wives" (breeding stations?) exchanging/trading the things they hunt for a place to crash, spread their seed, collect the boys, and move on (rinse, repeat).
I'm not imagining any arrangement; I'm talking about history. The limitation on mobility was due to a combo of change to settled agriculture, regional geographic circumstances, biological situation of childbirth and early care, and in many cultures, force, including law, religion and various forms of slavery. But there are also nomadic societies still and in those societies, the women and children are mobile, but the society may be matriarchally leaning or patriarchal, may have slavery or not, but they tend not to be matrifocal.
But the argument included here is that the limitation on mobility is mostly a result of the biological factor or childbirth, not necessarily force. What sort of control over the women are you imagining in this arrangement?
I'm not poo-pooing famine as a factor, but I will say that historically, I don't think there seems to be a correlation between famine and patriarchal cultures versus abundance cultures that are non-patriarchal. Patriarchal cultures developed in both. Both abundant and famine cultures had both war and trade as factors, though, and any culture with slavery, which might be either, is usually patriarchal. I also don't know how a society in the past would slow down on the baby-making. That's been relatively impossible for societies to do until very recently -- and with that control, there has been an increase in women's legal standing as actual humans and entry into sectors of trade. If women are able to control their fertility, then they usually develop a bigger say in the economy and the economy tends to improve and grow. We're seeing this in parts of Africa, for instance, and in India, etc. But though there were early birth control methods, mostly these were not easily available to women for most of history, as someone else noted. In abundance cultures, women were able to have more children to term. Of course, in a hypothetical culture, you could come up with a way for them to be able to slow baby-making, one way or another.
Even if the society with the better mortality rate bred children at the same rate (as if they had a rate of 12), then we'd be seeing effects like rapid population increase, cultural border expansion, resource-acquisition expansion... at least until they reach a maximum relative to the food source. The society could alternatively slow down on the baby making,
What you do get in Earth history is this weird loop -- agriculture provides settlements which grow, women are less mobile, men roam out in trade and war (trade,) women are more disposable and less valuable in cultures, slavery develops and is part of trade, patriarchy spreads through trade and war, technology develops from trade (including birth control,) moving the societies away from a mainstay of agriculture, technology improves access to education, increases trade and cultural interactions, technology and improved access to education increase opportunities for women in trade and improves their legal standing as equal humans, societies become more egalitarian. At least some of the time. So the key shaper of things tends to be long-roaming trade and interaction.
Exists where exactly?
.which sort of seems like what exists,
Well no, it does not exist to protect its women. Women are disposable in a patriarchy. They are property -- chattel as they're called in the Torah and the Christian Bible. Their legal standing ranges somewhere between slave and child, depending on the culture. Protecting women as ideology is protecting property, the same as you do with land, livestock, possessions. That would essentially make them valuable, as property, but women are easily replaced property. That's what mobility and trade provided. The important thing in many types of patriarchies is to make sure that they only produce offspring that are yours, which requires controlling and often isolating them through culture and law. So the other half of the ideology is keeping women from legal standing as humans and thus from being involved in trade and any political power. They can't handle it (not human or are children,) is given as the reason, and must be protected (not given legal standing, enslaved and/or limited.) The more people who can have trade power, the more you have to share -- this is part of prejudice of many kinds. In the long term, that sharing benefits your economy and produces more trade, but many humans are not worried about long term. Up until about the mid-1800's for instance, in Europe and North America, when a woman married, her property became her husband's. They legally became one person -- him -- and the woman could not buy and own property herself. She no longer had legal standing as a separate and equal human. I'm sure that the rationale was protection, but the reality was that it was simply seizing her goods, or more commonly the marriage was a business transaction between the woman's family and the man. Her husband could also beat her and rape her without it being illegal because legally, she's his to do with what he will. However, in those cultures at that time, if the husband killed the wife, even though she was his property, that became a problem because women did in many areas have the legal standing of children (minors.) But in other cultures, and earlier cultures, a man could kill his wife legally.
Even the most brutal patriarchy ostensibly exists (according to its own ideology) to protect its women.
Even in a matrifocal culture, this can be the case. The man returns and can kill, beat, rape, etc. the wife or mate and it may be legal under the law. The woman may have to turn over property to the man because it's the law, etc. It is the legal standing of a gender or group that effects things when we're talking about archies.
I would not argue that men are not disposable. The premise of slavery is that both sexes and children are disposable. And both sexes died at a high rate with short life spans whether they were settled or roamed. (There is, however, a correlation between your famine/abundance and life span obviously. In more abundant countries, people live longer on average and the wealthiest live the longest.) However, many cultures developed the legal primacy of men, which gives men rights as humans if they are not in a slave group in the culture. How many rights you have is key -- you may be able to do some things and not other things in the culture. Patriarchies reserve the top opportunities for acceptable males. A matriarchy would also reserve the top opportunities for acceptable females.
A counter viewpoint would suggest that a lot of the 'opportunities' available to men come from the relative disposability of males.
They weren't sent out; they went out and it provided culturally forms of status and property rewards. However, the culture might require them to go out as a rite of passage, which is being sent out. The type of roaming and duration and whether males returned even if alive depended on the culture.
Men were sent out to hunt, find food, defend territory, and generally run a near constant increased risk of death.
Urbanization tends to increase mobility, not decrease it, because there's more trade and cultural interaction.
When agriculture and urbanization come along, male mobility
decreases but does not end
Well again, women were involved in fishing, mining, war action, trade caravans, factories with heavy machinery, etc., all the dangerous trades, including the trade that was dangerous up until relatively recently -- agriculture. Pearl diving -- women are good at that. Hard labor, field picking, etc., and they continue to be. But how much they were involved depended greatly on culture, circumstances, slavery, etc. And it doesn't change the fact that women did not do as much long-roaming trade because of childcare and because food sources became largely settled -- agriculture, and because they were limited in participating in many areas because of cultural laws. Again, both sexes are disposable. The reason women live longer -- and they do even if men don't roam and work in safe cubicles -- and females live longer in many species, they think is biological, due to mitochondrial mutations over time that effect how men age. Women may not be subject to the effects of such mutations or effected as much because of their reproductive cycle.
we still have all sorts of dangerous trades being under the purview of men. Things like fishing, sailing, mining, and military roles, all have terribly high mortality rates throughout history.
Historically, this would be bunk. :)
The modern point of view is that women were forcibly kept out of such roles as the military by men. It's just as likely that women, quite intelligently, preferred the men to occupy these roles -- whether because of the biological imperative and inherent disposibility of men, or because women have some degree of control over this and see that it's a horrible, horrible sort of fate. Or it ended up that way for very good reasons once upon a time, but now it doesn't make sense any more.
Several million horny young men in China right now who can't find wives would be an example that biological imperatives (women bear children and are needed in the population,) don't necessarily mesh with cultural ones (women are disposable and not desirable, especially if you're only allowed one child.) We have many long cultural traditions of killing female babies in large numbers. Culturally, people are not always rational actors and there is path dependence besides. The issue in a culture is a particular person's legal standing as a human in the culture. In patriarchal cultures women have no legal standing to a limited legal standing. It's not an either or, two box system. So you might, in fiction, have a matriarchal culture in which women get the top jobs, run the government and top areas of culture, etc., and men can own property and participate in trade but have no say in the government. Lots of ways to work it.
Because women are not disposable.