The role of the man, the caveman
The Role of the Man,
What was the catalyst that changed the role of the man and the women in present day?
As far back as I can remember, the man provided for his family. The Father heads off to the daily grind. He returns home at 5:30, the dinner table is set and ready for him. The wife or Mother obediently waits his return, making sure the home is clean and the roast is ready.
Who didn’t grow up with Mom and Dad sitting on opposite sides of the table? Dad reading the paper, or watching the evening news, typical pipe in mouth. Mom, engaging the kids on their day’s activities. “Leave it to Beaver” style.
Rewind a few dozen years. Dad in the fields, tending the cattle and fields. Mom, in apron, tending to the daily chores. Feeding the hogs, collecting the eggs and milk. Preparing the evening meal for Pa to come home to. You’re basic barefoot in the kitchen scenario.
Rewind a few dozen more years, has this scenario changed? Fast forward out of the “Leave it to Beaver” realm. What is the Family structure today? Is the man the “Head of household”? I can still remember doing my tax return for the first time, many years ago, coming across that statement. Was I the head of household? What the hell is a head of household? Was he the aide to the head of state? I think the man is still thought of as the head of family, the bread winner. There has been a big surge, rightly so, of women becoming the bread winners or the profit makers of the family.
This post is certainly not about who is the top dog, or the bread winner of any family.
I wanted to take a look at the dynamics of the relationship. The clichés and the taboo’s if you will.
The “MAN”, Dad, Pop’s, Daddy, Husband
Now, we have the man of the house, the head of the household. Yet I can give you a page and a half of different examples of the doofus, ignorant home wrecking goof of a dad or husband that you get from any piece of advertisement on the tube today.
I tend to spend very little time on TV, cavemen like their Discovery channel though! But, when I do, besides the bombardment catering to our carbed up sugar coated society and horrible sitcoms, you get commercials that portray the bumbling doofus of a husband. That same guy that has the smoked up poker games on the weekend or the football viewing party. The buffoon that causes all the mix-ups, stumbles and problems. Then you have the stoic leader of the wife that comes in and saves the day.
“Everybody loves Raymond”, “King of Queens”, “Malcolm in the Middle”, “The Simpsons”.
In each of these sitcoms you have the bumbling buffoon of a father that creates the problem and then the familiar Mother that comes in a saves the family from certain annihilation with her cool headedness and smart thinking.
I saw a sears commercial that had the Wife shopping for a washer and dryer (which only she is allowed to use, so why would the husband be there to help) going through the list of things this contraption would fix. Your standard litany of items, kids being kids, grass stains, ice cream spills. Then we get the husband, her eye’s roll as he is shown sitting in the recliner, foam finger on hand and his favorite sports team jersey on. Cheering on his favorite team as he spills the chips and dip all over himself. This is just one of many examples of the role the male has been placed into as the father figure.
Now I know your thinking, “what about Mr. Brady”? “Father knows best”? Bill “Frickin” Cosby? Was there a shift from these figures to today’s “Man”? I can remember my childhood icons like Sam Malone, Jerry Seinfeld, Pierce and Honeycutt…Hmmm, wait a minute, these are all single men? I think you know where I’m going. The 60’s through the 80’s saw man as a true father figure, the “Head of Household” the stoic head of household, the “Man’s” man.
Well, now wait! If that’s a “Man’s” man. Then what of the caveman, the prehistoric man? Well, if they weren’t bashing their future brides on their head they were out stalking right?
Would the Paleolithic man/husband or father come home at 5:30, and wait for his elk roast to be placed at his side of the rock. Reading his paper tablet, ala Fred Flintstone? I think there is some contention amongst the experts, but I feel that we can take a lot from a pride of lions or even a tribe in Africa. We can surmise the human or family dynamics were far different than they are now. Or were they?
The “Woman”, Mom, Ma, Sweetie, Mommy, Wife
The matriarch of the household, for most of my life, has been barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen. Let’s face it. The female has been secluded to the kitchen, wash room or at least away from the man and his boys for most of their lives. Better suited serving than being served.
Now in all seriousness, this is criminally absurd. The female, or mother in this case, has been the glue or the homemaker in the family. The Clair Huxtable or Marge Simpson. Whereas it can be said the Father has brought the strength to the family, the Mother has always brought a symbol of stability. Throughout most of the last century the role has expanded almost as much as the average midsection. The wife has gone from barefoot to boardroom (great title for the next reality show). The Mother is not always the homemaker or the child raiser (ala “Mr. Mom”, still one of the best movies made). The Mother is now an intricate part of the family culture, well beyond making a great roast. I can remember the woman was rarely allowed into the den, now she is a mainstay on the coach for the weekly game, let alone coaching said team.
I’m not sure I have the space needed to document these changes through the years. It is widely reported that the woman was the gatherer to the hunter. In all likelihood this is where we got the notion that the woman was the lesser individual. I am sure in today’s Hollywood; they wouldn’t make Linda Hamilton the wife and let her slay a few wildebeests with a .50Cal. This is nothing to say foul about a woman, it is a simple fact of nature. The male has a more muscular and thicker frame, built for distance, speed and strength. The female form, hips, body composition, was made for child bearing and rearing. (Males, have you ever tried to carry your kids on your hip like your wife. It isn’t that easy, yet a woman can hold them there for hours). The difference that we as modern humans took from this; is in that they are also inferior to us for these exact reasons. We can dominate the female with our strength, we tower over them with our size, and we can outrun them.
Like a lot of scientists I feel family life of our ancestors was largely like the African tribes and the prides of lions. There are the males that lounge and manage the day to day security, play with the kids, mate and generally be manly. Then there are the lionesses, they do the hunting and gathering and birthing. If we were to look at an African tribe of even today. We would see that the males would go out for the hunt that could last for days. While the woman would stay behind to watch the kids and tend to the animals. They would hunt and gather anything local.
There was a huge dust up over the Paleolithic man eating bread a few months ago. What they didn’t say was that it was a mush made of roots, tubers or seeds; in this case Milkweed. There are tribes in Brazil that will still use the Cassava root, for those that don’t know the cassava root is basically cyanide in its simplest raw form! How much trial and error did they go through before they found the best way to cook and handle it! Roots, tubers and seeds have been ground and mashed for eons, what else would the tribe’s people do while the males are out hunting the prey. The proverbial sitting round the table social event. This is the antithesis of hunting; gathering!
There is a new article in May’s release of Outside the magazine. “Fair Chase” looks at the claim that the early hunter would out run their prey. We as humans are massive distance runners. You have reads this before in the title “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall. Essentially tiring the antelope out then killing it. Antelope, being the fastest animal on the planet, isn’t going to tire after a brief 5 minute chase or even 5 miles of course. At 60 mph they could easily run for hours if not days. This, as they claim, is why the human form has taken the shape it is today. So, without going into this research that will take 15 more pages, with the men of the tribe tracking, hunting and killing its prey (or coming home empty) this left the Mother to gather enough sustenance to allow the family or tribe to survive.
I wouldn’t call this an inferior job!
Every night I think of what I will cook for my cave tribe. Every night I am racked for what is in the fridge or pantry to use. I’m not sure I have the mindset to understand the heartfelt shame to come home empty handed after two days of hunting. But, in this family dynamic, it was easily forgotten. (In a recent poll, it was found that Paleo diet followers actually eat more vegetables than our vegan counterparts) because the other half of the tribe has supplied the paste, veggies, seeds or fruit to survive. The Ying to the Yang. The hunters would spend a few days lounging or playing with the kids before they headed out again.
What do I take from all of this?
The female has never been the inferior, lower class individual in my tribe. They are an intricate Yang to my Ying. What I cannot bring to the tribe it is “broughten” by my Sheena. I cannot and will not say I have changed all the diapers, nor made the best meals. But, where I am not, she is.
When I view these commercials that portray the man as a sub human with a lower intelligence just enough to understand the rules of football, it angers me. Not because I am a man, but because I am human. I guess this is yet another reason to turn off the TV more often, as if the ads for the sugar coated food aren’t enough. Ad agencies pander to whatever stereotype they can grasp onto. In this commercials case it was to the laundry doing woman of the household. Because we all know; only woman do laundry! Ad agencies pander to our lowest common denominator. Our sugar tooth and our stereotypes.
And it’s working!