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About gynocentrism

Gynocentrism n. (Greek, γυνή, “female” – Latin centrum, “centred” ) refers to a dominant or exclusive focus on women in theory or practice; or to the advocacy of this.1 Anything can be considered gynocentric (Adj.) when it is concerned exclusively with a female (or specifically a feminist) point of view.2

Katherine K. Young and Paul Nathanson state that the overriding focus of gynocentric ideology is to prioritize females hierarchically, and as a result may be interpreted as misandry (the hatred and prejudice towards men). Feminist calls for equality or even equity are often, according to them, a subterfuge for gynocentrism.3

Young and Nathanson define gynocentrism as a worldview based on the implicit or explicit belief that the world revolves around women, a cultural theme that they claim has become ‘de rigueur’ behind the scenes in law courts and government bureaucracies, which has resulted in systemic discrimination against men.4 They further state that gynocentrism is a form of essentialism – as distinct from scholarship or political activity on behalf of women- to the extent that it focuses on the innate virtues of women and the innate vices of men.5

Other authors make discriminations between types of gynocentrism, such as individual gynocentric acts or events (e.g. Mother’s Day), and the broader concept of a gynocentric culture which refers to a larger collection of culture traits that have major significance in the way people’s lives were lived.6

History

Elements of gynocentric culture existing today are derived from practices originating in medieval society such as feudalism, chivalry and courtly love that continue to inform contemporary society in subtle ways. Peter Wright refers to such gynocentric patters as constituting a “sexual feudalism,” as attested by female writers like Lucrezia Marinella who in 1600 AD recounted that women of lower socioeconomic classes were treated as superiors by men who acted as servants or beasts born to serve them, or by Modesta Pozzo who in 1590 wrote;

“don’t we see that men’s rightful task is to go out to work and wear themselves out trying to accumulate wealth, as though they were our factors or stewards, so that we can remain at home like the lady of the house directing their work and enjoying the profit of their labors? That, if you like, is the reason why men are naturally stronger and more robust than us — they need to be, so they can put up with the hard labor they must endure in our service.”7

The golden casket above depicting scenes of servile behaviour toward women were typical of courtly love culture of the Middle Ages. Such objects were given to women as gifts by men seeking to impress. Note the woman standing with hands on hips in a position of authority, and the man being led around by a neck halter, his hands clasped in a position of subservience.

It’s clear that much of what we today call gynocentrism was invented in the Middle Ages with the cultural practices of romantic chivalry and courtly love. In 12th century Europe, feudalism served as the basis for a new kind of love in which men were to play the role of vassal to women who played the role of an idealized Lord. C.S. Lewis, back in the middle of the 20th Century, referred to this historical revolution as “the feudalisation of love,” and stated that it has left no corner of our ethics, our imagination, or our daily life untouched. “Compared with this revolution,” states Lewis, “the Renaissance is a mere ripple on the surface of literature.”8 Lewis states;

“Everyone has heard of courtly love, and everyone knows it appeared quite suddenly at the end of the eleventh century at Languedoc. The sentiment, of course, is love, but love of a highly specialized sort, whose characteristics may be enumerated as Humility, Courtesy, and the Religion of Love. The lover is always abject. Obedience to his lady’s lightest wish, however whimsical, and silent acquiescence in her rebukes, however unjust, are the only virtues he dares to claim. Here is a service of love closely modelled on the service which a feudal vassal owes to his lord. The lover is the lady’s ‘man’. He addresses her as midons, which etymologically represents not ‘my lady’ but ‘my lord’. The whole attitude has been rightly described as ‘a feudalisation of love’. This solemn amatory ritual is felt to be part and parcel of the courtly life.” 9

With the advent of (initially courtly) women being elevated to the position of ‘Lord’ in intimate relationships, and with this general sentiment diffusing to the masses and across much of the world today, we are justified in talking of a gynocentric cultural complex that affects, among other things, relationships between men and women. Further, unless evidence of widespread gynocentric culture can be found prior to the Middle Ages, then gynocentrism is precisely 800 years old. In order to determine if this thesis is valid we need to look further at what we mean by “gynocentrism”.

Gynocentrism as a cultural phenomenon

The term gynocentrism has been in circulation since the 1800’s, with the general definition being “focused on women; concerned with only women.” 10 From this definition we see that gynocentrism could refer to any female-centered practice, or to a single gynocentric act carried out by one individual. There is nothing inherently wrong with a gynocentric act (eg. celebrating Mother’s Day) , or for that matter an androcentric act (celebrating Father’s Day). However when a given act becomes instituted in the culture to the exclusion of other acts we are then dealing with a hegemonic custom — i.e. such is the relationship custom of elevating women to the role of Lord in relation to male vassals.

Author of Gynocentrism Theory Adam Kostakis has attempted to expand the definition of gynocentrism to refer to “male sacrifice for the benefit of women” and “the deference of men to women,” and he concludes; “Gynocentrism, whether it went by the name honor, nobility, chivalry, or feminism, its essence has gone unchanged. It remains a peculiarly male duty to help the women onto the lifeboats, while the men themselves face a certain and icy death.” 11 I agree with Kostakis’ descriptions of assumed male duty, however the phrase ‘gynocentric culture’ more accurately carries his intention than gynocentrism alone. Thus when used alone in the context of this website ‘gynocentrism’ refers to part or all of gynocentric culture, which phrase I define here as any culture instituting rules for gender relationships that benefit females at the expense of males across a broad range of measures.

At the base of gynocentric culture lies the practice of enforced male sacrifice for the benefit of women. If we accept this definition we can look back and ask whether male sacrifices throughout history were always made for the sake women, or alternatively for the sake of some other primary goal? For instance, when men went to die in vast numbers in wars, was it for women, or was it rather for Man, King, God and Country? If the latter we cannot then claim that this was a result of some intentional gynocentric culture, at least not in the way I have defined it here. If the sacrifice isn’t intended directly for the benefit women, even if women were occasional beneficiaries of male sacrifice, then we are not dealing with gynocentric culture.

Male utility and disposability strictly “for the benefit of women” comes in strongly only after the advent of the 12th century gender revolution in Europe – a revolution that delivered us terms like gallantry, chivalry, chivalric love, courtesy, damsels, romance and so on. From that period onward gynocentric practices grew exponentially, culminating in the demands of today’s feminism. In sum, gynocentrism (ie. gynocentric culture) was a patchy phenomenon at best before the middle ages, after which it became ubiquitous.

With this in mind it makes little sense to talk of gynocentric culture starting with the industrial revolution a mere 200 years ago (or 100 or even 30 yrs ago), or of it being two million years old as some would argue. We are not simply fighting two million years of genetic programming; our culturally constructed problem of gender inequity is much simpler to pinpoint and to potentially reverse. All we need do is look at the circumstances under which gynocentrism first began to flourish and attempt to reverse those circumstances. Specifically, that means rejecting the illusions of romantic love (feudalised love), along with the practices of misandry, male shaming and servitude that ultimately support it.

La Querelle des Femmes, and advocacy for women

The Querelle des Femmes translates as the “quarrel about women” and amounts to what we might today call a gender-war. The querelle had its beginning in twelfth century Europe and finds its culmination in the feminist-driven ideology of today (though some authors claim, unconvincingly, that the querelle came to an end in the 1700s). The basic theme of the centuries-long quarrel revolved, and continues to revolve, around advocacy for the rights, power and status of women, and thus Querelle des Femmes serves as the originating title for gynocentric discourse.

If we consider the longevity of this revolution we might be inclined to agree with Barbarossaaa’s claim “that feminism is a perpetual advocacy machine for women”.

To place the above events into a coherent timeline, chivalric servitude toward women was elaborated and given patronage first under the reign of Eleanor of Aquitaine (1137-1152) and instituted culturally throughout Europe over the subsequent 200 year period. After becoming thus entrenched on European soil there arose the Querelle des Femmes which refers to the advocacy culture that arose for protecting, perpetuating and increasing female power in relation to men that continues, in an unbroken tradition, in the efforts of contemporary feminism.12

Writings from the Middle Ages forward are full of testaments about men attempting to adapt to the feudalisation of love and the serving of women, along with the emotional agony, shame and sometimes physical violence they suffered in the process. Gynocentric chivalry and the associated querelle have not received much elaboration in men’s studies courses to-date, but with the emergence of new manuscripts and quality English translations it may be profitable to begin blazing this trail.13 For instance a text I was re-reading today, Ulrich von Liechtenstein’s ‘In The Service of Ladies’ (1250) provides a treasure trove of emotions faced by a man trying to adapt to the vassal role; texts like this could be included in syllabus and explored for a deeper understanding of male experience and the cultural expectations that are placed on men.

References

1. Oxford English Dictionary – Vers.4.0 (2009), Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0199563838
2. Oxford English Dictionary 2010
3. Katherine K. Young and Paul Nathanson, Legalizing Misandry, 2006 p.116
4. Katherine K. Young and Paul Nathanson, Legalizing Misandry, 2006 p.309
5. Katherine K. Young and Paul Nathanson, Sanctifying Misandry, 2010 p.58
6. Wright, Peter, Gynocentrism: From Feudalism to Modern Disney Princesses, 2014 p.8
7. Wright, Peter, ‘The sexual-relations contract,’ Chapter 7 in Gynocentrism: From Feudalism to Modern Disney Princesses, 2014 p.28
8. C.S. Lewis, Friendship, chapter in The Four Loves, HarperCollins, 1960
9. C.S. Lewis, The Allegory of Love, Oxford University Press, 1936
10. Dictionary.com – Gynocentric
11. Adam Kostakis, Gynocentrism Theory – (Published online, 2011). Although Kostakis assumes gynocentrism has been around throughout recorded history, he singles out the Middle Ages for comment: “There is an enormous amount of continuity between the chivalric class code which arose in the Middle Ages and modern feminism… One could say that they are the same entity, which now exists in a more mature form – certainly, we are not dealing with two separate creatures.”
12. Joan Kelly, Early Feminist Theory and the Querelle des Femmes (1982), reprinted in Women, History and Theory, UCP (1984)
13. The New Male Studies Journal has published thoughtful articles touching on the history and influence of chivalry in the lives of males.

Zombie-wedding-marriage-bride-Flickr

Down the aisle again on the marriage question

Once again I find myself walking into the murky waters of marriage, this time not in real life but in print, praise angels. As mentioned in a recent article by August Løvenskiolds, we had a conversation about marriage which unearthed some alternative ways of looking at it. On several points our understanding aligned, and on others they diverged. So rather than rely on August’s article alone, I’d like to lay down my own thoughts.

The conversation was partly stimulated by a comment I made elsewhere, which we decided to unpack – and I hope to unpack it further in this article:

Aside from those differences over origins, both sides agree that gynocentric marriage – its culture, customs, laws, taboos – must be utterly abandoned, not reformed. Notice here I refer to gynocentric marriage and not to a marriage of the minds, hearts, dreams, goals, projects, and bodies that might come with non-gynocentric relationships.

The contention of this paragraph is, hypothetically speaking, that a marriage can be based on different priorities than those of gynocentrism. But before getting into it further lets start with the widest definition of marriage from the Oxford Dictionary, which is:

“any intimate association or union”

This definition covers pretty much all unions in which two or more things are brought together – whether in physics, biology, linguistics, or culture. In this case we are referring to human unions, and while some of the accompanying customs and behavior go well beyond this basic definition, they each conform to this minimum requirement in order to satisfy for the label marriage.

There are two main orders of human union to consider: one involving culturally prescribed marriage customs, vs. the unadorned biological demand for intimate association.

During our discussion, and in his recent article, August proposed several combinations of words (portmanteaus) to describe different kinds of marriage. For the sake of simplicity I’m only going to tackle the two primary terms which are Gynomarriage, and Biomarriage.

Gynomarriage

Gynomarriage, (portmanteau of gynocentrism + marriage) describes the typical union between a men and women today. It is based on the culturally prescribed roles of female superiority and male-chivalry, a combination more generally referred to as romantic love. This is our modern understanding of marriage.

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During the time this marriage has existed, laws have evolved to buttress and enforce it, laws tilted almost exclusively to favor wives both during the marriage, and especially in the case of its downfall.

As a social construct gynomarriage has not been around forever, with other periods in history generating different forms of marriage as was outlined by August (eg. Andromarriage – male centered). During the last 800 years however, and ongoing today, gynomarriage has ruled; so that’s what we’ll concern ourselves with in this article. To better understand it, let’s contrast it with another, far more important ‘marriage’ holding relevance today.

Biomarriage

Biomarriage (biology + marriage) is a very different idea involving not cultural constructs, but biological necessities built into our DNA. The ‘marriage’ urged by biology is based on three factors: sexual pleasure; intimate bonding/attachment; and reproduction with the concomitant parenting instinct (hence why we are triggered by neoteny). Hominid couple

Each of these imperatives has operated since our remote hominid past and will continue to compel our behavior for long after gynocentric culture ceases to exist. Like gynomarriage, biomarriage takes place between two adults, but in this case has done so for literally millions of years, not hundreds.

I’d like to spend the remainder of this piece talking about biomarriage because gynomarriage belongs, as any MGTOW or MHRA worth the name will tell you, in the scrap bin of history. People can easily get by without it, but the same cannot be said about biomarriage because the compulsion for human bonding, affection, and sex are far too powerful to ignore.

Some MGTOW will refuse to consider a biomarriage with a woman, a serious but otherwise rational choice to make in an environment that exposes men to being savaged by the in-creep of gynocentric exploitation.

If a man refuses the possibility of a non-gynocentric relationship with a woman, what is required are, at bare minimum, artificial avenues for expressing his biological compulsions. He can satisfy sexual needs with porn, imagination, prostitutes, fleshlights or fuck-buddies. He can satisfy his attachment needs at least partially with close friends, family, or perhaps with a pet. Likewise he can satisfy parental instincts via fathering the young among us — teaching school children, working in a daycare center, caring for the disabled, mentoring a fatherless child, coaching little league, looking after orphaned animals, or buying a puppy.

Are these replacement measures enough? Yes, they meet the minimum standard for maintaining physical and emotional stability. But it requires a strong understanding of one’s biological needs, and awareness, and a willingness to work hard on meeting those needs. Rather than satisfying our biological needs via “an intimate association or union” we can use a bricolage of band-aids to ensure our biological and psychological health.

Summary

So while you may legitimately think you can reject, nay should reject gynomarriage, do not rush to reject the elements we have detailed under the heading biomarriage unless you want to risk your health, and life.

We need to realize that while history has been full of amazing men who never married and eschewed relationships with women, and no man should be shamed for taking this course, it also pays to remind men that choosing isolation from the opposite sex has a cost, and should not be viewed as something trivial to do to yourself. Depression, anxiety, paranoia, delusions, suicide, and more must be protected against. Most people can probably do it, but they’ll need more than video games and YouTube in the long run to pull it off. It’s going to involve things like meditation, consciously working to both acknowledge your urges, and to cater to them in creative ways.

We can employ alternatives to satisfy our biological urges, but we might also revisit the question of whether there’s a way to conduct a biomarriage with a real flesh-n-blood human being minus the gynocentrism – think of it as a biofriendship based on the more essential facts of human being. I’d like to think that’s possible, if not now then sometime in the future.

Chimpanzees regularly kiss and groom each other as part of an instinctual process of bonding

Chimpanzees regularly kiss and groom each other as part of an instinctual process of bonding


 
Feature image by Phoenix Comicon

On the nature of MGTOW self-determination

Article by Andrew DiKaiomata
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I make omelets my own way. By that, I mean exactly like you’d see in any cookbook. I whisk some eggs, melt some butter in a frying pan, pour the eggs in along with some cheese and maybe some other things for filling. What, you might ask, makes it my own way? The fact that it’s me doing it.

I also go my own way to work in the morning. The highway and during rush hour with thousands of other people. Each of them also going their own way. Why do I say I’m going my own way to work? Simply because it’s me doing it. Now you’d think that’s hardly my own way. If I were to go my own way to work, you’d think it would mean in some way fundamentally different – and you’d be right.

Like men going their own way.

If you were to imagine going out on your own, on your own way, you might expect that would mean something like MGTOW, that you are free from outside control, not dependent on another’s authority.

You might envision someone shrugging off society’s yolk, refusing to self-sacrifice and being one’s own boss. That’s what MGTOW is, even though a man certainly has the right to place himself in danger, to sacrifice himself for another, and to support others, he chooses not to. He goes his own way, in his life, in his choices, he remains sovereign.

Marriage is dangerous for men, it’s sacrificial and compels the man into support for his wife or ex-wife. In marriage, a man necessarily compromises, gives up sole control over his life and his property. As with the earliest known MGTOW groups “The Anti-Bardell Bachelor Band” it was acknowledged that MGTOW and marriage could not co-exist.

Now what about this concept of MGTOW simply meaning male self-determination? This is such a gross over-simplification as to completely change the concept. MGTOW can be better thought of as a second or third order male self-determination. That is, a man who is determined to maintain and preserve his self-determination and determined to refuse anything that might infringe on his future self-determinism.

MGTOW-quoted

For example, a man has the right, and could have his own self-determination to join the military, but joining the military greatly reduces a man’s self-determination. A soldier cannot go his own way. After he is no longer under military obligation, he could be MGTOW, yet while active, he no longer has his autonomy, independence and sovereignty. In the same way, a married man cannot be MGTOW.

Hopefully, I’ve already addressed possible rebuttals. Yes, men ought to have the maximum amount of choices, autonomy, freedom and options. Yet, the movement is not simply a group of men making choices from options they have. That understanding would not be recognizable to hardly anyone professing to be MGTOW. I won’t be appealing to the dictionary to say that MGTOW are by definition unmarried, but rather re-iterate that the philosophy and reason for existing preclude marriage, since MGTOW can be better understood as a second or third order self-determinism.

MGTOW is not simply about men making their own choices. It’s about making the choices that ensure further choices and maximum freedoms.

No man is under obligation to be MGTOW, but if you choose to sell yourself into government slavery (whether martial or marital), you are not MGTOW. If a man is married, he can be a great guy, he could live a great life, he could wake up sympathetic and with a desire to be MGTOW but he is not MGTOW. That’s how the movement understands itself, that’s what its philosophy prescribes and that’s simply what MGTOW is.

Women 19th century

Our Better Halves (1888)

Lester Frank Ward delivered this his first major essay on Gynæcocentrism Theory in 1888, entitled Our Better Halves. The speech was delivered at the Fourteenth Dinner of the Six O’clock Club in Washington on April 26, 1888, at Willard’s Hotel, where Sex Equality was selected as the evening’s topic. Distinguished women in Washington on that day were invited to the Club, among them being Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Miss Phoebe Couzins, Mrs. Croly (Jennie June), Mrs. N. P. Willis, and a number of others equally well known. – PW

_________________

But let us now inquire what grounds there are for accepting this mental and physical inferiority of women as something inherent in the nature of things. Is it really true that the larger part taken by the female in the work of reproduction necessarily impairs her strength, dwarfs her proportions, and renders her a physically inferior and dependent being? In most human races it may be admitted that women are less stalwart than men, although all the stories of Amazonian tribes are not mere fictions. It is also true, as has been insisted upon, that the males of most mammals and birds exceed the females in size and strength, and often differ from them greatly in appearance.

But this is by no means always the case. The fable of the hedgehog that won the race with the hare by cunningly stationing Mrs. Hedgehog at the other end of the course, instructed to claim the stakes, is founded upon an exception which has many parallels. Among birds there are cases in which the rule is reversed. There are some entire families, as for example the hawks, in which the females exceed the males. If we go further down the scale, however, we find this attribute of male superiority to disappear almost entirely throughout the reptiles and amphibians, with a decided leaning toward female supremacy; and in the fishes, where male rivalry does not exist, the female, as every fisherman knows, is almost invariably the heavier game.

But it is not until we go below the vertebrate series and contemplate the invertebrate and vegetable worlds that we really begin to find the data for a philosophical study of the meaning of sex. It has been frequently remarked that the laws governing the higher forms of life can be rightly comprehended only by an acquaintance with the lower and more formative types of being. In no problem is this more true than in that of sex.

In studying this problem it is found that there is a great world of life that wholly antedates the appearance of sex—the world of asexual life—nor is the passage from the sexless to the distinctly male and female definite and abrupt. Between them occur parthenogenesis or virgin reproduction, hermaphroditism, in which the male being consists simply of an organ, and parasitic males, of which we shall presently speak, while the other devices of nature for perpetuating life are innumerable and infinitely varied. But so far as sex can be predicated of these beings, they must all be regarded as female. The asexual parent must be contemplated as, to all intents and purposes, maternal. The parthenogenetic aphis or shrimp is in all essential respects a mother. The hermaphrodite creature, whatever else it may be, is also necessarily a female. Following these states come the numberless cases in which the female form continues to constitute the type of life, the insignificant male appearing to be a mere afterthought.

The vegetable kingdom, except in its very lowest stages, affords comparatively few pointed illustrations of this truth. The strange behavior of the hemp plant, in which, as has long been known, the female plants crowd out the male plants by overshadowing them as soon as they have been fertilized by the latter, used to be frequently commented upon as a perverse anomaly in nature. Now it is correctly interpreted as an expression of the general law that the primary purpose of the male sex is to enable the female, or type form, to reproduce, after performing which function the male form is useless and a mere cumberer of the ground. But the hemp plant is by no means alone in possessing this peculiarity.

I could enumerate several pretty well known species that have a somewhat similar habit. I will mention only one, the common cud-weed, or everlasting ( Antennaria plantaginifolia ), which, unlike the hemp, has colonies of males separate from the females, and these male plants are small and short-lived. Long after their flowering stalks have disappeared the female plants continue to grow, and they become large and thrifty herbs lasting until frost.

In the animal kingdom below the vertebrates female superiority is well-nigh universal. In the few cases where it does not occur it is generally found that the males combat each other, after the manner of the higher animals, for the possession of the females. The cases that I shall name are such as all are familiar with. The only new thing in their presentation is their application to the point at issue.

The superiority of the queen bee over the drone is only a well-known illustration of a condition which, with the usual variations and exceptions, is common to a great natural order of insects. The only mosquito that the unscientific world knows is the female mosquito. The male mosquito is a frail and harmless little creature that swarms with the females in the early season and passes away when his work is done.

There are many insects of which the males possess no organs of nutrition in the imago state, their duties during their ephemeral existence being confined to what the Germans call the Minnedienst.1 Such is the life of many male moths and butterflies. But much greater inequalities are often found. I should, perhaps, apologize for citing the familiar case of spiders, in some species of which the miniature lover is often seized and devoured during his courtship by the gigantic object of his affections. Something similar, I learn, sometimes occurs with the mantis or “praying insect.”

Merely mentioning the extreme case of Sphaerularia, in which the female is several thousand times as large as the male, I may surely be permitted to introduce the barnacle, since it is one of the creatures upon which Prof. Brooks lays considerable stress in the article to which I have referred. Not being myself a zoologist, I am only too happy to quote him. He says:

Among the barnacles there are a few species the males and females of which differ remarkably. The female is an ordinary barnacle, with all the peculiarities of the group fully developed, while the male is a small parasite upon the body of the female, and is so different from the female of its own species, and from all ordinary barnacles, that no one would ever recognize in the adult male any affinity whatever to its closest allies.

The barnacle, or cirripede, is the creature which Mr. Darwin so long studied, and from which he learned so many lessons leading up to his grand generalizations. In a letter to Sir Charles Lyell, dated September 14, 1849, he recounts some of his discoveries while engaged in this study. Having learned that most cirripedes, but not all, were hermaphrodite, he remarks:

The other day I got a curious case of a unisexual instead of hermaphrodite cirripede, in which the female had the common cirripedial character, and in two valves of her shell had two little pockets in each of which she kept a little husband. I do not know of any other case where a female invariably has two husbands. I have one still odder fact, common to several species, namely, that though they are hermaphrodite, they have small additional, or, as I call them, complemental males. One specimen, itself hermaphrodite, had no less than seven of these complemental males attached to it.

Prof. Brooks brings forward facts of this class to demonstrate that the male is the variable sex, while the female is comparatively stable. However much we may doubt his further conclusion that variability rather than supplementary procreative power was the primary purpose of the separate male principle, we must, it would seem, concede that variability and adaptability are the distinguishing characteristics of the male sex everywhere, as the transmitting power and permanence of type are those of the female. But this is a very different thing from saying that the female sex is incapable of progress, or that man is destined to develop indefinitely, leaving woman constantly farther and farther in the rear. Does the class of philosophers to which reference has been made look forward to a time when woman shall become as insignificant an object compared to man as the male spider is compared to the female? This would be the logical outcome of their argument if based upon the relative variability of the male sex.

We have now seen that, whether we contemplate the higher animals, among which male superiority prevails, or the lower forms, among which female superiority prevails, the argument from biology that the existing relations between the sexes in the human race are precisely what nature intended them to be, that they ought not to be disturbed and cannot be improved, leads, when carried to its logical conclusion, to a palpable absurdity. But have we, then, profited nothing by the thoughtful contemplation of the subject from these two points of view?

Those who rightly interpret the facts cannot avoid learning a most important lesson from each of these lines of inquiry. From the first the truth comes clearly forth that the relations of the sexes among the higher animals are widely abnormal, warped, and strained by a long line of curious influences, chiefly psychic, which are incident to the development of animal organisms under the competitive principle that prevails throughout nature. From the second comes now into full view the still more important truth with which we first set out, that the female sex is primary in point both of origin and of importance in the history and economy of organic life. And as life is the highest product of nature and human life the highest type of life, it follows that the grandest fact in nature is woman.

But we have learned even more than this, that which is certainly of more practical value. We have learned how to carry forward the progress of development so far advanced by the unconscious agencies of nature. Accepting evolution as we must, recognizing heredity as the distinctive attribute of the female sex, it becomes clear that it must be from the steady advance of woman rather than from the uncertain fluctuations of man that the sure and solid progress of the future is to come. The attempt to move the whole race forward by elevating only the sex that represents the principle of instability, has long enough been tried. The many cases of superior men the sons of superior mothers, coupled with the many more cases of degenerate sons of superior sires, have taught us over and over again that the way to civilize the race is to civilize woman. And now, thanks to science, we see why this is so.

Woman is the unchanging trunk of the great genealogic tree; while man, with all his vaunted superiority, is but a branch, a grafted scion, as it were, whose acquired qualities die with the individual, while those of woman are handed on to futurity. Woman is the race, and the race can be raised up only as she is raised up. There is no fixed rule by which Nature has intended that one sex should excel the other, any more than there is any fixed point beyond which either cannot further develop. Nature has no intentions, and evolution has no limits. True science teaches that the elevation of woman is the only sure road to the evolution of man.

Reference

[1] Service of love.

Lester Ward 2

The gynæcocentric theory, by Lester Ward (1903)

It may not come as much of a surprise to learn some men were primary champions of gynocentrism over the centuries, men we might refer to as white knights on account of their exaggerated chivalry. Lester F. Ward (1841 – 1913) was one such champion of gynocentrism, promoting the idea that women were naturally superior to men. In this regard, Ward presaged the rise of ‘difference feminism’ by Evolutionary Psychology and feminist writers such as Harvard’s Carol Gilligan, who have developed the claims of female superiority. Ward is now considered a feminist writer by historians such as Ann Taylor Allen.1 The following is an excerpt from his longer work entitled Pure Sociology, published in 1903. – PW

__________________________________________

The gynæcocentric theory

The gynæcocentric theory is the view that the female sex is primary and the male secondary in the organic scheme, that originally and normally all things center, as it were, about the female, and that the male, though not necessary in carrying out the scheme, was developed under the operation of the principle of advantage to secure organic progress through the crossing of strains. The theory further claims that the apparent male superiority in the human race and in certain of the higher animals and birds is the result of specialization in extra-normal directions due to adventitious causes which have nothing to do with the general scheme, but which can be explained on biological and psychological principles; that it only applies to certain characters, and to a relatively small number of genera and families. It accounts for the prevalence of the androcentric theory by the superficial character of human knowledge of such subjects, chiefly influenced by the illusion of the near, but largely, in the case of man at least, by tradition, convention, and prejudice.

History of the Theory

As this theory is not only new but novel, and perhaps somewhat startling, it seems proper to give a brief account of its inception and history, if it can be said to have such. As the theory, so far as I have ever heard, is wholly my own, no one else having proposed or even defended it, scarcely any one accepting it, and no one certainly coveting it, it would be folly for me to pretend indifference to it. At the same time it must rest on facts that cannot be disputed, and the question of its acceptance or rejection must become one of interpreting the facts.

In the year 1888 there existed in Washington what was called the Six o’clock Club, which consisted of a dinner at a hotel followed by speeches by the members of the Club according to a programme. The Fourteenth Dinner of the Club took place on April 26, 1888, at Willard’s Hotel. It was known to the managers that certain distinguished women would be in Washington on that day, and they were invited to the Club. Among these were Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Miss Phoebe Couzins, Mrs. Croly (Jennie June), Mrs. N. P. Willis, and a number of others equally well known. On their account the subject of Sex Equality was selected for discussion, and I was appointed to open the debate. Although in a humorous vein, I set forth the greater part of the principles and many of the facts of what I now call the gynæcocentric theory.

Professor C. V. Riley was present and, I think, took part in the discussion. Many of my facts were drawn from insect life, and especially interested him. I mention this because a long time afterward he brought me a newspaper clipping from the Household Companion for June, 1888, containing a brief report of my remarks copied from the St. Louis Globe, but crediting them to him; and he apologized for its appearance saying that he could not explain the mistake. The reporter had fairly seized the salient points of the theory and presented them in a manner to which I could not object. This, therefore, was the first time the theory can be said to have been stated in print. The exact date at which it appeared in the Globe I have not yet learned, but presume it was shortly after the meeting of the Club. Professor Riley did not hesitate to announce himself a convert to the theory, and we often discussed it together.

I had long been reflecting along this line, and these events only heightened my interest in the subject. The editor of the Forum had solicited an article from me, and I decided to devote it to a popular but serious presentation of the idea. The result was my article entitled, “Our Better Halves.” 3 That article, therefore, constitutes the first authorized statement of the gynæcocentric theory that was published, and as a matter of fact it is almost the only one. Mr. Grant Allen answered my argument on certain points in the same magazine,4 and I was asked to put in a rejoinder, which I did,5 but these discussions related chiefly to certain differences between the mind of man and woman and did not deal with the question of origin. I alluded to it in my first presidential address before the Biological Society of Washington,6 and it came up several times in writing the “Psychic Factors” (Chapters XIV, XXVI).

Such is the exceedingly brief history of the gynæcocentric theory, and if it is entirely personal to myself, this is no fault of mine. Nothing pleases me more than to see in the writings of others any intimation, however vague and obscure, that the principle has been perceived, and I have faithfully searched for such indications and noted all I have seen. The idea has not wholly escaped the human mind, but it is never presented in any systematic way. It is only occasionally shadowed forth in connection with certain specific facts that call forth some passing reflection looking in this general direction. In introducing a few of these adumbrations I omit the facts, which will be considered under the several heads into which the subject will naturally fall, and confine myself for the most part to the reflections to which they have given rise. Many of these latter, however, are of a very general character, and not based on specific facts. In fact thus far the theory has had rather the form of a prophetic idea than of a scientific hypothesis.

We may begin as far back as Condorcet, who brushed aside the conventional error that intellect and the power of abstract reasoning are the only marks of superiority and caught a glimpse of the truth that lies below them when he said: –

If we try to compare the moral energy of women with that of men, taking into consideration the necessary effect of the inequality with which the two sexes have been treated by laws, institutions, customs, and prejudices, and fix our attention on the numerous examples that they have furnished of contempt for death and suffering, of constancy in their resolutions and their convictions, of courage and intrepidity, and of greatness of mind, we shall see that we are far from having the proof of their alleged inferiority. Only through new observations can a trite light be shed upon the question of the natural inequality of the two sexes.7

Comte, as all know, changed his attitude toward women after his experiences with Clotilde de Vaux, but even in his “Positive Philosophy,” in which he declared them to be in a state of “perpetual infancy,” and of “fundamental inferiority,” be admitted that they had a “secondary superiority considered from the social point of view.”8 In his “Positive Polity” he expressed himself much more strongly, saying that the female sex “is certainly superior to ours in the most fundamental attribute of the human species, the tendency to make sociability prevail over personality.”9 He also says that “feminine supremacy becomes evident when we consider the spontaneous disposition of the affectionate sex (sexe aimant) always to further morality, the sole end of all our conceptions.”10

Of all modern writers the one most free from the androcentric bias, so far as I am aware, is Mr. Havelock Ellis. In his excellent book “Man and Woman,” be has pointed out many of the fallacies of that Weltanschauung, and without apparent leaning toward anything but the truth has placed woman in a far more favorable light than it is customary to view her. While usually confining himself to the facts, he occasionally indicates that their deeper meaning has not escaped him. Thus he says: “The female is the mother of the new generation, and has a closer and more permanent connection with the care of the young; she is thus of greater importance than the male from Nature’s point of view” (pp. 383-384). To him is also due, the complete refutation of the “arrested development” theory, above mentioned, by showing that the child, and the young generally, represent the most advanced type of development, while the adult male represents a reversion to an inferior early type, and this in man is a more bestial type.

In the sayings quoted thus far we have little more than opinions, or general philosophical tenets, of which it would be much easier to find passages with the opposite import. In fact statements of the androcentric theory are to be met with everywhere. Not only do philosophers and popular writers never tire of repeating its main propositions, but anthropologists and biologists will go out of their way to defend it while at the same time heaping up facts that really contradict it and strongly support the gynæcocentric theory. This is due entirely to the power of a predominant world view (Weltanschauung). The androcentric theory is such a world view that is deeply stamped upon the popular mind, and the history of human thought has demonstrated many times that scarcely any number of facts opposed to such a world view can shake it. It amounts to a social structure and has the attribute of stability in common with other social structures. Only occasionally will a thinking investigator pause to consider the true import of the facts he is himself bringing to light.

Bachofen, McLennan, Morgan, and the other ethnologists who have contributed to our knowledge of the remarkable institution or historic phase called the matriarchate, all stop short of stating the full significance of these phenomena, and the facts of amazonism that are so often referred to as so many singular anomalies and reversals of the natural order of things, are never looked at philosophically as residual facts that must be explained even if they overthrow many current beliefs. Occasionally some one will take such facts seriously and dare to intimate a doubt as to the prevailing theory. Thus I find in Ratzenhofer’s work the following remark: –

It is probable that in the horde there existed a certain individual equality between man and woman; the results of our investigation leave it doubtful whether the man always had a superior position. There is much to indicate that the woman was the uniting element in the community; the mode of development of reproduction in the animal world and the latest investigations into the natural differences between man and woman give rise to the assumption that the woman of to-day is the atavistic product of the race, while the man varies more frequently and more widely. This view agrees perfectly with the nature of the social process, for in the horde, as the social form out of which the human race has developed, there existed an individual equality which has only been removed by social disturbances which chiefly concern the man.

All the secondary sexual differences in men are undoubtedly explained by the struggle for existence and the position of man in the community as conditioned thereby. Even the security of the horde from predatory animals, and still more the necessity of fighting with other men for the preservation of the group, developed individual superiority in general, both mental and physical, and especially in man. But any individual superiority disturbed the equality existing in the elements of the horde; woman from her sexual nature took only a passive part in these disturbances. The sexual life as well as the mode of subsistence no longer has its former peaceful character. Disturbances due to the demands of superior individuals thrive up to a certain point, beyond which the differentiation of the group into several takes place.11

Among biologists the philosophical significance of residual facts opposed to current beliefs is still less frequently reflected upon. I have stated that Professor Riley fully accepted the view that I set forth and admitted that the facts of entomology sustained it, yet, although somewhat of a philosopher himself, and living in the midst of the facts, the idea had not previously occurred to him. Among botanists, Professor Mechan was the only one in whose writings I have found an adumbration of the gynæcocentric theory. He several times called attention to a certain form of female superiority in plants. In describing certain peculiarities in the Early Meadow Rue and comparing the development of the male and female flowers he observed differences due to sex. After describing the female flowers he says: –

By turning to the male flowers (Fig. 2) we see a much greater number of bracts or small leaves scattered through the panicle, and find the pedicels longer than in the female; and this shows a much slighter effort – a less expenditure of force – to be required in forming male than female flowers. A male flower, as we see clearly here, is an intermediate stage between a perfect leaf and a perfect, or we may say, a female flower. It seems as if there might be as much truth as poetry in the expression of Burns, –

Her ‘prentice han’ she tried on man,
An’ then she made the lasses, O,

— at least in so far as the flowers are concerned, and in the sense of a higher effort of vital power.12

It is singular, but suggestive that he should have quoted the lines from Burns in this connection, as they are an undoubted echo of the androcentric world view, a mere variation upon the Biblical myth of the rib. Of course he could find nothing on his side in the classic literature of the world, but wishing to embellish the idea in a popular work, he tried to make these somewhat ambiguous lines do duty in this capacity. The fact cited is only one of thousands that stand out clearly before the botanist, but not according with the accepted view of the relations of the sexes they are brushed aside as worthless anomalies and “exceptions that prove the rule.” In fact in all branches of biology the progress of truth has been greatly impeded by this spirit.

All modern anatomists know how the facts that are now regarded as demonstrating the horizontal position of the ancestors of man, and in general those that establish the doctrine of evolution, were treated by the older students of the human body – rejected, ignored, and disliked, as intruders that interfered with their investigations. It is exactly so now with gynæcocentric facts, and we are probably in about the same position and stage with reference to the questions of sex as were the men of the eighteenth century with reference to the question of evolution. Indeed, the androcentric theory may be profitably compared with the geocentric theory, and the gynæcocentric with the heliocentric. The advancement of truth has always been in the direction of supplanting the superficial and apparent by the fundamental and real, and the gynæcocentric truth may be classed among the “paradoxes of nature.“13

References:

[1] Lester Frank Ward on Wikipedia
[2] Pure sociology; a treatise on the origin and spontaneous development of society (1903)
[3] The Forum, New York, Vol. VI, November, 1888, pp. 266-275.
[4] “Woman’s Place in Nature,” by Grant Allen, the Forum, Vol. VII, May, 1889, pp. 258-263.
[5] “Genius and Woman’s Intuition,” the Forum, Vol. IX, June, 1890, pp. 401-408.
[6] “The Course of Biologic Evolution,” Proc. Biol. Soc., Washington, Vol. V, pp. 23-55. See pp. 49-52.
[7] “Tableau Historique des Progrès de I’Esprit Humain,” Paris, 1900, pp. 444-445.
[8] “Philosophie Positive,” Vol. IV, Paris, 1839, pp. 405, 406.
[9] “Système de Politique Positive,” Vol. I, 1851, p. 210.
[10] Op. cit., Vol. IV, 1854, p. 63.
[11] “Die Sociologische Erkenntnis,” von Gustav Ratzenhofer, Leipzig, 1898, p. 127.
[12] “The Native Flowers and Ferns of the United States,” by Thomas Meehan, Vol. I, Boston, 1878, p. 47.
[13] “Dynamic Sociology,” Vol. I, pp. 47-53.

Author’s note: Part 2 of this article to follow

sale of Christmas carps (Czech Christmas tradition), Czech Republic

Gynocentrism – why so hard to kill?

Many theories exist as to why we are saddled with a gynocentric culture in which men, to put it simplistically, play the role of servant to women. The explanation people choose will determine whether they believe gynocentrism is a permanent or temporary fact of human existence, and will dictate how they are likely to respond to it.

The first explanation is one of biological determinism – that men have always kowtowed to women regardless of fluctuations in cultural habits, customs, taboos and beliefs. Our genes, according to this theory, make men little more than nerve reflexes primed to obtain sex with females and reproduce – that we must position ourselves as slaves in order to meet that end.

A more reasonable version of the biology hypothesis was proposed by Lester F. Ward in his “Gynæcocentric theory”1 which frames women as the dominant sex by dint of biology. Evolutionary Psychologists and Difference Feminists, who often collaborate,2 support this view via anthropological, zoological and other scientific evidence. The basic theory holds that in the underpopulated world of the past, wombs were a precious and key resource to human survival, hence a genetic predisposition toward gynocentrism was a survival advantage. With the current overpopulation, however, wombs are now plentiful and cheap but our biological predispositions still make us overvalue them – ie. a redundant gynocentrism is built into our nervous system at a time when overpopulation could wipe out our species.

Biological determinists conclude that extreme gynocentrism is a permanent feature of human existence, and thus abandoning interactions with women is the only viable option if men want to be free of it: we must drop out of male-female interactions in order to avoid inbuilt gynocentric reflexes.

A completely different explanation is that gynocentrism is an extreme cultural exaggeration of human potential, one that hasn’t played constantly throughout human history. This explanation leaves open the option to confront and potentially change gynocentric culture in the knowledge that it is not an inevitable fate for men to suffer.

The two perspectives above, one theory placing the accent on biology and the other on culture, have serious ramifications for how men conceptualize and responded to the problem – the one abandoning it, the other rejecting it and posing an alternative approach to male-female relations.

I personally wager that extreme gynocentrism, that which is based on chivalry and romantic love, is a novelty in the long walk of human evolution. And yet it doesn’t appear to be going away, at least not quickly, despite concerted efforts to dismantle it. What could be going on?

Why is gynocentrism still alive?

With the different approaches to understanding gynocentrism touched on, I’d like to use the rest of this article to deal with one question – how to destroy the beast.

I’d like to think it will come to an end through natural processes. Human beings possess inbuilt regulating mechanisms that work to achieve homeostasis in biological, psychological and social systems, and which tend to cull extreme behaviors when they interfere with the overall psycho-biological economy.

Gynocentrism is an example of an extreme, discord-creating behavior, and yet those innate balancing mechanisms do not seem to be culling it from our repertoire. Why is that?

One explanation is that media is censoring those voices calling, nay yelling, for homeostasis.

Everyone draws information from the environment, and especially from the media, to construct internal schemas of the external world. We create internal pictures of how things work. However, if the environment is not providing adequate data, or worse, something in the environment is actively censoring the available data, it severely weakens our ability to understand the world and to create a balanced way of moving through it.

Censorship of the media by gynocentrists is not new, but historically speaking appears to be the No.1 force blocking a change in gender culture.

Go back 200 years and newspapers were the dominant media which began with some remarkable examples of free speech. But as soon as criticism of gynocentrism increased, the censor army infiltrated – free speech in newspapers was crushed. Ernest B. Bax for example wrote;

When, however, the bluff is exposed… then the apostles of feminism, male and female, being unable to make even a plausible case out in reply, resort to the boycott, and by ignoring what they cannot answer, seek to stop the spread of the unpleasant truth so dangerous to their cause. The pressure put upon publishers and editors by the influential Feminist sisterhood is well known.3

And;

All parties, all sorts and conditions of politicians, from the fashionable and Conservative west-end philanthropist to the Radical working-men’s clubbite, seem (or seemed until lately) to have come to an unanimous conclusion on one point – to wit, that the female sex is grievously groaning under the weight of male oppression. Editors of newspapers, keen to scent out every drift of public fancy with the object of regaling their “constant readers” with what is tickling to their palates, will greedily print, in prominent positions and in large type letters expressive of the view in question, whilst they will boycott or, at best, publish in obscure corners any communication that ventures to criticise the popular theory or that adduces facts that tell against it. Were I to pen an impassioned diatribe, tending to prove the villainy of man towards woman, and painting in glowing terms the poor, weak victim of his despotism, my description would be received with sympathetic approval. Not so, I fear, my simple statement of the unvarnished truth.4

Later came TV, which dethroned the old tabloid censorship. The Federal Communications Commission (USA) began handing out broadcasting licenses in the early 1950s (with the highest concentration of license grants and station sign-ons occurring between 1953 and 1956), spurring an explosion of growth in the medium. Half of all U.S. households had television sets by 1955.5 With that advent, consider the success of Martin Luther King’s civil rights campaigning which spanned from 1955 (Montgomery Bus Boycott) through to the mid 1960s. Without TV it would not have happened. Unfortunately, forces of political correctness infiltrated public broadcasting too, applying censorship and eventually dominating TV culture completely.

In the 1990’s the new medium of the internet appeared and dethroned the old TV media with its censorship. This opened the door to thousands of revolutions gaining a voice, including the MRM & MGTOW, which have gained traction as cultural forces. But as usual, the cycle of → 1. New media technology → 2. subsequent cultural revolutions, and → 3. eventual feminist censorship, is playing out on the internet….. and we are entering the censorship phase of the cycle.

Those who say feminists will never succeed in censoring the internet are dreaming, and dare I say blind. It’s happening – Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Wikipedia, etc. all being taken over by feminist sensibilities and regulations. Free speech is experiencing a decline on most social media platforms.

The only avenue left is to grab our own domains and websites from which we can enjoy free speech, and to do it NOW before government regulators ask domain providers, hosting companies, and ISPs to institute onerous application criteria for the privilege. In short, give up on Youtube (etc) and grab a domain and website while you still can – social media is dying from censorship, and MGTOW, MRA and outspoken gamers etc will be its first casualties.

Despite the doom and gloom about impending censorship it’s not all bad news, far from it. The window opened by the internet has been seized upon and used to maximum effect. We have inserted a narrative on what gynocentrism is, what men’s issues are, and they’ve enjoyed considerable reach into the culture. Witness any comments section under an MSM article to gauge the new awareness of -and support for- these same issues. And the narrative is growing…

MHRAs, MGTOW, gamers, PUAs, antifeminists, and a growing coalition of everyday Joes, are poised to drive the nail deeper. We can continue to use social media -in spite of restrictive feminist guidelines- to drive the narrative home : gynocentrism is toxic and we want to to end. And those smart enough to grab their own domains and websites can come down harder with the message knowing there is no Hall Monitor to control our private soapboxes, at least not yet.

In fact let’s grow our private websites exponentially so they overshadow PC social media outlets and continue competing with them in the battle for cultural real estate.

This article began with a description of different ways of conceptualizing the origins of gynocentric culture, and the question was posed of why does gynocentrism continue to exist. We then looked at the transformations of mainstream media through recent centuries, noting how media is a double-edged sword, at times championing free speech, and at times censoring it, with the latter being a potential cause for gynocentrism’s longevity. Lastly was underlined how the internet currently gives voice to long suppressed thoughts, and of the need to make hay while the sun still shines – i.e. hopefully to make it shine longer and brighter. As long as we are able to keep adding our story to mainstream media, and being the media, gynocentrism will atrophy and homeostasis will come.

References:

[1] Lester Frank Ward, Pure Sociology, (The gynæcocentric theory, pp. 296-376), published 1903.
[2] For examples of the growing marriage between Evopsychology and difference-feminism, see:
David Buss, Sex, Power, Conflict : Evolutionary and Feminist Perspectives
M. Fisher, J. Garcia, Evolution’s Empress: Darwinian Perspectives on the Nature of Women
[3] Ernest Belfort Bax, The Fraud of Feminism, pp.1-2, published 1913
[4] Ernest Belfort Bax, Essays in Socialism New & Old, pp.108-119, published 1907
[5] History of American Television, Television in the United States

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Romantic Love – by Lester F. Ward (1903)

Lester F. Ward, an American botanist, paleontologist, sociologist and an early ‘feminist’ thinker, proposed a gynocentric theory that women are superior to men. Aside from this theory, Ward wrote about the origins of romantic love, which is presented below in full. -PW

_____________

 

All social forces are psychic, and in that sense spiritual. The application to any of them of the term physical, is therefore not strictly correct, but if it is done not to stigmatize them, but for the sake of distinguishing some from others, it may be justified and even useful. All feeling is psychic, but feelings differ in many ways, and among others in a certain greater or less remoteness from their physical seat, or vagueness and indefiniteness with regard to the location of the nerve plexuses, by the molecular activities within which the feelings are occasioned. Another difference consists in the degree in which the feeling is external or internal, and still another is that of the relative intensity and durability of feelings.

All these differences are more or less correlated, and in general those feelings which are most vague and least definitely located in the body, those that are most internal, and those that are least intense and most durable, are classed as more spiritual, more elevated, and more refined. And in fact, there can be no doubt of the general correctness of this popular view, and, as has already been said, the true reason why this latter class of feelings is regarded as superior is that they yield a larger aggregate amount of satisfaction. Though lower from the standpoint of necessity, since they are not essential to life, they are higher from the standpoint of utility, i.e., they are worth more – more worthy.

But these feelings are derivative, and are the consequences of a qualitative development of the physical organization of man. For it is not the brain of man alone that has developed. The brain is only one of the many nerve plexuses of the body, and there is no reason to suppose that it is the only one that has undergone structural refinement. The brain has now been studied and the chief causes of mental superiority have been discovered. Primarily brain mass is the cause of intelligence, and until the process of cephalization had far advanced and the relatively large hemispheres had been superposed upon the original ganglionic nucleus, there could be no advance sufficient to constitute rational beings. And this attained, other things equal, increase of brain mass represents increased intelligence.

But this is far from being the whole. There took place qualitative changes, and brains came to differ in kind as well as in size. Since the period of social assimilation this has undoubtedly been the principal advance that has been made. The cross fertilization of cultures worked directly upon these qualitative characters, rendering the most thoroughly mixed races, like the Greeks and the English, highly intelligent. The physiological or histological cause of this improved brain structure is now known in its general aspects. Brain superiority is measured chiefly, first, by the number of neurons in a cubic millimeter of the brain substance, and second, by the degree of extension and ramification of the plumose panicles that proceed from the summit of these pyramidal cells, and by the character of the axis cylinder at their bases.

Now, while there can be no doubt that this higher brain development vitally influences all the other nerve plexuses of the body, since every conscious feeling must be referred to the brain, it is altogether probable that a process of qualitative improvement has also and at the same time been taking place in the entire nervous system, and especially in the great centers of emotion, and if the serious study of these plexuses could be prosecuted, as has been that of the brain, differences would in all probability be detected capable of being described, as this has been done for the brain. In other words, the development of the human race has not consisted exclusively in brain development, but has been a general advance in all the great centers of spiritual activity.

It is this psycho-physiological progress going on in all races that have undergone repeated and compound social assimilation that has laid the foundation for the appearance in the most advanced races of a derivative form of natural love which is known as romantic love. It is a comparatively modern product, and is not universal among highly assimilated races. In fact, I am convinced that it is practically confined to what is generally understood as the Aryan race, or, at most, to the so-called Europeans, whether actually in Europe or whether in Australia, America, India, or any other part of the globe. Further, it did not appear in a perceptible form even in that ethnic stock until some time during the Middle Ages. Although I have held this opinion much longer, I first expressed it in 1896.1 It is curious that since that time two books have appeared devoted in whole or in part to sustaining this view..2 There is certainly no sign of the derivative sentiment among savages. Monteiro, speaking of the polygamous peoples of Western Africa, says: –

The negro knows not love, affection, or jealousy. … In all the long years I have been in Africa I have never seen a negro manifest the least tenderness for or to a negress. … I have never seen a negro put his arm round a woman’s waist, or give or receive any caress whatever that would indicate the slightest loving regard or affection on either side. They have no words or expressions in their language indicative of affection or love.3

Lichtenstein4 says of the Koossas: “To the feeling of a chaste tender passion, founded on reciprocal esteem, and an union of heart and sentiment, they seem entire strangers.” Eyre reports the same general condition of things among the natives of Australia,5 and it would not be difficult to find statements to the same effect relative to savage and barbaric races in all countries where they have been made the subject of critical study. Certainly all the romances of such races that have been written do but reflect the sentiments of their writers, and are worthless from any scientific point of view. This is probably also the case for stories whose plot is laid in Asia, even in India, and the Chinese and Japanese seem to have none of the romantic ideas of the West; otherwise female virtue would not be a relative term, as it is in those countries. This much will probably be admitted by all who understand what I mean by romantic love.

The point of dispute is therefore apparently narrowed down to the question whether the Ancient Greeks and Romans had developed this sentiment. I would maintain the negative of this question. If I have read my Homer, Æschylus, Virgil, and Horace to any purpose they do not reveal the existence in Ancient Greece and Rome of the sentiment of romantic love. If it be said that they contain the rudiments of it and foreshadow it to some extent I shall not dispute this, but natural love everywhere does this, and that is therefore not the question.

The only place where one finds clear indications of the sentiment is in such books as “Quo Vadis,” which cannot free themselves from such anachronisms. I would therefore adhere to the statement made in 1896, when I said, “Brilliant as were the intellectual achievements of the Greeks and Romans, and refined as were many of their moral and esthetic perceptions, nothing in their literature conclusively proves that love with them meant more than the natural demands of the sexual instinct under the control of strong character and high intelligence. The romantic element of man’s nature had not yet been developed.”

The Greeks, of course, distinguished several kinds of love, and by different words (έρως, άγάπη, Φιλία), but only one of these is sexual at all. For έρως they often used ‘AΦροδίτη. They also expressed certain degrees and qualities in these by adjectives, e.g., πάνδημος. Some modern writers place the adjective ούράνιος over against πάνδημος, as indicating that they recognized a sublimated, heavenly, or spiritual form of sexual love, but I have not found this in classic Greek. Neither do I find any other to the Latin Venus vulgivaga. But whether such softened expressions are really to be found in classic Greek and Latin authors or not, the fact that they are so rare sufficiently indicates that the conceptions they convey could not have been current in the Greek and Roman mind, and must have been confined to a few rare natures.

Romantic love is therefore not only confined to the historic races, those mentioned in Chapter III as representing the accumulated energies of all the past and the highest human achievement, but it is limited to the last nine or ten centuries of the history of those races. It bean to manifest itself some time in the eleventh century of the Christian era, and was closely connected with the origin of chivalry under the feudal system. Guizot has given us perhaps the best presentation of that institution,.6 and from this it is easy to see how the conditions favored its development.

In the first place the constant and prolonged absenteeism of the lords and knights, often with most of their retainers, from the castle left the women practically in charge of affairs and conferred upon them a power and dignity never before possessed. In the second place the separation of most of the men for such long periods, coupled with the sense of honor that their knighthood and military career gave rise to, caused them to assume the rôle of applicants for the favor of the women, which they could not always immediately attain as when women were forcibly seized by any one that chanced to find them.

These conditions produced a mutual sense on the part of both sexes of the need of each other, coupled with prolonged deprivation on the part of both of that satisfaction. The men, thus seeking the women, naturally became chivalrous toward them. The solitary life of women of high rank made them somewhat a prey to the lusts of men of low degree, and the knights assumed the rôle of protecting them from all dangers. Moral and Christian sentiments also played a part, and we find among the provisions of the oath that every chevalier must make the following solemn vows: –

To maintain the just rights of the weak, as of widows, orphans, and young women. If called upon to conduct a lady or a girl to any place, to wait upon her, to protect her, and to save her from all danger and every offense, or perish in the attempt. Never to do violence to ladies or young women, even though won by their arms, without their will and consent.

Such an oath, made a universal point of honor, any breach of which would be an everlasting disgrace, and be punished severely by the order of knighthood to which they belonged, could not fail to produce a powerful civilizing effect upon the semi-barbaric men of that age. The whole proceeding must have also given to women a far greater independence and higher standing than they had ever before enjoyed since the days of gynæcocracy in the protosocial stage. Out of this condition of things there arose a special class of poets who wrote lyrics wholly different from the erotic songs of antiquity that go by that name. These poets were called troubadours, and some of them wandered from place to place singing the praises of the great court ladies, and still further inflaming the new passion, which was relatively pure, and contented itself with an association of men with women while conserving the honor and virtue of the latter. This, of course, was a passing phase and somewhat local, being mainly confined to southern France and parts of Spain.

It degenerated, as did the whole institution of chivalry, and by the end of the thirteenth century nothing was left of either but the ridiculous nonsense that Cervantes found surviving into his time, and which he so happily portrayed in Don Quixote. But chivalry had left its impress upon the world, and while Condorcet and Comte exaggerated certain aspects of it, no one has pointed out its greatest service in grafting romantic love upon natural love, which until then had been supreme.

But it would be easy to ascribe too great a rôle, even here, to chivalry. The truth is not all told until chivalry is understood as an effect as well as a cause. Whatever may be said of the Middle Ages as tending to suppress the natural flow of intellectual activities, there can be no doubt that they were highly favorable to the development of emotional life. The intense religious fervor that burned in its cloisters for so many centuries served to create centers of feeling, and to increase the sensibility of all those nerve plexuses that constitute the true organs of emotion.

Whatever may be the physiological changes necessary to intensify the inner feelings, corresponding to the multiplication and diversification of the neurons of the brain by which the intellect is perfected, such changes went on, until the men and women of the eleventh century found themselves endowed with far higher moral organizations than those of the ancient Greeks and Romans. They had been all this time using their emotional faculties as they never had been used before, and the Lamarckian principle of increase through use is as true of those faculties as it is of external muscles and organs. It is true of the brain, too, and when educationalists wake up to this truth the only solid basis for scientific education will have been discovered. But without a preparation in this latent growth of the emotional faculties neither chivalry nor romantic love could have made its appearance.

The crusades, contemporary to a great extent with chivalry, and due also to the surplus emotion, taking here a religious course, became also a joint cause in the development not only of romantic love but also of many other lofty attributes, both ethical and intellectual. They failed to save the holy city, but they gained a far greater victory than that would have been in rationalizing, moralizing, and socializing Europe. Any one who thinks they were a failure has only to read Guizot’s masterly summing up of their influence.7

Romantic love was due primarily to the greater equality and independence of woman. She reacquired to some extent her long-lost power of selection, and began to apply to men certain tests of fitness. Romantic love therefore marks the first step toward the resumption by woman of her natural scepter which she yielded to the superior physical force of man at the beginning of the androcratic period. It involves a certain degree of female selection or gyneclexis, and no longer permitted man to seize but compelled him to sue.

But it went much farther than this. It did not complete a cycle and restore female selection as it exists in the animal world. It also did away with the pure male selection that prevailed throughout the androcratic régime. The great physiological superiority of the new régime cannot be too strongly emphasized. Its value to the race is incalculable. Female selection, or gyneclexis, as we saw, created a fantastic and extravagant male efflorescence. Male selection, or andreclexis, produced a female etiolation, diminutive stature, beauty without utility. Both these unnatural effects were due to lack of mutuality. Romantic love is mutual. The selection is done simultaneously by man and woman. It may be called ampheclexis. Its most striking characteristic consists in the phenomenon called “falling in love.”

It is not commonly supposed that this so-called “tender passion” is capable of cold scientific analysis. It is treated as something trivial, and any allusion to it creates a smile. Yet libraries are filled with books devoted exclusively to it, and these are as eagerly devoured by philosophers and sages as by schoolgirls. Such books, of course, are not scientific. They are fictions, romances, lyrics. Yet many of them are classic. Such always contain much truth, and this is almost the only way in which truth of this class is attainable. Serious writers fight shy of the subject. This emphasizes the idea that the subject is not serious. But as it is the most serious of all subjects this naturally creates an almost universal hypocrisy. My favorite way of illustrating this hypocrisy is by contrasting the attitude of society toward a couple, say on the day before and the day after their marriage.

To heighten the contrast let us suppose first that one of the two dies on the first of these days. The other is not even a mourner at the funeral. Next that one dies on the latter of these days. The other is then the chief mourner! Yet what real or natural difference is there between the relations of the two on the two days? Evidently none whatever. The only differences in their relations at the two dates are purely artificial and conventional.

Over and over again in the course of our studies into the origin and nature of life, mind, man, and society we have encountered the mysterious but silent power that unconsciously compasses ends not dreamed of by, the agents involved, the unheard voice of nature, the unseen hand, the natura naturans, the future in the act of being born. But nowhere has there been found a more typical or more instructive example of this than that which is furnished by romantic love. The end is nothing less than perfectionment of the human race. Whatever individuals may desire, the demand of nature is unmistakable. Primarily the object is to put an end to all tendencies toward extremes and one-sided development. It has been said that this mutual selection tends toward mediocrity.

This is not strictly true, but there can be no doubt that it tends toward the establishment of a mean. That mean may be regarded as an ideal. It is not an ideal in the sense of exceptional beauty, unusual size, excessive strength, or any other extraordinary quality. It is an ideal in the sense of a normal development of all qualities, a symmetrical rounding out of the whole physical organism. In this of course certain qualities that are considered most valuable fall considerably below the level attained in certain individuals, and this is why it has been supposed to aim at mediocrity. But it is certainly more important to have a symmetrical race than to have a one-sided, top heavy race, even though some of the overdeveloped qualities are qualities of a high order.

When a man and a woman fall in love it means that the man has qualities that are wanting in the woman which she covets and wishes to transmit to her offspring, and also that the woman has qualities not possessed by the man, but which he regards as better than his own and desires to hand on to posterity. By this is not meant that either the man or the woman is conscious of any of these things. They are both utterly unconscious of them. All they know is that they love each other. Of the reasons why they love each other they are profoundly ignorant.

It is almost proverbial that tall men choose short wives, and the union of tall women with short men is only a little less common. Thin men and plump girls fall in love, as do fat men and slender women. Blonds and brunettes rush irresistibly together. But besides these more visible qualities there are numberless invisible ones that the subtle agencies of love alone know how to detect. All such unconscious preferences, often appearing absurd or ridiculous to disinterested spectators, work in the direction of righting up the race and bringing about an ideal mean.8

The principle works in the same way on mental and moral qualities, which are at bottom only the expression of internal instead of external differences in the anatomy of the body. For a bright mind is the result of the number and development of the brain cells, and all the manifold differences in character are ultimately based on the different ways in which the brain, the nervous system, and the entire machinery of the body is organized and adjusted.

Generally speaking persons of opposite “temperaments,” whatever these may be, attract each other, and the effect is a gradual crossing and mutual neutralizing of temperaments. The less pronounced these so-called temperaments the better for the race. They are in the nature of extremes, idiosyncracies, peculiarities, often amounting to intolerable and anti-social caprices, and producing in their exaggerated forms paranoiacs, mattoids, and monomaniacs. Love alone can “find the way” to eliminate these and all other mental, moral, and physical defects.

Romantic love is therefore a great agent in perfecting and balancing up the human race. It follows as matter of simple logic that it should be given full sway as completely as comports with the safety and stability of society. All attempts to interfere with its natural operation tend to check the progress of perfecting the race. Under the androcratic régime, during which woman had no voice in the selecting process, and under the patriarchal system generally where the marrying is done by the patriarch and neither party is consulted, nature’s beneficent aims were thwarted, races grew this way and that, and mankind acquired all manner of physical and mental peculiarities. There were of course counteracting influences, and natural love, especially in the middle classes, helped to maintain an equilibrium, but male selection dwarfed woman and slavery dwarfed both sexes.

The races of men with all their marked differences have doubtless been in large part due to the want of mutuality in selection for purposes of propagation. This mutual selection under romantic love can be trusted not to work the extermination of the race from over-fastidiousness. It operates always under the higher law of reproduction at all events. This is proved by the universal influence of propinquity. “Great is Love, and Propinquity is her high priest.”

If there be but one man and one woman on any given circumscribed area they may be depended upon to love and to procreate. Very bashful persons who shun the opposite sex usually in the end marry the ones with whom circumstances forcibly bring them into more or less prolonged contact. The constant enforced separation of the sexes in the supposed interest of morality causes the sexual natures of those thus cut off from the other sex to become so hypertrophied that there is little chance for selection, and unions, too often illicit, take place with little concern for preferred or complementary qualities. Contrary to the views of moral theorists who advocate such enforced separation, marriages are fewer and occur later in life in societies where the sexes freely commingle and where there is the least restraint.

It is also in such societies that the closest discrimination takes place and that the finest types of men are produced. Where a reasonable degree of freedom of the sexes exists and there is no scarcity of men or of women, this passion of love becomes from a biological, from an anthropological, and from a sociological point of view, the highest of all sanctions. It is the voice of nature commanding in unmistakable tones, not only the continuance, but also the improvement and perfectionment of the race. In cases where arbitrary acts or social convention in violation of this command produce conjugal infelicity and despair, one might even indorse the following statement of Chamfort: –

When a man and a woman have a violent passion for each other, it always seems to me that, whatever may be the obstacles that separate them, husband, parents, etc., the two lovers belong to each other by Nature and by divine right in spite of human laws and conventions.

It is a curious fact that there is always a touch of the illicit in all the romances of great geniuses – Abelard and Héloïse, Dante and Beatrice, Petrarch and Laura, Tasso and Eleonora, Goethe and Charlotte von Stein, Wilhelm von Humboldt and Charlotte Diede, Comte and Clotilde de Vaux – and the romantic literature of the world has for one of its chief objects to emphasize the fact that love is a higher law that will and should prevail over the laws of men and the conventions of society. In this it is in harmony with the teachings of biology and with those of a sound sociology.

With regard to the essential difference between romantic love and natural love, it consists chiefly in the fact that the passion is satisfied by the presence instead of the possession of the one toward whom it goes out. It seems to consist of a continuous series of ever repeated nervous thrills which are connected if the object is near, but interrupted and arrested if the object is absent. These thrills, though exceedingly intense, do not have an organic function, but exist, as it were, for their own sake. That they are physical is obvious, and they are intensified by various physical acts, such as kissing, embracing, caressing, etc. In fact it is known that sexuality is not by any means confined to the organs of sex, but is diffused throughout the body. Not only are there nerves of sex in many regions, but there is actually erectile tissue at various points and notably in the lips.

Romantic love gives free rein to all these innocent excitements and finds its full satisfaction as romantic love in these. Anything beyond this is a return to natural love, but it is known that such a return is not absolutely necessary to complete and permanent happiness. This is the great superiority of romantic love, that it endures while at the same time remaining intense. It is probably this quality to which Comte alludes in the passage first introduced into his dedication of the “Positive Polity” to Clotilde de Vaux, and then put as an epigraph at the head of the first chapter: “One tires of thinking and even of acting, but one never tires of loving.”9

But “true love never runs smooth,” and herein lies the chief interest of romantic love for sociology and its main influence on human progress. Besides its effect thus far pointed out in perfecting the physical organization of man, it has an even greater effect in perfecting his social organization. The particular dynamic principle upon which it seizes is that which was described in Chapter XI under the name of conation. It was there shown that the efficiency of this principle is measured by the distance in both space and time that separates a desire from its satisfaction. It is the special quality of romantic love to increase this distance. Under sexual selection proper, or gyneclexis, male desire was indeed long separated from its satisfaction, and the interval was filled by intense activities which produced their normal effects according to the Lamarckian law.

But these effects, due to male rivalry, were purely biological and only showed themselves in modifications in organic structure. They produced secondary sexual characters and male efflorescence. This, as we have seen, must have lasted far into the human period. During the long period of androcracy that followed this stage, there was no selection, but only seizure, capture, rape, the subjection, enslavement, and barter of woman. There was no interval between the experience and the satisfaction of desire on the part of men, and very little effort was put forth to obtain women for this purpose.

Hence during the whole of this period neither the Lamarckian principle nor the principle of conation could produce any effect. For the great majority of mankind this condition prevailed over the whole world, with greater or less completeness, down to the date of the appearance of romantic love. It still prevails within certain restrictions and under various forms and degrees, in all but the historic races. Under male sexual selection, or andreclexis, so far as its influence extended, there was no interval between desire and satisfaction, no effort, no conation. Its effects were confined to physical modifications, primarily in woman, due to inheritance of the qualities selected by men. With the advent of romantic love, or ampheclexis, all this was changed.

So far as physical modification is concerned the effect was doubled by its application to both sexes alike, and instead of producing anomalies and monstrosities it worked, as already shown, for equilibration, symmetry, and normal average qualities or ideals. But here we also enter the field of social dynamics, and the principle of conation finds full expression.

Schopenhauer10 has acutely pointed out that the true romance never deals with happiness attained, but only with the prolonged struggle for happiness, with the troubles, disappointments, labors, and efforts of all kinds in search of happiness. It leads its heroes through a thousand difficulties and dangers, and the moment the end is reached the curtain falls! Tarde, well says11 that love is essentially a “rupture of equilibrium.” The entire course of a romantic love is a heroic struggle for the restoration of disturbed equilibrium. What does all this mean? It means intense activity on the part of great numbers of the human race at the age of greatest efficiency.

All this activity is expended upon the immediate environment and every throe of the struggle transforms the environment in some degree. The greater part of this transformation is useful and contributes to its full extent to social progress. In the early days and in the upper classes the demands of woman may have been somewhat trivial. Man must do something heroic, must prove his worthiness by acts of prowess, and such acts may even be opposed to true progress. But they at least develop manhood, courage, honor, and under the code of chivalry they must have a moral element, must defend the right, protect the weak, avenge dishonor, and uphold virtue.

But in the lower ranks even then, and everywhere since the fall of the feudal system, woman demanded support and the comforts of life, luxuries where possible, and more and more leisure and accomplishment. To-day she demands a home, social position, ease, and economic freedom. More and more, too, she requires of men that they possess industry, thrift, virtue, honesty, and intelligence.

Man must work for all this, and this struggle for excellence, as woman understands that quality, is an extraordinary stimulus, and leads to all forms of achievement. But man also selects. Romantic love is mutual. Woman has as much to lose as man if it results in failure. And man sets ideals before woman. She must be worthy of him and she gently and naturally bows to his will and follows the course that he gives her to understand is most grateful to him. Thus she develops herself in the direction of his ideals and both are elevated. She may also to some extent transform the environment, if it be no more than the inner circle of the family.

The combined effect, even in an individual case, is considerable, and when we remember that in any given community, town, city, state, or country, the majority of men and women pass at least once, sometimes twice or several times, through the phase of life known as being in love, waiting and working for the longed-for day when they are to possess each other, struggling to prepare themselves for each other and for that happy event, we can readily believe that such a stimulus must work great social results. The history of the world is full of great examples, but the volume of achievement thus wrought is made up of thousands, nay, millions of small increments in all lands and all shades and grades of life, building ever higher and broader the coral reef of civilization.

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REFERENCES:

1) International Journal of Ethics, Vol. VI, July, 1896, p. 453.
2) “Antimachus of Colophon and the Position of Women in Greek Poetry,” by E. F. M. Benecke, London, 1896. “Primitive Love and Love Stories,” by Henry T. Finck, New York, 1899.
3) “Angola and the River Congo,” by Joachim John Monteiro. In two volumes. London, 1875, Vol. I, pp. 242-243.
4) “Travels in Southern Africa,” in the years 1803, 1804, 1805, and 1806, by Henry Lichtenstein, English translation, Dublin, 1812, p. 261.
5) Journals, etc., Vol. II, p. 321.
6) “Histoire de la Civilisation en France depuis la chute de I’Empire Romain,” par M. Guizot, 3e éd., Vol. III, Paris, 1840, Sixième Leçon, pp. 351-382.
7) “Histoire générale de Ia Civilisation en Europe depuis la chute de I’Empire Romain,” par M. Guizot, 4e éd., Paris, 1840, Huitième Leçon, pp. 231-257.
8) The reverse is of course also true, and a decided aversion between a man and a woman means that their union would result in some prominent detect or imperfection in the offspring. The extent to which the great number of misfits in society, of people who are out of harmony with the social environment, of which criminals only represent the comparatively rare extreme cases, are due to conventional and compulsory marriages, which ought never to have been contracted, and which ought to be annulled as soon as they are found to be wrong, is little reflected upon, and society and the church continue to denounce divorces, when the very desire for divorce proves that such marriages are violations of nature and foes of social order and race perfection.
9) “On se lasse de penser, et même d’agir; jamais on ne se lasse d’aimer,” “Politique Positive,” Vol. I, Dédicace, p. viii; Discours préliminaire, p. 1.
10) “Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung,” Vol. I, pp. 377-378.
11) “La Logique sociale,” par G. Tarde, Paris, 1895, p. 426.