A blog for Christian men "going their own way."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Biological Gynocentrism

When our mainstream media broaches the issues of gender in whatever context (law, medicine, or even biology), it often does not favor the male point of view. So, I am not surprised when so-called "academics" talk about the disappearing Y chromosome, reproductive technologies that favor women, studies that underscore some supposed cognitive edge women have over men, etc. There is a clear anti-male bias in our public narrative about the science of gender. That's why Larry Summers gets fired for going against the tide. What then? Obviously, men need to take note how discussions about gender and sex usually get framed in this regard.

One thing that concerns me about men's issues advocates is that men whose writings I often agree with and support are falling down in the matter of scrutinizing mainstream ideas about gender and are inadvertently supporting a woman-firster mentality. How so? By coopting popular discourses about the science of mate selection, etc. These discourses may be framed in ways that support biological gynocentrism. I especially see this as a concern with respect to some of the men who champion "Game."

What does biological gynocentrism (or biogynism, as I am going to call it for the sake of convenience) often entail? At least three beliefs: (1) Women are biologically designed to choose among men who compete for female affection; (2) men who don't have sex are losers; and (3) women, biologically speaking, are the more valuable sex in general. Evolutionary Psychology is usually invoked to support these assertions. I am calling "foul" on all of them, though. First, let me state up front that as a Christian, I don't even believe in evolution. But I shall, for the sake of argument, approach the above issues on the basis of practicality, if not morality or spirituality.

She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not

First, let's deal with the matter of sexual selection. If the Law of Jungle is true, then do women have a choice about mates? If they do have a choice, then why on earth do we have to have laws on the books protecting that choice? In the wild, females are often weak and vulnerable (that includes human beings). They are no match against males. "Females choose dominant males." What a stellar observation. What other choice do they have!? If I am a hairy male animal that just kicked the stew out of a rival male and I approach a female, what is she going to say to me? "Sorry Mr. Bull, but you're not my type"? Yeah, and I'd honor that opinion about five seconds after I overpowered her and mated with her. That's why some female primates have to travel in herds to ward off male aggression. Of course, males can cooperate, too, rendering the whole matrilocal defense shtick meaningless.

But honestly, when we start looking to animals to understand human behavior, we open a can of worms with faulty assumptions, hasty generalizations, and bad analogies. At the end of the day mice are mice, chimps are chimps, and humans are humans. They ain't the same. If you want to understand human behavior, you have to understand humans. Otherwise you're likely to get ideological spin and biased nonsense like this article from a feminist.

Evolution or no evolution, take a good look at the whole of human history instead of myopically focusing on what's going on in our own culture. How have women fared in the game of love with respect to arranged marriages, being punished more severely than men for adultery, sexual slavery, war, mass rape, etc.? How are they faring outside of the Anglosphere now? Do you think Westernized Chivalry is hardwired in the men of Sudan? Do you think the Ferragamo-pumping sisterhood of New York City would want to trade places with the women of North Africa in the dating game? If women are hardwired to possess some sort of "reproductive choice" then I'd like know what feminists have been fighting for all these years. The truth is that in the natural order of things, women don't have reproductive choice. They have often been the property of their fathers and the men who paid some money (dowry, etc.) for them. The only reason women have the choices they have now is because of the goodwill of men, not because of some evolutionary form of supremacy.

Mate or Die

Another aspect of biogynism is the belief that one's manhood and life is based upon sexual success with women. And why do biogynists believe this? Because if you don't pass on your genes, you are a supposedly fundamental failure. Laying aside the conflict such a sentiment has with Christianity (Isa. 56:3-5), there are other problems with the assertion. People are conflating reproductive success with sexual attractiveness. The two, of necessity, have been separated since the advent of birth control.

Let me tell you something: You could be handsome, intelligent, rich, have "Game", and bed the most attractive women in the world, but the moment you slip on a condom or the moment your paramour takes the pill is the moment you opted out of the race. If you are a biogynist and tie your worth to reproductive success, then you are a loser by your own definition unless the reproductive community of which you and your descendants are a part are having kids above the 2.10 replacement level. I highly doubt that many of the folks into Evo-Psych are part of such a demographic. I highly doubt the women they are chasing are part of said demographic, either. Why? Because rearing a house full of kids would cramp their lifestyle.

Let's face it. Sex is fun, but raising three or more children is not. And of course, rearing children in order for your descendants to have a chance in life puts a leash on your sex life, too. Do you want to be in a strict sect that demands that you have children and ties you to a rigid code of behavior (Amish, Mormon, Hasidic Jew)? How about living like the folks in the third world? They're having children! You see, in our modern world, there is a necessary trade off between quality of life and "reproductive success." That's why when women pursue education and other forms of advancement where they don't have to depend on men, they tend not to have many children. In short, the Lotharios and the women they are chasing are, to use a popular secular phrase, "Darwinizing themselves." Westernized cultures are dying out because they want to.

Here's something else to think about: We are all descendants from the same genetic family. Both the Bible and science hold to this view. So if you don't believe as I do in the scriptural Adam or Eve (whose is called the "mother of all living" in the Bible), then what will you do with Y-chromosomal Adam or Eurasian Adam? There is something Obi-Wan did not tell you. I am your cousin! Search your feelings. You know it to be true! And so is Cupcake that you've been kissing and smootching with, fellas.

If one looks at things from a naturalistic viewpoint, then "reproductive success" is a value neutral enterprise. The indifferent universe, in such a case, does not care about your genes. Therefore, for non-religious Darwinists to talk about "winners" and "losers" in some judgmental, value-laden way is ludicrous. When you tell me you are winning the game because you had a child, I can reply, "Thanks for being my surrogate." Hope your descendants don't break your patrilineal or matrilineal line. Of course, with the coming depopulation, that's a very real possibility.

Still obsessed with your pedigree? The world is full of people who have children and grandchildren that didn't turn out the way everyone expected. Most people do not live the kind of lives that are immortalized in history books and on monuments. Abraham Lincoln's descendants are no longer around and there's no guarantee that yours will be in a few generations either (if it they are not absorbed in some longer pool of humanity, making whatever contribution you made unrecognizable).

Look, love for women and family is not rational. It's emotional. That's the way love is, and there's nothing wrong with that. One can hope that your love is realistic and reigned in by sound judgment, but at the end of the day, it's emotion that impels you into marriage, sex, and family. If you try to make a rational case for why men should want to have sex, get married, or have children, then you will lose your case. It's like to trying make an argument for why I ought to like sunrises, peppermint ice cream, or fluffy kittens. I either like these things or I don't. Barring obvious considerations of morality and wisdom, it is utterly stupid to force your emotional preferences on other people. That's why the term "evolutionary mating strategy" is such a misnomer. Bacteria don't sit around at a mahogany table deliberating on how to take over the biosphere. Neither do birds, bees, fish, elephants, or fluffy kittens. Well, maybe the HBD crowd, but I jest.

She's One in a Million

Another idea floated by biogynists is that men are more disposable than women because "eggs are expensive and sperm is cheap." This is nothing more than a classical case of the Fallacy of Composition. Pray tell, which gender tends to draw the short end of the stick in sex selective abortions? Which gender typically inherits the property of the parents? Do we know something traditional cultures closer to margins of survival than we are today didn't know for thousands for years?

Somebody has brought up the matter about men, as opposed to women, being sent into battle. What about that? I think the reason women have not often been sent into battle is because they generally can’t fight and kill as well as men. Which, by the way, is the real reason why men are called upon to “sacrifice” and “be protectors.” Not because there is something inherently valiant about killing other people. That’s just a bunch of psychobabble to motivate young men to do dangerous things that no one in their right mind would do. No, it is about who is the most effective killer–and that’s men. Who makes killers out of men? That’s right--the big men at the top. War is young blood for old money.

Anyway, have women been valued more than men? Probably for the same reason that donkeys, coconuts, and seashells have been valued more than men. That’s what men in power do--cherish things and use men. They dehumanize others. Ogg the Barbarian may have valued his gold, donkeys, and women more than his hostile neighbour Uluk, but he didn't necessarily value them more than himself or his sons. He certainly didn't value his daughters more than his sons. So why are women esteemed so highly today, even over their male counterparts? Like I said, it has to do with the goodwill of men, not some evolutionary edge.

Anyway, Novaseeker delivers the coup de grâce to the "disposable male" meme:
As men, we should never, ever, buy in to the idea that we are disposable or of lesser value than women. Disposable? If all men went on strike for 48 hours in North America, we would soon see just how silly it is to view men as the disposable sex.
In closing, if we are going to dispose of something, let's dispose of the mentality that makes men out be a bunch of bulls and steers paraded before female auctioneers at a cattle show. This kind of thinking is detrimental to men, period. As men, we can do better than this. And when it comes to a Christian context for all of this, don't try to argue with me on that (1 Cor. 11:3, 7, 8-9). Both sexes have equal value before God (Gal. 3:28)!

Addendum: This recent article at Mensnewsdaily.com makes some good points about biogynism. See also this excellent post by a reader at Ferdinand Bardamu's blog.

32 comments:

Talleyrand said...

I am going to have to ruminate on this one. Interesting post.

If you are going to take a evolutionary perspective on this, it is not merely human evolution that you need to consider but the whole path to humanity (I understand you are doing this merely for argument sake).

If you look at animals, the farther back you go, or perhaps the farther reaching species of the animal, the more female choice seems to play a part.

Insects, birds, fish, reptiles. The female often does do the choosing through the courtship rituals.

And the older part of the brain, the emotional part is what people are talking about.

Still, you've given me much to think about.

Novaseeker said...

Great post, Anakin!

vysota said...

Cute post. Almost entirely false, but cute. Yes, men are more disposable. Evolutionarily women are certainly more valuable. Of course we're no longer at a point, as a species, where reproduction is particularly valuable. In fact overpopulation is a far greater problem now. Do the women do the choosing? More so than men, certainly. They may choose predictably (i.e. alpha males, by and large) but they still choose. And yes, those who do not pass on their genes are "losers" in the evolutionary sense. The whole of evolution demands the passing on of genes.

So while the post is cute in its earnestness, unfortunately that's all there's to it.

wombatty said...

I always laugh to myself when I hear people justifying or rationalizing this or that on the basis of evolutionary psychology. First, assuming the truth of evolution for the sake of argument, we're talking about the motivations and psychological make-up of various creatures down through the ages - creatures that no longer exist. For my money, a 'Pet Psychic' has more credibility than an evolutionary psychologist - at least a pet psychic has their subject in front of then, in the flesh. If reading the mind of your dog is impossible, how much more so a long dead chimp-like creature?

Second, the field of evolutionary psychology is disparaged by evolutionists in the hard sciences like biology. Even prominent evolutionists like Jerry Coyne & Stephen Jay Gould are (or were, in Gould's case) heavily critical of evo-psych. Coyne, in his review of A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion, titled The fairy tales of evolutionary psychology put evo-psych in its place:

In science's pecking order, evolutionary biology lurks somewhere near the bottom, far closer to phrenology than to physics.

These evolutionists justifiably slam evolutionary psychology as simply a bunch of 'just-so story telling'. It's too bad they can't see the log in their own eye...

Anonymous said...

BAM!
Take a bow Anakin.
Brilliant post, absolutely brilliant.

I'm tired of the pop evo psych grand theory of everything. Most of it is just plain bullplop. It holds as much weight as my great grand mother's extispicy (liver was good afterward though).

Concentrate...feel the Force flow. Yes. Good. Calm, yes. Through the Force, things you will see.

Your a freakin Jedi now!

wombatty said...

Just a little more food for thought on the whole evo-psycho issue:

After famously proclaiming that:

The sight of a feather in a peacock’s tail, whenever I gaze at it, makes me sick!

Darwin provided an ad hoc rationalization of the beauty of the peacock's tale; it was there to attract the peahen. Prettier tales got you more ladies. Too bad the empirical evidence says otherwise:

The feather train on male peacocks is among the most striking and beautiful physical attributes in nature, but it fails to excite, much less interest, females, according to new research.
The determination throws a wrench in the long-held belief that male peacock feathers evolved in response to female mate choice. It could also indicate that certain other elaborate features in galliformes, a group that includes turkeys, chickens, grouse, quails and pheasants, as well as peacocks, are not necessarily linked to fitness and mating success.


Turns out it was just another just-so story - surprise, surprise. Of course, the reason Darwin had to rationalize the peacock's tale is beacause its beauty 'made him sick' as it conflicted with his cherished theory. Question is, Why did it take them so long to subject Charlie's fairy-tale to empirical testing?

Oh, and here's another take-down (and a delightfully brutal one at that) of evolutionary psychology for your reading pleasure. Just something to keep in mind the next time you hear someone prattling on about it...

Anonymous said...

Ain't it interesting that in societies where women do the 'choosing' birth rates plummet below replacement levels? Wheres societies in which men do the choosing the birthrates skyrocket.

I wonder which is evolutionarily the fittest? Clearly post modern feminism is an evolutionary dead end.

vysota said...

Wait, wait, wait, so what you're telling us, wombatty, is that someone in the scientific community had a hypothesis and it - gasp! - was not correct??! Holy crap! That's unheard of, that's unprecedented, that's preposterous! My god, man, shut down the research facilities all over the world. It's over, ladies and gentlemen, it's all over. Galileo's great idea has died at the hands of wombatty and a peacock.

Thursday said...

Anakin:

So much wrongheadedness, so I'll stick to a few basic points.

1. If you deny reality it automatically works against you. Women simply are more valuable biologically. Deny that at your peril.

2. You are committing the elementary error of confusing the descriptive power of evolutionary psychology with prescriptive authority.

3. There is always a cost to going against nature. Sometimes it is worth it, sometimes not.


Wombatty:

Nice to see you taking to heart the ideas of radical leftists and feminists like Gould.

P.S. Gould et. al. have given rise to no followers.

wombatty said...

Thursday:

I'm taking nothing of Gould's leftism or feminism to heart. I merely cited him - an ardent marxist/evolutionist - as a 'hostile witness' against evolutionary psychology.

Nice try; better luck next time...

Niko said...

"Women simply are more valuable biologically"

That comment simply defies logic. Obviously none of you come from a farming background. Go to a farm and see how much a stud bull fetches compared to a cow. I hope you race horses, I'll trade you five prize winning mares for your prize winning stallion.

vysota said...

Niko -- I was talking about evolution. You're talking about horse racing. I think you're slightly confused.

Niko said...

Breeders are in the evolution game, except we determine selection. In that game a prize female guarantees a very limited genetic outcome that diminishes dramatically with age.

On the other hand a prize stud is a gift that keeps on giving. To put it simply a stud can enhance infinitely more genetic stock than a prize female can.

In the evolution game a prize male is more valuable. Thats why polygyny is more common than than the almost non existent polyandry.

vysota said...

No, Niko, in horse racing you are selecting for a specific trait out of a large available genetic pool. This has but a tangential relevance to evolution. In mammals females are more valuable for the simple mathematical reason that 1 female can only produce a few offspring while a male can produce thousands. Thus females are the rate limiting factor. For instance, a society with 10 females and 1 male can flourish, a society with 10 males and 1 female is almost certain to die out. What you're talking about is horse eugenics: artificial selection of a single trait that's arbitrarily chosen by the selector. This is bastardization of evolution -- horse's speed may or may not have anything to do with its survival capability.

So yes, even to horses females are more valuable. This argument, of course, is not true in species where the females's reproductive ability is equal or near-equal to that of male. However, for mammals, where the females carry young in utero this is true.

Thursday said...

On the other hand a prize stud is a gift that keeps on giving. To put it simply a stud can enhance infinitely more genetic stock than a prize female can.

Only if there are already enough females.

Niko said...

So how do you think selection is expressed through both genders if the female has no fitness selection capabilities? How do you presume an evolutionary fitness trait is passed on in a passive sex?

The dominant sex is where the genetic fitness is expressed.

Extreme sex ratios mean nothing and almost never occur, nature sees to that.

vysota said...

Niko -- I apologize, but I cannot answer your question. Since the premise on which the question relies is completely wrong (i.e. "the female has no fitness selection capabilities") answering the question is impossible. That's like asking: "Well, since water is so dry, why am I always wet when I get out of the shower?" I would love to help you, but your question would really need to be based on reality first.

vysota said...

Niko -- P.S.:

Your statement "The dominant sex is where the genetic fitness is expressed" makes sense only grammatically. The actual information content of the string of words you typed, despite the correct arrangement of parts of speech, is zero. I have no idea what you're talking about, mostly because you have no idea what you're talking about. That might be something you should look into...

Niko said...

The females of higher order species don't choose who they mate with. The dominant male (whose very dominance is the expression of evolutionary genetic fitness) controls the mating dynamic. Therefore the genetic fitness of the whole is controlled by the quality of the male.

I'd rather trust 10,000 years of animal husbandry and professional breeders than a casual amateur observer. Economic valuation isn't concerned with political ideology.

vysota said...

Animal husbandry has nothing to do with evolution. Animal husbandry is artificial human selection of a narrow range of desirable traits, which do not correspond to the survival value in the wild. And yes, in many cases females do choose who they mate with. You dealing in absolute statements is both wrong and kind of funny. Sorry Niko, you may choose to believe animal husbandry, I choose to believe actual life.

Niko said...

Come down to the Australian outback with our traditional Aborigines and see how your 'biologically more valuable' sisters get along (remember its a 40 thousand year old culture based on wild survival values).

I hope your not squeamish.

The truth is absolute and doesn't change. The good Lord is patent but He won't wait forever.

vysota said...

Niko -- I have no idea what your statement is supposed to mean. If you want people to understand what's in your head, you might have to occasionally actually say or write it.

Niko said...

I wouldn't expect you to.

Anakin must be ruffling the right feathers.

Amateur Strategist said...

I think the point Niko is making is along the lines of Males having traits that help in survival. Mating and bringing the next generation not being the end-all be-all except in industrialized nations, and even then we are seeing bad effects from single mothers by choice.

What about sex ratios? If females were more valuable, biologically or otherwise, why would God or evolution permit 50/50? This is probably not the case in ALL animals, but in a lot of groups I can think of, it's the case. 50/50 ratio expands my belief of equal value, though different abilities.

I'm trying to think of a way the theory of evolution would allow 50/50 when 10/90 would be more beneficial, or rather, how the 10/90 mutation wouldn't outbreed the 50/50, thoughts?

vysota said...

Amateur -- you make a good point. I guess someone on this blog has to. Here's my take:

The point of the whole 90/10 idea is not that it's preferable, but that if push came to shove 90/10 in favor of females would be more beneficial than the other way around. I think the 50/50 ratio ensures the best genetic variation within species, at least species that reproduce the way mammals do. Genetic variation is the single greatest survival trait, therefore evolution has selected for that. In addition males are better providers due to their superior physical abilities, therefore having too few males would be detrimental as well.

Bottom line is I think you're right. The evolutionary value of the 2 sexes is close. However, I do think females are a bit more valuable, and so has just about every society that has ever existed.

Niko -- in that case your feathers are ruffled a bit too easily.

Niko said...

Vysota

Anakin has made a statement and affirmed his position with facts. As I breeder of dogs I have simply affirmed that position with verifiable facts.

You have not rebutted his arguments. You haven't said anything that merits a response (hence his silence). Appeals to authority, repeating ad nauseam, non sequiturs and straw men don't represent valid arguments.

You are either an incompetent debater or an excellent propagandist.

vysota said...

Niko -- it's not my fault neither of you understand how evolution works. It's not my fault you have no idea how genetic traits get passed down. It's not my fault you don't understand even 9th grade biology, which tells you that 50% of the genes in an animal come from one parent, 50% from the other. It's not my fault you have no concept of the difference between dog breeding and evolutionary adaptation. It's not my fault you seem to have no idea what a straw man argument or what appeal to authority means (since I've not made either logical error). What do you want me to do, replace your high school?

Rin said...

Having just endured a college class extolling the virtues of feminism and mocking Christianity, I think I can confidently say: I kinda love you right now.

相片 said...
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Rafaela said...

This is fantastic!

Diana Adams said...

'In the evolution game a prize male is more valuable. Thats why polygyny is more common than than the almost non existent polyandry.'

Actually polygyny proves the opposite. When you have polygyny almost all women will reproduce anyways while only a few so called alpha males will reproduce many times and many other men will be left with no mates. Polygyny proves the male disposability. People often erroneously assume that polygyny is some kind of male priviledge and it's bad for women while reality is that polygyny favors only a few men, hurts many others and pretty much favors women who have access to the strong and rich males. Monogamy is the system that favors all men and also makes it that almost all men become economically active as they have access to mates.

Dennis Stewart said...

I'm 62 and I have come to the conclusion that most American women are nothing but worthless gutter whores, murders of their own babies and whore arounds with any man they fancy. I do not care about rape of women or violence against women as I do not do this and I resent women thinking I am somehow emotionally responsible for it.