Patriarchy

In-depth evaluation of specific Wikipedia articles.
Proabivouac
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Patriarchy

Post by Proabivouac » Sat Jun 09, 2018 9:09 pm

One of the most warped and disinformative articles on Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?ti ... =843753015
WIkipedia wrote: Some scholars point to about six thousand years ago (4000 BCE), when the concept of fatherhood took root, as the beginning of the spread of patriarchy.

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Auggie
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Re: Patriarchy

Post by Auggie » Sun Jun 10, 2018 2:08 am

Oh those scholars. When they point out something you know it must be true.

Proabivouac
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Re: Patriarchy

Post by Proabivouac » Sun Jun 10, 2018 2:54 am

Auggie wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 2:08 am
Oh those scholars. When they point out something you know it must be true.
Like the following, it's complete nonsense:
Wikipedia wrote: Anthropological, archaeological, and evolutionary psychological evidence suggests that most prehistoric hunter-gatherer societies were relatively egalitarian, and that patriarchal social structures did not develop until many years after the end of the Pleistocene era, following social and technological developments such as agriculture and domestication.
This myth comes from Engels (1884) who added a theory of class development to the speculations of Lewis Henry Morgan about the origins of kinship. Very little was known about aboriginal societies at that time. No one takes it seriously anymore, except in feminism where thanks to de Beauvoir (1949) it remains a part of the canon, as if the earth were still flat and God created man from dust and woman from his rib. There are next to no anthropologists on WIkipedia, but there is no shortage of feminist activists; hence this important article which should have been about the original social system of modern humanity reflects that systemic bias.

It is completely true that early modern human societies were not just relatively but radically egalitarian in comparison to other primates and to ancient and modern societies alike. They were also quite literally patriarchies (see below.) That this might induce cognitive dissonance among some readers is a symptom of their miseducation.
Wikipedia wrote: Patriarchy literally means "the rule of the father and comes from the Greek πατριάρχης (patriarkhēs), "father of a race" or "chief of a race, patriarch", which is a compound of πατριά (patria), "lineage, descent" (from πατήρ patēr, "father") and ἄρχω (arkhō), "I rule". Historically, the term patriarchy was used to refer to autocratic rule by the male head of a family. However, in modern times, it more generally refers to social systems in which power is primarily held by adult men. Sylvia Walby defines patriarchy as "a system of interrelated social structures which allow men to exploit women."
Patriarchy means rule by older male relatives, not by men generically. However, we feminists use it to mean all kinds of random bullshit, so this article will focus on those.
Last edited by Proabivouac on Sun Jun 10, 2018 9:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.

sashi
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Re: Patriarchy

Post by sashi » Sun Jun 10, 2018 8:10 pm

Are you an anthropologist? Do you have good reading suggestions which are better than Engels or De Beauvoir? I've always found Pateman's origin stories about social contracts more perceptive than Locke's.

Proabivouac
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Re: Patriarchy

Post by Proabivouac » Sun Jun 10, 2018 9:40 pm

sashi wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 8:10 pm
Are you an anthropologist? Do you have good reading suggestions which are better than Engels or De Beauvoir?
I am an anthropological linguist, so not strictly an anthropologist but it is not entirely outside of the realm of my interest and expertise. You'd be suprised how much one can learn about society from dictionaries, and in many instances my sources are primarily ethnographic in scope. As for a "cure for Engels" reading list, this is an excellent idea, but I've not yet gotten around to assembling one – my immediate interest is tracing the origins of modern feminist thought (I am currently reading MacKinnon,) and my basis for rebutting Engels and Morgan is primarily my own study of aboriginal societies, many of which are hunter-gatherers which according to Engels have no class (true) and hence no marriage (false.) (This is not to say that their being wrong is my "original research", rather that I haven't bothered to collect citations for what is blindingly obvious and known to all in the field.) Even de Beauvoir felt compelled to correct Engels on one key point: in Engels' timeline marriage began with pastoralism ("Turanianism") which was said to have predated the advent of agriculture, but by the mid-20th century this had long been known to be untrue.

Morgan's vision of "group marriage" just outside the horizon of attestation was the basis of Engels' claim that marriage arose with the development of class distinctions. This speculation was based upon polysemies in American kinship terms, which are indeed very common worldwide, such that "mother" means also "mother's sister" and "father" means also "father's brother." Morgan hypothesized that language would be ultra-conservative in this respect and thus provide evidence of prior unattested states. In reality, these polysemies are components of a system which tracks both patrilines and matrilines: your cross-cousin (i.e. mother's brother's child or father's sister's child) is perfectly fine marriage partner, but your parallel cousin (mother's sister's child or father's brother's child) is totally off limits as they share with you either a patriline or a matriline or both.

To this speculation Engels added a smattering of wrong early reports, such as the specious and frankly racist claim that Australians had no idea who their fathers were, as proof of Morgan's vision. Several thousand ethnographies later, the situation Morgan thought just beyond view in the Americas and Polynesia turned out to be completely unattested anywhere: all attested human societies track paternity and have marriage. The hunter-gatherer Australians, for example, were shown to have the most elaborate systems of kinship terminology on record. On this basis alone, we can confidently state that the idea that marriage and patriarchy arose only with the development of pastoralism and/or agriculture is completely false.

All this is why de Waal's research on bonobos (a single group of captives in a German zoo) was seized upon and celebrated by Marxist feminists, who greeted it as the long-sought missing piece in Engels' (really Morgan's) vision, although even taken at face value (which it shouldn't be) it is nothing of the sort.
sashi wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 8:10 pm
I've always found Pateman's origin stories about social contracts more perceptive than Locke's.
I am not any kind of philosopher, but Locke's framing of the situation after a priori reasoning bears no resemblance at all to any attested human society at any stage of development. Basically nothing was known about anthropology at the time; perhaps we cannot fault them for guessing, but that is all it was. There is no need for guessing as there is now no shortage of evidence for us to consider. Of course even if we are confident in a reconstruction of the most recent common ancestor of attested human societies, this cannot directly answer what society was like prior to this common ancestor; for that we must look to primatology and probably inevitably a non-trivial element of extrapolatory reasoning. But at least we can frame the questions against firm empirical ground.

sashi
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Re: Patriarchy

Post by sashi » Sun Jun 10, 2018 10:36 pm

Yes, you've told me that before (about being an anthropological linguist). I went back looking through mail here after posting that but didn't find any PMs, it must have been in another thread. Sorry for being forgetful.

The only thing I would say from a linguistic perspective is that words change meanings over time. There are nearly 8 billion people on the planet today, so synchronic meaning may be more important than diachronic meaning, especially for such an international word. Spinning words is half the battle.

Still, to what degree were dowries and/or potlatch part of this relationship between families / sexes in the communities you've studied?

Thinking of the story of Aicha, I can't help but imagine that patriarchy is a relevant metaphor across communities. If elaborate systems of kinship terminology have been cooked up, there must be a reason for it, right?

ps: just in case it isn't obvious (which it probably isn't) I do see what you are saying about the sections from Wikipedia you cite. But wadayawant? It's Mickeypedia.

Proabivouac
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Re: Patriarchy

Post by Proabivouac » Sun Jun 10, 2018 10:48 pm

sashi wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 10:36 pm
Still, to what degree were dowries and/or potlatch part of this relationship between families / sexes in the communities you've studied?
In the societies which I know best, those of New Guinea and its vicinity, brideprice is the norm. You can see here that Blust reconstructs "brideprice" for Proto-Austronesian as well:

http://www.trussel2.com/acd/acd-s_b.htm#25306

I don't know enough about dowry systems to usefully weigh in upon why societies have either one or the other, though I know much has been written about this.

sashi
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Re: Patriarchy

Post by sashi » Sun Jun 10, 2018 11:18 pm

"beli -- to buy" is what I found. (after a long look and getting distracted by belékét which apparently is a way to get married (to a pig?!) ^^

I also stumbled across the fact that Wikipedia is suprisingly prudish in not naming the phallocracy. How else can you explain the giant pickles in London and Doha?

Proabivouac
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Re: Patriarchy

Post by Proabivouac » Sun Jun 10, 2018 11:25 pm

sashi wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 11:18 pm
"beli -- to buy" is what I found. (after a long look and getting distracted by belékét which apparently is a way to get married (to a pig?!) ^^
Here proto-Austronesian is based upon Paiwan <veli> "buy, sell" and proto-Malayo-Polynesian <*beli>, the gloss for the latter being "value, price; marriage prestations, brideprice; purchase." It is common sense that brideprice precedes the price of goods in a market. To take one example in this list, Drabbe (1932: 11) gives Jamdeensch (i.e. Yamdena) "béli-n, koopsom van een bruid; n-ose bate bélin, de koopsom eener vrouw betalen; na-béli, handel drijven."
Last edited by Proabivouac on Sun Jun 10, 2018 11:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

sashi
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Re: Patriarchy

Post by sashi » Sun Jun 10, 2018 11:29 pm

In related obscure etymology matters, price & porn are thought to be from the same IE root. Sex is obviously a source of value to society.

That said I'm not fond of common sense explanations of "chicken / egg" stories... (I wasn't there.)

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