Women and men can fight in battles

Hunting and Gathering - Meat and Gender Roles

From driven hunt to stalking

Nobody can say that today with one hundred percent certainty. Excavations and cave drawings that are thousands of years old give scientists clues about the primitive human society.

Judging by old cave drawings, there was originally no gender-specific distribution of tasks with regard to the procurement of food. The whole family hunted together, even the children were there. They were probably worn over long distances.

More successful hunting techniques improved the supply situation and the number of children increased. Even so, family hunting was still useful as long as strong herds roamed the countryside. In the large group, the herd was circled and chased until a weak animal fell victim to the hunters.

But the climatic conditions changed, they influenced flora and fauna. The animal populations became smaller, the competition with the predators increased - and the hunt even more dangerous. The hunters often had to travel long distances to find suitable meat suppliers.

And they adapted their technique to the new circumstances: instead of driving the game, they went on a stalk. That is, they sneaked up on their prey.

The hour of birth of gender roles

The stalking was difficult with many small children. Therefore, the nursing mothers had to look after the offspring. They were then given more the task of collecting, and increasingly they were excluded from the hunt.

As a result, the women were no longer able to provide themselves with the animal proteins they needed on their own. They became dependent on the hunting men. Whoever brought the greatest prey was the most successful hunter and the most sought-after man.

Observations of so-called indigenous peoples suggest that anthropologists conclude that there was a kind of barter trade: the foragers thanked the foragers with physical care - a reward on the one hand and selection for reproduction on the other.

When choosing the sex partner, the captured animal or its meat played a decisive role.

Flesh and sin

The gender-specific division into hunters and gatherers probably developed thousands of years ago from a practical constraint that has long since ceased to exist. The Stone Age man first had to laboriously hunt down his vital proteins.

Today the average German eats dozens of pigs in the course of his life without any effort. And the importance of the flesh as a guarantor for the supply of women and the fame of men has won the money in our latitudes.

Nevertheless, we still feel the consequences of the gender roles that developed back then.

The distribution of meat among consumers is just as unequal today as it was in the Stone Age: Although women and girls no longer have to be satisfied with leftovers, they only eat about a third of the meat that their male counterparts consume.

40 percent of men, but only slightly more than 20 percent of women in Germany, consume meat every day.

And they prefer other varieties: In the 21st century, the division of the sexes between the roles of "raw-animal" and "fine-civilized" still seems to exist - at least on the plates.

Women tend to eat white meats that are barely reminiscent of the animal that was killed. Men, on the other hand, eat red meat much more often, also with bones, which can still be recognized as beef or pork.

This could be due to the age-old distribution of tasks: The hunting men were constantly confronted with the animal. They often had to kill the creature to avoid being killed themselves. They couldn't afford pity or inhibitions.

The collecting and nursing women, on the other hand, had the task of giving birth and preserving life. Killing and slaughter was less and less part of her field of experience.

The connection between meat supply and willingness to have sex is also likely to have played a decisive role in the different meat consumption. The ambiguity of the term "lust for the flesh" is no coincidence: meat was and is a synonym for sensuality and desire.

Neither of these is appropriate for women in the Christian religions. The story of Adam and Eve already teaches that woman's lust leads to ruin. In religiously dominated times it was therefore offensive for women to eat meat. They were seen as vicious and self-indulgent.