Humanist Counter-Theory of Primitive and Strict Religious Cultures

"Love" by Shabab Golchin
“Love” by Shabab Golchin

Authors Note: This text does not seek to advocate or defend any cultures, religions, etc. It should be obvious that critical analysis of a culture is not the same as embracing it.

Physical sciences are very fascinating. Their approach to understanding the world  that may not match their preconceptions is simple: Find theories that explain the phenomena that have been observed. Validation of a theory is then based on its ability to predict the result of experiments. If a phenomenon is observed that does not fall in line with the theories, that phenomenon will not be marginalized, the theories will be replaced instead.

But social “sciences” can get so tainted with bias that an endeavor at capturing different phenomena with a theory can tend toward shrinking all phenomena down into the theory at hand. This same thing has happened with feminism: the “Patriarchy” theory can in fact explain a portion of some social dynamics. But there are many phenomena in total in total contradiction with the Patriarchy theory. But instead of acknowledging the need to replace this theory, Patriarch Theoriests have reduced three arguments to explain away all discrepancies:

  1. Patriarchy hurts men too.
  2. Those women are bargaining with the patriarchy.
  3. In a patriarchy, women have internalized hatred of themselves.

If one entertains the possiblity that these ideas belong in the trash can, the disequilibrium drives rational people to searching for a Humanist counter-theory: the notion that men and women equally build a society, and that cost/benefit arrived at by consensus drives most cultural forces.

In the search for such a counter-theory, this article examines some phenomena that have, so far, been in total authority of feminist theories; “Patriarchy” is the accepted theory for all of them, by most people. These phenomena concerning traditional and primitive cultures have, until now, been used to dismiss any doubting of the Patriarchy Theory. But let’s look at them with a more humanist counter-theory, that assumes people create cultures, not just men:

I – Polygamy

In order to resolve the many fallacies around this phenomenon consider the following scenario:

There are 8 men and 8 women and enough food for only 13 people, which means that three people will die of starvation. So, order and number men with their status from top to bottom so that the richest man is numbered one and the poorest is numbered eight. With polygamy in the picture, one can expect that four women will marry the man number one, and four will marry the man number two. This way no matter how hard they work, it is guaranteed that the three people starved to death are men numbered six to eight–who of course had no potential mates either.

Many look at the broad sexual horizon a polygamous man has in comparison to his wives, while they never consider that the difference between their quality of life might be coming from the fact that the man came from the upper-class and the women came from the lower-class. But the sort of person who inserts herself into this scenario as a rich woman might feel oppressed–if she disregards the many lower-status single men as available to her as mates, and if she disregards the many lower-status women that benefit from polygamy.

As an example, in the United Arab Emirates, many women are campaigning that the government should make polygamy easier for men, and they object to men who will not marry more than one wife, because these women claim that men rejecting polygamy increases spinsterhood!

Furthermore, this is far from the first time somebody has lookedat polygamy as unfairly beneficial to women and harmful to men. For example, 6th Century Iran: one of the most polygamous cultures to ever live. The Sassanid dynasty of the Persian Empire was extremely powerful, while classism was raging throughout the nation. The son of a blacksmith was only allowed to be a blacksmith, and the son of a peasant would always be a peasant and deprived of education. The only way somebody could change the class they were born into was by the institution of marriage.

A man named Mazdak did the impossible: his rebellious doctrines in many areas mostly opposing classism brought a revolution in less than thirty years. One of his pivotal beliefs was to oppose polygamy; his ideas of free love triggered some of his followers to go as far as suggesting that women should consider having several husbands. Mazdak believed that polygamy had given women the opportunity to leave their peer-status men, so that men from the same lower classes as them would still have work hard just so as to send the fruits up to the new higher class these women had married into. These lower-class men also never had a chance for sexual activity. In the end, Mazdak and several thousand of his followers were arrested  and murdered in a day[1].

How about polygamy today, in the modern world? It is essential before extension of these concepts to point out how much effort has been put to exaggerate how widespread this phenomenon really is; any think that men as a norm have several wives in certain parts of the world. So what is the actual number of polygamous men in Saudi Arabia, which perhaps is the most polygamous country on Earth?

By studying the 2007 demographic survey report of the Ministry of Economy and Planning of Saudi Arabia, in Table 17 we find that the number of married men in Saudi Arabia is 3,251,091. The number of married women is 3,271,913. It is easily deduced from these two numbers that the number of polygamous men is under 0.64% and over 0.21% of married men (That would be less than 0.38% of men of age group of over 15 and over 0.12%) [2].

With a sharp eye, one can confirm the concepts put forth earlier. Because in this same table we find the following for the age group of over 15:

Number of men: 5,542,684

Number of divorced men: 45,371

Number of widowed men: 23,596

Number of women: 5,438,584

Number of divorced women: 128,095

Number of widowed women: 292,899 (Compare with widowed men to see male disposability.)

With all of these numbers one can easily determine that the number of men over 15 who have never been married is 40.1% whereas the number of women over 15 who have never been married is 32.1%. These numbers show similar trends for any age groups; for example for the age groups of over 30 the numbers are 40.04% for men and 33.12% for women.

Now in a culture where sex is not available outside marriage, these numbers show that there are more men who cannot ever get married than women.

But all the debate around this subject is about women’s spinsterhood. Remember, many women of Saudi Arabia think that men refusing polygamy is the reason for their spinsterhood–as opposed to their own hypergamy, their desire to marry only upper-class men.

Saudi women asking married men to marry them too--four fingers means four wives allowed!
Saudi women asking married men to marry them too–four fingers means four wives allowed per man!

Since lower-status women of rural areas are more prone to get involved in a polygamous marriage, the lower-status men of their village are left with no potential mates. The numbers discussed above support this theory quite well.

Now let us hunt for the fallacies people have to accept regarding polygamy, if they believe it is all about “Patriarchy” (i.e. men’s supposed domination and power over women):

  1. They are confusing classism with sexism.
  2. They are ignoring the element of hypergamy.
  3. They lack understanding of finite sets.
  4. They disregard how the population had outpaced the necessities of life for most of history.
  5. They disregard women’s agency.
  6. They prioritizing crotch over stomach in the face of famine.
  7. They are blind to the many men who have zero sexual horizon.

II – Sexual What?

Feminism often claims to have sexually liberated women. Putting aside the fact that feminism is not in the top ten reasons for sexual liberation, especially in bipolar Islamic cultures, the concept of sexual “liberation” of women indicates a period of sexual captivity of women (apparently at the hands of the patriarchy). The hijab for instance looks like a great example of it. The implicit notion here is that men (as captors), coerce women into sexual captivity.

So why it is mostly men who rebel against sexual restrictions in traditional and especially Islamic cultures? And why it is mostly women who promote it? That is in total violation of “Patriarchy” theory but this is precisely the case: it is women far more than men who support these restrictive dress codes and mores.

Restricting sex to within marriage and placing the role of provision onto men creates a complicated dynamic wherein structural sexual restraint by women equals more pressure on men to provide. Roughly speaking it means that sexual starvation of men, and its inevitable dual response (sexual possession of women) are entangled with the life-necessitating labor of men.

First law of economics: A decrease in supply increases the price. If sex, a central desire of human life, is only “rewarded” to a man if he has qualified for it economically, there will be no bound to how much labor you can access. Just let the human greed take over and you will see women themselves extremely actively taking part in sexual restraint. This is the building block of hypergamy, the desire of women to increase their status by marrying high-status men. Hypergamy herein does not only mean the inclination to marry up, but is an indicator of the differing expectation of the genders, driven by sexual politics.


Ali 3 scales for iranian men


As a result, this counter-theory predicts that “sexual liberation” of women in a primitive culture (such as a tribe living several hundred years ago) leads to men not having to go through the test of hypergamy, which actually liberates men from labor.  Interestingly, most animals are not monogamous and in most species, a male might provide one meal at most to copulate. Would it not make more sense for a “patriarchy” to reward its men with several women for the same labor, rather than just one?

As mentioned above, hypergamy is more powerful in sexually-restricted cultures. This is why in Islamic laws, a woman does not even have to do housework; it is the man’s responsibility to hire housekeepers. A woman according to Islamic laws does not have to breastfeed her own children either; it is her husband’s responsibility to hire a lactating woman to feed his children.

It should not need explanation but physical labor for survival in the deserts of Saudi Arabia might not have been as fun as a job in an office with air conditioner, but how these laws managed to favor women under such conditions show how our counter-theory has been at work. It is not a bad idea to review the numbers discussed under polygamy; 30% spinsters in Saudi Arabia for 40% male bachelors. A powerful hypergamy also creates a bigger age gap for married couples for obvious reasons.

One related subject is clothing restrictions on women, which is most ridiculously discussed in feminist circles frequently in connection with “patriarchy” and “male domination.” But the underlying dynamics which had led to hijab are essentially those mentioned above.

In reality, in these cultures, girls who tamper with hijab, or refuse it, are most popular among men. The first thing many women do when they notice a man staring at them, however, is to reach their veil to cover more of their hair. And, more importantly, it is mostly women themselves who stick their noses into how other women dress. Note in the following video that the only person who objects to the girl with no veil is a woman in Chador. (This sort of dressing is illegal in Iran.)

As must be evident from the law of economics mentioned above, a traditional woman wants hijab for other women to improve the price of her own sexuality. Whereas a man wants every woman out of hijab–save maybe his own wife.

This by the way is probably why traditional women hate prostitutes (and any girl who does not comply with the dressing code for that matter) so much; because prostitutes literally cash in hypergamy and by doing so, lower the price of sex by adding to the supply. (The newer versions of gynocentrists, i.e. feminists, also hate prostitution and pornography for that matter.) In this regard it must be mentioned that a study has recently found that women respond to a commercial with sexually explicit content more negatively if the price of the commodity is cheaper.

A lot more can be said about all this, but explanation of a lot of phenomena by this counter-theory, including why men’s sexuality is seen as predatory, will be left for later. But most who promote hijab insult men’s sexuality, and insinuate that women’s body is too precious for men to see. Muslim men used to be raised to keep their “innate animal desires” in check and not to look at the overlord women, who by the way have the absolute power to commit violence by proxy just by pointing their finger at a man she is angry with, and other men will land blows upon him as if from the sky.

Finally it is worthwhile to mention that feminists have felt the decline in price of the vagina as a result of “sexual liberation” of women. It is fascinating to watch the pitiful attempts of the so-called third wave feminists who politely ask women to “know their worth” and not sleep with “no-bodies” so as to keep the price high.

III – Confusing Religionism with Sexism

Amusingly, except for very strictly religious men, males in Islamic cultures generally love to see women without hijab, which is the key point here: confusion of the existent religionism with the imaginary sexism. Meanwhile, many non-religious or secularist women feel the restrictions of a theocracy and confuse it with the restrictions of a non-existent Patriarchy.

If the highly religious (which by the way always includes more women than men) rule, the reality of a theocracy at most is oppression of people (the non-religious) by people (the highly religious). However, by considering only how women are affected, “people oppressing people” becomes “people oppressing women.” The next step to helping to ignore the oppression of the men is to show only instances where a man exercises the power, and people oppressing women becomes men oppressing women. This is what happens when a narrow world-view tries to explain something bigger and more complex than their theories will allow.


This is how the feminist conception of “Patriarchy Theory” looks:


Ali 4 Patriarchy Diagram


But given all that we have said here, does this theory truly make sense?


[1] Mehdi Naghavi, S. A., “Historical and Materialistic Analysis of Mazdak’s Doctrines”, Ph,D Dissertation, University of Tehran, The Atai Press, Tehran.

[2] “Population and Housing Characteristics in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”, p. 79, Demographic Survey 1428 H., 2007 .

Recommended Content