Men thinking they are better than women has a long history. So long in fact, that evidence that patriarchal systems were not universal amongst ancient pre-western cultures comes as a surprise to some people. For example, New Zealand Māori women were completely confused by colonialists who treated them as inferior to their male counterparts. Their Polynesian ancestry had some gender stereotyping, however, harsh rigid gender expectations were not mandated. Some Māori women were warriors and caring for young children was not defined as a solely a female duty.
The situation in New Zealand is not unique. From Persia to Czech, and across the Euro-centric oceans to the First Nation people of the Americas and Australian and beyond, western sexism projected its distinct narcissistic persona.
The subjectiveness of western patriarchal values shines through in things like psychoanalytical theory which projects the “archetype” of first human being a male as a cosmic truism because it’s featured in a lot of European myths. I wonder how many psychoanalysts are aware that some Māori creation stories depict a female, Hineahuone, to be the first human? She was made from the soil by the great creator Tane. This “myth” contrasts to the Jewish (Babylonian) “story” (which is considered fact to some Christian’s) which depicts Adam*, a male, to be the first human. Wherever there is an exception to the rule, there is no rule.
*According to many interpretations of the Torah/Old Testament, the name “Adam” is to more precisely interpreted as being a non-binary term that depicts humans in general. Symbolically, the non-gendered Adam is symbolic of first humans all being hermaphrodites, like some fish species. Ergo, Genesis is a symbolic story of human development (seven days doesn’t really mean seven days as we understand it today, etc.). To put it briefly, Adam represents the physical creation of humans (earth and water), which subsequently mixes with soul and spirit (air and fire) that eventually evolves to what we understand to be contemporary humans. In turn, masculine and feminine become linguistic symbols of matter and spirit.
Western Adam and Eve
How, when, and why did western ideas of male dominance become prominent? The situation is long and detailed, which I’ve described in detail elsewhere. The purpose of this blog is to cut to the chase and state the short version: male supremacy arose due to the (religious) belief that humans who have female physical form also a soul that is inferior to those who are born with a male physical form which is supposedly superior because because it is more like “God’s spirit”. Don’t believe me? Just ask Aristotle, this opinion is most evident in Politics.
In a nutshell, Ancient Greek “science” concluded that all females were inferior to males because their souls were supposedly like animals that needed to be domesticated. It is a fallacy, a narcissistic confabulation, that has endured for far too long.
Western cultures (ie. groups of people descended from Greco-Roman influences) have been subject to this gaslighting for far too long.
When did feminism begin?
According to contemporary thought, feminism began roughly in the mid 1800s when the seeds of suffrage emerged. However, in reviewing this history it also needs to be acknowledged that this is also the emergence of male suffrage. It was not just females who were subjected to ideals of “inferior souls”. Males too were perceived as being “less than” if they did not own land or were credited with scholastic-based education (Dante expressed this well in his writings about the Monarchy, who historically perceive themselves to be closer to God than other humans).
The Brain as Seat of the Soul
It is well established in Greek philosophy that the brain was duly believed to be the organism that links the physical being to the spiritual. Whether or not that is true (some say it is the whole physical being that connects humans to the spiritual), is irrelevant to common conjecture and sexist assumptions. Apparently, people born with female anatomy have an innate inferior connection to the unseen spiritual realm. The Roman’s obviously ran with this “science” which is why the Roman Catholic Church won’t allow women to become priests. If they could have foresee Gina Rippon research contradicts their ideas I wonder if such a hard line would have been drawn?
Personally, I love examining the work of Samual Soemmerring. On one hand, he supported feminist objectives by scientifically proving a woman’s skeleton was not that different to a males, moreover, corsets were damaging to a female’s health. Nonetheless, he was still misogynist in his belief that souls born into a female form were inferior to those born into a male form. *Sigh*, at least the Smithonian’s believed the redeemer of western society would be born a woman.
Whilst patriarchs, like Jordan Peterson, continue the Aristotelian tradition that male’s are superior (because of their anatomy), let’s not forget that science and many ideologies do not agree.
Iamblichus, in his writings to a Greek, duly pointed out that some men could be “feminine” and some women were more “masculine”. He clearly stated that the spiritual disposition of individuals was not dependent upon their physical appearance. Perhaps this last Egyptian priest understood more about what it meant to be human than contemporary men who follow sexist ideals?