Anthropology. I love that word because it describes humans. The study of humankind. Devoid of race, nationality, colour, nurture, nature or belief. Just humans.
In the words of Helen Fisher, PhD Biological Anthropologist, Research Professor and member of the Center for Human Evolution Studies, Rutgers University “the world takes on a new centre .. you have intense energy .. elation .. become sexually possessive (with Darwinian purpose) .. experience intense craving obsession & motivation for that person.” What is she talking about?
Falling in love.
All across the world, the brain’s reaction is the same. And its the same area of the brain that reacts when you take cocaine. Love is a drug. Those who are rejected by love can die from it, or kill because of it! It is probably “the most powerful of the brain systems” says Fisher.
She describes the three main systems that lead to evolution; our sex drive or lust that evolved to get us a partner, romantic love that evolved to allow you to focus on that partner and attachment which evolved so we can “tolerate that human at least while you raise the children” ha ha!
After celebrating International Women’s Day all around the world it’s truly wonderful to see women are closing the gap back to an equality that we, in fact, always had. We are returning to a state as it always was, as it always has been, especially in the maasai culture.
To fully understand the changes we need to understand the big picture, our anthropology. That simple fact that Men and Women are not alike, never have been and never will be. We are not equal so we must not misinterpret what “equality” means. Apart from the obvious physical and emotional differences we are as collaborative as positive and negative. Women can talk and analyse whereas men are more focused, women are much more empathic and men are physically stronger. There are many other differences you can read about here but it is the lessons we have in front of us that are important. Moving towards a more collaborative society is the important point, the real definition of “equality”.
“We are seeing the rise of female sexual expression, the same we saw in the grasslands of Africa” Fisher says in her TED talk. If you read the interview with Melissa Llewelyn-Davies who spent many years studying and talking to maasai (by Anna Grimshaw) you begin to understand why the maasai women truly are the quintessential pack of women portrayed in Sex And the City. They are the experts of the companionship marriage. They are the answer to girlpower, surrounded by their sisters, mothers, friends and children with their men fully understanding their role. They have deep respect for their men, agreeing wholeheartedly they are not their equals as they know they’re not brave enough to fight off a lion. They also know their men provide the seed of their children and they look up to them for this, while knowing full well the men couldn’t ever raise the children and weren’t ever expected to. There are a great many traditions of the maasai culture that would be frowned upon by todays western woman, but you must have tolerance to have understanding and there are reasons for and against. There are also outdated reasons but that is another debate. What we shouldn’t do is simply assume that our own experience of womanhood is everyone elses.
“We were built to reproduce”, just as the maasai base their entire lives on reproduction, both their own and of their wealth in their livestock, it seems pertinent to me that a few lessons are drawn from women around the world who are perhaps NOT suffering from our perceived cancer that is sexual inequality. A cancer that like most others, is on its way out too, along with arranged and unhappy marriages. If a maasai man is disrespectful he is fined and made to pay by the women. I like that. He is also made to answer to the group of friends that brought him to trial. That seems like a good system. Overseen by a matriarch and ultimately the elders, just like the elephants do it!
I believe the symbiotic maasai way of life has a few lessons for all of us. Perhaps with less cow-dung and handbags.