Behaviors are not caused by genes. There is not a gene that causes you to be good, or to be bad, or to be smart, or good at accounting, or to like bananas. There are, however, drives. “Drives” is a nicely vague term that we can all understand the meaning of. Thirst and hunger are drives we can all relate to. In fact, these drives are so basic, consistent and powerful that almost everyone has them, we share almost exact experiences in relation to them, and they can drive (as drives are wont to do) us to do extreme things when they are not met for long periods of time. While eating disorders are common enough and these affect a hunger drive, it is very rare to find a person thirst themselves to death.
Beyond thirst and hunger there are other drives, and as we explore them we find increasing complexity, inter-individual and inter-cultural variation, and even differences in whether or not they are present in an individual or widely manifest (or not) in a culture. Nonetheless, the fact that they are “true drives” is evidenced by their near ubiquity across cultures, their link to a biological mechanism typically having to do with the limbic and endocrine systems, and the fact that when we don’t see them acting overtly in a person it is often because a fair amount of individual or cultural energy has been spent repressing them.
Personally, I think that most biological drives, maybe all, produce extreme or pathological behavior if unchecked, and that therefore all drives are repressed to some degree in almost all individual humans. There is considerable evidence that things like anger, thirst, or fear (to use highly generalizable terms) are manifest as a balance between limbic circuits that are excitatory or inhibitory; Experimental interference with one or the other circuit produces extreme results such as a rat that will not stop eating or a cat that will maintain an arch-backed bristle-haired stance until it falls over in exhaustion.
Also, I think that what I’m calling drives (again, as a convenience … you won’t find what I am thinking on Wikipedia) are a basic mammalian trait. Therefore, it is reasonable to ask if some of the evolutionary events related to the rise of new species of mammals are related to changes in drives, or more interestingly (and more commonly, I suspect) changes in how drives are on one hand repressed and on the other hand re-configured to work with each other.
Thus, one could say that since humans are behaviorally derived with respect to many traits in comparison to African apes in general, a major feature of the human brain must be mechanisms telling the rest of the brain, to some extent every minute of the day, “Don’t be a chimp …. Don’t be a chimp. Seriously, dood … don’t be a chimp.”
At the individual level, and I’m oversimplifying a great deal here, one might imagine drives being enhanced or repressed to a degree that makes an individual very different from others. The fictional character “Brennan” on the TV series Bones comes to mind. She seems most of the time to have no drives at all, or to be intellectually in denial of them. Social and psychological pathologies may often be associated with drives that are inappropriately strong or weak.
So, is it really true that behaviors are not “caused by genes” if there are these drives? Yes, and I say this because the average person who is thinking that behaviors are caused by genes is not thinking at all about intermediate mechanisms, and if they are, they are assuming that the intermediate mechanisms are little more than a transparent ether through which genes operate on the behavioral phenotypes we observe. Also, “genetic determinism” is not about whether or not one or more genes are involved in a trait, but rather (and this is very important so if you’ve got a yellow highlighter uncap it now) “genetic determinism” is about the close correspondence between variation across individuals in the genetic code they carry and the ensuing variation across individuals in the phenotype they express. Moreover, “genetic determinism” as usually conceived is presumed to average out within categories such as “race” or “sex” with very little variation within, but enough variation between these categories to be measurable. Which is why the concept is almost always racist or sexist or both.
But in reality, variation in the way limbic and other brain functions as well as closely related endocrine systems are manifest in humans and probably many other mammals is only to a small extent a function of genes, and is otherwise a function of what we may loosely call development. This relationship is not a post-hoc observation, or a liberal excuse, or a politically motivated bit of rhetoric. It is, rather, the explanation for why we have large brains that mostly develop, in detail, on the basis of experience rather than genetic coding for how they are hooked up. (And, while this applies mainly to mammals, something like it might be going on in some birds.)
Consider long term habituation. When endocrinologists (those who study hormones) measure hormone levels, they generally adjust the numbers to account for individual baselines, because while two individuals may have very different baselines they can have the same range of behaviors and responses. Two men may have androgen hormone levels that vary between them by a factor of 2X or 3X, but have the same basic behavioral repertoire. This is because of two things: First, the number of receptor sites and their sensitivity matters as much as, if not more than, the serum hormone levels; and second, most hormone systems are some sort of feedback loop that relies on changes in concentration against set points that are individually established, not species-specific. Putting it another way, if a hormone system is like a thermostat in your house (a homeostatic equilibrium system) then each individual has a personally established and potentially unique “room temperature.” This variation between individuals could be genetic, but is it just as likely, or even more likely, to be developmental. A related example is the mechanism by which we become “cold” or “warm” (with respect to comfort). This is not innate, but rather, a function of exposure to environmental conditions in early life (thigh there are body-shape related variations that probably are genetic that matter to thermoregulation in a non-industrial population).
Given huge piles of evidence for individual variation in behavior as a function of context, conditioning, and development and relatively little evidence that has not been made up, cooked up, or otherwise tainted or damaged for straight forward genetic determination of behavior, I’m going to go with the model that humans vary mostly on the basis of their biological and cultural experiences post-conception. For example, the single largest factor in variation in human intelligence in a given population can easily be prenatal alcohol exposure, or variation in folic acid in the maternal diet. Given the amount of post-conception stuff the brain does in development, and how much of that depends on experience, it is very unlikely that brain function varies across individuals on the basis of genes (other than individuals with genetic disorders, but we need not count broken individuals in considering normative development).
From what we know about “drives” and from what we know about brains and development, it is very reasonable to hypothesize that variation across individual human males in something like violence levels, likelihood to carry out rape, or other widespread and usually male-associated behavior is environmental. Yet, these behaviors at the base, the systemic potential for these behaviors, is a mammalian feature or a primate feature or a great-ape feature, depending on level of analysis.
This is not the place to discuss this in detail, but a quick digression regarding comparison among mammals is probably useful at this point in order to stem unnecessary direct comparisons that may come up in discussion. Maybe mammalian males in general have certain traits leading them towards violent or icky behavior, but the details are important. The fact that big horn sheep butt heads in contests sometimes to the death, taken as an extreme male-male competitive trait, can not be linked to similar behavior among human males (and such behavior does seem to happen in humans). The basal bovid-type organisms from which the big horn sheep derive was probably a small bodied monogamous forest dwelling animal in which males probably did not have a much greater tendency to butt heads than females, though both males and females would likely have employed some sort of “violence” in defending young or territories. Among primates, Old World Monkeys include a lot more examples of violent male behavior than do New World Monkeys. The latter group, in fact, have many cases of distinctly non-violent males as typical of the species. We don’t know the nature of the basal primate, but we cannot assume that it was like a baboon, which is the primate often taken as prototypical in thinking about primate social behavior. In fact, we can guess that it was probably NOT like a baboon for a number of reasons. Therefore, what might be thought of as “over the top” male behavior (butting heads to the death) is NOT a basal mammalian trait that may be found in humans because we are mammals. The phylogenetic link between big horn sheep and human football players is non-existent. (This is why many of us cringe with the latest “evolutionary psychology” finding!) Rather, violence in human males is either derived in our species or in a set of species closely related, including perhaps the great apes, or apes in general, or some other subset of Old World primates.
And, this would be a matter of evolution of drives in a very general sense which are then shaped in a maturing individual by other developmental tendencies and in social beings with large brains, buy culture.
Which brings us to the famous YanSan comparison.
There is an intellectual and pedagogic tradition that comes from people working out of a handful of American Universities (originally, Berkeley, Chicago and Harvard, but then other places such as Madison) having to do with the study of both primates and human foragers. The details are interesting but this is not the place for them. What is important is this: A lot of us (and I’m part of that tradition) learned some of our best metaphors, for doing both research and teaching, from Irv DeVore, who either came up with them himself or consolidated them from people with whom he overlapped or worked, such as Sherwood Washburn, George Gaylord Simpson, and others. And one of those tidbits, which is a comparison and a set of stories much larger than your average metaphor, is the YanSan comparison.
It runs like this. Imagine a Yanomamo village in the Amazon. The Yan (short for Yanomamo) live in a society that for various reasons incorporates a fair amount of violence among men. Men who have killed other men are given a special name of respect, tend to have more children than other men, and often have two wives (in a society in which while polygyny is allowed, it is rare). Then, in contrast, imagine a “San” (Busheman) community in southern Africa. The San live in a society of hunter-gatherers where variation in status among men, for any reason at all, is discouraged, and interpersonal violence is frowned upon. Among the Yan, disputes are settled with chest pounding duels or axe fights, while among the San, disputes are settled by endless discussion during which there might even be hugging.
That’s the background. The YanSan comparison itself goes like this:
In the day to day course of events, a Yan child may become upset or agitated as children occasionally do, perhaps in relation to another child. The good Yan father steps in. He brings his son to the center of the community courtyard and calls over the other child with whom the conflict has arisen, and that child’s’ father tags along. The two Yan dads equip the children with poles about the length of their bodies and set them up to whack at each other until one of them succumbs to injury. Or perhaps, instead of using the poles (because that can be dangerous … you can poke your eye out with one of those things) the dads teach the 6 year olds the rudimentary form of the chest pounding duel, in which each participant gets one free shot at the other’s chest, and you can use one fist or two to pound on your opponent. The participants go back and forth taking fee shots at each other’s chest until one falls to the ground. The one still standing wins.
Meanwhile, over in the San society which is entirely different, a perturbed child is treated differently. If a toddler or youngster is very upset, yelling, having a tantrum, any nearby adult who knows the child, often but not always a relative, will hold the child in both arms until he calms down (this can take considerable time), and then spend some time soothing the boy and telling him thoughtful thoughts.
In both cases, there is a set of drives typical for men, and there is a society in which there is expected, normative male behavior. But since the expected behavior is very different between the two societies the developmental process has a lot of work to do. Boys will not on their own grow up to be Yanomamo warriors with the proper kind of fierceness, and boys will not on their own grow up to be San hunters with a proper cooperative attitude, unless a great deal of cultural energy is expended.
And this is facilitated by the existence of childhood, which may well be Homo sapiens most important adaptation. The YanSan comparison exemplifies how humans transit from blastosphere to adult with respect to behavior, and demonstrates that there is a great deal of potential variation in what the result is, and thus, there is great potential variation in the sorts of societies that Homo sapiens can come up with.
But males are still demonic.
What I mean by that is this: Across all human societies, even when there is relative equality between males and females in power or other measures, males are the more violent sex on average. When human societies range into more violent normative behavior, it is males who are in the vanguard virtually all the time. There are plenty of cases where females are also violent, but they are comparatively rare and less extreme.
And, there are patterns to this behavior seen across society, and interestingly, there are even patterns of male behavior when males are viewed across species, as per the above discussion, among the great apes and in particular comparing chimps and humans. Those patterns may be accidental, they may be nothing more than basic mammalian behavior (or the behavior of an internally fertilizing lactating creature, on whatever planet it is found) and thus almost too basic to be meaningful, or they could be patterns around the specific nature of ape social systems, of which chimpanzees and humans have their own similar yet different versions.
Some years ago, Richard Wrangham, emerging as a leading primatologist, was woo’ed away from his home in Michigan by Harvard to do research and teach interesting courses. One of the courses he developed in his new milieu and taught to advanced undergrads in bioanthropology was about male behavior in apes, looking at the behavioral biology and culture of this behavior, seeking patterns, similarities, contrasts, etc. Over a short period of time this course became very popular. Knee-jerk feminists responded to the course with great disdain because it seemed to be biological determinism, but then some went ahead and took it anyway and found out that it was not. And eventually the course became a book: Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence
Many have criticized Wrangham’s book for suggesting that simple underlying genetic systems determine things like gang violence in humans, but few who have read the book have come away thinking that. It may well be that Wrangham’s view is somewhat deterministic, but that is hardly the point of the study. And, if you bring to the discussion, as Wrangham does, the concept of “drives” or similar psychological phenomena as I’ve described above, the genetic determinism that might be inherent in many comparisons between species’ behavior rather fades away. More interesting, though, may be the political nature of the problem of determinism, and this relates to the ongoing discussion of male privilege as well as to a previous discussion we’ve had on this blog about rape. Is it possible to attain the ideal feminist society (towards which we all strive) if male and female drives are somewhat different, and male drives are (or at least some of them are) so … dickish?
… a new philosophy has emerged in the last decades, an evolutionary brand of feminism that sees the emergence of patriarchy as an intimate part of human biology. Evolutionary feminists, writers like Patricia Gowaty, Sarah Hrdy, Meredith Small, and Barbara Smuts, agree with traditional feminists about the evils of patriarchy, but they do not disconnect humans from their biological past. The logic of evolutionary feminists appreciates the rich details of patriarchal history as recounted by historian Gerda Lerner, but it simultaneously rejects the notion of plumbing the human condition through reading merely the last 6,000 years of history.
Evolutionary feminists … would insist that people can think about the evolutionary pressures that elicit rape, for example or other forms of violence, without necessitating any absurd pronouncement that because rape is “natural” it is in any way forgivable. After all, no one considers the case of the black widow spider, who kills and eats her male counterpart after mating, to mean that murder and cannibalism are okay. …
Patriarchy is worldwide and history-wide, and its origins are detectable in the social lives of chimpanzees. It serves the reproductive purposes of the men who maintain the system. Patriarchy comes from biology in the sense that it emerges from men’s temperaments, out of their evolutionarily derived efforts to control women and at the same time have solidarity with fellow men in competition against outsiders.
(Wrangham 1996 pp 124-125)
It is interesting to consider the commentary emerging (mainly in comments but also in a few blog posts) around Rebeccapocalypse in light of this discussion. Most commenters are either on board with giving women the right to set their own level of concern about potentially dangerous men (those are the feminists) or they re busy making excuses or denying the demonic nature of male Homo sapiens. While many of the former are men (it might be about 50:50 men:women) the vast majority of the latter are men.
In homage to an inspiration of this post, I provide this link to the secret, generally unseen obituary of Professor Irven Boyd DeVore.
47 thoughts on “Driving The Patriarchy: Demonic Males, Feminism, and Genetic Determinism”
Okay, THIS was a good article. And you didn’t have to harangue Richard Dawkins (directly, anyway) even once.
I do think the label “demonic” is an unfortunate addition to the dialogue. It panders to the “male = bad” meme and distracts from all our more sterling traits. 😀
I found this a very interesting post: however I have some questions about it. The hypothetical Yan/San villages seem to only deal with male violence. How do such villages react to female violent (although it might be rearer, it would hardly be non-existent’ behavior. Would it be encouraged in the Yan village?
I also wonder what evidence there is for the idea that female drives are ‘less dickish’, as you put it. Could this not be learned behavior? After all; society is hardly equal so we lack a lot of comparising material. And the material we could leads to the thought that ‘dickishness’ in women’s behavior has simply been more repressed by patriach societies… crime-rates among women (also in violent crimes) move up in nations that are more equal.
I’m not trying to diminish man on women violence: all ‘drives’ being equel women would still have a problem because of simple fysical strenght. And certainly in sexual behavior male ‘drives’ seem worse/stronger then females.
I focused on male behavior because that relates to the larger point. I don’t think violence among women or by women against men is encouraged in Yan society, and I’m sure it is not in San society. There are societies with institutionalized female violence (The Taureg, for example.)
I also wonder what evidence there is for the idea that female drives are ‘less dickish’, as you put it. Could this not be learned behavior?
The evidence is overwhelming. And yes, it is all learned. For the most part, the relative scores of agonist behavior or violence between men and women are either neutral or males with more of it in every single society in which it has been examined. The degree of diffrence and the absolute degree of this behavior across societies is complex and there are many comparisons where, say, women are more diskish than men, but only when comparing across unconnected societies. Within, men are always more diskish, but sometimes not too much and not always in the same ways.
And, the mechanisms are fairly well understood, as is the overall evolutionary reason for this to be the case.
But it is all still learned. But “it” is a set of behaviors that involve managing some fairly basic drives.
What is it with social sciences and this fondness for vocabulary that practically demands to be misunderstood?
Thanks for the response.
Is there any data of where our own society ranks in contrast to other societies in ‘agonist behavior’?
As a point of information, book publishers make up the titles of books, esp trade and mass market (this is trade). (I actually think the title is OK, but nonetheless….). Also, Wrangham is not a social scientist. He’s actually trained as a zoologist.
The problem with that quesiton, G, is that “our society” is a country with subcultures and a lot of dynamic change, and much of the data to which it is compared are “cultures” that are often indpendant of national boundaries. Then there is the problem of how you count it and what you count. For instance, US or UK homicide rates are generally low compared to many “high-homicide” traditional societies. But if you throw in the dead from war the difference becomes less. Also, there are “fierce” societies with high homicide rates and “fierce” societies that have existed in a sort of equilibirium of fiercosity in which homicide is very rare, so a simple measure like homicide is not really suitable.
I generally regard US society, such as it is, as relatively fierce and violence-oriented.
“The Woman That Never Evolved” by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy is probably worth noting for such discussion, in that it gives some perspectives on the variations within the primates.
On Genes not causing behavior.
Strictly speaking true, but they sometimes seem to. I think I remember from on of Sapolsky’s lectures if you divided a population into those with Monoamine Oxidase Gene Promoter type A and B. If type A was abused as kids they would abuse as adults. Abused type B would not. If you had type A and were not abused you also would not abuse.
This does not in any way detract from your excellent post.
I think I can maintain my anonymity and still share that Napolean Chagnon of Yanamo fame is my cousin, so this particular thread is near and dear to my heart just for the Fierce People shout out. Nappy and I had no contact until about 30 years ago, were raised two time zones apart and birm 25 years apart yet he and I share many, many similarities in personality and character including a certain arrogance often associated with those of French Canaddian descent. Ultimately, though, we were raised in essentially the same culture. The biological component of limbic system vs modern brain balance may be persuasive to some – but mankind is still largely segregated and cultural anthropology is still a young science. How can there be any doubt but that cultural norms guide natural drives into more and less locally-acceptable channels? I am extremely competitive, have a terrible tempe r and I am horny as the day is long, yet I would never presume to proposition a woman – much less commit rape or murder – without a firm. longstanding personal relationship and multiple, clear and unambiguous signals that the overture is welcome. Because that is how I was raised.
Dammit, ManOOT: If you were a girl, you could be Chag’s suaboya!@!!!!!
Lots of cultures out there. Too bad Watson hadn’t learned to be tolerant of the differences among them. Over in a different thread “Raging B” is using language that I was brought up (not “raised”) to avoid. She’s creeping me out.
If EG was a local, there is a better than even chance that his comment would have been intended ironically (based on my nine months in Great Britain) and *not* as a proposition. Greg noted this way back in post #1 but seem to have forgotten his gut reaction.
bks, you lost any moral high ground on creeping people out when you offered a woman coffee in another thread. Stop playing the victim.
No doubt. When there’s a question of whether children should have unrestricted access to violent content in games – and when it’s actually debated as a valid question to consider in the first place – you know you’re dealing with a social milieu that’s casual about violence. In order to be that casual, you have to be inured. To be inured, you have to be saturated.
We’ve been directly responsible for hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths over the last decade, and no one really cares. A fifteen-year-old boy is killed for sport, the people who did it are caught on camera in boastful poses beside his corpse, and all we get is a ‘meh’.
US society, such as it is, is sociopathic, and just as likely to kill brutally as it is to commit rape (and, almost as likely, to do both in no particular order). If it were an individual person, it would be locked away in an institution for the rest of its life.
Nonetheless, this same society is loaded to the top with those who will justify everything that takes place here. Which means that, rather than exerting a sort of social conscience on the actions of this society, the denial simply increases and the sociopathy deepens.
Mitchell and Webb, in a sketch, asked a question that we might want to consider from time to time as well:
Meh. Without men being “dickish” the entire damn race would have succumbed to infectious microorganisms millions of years ago, just like every other complex species. There’s a damn good reason for it, and the alternative is much, much worse, regardless of how “demonic” how half the species may be conveniently labeled.
Horrors! I’ve lost the “moral high ground” for offering a woman coffee in a thread. I think Stephanie Z has pegged the harridan-o-meter.
Or that has outgrown the concept of Sympathetic Magic.
Do I even want to know why you imagine that a propensity for rape and other forms of violence has a protective effect against disease?
Because, um, rape and warfare have been some of the most serious and efficient spreaders of disease throughout history.
BOYCOTT AMERICAN WOMEN
Why American men should boycott American women
I am an American man, and I have decided to boycott American women. In a nutshell, American women are the most likely to cheat on you, to divorce you, to get fat, to steal half of your money in the divorce courts, donâ??t know how to cook or clean, donâ??t want to have children, etc. Therefore, what intelligent man would want to get involved with American women?
American women are generally immature, selfish, extremely arrogant and self-centered, mentally unstable, irresponsible, and highly unchaste. The behavior of most American women is utterly disgusting, to say the least.
This blog is my attempt to explain why I feel American women are inferior to foreign women (non-American women), and why American men should boycott American women, and date/marry only foreign (non-American) women.
BOYCOTT AMERICAN WOMEN!
Rambo: If you reload this page again and again there is a reasonable chance that eventually you’ll see an ad for mail order brides. But I’m not sure what makes you think that non-American women would see you as any less of a piece of dog shit stuck to the bottom of the shoe than American women do.
I think, based on some observations from Robert Sapolsky and other guys like Frans de Waal to cite two whose names I can remember, that perhaps this isn’t that specifically human in a way. Well, actually, perhaps it wouldn’t be exactly “it”, but rather a more widespread flexibility of behavior depending upon the upbringing and the current environment.
Sapolsky mentions a “tribe” of babboons that were exceptional by being lead by females, which tend to be more docile. In turn, that group was somewhat bonoboesque, much less stressed than the average baboons. I wonder if we couldn’t raise chimps to behave like bonobos and vice versa, at least to some degree.
And I think it’s not so unlike raising a dog to be docile rather than aggressive. Dog breeds that were selected for their fighting abilities are not significantly inherently, innately more aggressive, it seems to be mostly their phyisical built, even though there are theories positing that pitbulls might be “psychopaths”, not able to read the expressions of other dogs (from any breed) — but I doubt it.
And that happens to some extent even with animals that were never domesticated, like tigers or lions created in captivity, albeit they’re surely more dangerous than a pitbull when they want just to play.
Not that I don’t think that there’s a hardwired difference giving more control from other brain regions or “patterns” over the regions or patterns controling the more basic drives, I just think that the clear-cut line on “humans” usually exaggerates the difference.
(In a way that creationists would simple love, but that’s not even with I had in mind initially,but just nuance for nuance’s sake)
However, deviating or adding an important addendum to the concluding part regarding demonic males and rape, I think that there may be an important distinction between “making excuses or denying the demonic nature of male Homo sapiens” and stressing that, even though males can be said to be more demonical, it’s far from being the case that “all males are potential rapists”, not in the sense that anyonce could theoretically have an upbringing that would make of him a rapist, but that actually anyone, irrespective of their upbringing, is more or less equally likely to rape once in a while. This idea seems to be rather common. We westerns live in a “rape culture”, and everything, from kids posing with their thumbs up under the legs of the statue of an upskirt giant Marilyn Monroe to Newton’s principia, are somehow connected to this horrid omnipresent rape culture.
Rape is supposedly a weapon of male domination over women, in a socio-political way. These misconceptions are comprehensible in part from the fact that rapists don’t use “rapist tags”, so they look just like anyone. And mistaken explanations aren’t hard to come by and can be rather sticky depending of the popularity of who proposes it, something possibly aggravated when such explanation regards some aspect of the situation of a group that hadn’t the same rights of white men for some time.
But the reality is that most rapists seem to be serial rapists, and most rapes are commited by those rapists, not by the male population at large. Fortunately some feminists seem (and another one) to be open to such reality, which is quite important if we’re interested in preventing rape and not creating healh damaging stress based on nothing but a menace of a conspirational theory of rape been used ideologically as a weapon to oppress females. And even worse than just stress, prevention campaigns doomed to fail, based on notions such as that “not raping” is more or less a matter of etiquette — a somewhat closely associated notion, even though it either assumes that males are willing to give up their dominance over society, or does not assume that rape is such a tool to begin with, but rather the somewhat more realistic view that it has to do with sexual drive, while still assuming that it’s tractable by campaigns addressing men as a whole and asking them to be polite and not rape. At the same time that a summary of the literature seems is that “[t]he situation is even worse with respect to rapists in particular. There is simply no convincingevidence that treatment has ever caused rapists to desist or even to reduce their offending behavior” (Gregory DeClue, reviewing “The Causes of Rape: Understanding IndividualDifferences in Male Propensity for Sexual Aggression,by Martin L. Lalumiere, Grant T. Harris, Vernon L. Quinsey,and Marnie E. Rice”). But perhaps we just didn’t attempt to ask them please not to, like those signs “society teaches ‘don’t get raped’, rather than ‘do not rape'” have pointed.
It ended out being longer than I thought I should, and perhaps not clear enough. To sum up regarding the whole Dawkinsgate/elevatorgate thing, yes, I think Dawkins’ comments were quite idiotic. Despite of the fact that the danger of rape isn’t omnipresent in males (which isn’t even something Watson implied as far as I know), and even that our culture isn’t quite the more forgiving towards rape, all that she was saying is that such approach is quite weird and potentially creepy, even if the guy didn’t “followed” her there (as a feminist blogger seem to have been augmenting). This is just common sense advice, really, don’t be creepy. You don’t invite unknown people to your bedroom for coffee out of the blue in an elevator. Granted, you possibly would not be so troubled by that if the sexes were switched, but even though the initiative of trying to put yourself in someone else’s shoes is admirable, try consider the idea of some 220 pounds gay male jiu-jitsu fighter inviting you to to a cup of coffee on his bedroom for more close notion of the sort of creepiness it can produce to a woman. Regardless, I don’t buy the feminist discourse wholesale (there isn’t even a single “feminism” anyway, despite of being frequently implied such consensus), and I think it often lacks some healthy inner criticism. If you try to do it “from the outside”, you’re going to be harassed, does not matter what your intentions are, does not matter thay you want equal rights for women, you’re for programs activelly reducing inequalities, and even if you’re for death penalty or life sentences for rape. The entire discussion culd be much more civilized, without the other side being always being labeled as misoginistic/”rape enabler”/”victim-blamers”/defending male privilege” or whatever.
The “don’t be an X” thing is certainly a feature of mammalian brains in general, which sadly means that a certain amount of the increase in brain size we see across some mammal groups over time is probably just a bunch of repression and not any kind of increase in intelligence.
Realizing this is a mostly science based blog, it does enter into the world of humanities. Religious beliefs i noticed are not a contributing factor in any of this, and which i believe have a huge factor in behavior.
The “Demonic Males” part of this is what caught my eye, yet not much has been said about the spiritual side of us.
The information out there that sides with the human race being gentically altered through the cross-breading of angelic beings and man, shows why we have a sinful/barbaric/ nature about us. The fallen angels were demonic, and have planted within us their very nature.
There is still many parts of our genome that is unknown to us, is it not possible some of these parts contain the “evil” gene we all have?
What “information out there”?
The Book of Enoch, The Bible, Sumerian writings, ancient writings from egypt, and writings from various other cultures (too many to list), there is scientific precedents
that suggest evil could be inherited through Thalassaemia.
I don’t think you and I are using “evidence” and “scientific” the same way.
I suggested info, in reguards not as evidence OR scientific.
You asked “what info”, not what was “scientific” or what “evidence”
I was merely stating i wish i would have seen a more rounded conclusion involving the spiritual part of our nature.
Greg, I have a few questions about this rape switch theory.
1) does it apply to women in other ways? Do women also have these switches
2) why didn’t you include bonobo behavior in the hypothesis as a comparison or a control? Bonobos fuck everyone,including their children, all day long.
3) Do you have any resources you can point me too about female versus male violence in chimps?
4) is it possible under your theory that women have bonobo- like responses too? Like a rub vaginas, switch, or a rub vaginas with infants switch, or a fuck your sisters son switch?
5) what if womens, i.e. peace-loving, non rapist bonobos, ‘drives’ are repressed, could we extrapolate that behavior to humans as well? Like ‘women have a rub kids genitals switch’?
Interesting article. Well-written. I think you’re underestimating the power females are capable of exerting over males, as well as the effect of living standards on the male tendency toward violence. Elevatorgate, at this point, is really about males aligning themselves with different females. The issue of Rebecca’s subjective experience of perceived objectification has not been the primary driving force for the females aligned with the “misogynist” males. Rather, it has been her mistreatment of others, and I think it’s been building for a while.
Your concept of drives is inadequately developed. For instance, you fail to distinguish between adaptive responses such as anger and fear, and internally driven impulses such as thirst and hunger. How do these interact? Are the internally driven impulses primary, while adaptive reactions secondary? Is it more complex than that? Would you agree with the statement that our behavior is the result of our biological makeup, determined by genes and shaped by environmental forces?
Aside from the statistics you pull out of thin air in the last paragraph, very nice work. I enjoyed reading this piece.
@DS: Excellent comment. I agree on almost every point.
this is contrived, ignorant, and blatant sexism against males. this article seems to be an assumption driven nightmare formed from the remains of a bad breakup or betrayal of some sort, and not legitimate emotionally neutral theory and most CERTAINLY not a fact this is ridiculous
okay thats a little harsh perhaps my apologies but clean this up do ALOT more research take out the emotional aspect after this isnt supposed too be a literary class or art class its “culture as science~science as culture” and i dont mean to offend you by this but if your going to use science as a descriptor for this topic then please be scientific cite your sources, and cut out the rhetoric and emotional context and stick to the bare facts with thought as a side note the important thing is emotional neutrality when speaking on those terms and quite literally demonizing a group of individuals in such a manner is outright wrong
alexander: Neutral theory?
You speak as though you think I just thought about these issues for the first time and decided to apply science, which I just discovered, to them. This tells me something about your style of argument.
I am an human evolutionary biologist with adaptationist tendencies and a disdain for EEA based evolutionary psychology. You need to re-calibrate your response, which I welcome you to do.
No, alexander, you’re not being “harsh”…just incredibly stupid, totally unaware of what’s actually been said here, and — like so many hyperemotional MRAs — laughably late to the discussion as well as unwilling to listen.
It looks like the MRAs are running out of places to troll…
This is a very interesting article, and I agree that one does associate violent behavior with the male gender. I would think it is because when we think of boys growing up, they are always taught not to cry and â??be a man,â? and be tough. Normally, the more violent sports, such as wrestling, boxing, and football are male dominated. I think one can look at this situation as a case of nature vs. nurture. Boys and girls are nurtured differently. Boys are brought up to be tougher, stronger, and more protective over girls, whereas girls are taught to be more delicate, proper, and almost vulnerable in a way. Men are supposed to be the protector, so it would make sense that they are more violent. I think it all depends on oneâ??s past experiences and perception of the world. Perceptions change over time based on past experiences. I believe this is what leads to the exceptions (more violent females and less violent males).
Awesome explanation of agricultural revolution, which helped fuel patriarchy and gender deviation.
It’s interesting that for years there has been a biological argument for same-sex attraction being played out in winning gay rights, but a huge denial and minimization of biological arguments for respecting the differences between male and female drives. If attachment theory understands the underlying biological drive to survive through building attachment bonds and gay genetic arguments can claim that attraction is biologically driven, isn’t it hypocritical to then say that boys only learn behaviors and they don’t have biological drives that underlie their behaviors?
If somebody said that, they would be both hypocritical and committing a number of fallacies, and they would rather lack nuance.
On the other hand, reference to deep genetics does an abysmal job of explaining variation.
There must be some degree of determinism for most males across must species are usually more aggressive territorial and violent. Also the levels of testosterone do impact aggressivity levels in men on average. This has been proven by studies of testosterone levels of men in prison. Don’t genes affect the amount of testosterone a male has? I’m not saying all men with high-T are violent; some harness these drives and become more driven, but yet disciplined.
Speaking of Demonic Males…
Males across species often compete in some form to attract females. Most of this behavior therefor must be attributed to the Y-chromosome. Wouldn’t that be genetic?
In order to get rid of the “Demonic Male” you’d have to get rid of the Y chromosome in the entire Kingdom Animalia. And then unfortunately everything would go extinct. There has to be some aggressivity in most species, otherwise they wouldn’t be able to protect themselves from predation. They would go the way of the Dodo Bird.
In regards to the violent nature of men…we do have a few noble traits, we used to protect females and young from predators….but are no natural predators other than ourselves anymore…But what about disasters? Men today still would sacrifice themselves to protect women and children. There has to be some way to verify this because I do believe men are more willing to sacrifice themselves for the sake of women and children. Occasionally a good man will protect a woman and child from bad man or on even rarer occasions, he might even slay a beast praying upon women in children…but, that’s rare today and may be why Romance went extinct. We all know a woman would love a man that would die for her.
But let’s say the feminist find a way to multiply through cloning.
If we neuter every male, then won’t risk taking behavior that is necessary go extinct. What do I mean? What about Space Exploration?…In a way, that may take more Balls than Brains. Might we become too complacent and less “driven” and still go extinct in the process when the environment collapses under our weight.
What does survival of the fittest entail? Did we get to this position as the dominant species by being sweet, cuddly, and non-violent creatures? I’m not going to answer that one, I’m just being Captain Obvious.
Any man that wouldn’t chop the head off a venomous snake if children are nearby is completely worthless, at the very least he could trap it and relocate it, but that would take the male behavioral trait known as bravery, which feminist refer to as stupidity. Yes, you do have to have more balls than brains when dealing with snakes, but I do believe this species needs those “Domonic” traits, otherwise we still may go the way of the Dodo Bird.
Yes, indeed, there must be some determination, which is part of the reason we have the global patterns we have. But the key point here is that one’s explanation ideally explains most of the variance in what we are observing, and a mainly genetic-determinist approach fails to explain the overall pattern very well.
In the chimp studies that link to the Demonic Male idea, the male violence is not very much related to competing for females, but rather, for resources.
The sacrificing for women and children thing is probably a cultural trope that varies a lot across societies and circumstances, and I doubt that it applies generally.
You raise a lot of interesting questions, but the point of this post is to point out the nuances and complexities that we need to address, rather than simply equating male vs. female behavior simplistically across the board. Human relationships and gendered behavior are much more like we find in many song birds than what we find in deer, for example, but the temptation to equate human sexual or competitive behavior to the ungulates is strong and misguided. And, we need to be very careful about mapping observed features onto underlying biology without careful thought and study (such as the “men as savior” idea, which really does vary a lot across societies, times, places, and circumstances)
One more thing, humans are partially Matriarchal as the Bonobo is. Mothers are the first teacher unlike Freud’s idea of the Patriarchal father being the teacher. Even as an infant we come to understand warmth, comfort, and eventually love from the mother. There are underlying Matriarchal cultural teachings such as being nurturing toward children and teaching them very young. In chimpanzee culture it is usually the females that teach how to do things such as cracking open nuts to their young ones. I believe it was much latter in our evolutionary history that males usurped the female monopoly on teaching the young.
I do believe women are trying today to usurp male dominance on being a provider or leader; it is happening now, but in the process I believe women will develop more aggressive drives to put food on the table and maintain a job in a competitive atmosphere.
Even males have female psyche traits, usually, such as fathers are tender and nurturing in addition to being protective. I learned a lot from women…these teachings are cultural. There is a Matriarchy, especially, in western culture where women can lead and be dominant in some form.
There however are some negative consequences to the Matriarchy, for instance, the imperative to keep children safe has lead to the demolition of playgrounds. Children need to be able to take risks and explore, it is a part of the learning process. Also, the competitive drive may become diminished if we insist too heavily on equality rather than fairness. America is already becoming complacent,less driven, and dependent on the “Mother” State. This will and is leading to decline if it is not put in check. We’ll see.
Sir, I would also point out that you are being protective of women when you refer to men as being “Demonic.” You are displaying some, at least, passive aggressivity when you do this. You didn’t even notice that the demon inside of you does have noble traits…Ding Dong…Oops a display.
In many societies there is a strong matriarchal component. Matrilinality is very rare and is never a mirror image of patrilinality. But very importantly, this, again, varies a lot across societies, times, and circumstances. One of the great lessons of anthropology is that this can not be generalized.
I don’t know of any playgrounds that were demolished by the matriarchy, please elaborate, sounds interesting!
I’m very aware of my passive aggressive attacks on the patriarchy, by the way. 🙂
Thank you for commenting back. Yes, a lot of this behavior I’m referring to is cultural. However, there are animal examples. The male Colobus monkey will protect the young and females from predation. They will often fight Adutl Male Chimpanzeees 4 times their size to the death in order to protect the young and females.
Perhaps it would be easier to illistrate protective drives in nature, due to the fact we no longer have any natural predators to display this behavior.
I’m am a father, I know for a fact this is a strong underlying drive. I would, Sir, die for my kids if I had to. How do we quantify this and measure it? Perhaps we could look up Police reports where men have died protecting women and children and count and then compare it to how many women did the same…As I’ve said, women do have some aspects of the male protective instinct. Many women also would die protecting their own kids. But yes, men, Culturally are expected to do this more. To separate it from culture or base drive would be the hard part and would take cross cultural studies.
Thank You for your Repy
The Matriarchy is a cultural theme that promotes more of the nurturing side of man…but it’s woman. The Matriarchy is a societal Superego if you will. It is mostly feminine. Matriarchal culture can include Liberalism. What do you think the Patriarchy would be? It’s mostly Conservative of course….
You’re culture is predominantly Matriarchal. You would rather nurture people and help people (Matri) rather than punish them or push them (Patri). I can tell you have integrated the Liberal feminine culture within yourself. Regarding political opinions you are mostly siding with women. Look, I’m mostly liberal too, so don’t take it the wrong way, however, I’m shifting moderate because I see the extreme side of feminism and it’s nothing good, just like extreme conservatism. ..If you want to have my stinky opinion.
I have a slightly different definition of personal culture. Personal culture is the things you were taught and still believe. This knowledge and moral belief system was taught first by your parents, then teachers, peers, and now its reinforced through academia.
Look, feminist are telling NFL what to do; they hold IMMENSE POWER. Look they’re throwing out labels and generalizing a whole population….apparent all men are child abusers, wife beaters, rapist, murders, and everything evil in the world. You say we shouldn’t generalize and stereo type right? This is a homo-social(they don’t know a man’s perspective) man hating culture. There is also this so called “Rape Epidemic” on College Campuses when the FBI is telling us sexual crime is on the decline, especially rape…Rape Statistics are at an all time LOW. GO LOOK IT UP FOR YOURSELF IF YOU DON’T BELIEVE ME.
This is so depressing and disturbing as man. Why? College used to be where “Peace, LOVE!!!, and happiness,” reined supreme, There used to be free love everywhere in the the late 60’s – early 70’s….NOW EVERY MAN IS A POTENTIAL RAPIST…AAHHHH!!! NO!!! WHAT ARE YOU PEOPLE SMOKING? OMG, SOMEBODY LACED THE ENTIRE CAMPUS WITH LSD AND THEY’RE FREAKING OUT.
Apparently if you haven’t noticed this is all a highly charged political movement. People will lie, steal, and cheat regarding politics…Exhibit A: The Rolling Stone published rape allegations that turned out to be COMPLETELY FALSE.
Exhibit B: FBI Rape Statistics- ALL TIME LOW
Exhibit C: Reported Rape on campuses the past 10 yrs—declining.
How much evidence do need? I can keep going
This is far beyond disturbing in another way. We live in a Victim Centric Culture (Matriarchy). People who cry rape aren’t put on a polygraph. Both the alleged perpetrator and the alleged victim need to be put on a polygraph. What’s worse, getting raped, or doing polygraph to catch the guy? If the woman didn’t lie; what does she have to fear? Half the time, Law Enforcement doesn’t even do a rape kit and just take the woman’s word for it. This is not Justice.
Listen, I like equality and fairness too, but this isn’t it at all. This is a pure violation of human rights. The only reason this still has momentum, is men feel guilty for having a penis…this is absurd. Men can’t even think about a woman sexually anymore without being stigmatized…It’s to the point that heterosexual men are being slammed for being straight. Feminist equate all male lust as rape or some other perversion. It’s sickening. Have you heard how these women talk about men? Have you been listening to NPR lately? Its a freaking nightmare or something from Clock Work Orange.
You, sir, have some admiral qualities as a MAN. Are completely evil too? Perhaps you should refer to yourself as The Demonic Male…Muu hahahahah. Join Satan and his minions, sir, for you yourself are a demonic male…the only way you get out of this club is to cut your balls and penis off, Sorry.
That alone is sufficient reason to not take anything you say seriously.
I am likely the least knowledgeable person here so bear that in mind. As to the small to amount of incidents of female violence, most certainly in the Yan/San examples, Id expect that’s reflective of the reality. And limited to fisticuffs and skull smashing, Id expect, yes violence is a very masculine domain, virtually a monopoly. But expanding the definition, which Im neither advocating or opposing, I wonder how that could change things, particularly in whatever the current preferred term for Western Industrialized nations is. For instance, and remember my caveat which didn’t include having no educational background in anthropology, human behavior, psych or soc but consider those added, the “theories” I felt this was somewhat predicated upon, male genetic programming to rape, which is actually TAUGHT at brick and mortar universities (as opposed to I dunno, online diploma factories) closer to the kind of theory associated w/ the big bang, than the sort of legitimacy given to theories of the distinctly separate evolution of mud people, or the lunar landings being shot on a soundstage. This isn’t rhetorical, but does anyone know whether Hitler is alleged to have killed anyone w/ his own hands, aided by a weapon or not? I AM intellectually equipped to appreciate the huge distinction, but were the answer to my question to be no, would his behavior not still qualify as incredibly violent? Im not trying to service an agenda (that Im conscious of anyways) but if it would nonetheless be called violence, then how would we compare, or would there be any, the instant belief and concurrent exaggeration in genetic destiny for men to sexually assault having the numbers that it does? By all means let’s examine it thoroughly to learn all that we can, using credible methodology and standards used elsewhere. But has that even begun being pursued let alone reached credible conclusions? That was intended as rhetorical but I don’t know that it hasn’t happened. My (mis)understanding is its primarily based on the 2015 study from Britain I wanna say, which was based on comparisons and statistical tendencies of sexual crime stats and male family members which some of its own researchers were quite candid had some inherent limitations by its design and its findings were still far from conclusive evidence. One limitation specifically mentioned from researchers and other people familiar w/ the field was your very point here, environment. Yet as stated and STILL baffling to me, is how widely and to what degrees its being disseminated as academically valid to teach, not study, to teach as accredited undergrad and post grad material on allegedly reputable campuses. Maybe its just my primitive genetic coding but that a tenured prof in whatever discipline is allowed to proffer any of it, let alonbe hard predetermination as the fodder for an entire class, or more than a minor side note in a classroom feels kinda hostile if not an act of overt physicality. As did/do the Obama campus rape guidelines under title IX guise. And those were unilaterally strong armed down every administrations financially extorted throats, those who didn’t receive them joyfully. If those don’t qualify as violence in the context of your excellent piece here, which I don’t mean to suggest that they should, perhaps theyre a separate topic worth considering. Guess depends what one considers violence and how much the manner of executing it defines it. My 2 cents (adjusted for inflation maybe half of one cent) is maybe man, and woman, aren’t personally evolving so much, or are Im dickish and generally know dick, but perhaps has become a bit more sophisticated metering out violence. There is a literary historical precedent of women manipulating targeted violence through men, Helen of Troy being the clichéd instance, and YES I realize that was mythology. Anyone NOT know of a real life example they witnessed at one or more points? If not good for you, you must not have wasted a lot of time in bars or drunken social settings. Hell hath no fury……, happy wife, happy life, Lady MacBeth, Pandora n her dadgummed box. Im even less of a pugilist than academic, but Ive taken a couple punches, truth is hardly tried throwing any never landed one. Now if violence must be directly administered and entail the possibility of permanent injury or fatality I haven’t experienced anything meeting that standard at the hands of a woman, physical aggression instigated by and not reciprocated that Ive experienced, try calling law enforcement in that situation and see what happens. But as far as impulses to inflict punitive measures on someone, well earned or in no way whatsoever deserved, in fact ego driven and very sadistic? Id need some credible evidence before Id know whether theres any gender deviation. And for a wide number of cultures and time periods, limited extents of fist to fist acts of male on male violence has been an efficient means of handling personal conflicts. Im still friends w/ a few men who didn’t pummel me senseless but lets say kicked my ass soundly. Maybe violence isn’t actually ALWAYS the worst option. Maybe impulse control in the moment, the passage of time and eventual atomic escalation of response is a more evolved behavior but darker essence.
correction to my babbling, the study Im under the impression is the basis where this purported theory got and stills gets its traction from, and if Im atypically correct its still the uniquely most credible study that exists, it only amplifies my concerns. Anyways it was published in 2015 but by Swedish researchers based predominantly on information from Swedish databases and on Swedish men, so hardly steely proof to support some of the feverish zeal people try and use it to support. And to be crystalline, what jerks choose to believe, advance as whatever level of validity they gonna do, click bait on youtube, whatcha gonna do about that? Give yourself an ulcer? My disgust is higher forums w/ presumably higher standards of legitimacy and too much integrity to teach, or to allow the supposed teaching of something so unsubstantiated for the moment as male genetic predisposition to sexually assault as anything more than the strictest explanations of where the evidence or lack thereof sits at that very moment. To me the last line of defense (maybe the first one too) in mass hysteria purporting something this extreme as been proven, multiple scientifically valid studies, compelling reason to believe is intellectual defamation. And I hate non comedic use of hyperbole, but I don’t know that this qualifies as such anymore, this quantum leap forward into an Orwellian nightmare becoming complete reality feels unembellished. Weve already had speech and thought crimes for around or past a decade, Im not a fan of hate crimes, not a big fan of love crimes either. Hate crime statutes and sentencing and protected classes however aren’t an acceptable solution, theyre clearly not a practical ones but God love the law, they are bonafide real life thought crimes and a large contingency if not a majority see them as high principles. Subjective delusion is the new objective facts