SUMMA GENDERRATICA: The Anatomy of the Gender System

Author’s Note: This is a summary of my entire theory of how our society’s gender system operates and how it originated. It is intended to be a ‘road map’ of society’s norms about masculinity and femininity. I believe that it can explain all gender norms in our society. The MHRM requires an integrated, consistent theory about gender in order to successfully compete with Radical Second Wave and Third Wave Feminism – this theory is an attempt at providing one.

The following does not mention every single aspect of our society’s gender system, but I believe that any unmentioned aspects of the gender norms can be successfully explained by this theory (feel free to propose “Explain This Norm As A Product Of The Gender System” challenges in the comments).

Note that whilst I called this post “Summa Genderratica” I do not wish to imply that the theory below is accepted (in its entirety) by anyone other than myself. I am only illustrating my theory here, and it isn’t meant to be taken as the “official philosophy” of GendErratic as a whole. The reason for the title is because I am a pretentious douche and as such I enjoy the self-important connotation/reference towards the works of Aquinas.

Onto the theory!

PART 1
The First Premise: The Purpose of Social Norms
Why do social norms arise?

This theory will take it as axiomatic that social norms arise for survivability and practicality reasons. Social norms arise as responses to the challenges of physical existence.

The Challenge
The gender system arose in the early days of our species. During these days, food and resources were scarce, accumulating them was a difficult and failure-prone task, and it was manual labor which performed these tasks; physical labor was the primary source of improvements to survivability and the standard of living (unlike today, where technological capital and knowledge work provide this (it is telling that the first challenges to the gender system only arose with the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution… periods during which the economy became less labor-dependent and more capital-dependent owing to technological advances. It is also telling that challenges to the gender system arose first amongst materially well-off groups in society)).

Because physical labor was the primary means of production, importance was placed on the means of producing physical labor, i.e. reproducing and growing the population. However, only a minority of children survived to reach adulthood, and as such much higher birth rates were required to grow the overall population size.

But only one half of the population could bear children.

The Response
Biology combined with the necessity of aggressive breeding essentially forced women to “specialize” and devote large amounts of their time to being knocked up and producing children (and when pregnant they are less mobile and thus more vulnerable).

Since males could not perform this important task, they provided protection and resource-provision (in essence, all the ‘rest’).

Social norms arose to push people towards their sex-mandated tasks. The “good female” and the “good male” were the female and male who contributed to their society by fulfilling their assigned role; the “good female” was the fertile mother, the “good male” was the strong warrior and productive hunter. These social norms were reflected in all of society’s institutions, including religion (see the warrior gods and the mother goddesses for more).

Summary 1
1. Social Norms arise as responses to the challenges of living and thriving
2. Low technology societies are dependent on physical labor to survive
3. Very high birth rates were required to increase the supply of labor
4. Only one half of the human population could give birth
5. Gender Roles emerged to encourage specialization on the basis of sex

PART 2
Maturity and Gender
As stated before, the “good female” and the “good male” were understood in terms of those who contributed to society by fulfilling their sex-assigned tasks. However, children of either sex are physically unable to do this.

A woman needs to be post-pubertal in order to bear a child. Young males are on average significantly less physically developed and thus generally lack the necessary strength to even have a chance at successfully performing their sex-assigned task.

As such, there is an association between maturity and gender-compliance. A female needs to undergo a process of biological maturation in order to perform the feminine contribution to society, however this process is essentially automatic and is basically assumed to occur over time, with mensturation serving as a clear biological indicator of fitness to perform the task.

With males, things are more tenuous. Proficiency or even ability to perform the male function, let alone perform it well, is not biologically guaranteed. Additionally, there is no single clear “he’s ready” indicator delivered by male biology.

Whilst females “grow into” being women, males do not automatically grow into being “real men.”

Aristotelian Femininity, Platonic Masculinity, and the Subject-Object Dichotomy
A young female just becomes a woman automatically, due to the innate properties of her biology. Her mensturation evidences her maturation. Her womanhood simply is. She is assumed to be gender-compliant and thus socially contributive by default.

A young male has to demonstrate, through action, the ability to perform masculine tasks successfully. A young male must prove he has “grown up” and become a “real man.” Males are not assumed to be gender-compliant (and thus socially contributive) by default; by himself he is just another mouth to be fed by the work of “real men.” A man must validate his manhood by action, otherwise he is not a real man but rather a “boy” (i.e. immature, not-an-adult male).

As such, one can correctly understand traditional gender roles as premised on epistemological essentialism, however different kinds of epistemological essentialism underpin each role. Femininity is mostly understood as innate to female biology, as an immanent essence, whilst masculinity is mostly understood as an ideal to aspire to, a “form” which one “participates in” in order to gain an identity.

It is a particular quirk of human psychology that we tend to perceive moral agency (the capacity to do things) and moral patiency (the capacity to have stuff done to you) dichotomously, even though human beings are in fact both. As such, the association of agency with manhood combined with the innatist understanding of womanhood (as well as, perhaps, the fact that pregnancy does render a woman less mobile and more resource-dependent) led to the association of womanhood with moral patiency. Men are seen as actors, and women are seen as acted upon. This is the traditional subject-object dichotomy.

The Disposable-Cherishable Dichotomy
A gender-compliant person of either sex is seen as valuable to society (since they are acting in ways which conform to survivability-oriented norms). However, females are assumed to either be (or will be) gender-compliant; naturally infertile women are the exception rather than the rule and thus the assumption is that any given female is (or will be) capable of bearing children due to their biology.

As such, females are ascribed an innate value simply for being female. Females are seen as inherently cherishable because they are the incubators of the future.

Males lack this. Their gender-compliance is not seen as an inevitable feature of their biological maturation but rather an ideal to live up to. Males neither are nor will become “real men” by default. As such, they have no innate value. The value of a man is exclusively contingent on the consequences of his agency and by himself, he is ultimately disposable.

Because men are valued not for properties of their biology but the outcomes of their actions, the death of one man is ceteris paribus a smaller tragedy to society than the death of one woman. After all, when tragedies happen, the death counts typically specify the toll taken by women and children (i.e. the future).

Our society may lionize its male heroes who go and die so that others may live, but as stated before, social norms arise to push individuals to perform socially beneficial tasks; the worship of heroic male self-sacrifice is a way to encourage men to see their deaths for noble causes as a worthy contribution to society, and thus to make men more willing to die for others.

The Gender Norms In A Nutshell
As a consequence of all of the above, males are innately disposable subjects, females are innately cherishable objects.

All gender norms ultimately are reducible to this.

Summary 2
1. Maturity, for each sex, is conceptualized as gender-compliance
2. Female maturity is seen as a natural result of biological development
3. Male maturity is not seen as guaranteed, but rather something proven/earned
4. Men do, women are, because manhood is about doing and womanhood just “is”
5. Because gender-compliance is seen as valuable and women are seen as innately gender-compliant, women are seen as innately valuable
6. Because men are NOT seen as innately gender-compliant, men are seen as innately expendable
7. Ergo, the subject-object dichotomy is overlaid by the disposable-cherishable dichotomy, casting males as innately disposable subjects and females as innately cherishable objects

PART 3 – Some Advanced Implications
Agency and Feminine Power
Everyone derives a sense of power – used here to mean efficacy or competence – when they successfully perform a task which has the end result of providing for their needs. This makes evolutionary sense – if survival-enhancing things did not give pleasure and survival-diminishing things did not cause pain, an organism would be significantly less likely to survive.

But the performance of tasks was typically assigned to males; femininity was not associated with agency and due to the innate reproductive utility of women, women were kept safe and away from potential danger where possible (which in turn generated a self-reinforcing (and perhaps somewhat self-fulfilling) presumption of diminished female competence – a presumption which was somewhat true during pregnancy (and may be somewhat true on average with tasks that require very high upper body strength) but clearly got exaggerated and overgeneralized).

However, every human being has material needs for survival, and these material needs must be satisfied through action (food must be acquired, shelter must be found). So how would a woman, someone culturally perceived as and encouraged towards remaining deficient in agency, acquire these needs?

The answer is that women are encouraged to rely upon men, and not merely in the passive sense, but to actively enlist the agency of males to provide for their survival. Masculine power is thus equated with anything which enhances successful/competent agency (e.g. big muscles), and feminine power is equated with anything that enhances enlisting successful/competent agents. Masculine power is that which augments agency, feminine power is that which augments the acquisition and preservation of agency by proxy.

The gender system, therefore, always contained a form of feminine power – i.e. ways in which women could act to service their material needs. Whilst it reserved direct acquisition through agency to men, the system also reserved agency by proxy for women.

Male Hierarchy
Society’s understanding of manhood as a Platonic ideal to aspire towards explains the fact how there can be “better men” and “worse men” (as men), as well as how biological males can be “not real men” – the use of “real” to mean “ideal” is telling.

Because manhood is demonstrated by performing certain tasks, men are ranked in accordance with how well they perform these tasks. Men are ranked by other men and by women – their gender identity is heavily subject to social validation and revocation. This means “real manhood” is an earned social status which is collective-dependent, hierarchical and competitive, and men can be socially emasculated at any time. Male identity is made contingent on competing with each other to prove oneself a “better man.”

As stated above, maturity is linked with “real manhood” but male maturity is again socially validated due to the fact that masculine task-performance isn’t biologically guaranteed – this means male elders (particularly fathers) are placed in a position of evaluator where they judge prospective males to separate the “boys” from the “men.”

The male hierarchy can be effectively divided into three basic categories (from lowest social status to highest social status)

1) Males who are “not real men.” The socially emasculated. “Boys.” Omega males.
2) Males who are “real men” but who aren’t able to revoke another male’s “real man” status. Beta males.
3) Males who are “real men” with the ability to revoke another male’s “real man” status. Alpha males.

The division between statuses 2 and 3 is contextual and often dependent on other institutional arrangements as well as the surrounding males – someone can in fact be Alpha in one hierarchy and Omega relative to another.

This setup ironically enough compels that a Beta be submissive to his Alpha so as to avoid being rendered an Omega. In other words the male gender role isn’t entirely about dominance but rather demands submission to “better” men.

Social Genders
Typically, “gender” is taken as a binary – as a reference to masculinity or femininity. However, this is hard to reconcile with the above situation – males who aren’t “real men” aren’t regarded as possessing manhood (i.e. they do not contribute masculine value). They are “boys” rather than men, according to the gender system.

They do not receive many aspects of ‘male privilege’ because much ‘male privilege’ is in fact ‘real-man’ privilege. And whilst they are socially emasculated they receive no female privilege either, because due to their biology they cannot perform the essential feminine task of bearing children.

In short, socially emasculated men are not seen as masculine or feminine but rather they are perceived, treated and categorized as a third gender. They are neither a man nor a woman (socially speaking rather than biologically speaking).

PART 4: Challenges
There are several classic problems in gender studies which any prospective examination of the gender system needs to explain. Below, I take several of these phenomena and reconcile them with the theory proposed above.

The Promiscuity Double Standard
The Promiscuity Double Standard (henceforth PDS) of our culture is well-known; a man is seen as a worthy and virile stud for sleeping around, but a woman is seen as a degraded and self-cheapening slut for doing the same thing.

Typically, the PDS is treated as a unitary construct – as if the PDS’s gendered imperatives arose from the same source. This is counter-intuitive because the imperatives of the PDS are in conflict – men are encouraged to sleep around and women are discouraged from doing so, thus meaning men cannot comply with the system without women failing to comply with it (and vice-versa). The PDS certainly isn’t in the interests of men, since it encourages women to prevent men from being studs (through the withholding of sexual access).

Typical feminist analysis sees the PDS as a male construct invented to control female sexuality. The fact that men’s interests are not served by encouraging female chastity complicates this explanation, but it is further complicated by the empirical fact that most slut-shaming is perpetrated by women against each other. If men created and enforced the PDS, one would expect men to be the primary shamers of sluts.

As such, it may be more accurate to see the Promiscuity Double Standard not as a single construct, but two different constructs, proposed and enforced by different parties for different purposes.

An interesting thing about the concept of “slut” is that women who are sluts are seen as “cheapening themselves” or “debasing themselves” – they are seen as giving sexual access far too easily (i.e. giving away a good without getting enough in return). Let’s look at the transactional framing here: a market exists, women are the suppliers of sexual access and men are the demand side of the equation. Women are encouraged to not give away sex “too easily,” i.e. they are encouraged to receive something in return for sex. It is mostly women who shame other women for giving sex away.

From an economic perspective, we are seeing cartel behavior; sellers colluding amongst themselves to raise the price of sex by restricting the quantity of sexual access that is immediately avaliable.

So what is the ‘price’ of sex? As explained above, women are encouraged to enlist male agency in their service, since the gender system discourages them from developing their own. Thus, the ‘price’ of sex is male agency, typically framed as a committed relationship. When women are sluts and thus ‘put out too easy,’ competitive pressure lowers the price of sex and thus damages (traditionally-understood) female interests.

The implications here are quite depressing; because women are encouraged to experience power through enlisting male agency, “sluthood” is opposed to traditional feminine power by eroding women’s bargaining position. Women are encouraged by the traditional gender system to experience their sexuality as being defeated and being conquered, rather than getting something they desire (i.e. sexual satisfaction). Women are also encouraged to see men as adversaries, and to see male advocacy of female sexual liberation as threats to their material security (i.e. “they just want cheaper sex, the cads!”).

In conclusion, the PDS wasn’t invented “by men” – at least half of the PDS is a mostly female-maintained standard intended to sustain traditional feminine power through preserving the value of sex and thus maximizing the agency women can enlist in return for granting sexual access. The imperatives of the PDS conflict with each other, and the PDS’s implicit sexual transactionalism sets up an adversarial situation that sabotages sexual fulfillment for both sexes.

The Childhood Gender Conformity Double Standard
A common double standard in our society is one relating to gender conformity amongst children. Look at the ease with which our society accepts female children going through a “tomboy phase.” Compare this against the worry and concern that accompanies any male child that may want to play with dolls. It is “normal, she’ll grow out of it in a few years” for a young girl to want to play with the boys, but if a boy confesses liking pink he’s immediately suspected of being homosexual or a gender failure.

This is an obvious consequence of the fact that female biological maturation (and thus gender compliance) is seen as an automatic process which “simply happens.” Because womanhood is seen as biologically innate, a woman’s actions are not seen as the primary source of the value she can contribute to society.

Male biological maturation, on the other hand, is not a guarantee of being able to perform the socially-mandated male tasks. Being a “real man” (i.e. able to contribute masculine value to society) is not biologically guaranteed. Since a male’s gender compliance is evaluated not on what he is but rather what he does, a male’s actions place his entire social value at risk.

Many gender theorists argue that society worries more about males because our society allegedly values masculine traits above feminine traits; this conflicts with the fact that feminine traits are praised when they are exhibited by women (it also conflicts with the fact that historically, societies have sacrificed men to protect women; societies don’t sacrifice higher-valued members for lower-valued members). Biology means that a man who acts feminine cannot perform the socially-mandated “core” feminine task (bearing children), and thus for him to be feminine represents wasted potential (but when a woman acts feminine it isn’t a threat). Thus, a man who acts feminine isn’t perceived as a social woman, but rather a social neuter (an Omega Male).

However, since both men and women are (in fact) agents and masculine value is dependent not on what someone is but rather what someone does, females can in fact contribute masculine value to at least some degree (and the feminist movement has influenced people to accept the reality of female agency, and even to celebrate when women transgress gender roles). As such, women can “value-add” through gender nonconformity, whilst men cannot; females can be socially androgynous whilst men (due to their inability to perform the core feminine task under the gender system) can only be social neuters.

Thus, it is the Subject-Object Dichotomy (and not any alleged valuation of masculinity as superior to femininity) which forms the basis for the Childhood Gender Conformity Double Standard.

The Madonna-Whore Complex and Gendered Evaluations of Moral Character
Our gender system has influenced the ethical standards which are placed on both sexes. In the case of this problem, whilst men are subject to normal ethical standards, women are not; questions about a woman’s character are entirely centered around whether or not she is chaste.

This is an obvious product of the subject-object dichotomy, which casts women as moral patients. As women are not seen as moral agents, they are not treated as subject to moral standards or as possessing capacity for great moral virtue (or vice).

Slut-shaming under the gender system is explained above, however it is obvious that religious norms have influenced the Madonna-Whore Complex (look at the name!). Religion is a separate system to the gender system (although the two clearly interact), and Abrahamic monotheistic religions condemn promiscuity in both sexes (not just women). Women, however, are slut-shamed under both traditional gender norms and religious norms, whereas men are shamed for sleeping around under one set of norms but praised for doing so under the other.

This confluence of gender norms and religious norms, coupled with the objectification of women under the gender system, explains why chastity/sluthood is so heavily emphasized in discussions of women’s character: women are typically left off the hook with standards relating to other issues (minimizing both their virtue and vice), so the Madonna-Whore standard fills the vaccum.

PART 5: Conclusion
The above is a summary of my entire theory of gender as expressed in all my previous articles. I believe it to be a superior explanation of the gender system, for both sexes, than the status quo theories accepted in most gender studies departments. Feedback, commentary, suggestions and critiques are encouraged.

114 thoughts on “SUMMA GENDERRATICA: The Anatomy of the Gender System

  1. “MHRM requires an integrated, consistent theory about gender in order to successfully compete with Radical Second Wave and Third Wave Feminism – this theory is an attempt at providing one.”

    what is this physics and your trying to provide a “unified theory” that explains everything.

    I don’t think the complexities of human behavior can be nicely broken down…

    Nope, it’s a mistake to “compete with feminism.” Show that the ideology is severely flawed and move on. Don’t become a bad parody.

    This is one reason why MGTOW will ultimately need to splinter ideologically from anything MHRM related to become much more successful.

  2. It should be noted that the inability to procreate is considered a failing regardless of a person’s sex.

  3. >It should be noted that the inability to procreate is considered a failing regardless of a person’s sex.

    That’s a very good point. However, infertility of either kind is the exception and not the norm, so the gender system is basically built on an assumption of fertility. However, yes, infertility is seen as de-gendering for both sexes. Thanks for pointing that out!

  4. A few thoughts.

    “The fact that men’s interests are not served by encouraging female chastity complicates this explanation,”

    If a female that you are doing favors for sleeps around with other men she will likely bear the children of those other men (and without paternity tests, you’ll never know). This needs to be factored into your analysis, and it doesn’t seem to be.

    When a woman is branded a slut, she will find it more difficult to secure the loyal service of any man because the man knows that the odds of her mothering his child are low, and the odds of that child prospering without a clear father even lower. He would have to take on the burden of raising the children of other men in order to potentially protect his own. Some men are able to do this so this obviously still happened, but a lot of men simply cannot handle the pain and humiliation involved in this and will desert a woman perceived as unfaithful. It is likely that women branded as sluts have always had to settle for the lowest ranking men and the lowest level of support in general. Women brand other women as sluts so they can be perceived as the ones deserving of loyalty, so they can rise their own social status.

    Men that sleep around are generally speaking a threat to other men, they are only really valued by women. That is to say men historically did not really benefit from female promiscuity and have been the ones keeping i it in check, with the help of women. The historical record seems to show that in many societies (like Britain not that long ago), men routinely used younger males as a means to satisfy the physiological desire for sex so I don’t believe men as a group were ever so desperate for sexual release that they would ignore those extremely powerful dynamics.

  5. “Men that sleep around are generally speaking a threat to other men, they are only really valued by women.”

    This is an important point I think. It is women that give value to male promiscuity, not men. The less sex a man has, the less attractive he is to women.

  6. “If a female that you are doing favors for sleeps around with other men she will likely bear the children of those other men (and without paternity tests, you’ll never know). This needs to be factored into your analysis, and it doesn’t seem to be.”

    The point regarding paternal certainty is that it CONFLICTS with the stud-praising element of the PDS. The system praises men for sleeping around, ergo the incentive (of the gender system… other systems may contradict it) is for men to sleep around. Which is frustrated by female chastity.

    If paternal certainty were so important, even from an evolutionary biology perspective, why would a cultural norm arise that conflicted with evolutionary biology so greatly? Also, regarding evolutionary biology, WAS paternal certainty necessarily important for the prospect of survival? Or was the need for higher birth rates so great that individual genes couldn’t necessarily “afford” to be selfish (a la Dawkins)?

    “Men that sleep around are generally speaking a threat to other men, they are only really valued by women.”

    I disagree with this. As a man, my experience was very much with a stud-praising culture where men were encouraged to boast about their conquests. Of course many women see male sexual success as a good thing; women stud-praise. I’m just saying that men do too, and culture in general celebrates male sexual achievement.

  7. “I disagree with this. As a man, my experience was very much with a stud-praising culture where men were encouraged to boast about their conquests.”

    Yes but here is a key point regarding this: this is only viable in large groups where it is assumed that there is no actual competition within the group, but between males of this group and males of another group. That is to say you may boast of having sex with a girl but not if that girl is your friend’s girlfriend, unless you want to fall victim to a savage beating OR you have a higher social status independent of your promiscuity that allows you to do this without fear. Promiscuous males are not so much praised (except perhaps by their fathers) as they are envied; the promiscuity is its own reward.

  8. “If paternal certainty were so important, even from an evolutionary biology perspective, why would a cultural norm arise that conflicted with evolutionary biology so greatly?”

    I don’t think it does.

    “Also, regarding evolutionary biology, WAS paternal certainty necessarily important for the prospect of survival?”

    This is a tricky question. Lions kill off the offspring of other males. Men are known to go into murderous rampages when they catch a cheating wife. A male guarding the sexuality of fertile females (by attacking other males) is common behavior in the animal kingdom.

    “Or was the need for higher birth rates so great that individual genes couldn’t necessarily “afford” to be selfish (a la Dawkins)?”

    Have you considered that the need for higher birth rates meant they couldn’t afford NOT to be selfish, because the cost was essentially instant extinction for that particular genetic line?

  9. Andre,

    You have a point regarding the “group non-competition” thing, but bragging about nailing tons of women IS a form of competition amongst men (albiet perhaps for status rather than for women themselves). Nailing lots of women is seen as something that boosts one’s Real Manhood, even amongst groups of men (really I think women sometimes slut-shame men, and I’ve never encountered any situation of men slut-shaming each other except for religious reasons).

    Regarding the evolutionary issue, I know lions kill off the offspring of other males. Mate Guarding is a common behavior, although I’d be careful about applying animal behaviorism DIRECTLY to humans (evolution is just an influence, not mind control).

    The point regarding humans and birth rates is that back in the past, very high birth rates were required to continue the species. Mate-Guarding or anti-promiscuous behavior would seem to impose a cost by reducing the chance of any child reaching reproductive age (i.e. if men routinely killed children fathered by other men). Back in the past I’m not sure human beings could’ve afforded it… note that humans in general have quite a strong predisposition against killing each other, certainly relative to nonhuman animal species.

    Also, you seem to be tacitly assuming that back in the past, men and women still formed pair-based relationships when it was arguably more likely that polygyny was the norm.

    Perhaps the evolutionary desire for paternal certainty was (in the past) prioritized less than the desire to get high birth rates… which would explain mate-guarding behavior in modern human beings (now possible due to a higher level of prosperity) whilst also fitting my theory.

  10. “really I think women sometimes slut-shame men”

    Yea, they slut-shame them in public and then sleep with them in private. This is also known as a “shit test”.

    “and I’ve never encountered any situation of men slut-shaming each other”

    Probably because doing so is an admission of lower status, which is shameful in itself. That is, trying it usually backfires. What men do is slut-murder each other.

    “although I’d be careful about applying animal behaviorism DIRECTLY to humans (evolution is just an influence, not mind control).”

    Here is the thing, for most animals having offspring is not such a huge investment of time and energy. Human newborns take a year just to be able to barely walk on their own. It is easier to let a bad batch die than to take care of every child simply because it was born, especially when that child likely isn’t yours. Even if we assume a life expectancy of 25, that still means women can have ten pregnancies in their lifetime. Obviously sometimes people adopt children. It happens. But I wouldn’t bet on evolution being driven by the instinct to adopt when we know that infertile couples often rather spend a fortune to try and have a “natural” baby.

    “note that humans in general have quite a strong predisposition against killing each other”

    Not so strong that they don’t do it. Infanticide has a long history and the number of abortions taking place every single day, even though we live in an age where all pregnancies are essentially planned, makes the argument that human beings are as noble as you seem to imply quite questionable.

  11. “The point regarding humans and birth rates is that back in the past, very high birth rates were required to continue the species. Mate-Guarding or anti-promiscuous behavior would seem to impose a cost by reducing the chance of any child reaching reproductive age”

    Only if you make the assumption that mate-guarding and anti-promiscuous behavior inherently lowers the fertility rate, and that this is a significant enough effect that it isn’t offset by the benefits of paternal certainty. A hundred years ago married women had a lot of children that grew to adulthood. What about the prostitutes? This is a serious question that I don’t know the answer to. I would guess that plain prostitution was not a very good reproductive strategy.

    “(i.e. if men routinely killed children fathered by other men).”

    They didn’t have to necessarily kill them, they might simply refuse to support them. Or to put it in other terms, when men believed that they were the father of a child (regardless of the reality), they were more likely to take extra good care of that child. A baby that had a father had a greater chance of surviving to adulthood.

    “Back in the past I’m not sure human beings could’ve afforded it…”

    I’ve heard the argument that paternal investment is what allowed human beings to grow their brains so much. Could they have afforded not to care? Considering how common cuckolding is TODAY, I can’t imagine how. And considering that human beings managed to colonize the entire planet, including very remote islands and mountains, I think maybe you are overestimating how hard it was to survive.

    “Also, you seem to be tacitly assuming that back in the past, men and women still formed pair-based relationships when it was arguably more likely that polygyny was the norm.”

    Under polygyny the father is identifiable. Only under polyandry are there problems with this, which is probably why there are very, very, very few polyandrious societies on earth. If paternal certainty did not matter to early humans, I would expect polyandry to not be quite so rare.

  12. “and I’ve never encountered any situation of men slut-shaming each other”

    You should know that, while Islam allows men to have four wives (and a harem), in stable muslim societies that cannot raise the female population through war, men that have more than one wife are not exactly praised by the community for it. There are societies in which male promiscuity is tolerated when the man brings something to the table but there are no societies in which these men are rewarded in any sense for this promiscuity. They essentially need to buy the right to sleep around.

  13. “As a man, my experience was very much with a stud-praising culture where men were encouraged to boast about their conquests.”

    Are you a transgendered Yetanothercommenter?

    I think creating theoretical models like this is fine, as long as one realizes they are theoretical models. I think we need to attack feminism as a meme, so using models like this is one good method. I think attacking feminism from the left should work well too. (Just call them reactionaries, bigots and greedy capitalists! lolol)

    For feminism to be destroyed it is going to take more than just reasoning, it appeals to people from an emotional level.

  14. Are you a transgendered Yetanothercommenter?

    Please please, learn to type English!!

    A transgender person, a transgender man, a transgender woman.

    Transgender is an ADJECTIVE, NOT A NOUN. And it’s also NOT A VERB, drop the damn -ed.

  15. Andre,

    I don’t think female slut-shaming of men is necessarily a ‘shit-test’. Rather, its often jealousy (“he shouldn’t be sleeping with that LOWLY TRAMP. He’s debasing himself by fucking her! Instead, he should sleep with ME for I am so high quality!”). The point I am making is that slut-shaming is fundamentally a competitive strategy… the primary slut-shaming is Pussy Cartel (trying to improve women’s collective bargaining power) but in acts of cartel members competing against each other, there is a clear competitive element to slut-shaming of both women and men (although this isn’t as common a form of slut-shaming).

    Do men “slut-murder” each other? Perhaps this happens sometimes but I don’t think it happens that often, at least in the civilized world. That said, a lot of a man’s “you might be my buddy but you can’t fuck my X/Y/Z” sentiment is actually about their female relatives… so saying its all about trying to secure mating opportunities by lowering competition seems to make no sense when a man is telling a friend that “you can’t fuck my mom or sis!”

    You’re right that having a child is a huge investment, but that’s part of the point I am making: because human children are huge investments, lion-like mate-guarding behavior would perhaps be evolutionarily counter-productive (by lessening the chance of a child reaching reproductive age even further).

    Of course humans kill each other. What I am saying is that they have a strong predisposition against it. Natural human empathy and benevolence does exist. Making a man willing to kill another takes significant external motivation.

    Infanticide clearly happens, but I don’t think it is fair to suggest that abortion is akin to infanticide. Perhaps its because I’m 100% pro-choice for pre-viable fetuses but it is wrong to equate abortion and infanticide.

    I’m not saying that people don’t care about paternal certainty. What I am suggesting is that back in the past, other factors may have made caring about paternal certainty far too costly, reproduction-wise (i.e. if men acted like lions for one generation, how many babies would live to be adults and able to bury their parents?). Obviously, wealthier men could afford to care about paternal certainty (and establish harems etc), but paternal certainty (at least in the past) seems to be a luxury good. These days, routine DNA testing would make it far less expensive, of course.

    You say that I may be overstating how hard it was to survive, since human beings managed to colonize the whole planet. Colonization was done by relatively advanced civilizations around the world, and is (historically speaking) a relatively recent phenomenon. Of course more wealthy and technologically advanced societies are able to do this, but for the vast majority of human history we were living in much harsher conditions.

    Tamerlame,

    I am not transgendered. I am a cisgendered male, although I’m not gender-conforming. That said, I love listening to the experiences of trans people because they’re the closest thing to a “neutral perspective” we actually have!

    Of course I’m not suggesting that the MHRM can win solely through reasoning or theoretical models. That said, the academy LOVE theoretical models. If you want to get some success with the academy (who propagate ideas throughout the intellectuals and then the culture at large) you need theoretical models. Patriarchy Theory has severe problems, but we can’t just destroy it and leave nothing to replace it…. gender studies requires a model of how the system works. Hence my article.

  16. “That said, a lot of a man’s “you might be my buddy but you can’t fuck my X/Y/Z” sentiment is actually about their female relatives… so saying its all about trying to secure mating opportunities by lowering competition seems to make no sense when a man is telling a friend that “you can’t fuck my mom or sis!””

    If a man has sex with a female family member of yours resulting in pregnancy and then abandons her, who exactly is going to be left with the burden of caring for her and her offspring and therefore have a lower value to other women (who seem to be primarily moved by “attention” jealousy, not so much “sex” jealousy)? You as her father, brother or son. Unless you choose to abandon her yourself. Just because you are not having sex with your sister doesn’t mean her pregnancy doesn’t affect you and your reproductive success. It is hard to say how old is the practice of conscripting men into husband duty (shotgun weddings), but I would guess pretty old.

  17. “Of course humans kill each other. What I am saying is that they have a strong predisposition against it. Natural human empathy and benevolence does exist. Making a man willing to kill another takes significant external motivation. ”

    This has a great deal to do with culture. Humans have very strong natural inhibitions against killing anyone they recognize as kin and next to none when it comes to people outside that kin group. This is where atrocities come from, and atrocities are as human as armpit hair. Where this is not the case, it is a function of countervailing cultural values

  18. “Infanticide clearly happens, but I don’t think it is fair to suggest that abortion is akin to infanticide. Perhaps its because I’m 100% pro-choice for pre-viable fetuses but it is wrong to equate abortion and infanticide.”

    Why?

  19. ironically enough, some of the HBD/alter righty nutcases seem to be struggling with the cognative dissonance of being a total pussyhound and being mad at promiscuous womyn….

    http://www.staresattheworld.com/2014/02/game-versus-the-reactosphere/

    the rationalizations this guy goes through to seems similar to the mental gymnastics creepers like Schwietzer, Marcrappy and Fucktrelle go to pretending to be a social movement while really being a hate movement bashing low status men…

  20. I put the “a” in there by mistake, it was just a typo.

    It is very off putting when transgendered people or transgendered advocates jump down my throat for saying one thing wrong. It makes me want to tell them to bugger off quite frankly.

    I once got accused of being hateful for stating I wasn’t attracted to transgendered men. (Yes they are still biological males as far as I am concerned, they are still genetically male.) Could you imagine if I told a women she was hateful for not being attracted to men?

    I feel a lot of transgendered people or transgendered advocates love playing the victim card, to bully other people. I have seen transgendered men post about this issue saying they are sick of it themselves.

  21. “Of course I’m not suggesting that the MHRM can win solely through reasoning or theoretical models. That said, the academy LOVE theoretical models. If you want to get some success with the academy (who propagate ideas throughout the intellectuals and then the culture at large) you need theoretical models. Patriarchy Theory has severe problems, but we can’t just destroy it and leave nothing to replace it…. gender studies requires a model of how the system works. Hence my article.”

    I agree with you on that. A war of memes is a war on all fronts. I think the problem is not the fact you are creating a model, it is how academics treats these models. A lot of soft sciences is badly done, because academics practise pseudo science, treat their theories like gospel. (I love thinking over speculative models on how societies works but I know that they are just theories, guesses on things.)

    A lot of people are going to be put off by what you do, just because it appears similar to gender studies theorizing, they are not going to pay attention to the content of what you write.

  22. Andre,

    Of course men don’t want their female relatives to get knocked up by their male friends, however we were speaking in the context of evolution. Could such a propensity (i.e. to not want one’s female kin knocked up by irresponsible male friends) really be ‘evolved’? It seems more a matter of common sense rather than evolution. Evolution cannot impart abstract knowledge after all.

    As for abortion, abortion is not the same as infanticide because there’s no proof of some magical “essence of human-ness” being placed into an embryo/fetus at any specific time. Until we can isolate the human soul in a lab, at least (and THEN we still need a test to see when it is placed into an infant). Until we get some evidence of anything like this, the idea that human life begins at conception is no more than religious doctrine.

    Until a fetus is viable, it cannot be understood as a biologically independent human life. As such, abortion (pre-viability, of course) is not infanticide.

    Ginkgo,

    I think natural benevolence isn’t entirely cultural. Sure, people are less likely to be benevolent to members of ‘out-groups’ but in general it seems most people aren’t hostile to others. We generally have more compassion towards those we identify with (hence why many animal rights people are just infatuated with cute animals but rarely the ugly ones), but I still think in general people are strongly averse to killing each other (again, generality). See this essay for more: http://catb.org/~esr/writings/killer-myth.html

    Tamerlame,

    Yeah, I know many people will just ignore what I write because how it superficially resembles “what gender studies does” (which is sort of true, but not in the way they think). But in my opinion, if they don’t pay attention to the content, its their loss. Their anti-intellectualism means they probably aren’t the kind of person I could convince anyway.

  23. It is very off putting when transgendered people or transgendered advocates jump down my throat for saying one thing wrong. It makes me want to tell them to bugger off quite frankly.

    Both you and YAC did it again, and again.

    It’s like me saying the Moon is made of cheese. Being shown wrong, and saying it again 5 minutes later. This is exactly what you did!

  24. I once got accused of being hateful for stating I wasn’t attracted to transgendered men. (Yes they are still biological males as far as I am concerned, they are still genetically male.) Could you imagine if I told a women she was hateful for not being attracted to men?

    1) Transgender NO FUCKING ED women.

    Being “biological male” =/ men
    Even the most absolutist “maleness is all about sperm and nothing else” will concede trans women are women, if only not “female women”.

    2) If you told a straight woman she was hateful to not being attracted to men as a group? You’d be facing an impossibility. A straight woman IS attracted to men, it’s what it fucking means.

    3) Straight people who rule out trans people of the sex they’re attracted to, are going on prejudice. What’s funny is they might be genuinely attracted to “until the reveal” where they’re grossed out. Like an anti-semitist person being attracted to a Jewish person, until gasp horror, the reveal! I’m sorry, I didn’t know you were Jewish! I hate you now, not attracted…down erection, down!

  25. Schala:

    “Straight people who rule out trans people of the sex they’re attracted to, are going on prejudice.”

    And people who prefer blonde hair to brunette are prejudiced. And people who prefer people who aren’t heavily overweight are prejudiced. How dare you have a say!

    In all honesty, not every heterosexual man wants to fuck you. You have the same attitude towards them. Deal with it.

  26. @ Everyone

    Schala has never shown signs of being an emotional bully; a pendant, yes, but not an emotional bully.

    And, believe me, I have a long record of slamming trans women(or anyone) who comes on here with the intent to bully others.

    Having said that, let it go Schala.

    And lets drop the off-topic tangent now.

  27. “The fact that men’s interests are not served by encouraging female chastity complicates this explanation,”

    That depends on which men you are talking about and wether you are thinking about a mans short term interest or his stake in the wider society. In a situation of widespread promiscuity the top men would have lots of sex and reproductive success, leaving many men out or with less attractive women. I think chastity probably was very important before in order to create stable families and in order to make most men work hard. If the route to a sex life with a committed and chaste wife goes through hard work men will do it. If that is available to most men then most men will become very productive. If fatherhood is uncertain men become less willing to do that work and got for a more short term strategy of casual sex. They don`t need to be productive hard workers in order to achieve short term success, only sexy/dominant/have good game. So without chastity society would be far less productive, children would not be as well cared for and things would easily get quite chaotic and full of conflict.

    As for why shame women and not men. No matter how hard you shame men there will always be a certain number of men who will be immune to that and fuck all they can get their hands on and those men would gladly have sex with all the women that where willing and be remarkably reproductively successful. The critical factor in diminishing promiscuity is, and always will be, to make women close their legs. If you succeed in that the promiscuity shuts down.

  28. “Could such a propensity (i.e. to not want one’s female kin knocked up by irresponsible male friends) really be ‘evolved’?”

    Does it matter if it is a cultural, as opposed to biological evolution?

    “because there’s no proof of some magical “essence of human-ness” being placed into an embryo/fetus at any specific time.”

    There is no proof of a magical “essence of human-ness” being placed into any human at any point in time.

    “Until we can isolate the human soul in a lab, at least (and THEN we still need a test to see when it is placed into an infant). Until we get some evidence of anything like this, the idea that human life begins at conception is no more than religious doctrine.”

    No, it’s a biological fact. There is nothing more secular than the plain fact that life begins at conception. The value judgement regarding that life may be a religious doctrine, but so is the value judgement regarding the life of a grown adult.

    “Until a fetus is viable, it cannot be understood as a biologically independent human life. As such, abortion (pre-viability, of course) is not infanticide.”

    Aside from the fact that many viable fetuses are killed (I don’t say aborted because you can’t abort a fetus, you can only abort a pregnancy) and that this is accepted and defended by a frightening number of people, children are not biologically independent beings and so this argument is just as good for infanticide as it is for “abortion”. Under some circumstances (getting hit by a car), neither are adults. No, they are not linked by an umbilical cord, but that doesn’t mean they are independently viable. You cannot run over someone and then leave them to die, or abandon a newborn baby in its crib while you go take a vacation to Hawaii. If you want to abandon a newborn, you have to take it to someone that can care for it. I fail to see how that is different than having to carry a fetus to birth. I “get” that a hundred years ago this was a heavy burden on women but this isn’t the case anymore. Pregnancies are safer, all sorts of support exists for pregnant women, and it is extremely easy for women to just not get pregnant but it seems that has actually made people more willing to practice and accept abortions and not less.

  29. Will,

    Its not unreasonable to argue that in the days before monogamous pairings became the norm, we lived in a situation where the ‘top men’ had harems and there were lots of bachelor males. Indeed, historical fact supports this.

    However, men still worked very hard back in the past for sheer survival reasons. There are other incentives, not just sex (or even love), which men respond to. In addition, many civilizations with polygyny also had certain mechanisms by which non-’alpha’ men could get sex. Many polytheistic societies had religious prostitution, for example.

    Also, to be fair, women can’t always access high value men and they don’t ONLY screw high value men… hypergamy (at least relative hypergamy) is a tendency rather than an ironclad determinative law. There were also things like cheating and, yes, love (as much as I don’t understand it, other people have it). So yeah, there have always been ways for “non-alpha” males to get laid… have you heard of “Sneaky Fucker” theories in evolutionary biology?

    I agree to at least some extent that monogamy does “spread the incentives around” (so to speak), so it may be efficient in a certain respect, but according to your own hypergamic/game/redpill logic, since women biologically will always CRAVE ALPHA COCK and men will always want 10/10s to fuck, monogamy will result in many pairings that are simply not satisfying (women with non-alpha males, men with non-hottie women who they don’t enjoy boning). And that’s to say nothing at all about non-heterosexuals.

    That said, we need to note that we live in a totally new world, where sex and reproduction aren’t as linked to each other as they once were. There are many sources of satisfaction other than sex, many people embracing non-reproductive lifestyles (i.e. homosexuality, childfree-ism, etc.), and eventually progress will keep severing sex and reproduction (the man’s side of the equation is next). At the very least, all the moral codes which have been at the forefront of sexual regulation (for instance, monotheistic religions) are on the wane and thanks to enlightenment individualism we’re slowly coming around to “sex for pleasure and fulfillment” as the dominant attitude.

    We need to look towards THAT world rather than pine for the past. We can’t go back, so we need to deal with the present and the future.

    Also, you argue women are easier to shame than men. Really? Men are very easy to control through shame, just as women are. Perhaps you could argue that because men have higher sexual appetities, they’d be willing to endure shame for promiscuity more than the average woman (due to a higher need for itch-scratching) but that’s a far softer claim.

    Andre,

    First, we were speaking in evolutionary terms, so it does matter. Of course cultural propensities exist but we were talking about evolutionary ones at the time.

    You are right that there is no proof of any essence of human-ness being placed into anyone at any point in time. There is no scientific proof of a soul.

    Biological life in the basest sense may commence at conception, but human life… as in human qua human… requires more than just a clump of cells. The thing that separates humans from other animals is our higher levels of cognition. A few cells cannot sustain this. And yeah, I see no moral problem with killing animals, although I think animal cruelty is disturbing as hell (humans have a natural empathy, even with some animals).

    Regarding value judgments, not all moralities are religious doctrines. You could argue that a morality is not demonstrable in a lab environment, and I agree with you, but that doesn’t mean there is no such thing as a moral truth.

    The killing of viable fetuses is, yes, wrong (except in a case where its the fetus’s life vs. the mothers, in which case I rule in favor of the mother). But your argument about viability is flawed… yes, babies aren’t independent in terms of being able to provide for all their needs through their own actions. However, a pre-viable fetus in the womb cannot survive outside of the womb EVEN WITH caretakers (this is true by definition). I’m speaking purely of the organism itself… the organism NEEDS the physical/biological connectedness to remain alive. This is a higher level of dependency… a different TYPE of dependency… to that of a newborn infant.

    But this is a tangent. You argued that the prevalance of abortion is proof that human beings don’t have much aversion to killing each other. I argue that this is false. Note that even the most die-hard pro-choicer supports laws against murder (including that of newborn infants). Clearly, our natural sentiments seem to make a division between a fetus and a human being (which makes sense from an evolutionary perspective since childbirth is risky and fetuses which may have developmental abnormalities may be less evolutionarily viable so there may have been an evolutionary incentive for temperments which didn’t treat fetuses like newborns).

  30. “However, a pre-viable fetus in the womb cannot survive outside of the womb EVEN WITH caretakers (this is true by definition). I’m speaking purely of the organism itself… the organism NEEDS the physical/biological connectedness to remain alive.”

    …and?

    “This is a higher level of dependency… a different TYPE of dependency… to that of a newborn infant.”

    Even if the type of dependency is different, which I don’t think it is, how does this difference chance the moral calculation involved?

    “The thing that separates humans from other animals is our higher levels of cognition.”

    Sure, but that higher level of cognition does not need to be active in order for someone to be considered human. You don’t suddenly become “just an animal to be slaughtered at will to make hamburgers” when you temporarily lose the ability to engage in high-level cognition, because even though we recognize that you are not quite “human” in that moment, we respect the future you that is. We respect your potential. We understand that to kill you in that moment is to rob you of your natural future life. This is what murder is. That is what “taking a life” means. We only “pull the plug” once we recognize it is hopeless and a human fetus in the middle of a pregnancy is far from hopeless. To cut a fetus in pieces and remove it from the uterus is just as much “taking a life” as it is to melt a newborn baby in bronze. You are simply making excuses that help you feel more comfortable living in a society where this is done. I myself am trying to accept the fact that we live in a savage world and abortion is just a tiny piece of that savagery, and stop expecting human beings to be more than wild animals. But if you rather hold on to excuses and rationalizations for human savagery, I suppose you can do that.

    “But this is a tangent. You argued that the prevalance of abortion is proof that human beings don’t have much aversion to killing each other. I argue that this is false.”

    Human beings have some aversion to killing each other, but they also have other things going on in their head that counter this aversion. The main thing that seems to keep human beings from killing each other seems to be how killing another reminds them of their own vulnerability and death. As a consequence, human beings generally need to dehumanize whatever it is they are killing and to frame the killing as empowering, even when that thing is obviously a helpless human being. They do this with fetuses, they do this with children, they do this with soldiers and they do this with teenage girls, it’s all the same.

    “Note that even the most die-hard pro-choicer supports laws against murder (including that of newborn infants).”

    Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being. The critical thing to remember is that “unlawful” and “human being” are flexible terms. In Brazil, native americans live under their own laws, in their own reservations. However, they also sometimes host missionaries. Not long ago, some of those missionaries got into trouble because they were “kidnapping” children and babies marked for infanticide, including one child that was going to be buried alive because it had a “bad spirit” in it. The government regarded that as disrespecting native traditions. So as you can see, infanticide is not abnormal human behavior, and there are far more extreme “pro-choice” advocates than you seem to think.

    “Clearly, our natural sentiments seem to make a division between a fetus and a human being (which makes sense from an evolutionary perspective since childbirth is risky and fetuses which may have developmental abnormalities may be less evolutionarily viable so there may have been an evolutionary incentive for temperments which didn’t treat fetuses like newborns)”

    That division is almost exclusively due to the fact that the fetus is hidden, essentially invisible to us. When we see it, it doesn’t look quite like the baby we are supposed to love, it looks kind of alien. Therefore, the fetus is easier to dehumanize than a newborn baby. Once this first level of dehumanization is done, cognitive dissonance does the rest. Obviously human beings have an “instict” to care for the young, but to pretend that this instict is or has ever been so strong that other factors don’t have much of an influence on the viability of newborns is silly. Having an identifiable father, even in our prosperous society full of safety nets, matters. Women are evolved to have a stable partner that they may or may not share with other women and to maybe cheat on him, but to do so carefully because men are not evolved to invest in partners that they share. Men have no problem with female promiscuity as such but they do have a problem with investing in promiscuous women. That is pretty much why we have the so-called PDS.

  31. To quick comments now and I`ll comment more later. When men can expect a wife and family they will work hard to be able to create a surplus that can support a wife and family. If they can not and this is a certain realization as it will in cultures where it has been the norm for quite some time that most can not expect it they don`t have an incentive to produce more than is required for themselves or for themselves and prostitutes (which won`t be nearly as much). Men also loose a stake in the wider success of society and will probably engage in far more problematic behavior.

    I am saying that it is easier to shame women with regards to sex not in general. A few dark triad men can and will easily supply the women that want sex with enough sex to impregnate them all but a few promiscuous women will not provide as much sex to the men who want it and since these women are few that will only lead to a few pregnancies. You can not control male sexuality well on a group level but you can control the women and through the women you control the men. That has always been the reasoning and is the way it works.

  32. “Until we can isolate the human soul in a lab, at least (and THEN we still need a test to see when it is placed into an infant). Until we get some evidence of anything like this, the idea that human life begins at conception is no more than religious doctrine.”
    No, it’s a biological fact. There is nothing more secular than the plain fact that life begins at conception. The value judgement regarding that life may be a religious doctrine, but so is the value judgement regarding the life of a grown adult.”

    You are arguing past each other because you are being sloppy with your terms. You are conflating “life” with “the individual” because you think they are the same thing. That is culturally determined; you come out of cultural tradition where the individual is the basic unit of society, where the individual is considered inherently unique, distinct and valuable. We see persons as legally separate from their families – no executing parents for their childres’ crimes which they failed to educate them away from, no massacering villages because you find rebels living there (if the system holds) – capable of owning property separate from their famailies, voting individually rather than delegating that to one person representing the family So it is easy to conflate life and individuality.

    So this is how you can make this misstatement:
    “There is nothing more secular than the plain fact that life begins at conception. ”

    No, life does not begin at conception, it began 1.5 billion yeras ago and each of us individuals is just an expression of that entire web of chemical interactions we call life. There is some biological basis to our conception of individuality, namely the immune resonse to foreign proteins, but on many other levels we are not separate beings, we are congeriers of bacterial flora in intimate contact with our surroundings.

    This has direct implications for the abortion debate, obviously.

    YAC – human benevolence. Yes, given a superabundance of resources, pweople like to help strangers. In other words, it is a huge luxury most of us for most of our history have not been able to indulge in. I used ot hear a story when I was working in a Chinese restaurant, that in the 20sand 30s in Shanghai before the revolution, a time when the city was run by immensely wealthy familes, the situation was so dire that every morning when you went to open oyur shop there would be a corpse on the doorstep, soemone who had died during the night. The situation was that bad in Shanghai because it was worse in the countryside. In the face of that scale of need even if the elite families had devoted all their resources ot alleviating, it would have been inadequate to correcting the situation. Their entire fortunses would have evaporated on cantact with a ned that great. So the obvious and lonly choice was callous indifference, for the sake of the fmaily.

  33. I think this explains quite well why shaming the women works and not the men:

    http://dalrock.wordpress.com/2011/11/18/we-are-trapped-on-slut-island-and-traditional-conservatives-are-our-gilligan/

    For the record I have no interest in returning to a past patriarchy or anything like that. I think the old order worked at the time and was necessary at the time and not controlling sexuality would have kept society down. Currently we can get by by doing it less but I think we will be a lot better of by reducing promiscuity quite a lot because it strongly reduces the ability to maintain marriages long term and creates structural problems in the sexual market place that can end up having rather large negative consequences. We are not there yet but we might very well get there. If the alternative is something like the rate at which the black community in the US has single parent families I say it is much, much better to seriously work for reducing sex outside of relationships because that is a key reason (though not the only one) for the single mother epidemic in the black community.

  34. ‘If the alternative is something like the rate at which the black community in the US has single parent families ”

    And here is the external control group for this – blue collar and underclass whites have similar family dysfunction You don’t see that in the statistics because the statistical models eroneously lump all whites in together as one group. This effaces the realities of what underclass whites experience.

  35. “No, life does not begin at conception, it began 1.5 billion yeras ago and each of us individuals is just an expression of that entire web of chemical interactions we call life.”

    Indeed, I was going to make exactly that argument but figured it wasn’t worth going into that.

    “This has direct implications for the abortion debate, obviously.”

    And it also has direct implications for every other debate, including infanticide, genocide, slavery, etc. The justifications used to argue in favor of abortion are pretty much exactly the same as those used to argue in favor of infanticide. That was my point.

  36. I enjoyed this post. Well written and still interesting to me even though I have been looking into this subject of gender politics for a while now.

    I sometimes despair that the social hierarchy system which is demonstrated here in gender norms seems unavoidable. Social species which display higher levels of intelligence and complex behaviour seem to always resort to an alpha-male and sometimes alpha female system because often the benefits of a single decision being made incorrectly is better than letting everyone make their own decision.

    As a libertarian-type of person, that seems an odd thing to say. But consider the wolf. If different wolves want to hunt in different parts of a territory, one may have picked the better place to hunt due to better knowledge of some factor. But if other wolves choose less productive areas they can’t hunt as a pack. They would be better off having a pack leader choose the area they all go to and harass the members who don’t play as a team because they are more protected as a group and stand better luck hunting a less productive area as a group than more productive areas as individuals. Reaching common goals requires decisions to be made and enforces so a system which somewhat limits the rights of individuals to promote collective co-operative behaviour has benefits. And once such a system is created it’s success strengthens it and makes it harder for the individual to maintain self-determination.

    While other factors limit the ability of such systems to become complete and total hierarchies (fascist nations decay for example) they seem destined to always erode individual freedoms to some extent and enforce norms which may be suboptimal and sometimes detrimental to the individual’s interests. There always seems to be an alpha system. Maybe some form of artificial intelligence could make social intelligence unnecessary by being so smart that disputes on decisions never arise. Or maybe not.

  37. SOB

    The benefits of letting everyone say something extend beyond everyone “doing their own thing”. It gives people the ability to doubt the decision(s) of who is in charge. In theory this allows a system that fails until it succeeds, rather than fail until it falls over. Unfortunately this is easily subverted with social shaming and isolation of doubters as set out systematically in the charming system of social deconstruction we are stuck in.

  38. Andre,
    “And it also has direct implications for every other debate, including infanticide, genocide, slavery, etc. ”

    Ype. basically it comes down to what is gopod for the group is good, what is bad for the group is bad. So when Western feminsts, and a lot of other people, express horror at gender-selective abortion – girls – that is perfectly reasonable in their moral framework but is rather missing the point of how it is happening, because in the moral framework of those doing it, it is obvious and even necessary.

    “The justifications used to argue in favor of abortion are pretty much exactly the same as those used to argue in favor of infanticide. That was my point.”

    Even when they differ. So the one justification base don the group need allows for all of them, but also the one always cited in the Anglosphere – the right of the woman, her right as an idividiual. This puts her rights and her fetuses, as well as the father’s in opposition. So the next step is to deny that the fetus or the father have any rights at all. problem solved. Amoral and incoherent.

  39. Some subtleties that could be addressed:

    We live in an era of relative anonymity, at least in urban centers. Transcendent essentialism in such a situation speaks more to the nature of how tenuous ones’ hold of “real man” status is than what you did to acquire it. Obviously there are signifiers that will indicate you don’t have it. You may be homeless, or look like a scrawny geek. But if you have a gender-conforming appearance, and of a certain age, you will be given the benefit of the doubt, and assumed to have transcended.

    Conversely, while I really think that these essentialist lenses are a very useful way to examine traditional gender roles. I think that the female gender status can be revoked in extreme circumstances- this is how gender policing works, and where it is applied to a gender is a good way to see how status can be removed. Prostitutes and lesbians have a history of being excluded from the fold.

  40. Robert Crayle

    But eventually, all the “having your say” and “doubting the decisions” of the alphas has been done and irreconcilable differences and conflicting interests remain–to the point that either we accept people working at cross purposes so that no one gets their way and violent conflict becomes likely or we accept that one or more parties is not going to get their way while one or more other parties will. If the latter, then someone is going to have to decide who wins and force the loser to abide by the decision. That person or group making the decisions becomes powerful and that status will be worth competing for and defending.

  41. Jolly Mcfats,
    “Transcendent essentialism in such a situation speaks more to the nature of how tenuous ones’ hold of “real man” status is than what you did to acquire it”

    I call this state “gender anxiety”. It is the pressure point or the array of pressure points where anti-male shaming language works. It is interesting how much fewer forms of anti-female shaming langauge there are.

    ” I think that the female gender status can be revoked in extreme circumstances- this is how gender policing works, and where it is applied to a gender is a good way to see how status can be removed. Prostitutes and lesbians have a history of being excluded from the fold.”

    I think “Lady” is the female equivalent of “Real Man”. If your lady status is revoked you fall to the level of men.

  42. Ginko:

    That’s a really good point about gender anxiety. There’s still a lot of meat to chew about the effects of the pressures traditional gender roles exert.

    I have a hard time evaluating the notion of “lady” from within my cultural bubble. My city and social scene is predominately feminist/ radical feminist, even if I am not. If people sneered at “real man” the way the people around me sneer at terms like “lady” much of our work would be done.

  43. @Ginko

    also:

    ” If your lady status is revoked you fall to the level of men.”

    I think even if you aren’t a lady, you remain a patient. You don’t fall to the level of unmanned men who are disdained but still viewed as failed hyperagents.

  44. JMF,

    Both good points. My point on “lady” is that it removes the inviolability that goes with lady status, so in that way it is like male status.

    Feminists and “lady” – they reject the term and still insist on the privileges.

  45. Ginkgo,

    You are right that by “life” I’m talking about the life of the human individual. I absolutely am arguing from the Enlightenment Individualist tradition and I make no secret of that.

    I also agree that human benevolence is limited by material constraints. That doesn’t mean humans don’t naturally WANT to be (or aren’t naturally predisposed towards) benevolence, merely that resource constraints haven’t permitted that until relatively recently. I’m not saying everyone is 100% love and cuddles all the time… I’m saying that in general, people realize that simply not being a douche is advantageous to oneself and makes things better for others too, and that people in general do not bear malice towards each other and our natural ability to empathize means we tend to want happiness for each other (except in situations where its “me vs. them” obviously).

    Snake Oil Baron,

    Thanks for the feedback and comment! Glad you enjoyed the post. I don’t think the “alpha” system is unavoidable though… so Im a bit less despairing about it than you.

    Jolly McFats,

    Yes, you’re absolutely correct that often appearance will be used to judge whether or not one is a ‘real man’ or not. Appearance in many ways is the trump card over other factors… this is probably due to the fact that back in the early days of the species, “real manhood” demanded tasks which produced certain obvious physical markers.

    You’re also right that females are gender-policed and CAN be socially defeminized, albiet in extreme situations. Society is rarely consistent in how it grasps a concept, so I guess we could put Aristotelian Essentialism on one end of the spectrum and Platonic Essentialism on the other, with femininity being understood in a way that is more often Aristotelian and masculinity being understood as more often Platonic.

    Ginkgo,

    Interesting point about the term “lady”… it does make sense as analagous to real manhood, although Im not sure if it as rooted in the gender system itself as the “real man” thing is. It seems to be a cultural outgrowth of Aristocratic times, at least as I understand the term. Perhaps I’m wrong.

  46. @YAC
    Yeah… I thought some more about “lady” today and it seems like there are class implications. Lady more of the correlate to “Gentleman” than “real man”

  47. The issue of social class is very interesting. Both aristocracy and modern womanhood are characterized by not having to do physically taxing work, whereas manhood these days almost requires at least the ability to lift heavy things (big muscles, strength and determination, all those other manly virtues) and the working class…well, it’s right there in the name. So there’s a growing association between femininity and aristocracy, and between masculinity and working class.

    Our society is very well-off, but not all women are able to just not work (yet?), so this association isn’t complete, but it’s there. Men’s clothes, for example, are all current or former sport or leisure garments, and women’s clothes emphasize impracticality and fragility. That women can wear men’s clothing and not be transgressing their gender role but men can’t do similarly is basically the same as those old sumptuary laws that forbade people of lower classes from wearing the clothing of the nobility (even if they could afford it) but didn’t restrict nobles’ whims to dress like the lower classes if they wanted.

    I’d guess that feminists reject the term “lady” because it implies that some women are not ladies.

  48. YAC,

    I also insist on the Enlightenment agreement on centering the individual, mainly because even though it is inherently problematic, it is less problematic than all the other alternatives, and I am very familiar with some of them.

    “Interesting point about the term “lady”… it does make sense as analagous to real manhood, although Im not sure if it as rooted in the gender system itself as the “real man” thing is. It seems to be a cultural outgrowth of Aristocratic times, at least as I understand the term. Perhaps I’m wrong.”

    You are not wrong, “lady” is an aristocratic term. Where you are not quite right is in differentiating the gender system from the class system to radically. Sex is biological but quite a lot of gender is culturally conditioned, and oyu experience this when yo move from one culture to another. And if a culture has a class system, there is a good chance it is going to inform that culture’s gender system.

    In ours what has happened is that since men are identified with pursuits outside the home, and work outdoors, and women with the equivalent inside, men get treated like the people who work outside, peasants – and women get treated likie the gentry who keep their hands clean.

    Have you seen these?

    http://www.genderratic.com/p/2995/female-privilege-gendering-class-part-i/
    http://www.genderratic.com/p/3026/female-privilege-gendering-class-part-ii-white-womens-tears-and-who-does-and-doesnt-get-considered-female/
    http://www.genderratic.com/p/3082/female-privilege-gendering-class-part-iii-untouchability/

  49. Theodmann,

    I absolutely agree that our gender system associates class and gender, with masculinity perceived as rural/proletarian and femininity having significant aristocratic orientations.

    Ginkgo,

    Yeah, I read the articles. They’re very interesting and I’ve thought about this point a lot myself… of course gender systems and other systems interact, I agree. I’m not trying to claim they never interact, but I want to try and point out which “side” is responsible for which association insofar as much as possible.

    Its interesting – look at the standard ‘when I wanna grow up’ for both sexes. Boys are more likely (for whatever reason) to pick lower-class physical-work jobs and hero jobs (police officer, firefighter etc) and women love to aspire to be a princess. The aristocratic notions are brutally obvious here.

    To be fair the gender/class thing seems a bit culturally sensitive. In the UK and Europe there’s a bit of wiggle-room for upper-class masculinity (and so the arts are seen as a bit less “effeminate” automatically), but in the US and Australia there’s a strong bias towards seeing masculinity in a thoroughly proletarian/rural way. So there could be national-identity/cultural issues implicated in this as well. Clearly the gendering of class norms/classing of gender norms is a complex interaction between several sets of norms.

  50. “Regarding value judgments, not all moralities are religious doctrines.”

    Actually, they are. There is a “subconscious” sort of “moral map” within human beings, based on neurology, an inborn reward system that seduces them to behave in certain ways and frightens them from behaving in other ways. However, that “moral map” is based on transcendence through the biological meta-organism (the family, tribe, species, ecosystem), it’s something that enslaves individuals, it has nothing at all to do with enlightenment values. It is more akin to the “The Lucifer Principle” than anything you might recognize as “moral” and regardless, it’s nothing more than chemical programming. Your concept of morality is entirely based on social programming derived from christian theology, which is a conscious attempt to seek another form of transcendence, more specifically transcendence of the individual soul. Psychopaths are the natural human form when devoid of illusions. Unless you believe religion is not entirely delusional.

    “You could argue that a morality is not demonstrable in a lab environment, and I agree with you, but that doesn’t mean there is no such thing as a moral truth.”

    Morality is essentially a technology, a set of principles by which certain values are gained or protected. The essential point about values is that they rely on existence. There is no such thing as values and by extension morality to that which is dead. Which is why all moral codes rely on the expansion and shifting of the ego, of the individual’s identity, away from that which dies. In a purely secular sense, no, there is no such thing as “a moral truth”. And contrary to what someone (I think Schala?) said previously, yes, socialism is a religion.

  51. “I’d guess that feminists reject the term “lady” because it implies that some women are not ladies.”

    Wow… how did I miss that?

  52. YAC,
    “To be fair the gender/class thing seems a bit culturally sensitive.”

    Indeed. One aspect of racism in America is the fact that black women do not have access to the same chivalrous privileges white women do.

    “In the UK and Europe there’s a bit of wiggle-room for upper-class masculinity (and so the arts are seen as a bit less “effeminate” automatically), but in the US and Australia there’s a strong bias towards seeing masculinity in a thoroughly proletarian/rural way.”

    This an effect of the stigma on class distinctions in those societies. The effect is that all (or most; see above) females go up the scale and can demand lady treatment, and ll the men go down the scale into peasant status to serve the needs of the womne. You see this very clearly in the way gendered issues like DV and sexual assault are handeld in Australia. Blatant sexism.

  53. (Feel freel to skip this first paragraph intro due to beign my first post, my comments on this post start in second paragraph) I’ve been meaning to look into this blog..and apologies in advance for the sporadic nature of my ability to interact for the next few months, but I’m glad I took a little more tiem today to lookt I will cautiously state that it appears that it might be a place where gender empathy and liberation of both (or all) genders can be discussed without “the other side or gender is evil, is oppressing us” type negativity. A European fellow onyoutube tried, and got attacked. I tried very patiently on wikipedia the the level of PC centorship and hypocrisy to make one’s head spin is a tale (and saved files documentation) is a tale for another day. I am unapologitically in favor of working against oppression and discrimination against men (whether one calls it MRA or not) and against women (whether one calls it feminism or not) and whether others self lable this or that way or not, is far less important than the empathy and reconigion of mutual humanity.. (Am also unabashedly politically left, though there are many parts, not just parts of things said and done in the name of feminism, that I strongly disagree with and hope this is a safe place for looking for common ground regardless of labels)

    Ok, in general I think the author deserves a lot of credit and thanks for putting so much down and organizing and summarizing and synthesizing so much here. This post would be too long if I listed sentence I agreed with so please take the above as a compliment and allow me to suggest, not even a disagreement but an amendment. This summary:

    1. Maturity, for each sex, is conceptualized as gender-compliance
    2. Female maturity is seen as a natural result of biological development
    3. Male maturity is not seen as guaranteed, but rather something proven/earned
    4. Men do, women are, because manhood is about doing and womanhood just “is”
    5. Because gender-compliance is seen as valuable and women are seen as innately gender-compliant, women are seen as innately valuable
    6. Because men are NOT seen as innately gender-compliant, men are seen as innately expendable

    I agree that what you identify here does seem to be an important component or, or lense for looking at “male expendibility”, while at the same time, whether intended or not, the “because” suggests it is the main or even only reason, and there is a second, imo huge reason, one you indirectly alluded to, since you referred to society’s lookign for “strong warriors” and so forth. We evolved from and still live today to a very large extent in a warrior culture.

    Scholars and historians have pointed out and I agree, that we under-state and ignore sometimes, empathy and coopeartion in our history (and Darwin’s writings even) and overplay the “compeltition” and dog eat dog and the warrior culture that having been said, it’s been huge, and still is huge. Whether in actual wars or in our hypercompetitive economic and even cultural paradigms, we’re a Warrior Culture (those who want to argue that’s a good thing, let me ask us not to have that debate right here, and I’ll bite my tongue and not go on about the extent to which it’s a very bad thing, let’s put aside and deal with the fact that it is, for now..)

    In that context, it’s hardly a surprise that the gender historically associated with doing the warring in the warrior culture between grops, between tribes, between nation-states, that that gender is EXPENDIBLE (need I even remind us of the common phrase in the media about “women and children” like “20 people were killed, including 12 women and children” making it “worse” than if “only men were the ones killed?) So that is the main addendum I would suggest, if I can reappropriate a phrase, the intersectionality of the warrior culture and sexual/reproductive ones, give multiple reasons for Male Expendibility (ME), and I think you’re not only identified but outliend very nicely including in that summary, the why and the how of M.E. that comes from the “conditionality” of male gender compliance, but think it’s important to add other dimensions, particularly that men are “cannon fodder” (whether in wars or in the corporate battles, but especially in actual physical violence) in the nearly universal (global) warrior-competitive culture(s), and that is another reason why M.E. should not suprise us.

    A second comment is just an aside, not an addendum per se..but it’s that the notion of the conditionality of male gender compliance has a long history, going back to the 1970s and before, which probably others here know better than I do I suspect, but a notable one is a late 1970s book, which those who identify as sex-positive feminsits even said good things about that book and promoted it (selling it in their sex positive feminist book stores through the 1990s) namely that of Zilbergeld.

    He spoke eloquently in his book about the conditionality of socially constructed notions of maleness, unlike of femaleness (very similar if not identical to notion of gender complaince). About how men have to always, constantly be on their toes not to have it “revoked” in a state of constant anxiety promoted by the gender culture…Instead of being put into constatn anxiety that they were not keeping their legs closed, men are put in constant anxiety of losing their entire “permit” (revokable any time) of even being a male, or indeed a human being, in society’s eyes. Surprisingly little of his writing would be seen as completed “dated” today, so much still applies, and while there is a lot of other subtopics that he did not talk about in his book, which I’m glad others today are filling in, neverthelss he was a voice very much working to reduce empathy apartheid and to remove walls and barriers to empathy..

    In any case, along with many other elements of your post which I like, I think your continuing the tradition of examining the “conditionality” that society puts on men’s gender policed lives, and the damaged it does, is very important.

  54. MaleLiberation,

    Can I ask you a favor? Would you be willing to read this: http://www.anonymousconservative.com/modern.pdf and tell me what you think? I ask because you expressed very pertinent ideas and feelings. I hit upon this idea and it’s disturbing me for a lot of reasons. It seems to me that r-traits are essentially the embodiment of the negative(?) female stereotype while K-traits are the embodiment of the positive(?) male hero ideal. I have the impression that these psychological and ecological dynamics may be at the root of the “gender” system and that the problem isn’t so much about misandry, misogyny, homophobia and etc, as it is about the state of genetic and cultural war between these competing strategies, with r-traits tending to cluster in females and K-traits tending to cluster in males for practical reasons, and this semi-parasitic relationship shaping many cultural norms (in very complex ways, before you dismiss what I’m saying as simplistic). It also seems to me that the problem is getting worse, not better and that there is no real point in having any sort of rational debate about anything involving these political and gender issues because they are being driven by biology to an extent that is just… human beings have a remarkable level of neuro-plasticity but I’m no longer sure that matters on a macro level. The best we can do is have compassion on an individual level on people of both genders that get caught in the middle of this “war”.

  55. Andre,

    I disagree with your idea that morality is inbuilt/inborn. If this were true, we wouldn’t have so much complicated wrangling with respect to moral dilemmas.

    I agree there’s a natural streak of human benevolence, but that isn’t the same as a built-in moral theory.

    Also, my morality is not the result of “subconscious programming” derived from Christian theology. I’m rather militantly anti-Christian on all philosophical levels.

    I agree morality (or normative ethics, which is what you’re implicitly meaning by the term) is a set of principles which are basically means to the protection/preservation/accumulation of certain values. That doesn’t mean there is no reason to value that-which-is-valued. Your argument here is a non-sequitur, unless you are implicitly arguing that “the good” and “the evil” must be some sort of immanent essence (this is a proposition I reject on epistemological grounds).

    Ginkgo,

    I agree the stigma about class distinction is an important element of the phenomenon we’re discussing. If I may suggest another factor though: nationalism (particularly in the case of the US). After throwing off the British during the War of Independence it makes sense that Americans in general dislike anything that smacks of Britishness (gin and tea, for instance, both used to be VERY rarely drank (and tea still is rare), except for martinis… but gin is now becoming okay in the US).

    MaleLiberation,

    Thank you very much for your reply and your deep and thoughtful comment.

    I agree masculinity is very much a “warrior culture.” I don’t think that this pursuit of “warrior values” is somehow a recent social construct… I think it goes back very much to the early days of the species.

    I agree Darwin and evolutionary theory generally have a lot of room for collaboration and co-operation as opposed to dog-eat-dog competition. I’m an economist by education, and whilst economics is typically stigmatized as “dog eat dog” that’s actually very untrue… especially in the works of pro-market economists, you’ll find tons of emphasis on positive-sum games and mutual benefit and co-operation. Frankly I think the equation of free markets with “dog eat dog” is really propaganda perpetuated by the political left (no offense, but I say this after reading heaps of economic literature).

    The warrior culture, I think it came from scarcity and how back in the past resources were accumulated and maintained principally by direct physical violence. Pillaging was more common than trading. Back in the past, both producing AND pillaging were mostly conducted through physical force, and frequently someone who was a good producer would be a good pillager as well.

    In the modern world, this equation no longer exists. Economic value is generated mostly by capital, research, enterprise and innovation, with physical labor being a small amount (in terms of value produced). Prosperity tends to correlate with peace and war is generally acknowledged as a path to economic ruin. Once, the pillager and producer required similar skill-sets. Now, they require rather divergent skill-sets.

    We still need warriors and we still need producers, but our gender system hasn’t caught up with modernity; it sees warrior culture as a goldmine, yet we all know how militarism and fascism tend to undermine prosperity and peace.

    So I’d argue that warrior culture is an aspect of the gender system, and not a new social construct.

    Thanks very much for your comment and I’m glad you enjoyed reading my post!

  56. Andre,

    I’m not MaleLiberation but I read the paper you mentioned… I have to say it strikes me as deeply solipsistic and US-centric.

    For one, it defines conservatism in terms of ‘leave us alone’ and ‘competition’ – at best this may reflect free market economics but conservatism has ceased being about that. Today’s conservatives, in the US at least, are just as inclined towards cronyism as the left. They certainly don’t believe in laissez-faire with respect to gay people (so much for ‘leave us alone’).

    Not only that, but frankly it is QUITE possible to portray free market economics in a way which appeals to r-selected values.
    R-selection means less in-group loyalty (which inclines towards individualism), higher preference for novelty (and thus new products/ideas/experiences, both of which are greatly abundant beyond historical norms in more freed-market societies), aiming towards abundance and prosperity (the historical record is clear that more freed-market societies are better at this than more centrally-controlled societies), etc. The only issue which separates pure markets from the R-selected psychology is that of competition (which, like I said, is a greatly overstated and mischaracterized element of free markets, and frankly the simple fact is that since market economies are positive-sum games which “grow the size of the pie” they’re in many respects LESS competitive (in the sense of “their gain doesn’t imply my loss”) than the alternatives) and safety nets (which are only ONE dimension of an economy… one can support a safety net whilst wanting less regulation, less cronyism, and less government intervention).

    Not only that but the framing language of this article really shows a bias. For instance, they describe Conservatism as “believing in retaliation” and as a consequence more militaristic and less diplomatic… This presupposes that every war which the politicians want to declare is a retaliatory war. I think we can all accept how naive this is.

    Also, the issue of “conservative parenting” being based on heavily investing in a child… so, conservatives treasure and love their children more than liberals? Really? Frankly, I don’t think psychopathic child-beating jesus-fascist nutcases like James Dobson advocate strategies which reflect a high level of “investment” in a child. The simple fact is there is still a significant level of disagreement as to WHAT KIND of parenting results in a child who is capable and competent, and frankly I do NOT think that “spare the rod, spoil the child” and religious indoctrination result in capable, competent children.

    Also, in the brief history of political philosophy, not everyone has understood the “issues” to be on a liberal/conservative spectrum. Honestly, I think that spectrum is a product of the 50s/60s/70s counterculture, where free markets got associated with social conservatism and hawkish anti-communism, with the vice-versa applying to anti-market economics…. the American Old Right (pre-New-Deal) was highly averse to foreign intervention, preferring instead to build a prosperous America. Indeed, interventionism was highly aligned with the “progressives” (who were anti-free-market and also socially conservative in many ways) of the time, who argued that America had a duty to rescue and civilize and enlighten the world by force.

    In continental Europe, the “free markets = social conservatism” equation is far less strident, as well.

    Finally, some of the greatest institutional supporters of monogamy and ‘traditional’ parenting, such as the Roman Catholic Church, are virulently anti-free-markets. Look at Pope Paul IV or the current Pope Francis for some fantastic examples of economic stupidity.

    Frankly, the article (to me) reeks of an attempt to biologize contemporary American “Team Red”/”Team Blue” cheerleading.

  57. YetAnotherCommenter,

    You are ignoring the essence of the idea by shifting superficial elements around and relying on a simplification. Life is not simple and psychopaths can manipulate both segments of the population for their own personal benefit, but when doing so, they must treat each segment according to its nature. I have long given up on “politics” so I couldn’t care less about any politician or political party, or even movement/ideology, because while I have a strong libertarian core, I also think in many ways libertarians are delusional. It doesn’t matter if what the paper calls “Conservatism”/”Liberalism” goes by the name of something else (and often it has). It doesn’t matter exactly how the culture expresses these impulses, and naturally this is likely to have changed and still be changing as a result of the agricultural and the industrial-scientific revolution. It’s also key to remember that both groups, but especially r-trait groups, have a strong drive to deceive and control the other. The delusion that women are now “independent” because they are given useless degrees with useless knowledge to perform useless jobs is part of that, an attempt to trick K-traited individuals to accept r-traited individuals as being like them. My impression is that women were more truly independent fifty years ago than they are today. I see the division that it describes in South America and in Europe too so I don’t get the “US-centric” thing. I will repeat this: the dynamics are complex and involve a mixture of biology and culture.

    “They certainly don’t believe in laissez-faire with respect to gay people (so much for ‘leave us alone’).”

    This little sentence makes me wonder if you really did read the link. It specifically addresses this. My own thought is that human beings are complex creatures and that while homosexuality is most often an r-trait development, and as a consequence naturally despised by K-traited individuals, this is far from the end of the story.

    “Not only that, but frankly it is QUITE possible to portray free market economics in a way which appeals to r-selected values.”

    The argument is not that human evolution (both genetic and cultural) is somehow driven by the “good” K-traits, which naturally lead to a perfect free-market utopia. K-traits, and this is clearly stated in the paper, often lead to gang warfare, pillaging and slavery. The dynamic between these two may have very well made what we call free market economics possible. For all we know, it may have also caused the agricultural revolution.

    “The only issue which separates pure markets from the R-selected psychology is that of competition”

    And what would you know, that is exactly the biggest problem free market advocates have to deal with.

    “This presupposes that every war which the politicians want to declare is a retaliatory war. I think we can all accept how naive this is.”

    Seriously, that is not what the paper argues at all.

    “Also, the issue of “conservative parenting” being based on heavily investing in a child… so, conservatives treasure and love their children more than liberals?”

    Yes. I don’t think you can seriously deny this as a valid generalization.

    “Really? Frankly, I don’t think psychopathic child-beating jesus-fascist nutcases like James Dobson advocate strategies which reflect a high level of “investment” in a child.”

    That’s because you are operating from an r-selected frame which does not perceive this as investment for several different reasons. I am not familiar with James Dobson so I can’t address him specifically but you are clearly missing the point here. Among other things, there is the fact that what raises the best children depends on the society in which that child will live. The spartans ruthlessly abused boys and spartan men were famous among the greeks for their “virtue”.

    “The simple fact is there is still a significant level of disagreement as to WHAT KIND of parenting results in a child who is capable and competent, and frankly I do NOT think that “spare the rod, spoil the child” and religious indoctrination result in capable, competent children.”

    Please, enough of this expecting human beings to be perfect and arguing against a group because it isn’t. I think the evidence shows that single-mothers who use the power of the state to extract child-support from the father, while also keeping the father away from the child, are doing far more harm to society than married christian couples.

    “In continental Europe, the “free markets = social conservatism” equation is far less strident, as well.”

    Not as much as you seem to think. No, social conservatives are not all Mises-loving free market advocates. However, the division described is quite clear in Europe.

    “Finally, some of the greatest institutional supporters of monogamy and ‘traditional’ parenting, such as the Roman Catholic Church, are virulently anti-free-markets. Look at Pope Paul IV or the current Pope Francis for some fantastic examples of economic stupidity.”

    I have great disdain for Pope Francis, however, you are mistaken to assume that the catholic church is virulently anti-free-markets.

    “Frankly, the article (to me) reeks of an attempt to biologize contemporary American “Team Red”/”Team Blue” cheerleading.”

    Then perhaps you should step outside that reality for a moment in order to recognize how universal it is.

  58. YetAnotherCommenter,

    The only reason I posted that is because I recognize the dynamic it describes in gender issues, something the author does not. The author assumes women to be more centered in K-traits. This is true only to a very limited degree. Women are more sexually active (and have a sharper age-related decline in sexual activity), have more partners, begin sexual activity earlier and quite frankly, are more likely to cheat than men. It’s not surprising that women are very attached to a more Anticompetitive world-view and have a sense of detachment from their K-traited male partners (they can be replaced with the K-traited men from the enemy village if necessary). Yet at the same time, have a deep attraction to that K-hero type. At this point I’ll say the obvious, these are generalizations which have sizable exceptions and conformity to these roles is in part a cultural thing and both biology and culture have many moving parts interacting with one another. The author of that paper is focused on the relationship between males (which is the heart of what we call politics) and somewhat ignores the other half of the human population and how that other half interacts, inherits, and passes on these traits.

  59. Andre,

    Obviously culture and politics and biology are weaved together in a complicated pattern, but I still believe the paper itself greatly oversimplifies and ignores subtle detail, particularly in its early stages and also in the conclusion (where it paints the conservative mentality as some sort of heroic adventurer type… and frankly I disagree with that assessment) in such ways as to be rather flattering to the “conservative” temperment.

    Yes, the paper addressed homosexuality (although frankly, I am also a biosocial interactionist on sexual orientation so I don’t accept a purely-biological explanation, although obviously we’ve discovered some biological correlates for homosexuality). I did read the paper.

    I’m not saying the paper is worthless, but I do think it has a definite bias in how it frames things and I also think it imposes a false-dichotomy ideologically… it barely even addresses issues like libertarianism, the various kinds of socialism, fascism and also the fact that much of how ideologies are perceived is due to framing effects: like I said, the association of free markets with “cuttthroat competition” strikes me as highly cultural rather than based on how markets actually operate (which, yes, is often a problem market advocates have to deal with, but like I said I think the association is cultural rather than innately biological). Again, the complexities of political ideology when viewed historically really undermine the ‘liberal-conservative’ dichotomy… how can this theory explain 1930′s progressivism? How can it explain classical liberalism (which trumpeted equality and brotherhood and voluntary co-operation rather than “competition to weed out the weak” (which is what some on the left characterize it as))?

    It seems to me that even if we accept the “two evolved temperments which have some influence on overall personality” proposition (which is not an unreasonable argument), the paper takes for granted that certain personality traits automatically lead to seeing specific social systems in a specific way. This is where I think the paper starts to make shaky conclusions.

    Do I think temperment effects politics, and temperment is strongly influenced by biology? Yes. But going from temperment to politics is clearly a complex, multi-stage process which seems very subject to social/environmental and intellectual/worldview influences. Whilst yes, the paper DOES make concessions to this, I find the concessions relatively modest in the face of some of the grand and sweeping statements made (which a lot of the time DO associate more positive qualities with K-selection than r-selection).

    As for the issue of children, yes, I disagree that liberals love their children ‘less’ than conservatives do. Conservatives seem to want to HAVE more children and talk a lot about ‘family’ but I don’t think they are more attached or more loving. Conservative women are probably more involved with their children (due to traditional gender roles) but by the same token, conservative men are probably less involved.

    Honestly, the idea that one side “loves their children more” is a pretty nasty defamatory smear. And I don’t say this out of any ideological favoritism for liberals or disdain for conservatives (as a libertarian I dislike both sides) but as someone who thinks “you just believe that because You Hate Children” is a really low blow, argumentatively.

    You are right that the Spartans ruthlessly abused their boys. But the issue is whether or not conservative parenting actually creates more capable/competent individuals, and I don’t think it does. Conservative value systems are arguably very mismatched to today’s modern world, after all.

    I do agree that single mothers who are bad mothers and keeping kids away from their fathers out of spite whilst extracting money from the fathers via child support is bad, but Christian conservative parenting has caused plenty of damage to individuals. Look at kids who were raised Evangelical and trying to get beyond their fear of hell, for example. Look at people who were raised with massive amounts of psychosexual shame. Look at religious hysteria over the evils of masturbation.

    I’m not trying to say that all parents who have a religion are evil. I’m simply saying that you can’t ignore the damage caused by only one side.

    Honestly I think the “social freedom/economic freedom” tradeoff is a lot less pronounced than you think. Hell, let’s take Canada… are the conservatives in Canada trying to re-abolish gay marriage? And are they nearly as hysterical about abortion as American conservatives? Canada actually recently overtook the US in economic freedom rankings, and yet Canadians themselves still seem to perceive themselves as less “dog eat dog” than Americans. Not only that, but the simple fact is that many things often CLASSED as “civil liberties” are equally economic liberties… legalizing drugs could be perceived as permitting free commerce OR a civil liberty boost.

    Regarding the Roman Catholic Church, I must disagree. They have always condemned free markets and considered them sinful. They go far beyond merely wanting safety nets to help the poor. Papal encyclicals condemn free markets and the profit motive at the very base, so there’s no way they can be “just” arguing for a mixed economy.

    To summarize, my biggest problem with the paper is that is leaps over a huge number of steps and reduces far too much complexity to biology. The causality between biology to temperment to values to politics is clearly complex, like the paper admits, but after doing that the paper buries itself in sweeping generalizations casting conservatives as heroic pseudo-Nietzschean overmen responsible for everything good.

    If we say there are two reproductive-strategy-induced TENDENCIES which can overall influence political inclinations to some degree, well that’s fair. But the role culture plays in how various ideologies are portrayed is clearly extremely important here.

    With regards to gender, you do raise an interesting speculation… K-selected vs. R-selected across gender. I agree that K-selected traits do seem to be prevalent in the kind of men popular with a very large proportion of women. But in many ways I think that often, what we could describe as the same ‘trait’ is expressed differently between the genders. Women compete vigorously as do men, just through different means… however, as the paper said, the “anti-competitive” nature of r-selection is really just another form of competitive strategy, which simply disguises its own competitiveness.

    Perhaps it is possible that ON AVERAGE, men are more inclined to be k-selected and women r-selected. That said, if r/k selection is determined by civilizational resource abundance and the like, I don’t see why this would be true since civilizations contain people of both sexes. Perhaps you could argue that due to women being taken care of by men the women had less resource pressure and thus were more r-selected, BUT I don’t see any way of really testing this.

    Anyway, I should point out I don’t think the paper is worthless. Clearly biology is one of the factors which influence temperment and experiences which inform values and preferences which impacts on how people evaluate different things. That’s not an unfair proposition. I do, however, think the paper has a tendency to emphasize conservatism as good and also has a parochial and US-centric approach to political ideologies/discussions. I mean, contrast the heroic portrayals of conservative temperments with British conservative writer Michael Oakshotte (?). A clear gulf emerges.

  60. YetAnotherCommenter,

    “but I still believe the paper itself greatly oversimplifies and ignores subtle detail,”

    It is very difficult to discuss anything without oversimplifying and ignoring subtle detail.

    “Yes, the paper addressed homosexuality (although frankly, I am also a biosocial interactionist on sexual orientation so I don’t accept a purely-biological explanation, although obviously we’ve discovered some biological correlates for homosexuality).”

    The article does not claim that sexual orientation is purely biological, or even that r/K is purely genetic. There is such a thing as genetic expression, both in epigenetic cross-generational terms and in simple “in this environment, the gene expresses this way, in this other environment it expresses itself another way”.

    “I did read the paper.”

    Then how can you claim it paints Conservative types as “leave me alone”, when it actually does essentially the opposite?

    ” how can this theory explain 1930′s progressivism? How can it explain classical liberalism (which trumpeted equality and brotherhood and voluntary co-operation rather than “competition to weed out the weak” (which is what some on the left characterize it as))?”

    What part of it needs explaining to you?

    “Honestly, the idea that one side “loves their children more” is a pretty nasty defamatory smear.”

    I find it odd that you think one side does not love their children more, regardless of which side you think is more nurturing.

    “Perhaps you could argue that due to women being taken care of by men the women had less resource pressure and thus were more r-selected, BUT I don’t see any way of really testing this.”

    As far as I can tell, it is self-evident and does not even require “testing”. However, it is also not at all difficult to test. This pressure and its effects is exactly the point of your post above.

    “Conservative value systems are arguably very mismatched to today’s modern world, after all.”

    This has mostly to do with the fact that today’s world is geared to r-traits. It is also an unsustainable civilizational state which will likely change into a much more K-traited world in the not so distant future, probably as a result of war and civil unrest. I’m pretty sure it won’t be the metrosexual atheists that thrive under those circumstances. However, human history has added a major element to the evolutionary dynamics: nuclear bombs. This may have been one of the drivers of post-WW2 liberalism, as armies lost most of their importance to the survival of a society.

    “Look at kids who were raised Evangelical”

    In general, they are far healthier and happier than those who were raised by atheist single-mothers. They are also much more likely to be economically self-sufficient. Nowhere is the argument made that K-dominant individuals are demi-Gods with magical parenting skills.

  61. YetAnotherCommenter,

    You raise a lot of small points that I would like to address but it would be very time-consuming and not very productive to do so. At some points you have raised an issue and then resolved it yourself in the next line, so I’m not entirely sure if I need to go into them. As a consequence, I’ll restrain what I have to say to the above for now.

  62. “Then how can you claim it paints Conservative types as “leave me alone”, when it actually does essentially the opposite?”

    The first paragraph characterizes conservatism as:

    “Some have asserted that each individual must be left alone, to sort his own affairs, and bear the responsibility for his decisions, regardless of whether he thrives or whithers.”

    This characterization is repeated throughout the paper.

    Maybe we’re talking past each other since I was talking about conservatISM rather than the temperments of conservaTIVES. Still, I don’t think this is a mismatch between ideology and temperment but rather a mischaracterization of the ideology.

    “What part of it needs explaining to you?”

    Basically, how almost any political ideology can be described/framed in terms which make it palatable to r-type or K-type selection. This would explain a lot, however it would imperil the paper’s insistence on conservatism as the embodiment of K-type traits.

    “This has mostly to do with the fact that today’s world is geared to r-traits. It is also an unsustainable civilizational state which will likely change into a much more K-traited world in the not so distant future, probably as a result of war and civil unrest. I’m pretty sure it won’t be the metrosexual atheists that thrive under those circumstances.”

    k-traits, according to the paper, are based on environments where people are fighting over scarce resources. r-traits are those based on a lack of scarcity and a desire to “go forth and multiply” (so to speak). Interestingly enough, in today’s world we see the opposite – low birth rates in the relatively wealthy west and high birth rates outside, but I guess this can be explained through the presence of birth control in the west.

    If you’re correct, that a civilization can’t have too much r-traits before collapsing in on itself… you’re essentially arguing that widespread prosperity is self-destructive and unsustainable. Is that a fair summary?

    If r-traits are the product of prosperity (and I think that’s a fair argument), and too much r-traits will cause a civilizational collapse, we kind of end up in the Neoconservative area where war is required to “re-masculinize” the nation as well as deplete “surplus” resources.

    “In general, they are far healthier and happier than those who were raised by atheist single-mothers.”

    Perhaps, but two parents are better than one and this I would not dispute. I haven’t gotten into too much literature but if there’s a study comparing secular two-parent families to evangelical two-parent families I’d like to see it.

  63. “Perhaps you could argue that due to women being taken care of by men the women had less resource pressure and thus were more r-selected, BUT I don’t see any way of really testing this.”

    The paper discusses the role of the amygdala, so I thought I would check on this. I’m no neurologist but I found this with a quick search:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amygdala#Sex_differences

    Which as I understand backs up the idea of gender based r/K selection.

  64. Andre,

    Thanks for the Amygdyla detail. Interesting, but I don’t think it backs up r/K selection.

    What it basically means (the “sex differences” section) is that stressful/negative stimuli will promote more active responses in men… more fight or flight… BUT (here’s the tradeoff) men have less clear memories of such events so they’re less ‘thoughtful’ or levelheaded about it compared to women.

    This certainly does support the idea that men were selected for action in the face of danger, but it also throws a bit of doubt on the stereotype that men are “naturally” more levelheaded than women.

    It also supports something I’ve argued for a while… saying that rationality is inherently masculine makes little sense because masculinity has historically been about the physical rather than mental capacities (brainy guys are often seen as socially emasculated).

    Interesting information. Thank you.

    But does it support r/K selection? It certainly supports “men being thrown into risk” and women not, but its hard to stretch that to r/K selection.

  65. “Some have asserted that each individual must be left alone, to sort his own affairs, and bear the responsibility for his decisions, regardless of whether he thrives or whithers.”

    Yes but that has a context, it’s not an isolated statement.

    “If you’re correct, that a civilization can’t have too much r-traits before collapsing in on itself… you’re essentially arguing that widespread prosperity is self-destructive and unsustainable. Is that a fair summary?”

    That is not exactly what I’m claiming. Part of what makes the current system unsustainable is precisely the presence of birth control. However, that is certainly something to consider.

    “If r-traits are the product of prosperity (and I think that’s a fair argument), and too much r-traits will cause a civilizational collapse, we kind of end up in the Neoconservative area where war is required to “re-masculinize” the nation as well as deplete “surplus” resources.”

    What? I sure hope you never get to be king because you have a strange lack of imagination when it comes to solving problems. War is r-trait inducing as the more K-traited men get killed off and/or separated from their wives. This is even talked about in the paper with regards to WW2. Civil war perhaps, but that would require r-traited individuals to be targeted instead of K-traited ones killing each other. It is necessary to restrain the r-selected population through military (legal/political) and economic means so their power does not grow disproportionate. For this reason, I think the modern conception of “democracy” is entirely unsustainable. Things like universal suffrage are just plain idiotic. If I had absolute power, I might be able to come up with a solution but I don’t and I doubt anyone will. There will be a collapse and human beings (if they don’t get wiped out) will need to rebuild systems from the ground up.

    “Perhaps, but two parents are better than one and this I would not dispute. I haven’t gotten into too much literature but if there’s a study comparing secular two-parent families to evangelical two-parent families I’d like to see it.”

    A secular two-parent family is likely composed of K-type individuals, especially today where an r-type woman can become a single mother with relative ease regardless of which type the man is. I wonder what the statistics are regarding self-identified political affiliation, and stand on specific issues, within two-parent households (with reasonably long marriages). I also wonder about the personality profile of monogamous homosexual couples that desire to raise children.

  66. “but it also throws a bit of doubt on the stereotype that men are “naturally” more levelheaded than women.”

    I don’t care about “levelheaded” stereotypes, and I think they are based on other things. However, the fact that you mentioned this has reminded me of two things. The Anonymous Conservative website (where I got the paper) talks about amygdala hijacking, in fact, it aims to use it as a political tool against “Liberals”. Could this be the source of the stereotype, a greater propensity to this hijacking? There is also a section in the paper discussing the inability of r-selected individuals to perceive danger as dangerous. This means the response could be better termed “oblivious” than “level-headed”. It would make sense that women would develop a greater willingness to remain passive in dangerous circumstances, due to war selection. Note however that the study mentioned involved watching a horror movie, the context may be relevant to what the response was.

    “It also supports something I’ve argued for a while… saying that rationality is inherently masculine makes little sense because masculinity has historically been about the physical rather than mental capacities (brainy guys are often seen as socially emasculated).”

    I don’t get how these things are related. I will mention this however: intelligence is highly attractive in males. It is not “being brainy” that emasculates men, but the emotional intelligence aspects linked to these sorts of men. If the brainy man is someone that can be easily manipulated, he is essentially a slave to other men and not particularly valuable. The bully that gets the nerd to do his homework for him is inherently a higher status male despite not being able to do that homework. I’ve seen women talk about how they think nerdy guys are sexy but expressing frustration with other sides of their personality that makes it difficult for them to start and continue a relationship with them. I’m not in the mood to think about intellectual gender differences so I won’t even try to address that.

  67. “Note however that the study mentioned involved watching a horror movie, the context may be relevant to what the response was.”

    For example, perhaps the horror movie triggered a mate evaluating response in the female brain (which guy is going to win this bloody battle?).

  68. “Women compete vigorously as do men, just through different means…”

    I’m interested to know exactly what you mean by this.

    “Basically, how almost any political ideology can be described/framed in terms which make it palatable to r-type or K-type selection. This would explain a lot, however it would imperil the paper’s insistence on conservatism as the embodiment of K-type traits.”

    I don’t think it can. Your attempt to paint free market economics as “cooperative instead of competitive” and “therefore more r-type”, is ridiculously weak, as is the drug argument. Libertarians are a fringe group. It is interesting that the Soviet Union started as an experiment in both socialist economics and sexual liberation (before the pill and government funded condoms). I’m not familiar with what might have caused russian society to be dominated by r-types, but off the top of my head I can think of massive casualties from the war(s). The result was huge numbers of street children, which were so broken they had to be rounded up and killed en mass (not that the soviets cared much about having valid reasons to kill people). With time, K-traits started to dominate the soviet society because they became essential for survival (you couldn’t eat with government handouts) and that sexual freedom vanished. Now Russia is an odd (to us) mixture, with K-types dominating politically. Perhaps the demographic death spiral will reverse. AIDs may have played a critical role in thinning out the r-type ranks (all of which makes one wonder about Africa…). I don’t watch TV and haven’t been paying attention to the whole Russia vs Gays thing, so I don’t actually know what it is about, but I suspect it’s here to stay and likely closer to what will happen in the west than the utopian dreams of some.

  69. “I’m interested to know exactly what you mean by this.”

    Look at how women bully (see “Queen Bees and Wannabes”) and sabotage and attack each other (slut-shaming etc). The methods… social rather than physical bullying… differ from typical male bullying but the process is generally the same.

    Remember that the paper emphasized how r/K strategies are BOTH competitive strategies… the r strategy simply disguises itself as noncompetitive when it is in fact simply another form of competition.

    I am not framing market economics as ‘cooperative rather than competitive’. What I am saying is that the latter is greatly overstated, and the former is far more present within the system than commonly assumed. The “Dog eat Dog” image is political propaganda, frankly.

    The foundation of a market economy is voluntary exchange for mutual benefit, i.e. a positive-sum game. The more market-oriented a society is, the better people are off within it. There has been NO engine which has generated mass prosperity more effectively than markets (as imperfect they are in reality). Commerce and continued flourishing depends on peace… as Bastiat said, “if goods do not cross borders, armies will.”

    I hate to whip out credentials, but I am an economist in real life. The idea that markets are fundamentally about “weeding out the weak” is simply untrue – of course the rich get richer but in absolute terms so have the poor (and tons of the world’s poverty is due to the government making social mobility harder to achieve). Markets, when you look beyond how they’re portrayed in the works of the anti-market left, are probably the least dog-eat-dog structure there is.

    Hard ideological libertarianism is indeed a fringe group but generally libertarian inclinations aren’t as rare as you might think.

    With respect to the Soviet Union, I’m not sure describing it as “r-type” is entirely fair. Remember that Lenin once said “he that does not work will not eat” – certainly not the ‘soft hearted compassion’ associated (by some) with socialism. Also, many early Marxists argued that homosexuality was an abomination caused by capitalist decadence.

    Anyway, I think we’re at an impasse, because frankly I think that you’re really exaggerating things with this secular apocalpyticism. The article’s qualifying statements repeatedly emphasize the non-deterministic “subtle influence” nature of r/k selection, and there are tons of factors which go into constructing a person and their political beliefs (including a person’s own free will and rationality). This cannot really be squared with “demographic death-spirals” and oncoming biologically-determined collapses.

    So I’m proposing to end this discussion and civilly agree to disagree.

  70. “Look at how women bully (see “Queen Bees and Wannabes”) and sabotage and attack each other (slut-shaming etc).”

    “Remember that the paper emphasized how r/K strategies are BOTH competitive strategies… the r strategy simply disguises itself as noncompetitive when it is in fact simply another form of competition.”

    I think you are completely misunderstanding the difference. Notice how you only manage to come up with a negative example. That is the fundamental distinction here.

    The paper uses the example of a fish species to illustrate this. Now, it completely ignores the gender issue within that example, but even then it’s a useful illustration. The K-selected male fish compete to determine which has the best control over their skin pigmentation and physical fitness in general. The r-selected fish bypass that and win the mating game by fraud (pretending to be females). That is certainly a form of competition, but it is a meta-competition, the r-selected male fish are in a sense parasites within the species, they compete in the same sense that an external predator competes. Their survival strategy is based on exploiting the weakness of their own kind.

    “The foundation of a market economy is voluntary exchange for mutual benefit, i.e. a positive-sum game.”

    You don’t have to sell me on the benefits of a free market.

    “Commerce and continued flourishing depends on peace… as Bastiat said, “if goods do not cross borders, armies will.””

    No idea why you added this to the reply but Clausewitz said something interesting about peace. “Conquerors are always lovers of peace. They would rather take your country unopposed.” Why do so many people equal war with “armies crossing borders”? As far as I can tell, there is nothing inherently bad about armies crossing borders. The problem is what they do within those borders. If an army is defending a government which enslaves you, or if that army is defending a government which protects you, which difference does it make where its soldiers were born?

    “Remember that Lenin once said “he that does not work will not eat””

    You are ignoring context. This is about securing a monopoly over food and starving political enemies, not a meritocratic principle. It’s explicitly a control mechanism. He that does not work -for us- shall not eat. Which is used to provide psychological relief by contrast. That is, “If you work for us, you shall eat” is the message. You are using an out of context slogan to disguise the obvious nature of an entire ideology. An r-type society is dominated by the illusion of prosperity, not compassion. This illusion comes up against the hard reality that the prosperity isn’t there. Why? If there is no food, it’s because someone took it. We need to tax the rich some more. Compassion is a K-selected trait, one which is exploited by r-types. r-types are not compassionate, they are selfish and short-sighted. Because in an environment of high mortality, making temporary sacrifices (not eating your seeds and being a team player) is stupid. Planning requires longevity.

    “Anyway, I think we’re at an impasse, because frankly I think that you’re really exaggerating things with this secular apocalpyticism.”

    I don’t think so. The world we know is entirely unsustainable. I do not believe this -because- of r/K selection theory, it only helped me understand some of the dynamics involved.

    “The article’s qualifying statements repeatedly emphasize the non-deterministic “subtle influence” nature of r/k selection, and there are tons of factors which go into constructing a person and their political beliefs (including a person’s own free will and rationality). This cannot really be squared with “demographic death-spirals” and oncoming biologically-determined collapses.”

    Human beings all carry attributes from both r and K types and are capable of flipping (to some degree) based on the environment. The problem is that this is not a “genetic” issue, but an ecology issue. Subtle influences tip balances in dramatic ways. It’s not about individual human beings and their free will, it’s about the dynamics within society. Within nature, boom and bust cycles are very normal. Within human history, boom and bust cycles are very normal. If you are betting on an end to those cycles, I think you are overestimating the power of “free will and rationality”. Sparta lasted for about a thousand years, constantly struggling to sustain ecological balance in its society. I very much doubt anything standing today has the resilience to survive the titanic shifts we are undergoing. This does not bother me because I don’t particularly like what is standing today, however, they didn’t have nuclear technology when Rome fell. This does bother me.

  71. “So I’m proposing to end this discussion and civilly agree to disagree.”

    I think the idea is helpful in understanding gender dynamics but I realize the discussion itself is pointless. I also recognize some of the weaknesses in some of the things I wrote, but it would take way too much effort to put “the walls” supporting them into writing. I’ll let it go and restrain my desire to scratch this itch.

  72. Hello,

    This was an exceedingly interestingly read. It was nice to read a unified theory of gender from a completely non-feminist perspective.

    However, for me there are numerous problems with your theory. They seem to stem for me, primarily, from what seems to be a complete unawareness of anthroposlogical knowledge which can shed huge light on speculations about mankinds past.

    This is certainly not a criticism which is specific to you. It is a criticism which can be applied to any field which attempts to logically speculate about our past whilst completely ignoring the contemporary empirical evidence which could inform it.

    The two most obvious disciplines to come in for such a critique are philosophy and economics. From what i can see you are clearly studied/are studying philosophy and I think a more empirically grounded critique well temper some of the more fantastical claims you made.

    I have just gone through your disposition here making notes and I’d be quite interested in engaging in offering my critique (coming from a generally socially scientific and in particular anothropological point of view) and presenting a theory of my own but would like to know that you are interested in a critical dialogue before embarking on this potentially time-consuming task.

    If not, all the best anyway. Despite the numerous criticisms I have of your theories (I have harsher criticisms for most other gender theorists) you are starting to shine the light on a theory of gender that doesn’t start from the assumption of the male domination of the female in all and every area of life. This should be applauded.

  73. H. E. Pennypacker,

    Its interesting you target economics and philosophy for being “unempirical” – philosophy and economics are my areas of education. And I am an empiricist, philosophically speaking.

    I think characterizing my theory as unempirical is unfair, because it is based on experiences under the gender system. I can defend this theory by reference to our popular culture’s stories (see my article on “Objectification and the ‘Male Power Fantasy’”), my experiences as well as the experiences of people of both sexes whom have agreed with this.

    Whilst I do attempt to find some sort of logical set of principles that explain the gender system… some basic common demoninator… I do so by looking at the evidence. I don’t begin with an analytic truth and start making deductions.

    Indeed, the reason I constructed my theory is because I believe feminist theory fails to explain the experiences of men, particularly socially emasculated men. I think this is because ultimately, feminist theory begins with a dialectical pseudo-monism which treats femininity as the “norm” and defines masculinity EXCLUSIVELY in terms of its relationship to femininity, thus casting anything “non-masculine” as “feminine” (see my article “Beyond The Binary Gender Structure” for more) and thus reducing socially-emasculated males down to “honorary females”… but if this were true, socially emasculated men would be treated like women; yet socially emasculated men cannot access any female privileges (or many male privileges (which are usually ‘real man’ privileges) for that matter).

    “Don’t hit a girl” doesn’t protect “girly men” from being beaten up. Ergo, society has more than two gender states… this is something my theory attempts to explain.

    Another reason which I think makes feminist theory inadequate is that it (correctly) sees gender essentialism as the epistemological underpinning of our system, but INCORRECTLY assumes that both males and females are understood through an Aristotelian Essentialist lens. As I pointed out this is true for women but men get Platonic Essentialism.

    So yes, whilst I DO attempt to draft a ‘blueprint’ of our society’s gender system, I believe my method is one of abstracting from empirical data… and thus fundamentally empirical… as opposed to being a rationalistic method.

    I know this may not count for much but I’ve had positive feedback on my theoretical works from both men and women, including feminists and masculists of varying stripes. The theory seems to fit with at least some of their experiences and do so better than other theories, so even if my theory may not be unassailable it seems to have a degree of explanatory power.

    With respect to anthropology, my theory is predicated on Cultural Materialism (which makes sense on a basic logical level… i.e. how people deal with the physical challenges of providing for their needs is clearly going to influence their culture) and also has empirical predictive power… I mean, Japan is a relatively resource-scarce nation (landwise) so is it any wonder that they got a lot of their food from the oceans? Further, is it any wonder that the Japanese aesthetic tradition focuses on minimalism and efficiency… trying to extract the most artistic value from the smallest amount of inputs?

    The facts I used at the basis of my case don’t seem to be easily contestible… at least to me. Let’s recount what they are:

    1) Only female-bodied individuals are able to get pregnant (whilst a small number aren’t, the generality holds)

    2) Life was a LOT harder back in the early days of our species, child mortality rates were far greater without modern medical care, resources were a hell of a lot more scarce, and as such most children did not survive to reproduce.

    3) The primary factor of production was labor… muscle-power was the main thing that increased our ability to secure our needs and wants.

    4) Thus, to grow the population (in order to improve our quality of life), females thus faced a very heavy reproductive burden.

    Do you have any empirical evidence against these claims?

    The fact that the human population grew so spectacularly with the industrial revolution and the progress of medicine… the fact that the first challenges to gender roles came from relatively well-off people in Enlightenment-era Europe… the fact that men of the aristocracy could always avoid the tasks which form the basis of our ideal of “manliness”… the fact that early second-wave feminism was originally spurred by the discontent of middle-class housewives of the post-WW2 era (and some of this still survives today… it isn’t unfair to point out the predominance of relatively materially-comfortable white college-educated women in feminism)… all of these facts seem to point towards an economic explanation of the gender system.

    The fact is, I’d love to hear your criticisms. So please, tell me!

    And if you have your own theory? I would absolutely LOVE to hear that! Like I said, the MHRM (and basically the entire field of gender-discussion-coming-from-anti-patriarchy-theory-perspectives) NEEDS more theories, and it NEEDS competing theories. So please, propose your own theory.

    Thank you very much for your response, by the way. I’m glad to have a sympathetic critic, who is in favor of this intellectual project (i.e. a gender theory that doesn’t begin with “patriarchy”) and wants to advance it.

  74. “Indeed, the reason I constructed my theory is because I believe feminist theory fails to explain the experiences of men, particularly socially emasculated men. I think this is because ultimately, feminist theory begins with a dialectical pseudo-monism which treats femininity as the “norm” and defines masculinity EXCLUSIVELY in terms of its relationship to femininity, thus casting anything “non-masculine” as “feminine” (see my article “Beyond The Binary Gender Structure” for more) and thus reducing socially-emasculated males down to “honorary females”… but if this were true, socially emasculated men would be treated like women; yet socially emasculated men cannot access any female privileges (or many male privileges (which are usually ‘real man’ privileges) for that matter).”

    Perhaps this is why people consider females more sensitive and empathic? They assume more sensitive men are like females?

    I honestly think men are more sensitive and empathic than women. Women are more fussy and self-absorbed. Look at women on dating sites if you don’t believe me.

  75. “I honestly think men are more sensitive and empathic than women. Women are more fussy and self-absorbed. Look at women on dating sites if you don’t believe me.”

    I recommend you try to understand r/K selection theory, neoteny and narcissistic personality disorder, and how these things interact.

  76. YAC,

    I didn’t mean to say that your whole theory is unempirical but that your speculations about the distant past are. You’ve offered a list of points which your theory about the development of a gender system seem to be based on:

    “1) Only female-bodied individuals are able to get pregnant (whilst a small number aren’t, the generality holds)”

    No disagreement here

    “2) Life was a LOT harder back in the early days of our species, child mortality rates were far greater without modern medical care, resources were a hell of a lot more scarce, and as such most children did not survive to reproduce.”

    Now here I have a problem. Whilst I have reservations about taking current peoples and taking them as a basis for an evolutionary past the ethnographic record provides very little evidence to support this assertion. People who live by hunting and gathering generally have to work far less than people in any other type of society to procure their means for survival. Many cultures the workload is less than 4 hours of labour a day.

    Now obviously this varies greatly depending on what environment you are in, but even in fairly harsh climates people can procure enough food to live without too much trouble. This brings me to another point – where did this formation of the gdner system take place? Because the cultural forms that will be useful for survival could change drastically depending on whether you’re in England, the Fertile Crescent or a tropical rainforest.

    “3) The primary factor of production was labor… muscle-power was the main thing that increased our ability to secure our needs and wants.”

    I’m not sure that it makes much sense to talk about what hunter and gatherers do as production, but lets leave that to one side for now because that’s a different debate.

    I agree that human ation was the primary means of securing a livelihood. But I don’t follow the idea of increasing our ability to secure our needs and wants. If you inrease the number of people to carry out labour you also increase the number of mouths you have to feed. I don’t see how this would lead to a net increase in the ability to secure food. In fat, it would have the complete opposite effect. The more people the more resources a group wil take from the environment. More people will eventually lead to a reduction in the quality of life.

    “4) Thus, to grow the population (in order to improve our quality of life), females thus faced a very heavy reproductive burden.”

    This point has largely been dealt with above but it provides an opportunity to riase a very relavant point. I don’t think you explicitly say it anywhere but most of what you write about this mythical past seems to be based on the idea that men were procuring most of the food. Women mainly reproduced and men mainly provided for them and children.

    The thing is, when you actually look at the studies that have been done (and there have been a lot) based on the total contribution of food by each gender in hunter-gatherer societies you invariably find that women contribute more food than men.

  77. HEP,
    ” Women mainly reproduced and men mainly provided for them and children.”

    Typhon mentioned this earlier but I want to pick up on this again: this arrangememt is an artifact of industirlaization and viewing it as universal is presentist. It is an artifact of a specifc phase of a specific type of economic organization; it is an innovation, not some state of nature, and it will change.

    If you look at msot documented forgager societies, not just the ones survivng on the edge that are left today, we find that in every food-producing activity men and women were intensely cooperative. The labor of both, often pretty specialized, was essential to a good outcome. If you look at the acorn harvest in pre-contact California or the salmon fishery in the pre-contact PNW – not to mention turning those products into actual food – you see this repeated over and over again through the entire process.

    A big part of the required labor in California was making the baskets needed for processing the food. This required a significant investment of time and even ttrwvel just to get and process the materials before you even started on the basket. Something like this applied in agricultural societies, where if pottery making was done at home, it was mostly done by women. Cooperage on the other hand was a male preserve.

  78. “but if this were true, socially emasculated men would be treated like women; yet socially emasculated men cannot access any female privileges”

    If you go all the way with surgery, you are no longer required to provide military service in Thailand. Which makes me seriously wonder just how fucked up they are that they would put this sort of pressure on young men to mutilate themselves before they turn 18 (what conscripts go through could be accurately described as a year of torture during which they might die). There is also prostitution. Very few men are able to exploit their sexuality as males but a reasonably high(er) number can do it as “feminine males”.

    “(or many male privileges (which are usually ‘real man’ privileges) for that matter).”

    I heard you people make this statement before but I’m here scratching my head trying to find an example of “male privilege”.

  79. “I heard you people make this statement before but I’m here scratching my head trying to find an example of “male privilege”.

    We use the term ironically.

  80. “Do men “slut-murder” each other? Perhaps this happens sometimes but I don’t think it happens that often, at least in the civilized world.”

    We didn’t evolve in the civilized world. Did men slut-murdered each other historically? How else would you explain approach anxiety? I remember reading somewhere that if a man violated a harem in the Inca empire, his entire village was burned to the ground. To ensure harem girls were well taken care of, countless young boys have been turned into eunuch slaves all over the world. And let’s not forget the lynchings of black men for daring to look in the direction of a white woman. That is how extreme mate-guarding can get in human beings.

  81. HEP,

    Thank you for your critique. My response is as follows:

    You argue that in the past, hunter-gatherers worked less to procure their means of survival, measured by time.

    Measurement exclusively by time is deceptive because the effort expended over time needs to be taken into account. Someone who works in a mine for two hours probably expends more effort than someone who works in an office for four.

    Additionally, there’s the issue of “levels of survival” – what did those four hours GET a hunter-gatherer relative to what an eight-hour-a-day office worker gets?

    Whilst securing the bare necessities for subsistence survival may not require too much, human beings want more. We want to rise ABOVE subsistence survival. Life at subsistence is hardly a life of contentment.

    I also absolutely agree that the climate and environment one is in will ultimately influence the culture that results… this is purely in accordance with my culturally materialist basis.

    What hunters and gatherers do IS production. It isn’t “mass production” but is production as defined in economics. But yes, that’s a different debate. Yes, increasing the number of people DOES increase the number of mouths to feed but it ALSO increases the number of hands avaliable to produce. The social norms regarding gender, for men, strongly emphasize that “real manhood” is about not merely pulling one’s own weight but supporting the women and children.. in other words they encourage men to NOT just be “another mouth to feed” but to feed themselves and others.

    You argue that “growing the population would just deplete the resources avaliable which in turn would destroy the quality of life”, but this is only true if you ignore the nomadic nature of early humans. Additionally, you’re ignoring the (modest) gains in knowledge/techniques that helped people be more productive and extract things from the land which were previously impossible to utilize. And jumping forward to today’s world, this whole “limits to growth” thing is frankly just neo-Malthusian propagandizing which has never been proven true and is really just fuel for anti-modernity political ideologies (I’m not suggesting you share them, just pointing this out).

    With respect to the studies you point out… that women contributed more food than men… what kind of food did the women contribute? What was its caloric contribution? What about fats and proteins? And what were the methods of acquisition?

    I think the fact you (correctly) point out can be reconciled with my theory by pointing out that the food women generally acquired was that acquired by low-risk activities that didn’t necessarily interfere with pregnancy. Women can still walk and forage to some degree even when heavily pregnant. Meats and animal fats are generally higher sources of energy than foraged fruits and vegetables and grains, after all.

    In addition to your critique, I’d love to see you outline your positive theory as to how gender roles originated. Simply out of interest.

    Ginkgo,

    I absolutely agree that in hunter-gatherer societies there was massive cooperation between both sexes even on food production activities. However, the activities which women did were those that were less arduous, could be performed relatively safely near home, and thus didn’t interfere with pregnancy.

    Like you said about pottery making… if it could be done at home it was mostly done by women, whereas cooperage was a male preserve because it couldn’t be done domestically.

    Andre,

    Thailand is a different culture on so many levels, but that said MtF transsexuals in Thailand aren’t ENTIRELY treated as women per se… they’re seen as “ladyboys” or “kathoey” (?). Whilst they are legally treated as women, I think (I’m not a lawyer yet alone one familiar with Thai law!), they are socially seen as a different category to women, at least in certain aspects.

    But let’s look at western culture… are gay men (who are generally treated as socially emasculated men) seen as “women”? Can they invoke “don’t hit a girl” and use that to avoid gay-bashing? Can they use damselling? Can they benefit from chivalry? Nope. The “socially emasculated man” is NOT perceived as “a woman” and as such does NOT suffer from merely ‘displaced misogyny’ (which is what the feminists argue).

  82. “But let’s look at western culture… are gay men (who are generally treated as socially emasculated men) seen as “women”?”

    Western culture encompasses a very, very broad range of human interactions. Obviously gay men are not treated exactly like women but to claim they are always treated the same or worse than straight men is just wrong. There is also a broad range of what “gay man” means. The thing is that a gay man is not going to be seen as an idealized form of woman (a mother or wife) because biologically they are infertile and as such there is no mate guarding instinct, only a drive for, or perception of, promiscuity. All of the privileges women are given are derived from mate guarding and r/K selection dynamics, and the residual long-term effects this has on culture. But even then, hijras in India, ladyboys in Thailand and drag queens in the west can enjoy some female advantages simply by looking and acting feminine.

    “Can they invoke “don’t hit a girl” and use that to avoid gay-bashing? Can they use damselling? Can they benefit from chivalry? Nope. The “socially emasculated man” is NOT perceived as “a woman” and as such does NOT suffer from merely ‘displaced misogyny’ (which is what the feminists argue).”

    If you become an honorary pilot, does that entitle you to a six figure salary? I think the argument has some merit, even if ultra-narcissists, sorry I mean feminists, use it out of context and without taking the misandrist element into account.

  83. “Obviously gay men are not treated exactly like women but to claim they are always treated the same or worse than straight men is just wrong.”

    In certain industries, and not only the ones you might expect, being a gay man grants some real advantages over being straight. There was something a while back where gay journalists in washington DC were saying that being gay gives you entry to a whole network of gay journalists that really pays off. And socially there can be real advantages to being gay.

    And agy men don’t have to rely on women for much of anything, certainly not for any emotional needs. That also granats a huge advantage under the current cultural conditions.

    “There is also a broad range of what “gay man” means. The thing is that a gay man is not going to be seen as an idealized form of woman (a mother or wife) because biologically they are infertile and as such there is no mate guarding instinct, only a drive for, or perception of, promiscuity.”

    Where this actually manifests is not about reprorduction. It has to do with straight men being pussy beggars, quite apart from any interest in parenting. This business of pussy beggaring is cultural, not biological, because we don’t see it all cultures. It has to do with emotional needs rather than any drive to procreate. Men don’t stuff dollars into waistbands because they wnat a kid with that particuaarl dancer.

    I have lived on both sudes of the gay striaght divide, as an adult, and I can tell you I certainly do not the lady privilege that woemn do.

  84. “Where this actually manifests is not about reprorduction. It has to do with straight men being pussy beggars, quite apart from any interest in parenting. This business of pussy beggaring is cultural, not biological, because we don’t see it all cultures. It has to do with emotional needs rather than any drive to procreate. Men don’t stuff dollars into waistbands because they wnat a kid with that particuaarl dancer.”

    I don’t mean a conscious interest in parenting, but I’m curious to know why you think men in western cultures are “pussy beggars” and which conditions cause men in other cultures to not be.

  85. I don’t know if this appleis to all western cultures but Anglsophone culture is gynocentric. It has a gynocentric romantic model of hetersexual interaction. This guy has post after excellent post that explore this: http://gynocentrism.com/

    It has progressively over the last century wallowed in a moral panic about various crises of masculinity that have had the effect of demonizing anything, including normal friendship and bonding among men, as faintly and therefore disastrously homosexual.

    These two impulses have resulted in a situation where a man, to be considered a real he-man in the culture, has to be fully dependent on a woman for all his emotional needs. She becomes the gatekeepr of all human contatc. Andthis is enforced in all kinds of sahming tacitcs against men who fail to fully comply. We had a decade of agonized articles in women’s magazines about “commitment-phobic men” and all that shit. Before that we had “The Peter pan Syndrome” After that we had Hanna Rosin moaning abyut the failure of men to grow up and marry.

    And on top of all this all the other signifiers of manhood have largely disappeared, leaving get-the-girl the one area of accomplishment as the only way a man can prove himslef a real success for the borad mass of men.

    I don’t see these developments in other cultures. in other cultures I see a lot of weight on inter-male relationships, the way we respect inter-female relationships. I see women expected to play up to men as much as we expect men to play up to women. I see men as the prize as much as we treat women as the prize. How wonderful if we could even all this out into real equality.

    And by the way, this pedestalization and centering of womanhood as the ultimate achievement of manhood is at the root of a lot of the things feminists decry in gender relations, even as they trumpet aspects of it as the way forward and insist on it in heterosexual interaction.

  86. “I don’t see these developments in other cultures. in other cultures I see a lot of weight on inter-male relationships, the way we respect inter-female relationships. I see women expected to play up to men as much as we expect men to play up to women. I see men as the prize as much as we treat women as the prize. How wonderful if we could even all this out into real equality.”

    Can you name one (or more) of these other cultures?

  87. Andrew Sullivan gae an interstng tlak years ago about friendhsip and pointed out that the ancient Greeks wrote almost nothing about romance and quite a bit about freindship – between men. Mariage was a social duty, fine you got married – but that was not where your primary emotional peer relationship was. I was in a course with some Arab officers – Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt – for a short time and I observed these attitudes.So it is not some anomaly restricted to ancient Greek culture.

  88. Andre,

    I have to support Ginkgo on this. Many ancient cultures and even middle-ages cultures saw romantic love as basically frivolous or meaningless.

    The idea that the “ultimate” relationship is a romantically-bonded llifelong heterosexual monogamous marriage is very new. Marriage, in the past, was not about love or affection. Often it was about power, property/inheritance or lineage.

    This makes sense in light of the fact that polygyny was common in the ancient world – these societies had lots of bachelor males, so obviously not every man’s needs for affection or companionship could be provided for by a woman. Of course there were establishments where men could partake in feminine company, but clearly romantic heterosexual monogamous love was simply not avaliable to everyone.

    The idea of marrying for love is historically recent.

  89. I think this is getting way too confusing with way too many thought threads that I can’t quite connect. Are men in arab societies really valued as anything more than a provider or way to get around social restrictions? Their friendships may be deeper but when women come into the picture, do they actually stand? My impression is that the ancient greeks struggled just as much as westerners with “crises of masculinity”. More to the point is their extremely negative opinion of women and very sharp separation of gender roles. Aristotle spoke about how tyrants used women to hold on to power. In Sparta, the boys were taken from their mothers at 7 to enter into male society and formed deep bonds with other men. This did not alter in any way all the privileges that spartan women enjoyed and in fact my impression is that spartan women were more privileged and empowered than other greek women.

    So I just don’t see what your point regarding “pussy beggaring” is. I do believe there is a strong capture-bonding dynamic that puts psychological pressure on men (boys) to become co-dependent on women (mothers) and that male bonding (primarily father bonding) can moderate that pressure. However, putting the blame on the romantic, chivalric notion of love and pinning its genesis to medieval europe seems misguided. Why did that notion grow if there was not fertile soil for it? Is the western perspective really all that different from others? Do muslim men not shower their wives with jewelry?

  90. YAC,

    Sorry for the slow reply. I’ve had a busy week.

    Hunter-gatherers don’t generally work down mines. Besides, I think if you asked most people they’d rather work hard for two hours a day than slowly for 8. You haven’t really made any argument that working as a hunter-gatherer is far more demanding per hour worked than working in an office. It’s also worth noting that they wouldn’t consider procuring food as “work” in a way that is evenly vaguely equivalent to the way you and me consider an office job “work”.

    “Whilst securing the bare necessities for subsistence survival may not require too much, human beings want more. We want to rise ABOVE subsistence survival. Life at subsistence is hardly a life of contentment.”

    There is no basis for making this claim. Without even bothering to go into numerous studies of people who don’t express any desire to do any more than procure the food they want to eat that day (and very occasionally some tool or house building) and then spend the rest time enjoying themselves (or the fact that even in Europe it’s only relatively recently that people started working more than they had to) your point is completely illogical. If they wanted more they could work more than 4 hours a day. Why would they have children (which at best might marginally increase productivity several years down the line) when they could double their productivity instantly by working eight hours a day?

    I’m going to leave my critiques aside for now because I’d like to propose a tentative theory of my own. Whilst something vaguely resembling what you describe is present in all cultures (I can’t think of any examples that don’t put at least a marginally higher emphasis on men’s action comparative to women’s and reproduction is always seen as important for females) it would seem to me that when you look at the actual history it comes into it’s most extreme manifestation at around the time you claim it first starts to get challenged.

    The situation as you describe comes about as the result of various different processes related to the end of feudalism and the rise of capitalism. Now I haven’t ever tried to write this all up in one theory before but I’ll give it a go here. It revolves around a set of distinctions between consumption-production, home-work, and visible-invisible forms of power.

    First a brief definition of invisible and visible power is in order. I won’t go into too much detail here but it should become more clear in the rest of the analysis. Invisible power is essentially an abstract capacity for future action. Visible power is a concrete manifestation which demonstrates how one has been treated in the past and expects to be treated in the future. The former is defined as a capacity for action and the latter as defining how you can be acted upon. You may have noted this is fairly similar to your distinction between men as subjects and women as objects.

    Foucault famously argued in Discipline and Punish that the end of feudalism saw the rise of new regimes of power. Under feudalism power was manifested in concrete visible displays, the trappings of power: elaborate costumes for the nobility, the fact that the King would be continually displayed at public events and public forms of punishment such as hangings and stocks. The masses were an abstract faceless crowd. With the end of feudalism the roles are reversed – power comes to be exercised through invisible abstract bureaucracies and the masses now become concrete and visible. They are measured against various standards through institutions such as hospitals, psychiatric wards and schools. Essentially from a regime of visible power to one of invisible power.

    Now all this might seem slightly irrelevant but it’s telling when you look at shifting ideologies amongst the ruling classes. Under feudalism the upper classes had largely seen themselves as consumers of what the lower classes produced. The production = male/ consumption = female idea that you propose wasn’t prevalent at the time. All this began to change around the time of the 18th century and a men’s power came to be defined by their capacity for action and consumption came to be seem as a particularly female thing.

    One of the most interesting examples of this is the change in the clothing of the wealthy around this time. Whilst under feudalism wealthy men and women has both wore elaborate costumes with much adornment male clothing changed at this time towards the sobre business suit. The former individualises the person and expresses the power of the individual through an ostentation show of wealth whilst the latter conceals the body and makes the person abstract and generic by rendering a group of men wearing suits as looking extremely similar to each other. The emphasis on the capacity for action in the new male attire can also be seen in the fact that it was modeled on what the rural gentry wore whilst hunting.

    So far we have consumption becoming the province of females amongst the elite whilst wealthy men turned instead to the sensible bourgeois business of capital accumulation. A similar process was happening amongst the lower classes but for different reasons.

    With the rise of wage labour, factory work and the decline of home industries and artisans a conceptual and actual split developed between work and home. Work became a place distinct from the home; a public place where people worked for wages. The home became a private sphere for having children. The former was the sphere of production, the latter of consumption and it goes without saying that men were at work and women were at home. Due in part to this new distinction any labour that was not done for wages ceased to be defined as production. Whereas previously people would have grown vegetables and raised animals for their own consumption and made their own tools and perhaps only spent some of their time working for money with all of these seen as productive labour, the split between home and work changed all this. As with the wealthy, amongst the poorer classes women were consigned to the sphere of consumption, men to that of production and so men came to be defined by their capacity for action.

    All of this goes some way to explaining the subject-object split between men and women, although again I prefer the distinction between visible and invisible power (although I haven’t got enough time to go into all the reasons why right now). I wanted to explain further how this related to disposability and the emphasis on women’s reproduction but have run out of time. Will try to post more tomorrow.

    The fact that the human population grew so spectacularly with the industrial revolution and the progress of medicine… the fact that the first challenges to gender roles came from relatively well-off people in Enlightenment-era Europe… the fact that men of the aristocracy could always avoid the tasks which form the basis of our ideal of “manliness”… the fact that early second-wave feminism was originally spurred by the discontent of middle-class housewives of the post-WW2 era (and some of this still survives today… it isn’t unfair to point out the predominance of relatively materially-comfortable white college-educated women in feminism)… all of these facts seem to point towards an economic explanation of the gender system.

  91. Accidentally left a bit of something you wrote earlier at the end because I was going to quote from it but didn’t.

  92. “Whilst securing the bare necessities for subsistence survival may not require too much, human beings want more. We want to rise ABOVE subsistence survival. Life at subsistence is hardly a life of contentment.”

    This can be true but you have to define what “wanting more” means. It’s very typical that wanting more takes the form of some kind of artistic expression or shamanism. Foragers in the PNW, who BTW lived well above the subsitence level, engaed in both of these quite heavily.

  93. [b]‘ emphasis on the capacity for action in the new male attire can also be seen in the fact that it was modeled on what the rural gentry wore whilst hunting.’[/b]

    and the protestantism sombre ‘plain undress’ fetish of the time, and also the beau brummells dour colour scheme and double waistwatches.
    (trews/trousers once the preserve of wellheeled atheistic revolutionaries, or sailors in london, became acceptable in the1820/30s only after 1. a cossack visit to london sparked a craze for their wide trousers. 2. the duke of wellington and his troops adopted trouserwearing(todays tight legged, thighed n crotched version). for which at first, the ladies banned him from a prominent gathering, when he first up in the lower-orders garb. before unfortunately for male fashion, they relented)


    this site goes into more detail on the change
    http://www.blacktieguide.com/History/01-Regency_Origins.htm

    [i]
    ‘ However, it was financially impossible, not to mention socially unacceptable, for a man of Brummell’s station to mimic the opulent garb of the upper class. Thus he set out to perfect the more affordable look of the country gentleman by combining his impeccable sartorial tastes with an impressive physique for displaying them.

    Brummell’s artful strategy was to elevate the common drabness of country attire to a refined minimalism. He replaced the bright colors previously favored by the elite with a limited palette of dark coats and plain, light-colored waistcoats and pantaloons. Patterned waistcoats were traded in for monochrome versions, frilled shirts were replaced by plain styles and lace cravats were superseded by starched linen neckcloths.

    Brummell also imported an understated military and equestrian flair to his wardrobe to emphasize the wearer’s physique and authority.
    [...]

    When Queen Victoria ascended the throne in 1837 the industrial revolution was in full swing. The prosperous emerging middle class strove for respectability and homogeneity and was heavily influenced by the solemn Protestant movement of the time. As a result, the impractical dandyism of the Regency leisure class was replaced by functional and somber sartorialism preferred by the men who, in the words of one historian “wanted to appear as grave and serious as the banks and factories they owned”. So it was that the concept of the gentleman trumped the idea of the courtier, leading The Tailor and Cutter to declare in 1878 that “dress in our day has ceased to be the index of a man’s social position.”
    [...]
    The Regency’s general sartorial hierarchy of Dress and Undress carried through into the Victorian era. One popular etiquette guide of the period summarized that “to be ‘undressed’ is to be dressed for work and ordinary occupations” while to be “dressed” was to show respect for society by wearing the garments “which the said society pronounces as suitable to particular occasions.” [/i] ‘

  94. To briefly demonstrate the reason why I think that visible-invisible power is a better dichotomy* than subject-object it might be worth applying it to a contemporary example. Now, correct me if I’m wrong but it seems to me you’re using the subject-object dichotomy not to express a relationship between perceiver and perceived (ie. everyone/thing else is an object to me and I am the subject) but as an analogy for agent-patient as in something that acts and something that is acted upon. The example I will use is stereotyped contemporary dating norms.

    I’m sure everyone will agree that in the stereotyped script women are fairly passive when it comes to making the first move or asking guys out and men are supposed to be active. So far so good for the subject-object lens for viewing the situation – men (as subjects) take action and women (as objects) are acted upon. But I think the visible-invisible modalities reveal more. In fact women are not completely passive and without power in this situation; there are multiple ways in which they try to influence men’s action. They can demonstrate that they are open to male attention through what they choose to wear (and many women do this despite how many people protest that a low cut top and a short skirt does not signal that a woman wants male attention**). Moreover they act in ways that might induce a guy they are interested in to make a move. They send signals with eye contact and smiles to get a guy to approach them and might drop hints if they’re in a conversation with a guy they’re interested in. I’m sure we’ve all heard or read a woman complaining that a guy didn’t notice/act upon the signals she was sending.

    Here we see that the woman is not merely a passive object but is exercising visible power by indicating how she wishes the man to act towards her. She is demonstrating, through the way in which she presents herself, what she wants the man to do.

    *In reality I don’t see this as a split but rather different modalities of power which probably never exist completely on their own.
    ** Not that ALL women wearing revealing clothing want attention from men. Nor that women who do want attention from ALL mean, but it seems to me fairly undeniable that a large proportion of women will wear more revealing clothing when they go out if they want attention from men.

  95. i dont actually with the blktie site that it was middle class power that caused a drabness to overwhelm male clothing.

    as a historian ive read, has written that from the late 1770s onwards elite dress in the uk had already started to become plainer n plainer. he speculated that it was to demonstrate their fitness, the inherent and more fit right to rule by being more measured, more reserved, less impetuous than the flash harry noveauriche rising merchants. that it was the rising middle classes who adopted the plainer dress first authored by the elites.

    my theory is this then caused an inversion of normal male dress – where power, authority, right to rule was demonstrated by more adorned clothing.
    causing a tailspin as aristos n middle class adopt more n more sombre dress to demonstrate their competing claims to be fit to rule by virtue of their steadiness, their calm measured reserve. inverted peacocking, the more sober, plain you dress
    the more fit u r to rule until we end up with men in fucking tweed suits lolol and designed scruffiness/dishevelledness even, as seen in the early 20th century with oxbridge intellectuals

    masculine dress still hasnt recovered

  96. jameseq,
    “as a historian ive read, has written that from the late 1770s onwards elite dress in the uk had already started to become plainer n plainer. he speculated that it was to demonstrate their fitness, the inherent and more fit right to rule by being more measured, more reserved, less impetuous than the flash harry noveauriche rising merchants. that it was the rising middle classes who adopted the plainer dress first authored by the elites. ”

    It was probably both influences. Full beards came into vogue then too, but mostly among businessmen and academics, not aristocrats and military officers. That was definitely not something these men werre imitating from aristocrats.

    Often new features of a culture develop from severala converging influences. I can’t find it now but there was a discussion on a language blog I hit about the development of /en/ as a marker for male names – Jaden, Tevin, etc – and the consensus was that it was not form any one source, that it had converged from various markers that had very little to do with maleness inherently. Examples:

    -an . This does mark male names in Irish – Breandan, Deaclan, Fiontan, Ciaran etc – but it was originally just a nun suffix with masculine gender.

    -ghin. This is where the -in in Kevin comes from, but it meanas “born” . It’s not really sufix since the name is a compound.

    -en. You find this in first names derived form surnames, probably originally toponyms, such as “Hayden”.

    -Pre-existing names like “Kenyon”.

    So what speakers did was re-analyze all these to isolate this new -en sufix that means “male personal name.”

    “he speculated that it was to demonstrate their fitness, the inherent and more fit right to rule by being more measured, more reserved, less impetuous”

    This is a really sound speculation. it fits with the whole persona, the stereotype of that class.

  97. ‘It was probably both influences. Full beards came into vogue then too, but mostly among businessmen and academics, not aristocrats and military officers. That was definitely not something these men werre imitating from aristocrats.’

    on beards, ive read the fashion was start for beards in the 19th century was started by one of the french napoleons wearing a beard. only ever seen one reference to it though

  98. There’s a whole big class thing going on with beards. i saw one reference to someone around that era insisting that he would flaunt his “democratic” beard.

    And it goes way back. They recently found a Mycenean-style razor in Central Europe, clearly local manufacture. That’s 1,500 BC. In Roman times writers described Celtic beard and moustache styles in detail, and remember frorm Irish literature how obsessed with their hair these people were. And anyway, just from a logistics angle, shaving is elite behavior.

  99. “** Not that ALL women wearing revealing clothing want attention from men.”

    You mean some of them are lesbians?

  100. Andre,

    I agree this is getting thread drifting but when you ask a bunch of meaty questions like this, I can’t help answering. BTW questions like this are arela contribution:

    “So I just don’t see what your point regarding “pussy beggaring” is. I do believe there is a strong capture-bonding dynamic that puts psychological pressure on men (boys) to become co-dependent on women (mothers) and that male bonding (primarily father bonding) can moderate that pressure.”

    Not ehir mothers, their WIVES. the culture says a man can look only to the romantic relationship for any kind of emotional connection. Deep male friendships are discouraged in a way that femlae friendships are not.

    “However, putting the blame on the romantic, chivalric notion of love and pinning its genesis to medieval europe seems misguided. Why did that notion grow if there was not fertile soil for it?”

    There was very fertile ground for it, not in Roman culture but in native Western European culture. Look at how most popular religious devotions are feminine-oriented – sacrifices at sacred wells, Marian devotion, Marian devotion at sacred wells (Lourdes). The ground was already very gynocentric.

    “Is the western perspective really all that different from others? Do muslim men not shower their wives with jewelry?”

    The point is Muslim men have very strong male relationships. In fact their primary rleationships are usually with other male relatives (I am thinking of Saudi Arabia but it is true elsewhere too). Cologne is considered an acceptable business gift in the Middle East, not sports tickets. Think of that. They give their wives jewelry and each other perfume. And good for them.

  101. First, apologies for the slow response.

    H. E. Pennypacker:

    Frankly, I think we come from vastly alien philosophical perspectives and as such we will strongly disagree. I do not see the industrial revolution as the secular equivalent to the Fall Of Man and quite frankly hold MOST of Foucault in contempt (certainly his influence on the social sciences has been, with very few exceptions, catastrophic). Sure, we can talk about the wonderful noble savages that live in various parts of the world but the simple fact is that everyone who embraces those Rousseauvian myths tends to be a relatively comfortable person living in a first world society. Grasses tend to be greener on the other side.

    Anyway, the simple fact is that I believe due to our massively alien belief systems we will not find much common ground. So I think ending this discussion would be better for both of our productivity.

    That said, I really appreciate that you posed a theory and honestly hope you expound upon it a bit more, maybe write an article and post it onto /r/MensRights or something.

  102. To be honest I’m slightly confused. I’m not sure you actually read any of what I wrote.

    Where did I suggest that the industrial revolution was a bad thing (let alone that it represents a Fall of Man).

    Where did I wholeheartedly endorse everything Foucault has ever written?

    Arguing that being a hunter-gatherer isn’t a life of constant misery and struggle for survival is clearly a good distance from the idea of the Noble Savage. This was kind of my point earlier about philosophy being unempirical in these matters in that hunter-gatherers are either living lives that are “solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short” or they are noble savages. If you go and look and look at how these people live you’ll see there is a mixture of good and bad – just like in every society.

    To be honest though I shouldn’t be surprised. Economics as a discipline is based on completely ignoring the historically based criticisms of its founding myths (which seem to often be set in some unspecified location at some unspecified point in the past – such as the idea that we all used to live in a barter economy until someone invented money and then after that we introduced credit) because to engage with reality would make it hard to continue claiming that an “economy” is something that naturally exists and that humans engage in behaviour that can be regarded as “economic” (as opposed to moral, political etc.)

  103. H. E. Pennypacker,

    I apologize. I overreacted and assumed you took a whole complex of interrelated positions which tend to be associated with anthropologists that are fans of Foucault. I prejudged you, I was wrong and for that I apologize.

    You DID ascribe contemporary gender roles, in significant part, to the rise of industrial civilization. Since I consider the gender system to be suboptimal/bad for both sexes, I assumed you were making a negative value judgment. Again, my apologies.

    I’m not attempting to argue that hunter-gatherers never had any pleasantries in their lives. I’m simply saying that there are many extremely unpleasant features to that kind of existence. If people in general were happy and contented with tribal existence then why do civilizations develop in the first place?

    As for the barter-money-credit “founding myth,” all economics deals with is the fact that not everyone has everything they desire (and people have a limited stock of means to achieve all their ends, so they have to prioritize). We start with a barter economy because people exchange amongst themselves… when things start getting more complicated, some sort of “common denominator” is required to measure economic value (i.e. purchasing power) which leads to the development of money (which is based on barter), which in turn leads to a financial system which leads to credit.

    An “economy” is merely people engaging in teleological action under the condition of scarcity (i.e. having to allocate limited means between various subjectively-valued ends). That’s all an economy is. It isn’t about banks or stock markets or any of that… when two people swap goods with each other because they’d rather have the good the other person has than the good they personally have, that is an economy.

    The issue of economies “naturally” existing… well like I said, if individuals are engaging in teleological action under the condition of scarcity, you have an economy.

    You DO have a valid point with respect to whether or not behavior is “economic” or “moral” or “political” – the lines can get blurry as all hell. But people can make economic decisions guided by moral values (i.e. purchase cruelty-free cosmetics because of the lack of animal cruelty). I guess we could argue that all of this ultimately boils down to individuals acting in accordance with different sets of values, and you could see it as either moral behavior or economic behavior.

  104. YAC,

    To be fair I can see why you’d make that assumption – especially as I did approvingly quote Foucault – but actually I spent a large proportion of the time I was studying anthropology criticising his theories and in particular other academics over-enthusiastic applications of them. This was in no small part because everyone I knew who was studying a humanities subject seemed to spend at least half their time reading him or someone largely influenced by him (a problem to which you allude). However, having revisited him it seems to me that their are definitely insights worth extracting from his work.

    Sorry I couldn’t resist taking a jab at economics because you took a bit of a jab at what I was saying. I do maintain though, there is literally NO evidence (historical, archaeological or anthropological) to suggest that early economies worked on barter and a very large amount of evidence to suggest they didn’t. The same goes for the idea that coinage came before credit. Essentially nobody has ever found a society (by observation or by analysis of historical record) that practiced barter that had not preciously experienced a money economy.

    This is all slightly off-topic but what economists have often done is remeniscent of what I believe to be the weak point of your theory – ie. make a reasonable judgement of the situation as it is now and then project it’s origins backwards into some non-specific time and place in the past and hypothetically imagine how the current system came to be (most crucially without looking at any of the historical or ethnographic evidence of societies that were/are different to the current West). The result is one that sounds entirely plausible a reasonable until you look at the historical and ethnographic evidence.

    With regard to capitalism/industrial revolution and gender roles I don’t think the changes in gender roles were necessarily for the better (that’s certainly not to say we were living in gender egalitarian paradise under feudalism) but the whole set of changes (of which gender roles were a part) were not wholly negative. On balance they were positive – although I think the current system is far from perfect.

    If we take for example my argument that men of the upper-classes came to define themselves by their ability for action I think this can be seen as both a cause and a consequence of the rise of capitalism. The reason I would give for it as a CONSEQUENCE of capitalism (ignoring, for now, it’s role as a cause) is that membership of the rich elite did become in a very real and concrete way far more dependent upon his actions (visible power) than it had been previously. Suddenly there was a genuine degree of social mobility.

    Some of the same logic was affecting working class men and women as well. Under the older system the lower classes were stuck with their lot, largely guaranteed of a livelihood in service of some local lord but with no prospects of escaping this decidedly lowly position. With capitalism there came the possibility (admittedly a statistically fairly slim possibility) of moving up the ladder. Thus a mans position was less ascribed in advance that achieved (of course most men stayed in the position one would have expected in advance but there was at least the POSSIBILITY of achieving more – and some of course did).

    To be honest I think our philisophical positions are definitely pretty far apart. I probably hold economics (well, the dominant neo-classical variety) in about as much contempt as you hold Foucault but I believe having a discussion with someone with widely different views can be instructive if you avoid letting insurmountable ideological differences become too much of a sticking point.

  105. HEP,
    “Under the older system the lower classes were stuck with their lot, largely guaranteed of a livelihood in service of some local lord but with no prospects of escaping this decidedly lowly position. With capitalism there came the possibility (admittedly a statistically fairly slim possibility) of moving up the ladder.”

    In England at least that was n’t the choice people had. The agrarian economy was collapsing under the weight of population that had grown during a boom cucle and peolole were escaping starvation in the countryside. The Enclosure Laws helped drive them into destitution.

    “Essentially nobody has ever found a society (by observation or by analysis of historical record) that practiced barter that had not preciously experienced a money economy. ”

    This may be true from the anthropological angle but it is questionable from the historical angle. We know when coinage fiorst appeard – and to humor me, can we use that as a definition for money – and we know there were economies before that.

    But we also know that, as you say, they were not primarily barter economies. Mostly they were tribute economies and gifting economies. Part of the reason for that was simple practical requirements. You might have something to give when you didn’t need anything from that person, and you might need something when you have nothing to trade. This calls for a relational ecnomy vice the transactional ecnomy a barter system implies.

  106. HEP,

    “I do maintain though, there is literally NO evidence (historical, archaeological or anthropological) to suggest that early economies worked on barter and a very large amount of evidence to suggest they didn’t.”

    Probably because in a society where barter occurred, the need for a common unit of economic account would’ve emerged rather quickly. I’d even go so far as to say that before the agrarian revolution we’d have needed some form of money/common denominator “value measurement.” Societies from that early on don’t leave much archaeological evidence (although they do leave some).

    Take two tribes trading things. There has to be some sort of way both can measure the ‘fairness’ of the trade. If the trades were composed of a very large amount of different goods, the complexity would’ve quickly gotten to a point where a common denominator was required.

    Also, I note you talk about “economies being based on barter.” What I was arguing is that money grew out of the PRACTICE of barter… this doesn’t necessarily imply that one whole economy was based exclusively on barter up until suddenly there’s a Eureka moment and everyone changes to using money. Barter, and from there money, could easily have been practices of a minority of people within a society. Hence, it is possible for a small/limited “bartering sector” of an economy to eventually give birth to money and the practice then spreads throughout the whole society.

    Indeed, this small “bartering sector” hypothesis makes sense because barter itself isn’t an easy thing one can carry around in one’s pocket (we could argue that barter had higher “transactions costs” than using money). Money thus makes the marketplace more accessible for people who don’t want to drag sixteen chickens and four goats around (or don’t have the chickens or goats in the first place) while they do their shopping.

    Regarding Foucault, I do think he has some reasonable insights at times… the idea that certain “knowledge” can in fact be merely political propaganda designed to rationalize the power of some over others is hardly a controversial statement in my opinion… it serves as a good warning against the dangers of politicizing science.

  107. Ginkgo,

    “In England at least that was n’t the choice people had. The agrarian economy was collapsing under the weight of population that had grown during a boom cucle and peolole were escaping starvation in the countryside. The Enclosure Laws helped drive them into destitution.”

    But some people certainly did improve their position. I think the key part of my point is that people came to be defined as winners and losers. Whereas the old system was based upon a former hierarchy the fall of feudalism led to a system where people were formally and legally defined as equals – rather than seeing society split into superiors and inferiors (on the basis of who your parents are) it came to be seen far more as one of winners and losers (based on the actions of the individuals involved). Of course to a large extent this was an illusion but it was also clearly true to a certain extent.

    “But we also know that, as you say, they were not primarily barter economies. Mostly they were tribute economies and gifting economies. ”

    Yeah I should have been more specific in that some societies did practice barter before they had money although this was almost never done internally. Barter is something you do with people you don’t trust, other social groups, people who are potentially enemies.

    My point in all this is the idea of economic activity (ie. individuals engaging actions that aim to rationally attain the greatest material benefit for themselves) and thus that there is a sphere called the economy in which people act in this way* is a relatively new concept. If you want to claim that it is universal – which economics theorists generally do when they turn their minds to such matters – you have to apply this logic backwards (in time) and sideways (in space) to places and times where it just doesn’t fit. Doing so normally involves arguing that before we had physical money we had barter.

    Actually, as you point out Ginkgo, places that don’t have physical money they move things around via redistribution or gift giving (this is not to mention the simple communistic sharing that goes on in any society). When you look at how these work it’s very hard to define them as economic in a modern sense. It turns out invariably that any accumulation of wealth is to serve some other purpose. A family puts a lot of effort into growing yams so that the father can leave them outside of the houses of specific categories of kin where most of them will remain uneaten. A local chief collects food because he has to give so much of it away in feasts – to the extent that he is the poorest person in the clan. Another chief collects huge quantities of food and grass skirts so that he can humiliate a rival chief by making a gift so large that his adversary cannot hope to match it.

    Moreover, when you do see money in societies without a market economy it’s almost never used to buy things. It might take the form of particular types of cloth that are used to rearrange relations between people. ie. a man will have to present a certain amount of it to the parents of the women he wishes to marry. Husbands might present a certain amount to their wives when she gives birth to their first child. Young adults might give a certain amount to their parents on reaching full social maturity. etc. etc.

    To relate it back to the OP this is one of the reasons why I find the claim that people had more children in order to better their accumulation of material products. Leaving aside I don’t think that there’s any evidence that it WOULD improve their wealth, even if it would I just don’t think many people who haven’t been brought up under a capitalist system would think like this. If anything they would think of things in complete reverse – they might well put more effort into gathering food (or growing it depending on when or where we’re talking about) BECAUSE they had more children. Not vice versa.

    *Of course, most economic theory would hold that people act in this way all the time.

  108. “But some people certainly did improve their position”

    There are always winners in everry social upheaval. The peasantry getting thrown off thier land didn’t benefit, but the Dissenters who went from being small businessmen and inventors became fabulously wealthy and ended up getting their kids maybe and their grandkids certainly into the imperial managerial class, the effective aristocracy. So yes indeed, some did better their position.

  109. “To relate it back to the OP this is one of the reasons why I find the claim that people had more children in order to better their accumulation of material products. Leaving aside I don’t think that there’s any evidence that it WOULD improve their wealth, ”

    It helps in one very crucial way that we tend to ignore from our perspectivres as members of a civil society – physical security. In societies without centralized systems of security, your wealth depends on how much of it you can keep. It also depends on your access to resources, and in a society without centralized security that often requires physical force. There’s the advantage to having big families – big families of male kin that is; brothers and cousins and second cousins.

  110. Ginkgo, I’m not arguing that the rise of capitalism was purely a force for good but just pointing out that I also don’t think it was all bad so I’d say I largely agree with you on that.

    “It helps in one very crucial way that we tend to ignore from our perspectivres as members of a civil society – physical security. In societies without centralized systems of security, your wealth depends on how much of it you can keep. It also depends on your access to resources, and in a society without centralized security that often requires physical force. There’s the advantage to having big families – big families of male kin that is; brothers and cousins and second cousins.”

    But this very much depends on where or when we are talking about. There are plenty of societies where taking someone else’s valuables by physical force is not something people do very often. Violence might be primarily to do with previous vendettas or maybe spill over from arguments about women (indeed there are cultures where people would find it incredible that adult males might ever fight over anything apart from women*).

    Moreover, being able to RELY on male kin doesn’t necessarily mean HAVING a lot of male kin. To take an Amazonian example, the Achuar people live in family units with certain families being grouped closer to each other. The Achuar often get into long running feuds and being able to mobilise a large group of male relatives can be an important skill (although this isn’t normally to do with defending material possessions). However, most men are related to an extremely large number of other men by blood or marriage and the ability to form large war parties is rarely based on how closely related on how many close kin you have but how respected you are as a warrior, orator, your standing in the community etc. In any feud most people will have some relationship to both sides and the one they choose isn’t normally based on how closely they are related in terms of biology.

    But anyway, this is all rather ignoring my point that people wouldn’t see the accumulation of material wealth as an end in itself. It would almost always be subservient to some greater purpose.

    *On a similar topic I recently read that in 19th century Ionia the overwhelming majority of knife-fights were caused by a man accusing another man’s sister, wife or mother of being a whore.

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