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Origins of Patriarchy

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In our modern society men are in control of most resources and tend to have more power. This raises a question, has it always been this way? Is patriarchy natural, meaning it is set in our genes, or is it historical? In the first section of Worlds Of History Kevin Reilly provides various sources to try to prove his point that patriarchy is historical. He takes sources which show that in each stage of food production, those being hunter gathering, horticulture, and plough based agriculture, had different genders in power. An article by The Economist discusses a French historian’s description of how power shifted from females to males after the adoption of the plough in Mesopotamia. When putting together the sources from Kevin Reilly and the article from The Economist a full and coherent argument is made to prove that patriarchy is historical.
In hunter gatherer communities, men and women seem to have an equal amount of power. In his second source, Reilly provides part of a story from a present-day !Kung woman named Nisa. Though this may not be an accurate representation of people who lived over ten thousand years ago, her story is one of the closest resources we have today. In this tribe it seems as though age is more important than gender, “When adults talked to me, I listened.” (Shostak 11) Nisa says as she begins her story. The passage “My mother said, ‘Nonsense. When I tell you I’m going to give you a husband, why do you say you want me to marry him? Why are you talking to me like this?’” (Shostak 12) demonstrates that men were seen as an object that was given to a woman in marriage. This shows that women did in fact have power over men. However, men did have power too, “That’s when my father said, ‘No, don’t do all the talking...

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...king at each period of agriculture both the magazine and the book have shown that due to a shift in power from male to female in all three stages patriarchy can in no way be considered natural.

Works Cited

Boulding, Elise. “Women and the Agricultural Revolution”. Worlds of History: A Comparative Reader. Vol. One: To 1550. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2004. 16-20

Lerner, Gerda. “The Urban Revolution: Origins of Patriarchy”. Worlds of History: A Comparative Reader. Vol. One: To 1550. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2004. 21-28

Shostak, Marjorie. “Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman”. Worlds of History: A Comparative Reader. Vol. One: To 1550. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2004. 10-16.

Reilly, Kevin. Worlds of History: A Comparative Reader. Vol. One: To 1550. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2004. 1-28

“The Plough and the Now” The Economist. 23 July 2011: 74.
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