Homo sapiens have been around for quite a while, though we didn’t start developing the traits that would ultimately give rise to great art, such as Van Halen’s “Unchained,” till about 50,000 years ago. The ride has often been bumpy. Were it not for one man, it would have been bumpier. So on this Father’s Day, we embark on a journey back to the roots of masculinity itself. It is a history of creation, invention, machination, and heteronormativity. First, though, our forebears had to invent heteronormativity.
One might be tempted to think that it would be easy to shape an emerging society. But as Dr. Roth V. Lee found in his seminal work Hit the Ground Running, early mankind wasn’t really down with heteronormative roles. This discontent was largely fueled by Neanderthal society.
While early man was trying to keep the women foraging and pregnant as he set about killing large animals without the assistance of a firearm, the Neanderthals had parity. Neanderthal men, women, and children hunted together. Early women witnessed this and wondered why they didn’t get to enjoy the benefits of being frequently injured by tigers, ligers, velociraptors, and uber-deadly landsharks. So they burned their pelts, which smelled terrible, and launched a campaign demanding to be treated like Neanderthal women. Early man, feeling annoyed as he just wanted to kick back with some mildly poisonous fruit and enjoy the visuals, instead weaponized that fruit and lobbed it into Neanderthal camps. It was a long war, lasting approximately 20,000 years, but Homo sapiens eventually prevailed.
With the Neanderthals out of the way, the early adopters of heteronormativity set out spread their view of the world, one in which men and women complemented one another, across the land. By this time, a very important and influential thinker had emerged. Dave the Magnificent, the philosophical and tactical genius behind patriarchy, devised a strategy to force heteronormativity upon the burgeoning civilization.
He drew pictures of aprons, slippers, and recliners, though he would pass long before those dreams became reality. He entertained the other men with a series of paintings that would later be adapted intoLeave It to Beaver. He even conceived and promulgated concepts such as the glass ceiling and 77 small pebbles to one really large and shiny rock. Which is pretty impressive as the business world at the time was extremely rudimentary and glass did not yet exist.
Dave was more than just a thinker, though. Unwilling to pass out primitive pamphlets and hope for the best, he recruited a band to spread the word. These men would run from encampment to encampment and disseminate Dave’s ideas. As Lee noted in Hit the Ground Running, this strategy helped sharpen their ideas and influence and ultimately lead to the creation of the Patriarchy™ itself.
All that running generally wore these young men out and they developed a ritual they would engage in upon arrival at a new destination. When they found themselves in a new camp, the young men would find kind, single women to massage their aching feet. As this custom spread, the messengers became known as “patriarchs” given their devotion to having their arches patted. Dave the Magnificent, despite his gift of imagination and locution, kicked himself for not thinking up the term. But, being a man who was always willing to adapt a good idea to his own use adopted the term. And thus the Patriarchy™ came to be.
The Patriarchy™ was not an immediate hit. Though men were generally receptive to the idea of slippers and martinis, things that don’t exist aren’t the best incentives. Moreover, saber toothed tigers and sasquatches were real. If they ladies wanted to fight them, why not? The men could then spend more time foraging for semi-poisonous fruit and not getting mortally wounded. Some men even suggested they’d earn many more large and shiny rocks if they only employed women. Lower salaries would reduce overhead.
But the patriarchs prevailed. (The patriarchs had a habit of making the women whose mates wanted them to fight tigers smile a little too much. It wasn’t always singles rubbing the feet or feet being rubbed, if you know what I’m saying and I think you do. As there was no internet nor easy mail-order brides, the dissenters had little choice but to agree to the plan.)
And thus the Patriarchy™ cemented itself as the shadow government running all of civilization. Soon memories of past struggles faded and women became content to spend their days running the household while the men continued narrowly avoiding death in order to bring home delicious wild boar bacon. Men developed better tools to procure said bacon. Life became idyllic, mirthful, and fruitful.
Over time, society has changed and the Patriarchy™ and heteronormativity often find themselves under attack. Again, it’s because of the Neanderthals. See, those early patriarchs were pretty rugged and virile and the Neanderthal women liked the idea of staying behind and foraging instead of distracting bears while their mates tried to kill their prey with sharp sticks. As such, the Neandethals may be extinct, but their genetic material lives on, if you know what I’m saying and I think you do. And their descendants sometimes display muscle-memory and attempt to fight back, though the burning of bras is much less odorous than burning hairy pelts, so they haven’t yet dismantled the Patriarchy™ or heteronormativity. There is some fear that the next hashtag campaign will succeed, but for now the system remains unfazed.
As for Dave the Magnificent, he vanished from the historical record after a final, rousing performance in front of his patriarchs and their women. Some say he retired to a quiet life where he sired many children and spent his days trying to make the martini a reality. Others say he was killed in an attempted coup by a quiet and unsuccessful group who resented the patriarchs and those aforementioned “foot rubs.” Still others say he walks the earth as an immortal, continuing to spread his ideas and personally trying to sway those who would attempt to dismantle his creation. Dave’s final performance, though a bit cryptic, does support this view.
I get up, and nothing gets me down.
You got it tough. I've seen the toughest around. And I know, baby, just how you feel. You've got to roll with the punches to get to what's real.
Regardless of what happened to Dave, we as a civilization owe him a debt. The Patriarchy™, though much maligned, vanquished velociraptors and mega-spiders while creating supermarkets, weekends, and, yes, martinis. So this Father’s Day kick back, relax, and have one of your daughters bring you one. (If you have only sons, borrow a daughter for a few hours.) Just make sure to reprimand the child if they use too much vermouth. As Dave taught us, biology don’t mean a thing and this whole constructed universe can only continue with eternal perseverance.