Jobs and the Gender of Divinity

Six thousand to 7,000 years ago, the pairing of domesticated oxen and primitive plows triggered an agricultural revolution in the fertile Tigris and Euphrates valley. Before the plow, women using sticks and hoes were the managers of Mesopotamian agriculture. After the physically more challenging plow was adopted, men became the managers of agriculture in Mesopotamia.

Six thousand to 7,000 years ago, the dominant religion in Mesopotamia changed from being “one that worshiped all-powerful mother goddesses” to a religion dominated by male gods and priests.

There’s evidence-based speculation about whether the change in agricultural technology contributed to the change in the gender of divinity. Economic historians have identified significant differences in attitude toward women’s role in civilization, based on whether ancestors used plow or hoe technology. “Variations between countries, in the fraction of adult women who work outside the home, can be explained rather well by the farming practices of their ancestors. This variation is huge.”

This evidence inspires questions. For example, India adopted the plow, yet the Mother Goddess survived and is thriving in Hindu India today.

If the role of women in the workplace, and in heaven, drastically changed after the adoption of plow technology, how will robotic agriculture and manufacturing affect the role of male and female workers in the 21st century?

We already know one part of the answer: There will be fewer jobs. Civilization is facing a job crisis, driven by dramatic changes in production technology. Will this crisis inspire any changes in our definitions of divinity?

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