It is often believed that hierarchical and sometimes oppressive social structures like the patriarchy are somehow natural – a reflection of the law of the jungle. But the social structure of today’s hunter gatherers suggests that our ancestors were in fact highly egalitarian, even when it came to gender. Their secret? Not living with many relatives. These societies were not only strikingly different from most horticulturalist, farming and pastoralist societies today, but also from the hierarchical societies of apes, our closest evolutionary relatives. Chimpanzees and gorillas are known to have patterns of sex inequality similar to post-agriculture humans.
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