From Rebecca Solnit’s brilliant piece of debunkery, “Easy Chair: Shooting Down Man the Hunter,” in the June 2015 Harper’s. She sharply delineates a particular viewpoint I share. (I’ve bolded a couple of key sentences):
Sooner or later in conversations about who we are, who we have been, and who we can be, someone will tell a story about Man the Hunter. It’s a story not just about Man but about Women and Child too. There are countless variants, but all of them go something like this: In primordial times men went out and hunted and brought home meat to feed women and children, who sat around being dependent on them. In most versions, the story is set in nuclear units, such that men provide only for their own family, and women have no community to help with the kids. In every version, women are baggage that breeds.
Everyone contributes. You could call women dependent, but only if you were willing to call men the same thing. Dependency isn’t a very helpful measure; interdependency might be better. Useless and dependent isn’t what most women have been, and it isn’t what most women are now. Seemingly ancient tales about Man the Hunter, the idea that men are givers and women are takers, that men work and women are idle, are nothing more than justifications of present-day political positions. A perfect specimen of a men’s-rights ranter wrote on social media earlier this year that women have not evolved at all
because women never worked….And now we have ended up with this cancerous cesspool of female degeneration we all suffer from, day in day out. We need to put women into the world all alone and without help and let them die or survive without any sort of help or interference so they can catch up on evolution and reach the state of being human too.
Patriarchy–meaning both male domination and societies obsessed with patrilineal descent, which requires strict control over female sexuality–has, in many times and places, created many versions of dependent, unproductive women, who are disabled by dress or body modification, restricted to the home, and limited in their access to education, employment, and profession by laws and customs backed by threats of violence. Some misogynists complain that women are immobile burdens, but much misogyny has striven to make women so.