Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Days of Patriarchy

I still hear complaints from time to time about how our society is, even after all these years of reform and education, a patriarchal society. I would concede that men still run most everything and own the overwhelming majority of the property on the planet. This is probably more true on a worldwide scale than it is in western Europe and the US. There are two very powerful institutions in the west that are overseen by women; The Federal Reserve Bank of the United States and the IMF. You can call these women tokens if you like, but they head two of the most powerful financial institutions on earth.

I think that people who see patriarchy in western society do not realize what life was like in the bad old days when women and children were property along with the livestock and land. I was reading from Deuteronomy in the Old Testament of the Bible yesterday when I ran across what follows here. This is what passed for women's rights in ancient Israel. It was serious business back in the day, but it's kind of funny now in the age of egalitarianism. Women, you do not appreciate how good you have it.

Deuteronomy 25:5-10

If brothers are living together and one of them dies without a son, his widow must not marry outside the family. Her husband’s brother shall take her and marry her and fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to her. The first son she bears shall carry on the name of the dead brother so that his name will not be blotted out from Israel.
However, if a man does not want to marry his brother’s wife, she shall go to the elders at the town gate and say, “My husband’s brother refuses to carry on his brother’s name in Israel. He will not fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to me.” Then the elders of his town shall summon him and talk to him. If he persists in saying, “I do not want to marry her,” his brother’s widow shall go up to him in the presence of the elders, take off one of his sandals, spit in his face and say, “This is what is done to the man who will not build up his brother’s family line.” 10 That man’s line shall be known in Israel as The Family of the Unsandaled.

It's interesting where the family responsibility falls here. If a man dies without producing a male heir, it is first the duty of the man's brother, to make sure his brother's widow gives birth to a male child. Refusing this duty was an option, but an option in which the brother is publicly humiliated by his sister in law. Fascinating. This is also a case where polygamy is commanded by God. Again...fascinating. The male heir was an insurance policy for the woman. It was the eldest male heir that would shoulder the responsibility of caring for his parents in their old age and if the mother was already a widow, a young son could work the family land and support what was left to him by the deceased father.

It was all geared to maintain male control of the property involved, but the woman held the upper hand in public. It was considered a shameful thing for a man to allow his dead brother's family languish in poverty, while he and his own continued to live normal lives. Woe to you if you are of the Family of the Uunsandaled.

So you see ladies, it could be worse :^) At least  in these days you are not dependent on your brother in law.

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