Damn Right We Did! Women, Civilization-Building, and Men in Denial

Entitled males love to howl about how penis-bearing people did all the hard work creating civilization. It became so much of a trope that David Futrelle renamed his blog after one of their cries: “We hunted the mammoth for you!” To hear men (especially white European males who haven’t done shit with their own lives) tell it, the only people who did anything noteworthy in the entire history of the world had dangly bits between their legs.

After yet another men-did-it-all screed, Rubyyogi had enough, and unleashed some truth upon them:

We, women, have birthed and brought forth all of humanity. The berries and roots we gathered provided the fuel to take those first steps off the savannah. We skinned the mammoth and made the fur into loin cloths so we could go to colder climes. We butchered the mammoth and fed the whole tribe.

Damn straight we did!

Grayscale image shows a Neanderthal woman crouched down, scraping a skin.
“Restoration of a Neanderthal woman cleaning a reindeer skin.” Image via Wellcome Images. (CC BY 4.0)

I’m tired of women being written out of history, out of civilization, as if nothing we’ve done had any bearing on human thriving. None of the things men beat their chests over would be possible without women. And, contrary to what small-minded men want to believe, women have been there building civilization all along. WHTM commenters have come up with countless fabulous examples in the comments to this post. And I’ve been highlighting Pioneering Women in the Geosciences (and a few other sciences) for some time now. I’ve got an enormous list. This reminds me I’d better get cracking on it.

So yes, poor tiny-minded doods who can’t imagine anyone without a wang having anything to do with human achievement. It’s true. We’ve been there all along, building humanity’s future with or without the menfolk – all while giving birth to the whole of the human race (with the help of a few good trans men).

Don’t you ever forget it.

Image shows a woolly mammoth. Caption beside it says, "We, women, have birthed and brought forth all of humanity... We butchered the mammoth and fed the whole tribe."
Meme what I made for Rubyyogi. Photo of woolly mammoth model from Royal BC Museum courtesy Flying Puffin (CC BY-SA 2.0).


Thank you so much to all who have donated and/or snorked to help me avoid homelessness! I’ll be sending thanks, nifty stuffage, and responding to emails by sometime Saturday. If you’re shopping for books, please visit my Amazon Marketplace store – I’m adding new titles daily! If you’re shopping for Father’s Day, I’ve got great gifties available at my Etsy store and on RedBubble. And if your Dad or Dad-like Figure loves biblical nonsense, consider getting them Really Terrible Bible Stories Vol. 1: Genesis, authored by moi. It’s full of premium snark!

Damn Right We Did! Women, Civilization-Building, and Men in Denial

16 thoughts on “Damn Right We Did! Women, Civilization-Building, and Men in Denial

  1. 1

    To the best of my knowledge mammoths have been extinct for 4,000 years. No man alive today has ever hunted a mammoth. So I wonder who “we” in “we hunted the mammoth for you” refers to.

  2. 2

    I mean: just because I have a penis, and hunting mammoths used to be restricted to people with penises, I somehow deserve the credit? That’s ridiculous.

  3. 4

    I know it’s not a “manly” thing to say but I’m gonna do it anyway: Hunting mammoths?? Fuck that!!! I’m fine right here by the campfire without all the predators.

  4. 5

    This exact mentality is why I don’t understand sports fans.

    Why are you so invested in the success of a team with whom you have no connections? And why is the hunting of the mammoth considered the paragon of civilized advancement? Doesn’t every anthropologist say that agriculture is the start of “civilization”?

  5. 6

    Has anyway had issues logging on? I log on with Google+ and it wouldn’t let me do it. I went to another blog and it logged on fine. Then switched over to Tequila.

  6. 7

    how do we know women didn’t take part in Mammoth hunts? Taking out a mammoth is a bit of a team effort, especially when there’s a whole herd of them; small tribe, I’d have thought every able-bodied person in the tribe would take part.

  7. 8

    @newenlightenment, one theory is that mammoth hunting is SO dangerous and uncertain that the small children and pregnant members of the tribe would keep well away from the possible disaster the hunt could turn into if the mammoth got stroppy. Those who subscribe to benevolent sexism extend this concept to assuming that ALL women had to be so protected, without any real evidence.

  8. Pen

    It’s pretty well-known that in hunter-gatherer societies gathering provides the vast majority of a group’s calories, though hunting provides occasional very desirable high-calorie treats. Also there is generally a gender divide with women tending to do more gathering and thus provide most of the actual food.

    This model might not map well onto societies that sustain themselves almost entirely on meat. In those, processing meat, bones, hide and fat into everything a group needs to survive is very labor-intensive and typically involves a lot of female labor.

  9. Pen

    From historical societies that survive by hunting largish animals, that would seem unlikely. The first thing to understand is that hunting usually doesn’t involve overwhelming force, it involves strategy. Small groups are enough.

    Second, they would often have to travel far from camp, relatively fast, with just enough for the expedition. The slight edge of youngish adult men in terms of speed and strength likely favored their exclusive participation. Certainly, all of the young, elderly and less health would have been left in campl

    Thirdly, there would have been just too much other work to do. It becomes a question of only been able to spare five people or so, the few most apt mammoth hunters. That favors youngish adult males for the role even more.

  10. 11

    Let ’em have it, Ms Dana!

    btw, I believe that commenter is *rugby* yogi…as in a non-USAnian version of football.

    I love reading the comments at We Hunted The Mammoth. So many of the regulars are Good People with excellent Snark Deployment Skillz…

  11. 12

    Ooh, yeah, I recognize that mammoth.

    I grew up just north of Victoria, was visiting that museum back when it was the B.C. Provincial Musum, and have seen some of the workers there blow-drying the mammoth in question. It needs to be cleaned pretty regularly.

    That said, yeah, WHTM is a great site. And gee, isn’t it so interesting that the ones that actually try to play the ‘men hunted for you’ card are generally ones that can just wander down to the supermarket and pick up whatever they want. You might even think that all the people whining about how they could go it alone are the ones who have been able to treat the entire social safety net and public infrastructure around them as air which just magically gets produced for them…

  12. 13

    I’d also guess there was a lot more small game and insects on the menu, and anyone capable would be able to hunt or trap them, including older children. There’s also fishing. None of those things require a penis.

  13. rq

    So you hunted the mammoth, great. Know what I did, while you were out? I:
    – herded the goats, the chickens and the kids and only lost one of the chickens in the process;
    – made that vegetable patch viable, until you and yer hunting friends marched right through it on the way home in the dark;
    – milked that damn wild cow that’s been feeding in the valley next door;
    – fixed those holes in the roof so the tent doesn’t leak anymore;
    – got rid of those ants that have made a nest of your bedding;
    – invented a couple of useful new tools, but it’s for that weaving idea I have, so you’re probably not interested;
    – moved those giant boulders from the middle of the field with some friends, since you and yer friends can’t seem to ever get to it before another mammoth hunt;
    – oh, and I finished dinner, but you were so damn late on the mammoth hunt, I finished it all myself with the kids.
    Welcome home. Please take the garbage out.

  14. 15

    At least one woman hunted mammoth. In 1988 I spent a few weeks at a language school in Cuernavaca. One day we went on a field trip to a museum that claimed, at that time, to have the oldest known human skeleton in North America. There she was, in situ in the floor of the museum. She was a Native American woman who had been crushed when a mammoth fell on her. OUCH.

  15. 16

    Last I read about the subject, mammoth hunting regularly involved digging a deep pit, covering it with a lattice of branches and leaves, harassing a mammoth until it took the path leading it to the pit, and then pelting it to death with spears, rocks, whatev.

    The digging and pelting parts required a lot of upper-body muscle; surely the harassment phase demanded speed and agility; and only rarely would suitable prey have shown up near by a given clan’s campground – but I suspect none of these factors would have restricted women’s participation nearly so much as the need for nonstop childcare.

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