Excerpt from the "Violence in Religion" chapter of
Barbara G. Walker's
Man Made God

Anthropologists and archaeologists have ascertained some general trends in pre-patriarchal societies, worldwide, that show decided contrasts with our own civilization. Dr. James DeMeo sums them up in his book Saharasia: The 4000 BCE Origins of Child Abuse, Sex-Repression, Warfare and Social Violence in the Deserts of the Old World, pointing out that pre-patriarchal or "matrist" cultures are indulgent toward children, giving them much physical affection and little punishment, tending also to be permissive in various forms of pleasure and sexuality. There are no homosexuality taboos, no concubinage, no prostitution. Women control their own fertility and choice of mates. The sexes have equal social status, though the family usually is matrilocal and matrilineal: That is, married people live in the wife’s home, the property is hers, and descent is reckoned primarily through mothers: exclusively so, among peoples that have not yet understood biological fatherhood. There is a democratic division of labor, no caste system, no full-time military. Religion is some variant of nature worship without strict codes, a Mother Goddess being primary and her consorts secondary. Shamans are both female and male. Sexuality and love between the sexes may be considered a part of religious feeling. Such cultures were generally nonviolent, and valued spontaneity, humor, and sensual enjoyments.

By contrast, the characteristics of the fully developed "patrist" society are given as follows: children are severely treated, with harsh physical punishments, restriction of movement, and painful initiations including genital mutilation. Sexual attitudes are highly restrictive, ascetic, and fearful. Women's freedoms are limited and their status inferior. Marriages are arranged by others, are patrilocal and patrilineal, and frequently imply sexual and reproductive slavery for wives and/or concubines. Heavy taboos surround menstruation, childbirth, abortion, birth control, widowhood and women's access to spiritual matters. There are full-time male clergies and military organizations, with a monotheistic father god often depicted as rigidly authoritarian, demanding, and cruel: Pain-seeking asceticism and renunciation of sexuality tend to please him. There are tight caste systems and strict codes with sadistic punishments, which may be used as spectacles of public entertainment. Men own property, women and children, and may regard war as their most honorable calling. Slavery and torture are permitted and freely discussed, whereas physical pleasures and sensuality are viewed with puritanical anxiety and may incur verbal taboos....

For more, see Man Made God.