'Gyna Sapiens' and Bison Tacos (yum)

song du jour: Lady Marmalade, Patti LaBelle

mood: smirkin'

For the past month, interspersed with a few rather literary mysteries, I've been reading Leonard Shlain's Sex, Time, and Power: How Women's Sexuality Shaped Evolution, and I would put it in the top 5 Must Read list of 2006. Its brilliance is unparalleled. I haven't gotten this excited about a book since I first read The Marriage of Sense and Soul by Ken Wilber. If you are even slightly interested in evolution, vaguely interested in anthropology, or mildly interested in gender relations, this book is one stop shopping, and Shlain's writing is jam packed, extremely funny, and does not require learning extensive new vocabulary or having a degree in anything that ends in 'ology,' 'onomy,' or 'sics.' The book has inspired massive essays in my head every time I've picked it up. (I'm really into reading 2-5 books at a time right now, which is in no way a reflection on any of them.)

I don't wish to minimize or reduce any of Shlain's theories by squishing them into once sentence explanations, but I will explain that 'Gyna Sapien' is the name he gives to early female Homo Sapiens for it is she, through her radically different reproductive cycle, who first becomes aware of time beyond the instinctive seasonal changes of storing nuts for winter. I'd never given quite such deep thought as to why humans function so differently from other primates. I've heard a lot of theories about why we should never have become meat eaters (comparatively poor teeth for the job) and marveled at how our cycles match the moon, but until now I never pondered the evolutionary advantage of the female orgasm. There's an entire chapter on the subject. If that doesn't make you want to read it, I give up.

Shlain cites his inspiration for this book to be his career spanning question (he's a vascular surgeon by day), why could it possibly be advantageous for a woman to loose so much iron? I haven't come to his full answer yet (It's promised in chapter 13, which I just started), but I spent the first night reading it, obsessing over the possibility that I was anemic. Turns out I was. After adding more organic red meat, I started getting MUCH more energy. As I said, I've heard many arguments for vegitarianism, and I'm certainly all in favor of more compassionate, less corporate ways of farming and raising (and killing) livestock, however, Shlain provides the best omnivore arguments I've ever come across, namely that our bodies are designed to eat efficiently. In eating meat, we are eating the digested and metabolized vegies ingested by another animal that is better able to absorb the nutrients, particularly iron from plants. We traded producing the many of the necessary enzymes and such as our herbivore primate cousins in favor of using that energy to make bigger brains.

Now before you go citing heart disease statistics at me, take a look at the correlation between the increase in heart attacks and the radical changing of farming methods, especially the forcing of cows to eat grain instead of their natural diet of grass. Other theorists propose that by farming out the needed fats our bodies use to repair and maintain healthy blood vessels, we process the next best available and less effective fats from the meat, which create plaque. That's why in my quest to get more iron from the source, I'm eating bison tacos as I'm writing. Whole Foods didn't have any grass fed ground beef, and the butcher talked me into trying bison, which is grass fed. I have to admit these are the best tacos I've ever made!!!

So, you might have guessed by now that women's increased need for iron has something to do with men's hunting rituals. That's the theory. One of Wilber's favorite theories to explain the original division of labor and the subsequent move into patriarchy is the plow theory put forth by Janet Chafetz. Her idea is that women moved from equal stick digging farmers to housewives, whose hubbies were working the field with ox driven plows, because of an increase in the likelihood of miscarriage in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy.

Up until recently I planned to write a whole paper on why that theory didn't explain patriarchy very well, and one day approaching a traffic light with no plow thought in my head, it suddenly hit me in one sentence. It's a flatland theory. (Ok, 2 sentences.) While there is certainly sufficient evidence that heavy labor causes miscarriage, making the theory plausible, it deals only with the social aspect (Lower Right quadrant for the integralites), making it extremely partial, and cannot account for anything corresponding culturally for it assumes that men working the plows came to view this work as being of more value (because we're looking at early agriculture through the patriarchal lenses of our own culture), and it fails to explain why there was still a shift toward patriarchy in rice planting cultures, where women, to this day, do half or more of the work. It also (ok, 3 sentences) wrongly assumes that all women are perpetually in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy. (Goddess forbid!!!)
While Shlain's book (thus far) is not focused on a better single theory, it is obvious to me that whether division of labor is the cause of patriarchy or not, that division was created as soon as we were. It didn't happen thousands of years later.

Jumping ahead a little, lest I write a 5 page blog entry, if men were good for bringing us iron in exchange for our favors, and we can get it ourselves now, what exactly are they good for? - If that freaks out the feminists, keep in mind they needed to do something to attract us. Being women, who walk upright, birthing babies with bigger heads increased our maternity mortality rate 30-50%!!! - I'm not male bashing here. I'm asking the question a little tongue in cheek but a little sincerely too. Ok, daddies, certainly. Confused and in perpetual existential crisis sperm donors too often though. For many, even when they stick around they are often self absorbed in their own careers and goals. The nurturing man is one, who is aware, and while I'm fortunate to know a few, he's not very prevalent.

Pondering this question has made me decide that unless I clearly do the inviting, never again will I offer to pay on a date! Spare me that stupid rules book, and come on! The ritual of wining and dining a woman is literally thousands of years old, and at one time our very survival depended on it. One thing I can tell you men are not good for is salsa. Since my favorite dance studio in the universe, Dance 101, moved to its fabulous new 3 studio location, I've tried to take a couple of classes only to leave, thinking I need to stick to jazz and belly dancing. It's the same ritual every class. I go in hoping that there will be some men, who are advanced enough to challenge me and really give me a chance to dance, and at best I get a guy, who is nice but a dreadfully weak leader and less advanced than me, and at worst that arrogant idiot tonight, wearing a t-shirt with 'Buck Fuddy' printed on the front.

That guy threw me into a spin barely holding onto my finger, so in order not to fall, I had to grab onto his. Afterwards he told me he was only going to let me do one spin so I didn't take off his finger. It's a double spin from an off balance position for the woman. If I didn't hold onto something I'd be intimate with the floor. "In the choice of your finger or my cracked pelvis or head, it will definitely be your finger. Be glad I didn't have to hold onto your balls." I thought indignantly. "And only in your dreams would I be your 'fuddy'."

Yes, salsa is still a perfect metaphor for my single life. That "vertical expression of a horizontal desire" that turns a bit tedious. I go hoping against hope that I will have fun, feel spun and swept, get to paw a hot guy, and here's a wild idea, DANCE! I'm always wishing for a few moments, just one activity where I don't have to be the one in control, in the lead, and managing way too much at one time. Instead I spend most of the class thinking I should have taken the Hip Hop Flow Jazz class because dancing by myself always ends up being more fun as does working, reading, drawing... A little sad but true.

Part of why I tell myself to stay in salsa class (as opposed to running screaming out the door 1/2 way through) is that I've considered it part of my integral life practice to work on receiving, to practice not tuning out the fact that a man I don't know well or at all has his arms wrapped around me. Yes, I've sought to maximize the potential for interpersonal contact while maintaining the polarities in an effort to increase my capacity to be the receptor. Dear me, could I get any more hyper-masculine or any worse about sucking the fun out of everything by turning it into a 'module?' Just that very word makes the creativity start seeping out of my body and into miserable little greasy spot on the floor. No, I want some gorgeous guy to make me shine like the wild effervescent Shakti that I am!

Most guys don't even want to do dinner anymore. It's just "let's meet for coffee before we head back to your place." Ritual coffee is for 2 purposes: small talk with people you don't know well and in depth talk with deep like-minds between meals or when the place you had dinner closes down, and the conversation is far from over. As far as I and many other straight women are concerned, if you're hoping for contact sport not on a dance floor, you'd better make a big ritual of providing grass fed fillet mignon in a restaurant with fine ambiance. Pump that iron, baby!

1 comment:

~C4Chaos said...

flattered (:-)