Patriarchy    2


Andrea Velasquez & Lara Perry

Coney, N., & Mackey, W. (1998). Cultural Evolution & Gender Roles: Advantage…Patriarchy. Mankind Quarterly, 39(1), 1-27.


“Cultural Evolution  & Gender Roles: Advantage….Patriarchy”


            According to the article “Cultural Evolution & Gender Roles: Advantage…Patriarchy, evolution is not in favor of females overtaking the work force (Coney & Mackey, 1998). In fact, in terms of evolution, “the advantage lies clearly with the patriarchal society” (Coney & Mackey, 1998, p.14).

            Since the 1960s options have increased for women in many cultures, especially within in higher education, occupation and political power structures (Coney & Mackey, 1998). The argument is  all reproductive strategies are not of equal efficacy, but that some are superiors to their competitors” (Coney & Mackey, 1998, p.2). A study was conducted by Coney and Mackey, in order to test this hypothesis. The study was completed on the assumption that the following four premises are true. The first being that everyone is mortal (Coney & Mackey, 1998).  The second, everyone who is alive is guaranteed to have had ancestors, however, no one is guaranteed descendents (Coney & Mackey, 1998).  The third premise states that inhabitable lands don’t remain empty (Coney & Mackey, 1998). Lastly, humans are bio-cultural beings, thus we carry our biological heritage and socialization heritage with us as we move (Coney & Mackey, 1998).

            Coney and Mackey’s article (1998) starts with premise number two, stating that it is obvious that in order to be alive, we must have ancestors but there is no guarantee we will procreate. An individual is not secured the desire to reproduce, attractiveness, fertility or self- sacrifice through evolution (Coney & Mackey, 1998).  All of which are necessary in order to have descendents.

            Concentrating on premise number three, our homelands will eventually become in habited by humans. Immigration is a key example of this phenomenon, and direct support of this premise. According to Coney and Mackey, (1998) the more fruitful the land, “ the more numerous and exuberant are the individuals who would settle the opened territory” (p.4).

            Finally, every human adult reflects “the genetic package which allowed his or her ancestors to survive” (Coney & Mackey, 1998, p. 4), as well as the “socialization traditions which successfully reared that adult to maturity” (Coney & Mackey, 1998, p.4). Henceforth, humans will carry both these aspects of their being with them wherever they choose to inhabit.

            The next question falls logically into place. What about demographics? More specifically, “is there a fundamental demographic homogeneity across societies or are there systematic, nontrivial differences” (Coney & Mackey, 1998, p.4)?  The evidence shows that some societies are better equipped to respond to evolution in a positive way given the social and cultural norms as well as expectations (Coney & Mackey, 1998).  For instance, some nations are experiencing a growth in population, while others are experiencing a decline. According to Coney and Mackey’s study (1998) the reason for

                                                                                                            Patriarchy   3


this lies in the woman’s’ role in her society as well as her individual fertility. Women are regarded as the “limiting resource when it comes to population change” (Coney & Mackey, 1998, p.6).  In short, if a woman’s fertility is affected by some factor, the entire society is affected (Coney & Mackey, 1998).

            It has been noted by Coney and Mackey (1998) through this specific study that across the world the female is expected to be the primary child caretaker. This sexist assumption in today’s society can be explained through the fact that in the past “if a job or task interfered with mothering, then that task was given to men” (Coney & Mackey, 1998,p.7).  This would explain why women are genetically programmed to primarily be caretakers. This would also explain that the expansion of opportunities for women is associated with a reduction in fertility. Further, the increase in women in further education can be attributed to a decrease in child- births (Coney & Mackey, 1998).

            In support of this argument Coney and Mackey (1998), patriarchal societies where the woman was perceived primarily as a sexual being has higher birth rates than females in western societies. Although in these societies, women may indeed further their education, they will not be permitted to partake in a career or responsibility outside that of being a mother (Coney& Mackey, 1998).

            It is therefore proven that groups that expect and emphasize women to take on purely the mother role will replace other societies (Coney & Mackey, 1998). Societies that maximize the number of children born per woman have obvious demographic advantages to a society operating under any other formula (Coney & Mackey, 1998). In short, there is “ a strong relationship between restricting women’s roles to motherhood and fecundity: more restriction yields higher fertility” (Coney & Mackey, 1998, p. 13). These women with a higher fertility rate will have a greater influence on further generations than women with fewer children (Coney & Mackey, 1998). In conclusion, the article holds true to its title “the advantage lies clearly with the patriarchal society” (Coney & Mackey, 1998, p.14).



A.     Evolution

1.      When a cultural facet increases or comes to a dominant sphere of activity; other facets decrease their influence or disappear.

B.     Gender

1.      dominated the social world in many countries

2.      created an increase in options in education political power and work force

C.     Argument- All reproductive strategies are not equal, but some are superior, according to four premises

1.      Everyone is mortal

2.      Everyone is guaranteed ancestors but are not guaranteed descendents

3.      Inhabitable lands don’t remain empty

4.      Humans carry their biological/social heritage wherever they move

D.     Good Land Doesn’t Stay Empty

1.immigration is the key support to this premise

3.      all homelands will be inhabited by those who have ancestors and descendants

E.      Humans are bio-cultural

1.      adults reflect their genetic package to allow their ancestors to survive/propagate

2.      reflect their social traditions and allowed them to become mature adults


A.     Question- Is there a demographic homogeneity across societies or are there systematic non-trivial differences?

1.      Some nations are growing

2.      some nations are declining

3.      intermixing of genes


A.     Women are limiting resource in population change

B.     women’s fertility effects the whole society

C.     Anything that conflicts with motherhood was not given to women as a responsibility

D.     Cross culturally care-taking is a female task

E.      Expanding opportunities = decline in fertility


A.     Women will enter into cash opportunities if they have the option

B.     Changes  in levels of natural fertility can be attributed to changes in levels of women in further education


A.     Women are perceived as exclusively a sex object

B.     If a woman wants a career it’s a direct conflict in fertility rates


A.     In cultural groups where women are perceived as purely caretakers will replace cultures who’s women have roles that compete with a mother role

B.     Women with lots of options/low fertility will be replaced with women with fewer options and higher fertility

C.     Women with more children have a greater influence on the next generation

D.     Advantage lies in patriarchal society