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In the modern day, there is often the question of the abolition of gender, and, if possible, how to properly bring it about. This has been a staple of feminist and queer theory since the origin of these genres, or at least the entries that are worth their weight. Particularly in the modern day, there is some amount of belief that we are already seeing the beginning of the end of gender, but is this actually true? From a casual viewpoint, with not only the mainstreaming of homosexuality and transgenderism, but also nonbinary gender, this could appear so. Yet, on inspection, this idea becomes somewhat questionable. In fact, it would be more appropriate to say that, today, there is now more gender. To give some context for this claim, it is essential that we establish the origins of modern gender roles, and determine what "gender abolition" entails.
The original hunter-gatherer societies that humanity sprung forth from lacked key traits that defined later societies (a bit tautologically, I admit). The most obvious quality that they lacked compared to later society is agriculture, which is widely known to have introduced great social transformation. However, one other quality that they lacked was the dominance of secret societies. To the unfamiliar, this claim might seem cartoonish at best. The notion of "secret societies" is unfortunately tied up in the image of the madman scratching his paranoia into the walls of his prison cell. Though, in fact, the notion of the secret society becomes not only palatable, but even somewhat obvious when one knows that they are based on accumulation.
The emergence of secret societies coincided with the introduction of agriculture, originating in the accumulation of surplus material wealth. Notably, these societies exerted great control over the ownership of this excess wealth. This was not merely control of physical resources as commonly known, it was also control of two categories which are common seen today as belonging to seperate realms: on the one hand, initiation, and on the other, sex. Prior to the Agricultural Revolution, what would today be referred to as "mythology," "religion," or "tradition" was not bound to such tight control. Its primary relation to then-present society was a contemplation of the nature of where life both originated from and where it would return to. This was especially important for how early humans understood the role of the animals that they hunted for sustenance. There was a notion that all life sprang forth from some unseen realm, but would eventually return to it upon death. However, it was believed that this realm could be accessed via ritual. What the secret societies of the Agricultural Revolution did was monopolize ritual. This meant that a tightly-knit group controlled who could then access initiation, in the sense described by authors such as René Guénon. Further, as this tradition was closely tied to the creation and destruction of life, it is only natural that these secret societies also controlled sex. In effect, what this sexual control amounted to was an early form of what Michel Foucault would later call biopolitics.
Unlike what modern ideas of sexual control would entail, the original Agricultural Revolution secret societies had strong matriarchic tendencies. However, do not let yourself become fooled by the notion that being more matriarchic compared to modernity means that it was therefore some sort of utopia. The matriarchic secret societies that controlled these cultures were a very secretive bunch, involved in practices considered repulsive today. Perhaps the most infamous practice of these societies was the implementation of pederastry.
There are two sexual taboos that can be considered essentially fundamental: excessive inbreeding and excessive outbreeding. From a Darwinian perspective, that these taboos are fundamental is understood as an evolved mechanism to prevent both inbreeding depression and outbreeding depression in humans. While not 100% universal, many societies had developed some form of taboo around the image of adult-on-child sex as "metaphorical incest." Despite this, secret societies had, and unfortunately still do have, a strong tendency to indulge in sexual acts with children. Rather than die with the matriarchies upon their inevitable fall, it was embraced by the resulting half-matriarchy-half-patriarchy societies. The Ancient Greeks, and Romans who happened to have a more Greek persuasion, are particularly infamous for this practice. Also well known is the Japanese practice of wakashūdō, whose infamous association with kabuki later caused the government crackdowns on actors in the 1600s. There are also widespread examples of young boys crossdressing for the sake of prostitution. Again, the Japanese have the example of kagema. Also notable is the Ottoman concept of the köçek, a youthful, sufficiently effeminate boy, tasked with entertaining high society, in palaces or meyhane. The köçekler were often from non-Turkish ethnic groups, which is notable for simultaneously breaking both of the inbreeding and outbreeding taboos. Going forward a bit, we now live in an age where Jeffrey Epstein and his "suicide" were one of the highest-profile examples of boyloving conspirators. (That is, until his name became nothing more than a tool in a game where people tried to one-up each other on whether Clinton or Trump was more connected.)
By the way, if the word "köçek" sounds familiar, it's because the music performed by köçekler has had a lasting impact on much of post-Ottoman music. The genre of music called "čoček" in Serbo-Croatian, "çyçek" or "qyqek" in Albanian, and "kyuchek" in Bulgarian is etymologically derived from "köçek." This, along with the wakashūdō-kabuki link, should indicate that modern conceptions of the entertainment industry being linked to pedophilia are not new.
Like with post-agricultural societies, pre-agricultural societies did have rituals surrounding the transition from childhood to puberty, but unlike later examples, these pre-agricultural rituals were nowhere near as segregated by sex as they would eventually become. Another missing feature was the transmission of initiation to the adolescents, as this aspect was not as tightly controlled as in later societies. Instead, what was later replaced by this restricted initiation was the transmission of proper parenting practices, given that they could now have children. That is not to say that there was no such thing as the transmission of proper parenting practices in later societies (that would be suicidal), but what changed along with the rise of agricultural matriarchy was the main purpose of these rituals.
In other areas, the strong ties between agriculture and these matriarchic societies had profound impacts on traditions. In a pattern that would also be seen in later stages, technological developments would influence the course of tradition. In the case of these matriarchic societies, the repetition inherent to agriculture greatly influenced the general acceptance of cyclic time. This was in opposition to prior societies, which were relatively agnostic on the exact nature of time.
This opposition is actually still visible, with the division between mythologies that Michael Witzel termed "Laurasian" and "Gondwanalander" mythologies. Laurasian societies, which include the cultures of the literal Laurasian region, but also South America and many Afroasiatic groups in Africa, are cyclic. Gondwanalander societies, which include Sub-Saharan African animists, Andaman Islanders, Aboriginal Australians, and Melanesians, are agnostic on the issue. Of course, the modern response to this claim would be that people today believe in linear time, which casually appears to be true. However, what must be noted is that the modern conception of linear time originated as a relexification of cyclic time. This clearly holds true in the case of Abrahamic religion, whose simultaneous claims of a fallen humanity and eventual salvation betray its cyclic origins. Though, the Laurasia/Gondwanaland division is gradually disappearing, because much of Gondwanalander society has been dominated by Laurasian society. In the case of Sub-Saharan Africa, the spread of both Islam and Christianity through the continent has overwritten much of the preexisting culture, and in the cases of the Indo-Pacific Gondwanalanders, they are at best marginal peoples within the greater international system.
While these matriarchic societies had persisted for some time, they were eventually displaced by a wave of patriarchic peoples. This spread was so effective that openly matriarchic societies are now few and far between. Newly introduced with the patriarchies were rituals, again involving children, but this time practicing violence to a degree hitherto unseen in rituals. The practice of ritual circumcision was originally popularized within these societies, and as anyone can see, is still prominent in two major groups. The first of these groups is the Muslim world, for obvious reasons, but there is another strain of circumcising societies that is evident. These are the major power centers of the Atlanticist imperium, currently located in, depending on who you ask, the United States or the United Kingdom. A glaring example of such a country would be South Korea, which has an approximately 80% circumcision rate, as opposed to North Korea's near-zero rate. Another patriarchic "innovation," as identified by Friedrich Engels, working from Karl Marx's notes on Lewis H. Morgan, was the ever-increasing establishment of prostitution, which I had hinted at during the earlier section on pederastry.
One notable question, then, is which societies were the ones that spread patriarchic tendencies. We know that matriarchy was tied with early agriculture. Therefore, it should not come as any surprise that a patriarchic society would almost certainly be one of a different mode of production. One well-known analysis, that of Joseph Campbell, ties the rise of patriarchy with the invasions of both the Indo-Europeans and the Semites. The case of the Indo-Europeans displacing earlier matriarchies has also been explored by other authors, most famously Marija Gimbutas. However, the simultaneous naming of Indo-European and Semitic peoples is odd, because there is no indication that these two groups are closely related. Yet, they are both given a more patriarchic character than the matriarchic Mesopotamian agriculturalists by Campbell. What links these two groups?
Perhaps the most famous image of the Indo-Europeans depicts them as nomadic steppe warriors, an image which is based in some amount of truth. However, it is also well-known that the Indo-Europeans were far from the only culture associated with steppe nomadism. Before the discovery of Indo-Europeans, the role of the steppe nomads was more commonly associated with the broad grouping of "Altaic" or "Turanic" peoples. This relatively heterogeneous grouping most commonly includes, at a minimum, the Turkic, Mongolic, and Tungusic peoples, but often includes others. For example, peoples as diverse as the Japanese, Koreans, Manchu, Ainu, Finns, Hungarians, Sámi, and Samoyeds have variously been included. Of course, it is now believed that, in all likelihood, this grouping does not constitute a well-established family. However, it is relatively well-accepted that this grouping forms a sprachbund, and in a less lingustic realm, a generally distinct cultural zone. What is notable is that the Indo-European nomads were also in great contact with this cultural zone. While the case of the Scythians as steppe nomads in their own right is well-known, the broader Indo-European family shows evidence of contact. One notable aspect, Mircea Eliade observed, is that Proto-Indo-European mythology resembles Tengrism more than it does any of its own descendents. We can then safely label the Proto-Europeans as being member of the broader Eurasian steppe "cultural sprachbund." Then, we can conclude that the patriarchic tendencies in Indo-European societies most likely originated in this zone.
But, what of the Semites? How are they at all analogous to the Indo-Europeans? The answer lies in their analogous territories. Of course, given that the Semitic group originated anywhere from the Levant to the Horn of Africa, they clearly did not live in a steppe. However, what must be stressed is that they did live in a desert, which, while clearly a distinct biome, is somewhat analogous to a steppe. Allowing for this analogy to hold, the comparison between the Indo-European "barbarian steppe nomads" and Semitic "barbarian desert nomads" becomes clear. Therefore, despite the Indo-Europeans and Semites having little common heritage outside of basal Eurasian lineage, they eventually resemble each other. This can then be seen as the origin of patriarchy: the mode generally referred to as "barbaric" by more Roman-inclined authors. While we have so far only considered agriculture in the realm of Mesopotamia, perhaps this model can be extended to include other centers of origin. For example, it could very well be that patriarchy was also introduced to China by the Eurasian steppe nomads.
Yet, when the matriarchies were conquered by the partiarchs, the result was not a total replacement of matriarchy by patriarchy. Rather, the result was a stange, bastardized fusion of the two. On one level, this is blatantly apparent in the mythologies of these new cultures. It was previously stated that Proto-Indo-European mythology more resembles Tengrism than it does any of its direct successors. This is due to the infusion of Neolithic, matriarchic mythologies into the previously patriarchic mythology. However, on a more immanent level, the fusion eventually produced an entirely distinct mode, not yet seen in prior cultures: The matriarchic proto-cities and patriarchic nomadism bred with each other, producing the first empires. In an appropriate sense, the empire can be considered a hermaphroditic mode, showcasing both its masculine and feminine divine lineages. It is this mode that currently dominates the world today, despite frequent Westphalian claims to the contrary. Of course, that these empires are "hermaphroditarchic" is something that no member of these cultures would ever openly admit to. There is an irony that literal "hermaphrodites" (a vague term, admittedly) were treated with scorn by the same societies that they physically represented.
Going further, a major development in the post-patriarchy world was the Axial Age, first identified as such by Karl Jaspers. (Though, there were precursors.) This term referred to the simultaneous, yet otherwise disconnected, rise of modern philosophical/religious movements throughout Eurasia. Yet, despite the pattern being a very tempting one to latch onto, people had wondered what its causes were, or if it even existed. Many had linked it with the rise of early empires or with the emergence of transcontinential trade networks. However, it was David Graeber who made the connection between the emergence of the Axial Age and the invention of coinage. This radical transformation of the economy was what caused a great rupture in the philosophical-religious traditions of the day, which we still feel.
On the topic of these early empires, an aspect that is often glossed over today is how these societies saw themselves. Internal to an empire, there is no such thing as "an empire," but only "the Empire," a single Imperium, which completely lacks any sort of formal borders. Of course, for practical purposes, its territory does not extend indefinitely, because there are people who cannot be controlled by it: the Barbarians. However, this problem can be circumvented by extending the practical reach of its Imperium. This is not, however, the rewriting of borders. The Empire has no need to conquer "other empires" because, in its eyes, it is the only legitimate authority, and proves this fact through expansive warfare. This is in contrast to the modern conception of states which have Offices of Foreign Relations, formally managing affairs with other, equal states. The reason that the Imperial conception of society faded away is that it was able to be completely turned on its head by the fragmentation of empires. Take for instance the Roman Empire, which capped off a long era of expansion first with a division into two, and second with a slow and painful death. A similar fate of "Imperial Lingchi" also befell the Kushan Empire. Post-Kushan India was, in many ways, very similar to post-Roman Europe.
This incredibly fragmented state did some shit that I'm currently too tired to finish writing about. Will elaborate soon.
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