Camille Paglia has famously argued that “If civilization had been left in female hands, we would still be living in grass huts.” Yet even this is likely too optimistic. As the New York Times explains, the patriarchy can be traced back to the mastery of fire:
Negative cultural consequences came with fire, too — and continue to leave an imprint. Anthropologists have speculated that inhaling smoke led to the discovery of smoking. Humans have long used fire to modify their environment and burn carbon, practices that now have us in the throes of climate change. Fire is even tied to the rise of patriarchy — by allowing men to go out hunting while women stayed behind to cook by the fire, it spawned gender norms that still exist today.
Even literacy is patriarchal, as Leonard Shlain argues in his book The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image
Literacy has promoted the subjugation of women by men throughout all but the very recent history of the West. Misogyny and patriarchy rise and fall with the fortunes of the alphabetic written word.
The Booknews editorial review of the book explains that literacy leads to logical thought, and logical thought is patriarchal (emphasis mine):
[Shlain] Proposes, rather than argues closely, that the shift from apprehending the world from images to writing–especially alphabetic–contributed largely to the suppression of goddess worship and the decline in the status of women in society. Shlain is a neurosurgeon, and begins by explaining how reading and looking at pictures or listening to speech use different parts of the brain and indeed can influence the development of children’s brains. Then, rejecting the linear, sequentialist, reductionist thinking he associates with both writing and masculine values, he offers a long series of essentially independent essays, each evoking an example of his thesis.
Update: Instapundit links to another blog making the same observations.