August 5, 2008 | 7 Comments
On one side towers the pill, the 60s symbol of goddess, placing sexuality in the control of women and providing females the power to decide when to make love and if they will be fertile.
On the other side sits AIDS, symbol of patrifocal, socially conservative Republicanism, demanding that sex stop now and that contraception and abortion be banned.
The pill vs. the virus, joy vs. fear, matri vs. patri is the battle of social structures, the oldest human civil war of all, where the female newborns are the disappeared.
Often, when a new lion king takes over an established pride with kittens not obviously his own, he kills them. It has been estimated that this action is a naturally selected tendency since cats evidencing this behavior are more likely to pass it on to male progeny that retain the trait. Humans are horrified observing this conduct. Yet, female infanticide is widely practiced today in cultures seeking to retain vanishing male dominance in societies where ancient hierarchies are threatened.
Societies retain ideals of the perfect mate. Those ideals can vary radically from culture to culture, even varying from country to country in the West. Perfect mate ideals vary to the extreme in matrifocal and patrifocal societies. Strong, focused, controlling women hook up with cooperative, creative, non-combative men in matrifocal societies. Cooperative and responsive women mate with aggressive, hierarchical, controlling males in patrifocal societies. A host of positive and negative adjectives cluster around these four poles, morphing from culture to culture, with hybrids not uncommon. For example, many cultures value a strong, aggressive woman that will cooperate with a man’s demands.
Societies can transform from one extreme of social structure to the other, or seek to radically emphasize a patrifocal focus by controlling the number of girls that reach procreation age. Female infanticide is engaged in to prevent males that do not achieve the cultural ideal from mating and siring children with features not respected by that society.
In a warrior society, young girls are killed, usually by the mother, to prevent cowards from finding wives. Among the South American Yamamano, where female infanticide is extreme and a warrior can have several wives, many males go mateless, particularly those that show little talent for the fight. Female/male ratios approach 100:140 at puberty in many tribes.
In a highly classist society where family of origin is the most important trait, males from families with the fewest resources will find the girls all taken. In India, many females are aborted.
In intensely hierarchical societies such as China, where allegiance to position is highly valued, killing the girls, usually before they’re born, can prevent streaks of independence from appearing in a society that would damage ancient social scaffoldings. Independent behaving males would not be chosen as a mate.
Loosening up societal ideals of the perfect mate provides opportunities for far more variation in the look and behavior of that culture. Over thousands of years, a society can oscillate in social structure according to the number of girls it chooses to kill. It is no mistake that some of the world’s longest living, most stable societies are those that practice female infanticide. It is also no mistake that some of the most violent tribal cultures make the girls disappear.
Contraception empowers women as the ideal mate moves away from being the male in control. The Right Wing in our society holds up AIDS as support for their position that sex is dangerous and best left to contexts where the male makes the choices.
The vast creativities unleashed in the United States have had no small amount to do with there being far fewer constraints on the ideal mate than in other societies in the world. The barriers of fashionable traits in human beings began falling with the influx of widely varying tastes among immigrants. With staid, hierarchical societies like China and India now embracing ideals that encourage creative independence, watch for surges of creativity where baby girls will all soon be allowed to live.
(Click here to review how female infoeticide effects these issues.)