So said Agustin Fuentes on Twitter, a few days ago. He’s the same guy that said “Genes don’t do anything by themselves; epigenetics and complex metabolic and developmental systems are at play in how bodies work. The roundworm C. elegans has about 20,000 genes while humans have about 23,000 genes, yet it is pretty obvious that humans are more than 15-percent more complex than roundworms. So while genes matter, they are only a small part of the whole evolutionary picture. Focusing just on DNA won’t get you anywhere.”
Fuentes was claiming that we don’t really know that, back in prehistory, men did most of the hunting while women gathered. “Men hunted and fought one another and women did not? For the vast majority of human evolution we do not have clear evidence that only men hunted. In fact, for some ancient humans there is strong likelihood that both sexes did participate in hunting. And, importantly, earlier humans were substantially more robust that we are today…that is, a large percentage of females in the past were more robust than many males are today. Plus, depending on what hunting technology you use, size and muscle density might not be critical factors. Also, the evidence of interpersonal violence is pretty minimal for much of human history, insufficient to see if there was a sex-based pattern. When we do start to see more robust evidence for lethal violence (war-like events) the distribution of injuries and evidence of participation is not biased by sex and until quite recently (last 7,000 years or so). There are no clear biases one way or the other in regards to gender representation in hunting and violence until very recently. Not to say that such differences did not exist but to assert they existed and that they were as they are today is not science, it is speculation.”
Someone (Will@Evolving _Moloch) criticized this as a good candidate for the most misleading paragraph ever written. The folly of youth! When you’ve been around as long as I have, sonny, you will realize how hard it is to set records for stupidity.
Fuente’s para is multidimensional crap, of course. People used to hunt animals like red deer, or bison, or eland: sometimes mammoths or rhinos. Big animals. Back in the day, our ancestors used stabbing spears, which go back at least half a million years. Stand-off weapons like atlatls, or bows, or JSOW, are relatively recent. Hunters took big risks & suffered frequent injuries. Men are almost twice as strong as women, particularly in upper-body strength, which is what matters in spear-chucking. They’re also faster, which can be very important which your ambush fails.
So men did the hunting. This isn’t complicated.
Which contemporary hunter-gather societies followed this pattern, had men do almost all of the big-game hunting? All of them.
Pregnancy is not that big a deal for the average predator: females keep hunting successfully when gravid. But for humans it’s a big deal. And human infants are unusually helpless, take a long time before they can do much for themselves. Do you think Cro-Magnon men nursed the rugrats?
The bit about’the evidence of interpersonal violence is pretty minimal for much of human history” is true in a sense: for much of human prehistory, we don’t have much evidence, period. Data is particular sparse for our main direct ancestors, in Africa: we just don’t have many hominid skeletons from there. We have an order of magnitude more Neanderthal skeletons: limestone caves are way better than slightly acidic forest floors for preserving bones, the local farmers and construction crews in Europe are educated and call a prof when they stumble onto something, etc.
We know more from European remains, Neanderthals, homo antecessor at the Atapuerca caves, etc. Cannibals. A strong sign of interpersonal violence, if you ask me.
People used to have much thicker skulls. More than once, an h. erectus skull has been mistaken for a turtle shell. Why? To keep out the rain? Clubs. Why did skulls become gracile? Distance weapons largely replaced clubs, so there was less payoff for thick skulls. Just as guns ended plate armor.
Do our close relatives, chimpanzees and gorillas, kill each other? Sure. All the time.
Low levels of interpersonal violence in the Pleistocene? Crap. Gender equalitarianism in distant prehistory ? Also crap: it never happened. You’d have to be a moron to believe that.
Look, feminists aren’t happy with human nature, the one that actually exists and is the product of long-term evolutionary pressures. Too bad for them. When they say stuff like “It should not simply be assumed that the exclusion of women from hunting rests upon “natural” physiological differences. “, they just sound like fools.. ‘natural physiological differences” exist. They’re as obvious a punch in the kisser.
Suppose you wanted to construct a society with effective sexual equality – which is probably just a mistake, but suppose it. The most effective approach would surely entail knowing and taking into account how the world actually ticks. You’d be better off understanding that about 6,000 genes (out of 20,000) show significant expression differences between the sexes, than by pretending that we’re all the same. You would have to make it so: by hook or by crook, by state force and genetic engineering.
Similarly, if you want to minimize war, pretending that people aren’t warlike is a poor start – about as sensible as fighting forest fires by pretending that trees aren’t flammable.
My advice to Agustin Fuentes, about not being a moron: show, don’t tell.