On Evolutionary Psychology, Feminism, Patriarchy

Posted: January 30, 2009 in Braak, crotchety ranting
Tags: , ,

feminismThe topic of evolutionary psychology has come up, a couple times, when I hang out with feminists.  Now, I generally consider myself to be a feminist, but the fact is that not everyone who thinks they’re a feminist is one; I will err on the side of caution here, and leave the decision as to whether I get to be in the club up to the people that have the most significant vested interest.

In any case, I want to take a minute and talk about evolutionary psychology, its relationship to the patriarchy, and why biological determinism is stupid.

First, some terms.  Evolutionary psychology is the science of figuring out the reasons for certain patterns of human behavior based on how those patterns might have, at some time or another, provided an evolutionary edge to a civilization, community, tribe, or individual.  I am a big believer in evolutionary psychology.

Biological determinism is the belief that human beings have a set of hard-wired, biological instructions (instincts, we might call them), that we must follow–either because we can’t help it, or because we’ll be sad and unhappy if we don’t.  I generally think biological determinism is just an excuse to be a dickhead.  (See Roissy.)

Now, as I said before, I do believe that evolutionary psychology has a lot of merit, because I don’t think that things happen for no reason.  Human beings are capable of a lot of shitty things–things like racism, sexism, classism, &c.–and I don’t think those things are accidental.  As shitty as they are, I’m willing to bet that there was some time and some place where those characteristics were really useful for survival.

Consider racism, for example:  it’s generally hard to convince a group of people to make war on another group of people.  But, the ability to murder the shit out of competing tribes is–at the most primitive level–an evolutionary advantage.  So, a biologically or socially-inculcated fear or disdain for people that are different from you makes war a little easier to handle.

BASTARDS.

Chimpanzees: BASTARDS

We see behaviors like this reflected in our close animal relatives:  take a look at the humble chimpanzee, who routinely forms war parties that go out and eat his neighbors’ babies.

So, let’s talk about patriarchy.  Yesterday, a friend of mine made a post, asking why peacock behaviors differ from human behaviors:  in peacock society, the males are brightly colored and prance around, trying to attract a mate, while in human society, it’s the women who are expected to be brightly-colored and prancy.  And, throughout many species (especially birds) females are camoflauged, while the males are brightly-colored and have to earn the attention of the females.

I said that the key difference between human beings and animals is economics, which was me kind of leaping into the middle of my theories on human social evolution, and consequently I had to keep explaining myself both backwards and forwards, in a manner that I can only assume was exponentially more confusing.  I’m going to try again, but from the beginning.

What my friend was probably not aware of is that, in fact, peahens do not prefer peacocks with bigger feathers at all.  Since I am a big old materialist, I believe that everything is a product of something, and so I’m going to put forth another scenario:  the point of peacock feathers is not to attract the attention of the peahen, but to attract the attention of leopards.

A species’ survival rate is dependent on its capacity to breed, which is directly related to the number of females in a group.  Consequently, survival behaviors that protect females from predators are evolutionarily useful:  if a leopard shows up at the…uh…peacock grounds, I guess…the males all shriek and run with their big bright feathers, while the females hide under bushes and are camoflauged.  The leopard is way more likely to get a male, which is good:  males, in this scenario, are pretty expendable.  If both sexes were brightly colored, the leopard would be just as likely to get a female, which would put that particular species at a breeding disadvantage.

Behaviors that are intended to protect females of the species are fairly common, actually:  buffalo and cattle, when threatened, form up in a circle with the females and the children at the center.  Dolphins do the same thing.  Gorillas leave the fighting and posturing to the big male silverbacks.  Almost all birds have brightly-colored males and dun-colored females.  I’m not sure if elephants do this:  they don’t actually have any natural predators, so they certainly don’t need to, but they didn’t always have no natural predators, and so the instinct might have stuck around.  Lions, of course, don’t at all–their big manes are meant to call out other males, where they fight each other for breeding rights of the females.  This isn’t a question of female choice, really, as the females are just stuck with whatever male turns out to have been stronger.

Anyway, human beings probably have this, too.  A primitive group of australopithecenes that, when in danger, protects its females and its young is probably more likely to survive the Old Days, when leopards and tigers were eating the crap out of everyone, than a group that didn’t.

How does this turn into patriarchy, though?  That’s where economics comes in.  Economics is a product of two things:  communication and forecast.  That is, you need to be able to communicate effectively to make economic transactions, and you need to be able to predict that something else may be more valuable in the future than whatever it is that you have now.  Human beings are the best at these two things, which explains why our economics is so complicated.

But, anyway, here’s the scenario:  Australopithecus has a native instinct to protect females at times of danger.  Maybe even just in general:  maybe the males go out and take the risks and forage, because who cares if we lose a few males, right?  Whatever.  Australopithecus evolves into Homo sapiens (eventually) and discovers a new power:  communication.  This brings with it the attendant possibility of social behavior.

Social behavior is way, way more valuable than instinctive or biological behavior, because it evolves much, much faster, and doesn’t need to evolve randomly (or with death):  if you have a bad idea you can just stop thinking it, and then you can figure out the good idea first, before you start to spread it around.

The earliest social behaviors reinforce biological instincts, because your regular instincts aren’t specific enough or adaptable enough, or what have you.  So, the instinct to protect women passes from the biological to the social, and spreads the way all social insincts do:  like a virus.  Everyone gets thoroughly infected with it.

At the same time that this is happening, we’re evolving economics.  This means that we start evaluating things that we have, things that we control, according to what we can get for them.  We are commodifying things.

Then what happens?  The social instincts, because they’re more mutable than biological ones, enable men to move from an understanding that they’re supposed to protect women from tigers to a belief that they control the women that they’re supposed to protect.  This is easy because of how unspecific the biological urge for protection is.

Now, since protecting females at early stages of civilization still provides some advantage–early agrarian communities fought kind of a lot, and as civilization advanced, they fought even more–there’s no pressure to remove the social instincts for control over women.  It is, to a degree, working.  So civilization gets built up on top of this “women are property” idea, which is primarily a learned behavior, not a biological one, and that means that when either groups or individuals try and reform it (Spartan women, for example), they’ve got too much crap to dig through in order to make an effective change.

I’m figuring that this worked for a while primarily because of how poorly-distributed education was.  In almost all civilizations up until about three hundred years ago, education was confined to an elite group of literate people.  Since it was built around only a few people knowing a lot of things, keeping large parts of the population (whether because of their gender, race, religion, &c.) subjugated didn’t pose any significant problems.

But with the widespread capacity for education, keeping segments of the population down becomes both disadvantageous and morally repugnant.  Our civilization is now built not on the ability to do physical labor, but our ability to do intellectual labor–so, the more educated people we have, the better.  And the better people are educated, the less willing they are to be second-class citizens.

Okay, so, what does this mean?  Does it mean that feminism is unnatural?  Yes, kind of.  Does it mean that feminism goes against thousands of years of civilization?  Yes, kind of.  So what?

chilevolcano

Look: nature fucking HATES you.

First of all, there’s this crazy idea that some people have that “nature” is one big holistic, harmonious thing, and you’re either with it, in which case you’re good, or you’re against it, in which case you’re bad.  This is crazy.  Nature is made up of thousands and thousands of warring elements that are always trying to fight each other for supremacy.  Maybe there’s a natural instinct to protect women, whatever.  We have a natural susceptibility to polio, too, does that make polio vaccines unnatural?  Of course not, because our ability to make polio vaccines is also the result of natural characteristics.

Likewise, our ability to develop psychological and social behaviors that countermand biological instincts are also natural, as is our ability to rewrite pre-existing social behaviors.  We’re supposed to find better ways to conduct ourselves than instinct.  We’re supposed to replace old-fashioned behaviors with new ones.  That’s why we’re able to do it.

The history of civilization has been the history of the unnatural.  Nature is slow, random, imprecise–leaving decisions about how to conduct society up to nature is foolishness.  The idea that because cavemen did something in a certain way is only pertinent if we want to live like cavemen.  I do not.  I like pants, and the computer, and beer.

mojo

Contrary to what cartoons teach us, THERE ARE NO MONKEY SCIENTISTS

I also like feminism; maybe it’s not the way monkeys behave naturally, I don’t care.  Monkeys do all kinds of stupid shit.  But in 2029 when that asteroid clips Earth’s orbit, and we realize that we’ve only got seven years before it crashes into us and wipes out all life on the planet, it’s not the fucking monkeys who are going to figure out a way to deflect it.

*******************************************************************

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Comments
  1. Lisa says:

    Well said. I tend to agree with just about everything you’ve said. I also tend to strongly dislike the word “feminism” – too often it’s used as an excuse in the same manner as racism is. For example, I am a woman of fairly high intelligence, I have a professional career and yet I would gladly leave this career behind to raise a family. I had a very heated discussion with a self-puported “feminist” in college that I would be “wasting my brain” if I gave up a career to raise a family. Not that this is a choice any woman needs to make, but it is the choice I would (if I could financially speaking). Anyway – my argument is less against feminism and more for “equalism” (for lack of a better word). Each individual person -regardless of sex, race, creed, religion, sexual preference, eye-color, astrological sign or handedness – should have the right to pursue education, a fulfilling job, liberty, justice, happiness and all that jazz.

    Except for stupid people. They should all be rounded up and given drugs to cause sterility.

    Oh and elephants live in a matriarchal society. Males are usually solo once they come of breeding age. When the herd is confronted with danger, the eldest of the females will surround younger (possibly pregnant) females and any calves and scare the troublemakers away.

  2. braak says:

    Okay, that makes sense–especially because there’s not really much that can endanger a female elephant. She will be just as skilled at stomping the crap out of a hyena as a male elephant would. It is reasonable that this behavior would end up like this.

    However, what you’re describing–that each individual person regardless of sex &c–have the right to pursue education, a fulfilling job, liberty, justice &c. IS a commonly accepted definition of feminism for most people. “Feminism” as a philosophy does not demand that women work, only that have the same choice to work that men do, and that if they are working, they are being paid equally for it.

    My general definition for “feminism” is “the philosophy that gender should not be considered except in cases where it is unavoidably pertinent.” The “unavoidably pertinent” part mostly encompasses things like healthcare, in which case it would be foolish to pretend that men are identical to women.

    “Feminism” sounds, and largely is, women-centric primarily because everywhere, all the time, it’s women that are oppressed. It’s gotten confusing in the last couple decades because we managed to solve all the big problems; the remaining stuff is all the subtle remnants of the patriarchal psychological virus. So, in that respect, “feminism” is specifically an ongoing war against that virus, the abolition of which would achieve the above result.

    There’s a lot of weird stuff that gets hung up on the “feminism” word, especially to do with sex and sexuality, that are problematic firstly because guys like Hugh Hefner are trying to confuse the issue so that he can still make porn, and secondly because feminists aren’t really a homogenous group with regards to their feelings on those issues.

  3. V.I.P. Referee says:

    It’s interesting how this has carried over into workplaces. We don’t quite know what to do with new mothers yet, despite the history of knowledge we have regarding humans’ need to reproduce in order to perpetuate the species. That workers occasionally have babies, always comes as a surprise.

  4. V.I.P. Referee says:

    On an unrelated subject: Will you be having a book discussion/forum/thing on here?

  5. braak says:

    Yeah, weird, right? And even if women weren’t really in the workplace until fifty years ago, a half a century is still a long time.

    Of course, social evolution happens much faster than biological evolution, but that’s not necessarily saying much. Biological evolution happens really slowly.

  6. braak says:

    Books discussion forum…for my book, you mean? Or just books in general?

  7. V.I.P. Referee says:

    - This was what was intended for technology—to be something that would allow people to work from home, travel less and rear offspring. The current cultural attitude seems to be that poor, unemployed and uneducated people who have children, are somehow “breeders” (in the “Orwellian” sense–no offense intended, or more than I can help, anyway) who are burdening society; yet, wealthier, highly educated people are putting-off having children until midlife. I’m sure there’s some “stop-over-population” activist out there who would read this and think “Ooo. Good. Stop the people from peopling.” But we create systems (social programs) that protect people–women–who have children, by ensuring they be provided with basic needs so their children may thrive. Some of these same women continue on to have more children and under the same circumstances (not judging, just recognizing). Many older, female professionals may never have any.

    - Yes, a discussion board/forum for your book, like an “ask the author” type thing. Questions to be asked: “If you could be any animal, what animal would you be?” or “Do you like crunchy or smooth peanut butter?”. Maybe also some questions about themes and character perspective, etc.

  8. threatqualitypress says:

    - Well, in one sense I think that it shows that what we typically think of as being biologically deterministic–like the biological imperative to breed–just isn’t that imperious. A lot of the desire and need to breed was based on social and economic pressures; in the Olde Days, having a bunch of kids around the farm was actually a help, not so much so today. Which is all to the good, I think, because as a species we’ve long passed the point where in order to survive, we had to keep breeding. We’ve basically got full command over our resources and we’re (slowly, I think, but still surely) eroding things like nationalism and tribalism. What’s more, most major contributions to the species are now in the form of ideas, which are socially heritable, so there’s not even any huge need to pass on your own DNA anymore.

    Now, if only we could distribute those means and resources a little more evenly. Hhhhhm.

    - Ha! I hadn’t thought of this, but now that you mention it, it’s a pretty good idea. I’ve sold a handful of copies now, so I figure, maybe in a week or two, when I know for sure that a bunch of people have it and have had the opportunity to read it?

  9. Adam says:

    Cool post, lots of good things to think about. I too consider myself a feminist and am the progeny of one, believing in the definition Lisa above very aptly put. One thing to keep in mind is that for at least a few thousand years now (but not long enough for biological evolution to adjust us to it) humans’ biggest predators were humans. Not necessarily predatory in the man kills man sense, but predatory in man goes after and gets another man’s woman and thus propagates his own seed rather than the other poor fool’s. Men control their women as an extreme DNA-protecting measure. All this evolutionary psychology holds to be true. The evolutionary psychology literature I’ve read explains those relevant social behaviors in these terms more often than than the tiger-eats-human sense. I think it’s because we haven’t had any natural predators since we figured out how to use sharp things which, depending on which archaeological evidence you trust, is something like 50,000 years ago. The extinction of megafauna probably had something to do with it too.

    The rate of evolution is determined roughly by the time it takes for a species to procreate. This is why we can study evolution quantitatively in fruit flies. The longer it takes for the female of a species to reproduce, the more useless the males of that species become. Now, when reading evolutionary psychology theories, it’s important to remember that the theories are not judgmental, at least they aren’t supposed to be. But it deals with things in our society (sex, relationships, economics, et c.) that are some of the most poignant subjects that touch our lives. Evolutionary psychology posits that women are monoandrous because they need secure financial backing to be successful procreators. Men (and therefore societies) are polygamous because it takes women so freaking long to give birth relative to the length of their lives. A tempting judgment to draw here is that women cannot support themselves alone, though, up until about 50 years ago, that was largely true in most western societies. This infuriates women’s rights advocates for obvious reasons, and further doesn’t jive with feminism (which I agree is an unfortunate term since its etymology really has almost nothing to do with what it’s actually about). But it’s just an explanation, not a judgment. Judgment is determined by values, values derive from culture, and culture emerges from societies in all their subjective glory. I think evolutionary psychology should be left in the realm of (IMO, pseudo-)science.

    As for why societies are around these days – I think once raw survival no longer became a going concern we got bored. We had to do SOMETHING with our time. Especially since women take so freaking long to give birth. :)

  10. threatqualitypress says:

    Evolutionary psychology can explain it how it likes, but the problem is this: there’s no way to tell for sure where the biological instincts leave off and the psychological inculcations come in. I am betting that the shift away from humans-as-threat came at about the same time that biological instincts became inferior to sociological behavior patterns as adaptable characteristics–because after the point at which we developed language and sociology, the species began to evolve at an exponentially faster rate. In fact, civilization hasn’t been bound up in procreative rates for a long time; when, after all, was the last time that we could say conclusively that an individual did humanity a service by contributing good genes to the gene pool?

    My bet, again, is that biological instincts are fairly thoroughly withered up, and that most of modern patriarchy is a sociological behavior that was founded on them. For example: while it’s true that human women do take a relatively long time to give birth, it’s also important to remember that the ratio of males to females is about the same. This means that the reproductive rate is identical regardless of whether ten men have mated with ten women, or five men have mated with ten women. Polygamy is not evolutionary advantageous, because all it does (among humans) is a) limit available genetic material, and b) create a bunch of angry young males with no mates.

    Now, polyamory has evolutionary advantages, but it’s just as advantageous when females practice it. If one man has sex with ten women, there is a reasonable chance that one of the women will get pregnant. But if each of those women has sex with nine other men, the odds are much higher. We see similar behaviors to this in those bonobo apes: free sexuality maximizes procreative capacity.

    But part of what I’m saying here is that it would be deeply retarded to assume that all of these behavior patterns are in synch with each other. A biological instinct to protect females in times of need that gets moved into the sociological sphere and reinforced into a control over females is directly at odds with the similar biologically-advantageous tendency towards free sexuality.

    What I like about evolutionary psychology is twofold: first, since we can see how ideas like this came into being, we can more effectively build ideas to countermand them. Second, once we see that certain behavior patterns are genuine atavisms–i.e., specific adaptations to situations that no longer exist–we can stop pretending that they’re worthwhile or useful to humanity.

    Sourcing patriarchy in biological and early sociological instincts doesn’t reinforce patriarchy; it just proves that it’s obsolete.

  11. Adam says:

    Yes, evolutionary psychology completely discounts the influence of logic and cognition and all those other things that make humans distinct from every other creature on the planet. It is where, I think, EP is fundamentally flawed when its advocates try to extend it too far. But I hardly think that humans-as-threat has diminished in our societies. Just look at the subjects of popular art and music these days – just as rife with jealousy and emotional angst as long as there has been history. Humans in the emotional sphere are inherently irrational but only in relation to what we consider rationality. How else can irrational behavior be explained but by our unconscious inner workings, i.e. instincts? (As for gender ratios, it is interesting that there are slightly fewer men in the world than women by a statistically significant margin, but the birth rate is skewed slightly in male’s favor. Coincidence?)

    From an overall species’ perspective polyamory is advantageous and I’m pretty sure I’ve heard about indigenous tribes in Indonesia/Polynesia that practice it. But from an individual male’s perspective, polyamory is exactly what he doesn’t want if his goal is to ensure his own genes are propagated. Though this sounds like rationality, the point of EP is that humans didn’t consciously make these decisions – the types of individuals in a population who instinctively fought for and controlled their mates were the ones whose genes got propagated more often, and so won out in the long run. It was in every man’s best interest to dominate both females and males alike and the most dominant spread the most seed over hundreds of thousands of generations. From this perspective, I don’t see how the instinct of protecting females is out of sync with current behavioral patterns, which when taken to an extreme explains patriarchy.

    There is evidence that our brains had an unprecedented growth spurt (at least from the perspective of brain size => intelligence) once we developed tools and had to be more dextrous. You are right to make a distinction between biological evolution and social evolution because the former has likely not occurred since then but the latter certainly has. Biological evolution needs two things to occur – a sufficiently static environment to which we can adapt and a lot of time. In the evolutionary sense neither of these things have been the case since civilization emerged. The logical conclusion this leads to is that our brains are biologically the same as those on the savanna 50,000 years ago. I don’t entirely believe this, but there is solid logical merit to the theory. However, biological evolution can _appear_ to occur when certain subsets of a population become dominant (when another subset dies out). The individuals comprising the population didn’t necessarily evolve quickly, they just became more prominent.

    The interesting thing is that civilization removes environmental hazards that apply selective pressure. What it adds is selective pressure from the social perspective – desirability of mates in the presence of choice, propensity to violent crime, eradication of diseases, et c. So, therefore, our genotypes are freer to evolve as they will now than ever before because their contribution to the equation of survival is minimized. In this light I agree with you that many of our evolved traits no longer serve their original purposes but that doesn’t mean they have no effect. Just as dominant males emerged due to biological selective pressure, so will they remain or disappear based on current social selective pressures. Patriarchy plays a smaller and smaller role in our society these days I think for the very reasons that you cite but until those that embrace it all die off, which I think will be quite some time hence, it will remain. Death is the only thing that brings real, permanent change.

  12. Bill says:

    re: Biological evolution: See recent studies on changes in skin pigmentation over the last 2500 years. Biological evolution (change) continues, albeit in ways that we, perhaps, cannot specifically determine. To suggest that it hasn’t happened since the evolution of societies is misguided. Also, it is the non-static enviornment that encourages biological evolution. Not the static one – see recent studies on desert lizards. Static environments would, I think, encourage social evolution.

  13. Roman says:

    Your “for the good of the species” example with peacocks doesn’t work. Any male that was dully colored would have higher reproductive capacity than males that were eaten by leopards every time they put on mating displays. Any system that runs on altruism is subject to cheaters, unless cheaters can be punished (see vampire bats for classic studies on altruistic behavior). Peacocks have expensive plumage for the same reason you want an expensive car- it picks up chicks. And why does it pick up chicks? Because it signals that you can not only survive in a hostile world of leopards and suits, but you also thrive.

  14. threatqualitypress says:

    It wouldn’t have a higher reproductive capacity–it’s reproductive capacity would be lowered, because its mates were more likely to get eaten.

  15. Roman says:

    That would be true if peacocks displayed their feathers after mating with a female, but peacocks, as with virtually all animals with courtship displays, display during courtship, not when a predator attacks.

  16. threatqualitypress says:

    And yet! Peahens continue to remain unimpressed by the display!

    Interesting.

  17. Roman says:

    So you’re claiming that a successful way of passing on your genes is being eaten by a leopard before you mate?

  18. phil says:

    “I also like feminism; maybe it’s not the way monkeys behave naturally, I don’t care. Monkeys do all kinds of stupid shit. But in 2029 when that asteroid clips Earth’s orbit, and we realize that we’ve only got seven years before it crashes into us and wipes out all life on the planet, it’s not the fucking monkeys who are going to figure out a way to deflect it.”

    *******

    Yes monkeys do all kinds of stupid shit. And if they were humans they would do even more stupid shit; the kind of shit we do while they’re hanging around from branches and generally having a good time.
    But never fear little monkey, we humans are going to save you from the asteroid…after we’ve eradicated your habitat and polluted the globe beyond with CO emissions and other unsustainable ‘developments.’

  19. threatqualitypress says:

    See? That’s exactly the point. Expanding population and civilization without regards to long-term sustainability is precisely what monkeys would do. The only reason they haven’t is because there are still plenty of things that eat them. Short-term thinking is monkey behavior, and we’re better off leaving all of those old-fashioned monkey behaviors by the wayside.

    @Roman: Well, there are peacocks around. Potentially, actually, yes. If you think of it this way: individually, having a huge feathered ass makes an individual peacock, say, five percent more likely to be eaten by a leopard. Now, an individual peacock maybe has a 43% chance of breeding successfully–a 5% difference in individual success isn’t really that high. But taken as an aggregate, a species with a 5% higher survival rate for its females than its males is, in the long-term, going to be a more successful species than one that has a 5% higher survival rate for its males than its females.

    I don’t know if these numbers are accurate–I am just positing the existence of a set of numbers in which such a theory is plausible.

    Not that any of this matters; I have no direct knowledge of peahens or their sexual preferences. There’s just two really big flaws in the theory that “big, bright plumage is meant to attract peahens”: 1) it doesn’t actually do it. 2) if it did actually represent the principle that “oh, man, I can survive with this huge pile of feathers on my ass, I MUST be awesome, right?” then peacocks ought to be one of the most clever birds in town, and those things are fucking stupid.

    Again, none of it’s pertinent. Every species is an combination of “things that are useful,” “things that were useful, but aren’t harmful,” and “things that are kind of harmful, but haven’t died out of the species yet.” Sometimes, these elements contradict each other.

  20. Jean Valjean says:

    A whole lot of words to say very little.

    Let me sum it up for you in layman’s terms. Feminism IS patriarchy.

    How do women achieve independence and equality with men by blaming men for everything and then outlining the things men need to do to make women’s lives better?

    By blaming men women describe the things that men need to do in order to win women’s favor for reproduction. Women have a monopoly on reproduction and despite the feminist claims it is men who are subserviant to women. Try as they might to talk about men raping women even a evolutionary psychologist can tell you that using violence against those who carry babies is the least productive way of making babies and bringing them to term, then birthing them, then feeding them and raising them. Sure it might work some of the time but if it were as common as the feminists claim we would not have evoloved patriarchy now would we?

    So back to my point. . . feminism is patriarchy . . . how can women claim to want independence and equality with men when they continue to empower men to cater to women’s whims and wants?

    Only modern feminism is much different than previous eras. Feminists pander to the uber father–the government–for their privilege. And men are left to pay for it all and still be blamed and maligned.

    How have feminists achieved equality? They have a reproductive monopoly turned tyrrany with the most draconian laws that govern the actions of men from courtship to child rearing and women are nearly immune to prosecution for fraud, perjury, and child abandonment, and abuse.

    And at this last point I want to remind each of you of the genetic pre-disposition of women to discriminate against men. It is coded into their DNA and the evolutionary psychologists can agree to the evolutionary purpose of such a thing. But to then give women equal political power–indeed unequal power given their majority of votes–in our democracy knowing their predisposition to discriminate is a recipe for the downfall of our civilization.

    And that is why no matriarchies have ever survived in competition with other civilizations. I think there may be some matriarchies out in the Pacific Islands but that’s the exception that proves the rule.

    Finallly, women will always rely on men to provide for them and men will always provide. It is simply too lucrative for women to spend money they didn’t have to work in coal mines or steel mills to earn. And as long as women select for the most dominant and even violent males then men will compete and kill and war and occasionally women will suffer from that violence.

  21. braak says:

    Interesting theory!

    How do women achieve independence and equality with men by blaming men for everything and then outlining the things men need to do to make women’s lives better?

    That is not what feminism is! It is actually only what really defensive men think feminism is. In fact, feminism is a broad social movement meant to, in the long term, change the social expectations regarding gender. It involves women doing a lot of things for themselves in order to make their own lives better — you know, voting, working, picking their own clothes.

    By blaming men women describe the things that men need to do in order to win women’s favor for reproduction. Women have a monopoly on reproduction and despite the feminist claims it is men who are subserviant to women. Try as they might to talk about men raping women even a evolutionary psychologist can tell you that using violence against those who carry babies is the least productive way of making babies and bringing them to term, then birthing them, then feeding them and raising them. Sure it might work some of the time but if it were as common as the feminists claim we would not have evoloved patriarchy now would we?

    I don’t know, would we? Is this what we call an “argument from personal incredulity”? That is, YOU CAN’T THINK of how it could be true, and therefore it must be false? Of course, “coercive sex” is actually more complex than just violent rape, as you’ve laid out in your own comments. If women are dependent on men to provide for them, as you say, then violence is hardly necessary, is it?

    How have feminists achieved equality? They have a reproductive monopoly turned tyrrany with the most draconian laws that govern the actions of men from courtship to child rearing and women are nearly immune to prosecution for fraud, perjury, and child abandonment, and abuse.

    Hahah, this is just bullshit. Draconian laws that govern courtship? Like what? Immune to prosecution for fraud and perjury? When are women excused from standing trial for perjury or fraud? Fraud, seriously? What are you even talking about?

    And at this last point I want to remind each of you of the genetic pre-disposition of women to discriminate against men. It is coded into their DNA and the evolutionary psychologists can agree to the evolutionary purpose of such a thing. But to then give women equal political power–indeed unequal power given their majority of votes–in our democracy knowing their predisposition to discriminate is a recipe for the downfall of our civilization.

    What is the genetic pre-disposition to discriminate against men? I’ve never heard of such a thing, so rather than reminding me of it, it looks like you’re just making it up. Which gene is that? How does it express? “Discriminate against men” in what sense? When women talk about the patriarchy discriminating against women, they’re talking about a social system that privileges one gender over another, not a genetic predisposition to discriminate. In what context are you using “discriminate”?

    Also, the idea that women are given “unequal political power” in a functional democracy ludicrously presupposes that “women” are a single voting block, rather than an aggregate of individuals who vote according to their individual interests. You could make that same argument about any substantial demographic — white people discriminate against non-white people, and we outnumber most other minorities. Should we be disenfranchised due to our more significant political power? If there are more Democrats (who discriminate against Republican policies) than Republicans, should Democrats be disenfranchised until the numbers are equal?

    And that is why no matriarchies have ever survived in competition with other civilizations. I think there may be some matriarchies out in the Pacific Islands but that’s the exception that proves the rule.

    The phrase “the exception that proves the rule” refers to exceptional data inputs that correlate properly to anticipated outputs; you’ve described a discrepancy in outputs, and so the aphorism is meaningless. Not that it wouldn’t be meaningless anyway — the point of the article isn’t that patriarchies weren’t helpful, it’s that they aren’t helpful. It’s old-fashioned caveman bullshit and, like many things that people did in caveman days, is no longer a useful evolutionary adaptation.

    Finallly, women will always rely on men to provide for them and men will always provide. It is simply too lucrative for women to spend money they didn’t have to work in coal mines or steel mills to earn. And as long as women select for the most dominant and even violent males then men will compete and kill and war and occasionally women will suffer from that violence.

    That’s just stupid. Working in coal mines and steel mills is not, by far, the most lucrative work anymore. Even assuming that women are the self-absorbed parasites that you’re trying to portray them as, why would they expect coal miners and steel millners to provide for them? Of course, civilization doesn’t really work that way anymore, anyway. Lots of women have jobs and, in fact, women tend to work in jobs that are more lucrative (or, would be more lucrative all things being equal). In fact, a lot of women actually make more than their husbands! It’s surprising, I know.

    Your last statement is really weird, and, I think exemplary of the kind of nonsense that anti-feminists propagate. Killing and waging war are inherently immoral activities — we should be able to rightly say that men shouldn’t be doing them at all, regardless of whether we live in a matriarchy or a patriarchy or anything.

    So, on the one hand we have men doing an immoral activity, to which women say, “hey, stop doing that, but especially to us.”

    But on the other hand there’s you, saying that it’s the fault of women in the first place! Do you really think if you didn’t murder people all the time then you wouldn’t be able to get a date?

    Or, I guess, maybe you just care about competing? In your social circle do the guys that always lose at Call of Duty never get laid? Maybe you’ve never heard of poor people getting laid?

    Anyway, you’re an idiot, but I’m not worried. Most psychological studies show that feminist women are better at sex than non-feminist women, and your poisonous, idiotic, chauvinism pretty much guarantees that you’ll never have sex with a feminist. So. Enjoy!

  22. FastPicker says:

    I don’t think the question is whether patriarchy is economically or reproductively successful. We no longer live in a primitive world; most modern jobs can be done in a sufficiently equal manner by both genders, and child support laws ensure that both genders have the same investment in sex. The question is whether patriarchy provides humans with the most comfort and happiness. I think it does.

    If parts of human social behavior, as evolutionary psychology suggests, come from biological instincts, then it is safe to assume that these parts of human social behavior are here to stay. Even if they are suppressed by society, the instincts that motivate us are still there and pushing.

    Take homosexuality, for example. A gay man is biologically driven to mate with other men, even if that is looked upon unacceptable in the society he lives in***. When he doesn’t carry out his instinct, he lives uncomfortably, feeling unhappy and unfulfilled.

    If gender roles found in human society are rooted in biological instincts, then wouldn’t humans feel much less happy if these roles weren’t expressed? Patriarchy is the ancient system that is based on our biological drives towards the gender roles we know. For most people, fulfilling their respective gender role in one way or the other makes them feel just that, fulfilled. If patriarchy was eliminated from our society, as many feminists want, then humans would be confused, unhappy, and unsatisfied.

    This isn’t to say that men should be the only leaders and women should only be housewives. In our modern world that’s ridiculous. What this means is that humans are generally more content when Dad is driving the car when the whole family goes out.

    It is true that social instincts can be much more malleable than biological ones, but that only ones that the biological ones are all the more permanent and not ignorable.

    *** (Note that I’m not saying that this is evolutionarily natural, I’m just saying that it is an undeniable occurrence. Homosexuality is a perversion of the instinct to spread one’s genes, and is NOT natural in the sense that a straight person’s instincts are. It is natural in the sense that it is natural for a pedophile to want to mate with children)

  23. braak says:

    There are two things that need to be considered here:

    1) How closely does the social system hew to the genetic imperatives that spawned it? A lot of people talk a lot of crap about “evolutionary psychology,” but the fact of the matter is that no one has found the codons for virtually *any* of these behaviors, yet. To say that patriarchy is the expression of genetic imperatives (as opposed to what I was saying: the product of thousands of years of social evolution that may have at one point been related to genetic imperatives) implies an isometric relationship for which there is absolutely no evidence.

    2) To suggest that homosexuality is somehow “unnatural” is equally troublesome, because it presumes that all individual species members MUST have a drive to pass on their genetic material. But there’s no reason to assume that this is the default; a species, for example, with a built-in system to avoid population booms, or to accommodate circumstances in which males outnumber females, is a species that potentially has a better chance of survival than one that doesn’t. In this light, homosexuality isn’t a failure or perversion of natural drives, it’s actually a useful evolutionary adaptation.

    Both of these are connected to the fact that we aren’t a hundred percent sure why we have any specific traits, or what, precisely, they’re for. Virtually all assertions made by evolutionary psychology are made out of ignorance; they are wild guesses at the very best, and, for however interesting they are to consider, are not particular useful in providing a foundational argument for a social or governmental system.

  24. cara says:

    Hi- mostly liked your speech here but thoughth I should let you know that although peacock feathers may serve to attract predators there are studdies that prove that if you cut a few feathers off the tail the females no longer find the peacock as attractive as one with the full number. Also- monkeys are not ALL patriarchal asses….check out Bonobos for the feminist monkeys! Very exciting stuff.

  25. Paula Wright says:

    You might like to take a look at my blog re Darwinian Gender Studies

  26. [...] First, some terms. Evolutionary psychology is the science of figuring out the reasons for certain patterns of human behavior based on how those patterns might have, at some time or another, provided an evolutionary edge to a civilization, community, tribe, or individual. I am a big believer in evolutionary psychology. Biological determinism is the belief that human beings have a set of hard-wired, biological instructions (instincts, we might call them), that we must follow–either because we can’t help it, or because we’ll be sad and unhappy if we don’t. I generally think biological determinism is just an excuse to be a dickhead. On Evolutionary Psychology, Feminism, Patriarchy « Threat Quality Press [...]

  27. lb says:

    Interestingly, according to the scientific definition of instincts, humans do not have any. We have urges or impulses and reflexes but nothing that can be classified as technically instinctual because an instinct is a behavior that each member of a species must comply to without any cognitive choice. Since we’re the only species on the planet with this particularly huge frontal cortex, we get to make choices. Often those choices are made based on our subconscious (thus hidden to us) emotional motivations, but they can still be called choices nonetheless.

    So if we don’t have instincts yet possess a very rare and obviously adept ability for creating complex social structure, why assume that anything we now hold as human “instincts” is based in anything other than that social structure? Those who dissect human behavior are deeply enmeshed in that particular social structure and are looking for reasons as to why it is the way it is. Thus they go into their research with a narrow lens of bias that consequently continues to reinforce the existent status quo. So without innate or hardwired instinct, our societal norms do not have any biological legs to stand on and are thus highly susceptible to adaptation.

    Check out Dr. Robert Sapolsky’s work with baboons. During his decades long research, one troop (that started out as an average group of patriarchal baboons with predictable behavior) suffered an outbreak of tuberculosis that killed off all the biggest and strongest males. Within a generation or two, the culture of that particular group changed from one of might and power to one of cooperation where bullies were no longer tolerated. Even when a new potential alpha joins the troop, he learns that pushing others around is not going to get him very far and so adapts to the new culture. Anyone observing these “gentler” baboons without knowledge of this change would probably conclude that baboons have a natural instinct towards their cooperative behavior – even though that behavior was the complete opposite less than twenty years ago.

    So theories like mate guarding, sperm competition, cuckold fear, etc. could very well just be intellectual ideas that serve to reassure folks of their constructed view of the world and reinforce patriarchal norms where women and children are the property of men just like land and other forms of wealth. Because we don’t know any better and can’t imagine anything different, we don’t look for other possibilities. I’m sure if someone told Dr. Sapolsky that baboons could be cooperative and that alpha male behavior was mutable twenty years ago, he would’ve laughed in their face.

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