Living: Academic Who Says Women Are Better off as Cave Girls!; Latest Controversial Theory Forget Anything You Ever Learned about Feminism. A Leading Academic Says That Society Is Turning Back the Clock to the Era of the Caveman - and about Time, Too. Lifestyle Editor CLARE McVEY Asks What We Can Learn from Our Early Ancestors

Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England), May 6, 2001 | Go to article overview

Living: Academic Who Says Women Are Better off as Cave Girls!; Latest Controversial Theory Forget Anything You Ever Learned about Feminism. A Leading Academic Says That Society Is Turning Back the Clock to the Era of the Caveman - and about Time, Too. Lifestyle Editor CLARE McVEY Asks What We Can Learn from Our Early Ancestors


Byline: Clare McVey

WHEN you go out in the car and tell your husband 'You drive, dear' you're not being civil. Far from it.

According to one of the world's most respected relationship gurus, you're just reverting to type.

As in cavegirl. Your hubby is the hunter, and you're more content to look after life back home.

What's more, to the undoubted howls of protest from feminists everywhere, we should do more of it.

Dr Meredith Belbin believes that civilisation could benefit from prehistoric logic. Men should do what they're best at. Women should live up to their merits. Just as nature intended.

And we should abandon all thought of Political Correctness.

'I have become a great expert on harems,' Dr Belbin says suddenly as we discuss his controversial theory.

It's not exactly what I'm expecting to hear from the elderly academic who I have met to discuss how men and women can live and work more successfully together.

In his new book Managing Without Power, the former Cambridge lecturer says we could all benefit by going back to a primaeval approach to our relationships and our colleagues.

Just another outlandish theory from a crusty intellectual? Perhaps not.

Dr Belbin is considered the leading guru on team building and his management techniques have been used by thousands of blue chip companies over the last two decades.

Chastity belts

He has held numerous academic and industrial appointments and has acted as adviser to governments around the world.

But a quick flick through the index to his latest book reveals a surprising range of subjects - chastity belts, flirting, cannibalism, circumcision and genitalia among them.

During our discussion, the 75-year-old grandad talks at length about harems, orgasms and the treatment of eunuchs in the Ottoman Empire.

The latter were slaves castrated to prevent them taking advantage of their role in managing harems.

When that proved ineffective, they had their manhood chopped off. He breaks off to ask if I knew what would happen to someone whose penis was chopped off. Another one starts to grow in its place, apparently.

And how exactly does all this help us better understand the roles of men and women at work and in the home?

He says he discovered these bizarre facts while looking into the history of gender roles.

'So many women have asked me if I thought there was a difference between male and female approaches to team work,' he explains.

'I've always been interested in anthropology and what I discovered has convinced me that evolution has produced extremes in both men and women.

'In primitive communities and aboriginal societies, decisions were made by consensus and men's and women's roles were complementary.

'Roles were established organically. When men went off hunting, the women didn't say 'Oh, we want to do that and you're just stopping us'. They didn't want to go hunting. They weren't forced to stay at home.' He suggests in the book that we can explain such diverse things as why men like to go fishing and why women often let men drive - even when they're perfectly capable of doing so.

Men, of course, are just satisfying an urge which is no longer fulfilled by the hunting and gathering role.

As for women letting their men take the wheel, they're often the more dominant figures in the domestic domain.

When they go out in the car, they're in a more remote male domain and would rather he was in charge.

Suggest that feminists might take a dim view of that, and you get a short shrift. …

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Living: Academic Who Says Women Are Better off as Cave Girls!; Latest Controversial Theory Forget Anything You Ever Learned about Feminism. A Leading Academic Says That Society Is Turning Back the Clock to the Era of the Caveman - and about Time, Too. Lifestyle Editor CLARE McVEY Asks What We Can Learn from Our Early Ancestors
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