When a man has traditional views of men’s and womens roles in family and society, he can count on being called a “Neanderthal.” This is apparently about as accurate as calling someone with prudish attitudes toward sex a “Puritan.” (The Puritans were quite earthy – it was Victorians who swooned easily.)
Here is an article that suggests that “Stone Age Feminism” is what made the Neanderthals become extinct:
We know quite a bit about Neanderthals now. The first “Neanderthal” skeleton was of a man who suffered terribly from arthritis, so we have a false picture of them as being bent over and primitive. Some years ago, National Geographic published “A New Face For the Neanderthal”, an article that attempted to clear up some misconceptions about them. They looked a lot more like us than we previously thought. We also know now that they had the genetic makeup to be able to speak. One paleontologist said, “If Lucy were alive today, we would put her in a zoo… If a Neanderthal were alive today, we’d think he was kind of weird. But we might also wonder whether to admit him to Harvard.” Or at least he could get into a Big 10 school on a football scholarship.
However, there are key difference between them and more “normal” humans who did not become extinct. Apparently, Cro-Magnons traded tools, skins, and food, but Neanderthals did not. Neanderthals could never figure out how to hunt by throwing spears, so they had to hunt by surrounding and stabbing large animals with their spears. (Neanderthal skeletons usually show evidence of hunting injuries.)
In this article, there is the additional suggestion that Neanderthal women shared hunting duties with the men. This meant that the women (who were probably as tough and hairy as the men, if they didn’t get butch haircuts) often died from hunting injuries and were not able to have and raise as many babies. Additionally, they were not gathering vegetables and wild grains for times when game was scarce. Also, a woman who has just spent a 10 hour day stalking, stabbing, and cleaning a wooly mammoth is just not going to be romantically inclined at the end of the day. And we can be sure Neanderthal men didn’t do their fair share of cavework.
Meanwhile, those humans who may have become our ancestors had “traditional” sex roles. The women stayed home from the hunt, watched the kids, gathered nuts and berries, cooked, prepared skins for clothing, and perhaps decorated their caves with nice paintings so that their men were less stressed out after a day of hunting.
So the next time someone calls me a Neanderthal, I will happily say, “No, I am more like a Cro-Magnon.”