chapter  1
56 Pages

Parenthood —The Basis of Social Structure

Four hundred years earlier for such a reply a child would have been beaten, put into a dark room, tortured or disciplined into death or moral annihilation. Four thousand years ago, perhaps, in the Bronze Age, a bloodthirsty patriarch would have killed it outright. But forty thousand years back or thereabouts (I am not very strong on dates or hypotheses) the weak, matrilineal father might have smiled on his offspring even more indulgently than I was able to do, and without that wry twist on his face which comes, I suppose, from undigested patriarchal traditions. In any case, among my present-day Stone Age savages of the South Seas, I have heard children address a father as frankly and unceremoniously, with the perfect equivalent in native of the English "you dam' fool!" while he argued back without any show of patriarchal dignity.