Recently, I've heard on NPR reports of tool using chimps:
Perhaps even more intriguing, it was only the females who fashioned and used the wooden spears, Jill Pruetz and Paco Bertolani of Iowa State University reported. ...
Pruetz noted that male chimps never used the spears. She believes the males use their greater strength and size to grab food and kill prey more easily, so the females must come up with other methods. ...
The spear-hunting occurred when the group was foraging together, again unchimplike behavior that might produce more competition between males and females, she said.
If females were using the tools because the powerful males didn't need to, then perhaps a revision of Freud's myth of the primal horde's killing of the father needs to be revised.
Recall, in Freud's account, the powerful male (let's call him a silverback) has all the females to himself. The younger men band together to kill this obscene father, who returns in death as the law. The men are now all equal to each other.
But, tool-wielding female chimps suggest another option. First, the males wouldn't have banded together--they would simply wait their turn to fight it out to be the silverback; their strength and their individualized interests would prevent them from cooperating. Second, the females are likely to get tired of not having enough food, or being dependent on nasty males for food--so they have an interest in using tools and banding together--just as we see with the chimps.
What might have happened, then? The females band together to kill the powerful male who is blocking them from food. And, in fact, any time such a male appears, they band together to kill him again. The males, meanwhile, are both happy that the big male is gone--now they get the females earlier than they expected--but they are pretty wary of the females and their tools.
Now to the myth: so, the men are eating the body of the dead silverback. And, in their myth, the women have prepared the feast. This preserves the women's connections with tools and represses their connection with murder and death (myth stories of women, fire, cooking, and food would fill this in; I'm thinking of Rebecca helping Jacob trick his father; she does so with food and by turning Jacob into a hairy man). Yet, the connection with murder remains and haunts the males such that their equality requires the suppression of the women. So, they share the food among themselves, anchoring their bond, which is now more than ever a bond of their equality in having the women, but not a bond that includes women. In fact, the strength of the bond is less a matter of the return of the father of the law than it is a shared fear of murderous women and a shared commitment to their suppression. The suppression of women appears in their fantasy of sex with a female without flesh and blood--the robot, although earlier versions would be an ice queen, goddess, or angel--even, their own mothers, since they don't worry that such women would kill them.
What about the women? Well, they aren't too thrilled with the arrangement--they aren't impressed with the little equal men. So, they fantasize a big man, a strong super man--the woman's fundamental fantasy of sex with an ape. And, they realize that they've gone from the frying pan into the fire, now that the men are united in their suppression rather than cowering before the silverback. It's more difficult for them to bond, now that their suppression is distributed among men, rather than concentrated in a man. So, again, that man becomes an object of fantasy, something to which no man can measure up--No! That's not it! As a vessel for this questioning and rejection, combined with their greater capacity to combine and use tools, women persist as a potentially democratic, political, and violent force.