Thursday, April 17, 2003

Once more, appalled, I watched 'Walking with Cavemen'. Episode 3. I watched because one of the performers is a friend of mine, and performers can't always choose the jobs they do....

I am really grumpy, though. Being a life-long vegetarian (and yes I know we are basically omnivores, and I have two canine teeth, and CAN digest meat and all that - I've tried most things in my travels). What I can't stand is the macho history of males. Can we still be pumping out this crap that humans are males!!!!! Males hunt, humans are vicious, we have to hunt to kill to eat, etc.

It's such rubbish. First of all it is speculation. Secondly, all representations of early humans I have ever seen are about as accurate as portraits of Jesus (sorry, folks) in terms of the local cultural bias of the artist - for Victorians they were 'primitive' and so 'ugly'. Of course, we now know that other races than the 'white ideal' contain some of the most beautiful human types, so why are we still portraying our own ancestors as ugly brutes? Oh yes, it's all 'scientific' now, isn't it, careful reconstruction from bones (is that why they all look like photofit criminals?)

And I may not be a zealous vegetarian, but I thought it was admitted now that we are not descended from 'Hunter/Gatherers' but 'Gatherer/Hunters' (i.e. 80% - or 'most' - of our diet has always come from roots and shoots, nuts and fruits and berries and leaves). Things that don't run away, or need to be hunted. Then there is honey. Then there are eggs (they don't run away either). Then there are small things like grubs (don't move very fast) and (the thing we don't like to talk about) scavenging other animals which are already dead.

The amount of lively creatures we chased and caught and killed must have been a tiny percentage of our diet.

So why are we portraying ourselves as avenging chimps? Personally, I feel descended from peaceful old apes like Orangs and Gorillas. Nothing macho about some of the biggest vegetarians on the planet. In fact, the biggest animals are ALL vegetarians - elephants, rhinos, hippos, gorillas, even some of the whales live on algae.

So what is this total nonsense about us being the ultimate predator? It makes me so mad. Haven't we moved on yet? When I calm down I will collect some of my evidence in a better form, but right now I am furious. So many people are going to think this is 'science' and not mythology.

I'll dig out Ursula Le Guin's text on 'The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction' as a good starting point.....I can't find the whole text online, and I don't know about copyright issues just at the moment, but I highly recommend it for a picture of our ancestors as calm, smart, benign and magical intelligent beings. With the women and children and old folks providing most of the nourishment by browsing and grazing, while the macho youth go off on futile chasing after after rabbits.... (oh yes, and - oh sure - deer or elephants).

We really worship predators (making a killing in the market) and the idea of the big lump of protein (the lottery win) which will solve all our problems for a long time - and we despise 'sheep'. We wannabe the hunters, not the prey. We don't want a symbiotic relationship with our surroundings, and endlessly renewable resources like plants. Check out this piece on 'Primitives' and Ecofeminism.

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