Inspired by a blog post by Rosa Rubicondior here – The Evolution of God (click)
I must point out that I am no sociologist or anthropologist, so what follows is absolutely pure speculation.
I believe that in every small group, the human attributes that further survival, and thereupon comfort, are coveted. So obviously, those in possession of such attributes are held as more important members of the group than those not possessing them or doing so to a lesser degree. It is not difficult to imagine that in early days, these qualities were physical strength, endurance and agility. These qualities protected an individual as well as their group from dangers of living in the jungles. These qualities helped produce food – earlier as hunters-gatherers and later as farmers. And these qualities were mainly possessed by men. Women were more apt to nurture children – as they ‘specialized’ in it as well as because they would be less capable of doing the above things compared to men owing to physical limitations. Also, as various tribes started expanding they ran into each other and had conflicts. Again, those who engaged most directly in these armed conflicts were men. So, though women would nurture children, they would usually not be looked upon as ‘saviors’. Therefore, the emotion of gratefulness and awe would have been difficult to develop towards them. Whereas, it would be easy to grow very grateful towards a man if he would bring you food when you would be hungry or drive away an animal about to attack you or kill few enemies. In addition, the same qualities could be used by men to intimidate women.
Moreover, in olden days politics and governance must have also developed on lines of physical might. So, women must have largely been excluded from those affairs. Women would not be able to subjugate men, but the opposite would be easier to do. These gender differences must have got institutionalized and passed on from one generation to the next.
Now, if one tries to see that ‘God’ is a super-human, it is not difficult to understand that why those qualities were attributed to ‘him’ that were considered most coveted. Though, it seems pagan cultures did also respect other ‘forces of nature’ that were seen to be feminine, but that must have happened much later.
All this was accompanied by institutional discrimination against women in all spheres of life (including religion). Now because a woman would be largely restricted to her home to nurture of babies (which must have been almost all of her life, considering how high the fertility rate used to be in the past to compensate for high infant mortality rate) and do household work (which would require less physical strength than those jobs done by men), she would see less of the outside world, and her counsel would not be sought on issues like military strategy, or taxation regimes, or in those days, even religion. This, because unlike today, in olden days people must have been convinced that religion (and associated appeasement of God) are as important as all other areas of ‘planning’ to survive and grow ones tribe. Plus, as religious positions must have been coveted, with their own accompanying perks, men would not allow women to occupy them.
But as we as a species have surged ahead owing to industrial revolution, we have started coveting different qualities than mere brute strength and agility. Intelligence, communication skill, ability to plan and organize, etc., are today considered much more important. It is also being increasingly recognized that women could be as good as or even better in these areas. And hence with time, women are gaining status equal as that of man. Perhaps hopefully, a time will come when there would be no or little gender-specific discrimination.
As to why an element of sexual jealousy entered relationships is difficult to speculate. Maybe, if a man would feel jealous of other men getting intimate with ‘his’ lady, he would protect her, and along with her, also the children. This is what could have promoted the practice of prolonged co-habitation either through genetic or memetic means. And to avoid conflicts between men over women, which would have led to unnecessary killings, a practice like that of marriage evolved, which would be publicly recognized by the entire tribe.