[Author’s note: The website and post I discuss have since been taken down, which is a bit unfortunate. I peruse the ‘Masculinity’ tag every once in a while, and that’s where I came across this blog. I am fairly certain the author of the now defunct blog is the same one who wrote this post at A Voice for Men. You’ll note in the ‘About the Author’ section that it suggests you visit the blog I discuss here. The AVfM article was posted on Dec. 28, 2015, so the blog was still in existence then. I bring this all up to try and establish that I’m not quoting from some made up blog. I literally cut and pasted the quotes I use below, including retaining the author’s original hyperlinks. I honestly did not intend to post this after the quoted blog/post have been taken down. I started this a couple months ago and have been making little edits here and there. It’s just so happened that I took too long, and the blog and post are no longer there. Anyway, onwards and upwards.]
Let me tell you a story about three people. Scott is the quarterback of the high school football team. Robbie is a kind, quiet guy that gets good grades. Jessica is the super-hot captain of the cheer squad. Both Scott and Robbie want to date Jessica. Being maturing young men, they are both feeling the hormonal pull to hook up with a girl, and they both want Jessica to be that girl. The two boys let their interests be known, and Jessica is faced with a decision- “Do I hook up with Scott, the cute, athletic, and popular quarterback? Or do I hook up with, umm, what was his name? Bobby? I think he’s in my chemistry class. Anyway, I’m gonna make all the girls on the cheer team jealous when they find out I’m dating Scott.” And so, as Scott and Jessica go on to undoubtedly have copious amounts of sex, Robbie is left to either become the star running back on the football team, become mega-rich, or live a life of womanly-imposed celibacy due to his not being fuckable.
Apparently, this story is a functional metaphor for one of the major influences on human society, and feminists have casually gone about masking it via their gynocentric theorizing. Yes, you can laugh. A lot.
I find the concept of Hypergamy an interesting one, particularly in the way it is discussed within the Men’s Rights Movement and among anti-Feminists. Hypergamy is the ability to marry above one’s caste or socioeconomic status. In MRM commentary, hypergamy is often discussed as a privilege for women because it is something to which they have access to raise their social and economic well-being. Men, because they are expected to be the breadwinners and providers, do not have a similar course toward securing such a status. The thing is, to suggest this is a ‘privilege’ for women seriously strains the definition of privilege. If, as a society, we enforce men as the holders of status and economic power, then we disempower women from achieving it on their own. We deny women the ability to achieve such status and power by their own merit. Women are left to gain status and safety via marriage. Calling this situation a privilege is like calling slavery a privilege for the enslaved because it frees them from the burden of negotiating salaries and paying property taxes.
KKamina, writing at the blog Saint Kamina, has taken this concept of hypergamy and made an argument that it is an unacknowledged driving force behind human society and civilization. KKamina suggests that the world has issues, and “I’m beginning to seriously contemplate to what degree this is attributable to feminism and innate/subconscious female reproductive choices historically imposed on men.” The author says of his post, “…it’s didactic, but if it fosters self-awareness and moral agency all the better.” Personally, I’d say that’s a stretch. I’d call it mental-masturbation aroused by aggrandizing one’s own what-if theorizing. Put another way, I’d call it self-indulgent bullshit.
Hypergamy as Geist
The argument, using the author’s words, goes like this:
[tl;dr: Due to biological circumstances, there is evolutionary pressure on women to be selective with whom they mate, but there is not pressure on men to be similarly selective. Because of this one-direction selectivity, men must meet the standards of women to be selected as mates. Women select men who display high social status (i.e., those capable of raising a woman’s status due to hypergamy). Men toil and fight and struggle to establish their high social status and become chosen by women. As a result, women should shoulder some blame for any ill that has resulted from men toiling and struggling throughout history to meet the female demands brought about by hypergamy.]
(1) We start here: “…men may rule the world, but women rule the men who rule the world.”
(2) How? “The political may be a male dominion, but the power of the womb is hers. The mightiest of men are held in thrall for access to it. To secure any progeny, legacy, family of his own, and therefore meaningful social fulfillment, he is left little recourse than to be the supplicant.”
(3a) Why must he be a supplicant? “The evolutionary theory of parental investment, as it relates to sexual selection, predicts that the sex investing the most and having the most to lose (female) will be more selective resulting in the opposite sex (male) being more competitive and aggressive pursuing it.”
(3b) I still don’t get why men must be a supplicant: “For women to have sexual partners, they must simply exist while the male must prove himself against an ever-changing arbitrary mélange of archaic to modern chivalry tempered through female visceral urges. In modern times, a woman need only sit at a bar, smile, be attentive, sweet, and await applicants to attempt to qualify for her intimacy while she screens; she need only create a perfunctory PlentyofFish profile and be guaranteed dozens of requests for relationships and sex. In contrast, men either initiate relationships or by default stand a high probability of absolute sexual invisibility and involuntary celibacy.”
(4) But why does this cause the ills in society? “Female selectivity manifests in the visceral imperative of “hypergamy.” This refers to the tendency to seek mates of higher social status, attendant resources, and all of its trappings. In a tribal configuration, this is exhibited by the “alpha male.” Today’s society is different. Obviously, for humans interacting in complex societies, the selection process is more complex than exhibiting the confidence, courage, physical strength, and the social prowess of primacy in a hierarchy of competitive males.”
(5) Does this “visceral imperative of hypergamy” have a tangibly negative effect on men? “It has been argued that ‘the single most under-appreciated fact about gender’ is our ratio of female to male ancestors. “The typical male was much more likely than the typical woman to die without reproducing. Recent DNA research show’s today’s human population is descended from twice as many women as men. Maybe 80% reproduced, whereas only 40% of men did,” New York Times blogger Tierny explains.”
(6) Okay, but we don’t live in Viking societies anymore where men have to get on boats and row them across large bodies of water to conquer foreign civilizations. “Indeed, in the familiar ubiquitous archetype, the male goes through some ordeal. He slays the dragon or villain to rescue and get the damsel, thereby proving his worth. Nothing has changed. The onus is always on the male. Men built civilization, but they did it to impress women. Feminist egalitarian platitudes speak of equality, but the fact that married men out earn both women and unmarried men illustrates women — the “strong independent” type being no exception— remain hypergamous in their sexual selection. As a male’s income rises so too does his likelihood of marriage. After $25,000, it doubles. Women are perennially out for breadwinners. Indeed, as wages stagnate and the middle class continues to attenuate, marriage continues to decline on the bottom of the economic ladder and not the top. And to suffer the ignominy being a male homemaker is to be contemptuously conferred the status of “house bitch,” in the parlance of one feminist writer[.]” [Quick note: the “one feminist writer” was not identified. Maybe I’m just out of the loop, but I don’t know who it is.]
(7a) I’m still not certain what the implications are for modern men. “This means men are relegated to fulfilling one of two roles in modern society for sexual access (with only the latter leading to long-term meaningful social fulfillment): that of an “alpha” bad boy asshole or beta high-earning provider.”
(7b) Put another way: “[Male] striving is merely a reflection of innate female mating preferences. [Men are] modeling their lives in anticipation of female demands. From this lens, it becomes apparent that it is a male obligation, and on the other end of the spectrum, a female privilege.”
(7c) One more way: “It does not follow that there are many consequences to male sexual preferences, but female’s have immense political and economic ramifications. At the most basic level, males’ avaricious appetite for wealth and competition is rooted in male anxieties about sexual and social failure or success.”
(8a) What should be the take away from all of this: “With this understanding, it’s apparent that the mainstream (and therefore feminist) sociological lens denies female historical agency. Women are and have always constituted one half of society and therefore one half its ruling class. Thus, to what extent can we have an honest discourse on society, socio-economic forces, and indeed foreign policy without candid dialogue on gender?”
(8b) Continuing: “We cannot blame women for being hypergamous any more than we can blame men for liking the kinds of physical features they do. It’s all subconscious motivation after all. But to censure men for the crime of a knee-jerk subconsciously impelled glance in public — perpetually demonizing male libido — while not even contemplating the consequences of female hard-wiring is immoral. Don’t ya think?”
(9) The key take away: “Women are the unstated guardians of the human race. They filter out, who reproduces and who does not. If men are expected to perennially face the most hazardous work conditions with 90% of workplace deaths, compulsorily die in pointless imperialist wars, then women should at least be expected to reasonably examine their archaic 20th century male expectations.”
Phew. That was a lot of cutting and pasting. The author is less than hopeful that women will give up their “archaic 20th century male expectations,” but at least he braved the internet to try and draw attention to the destruction female sexual selectivity has wrought on us poor men.
Assessing the Argument
In the end, this sweeping assessment of history and civilization is nothing more than childish fantasy. It is reductive, ahistorical, and facile. At bottom, it is stupid.
First, this argument is so reductive it virtually erases a number of our most central fields of study. Political Science, Economics, and Sociology all reduce down to ‘dudes wanna fuck chicks but they do crazy shit because the chicks are too stuck-up and choosy.’ In being so reductive, KKamina demeans both men and women. Regarding men, the entire argument rests on the idea that the sole or, at least, overriding motivation of men’s actions is to get laid. Men don’t attain wealth, acquire leadership, or help the less-fortunate because of their personal values and ambitions. They do it because they think it will get them sex. If true, men are really fucking pathetic.
As for women, well, they aren’t much at all. In fact, they are literally just objects to be fucked. That is the only role women play in this entire assessment of a key driver of history. The only relevant factor women have is that they get to choose who they fuck. This is why women are supposed to shoulder some of the responsibility of what men have done throughout history. All of the humanness that resides in a woman — her dreams, goals, values, interests, fears, ambitions, vices– has been stripped away, and she has been reduced to an object of heterosexual male desire with a preference in sexual selectivity. It’s as if the author thinks the only thing women want is to be fucked by a man – well, fucked by a high status man. If that’s not misogynistic, I don’t know what is.
This goes further. In an early paragraph, KKamina writes, “The dominant feminist narrative of a male power structure relies on the disingenuous assumption that political power is the only form of social influence — not to speak of a non-existent cohesive male identity group consciously acting out its interests.” However, the author’s entire argument rests on the existence of a cohesive female identity group consciously acting out the exact same sexual selectivity preference. We have to accept the idea that all women want to mate, want the attention of men as mates, want the same qualities in their male mates, and would demand those qualities regardless of the consequences. This is ludicrous, not to mention hypocritical. Oh, let’s not forget that the author also insists all men are heterosexual and desire sex with women as an overriding motivation. Sorry, I just think it’s important to note that the author does the exact same thing he accuses feminists of doing. … Yup.
Second, the argument is completely ahistorical. It rests on the idea that women have had full and complete power of choice with whom they mate. This just isn’t the case. Throughout the world, historically and continued today, daughters have been a resource to families to be exchanged for dowries and other economic or political gains. Similarly, women have been spoils of war. This has happened in all regions of the world and has been a practice among the poor and the ruling classes. Far from being the selectors, women have often had their mates chosen for them, and it has primarily been men doing the choosing. The argument requires us to believe that male/female relations throughout history have basically been like the Dating Game. This is equal parts false and silly.
Throughout history, women have been subject to extreme violence over regulation of their bodies. If women just sit on pedal stools, watching men struggle to earn access to their wombs, why have they allowed themselves to be subjected to arranged marriages, foot binding, and genital mutilation? Why have women allowed themselves to be denied access to education, political enfranchisement, ownership of property, and positions of leadership? If women are going to have no property nor power, break their feet, and have their clitorises hacked off, the least they can get in return are roofs over their heads and warm meals. Don’t ya think? The hypergamy argument is supposed to be built on the social maneuverings of Machiavellian participants; however, it casts everyone involved as complete fucking idiots. These seem hard to mesh.
At this point, it should be clear that women’s sexual selective preferences are not the cause of men’s toils and struggles. In fact, the standards and values that drive men to toil and risk are not set by women at all. They’re set by men. Men risk themselves and strive for wealth and power to establish their manhood in the eyes of other men. This has often been institutionalized in the form of initiation rituals. Moreover, societies glorify warriors or teachers or leaders or athletes. They’ve called upon their men to hold these positions, and they’ve deemed women incapable of holding these honored positions by virtue of their womanhood. History is riddled with influential authors calling women inferior and incapable. If women can exert such power via withholding sexual access to their bodies, why have so many societies been so denigrating and violent toward women?
Third, the argument is internally weak. KKamina wants to suggest that male sexual selective preferences are inert while female sexual selective preferences influence male behavior. However, he explains, “To find a potential suitor, all women need do is take care of themselves physically (the termagants among them refuse even this).” This is the first internal weakness of the argument. A woman can only use sex as a tool of manipulation if men want to sleep with her. The glib line about shrews suggests the author does not think all women have been worthy of sexual pursuit. If this is the case, many women are no longer even in consideration for being influences, and those reasons have everything to do with the selective preferences of men. Put differently, the author would have us believe that a major factor influencing human civilization is the mating preferences of some pretty girls. It’s that stuck-up bitch, Jessica’s, fault.
Furthermore, withholding sex can only manipulate a man’s behavior if the sex cannot be coerced in other ways. If men hold the social, political, and economic power, if men are the providers, then women have no real bargaining chip. Sure women can withhold sex to influence the behavior of men, but men can withhold the basic necessities of survival to coerce women into sex. They can also use threats of violence or actual violence. In other words, men can exert their societal power to get sex even if women are temporarily withholding it. The author wants us to believe that women are playing some game theory strategy, but it would only work if we assume that men are not equally strategic. We know this isn’t the case. See a couple paragraphs above discussing the ways societies have exerted social, political, and physical control over women’s bodies.
Whether or not it is accurate, it seems reasonable that the investment women make in a child would lead them to be more selective with whom they mate. However, that does not mean women have ever had the power to fully enforce their selective desires. Furthermore, it doesn’t follow that what has variously constituted a high status male in human societies is the kind of male that would be selected for using purely evolutionary pressure. The fact that some (perhaps many) women prefer what we understand to be a high status male does not mean natural selection was the driving cause of that preference. Nor, frankly, does it follow that such preferences represent unadulterated “female visceral urges”.
Finally, and perhaps most damningly, even if we hold the argument to be true, the best solution would be the basic goals of feminism. By equalizing the non-sexual social power between men and women, you reduce the need for women to utilize sexual selectiveness as a means of ensuring safety for themselves and their offspring. They can take on an equal share of that burden, allowing men and women to renegotiate the nature of their sexual relationships. It would be a brave new world. Certainly, the author claims that the egalitarian platitudes of feminists haven’t changed anything, but I’m not discussing platitudes. I’m discussing the actualization of feminist goals. The only way this solution fails is if women are biologically determined to select certain traits in men, and the author goes out of his way, on multiple occasions, to explain that he is not making a claim of determinism. It doesn’t guarantee Robbie will get the cheerleader, but it reduces the likelihood that he’ll spend the rest of his life only masturbating.
Yes, historically speaking, men have been subject to dangerous work that has unnecessarily cost many of their lives. Countless men have toiled in thankless and unhealthy jobs to provide. Men have started wars, fought in wars, and died in wars. Furthermore, it is certainly the case that men have done expensive, stupid, and dangerous things to impress women. But arguing that female sexual selectivity has exerted an influence on society, leading to these toils and forcing men to either be “an ‘alpha’ bad boy asshole or beta high-earning provider” is reductive, ahistorical, facile, and just plain stupid. It treats men like 13-year olds and casts women as nothing more than manipulative sex dolls. Oh, and it completely (perhaps willfully) ignores the centuries of violence women have faced.
And, seriously, if “…males’ avaricious appetite for wealth and competition is rooted in male anxieties about sexual and social failure or success,” then us men need to see a therapist and get over it. Come on, if the reason a woman won’t sleep with you is because she thinks you don’t have enough money or you’re not ‘alpha’ enough for her, you’ve got a few options: (1) find another woman (there are literally billions of them), (2) quote Meat Loaf: “I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that” or (3) wait until you’ve graduated from high school since, you know, most people grow up eventually.
We’re acting like asshats, men, and we’re doing this to ourselves. Let’s just stop.