Origins of male control of women

{See also related press cuttings }

The origins of men's ownership and control of women are universally thought to derive from men's superior strength. Biologists also believe that mechanisms in the body and brain predispose men to certain behaviour; for example, diminished impulse control, which has its origins in (among other things) the serotonin housekeeping in the brain; and testosterone, which makes all animals more reactive; for example, the primitive brain structures in men are less well-connected to the rational frontal brain lobes than in women. There are also differences in when male and female bodies make oxytocin (a trust, empathy, and social bonding hormone) and other substances and hormones. These biological differences mean men will, biologically, have more trouble controlling urges that arise in the hypothalamus and the amygdala (where among other basal emotions the aggressive impulse originates), and more trouble running those urges past the (pre)frontal cortex (where proportionate and socially appropriate behavioral responses are constructed). Men will feel these urges in different situations than women will. When we add to that a body mass/strength that gives this creature the real-world ability to force or harm the smaller creature, we have the beginnings of male-female history and sociology.[1]

In 1834 the Ladies Cabinet of Fashion, Music and Romance ran a feature on how women came to be subordinated to men.

In 1841Cleave's Penny Gazette expounded on the history of women's oppression.

In 1842 the Penny Satirist printed an article on male ownership of women.

Some relevant quotes

Attributing the subjection of women to nature, God, brute strength.

'The marriage codes of all nations, even the most civilised, render women in effect the slaves of men.' William Thompson (1775-1833)

'Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church.' Old Testament, Ephesians 5: 22-23

'Nature herself has decreed that woman ... should be at the mercy of man's judgement.'Rousseau (1712-1778)

'Nature has given women so much power that the law has very wisely given them little.' Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

[I]n the very elementary stages of society physical force directs the order and relation of things in that society. In the very earliest stages women suffered from that fact in those very rudimentary forms of society - which may still be found in some remote corners of the world - where women - children, for instance, are habitually put to death, with certain rare exceptions, and where women - wives were taken by a process of capture and theft just as cattle are in partially advanced communities.' Mr Courtney MP, 1878. Source: Hansard

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[1] Thanks to Alexandra Semyonova for her input on male and female biology