Genus Homo, which includes modern humans, is a technological animal. In other words, primitive humans transmitted their tool-making skills from generation to generation over hundreds of thousands of years. However, it took the Tribe to transmit the technology that was to transform the species from homo habilis with his one type of stone tool into homo sapiens sapiens, who would eventually dominate the Earth.
Because there is virtually no evidence, except stones, from our earliest tribal beginnings, all that follows is pure speculation. However the speculation is limited by what is now. Hence the discussion that follows is led by ‘facts that are’, rather than by ‘facts that were’.
Let us not underestimate the importance of these ancient homos. Although they were still forming tribes, the mental programs that were developed over a million years ago are still bouncing around our brains motivating our behavior. It is these behavioral patterns that we are trying to isolate in order to more effectively deal with them. Due to this importance, let us look at some of the processes that are inherent to the Tribe, the first human organization.
As mentioned, Genus homo, which includes our species, was the first and is the only genus that was and is able to transmit information from generation to generation and even from species to species. As homo habilis gradually evolved into homo sapiens sapiens, the sheer quantity of transmitted information grew exponentially. An expanding brain size (from 500cc to 1600cc) was probably a factor in the ability to take in and retain an increasing amount of information.
Part of the transmitted knowledge concerned the technology related to survival and part concerned cultural processes. Of course, the two types of knowledge were intimately linked. As the importance of cultural knowledge grew, the importance of genetic patterns fell. While hardwired instincts dominate the behavior of all other species, the Genus homo was able to modify behavior via transmitted knowledge.
Because of the growing importance of this cultural knowledge for survival, the infant/child required an increasing amount of time to absorb the information. This in turn led to the lengthening of the duration of dependency upon the parents or tribe. While the period of dependency for most species is less than a year, modern children are typically dependent on parents for 18 to 30 years.
Due to the intimacy of breastfeeding, the first emotional bond that infants form is with their mother. With other mammals, this intimate time is brief. With other species, the period of dependency is equally brief. The emotional attachment between mother and offspring seems to only last as long as the dependency. Then the animal young go their merry way – no Mother’s Day cards – no calls home. There seems to be no memory of this intimate maternal time.
Due to its evolutionary advantages, the period of dependency and semi-dependency has been steadily increasing since our beginning as a species. Along with the increased dependency came a deepening emotional attachment of mothers for their children. The deeper the maternal love, the longer the mother was willing to care for her offspring. This extended the time possible for education, which increased the fitness of the species. Evolutionary processes seemed to select those mothers that loved their children the most, i.e. were willing to nurture their children for the longest time. Could it be that this enduring maternal love was an evolutionary consequence of the human child’s need for an extended period of nurturing?
As an indication of the innate intensity of maternal love, the female of many species is know for her ferocity in defending her young. Normally reclusive, mother bears will savagely attack any who threaten her cubs. Human cubs remain dependent for a decade or more, lengthening the duration of the fierce love of the mother for her children.
As another indication of its enduring importance, the mother-child connection is manifested in many artistic representations, for instance the Mother Mary and Baby Jesus. Maternal love is the glue that bonds the mother child unit. Many basic human emotional relationships develop from this intimate tie.
With the chicken, dog and cat populations, the male plays no role in raising the young. It is the mother of most species who raises the young. Thus while buried deeply in the genetics of the female of our species is ferocious maternal love, there is no such phenomenon for the male. Because of the short time of infant dependency for most animals, the male was not a factor in the rearing of the infant.
With the growing time of pregnancy and infant dependency necessary for cultural transmission, the homo mother quickly found out that she needed help. Besides being difficult it was also quite dangerous. In addition to the hazards of a 9-month long pregnancy, there were also the difficulties due to the extended period of infant dependency. The love of the mother for her child motivated her to find assistance in child rearing. The most logical choice for assistance was the male of the species. They were stronger and so could protect the mother and child from other wild animals.
How was the mother to get help from the male who had no genetic propensity for assistance? How was she to bind the male to her mother-child unit for longer periods of time? The female needed some glue to bond the male to her and her children. The glue was recreational sex.
For most animals, the only time they have sex is when the female of the species is in heat. In fact, the sex drive is dependent on the female’s potential for pregnancy. In contrast, humans can have sex any time of the year. While many animals only participate in seasonal sex, humans can participate in non-seasonal, i.e. recreational, sex.
Why did humans, specifically the female, develop the capacity for recreational sex? Perhaps non-seasonal sex developed because of the unpredictability of childbirth and duration of gestation. With many animals the period of gestation is so short and the number of offspring is so great that seasonal sex makes a lot of sense. With the human it takes nine months and normally there is only one child. An evolutionary advantage of year-long recreational sex is that the number of potential moments for procreation is maximized. One does not wait for the season instead the woman is ready at any time to have children. Thus evolutionary forces selected Women who had the capacity for non-seasonal sex tended to reproduce more offspring. Hence there gene pool was more likely to survive.
The possibility of recreational sex bound the males to the tribe to maximize their opportunities for genetic transmission. A secondary feature of recreational sex was the binding of the males to the female to provide a variety of services. For most animals the period of pregnancy and child rearing is so short that the female of the species can operate independently. If sex only occurs when the female is in heat, then the males would just move from one female to the next with no sense of obligation or responsibility. This type of male is still quite prevalent. Thus the female developed the capacity for non-seasonal recreational sex in order to entice the male to stay with her during the extended child bearing and rearing process to protect and provide for her and her child.
On the highest levels, however, sex is used to create a type of spiritual bond that transcends children, status, money, power, or even friendship. On the ideal level, partners in sex participate together in a private spiritual experience. The dropping of personal ego and merger of two into one, and then the one into the all, differentiates a spiritual experience from common sex. This is only achieved by extreme interpersonal sensitivity and is thwarted by any type of selfishness. Holding onto self blocks the process, while selflessness furthers it.
Of course once the man was hanging around waiting for sexual opportunities, the early female may have provided other advantages associated with homemaking, possibly including cooking and comfort, that could have lured the man to stay close to the nest to provide services. The male focus on the hunt probably limited his plant gathering ability. Thus his diet would have been nutritionally deficient without the woman to assist in the accumulation and preparation of food.
In all probability the first animal that woman was domesticated was man. However, domestication was not permanent, but ongoing. The wild side of the male is always at risk of emerging. They need to be constantly tamed or they have a tendency to go feral.
It was to the advantage of the mothers to transmit as much Tribe consciousness as she could before her sons became Hunters, hanging out with the other semi-wild men of the tribe. The Wild Male might just as soon be off hunting with his buddies. Left to himself the male could easily neglect his tribal duties, including protection and cultural transmission. However, mother-love and all the advantages that the female could provide domesticated enticed the male to mitigate his predatory wildness. .
Another modern aside: while the woman domesticates the man, normally she doesn’t want a sheep. For one, a sheep isn’t very good at protection; also they aren’t very interesting. While the woman’s thrust is to tame the wild man, she doesn’t want him too tame. Thus, in terms of the woman, the true goal is to bring the man to the edge of Wild and Tame. He will be a better hunter, protector, and more unpredictable. If a bit wild, he is more interesting. Thus the cusp of wild and tame is where we want to dwell.
Another way that the male was both tied to his mother and attracted to another female was through the mammary glands, the breasts. The longer period of breast feeding, from two or three years in many tribal cultures, probably left an enduring memory, even if subliminal. Those breasts, which are associated with nutrition, warmth, and security, acquire huge symbolic importance. Further because of the need for continuous breeding, which could take up a woman’s entire life, her breasts were frequently enlarged.
As such, the man when selecting a mate would most likely be attracted to a woman who reminded him of his mother and her big breasts. From the earliest human times, men might have chosen to breed with large breasted women in memory of this intimate early relationship with his mother. Could this entire process be associated with the extended breast-feeding period of the human evolutionary line?
Again this archaic program of choosing women for their breasts is still alive and well. Cindy Crawford, super model and actress, has said that the most powerful men are like little boys or putty in her hands after she flashes a little cleavage and jiggles her breasts. This male obsession with mammary glands has created careers, motivated fashion, and led to a prosperous industry of breast implants. Most trophy wives of the rich and famous have beautiful breasts. While it seems that the male's attraction for large breasts is fairly hardwired, it is possible to temper the urge to mate with any woman just because of her looks. We can look and fantasize without falling prey to the temptation.
Could the emergence of non-seasonal sex be associated with the emergence of couple love? The gender motivations were very different. The female was ‘loving’ the male so that he would provide and protect her and her children in her time of child bearing and rearing. Her ‘love’ was based upon attaining his services as a father. Of course, her initial choice of partner was probably based upon his potential gene pool. This would define his attractiveness. However, the non-seasonal sex, while having a procreational aspect, also concerned keeping him around to provide father duties.
In contrast, the love of the male for the female was based more upon her ability to provide pleasure and domestic comfort. While part of the package, his offspring probably had less to do his initial motivations. “This female creature provides me with food, affection and sex. Why not hang out a while to enjoy the good life. Then out comes the little screamer. Well it’s not much and causes much headache, but the female creature seems to find it important. So I guess I’ll stay and help out. Besides it sort of looks like me. I seem to have a strange affection for it. The little creature is growing bigger. I have this odd desire to teach it all I know.”
While couple love serves the same function of holding the nuclear family together, the male and female have different motivations for. While the female ‘loves’ the male for his ‘fatherly’ duties, the male ‘loves’ the female for the creature comforts she provides. While this couple love held the nuclear family together, it also provided another selective tool. The men who stuck around, not all of them did, were selected for their ‘love’ of children. Those who ‘loved’ their children the most, protected, provided and transmitted the most, and hence survived to procreate.
Love is in quotation marks to emphasize its specific context. This ‘love’ has only to do with the emotional bonding that ties beings together to the extent that they will go out of their way to provide services that have nothing to do with their own survival. Hence this ‘love’, while related to the modern romantic love of chocolates, flowers, and Valentine’s Day, is much more fundamental. While potentially emotionally based, it is the behavior behind love that concerns us here. If a being’s behavior facilitates the survival of another entity without furthering the being’s own survival, we define that as ‘love’.
Men could survive fine by themselves. Of course the species would quickly become extinct and I wouldn’t be writing this paper. Instead, the female urge for procreation combined with maternal love, pulls the male into the tribe, selects for his paternal and tribal characteristics, the human species survives and I write this paper.
Another aspect of the domestication of the male is the cooperative aspect. The female can’t confine or trap the male physically. She must entice him to provide services. Also the male isn’t required to provide services, unless he wants to. The association is purely voluntary and in no way mandatory or forced.
The early Deal between man and woman was that if the woman provided comfort and pleasure that the man would provide the fatherly duties mentioned. If the woman did not provide her services, the Stone Age man was not required to provide his. This is predicated upon the initial tribal concept that paternal love was a secondary issue to his participation in the family.
We see this Stone Age mentality frequently played out. If the Home, for whatever reason, becomes uncomfortable to the man, i.e. the woman complains, the kids are crying, and he doesn’t get enough attention, then the man leaves the family. From the female perspective, this is unacceptable behavior because the man has a responsibility to the family. From the perspective of the Tribal man, the woman has broken the Deal by providing him with anguish rather than comfort. Because she hasn’t provided the services of the Deal, he quits providing his services to the family and leaves. In modern times, we have institutionalized family relationships with laws that have only recently sided with the woman. The man is now legally responsible to the children he fathers regardless of whether the woman fulfills her Tribal obligations.
In some ways the cruelest manifestation of modern times is the single mother, raising her children and providing her own support without assistance from partner or a tribal female support group. Within the Tribe, the woman did not really need a man to assist her in the raising of her brood. She needed the man to provide and protect the Collective Family or Tribe. Monogamy was not innate. The Man was tied to the Tribal structure to provide his collective tribal duties, while the Woman was there to bear and raise Children. While women could raise their children without specific assistance from the father, they had a support group of women to assist in the lengthy child bearing and rearing process and an extensive support group of collective men fulfilling their collective tribal duties. There was no such thing as a single mother in the Tribe.
These Tribal times were the Golden Age of Motherhood in the sense of community support and respect. The reverence for mothers is shown in the relative abundance of fertility figures that have been found. This Age, while comprising the majority of human existence, ended long ago. While a great time for mothers, it wasn’t necessarily a great time for all women. Motherhood was the only choice. If a woman preferred another career choice, it wasn’t so great.
The reverence for woman as ‘mother’ continues to the present day. It is institutionalized in many moral codes, including the Bible’s Ten Commandments. Insulting another’s mother is the highly offensive and likely to cause a violent altercation. In contrast woman as ‘wife’ is generally not held in such high esteem. Rarely is marriage glorified for the male and he is even chided for being ‘roped into marriage’. While marriage is culturally suspect for the male, motherhood continues to be held in high esteem.
The role differentiation by gender probably began during the evolution of proto-humans. Extending the period of pregnancy and child rearing increased the sheer volume of cultural transmission, thereby fueling human evolution. The lengthening of child dependency necessitated differing roles for each gender. However, current cultural conditions have eroded these traditional duties. Unfortunately, the urges remain.
The female’s role in the tribe seemed to be primarily associated with bearing and raising children accompanied by food gathering and preparation. The male probably played three important roles in the tribe. First he was the main food-provider, especially during the initial mother-child dependency. The second important function of these early tribal males was their role as protector. This was a necessary aspect of the male’s social role of the because of the extreme vulnerability of the mother/child unit. The third role of the male was cultural transmission, an ability unique to Genus Homo. This transmission probably included knowledge of hunting, geography and perhaps even stone technology.
It appears that these Early Stone Age residuals still motivate our behavior. Many women are choosing careers over motherhood. However they still have the urge to bear children, whether appropriate or not. Similarly, men have the urge to protect, provide and transmit. The law enforcement agencies have taken over the role of protector; women have entered the work force, providing for themselves, and teachers have taken over cultural transmission. As such, the modern male and female frequently experience a sense of loss, emasculation, and even a low sense of self worth because they are unable to fulfill their traditional roles or are no longer needed in this capacity.
No individual or organization is to blame for this uncomfortable situation. The requirements of modern times have simply changed. The traditional roles are frequently no longer necessary. Time to die and be reborn.
Emotionally charged thoughts such as these innate urges have a life of their own. There are 3 strategies for dealing with them. 1) We can feed these emotional inclinations that arise from archaic sources until they become a monster. 2) We can pretend they don’t exist. Unacknowledged, the emotions turn into a shadow ghost that haunts and undermines our existence in mysterious ways. Or 3) we can sit with the mental fever, until it abates and dies a natural death.
For example as men we can moan and groan about our inability to fulfill our traditional roles as protector and provider. We can assign blame to external sources for our misery. However, multiplying example upon example of perceived injustice merely feeds our anger, which generates a negative bio-chemical response. Fueling the emotional fire only validates the tortuous desire and extends its unpleasant existence.
In the attempt to not appear weak, we can deny that these genetic propensities disturb us. Suppressed, these emotions frequently turn into depression or unexplained anger that plague our behavior.
Rather than feeding the emotional fire or denying its existence, we must instead feel the pain. Women often experience frustration over the inability to bear children. If we can sit with this anguish for sufficient duration, the pulse of misery naturally passes.
We’ve examined the formation of the Tribe, which established some precedents and implications that still underlie human behavior in modern times - here at the beginning of the 21st century. This is a type of cultural conditioning that is buried very deep. These motivations must be acknowledged to gain control of our actions and avoid reacting mindlessly to circumstances.
This period is somewhat pre-archaeological with few facts to confirm or disconfirm our speculations. Now let us move into the factual zone of archaeology. Note that this period is still prehistoric - no written records yet.