Where Does Sexism Come From?

Roger Ebert explores a point raised by last week's Hitchens / Blair debate, "Is it good for the world to consider women as an inferior form, as all religions do?" Ebert delves into the various religious examples, and offers a simple explanation:

I believe the world is patriarchal because men are bigger and stronger than women, and can beat them up. The earliest archeological evidence we have for human family development indicates patriarchies preceded written language. Indeed, if we study other primates we see that their cultures are also male-dominant, and presumably they've not arrived at this state after careful discussion.

Earlier this week, Yglesias flagged a related study:

We show that ... societies with a tradition of plough agriculture tend to have the belief that the natural place for women is inside the home and the natural place for men is outside the home. Looking across countries, subnational districts, ethnic groups and individuals, we identify a link between historic plough-use and a number of outcomes today, including female labor force participation, female participation in politics, female ownership of firms, the sex ratio and self-expressed attitudes about the role of women in society.

Erik Voeten adds:

 These types of arguments challenge views that cultural differences about gender roles originate in religion or other value systems.