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Response to SheilaT (Reply #6)

Wed May 28, 2014, 04:12 PM

39. Scandinavia has also had a history of women staying at home for months while most men were gone.

Either viking or fishing, or something similar. So free women and women householders kept the towns and villages going while their men were out, and this had to be acknowledged within the society if it were to keep functioning over generations. It wasn't a definitive matriarchy, but it also wasn't a total patriarchy; there was a social acknowledgment that women had significant responsibilities, so they must have significant rights and voice in policy, as they were the ones that would be left to carry on while most of the men were gone.
The men might have been physically stronger and thus able to force women into submission as they had in other developing agricultural tribal cultures, but that sort of patriarchy only "works" if there's a number of trusted men with a vested interest in submission to a hierarchy that are able to be in place to manage the homesteads and households - and women - most of the time.

Similar arrangements and governmental structures were in place in cultures where there was a similar hunter/gatherer remote tribal or family structure; the physically stronger males learned the hard way that if you don't give your women equal voice, respect and responsibility - if you didn't treat them as a full partner - you couldn't depend on them to maintain your home base while you were gone for a season or two to gather enough resources to survive the winter. You certainly couldn't trust a slave, no matter how well you treated him or her.

The Scandinavians learned early on that if you didn't treat your "housewife" as a full partner, you and the other adult males in your household would only be coming back home in the fall to die of exposure and ill preparation, or to find bandits, greedy neighbors, or your lazy stay-at-home cousin had stole your property, stock and stores by force or law while you were off fishing the North Sea or Outer Banks for five months.

You don't see a lot of that in the more agricultural or city-state cultures with a more concentrated population, where you can always hire another freeman to keep "your women" under a patriarchal system when your culture developed to put a higher value on physicality rather than capability.

Haele

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