“Edward Westermarck in his early classic A Short History of Marriage (1968: 126-155) discussed consent as a condition for marriage. Females, he noted, most often were married off at the will of some male–father, family elders, uncle. It is to be noted that the male partner in such marriages, also, had little personal choice. However, Westermarck pointed out that females in the simplest hunting and gathering societies could–and did–refuse the assigned mate. Sometimes she could do this directly and in other societies by subtle, indirect action. She lost much of this freedom in technologically more advanced societies. Some of the strongest arguments against male dominant choice of females as sex partners can be found in the statistical, cross-cultural work of George Murdock (1949: 20-21). Out of 241 societies where his criteria could be applied, 163 involved some consideration: bride-price, bride service, or exchange of women. In other words, families made the decisions rather than the individuals involved. Regarding divorce, Murdock (1969: 175-76) found, somewhat surprisingly, that in thirty of forty societies there were no substantial differences in the rights of men and women to terminate a marriage. Only 15 percent actually had the stereotyped view where men controlled the action. If divorce involved equal female choice, isn’t it likely that she would have had much to say about the original marriage? Further analysis of mating practices in primitive society raises more questions as to male choice selecting for specific traits. Murdock’s worldwide sample of 250 societies (1949:263) showed that only three had a generalized sex taboo. Most of the others allowed premarital sex, extra-marital sex, wife-lending, etc., all of which could be involved in pregnancy with someone other than the social father.” (Smith, James M. (1976) Sexual selection in recent human populations. California Anthropologist 6 (1): pp. 20)

In the 1960s and early 1970s, there was much talk among the people I hung out with about the dramatic change in the youth of American society as we shifted toward more aboriginal or matrilineal values. From our perspective, it felt brand new, like we were inventing it. In some ways, we were. Still, there was a lineage that our beliefs and behaviors were emerging from that we were at least somewhat aware of. I’m referring to the easy coupling of the sexes, letting go of sexual possessive tendencies and jealousy, sharing of possessions, frequent use of mind-altering substances, choosing relational professions such as social work, reverence for nature, attraction to art and eating healthful food.

I look back now at this 60s surge in matrifocal tendencies and note that it seemed to quickly disappear with the ending of the draft. Indeed, our whole culture seems to have surged several times into hierarchical greed fests in the 1980s, 90s and again in the 00s. Less observed has been those 60s tendencies continuing to transform the culture, currents moving into the mainstream now.

Our consumer economy driven by females choosing products for herself and her family has been central to the transitional three generations bridging our hierarchical, male-dominated, patrifocal past to the horizontal, matrifocal partnership society we are embracing. Females are choosing once again, with males cooperating with the new gestalt. How we choose our mate is the single most important, culture-informing decision we can make. Literally everything else in society is impacted by that decision. As the power to choose is returned to the female, we are witnessing the neotenization of society as aboriginal, matrifocal values emerge in contemporary times.

With the consumer economy coming to a halt, our compulsion to exercise choice will settle down to matrifocal society’s natural, horizontal point of view. To neotenize society is to make society horizontal. From electing another left-handed president (lefties are usually neurologically matrifocal), sexualizing media, creating universal health care to experiencing the ascendancy of the web/cell culture we are transforming ourselves almost as fast as the last transformation when men on horses with a male sun god hacked the heads off agricultural matrilinealists.

In the 1960s, astonished by the gifts provided by altered states and the Pill, we saw connections and observed the repercussions that come with female control of procreation. If the female could have any man she wanted whenever she wanted and she could choose her own profession, society was going to change. And so it has.

Clearly, the U.S. couldn’t continue to consume 25% of the world’s resources, behaving like it was OK to control third-world economies across the planet. Greenhouse warming and environmental demands eventually had to be integrated into global cost/benefit analyses. At some point, a large enough percentage of Americans were going to identify with being earthlings rather than identify with being compliant, American White might-is-right underlings.

The 1960s spread like wildfire through youth culture as we felt connected by fear/anger regarding the war, the benefits of the Pill, altered states that the rest of society did not share and rock & roll. We were only dimly aware of the sexual-selection societal foundation that our feelings of feeling-part-of-something-larger-than-the-self were built upon. It is clear now. The age of the fathers is coming to an end.


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