The female body and the origins of patriarchy

Photograph: Alamy

“Women have been conditioned to think their bodies are ‘dirty’ or abnormal since the beginning of time,” writes Arwa Mahdawi (, 18 January). Untrue. Human society (at least, most human societies) began to degenerate into patriarchy about 12,000 years ago, with the advent of agriculture and land ownership.

The previous hunter-gatherer societies were egalitarian; some were matrifocal and matriarchal. Women were honoured as the creators of new life, and the most important deities were female. The domineering and minatory male uber-god, memorably characterised by novelist Tom Robbins as “a neurotic prick”, is a johnny-come-lately.
Hilary Knight
Victoria, British Columbia

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