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18 August 2011, 2:00 pm One Comment

Not Your Average Prom Queen: The Ancient Practice of Controlling Women

This post was submitted by Jean

When I’m not writing about LGBT issues, I’m writing about prehistoric worlds and the people and creatures that filled them. Although two seemingly different topics of interest, I find myself comparing bits and pieces of both subjects more often than one would imagine. I think part of the reason that I’m interested in issues of equality is because I’m interested in the past and how environments, creatures and ideas change over time. How some things grow and change, and how others are left in the dust.

I read a lot about human evolution, specifically how our ancestors evolved into modern humans and how we determine the dividing point between animals and humans. Some say the change came when our ancestors began to create art, others say when they formed family structures and began supporting the adults and children within those structures.

We often think about species of the past, such as the Neanderthals, as being so extremely far removed from our modern, advanced species. They did go extinct, after all. We picture hulking, stooping beasts, dragging women around by the hair, swinging clubs, void of advanced intellect. We imagine that they were did not survive because they could not evolve and adapt like Homo sapiens – they could not modernize. We actually know better than that Hollywood dramatized image of stupid cave-dwellers now. We know that Neanderthals were much like us, so much so that there is genetic proof that some of our ancestors interacted and bred with them.

I was shocked to learn that many modern day humans have Neanderthal DNA (although I found it somewhat humorous that the only ethnic group that didn’t interbreed with Neanderthals are peoples descended from Africa, people who had suffered from generations of unfair accusations of being “less modern” or “more primitive” which was largely at the root of slavery in the United States.) But, what I was more shocked to think about is how even in our modern society there is this constant steam of political and social issues that reflect a prehistoric attitude. I cannot understand how some of these beliefs have not been left in the dust with our Neanderthal cousins – like the discussion about whether or not women can make their own decisions.

Apparently Michelle Bachman can’t – or perhaps chooses not to. She said in 2006 that her husband told her to get a degree in tax law, even though she didn’t want to, and then to run for Congress, and she had to do it. He’s her husband and she should be submissive. This is a woman who wants to be President of the United States, but believes its her duty to be submissive to her husband. Sooo…why isn’t he running for President?

Also reactions to the new test that can determine the sex of an unborn baby at 7 weeks. People are seriously acting like this new test will cause women to abort babies left and right because they aren’t happy with the sex of this child – so we shouldn’t allow this test because it will cause women to go abortion crazy. A woman who wants to have a child will have a child regardless of sex, and a woman who does not want to have a child would terminate regardless of sex. These people are pretending that the new test doesn’t have an advantage in finding sex-linked diseases. In places like China or India, where often having a girl child is unfavorable – the test won’t make a difference. That child will be a girl or a boy at 7 weeks, 12 weeks and 30 weeks.

Presidential hopeful and overall jackass Rick Perry passed the law that required doctors to show a woman a sonogram and make her listen to her babies heart beat before obtaining an abortion, as thought women who are making the difficult decision of abortion doesn’t know what’s going on inside her body. Some how the state governor knows better than she does whether or not she wants to carry her baby to term.

How is it possible that attitudes like this continue to exist in our “modern” society? Primitive thoughts and behaviors that perpetuate a belief that women cannot think for themselves, cannot make their own decisions, must be submissive to their husbands and on and on, are beyond our worst creative renderings of the uncivilized Neanderthals. Maybe that 1-4% of Neanderthal blood is keeping us in the past, or maybe they understood equality better than some Americans do. Its hard to tell which.

We remember when it was more common to frame women as helpless and men as caretakers, like in this commercial from a bygone era, but times have changed…right?


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