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Primal Women - did cave girls really exercise as much as men?

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  • Primal Women - did cave girls really exercise as much as men?

    I hope I'm posting this in the right thread. First time posting but lurking a long time now. I've been eating primal for about two years now (with many falls I might add) but am finally getting into it fully now. Just one issue I have is that of exercise. I am wondering how relevant weight training is to cave women as opposed to their male counterparts. I mean surely the role of women in cave man days was to bear children and tend to their needs. Sure they gathered food but the job of hunting was mainly for men. Our bodies are completely different to men's bodies with much more fat that all helps with fertility and carrying a healthy child. Women would probably have been pregnant from their first periods age maybe 14-17 back then. So they'd have children and breast feed for the rest of their child bearing days. Wouldn't this mean we just aren't supposed to do the same amount of weight training and/or sprinting as men?

    My husband has a much easier time going primal than me, even though I am the one completely immersing myself in primal life rather than him. He doesn't have to deal with monthly cravings or incredible menstrual cramps that can leave me confined to the sofa for two days.

    But really my question is of Primal Blueprint's idea of a cave woman. Is it not obvious that women's roles and men's roles in those times were so different from one another. That our bodies were built with different roles in mind and yet we are to follow the same plan and expect the same results as men?

    Am I making sense? Anyone have anything to say on this matter?

  • #2
    Women probably weren't doing the same amount of lifting but they did do the vast majority of gathering which would likely have meant some sprinting, or the ability to if confronted with danger. And although women provided most of the plant matter that was eaten they also trapped small game and fish, likely with child in tow, so they would have been carrying some weight. As for cramps and cravings, it's doubtful that paleo women suffered from either much, the latter possibly if she was deficient but the former is unlikely due to the amount of walking she would have done and diet.
    Buy house, Demolish house, Build house.

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    • #3
      Also ever try to carry around a baby for 10 minutes, much less hours at a time?
      Those lil boogers get flipping heavy even when their newborns!
      Every time I hear the dirty word 'exercise', I wash my mouth out with chocolate.

      http://primaldog.blogspot.co.uk/

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      • #4
        Originally posted by HazelPrimalNut View Post
        Just one issue I have is that of exercise. I am wondering how relevant weight training is to cave women as opposed to their male counterparts. I mean surely the role of women in cave man days was to bear children and tend to their needs. Sure they gathered food but the job of hunting was mainly for men.
        Yeah, but if you're on the move -- as you must be, if you follow migrating animals -- then you have to carry your belongings. The job of the men, of course, is to be carry their weapons, being otherwise unemcumbered, in case the band comes into contact with wild animals -- or another community with which they don't have good relations.

        Or perhaps it's not really that. Maybe it's more a case of, "Why carry things when you can tell the women to do it?"

        At any rate, in hunter-gatherer communitties life for women seems, after puberty, to have become unremitting toil. They fetch; they carry; they put up and take down temporary shelters.

        IIRC, Catlin said that among the Mandan girls the ambition was to marry a white trader -- simply because that was a route out of that. I can't locate the reference right now, but should be in here somewhere:

        Catlin's Letters and Notes

        Samuel Hearne was told by Canadian Indians (Cree, I guess) that the reason his first expedition failed was that he hadn't taken women, because if he had they could have done the carrying for the men!

        http://www.amazon.com/Journey-Northe...dp/1894898605/

        Francis Parkman describe an aged and bent Sioux woman dismantling a camp -- with surprising activity and strength for her age:

        http://www.amazon.com/Oregon-Trail-O...dp/0199553920/

        One could go on multiplying the sources, but you get the point.


        I nearly laughed like a drain when I read Jared Diamond's claim that hunter-gatherers were proto-feminists. It's amazing how pitifully ignorant -- and ill-read -- some academics can be.

        There's a moving passage in an old book about the Bushmen by a South African anthropologist. He gives two old ladies tobacco, and they begin to cry -- because no man has given them anything, or paid them much attention at all, for many years. They hold out their cupped hands, and the tobacco starts to fall between their fingers, which won't close fully, after years of scrabbling with digging sticks in hard limy soil.

        No, I'm afraid a woman's life in a hunter-gatherer society seems usually to have been rather more physically demanding than a man's.

        I guess one way to emulate it would be to strap on a heavy pack and go for a long walk!

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        • #5
          In the puna women carry children and belongings: they are a lot more fitted than men. They even walk behind their husband or any grown male in the family, and have no knives.
          The no knives having explains why social organization haven't change that much, otherwise there would be a lot less males and many widowed women around Abuse is widespread, but I guess that's a modern consequence of western interference as long as a male wouldn't go long ways without a solid family (women) providing food and shelter for him.

          Women put up with a huge deal of hard labour while men should be ready to defend the "house" "family/clan", I've seen "fat" men but no "fat" women over there.

          PS while carrying my backpack I had to bent over and exhaustion was overwelming, my heart was loosing it and m,y lungs, well, there are asmathic rats who have more oxigen delivered to their cells but hey, a nice seventy years old lady passed by me trotting and carrying a sac of bitter potatoes three times the size of my backpack. She was half my weight. I felt like shit

          Luce
          No limits, only my will and the worlds I build.

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          • #6
            Build a traditional mud hut.

            Honestly. It's hard ass work.

            And in various cultures in africa, it is wholly a woman's job to build those mud/straw huts. No, truly.

            I did a really cool thing with the samburu tribe while I was there. It was a demontration on how to build their temporary dwellings which were made out of leaves and branches and mud. A "good" samburu woman *should* be able to get one erected in 45 minutes by herself, and about 15 minutes when she's got help of other ladies -- once the materials have been gathered.

            The common practice is to have a bride make her own first dwelling on her own, to demonstrate her abilities.

            Their "winter homes" (or perhaps, rainy season ones) were "permanent" mud-based dwellings -- also to be made by women.

            In the demonstration, each woman (like myself) was shown the process by a samburu woman. Then, we were set to the task with our mentors of building this temporary dwelling. Can I tell you that it was such hard work that it took me 1.5 hours (the usual time for a person, with a helper, who had never done it before), and that I was sore the next day? As in, every part of my body?

            Can I also tell you that the lady with whom I was partnered had three children at the time (so, a young woman), and one was wrapped to her and basically at breast the whole time, and she built more of the dwelling than I did?

            And what if I also told you that her other occupations were: 1. running th daily religious rituals (which were not minor and simple); 2. gathering very large jugs of clean water and taking them to the dwelling (LHT!); 3. cooking on an open fire all day long; 4. making and mending clothing, etc; 5. gathering and managing small gardens (in the winter homes -- again LHT); and of course 6. managing the many children in the village (not in the "helicopter western way, but still, it's a fair amount of work).

            While we *are* different, the reality is that women in traditional societies *work really damn hard* and *work seriously long hours*. My samburu guide -- a man -- told me that the average man's work day (such as himself -- which was a non-warrior, married man's work day) ran about 5 hours of active work per day. His wife, though, was up before dawn and worked until after 10 pm in most cases, which he knew because he owned a watch. She simply had *that much* work to do from dawn until late at night, without respite of holidays, because women are in charge of holiday celebrations.

            Part of the reason that we have more body fat is so that we can do all of this stupid work. We are sturdier.

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            • #7
              Wow! Thanks for that everyone! Really opened my eyes. I expected they would walk a lot but didn't even think of the setting up and taking down of camp, even the men making the women carry would not have entered my feminist head!

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              • #8
                Oh, and I hate exercising just to exercise. I enjoy walking because I listen to my ipod and have a look around or with the dogs, but setting aside time to lift or do specific exercises just feels dumb to me. I do incorporate heavy lifting into my daily routine most days though, landscaping/digging in the garden, working on furniture, helping move lumber and so on. See if you can find something that involves lifting heavy things that doesn't feel like exercise.
                Buy house, Demolish house, Build house.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Luce View Post
                  In the puna women carry children and belongings: they are a lot more fitted than men. They even walk behind their husband or any grown male in the family, and have no knives.
                  The no knives having explains why social organization haven't change that much, otherwise there would be a lot less males and many widowed women around Abuse is widespread, but I guess that's a modern consequence of western interference as long as a male wouldn't go long ways without a solid family (women) providing food and shelter for him.Women put up with a huge deal of hard labour while men should be ready to defend the "house" "family/clan", I've seen "fat" men but no "fat" women over there.
                  Hey Luce!

                  Would you clarify a couple of things for me? By "Puna", do you mean South America - up in the Andes?

                  And would you restate the sentence that I put into bold type? I have reread this several times now, and am just somehow dense this morning; do you mean that the men are abusing the women and this is a Western influence?

                  Thanks!
                  I have a mantra that I have spouted for years... "If I eat right, I feel right. If I feel right, I exercise right. If I exercise right, I think right. If I think right, I eat right..." Phil-SC

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by zoebird View Post
                    Part of the reason that we have more body fat is so that we can do all of this stupid work. We are sturdier.
                    I agree with you completely - but the more I think about this, I don't know whether to laugh or cry or do both!


                    Otherwise - you should see my Oma. She is now 90 (widowed since age 50 and never remarried) and wobbly, but just a few years ago, the woman still would have worked you into the ground - at 4'11" in the morning before gravity got a hold of her. Her doc told her that if she hadn't done all that heavy, heavy manual garden/micro-farm labor all her life, osteoporosis would have crippled her. Now, the garden work was her choice - she could have just shopped and gotten fat baking Sunday Kuchen like the rest of her compatriots in the village, but that wasn't her thing. Being the dutiful granddaughter (the only American in an otherwise rural German village family, so all eyes were on me every time I went to the village from my apartment in the city to stay the weekend), it was my place to do whatever she had in mind. And that was felling trees for firewood, then hauling them out of the woods with a chain (I was the donkey), sawing off trunk chunks with a 2-man saw with the Oma, then splitting chunks into sections. We dug under tons of manure, moved furniture, lifted concrete-set poles out of the ground, you name it. And I didn't get dinner until the work was done (to be fair to her, she waited as well).

                    Here in this county where I currently live, the biggest compliment you can get is someone describing you as "a good Christian woman".

                    Back in the village, the biggest one is "she is always industrious and works HARD".
                    I have a mantra that I have spouted for years... "If I eat right, I feel right. If I feel right, I exercise right. If I exercise right, I think right. If I think right, I eat right..." Phil-SC

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by zoebird View Post
                      I did a really cool thing with the samburu tribe while I was there. It was a demontration on how to build their temporary dwellings which were made out of leaves and branches and mud. A "good" samburu woman *should* be able to get one erected in 45 minutes by herself, and about 15 minutes when she's got help of other ladies -- once the materials have been gathered... In the demonstration, each woman (like myself) was shown the process by a samburu woman. Then, we were set to the task with our mentors of building this temporary dwelling. Can I tell you that it was such hard work that it took me 1.5 hours (the usual time for a person, with a helper, who had never done it before), and that I was sore the next day? As in, every part of my body?
                      So, it took you longer the first time you tried something, than women who've been doing it their entire life? Ever seen an Amish man drive stakes or raise barns from dusk to dawn?

                      Part of the reason that we have more body fat is so that we can do all of this stupid work. We are sturdier.
                      Women can be much stronger than society puts on, no doubt, but I doubt it equals "studier". After all, the extra body fat is centered around your breasts, hips, ass, and thighs- all associated with stable, stored supplies for pregnancy and breastfeeding. Remember how many calories are stored in a single pound of fat.

                      Originally posted by Luce View Post
                      The no knives having explains why social organization haven't change that much, otherwise there would be a lot less males and many widowed women around
                      I fail to see the humor. Then again, such a society of "Women with knives"(not including the traditional farm girl who knows how to butcher a pig, apparently) would suffer both in absolute and comparitive terms. No men around, no wild game and no protection against neighboring tribes, and no more babies. The effects of a manless society would be devastating, especially for hunter-gatherers.
                      Last edited by Figlio di Moros; 07-14-2012, 09:52 AM.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Figlio di Moros View Post
                        So, it took you longer the first time you tried something, than women who've been doing it their entire life? Ever seen an Amish man drive stakes or raise barns from dusk to dawn?
                        I think men in farming societies work much harder than typical hunter-gatherer men. The sexual division of heavy physical labor may even be reversed between farming and HG societies.

                        Originally posted by Figlio di Moros View Post
                        Women can be much stronger than society puts on, no doubt, but I doubt it equals "studier". After all, the extra body fat is centered around your breasts, hips, ass, and thighs- all associated with stable, stored supplies for pregnancy and breastfeeding. Remember how many calories are stored in a single pound of fat.
                        I think both sexes are capable of some impressive physical feats, but it's definitely not the case that women have a higher capacity for work than men do. Interestingly though it's well-known in the strength world that women have a higher strength endurance than men do--they have less absolute strength, but they can operate at a higher percentage of their maximum for longer than men can before failure/exhaustion. So a woman might be able to put out 8 reps at 80% of her 1RM when a man might only be able to do 5, but his 1RM will be a larger percentage of his body weight for the same exercise. Probably reflects the physiological need for explosive strength (useful for hunting and fighting both) in men as opposed to extended, more moderate physical labor for women, I would think.

                        Originally posted by Figlio di Moros View Post
                        I fail to see the humor.
                        I get the impression you are not American (pardon me if I'm assumign incorrectly!). I don't know if it's the same where you live, but there seems to be a meme in our culture that men are to be managed and kept in their place by the mentally-superior women "for their own good" or for the good of society, perhaps because we are judged to be incompetent or undesirably unruly. It's not explicitly stated but I hear undertones of it quite frequently even in advertisements and TV shows, as well as in conversation by women and even some men. You see it often in the stereotypical sitcom portrayal of the fat/loud/obnoxious/bumbling husband who somehow married an attractive, articulate and put-together woman who constantly has the upper hand in all disputes while performing with supreme competence in everything she does. I don't think it's very funny either, but then, I'm male. And of course I can't blame a historically-oppressed group's members for harboring some resentment or schadenfreude against their perceived oppressors, if that is what's going on (I have no idea if this is the motivation or not, but it springs to mind as one possibility).

                        Originally posted by Figlio di Moros View Post
                        Then again, such a society of "Women with knives"(not including the traditional farm girl who knows how to butcher a pig, apparently) would suffer both in absolute and comparitive terms. No men around, no wild game and no protection against neighboring tribes, and no more babies. The effects of a manless society would be devastating, especially for hunter-gatherers.
                        I have a hypothesis I came up with in this vein a little while back, which is that hunting is not, primarily, about obtaining food. Gathering and hunting small game is more productive and reliable. Men are essentially kept around because of their ability to fight. But to fight well requires training and coordination, as well as the development of very specific skills. These skills could be sharpened by actual combat training, but that would take up most of the men's time and not produce anything of material value for the group. Hunting large game is an opportunity to combine practicing for fighting, since the skills and coordination necessary to hunt in a group would have a large overlap with those needed to fight in a group, with an activity that also pays part of their carrying costs by bringing in a non-negligible amount of food.

                        Women and children would eat better in many cases with no men around--because gathering is more efficient than hunting. But the society would get wiped out by rivals that had men. Game hunting is then the strategy that gives the most efficient combat training while also reducing the costs of feeding the fighters. It makes sense with the idea that the best hunters are also the most desirable mates, because not only are they directly providing food, they are also demonstrating their proficiency at a skill that is used as a proxy to judge prowess in warfare.

                        That's my theory, anyway.
                        Today I will: Eat food, not poison. Plan for success, not settle for failure. Live my real life, not a virtual one. Move and grow, not sit and die.

                        My Primal Journal

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                        • #13
                          I used to scoff at women's predilection for aerobics and eating lots of snacks all day, but lo and behold it seems that men and women require different things to be healthy. Who'da thunk it. The whole Paleo movement has been remarkably phallocentric, actually. Smarter people than me have written about this.
                          You lousy kids! Get off my savannah!

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                          • #14
                            Did they "exercise" as much as men in the pure sense of the word? No way in hell.

                            But did they do the kind of manual, physical, and general labor that forced them to put their whole bodies into it, and keep them active for many hours daily? The kind of labor that almost made exercise irrelevant to them? You can rest assured they did.

                            The reason women might want to incorporate exercise is because there aren't many women today doing this kind of labor on a daily basis any more. Exercise can help folks (men and women alike) who don't lead physically strenuous lives to maintain the benefits that such a life would have afforded to people in the past.
                            "The cling and a clang is the metal in my head when I walk. I hear a sort of, this tinging noise - cling clang. The cling clang. So many things happen while walking. The metal in my head clangs and clings as I walk - freaks my balance out. So the natural thought is just clogged up. Totally clogged up. So we need to unplug these dams, and make the the natural flow... It sort of freaks me out. We need to unplug the dams. You cannot stop the natural flow of thought with a cling and a clang..."

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                            • #15
                              I think the term is "androcentric", as in focused on men, not penises.

                              Originally posted by Uncephalized View Post
                              I think both sexes are capable of some impressive physical feats, but it's definitely not the case that women have a higher capacity for work than men do. Interestingly though it's well-known in the strength world that women have a higher strength endurance than men do--they have less absolute strength, but they can operate at a higher percentage of their maximum for longer than men can before failure/exhaustion. So a woman might be able to put out 8 reps at 80% of her 1RM when a man might only be able to do 5, but his 1RM will be a larger percentage of his body weight for the same exercise. Probably reflects the physiological need for explosive strength (useful for hunting and fighting both) in men as opposed to extended, more moderate physical labor for women, I would think.
                              Makes sense- building a mud hut doesn't require anything especially heavy, but carrying a moose(or Mammoth) back to camp requires some impressive strength, and hunting it in the first place requires some explosiveness.

                              I get the impression you are not American
                              Actually, my family's been here since Jamestown's third wave- I'm aware of the stereotypes, I just don't find it particularly funny. Then again, if I told her what to say to a woman with two black eyes, she might not appreciate it, either. The difference is, I've got to listen to women bitch all day about how much men suck, that we're all a bunch of assholes and treat them like shit. Maybe if you lost the weight, didn't feel entitled to drink away mens cash, and weren't a total bitch, men might find you valuable for something other than sex. But if I pointed that out, I'd be the sexist.

                              I have a hypothesis I came up with in this vein a little while back, which is that hunting is not, primarily, about obtaining food. Gathering and hunting small game is more productive and reliable. Men are essentially kept around because of their ability to fight. But to fight well requires training and coordination, as well as the development of very specific skills. These skills could be sharpened by actual combat training, but that would take up most of the men's time and not produce anything of material value for the group. Hunting large game is an opportunity to combine practicing for fighting, since the skills and coordination necessary to hunt in a group would have a large overlap with those needed to fight in a group, with an activity that also pays part of their carrying costs by bringing in a non-negligible amount of food.
                              Possibly, but then again, there was much more large-game during the last Ice Age. It's possible hunting was far more effecient then, providing much more meat than large game today. On the other hand, nearly all remaining hunter-gather societies have come into contract with agricultural societies. Since "Patriarchy" has a comparative advantage over non-patriarchial societies, the remaining pseudo-agricultural and hunter-gathering societies likely had to adapt such means, anyways, to neutralize the strengths of those societies, or were otherwise overrun by them.

                              Then again, it could just be completely natural, which would contradict a feminist society.

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