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Letter: When Men Were Sons and Brothers

To the Editor:

It’s interesting how often people assume that humans lived in male-run nuclear families even in 800,000 B.C., as is the case in a Feb. 8 Valley News article on the ancient footprints in Britain, including those of two children and an adult male, which is described as “a family foraging” on a riverbank — perhaps on a nice cozy Sunday outing.

Anyone interested in an anthropological study of prehistoric humans will learn that people all over the world lived in groups where all the males cohabited with all the females, much like bonobo monkey colonies today, and marriage was unknown. A female spirit was worshipped, and males were seen as sons and brothers, not fathers. The nuclear family emerged only around 6,000 B.C., when people finally became conscious of the role of sperm, and men proceeded to imprison women in inescapable unions so as to ensure the paternity of sons. Feminist historians believe that the Trojan War was in fact fought over the “marriage project” — that the issue was whether a woman should be imprisoned in marriage or not. Needless to say, the pro-marriage forces (the Greeks) won! But it took a bloody 10-year struggle.

Nan Bourne