A Thought Adventure

Sunday, September 20, 2015

3. The Beginning Digs

One thing that inspired me to construct my theory about the origin of sexism was the conviction that, to succeed in getting rid of this now several thousand-year-old peculiarity, we need to find an answer to how it began.

At the dawn of recorded history (written language was first invented c 3200 BCE), most of society was already male-ruled. So to find the roots of misogyny we must delve into pre-patriarchal times. Given that much of our knowledge about this early period only exists in myth and legend, my effort at reviving it consists to a large extent of ideas and hypotheses that are based on informed suppositions rather than on scientific evidence.

Many discard attempts at theorizing about what happened before recorded history because it may not be scientifically provable. To them I offer the objection that what can’t be proved also can’t be disproved. We may never have a conclusive answer to what kind of society existed in the prehistoric and pre-literate era, but why should that prevent us from doing some educated guesswork? 

Let’s also keep in mind that a real myth (by which I mean myth in the original sense of the word) is an interpretation of something in nature; it has nothing to do with the supernatural nor is it a synonym for a falsehood. “Myths,” says one Greek scholar, Edith Hamilton, “are early science, the result of men’s first trying to explain what they saw around them,” Another, Jane Ellen Harrison,, points out that “Mythology invents a reason for a fact, it does not base a fact on a fancy.”

As far as possible I do, however, take my speculative leaps and broad generalizations from a foundation of facts (historical accounts of remaining matriarchies, research in archeology, anthropology, mythology, art and analytic psychology). For the rest I feel all right to give my imagination free rein--as long as I retain the coolness of my judgment and, to quote Sigmund Freud, “do not mistake the scaffolding for the building.” I don’t presume to be right; all I want is to launch ideas and stimulate a discussion.

It’ll take me a while, okay, before I get down to it all. But if you like ideas that besides apprehending facts also try to comprehend the world and ourselves, and if you don’t mind the winding road, welcome on board the bandwagon of my Thought Adventure.

The gist of my theory.
Men don't put women down because they consider them lesser than men (as we’ve been made to believe and it certainly looks like). On the contrary, they do it because they want to claim for themselves what they perceive to be women’s higher rank. Men’s chief motive for oppressing women is the desire to overcome a monumental Inferiority, or Mother, Complex inflicted on them by a pre-patriarchal matriarchy and rooted in a deep, and deeply repressed, fear of female power. It’s against this ancient social order--where women are the first sex due to their fertility and men are sacrificed on the altar of a Great Mother Goddess--that patriarchy arises in revolt.

Differently put, women were the first sexists.

Let me start by explaining what I mean by the male inferiority complex, in which I see the key to what‘s gone wrong with men‘s sexual instincts. See next post.

Mother Goddess from Ҫatal Huyük (6000-5500 BCE) Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara 

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