The Vacuousness of Hypergamy as Geist

[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.

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3 comments

  1. Divided Line · February 14, 2016

    “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.”

    It isn’t reductive if you think of it as a hierarchy of needs. If humans can’t eat or procreate, they don’t exist, therefore anything else they do is going to be predicated upon those needs being met. Everything else is like the house built on that foundation. No foundation, no house. Nobody argued that these needs are conscious.

    The argument that men care about the opinions of other men isn’t supported. Intra-male norms are shaped by the context in which they develop, and that context is one in which men face greater risk of not procreating than women do.

    The “violence against women” that is supposed to characterize our history is similarly unsupported. If it was supported, we wouldn’t be descended from twice as many females as males. It’s the same reason that men could be 4 times as likely to die by violence now while we fret about “violence against women.” The truth is that we only care about women’s well-being while we throw men into the meat grinders of war and dangerous occupations. It’s always been this way. And it’s these assumptions that historians have employed when they look at our history. There are powerful taboos against not doing so.

    What is more likely that is men deferred to women’s moral judgement then just as they do now. And this would have been true for ruling class men just as it is for any other man. All of our ideas about morality, proper conduct, civility, and law are powerfully bound up with our relationship to women, both in protecting them and providing for them.

    If there is an evolutionary reason for this, it’s because women are the limiting factor in reproduction. Their safety is more important since they’re the only means a human group has of reproducing itself.

    • thecaveatlector · February 16, 2016

      “It isn’t reductive if you think of it as a hierarchy of needs. If humans can’t eat or procreate, they don’t exist, therefore anything else they do is going to be predicated upon those needs being met. Everything else is like the house built on that foundation. No foundation, no house. Nobody argued that these needs are conscious.”

      Sure, human survival is predicated on meeting basic needs. The ‘hypergamy as geist’ argument takes one specific aspect of this and makes it overriding. I’d call that reductive.

      “The argument that men care about the opinions of other men isn’t supported. Intra-male norms are shaped by the context in which they develop, and that context is one in which men face greater risk of not procreating than women do.”

      The idea that masculine norms are, at bottom, determined by “female visceral urges” ignores the fact that women have not freely chosen their mates throughout much of history. When a father sells his daughter to another family for a dowry, that daughter’s “female visceral urges” are pretty irrelevant. Access to her womb has already been purchased. The husband doesn’t need to be an “alpha badboy” nor a “beta high-earner.” The very mechanism by which the ‘hypergamy as geist’ idea is supposed to function is not historically commonplace. Societies have done a lot things to ensure access to women’s wombs. Sadly, none of them have been based on what turns women on.

      Furthermore, men are the gatekeepers of masculinity. Fathers and elders display and pass on the ideals of masculinity to boys. Boys police each other. Men most definitely care what other men think about. Giving a shit about other people’s opinions is a pretty basic aspect of human existence, and men caring about being seen as masculine is commonplace. Today, men debate with each other about the virtues they think masculinity should embody, and men have been doing this for a very long time. Men do this because they should.

      If we really want to hold that men don’t care about each others’ opinions and more or less avoid considerations of intra-male norms, then men are idiots. At any point, men could have pulled back and begun a conversation about how their drives to get access to the womb are leading them to slaughter each other. It’s not like they had structural barriers. Men controlled government. They controlled the centers of education. They controlled the wealth. They controlled the printing presses. They were the heads of households. What? Did it just keep slipping their minds? Did they plan to get around to it, but never seriously put time aside? Perhaps the blame also falls on women? Since women were too busy not being secretaries, a meeting never got scheduled?

      “The “violence against women” that is supposed to characterize our history is similarly unsupported. If it was supported, we wouldn’t be descended from twice as many females as males. It’s the same reason that men could be 4 times as likely to die by violence now while we fret about “violence against women.” The truth is that we only care about women’s well-being while we throw men into the meat grinders of war and dangerous occupations. It’s always been this way. And it’s these assumptions that historians have employed when they look at our history. There are powerful taboos against not doing so.”

      Huh? Men order other men to die in war. Men hire other men to work dangerous jobs. Men face these horrors because, as societies, we’ve deemed these roles to be displays of masculinity. We’ve systematically denied women access to these positions and responsibilities because women are considered incapable by virtue of their womanhood. The thing is, these roles have been honored positions. Being a warrior and dying in war is still considered an honorable thing to this day. That reflects caring. Certainly, I think it is a wonderful idea that we discuss the ways in which we’ve made men suffer through our social values and arrangements. I just think it is laughable to try and lay the blame on women, in general, and women not putting out, specifically.

      Regarding violence against women, I don’t know why you put it in quotation marks. Violence against men and violence against women are not mutually exclusive. The only thing those stats show is that the violence brought upon women is less likely to be fatal. However, my point in mentioning violence against women (both physical – e.g., genital mutilation and foot binding – and structural – e.g., denial of ownership and enfranchisement) is that the argument would predict such violence would not exist.

      The better one’s physical well-being, the more capable one is of reproducing. Furthermore, people don’t put themselves through harm for no reason. If this is all about getting access to the womb, and women actually control that access, women would be in literal power. Not the pretend power fantasized by ‘hypergamy as geist’. Women wouldn’t need to marry powerful men, they would already have power. They would be the owners and the educators. They would order men to war. Women would not have been reduced to the roles of housewives and concubines.

      The fact that women have been spoils of war and resources for dowries, denied the right to ownership of property and estate, denied the right to vote and hold political positions, is the nail in the coffin of ‘hypergamy as geist’.

      “What is more likely that is men deferred to women’s moral judgement then just as they do now. And this would have been true for ruling class men just as it is for any other man. All of our ideas about morality, proper conduct, civility, and law are powerfully bound up with our relationship to women, both in protecting them and providing for them.”

      Men most assuredly did not defer to women for moral judgments. You’d do well to explore the history of moral philosophy. Or the history of political and legal philosophy. Or the history of science and natural philosophy. Or the history of religion and theological philosophy. While you’re catching up on your history, keep a running tab of the number of women you come across. You might be surprised how low that number is.

      “If there is an evolutionary reason for this, it’s because women are the limiting factor in reproduction. Their safety is more important since they’re the only means a human group has of reproducing itself.”

      A quick biological lesson: women cannot reproduce on their own. As such, women are not “the only means a human group has of reproducing itself.” It requires two to tango, as they say.

      The ‘hypergamy as geist’ argument starts from the notion that women have unchosen, evolution-imposed preferences for mates who can provide and protect. From here, it argues that women are aware of these preferences and consciously seek to enact them through their choices of mates. This is said to cause men to take on the Greek-letter roles with the violence and abuse that accompany them. Because women see the results of their mating preferences but opt not to mitigate them, women are said to shoulder some of the blame.

      The problem with all of this is that women are opting not to mitigate their mating preferences to their own detriment. Let’s set aside the idea that women see the resultant violence of their actions but don’t care enough to mitigate it. Women haven’t mitigated their innate urges while they’ve been denied control to the power and protection essential to their own survival. They’ve watched as they’ve ceded power and status to men. Instead of using access to the womb to get power itself, women have given power to men and used access to the womb to convince men to put some of their power toward protecting and providing for them. Why would women allow this to happen?

      Men can provide for the wretch, and they can provide for the queen. The ‘hypergamy as geist’ argument would have us believe that women have realized they can use access to the womb to get men to provide, and they’ve opted to play this out in the role of the wretch. That’s hard to believe.

      Going further, the ‘hypergamy as geist’ argument’s accounting of male behavior is similarly silly. Men have to consciously know women want ‘alpha badboys’ and ‘beta high-earners.’ Because they’re aware of what it takes to get access to the womb, men slaughter each other in wars and abuse each other in the fight to attain wealth to prove their worth as a mate. Yet, men never thought to sit women down and have a conversation about how silly all this killing is just to prove their worthiness as a mate? Please.

      The argument requires us to think of men as brainless brutes; women as manipulative, cunningly idiotic wretches; and we have to willfully ignore most of history. That’s some weak ground to be standing on.

      • Divided Line · February 17, 2016

        “Sure, human survival is predicated on meeting basic needs. The ‘hypergamy as geist’ argument takes one specific aspect of this and makes it overriding. I’d call that reductive.”

        It would be no more reductive than arguing that the origin of culture and ideology is in our material condition, as Marx does. What difference would it make if it was “reductive” anyway if it accurately describes our condition? Our reality begins nowhere else but in our material condition, one in which we have to procreate and eat before we do anything else. Sexuality is not culturally constructed, but biologically rooted, shaped by natural selection like anything else. Therefore virtually every other aspect of our existence, no matter how complex, multifaceted, and multidimensional it is, will be shaped and determined by that foundation. Before there can be anything else, there must first be food and sex. This isn’t that difficult a concept to grasp. Anything we do that would be outside the bounds imposed by that original condition would of course lead us to 1. not being able to eat or 2. not being able to procreate. I really hope I don’t have to explain the basic concept of natural selection.

        “The idea that masculine norms are, at bottom, determined by “female visceral urges” ignores the fact that women have not freely chosen their mates throughout much of history. When a father sells his daughter to another family for a dowry, that daughter’s “female visceral urges” are pretty irrelevant. Access to her womb has already been purchased. The husband doesn’t need to be an “alpha badboy” nor a “beta high-earner.” The very mechanism by which the ‘hypergamy as geist’ idea is supposed to function is not historically commonplace. Societies have done a lot things to ensure access to women’s wombs. Sadly, none of them have been based on what turns women on.”

        Nobody chose their mates freely throughout history, which is presumably why geneticists can show that we are descended from twice as many females as males. Reproductive success for men was not half that of women because they could freely choose, obviously and the father would not be “selling” his daughter to somebody who could not afford to take care of her. So I guess he better be a “beta high earner.” And in a hunter-gatherer context – y’know, the one in which the biological basis for human heterosexuality would have developed – it’s a pretty good bet that the same traits we associate with “alpha badboys” would have been associated with greater mating opportunities, more social status, and possibly even better providership. There’s quite a bit of research on women’s sexuality cross culturally. None of this is as mysterious as you seem to think it is.

        Look, this isn’t as difficult as you’re making it. Humans survive in groups, we do not face our environment directly, but indirectly through a social group, through a division of labor. We can speculate that the original division of labor in a hunter gatherer circumstance was between men and women and this is presumably why we are a sexually dimorphic species. Human beings don’t pop out of the womb and immediately scramble up a tree where they can pick fruit or kill small animals in order to eat. They have to be reared, taken care of, provided for, until they are able to take care of themselves. We could not have developed this way if we weren’t depending on social groups for our survival from the start.

        So all of this presupposes that original division of labor, one in which women have children and men protect and provide for them. Or did you think men dying for women is cultural? It’s a coincidence then that it should exist cross culturally as far back as you want to look. Even women’s neoteny, it is theorized, reflects this power dynamic. Even your inability here to think of women as anything other than powerless victims – as if they are children – is a perfect example of how difficult it is for men to think of women in any other way. Most social orders depend on men viewing women this way. It’s how we can get them to cough up economic surplus produced by their labor or die in wars with competing groups so that the group survives.

        Your understanding of history is a cartoon. As far back as you want to look, you’ll find that every generation of men imagined that the previous generation treated women terribly while we are the enlightened ones. Karen Straughan was pointed out how you can find this in the rationale for coverture, which was itself later denounced as oppressive towards women and replaced with another system which was itself denounced as oppressive towards women. In every case what you find is that norms which are deemed to be “oppressive” by a subsequent generation were in fact adopted by people who agreed with you and thought that men need to stop being asshats, men, as ever have to “do better” by the trembling womenfolk who need our sacrifice and provision, our protection from the bad guys. And in your hypothetical example of the dowry and an arranged marriage system in some unnamed society, it would no doubt be the same thing. Women are not “oppressed” because we develop social and legal norms which bind men to providing and protecting them as a condition of basic intimacy or the ability to have children. Women are not oppressed by traditional marriage which essentially gives them a lifetime pension for having pumped out some kids. Even in Sharia law a woman’s income is her own while her husband’s legally belongs to the family.

        “Furthermore, men are the gatekeepers of masculinity. Fathers and elders display and pass on the ideals of masculinity to boys. Boys police each other. Men most definitely care what other men think about. Giving a shit about other people’s opinions is a pretty basic aspect of human existence, and men caring about being seen as masculine is commonplace. Today, men debate with each other about the virtues they think masculinity should embody, and men have been doing this for a very long time. Men do this because they should.”

        Are they the gatekeepers of masculinity? Because if everything else I’ve argued here is true, then any masculine norms would be shaped by the values of ruling class men, and if those ruling class men understand themselves as providers and protectors of women, then what kind of values do they impose on lower classes? Who has really imposed them? We could ask that question about our own society as well as its previous incarnations as far back as you want to look.

        If we look at western society, we can see that ruling class women have always been arbiters of appropriate male behavior and identity. Their husbands have always defaulted to these behavioral codes, even going back to chivalry and before it. It’s easy to understand why they would if you consider how powerful a mechanism male shame is for producing behavioral norms. What is like to be accused of being a rapist or a misogynist today? You can literally be lynched by an outraged mob for it. Do you think it was appreciably different at any other point in our history? Is outrage at those who menace women and children a modern phenomenon? Because it looks to me like it has been there all along and that it was, in fact, the most central and important component of group identity and the power structure which grows out of it. Men segregate into racial, national, and tribal groups based on their relationship to women. The whole thing is predicated upon protection and providership, not “oppression.” Men don’t get to freely choose mates. Their ability to mate at all is entirely contingent upon their ability to contribute to that division of labor.

        Let me give you an example of a female norm and show you how the reason somebody might have for adhering to the norm is often quite different from the norm’s origin. Consider a diamond ring that a man gives to a woman when he proposes. Do we think that every woman who wants and expects the ring does so because she is consciously and coldly calculating that she can pawn it if the marriage doesn’t work out? The ring is a cultural symbol, and she wants it because she wants the status it confers, or because she, on an emotional level, understands it a symbol of a man’s commitment, perhaps because it validates her, means she is worthy of that commitment or that she belongs like other women in her community. It may have nothing to do with the value of the ring itself.

        But why the ring as a symbol in the first place? There is a pragmatic reason for the norm, even if the woman in question never appreciates it. The origin of the norm or tradition is removed from her immediate experience. In the aggregate society, however, if women depend on male provision, the ring has pragmatic value. The norm itself would have originated in women’s dependent condition, as well as the condition that men are in which they must successfully adhere to a given division of labor or achieve professional and financial status sufficient to be able to take care of a wife and child. That’s the whole point of traditions. They do the thinking for us. We follow along and play our roles but we need not understand why those roles might be advantageous for us or for society as a whole.

        Masculine norms would be no different. In what context are men socialized? In adolescence, what is the single greatest insecurity if not being unattractive to the opposite sex? What is a bigger social challenge or one that is more universally experienced than that one? Even men who can make friends aren’t necessarily able to figure out how to successfully attract women. So, as in the example of the ring, even if we’re not worried about attracting girls at all just as the girl who wants the ring isn’t necessarily worried about poverty, the intra-male social landscape we find ourselves in is shaped by norms whose origins are removed from our immediate experience. The reality is that young men are commonly worried about not being attracted to women and the norms that develop out of their interactions with one another are going to reflect those insecurities. They will project those insecurities on to one another and this is what will shape their identities, even if this or that young man wasn’t worried about being attractive or unattractive to the opposite sex.

        It is actually absurd to assume that women’s expectation of the opposite sex wouldn’t shape male norms. There is no force which would be more powerful that would. Men want wealth and social status? Why do they want these things at all? Is it a coincidence that both will enhance a man’s mating opportunities? Again, we’re descended from twice as many females as males. Do you seriously believe that this tremendous selection pressure which flows from women to men wouldn’t shape masculinity? And I don’t just mean cultural masculinity, but whatever biological component it has which can be found in our sexuality? Or do you think sexual orientation and inclination is culturally constructed? If so, then you must think homosexuals choose their orientation. Would you like to make that argument?

        “Huh? Men order other men to die in war. Men hire other men to work dangerous jobs.”

        Married men out earn women and unmarried men. That means that women – even today, and 40 years into the sexual revolution – expect men to be breadwinners. Gee, what becomes of men who aren’t breadwinners? Statistically speaking, they apparently have a harder time finding mates. You’re aware of these stats, since you’ve quoted them. Could that be why men work dangerous jobs? Could it be that it’s the same damn reason they went off to war in any other context? Because if they did not, they did not have a place in their community, and if they had no place in their community, they could not expect to mate.

        Mating is not a side issue in people’s lives, it structures the entirety of most people’s lives, and therefore structures the life of communities intergenerationally. It’s at the heart of our existence socially. All of our institutions are based on it. Could this have something to do with the fact that the likelihood of a man being married doubles when earns above a certain dollar amount? Are you being purposefully obtuse? Or what?

        “Men face these horrors because, as societies, we’ve deemed these roles to be displays of masculinity.”

        Right, the masculinity and masculine norms which apparently have no discernible origin. A mystical patriarchy wizard appeared ahistorically in a puff of smoke and cast a spell on everybody turning men into an army of fratbro rapejocks who subsequently high five each other while raping and pillaged.

        Or could it be that masculine norms exist because men have always been expected to be providers and protectors? The “horrors” of war are hardly horrors to the winning side, especially their women and children.

        “We’ve systematically denied women access to these positions and responsibilities because women are considered incapable by virtue of their womanhood.”

        This is just laughably stupid. So, you’re complaining that we didn’t allow women to commit atrocities and other “horrors?” Or what? I think it’s pretty clear that women are the limiting factor in human reproduction. That has always been true, so their survival was more important, as I’ve already pointed out. It is not “oppression” to be protected and provided for. Women are not oppressed because men died for them. The tribe doesn’t survive if women don’t survive. A tribe with one man and many women survives; a tribe with one woman and many men dies. Masculine norms are like any other norm – their origin is in survival utility.

        “The thing is, these roles have been honored positions. Being a warrior and dying in war is still considered an honorable thing to this day.”

        Gee, do you think that maybe you have to con people to die for you? You got your face blown off or you were crippled at your job, but at least you have honor! How else do you think this works? Are we supposed to insult and shame people into dying for us?

        “That reflects caring.”

        Are you sure? I’m pretty sure that dying for somebody reflects society’s caring for the person we died for and disregard for the one who does the dying.

        “Certainly, I think it is a wonderful idea that we discuss the ways in which we’ve made men suffer through our social values and arrangements. I just think it is laughable to try and lay the blame on women, in general, and women not putting out, specifically.”

        There is nothing laughable about it since we know that men do not freely choose mates, as I already explained.

        Men order other men to die in war. In other words, all of this happens independently of women. Because you apparently, in your cartoon conception of history, imagine that men just hit women over the head and drag them off to a cave to rape them when they feel like it. Why do you assume men were free to do this? Why wouldn’t we assume that such behavior would get your head bashed in with a rock by her brothers or father? Clearly we depend on groups to survive and we are adapted to this to such a degree that our physiology reflects it – or did you think there was some other reason that you had so many muscles in your face which could communicate so many complex emotional states and intentions? Groups require social trust, the more complex their specialization and division of labor, the more trust is required. What all of this suggests is that it has never been the case that norms, group identity, and cohesion which was so important to our survival would have permitted dragging women around by their hair and having our way with them. Again, why is it that we are descended from twice as many females as males?

        What is more likely is that men have always been on the hook for contributing, risking, producing surplus of whatever kind, and providing and protecting if they expected to be able to mate. Women expect this of them and the society in which they are socialized enforces norms imposed by ruling class men who have always deferred to ruling class women.

        And if they were fighting wars, it’s a fair bet that they believed they were protecting women and children, or plundering some other group’s resources so that they could attract mates or take care of the ones they already had. This is true even today. Look at war propaganda during the world wars. It always invoked the damsel in distress trope.

        Look, there is just too much wrong with your post for me to go through it all. Have the last word. I don’t have time to go through it all and I’ve already written a novel here.

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