In this article I will be examining Lester Ward’s theory on gynocentrism (see these links here1 and here2). I have chosen to write this to demonstrate that views on the supposed superiority of women are not isolated to just the last fifty years. The undeserved deification of women has been going on for far longer than fifty years. My issues with Ward’s theory are too numerous to write in one article, so I will provide my general criticism of his work. You will also notice that many of my future articles, including this one, are going to be considerably shorter than before. These articles are to encourage people to think more deeply about specific topics in the manosphere. I have laid the general foundations on my views on gynocentrism in my previous writings and have gone into great detail. It be should be sufficient now for me to provide a general outline on further topics I will discuss. Rest assured I could go into enormous detail on any given topic (as can be seen from my previous work), but I would rather cover more topics and rely on people to refer to my previous writings on gynocentrism if they need more information.
The Three Problems In Claiming Female Or Male Superiority
Lester Ward puts an argument forward about why women are the naturally superior sex in his theory. There are three major problems with claiming one sex is superior to the other. The first problem is defining what makes one sex superior to the other. Who decides what set of traits are important and what traits are less important? Who decides what combination of traits are relevant to determining which sex is superior? Who decides what even makes something superior? Claims of the overall superiority of a group are nebulous subjective value judgements. There is no universal definition that can be agreed upon, on what makes one group of people superior to the other. It makes far more coherent sense to claim superiority in relation to a specific metric, than to claim one sex is generally superior to the other. If I were to state that men on average have a superior height to that of women for instance, then that claim is far less vague and nebulous than stating that men are superior to women or vice versa.
The second problem with arguing one sex is superior, is that each sex are two interdependent and essential components of one biological system that replicates itself. We are not talking about two sets of organisms that exist independently of each other, where one can gain at the others’ expense over the long term. The relative success or failure of males and females which defines their value, is to some degree dependent on the relative success or failure of the other sex. It is the evolutionary success or failure of the whole biological system that males and females are components of, that determines the success or failure of males and females and thus their value.
The reductionist mindset cannot fathom the interdependent nature of a biological system and the emergent properties of such a system. The sum output of a system is greater than its individual components (synergy) and the components alone do not produce the desired output. The battle of the sexes, is really just a dysfunction of a bigger biological system that is temporarily out of equilibrium. Like cancer, intersexual conflict over the long term is a disturbance from the proper functioning of the biological system of the species. Just as cancerous tissue cannot ultimately gain at the expense of the body, neither can one sex ultimately gain at the expense of the other sex over the long term and not destroy the biological system that comprises the species as a whole.
The third problem with making claims of male or female superiority, is its usefulness. How useful is such a nebulous generalised subjective value judgement of entire halves of the population? It has no sustainable social or economic utility, because such claims are made about each sex in general and are subjective and not focused on just a specific metric or evidence that has practical implications. Claims of male or female superiority are nebulous. What do I mean by nebulous? There is a difference between suggesting that only women should run society because they are “superior”, without reference to any metric or solid evidence and suggesting men have superior physical strength and therefore need their own weightlifting events. One claim is specific to a metric (physical strength in this example) and backed up by evidence and facts and has practical implications, the other claim has none of those characteristics.
We also have to consider the destructive effects of claiming one sex is superior to other on society. How destructive is such a bigoted value judgement? We have centuries of history demonstrating how corrosive and how destructive claims of the superiority of one group of people over the other are. Genocides have occurred on the basis of group superiority and the alleged inferiority of the other group. Our society requires a certain level of cooperation, fairness and civility to function and remain stable and intact. Claims of group superiority of any kind whether it is based on race or sex (or some other characteristic), undermine these critical features that form the foundation of civilisation.
There has to be mutual respect and reciprocity for different groups of people to work together to form and run civilisation. Men and women cannot on their own form their own civilisations and so it becomes essential to maintain mutual respect and reciprocity between the sexes. Once you remove the basic level of respect men should have toward women and women should have toward men, you undermine the core relationship between the sexes that forms the basis of the nuclear family and civilisation itself. There is no relationship more fundamental to civilisation than that between men and women. For this reason we can in part measure the health of society, based on the health of the relationship between men and women. Claims of male or female superiority undermine the relationship between the sexes and thus society and the foundations of civilisation. This is why radical feminism, gynocentrism and claims of female superiority or male superiority, need to be addressed and not ignored.
The Greater Variability Of The Male Sex Does Not Make Them Inferior
Lester Ward’s theory argues that women are superior to men because the female sex is more conserved in nature and the male sex is more variable. That is essentially what his core argument boils down to. Evolution is driven by natural selection and natural selection drives adaptation and adaptation is the result of variation. The fact that the biological role of females is less variable in nature, does not then result in females being the naturally superior sex. Sexual reproduction and the origins of biological sex, result from the evolutionary advantage of variation that arises from them. Being more variable does not make males inferior. The greater biological variation of the male sex in nature, simply demonstrates the importance of the male sex and its role in reproduction, in providing the variation required for a species to adapt to its environment and also enhance a species evolutionary success in general.
Females Are Not The Source Of Life
Lester also seems to hold a view that the female sex has existed long before the male sex and so that somehow makes them superior. Bacteria have existed long before humans, does that make bacteria superior to humans? Just because something has been around longer, does not make it superior. Aside from that reality, females have been around as long as males. The female sex literally cannot exist without sexual reproduction and the existence of the male sex. This should be obvious.
Ward shares a view in his theory, that females have been the main trunk of life. There is a trap in thinking that if less males passed on their genes, then males had a lower contribution to the continuation of the lineage. People fail to consider that in instances where fewer males reproduced, males that did reproduce did so at a higher frequency than females (where sexual reproduction involves an individual male and female, as it does in our species). Thus the total contribution of the male and female sex to the continuation of the lineage is exactly the same, regardless as to how many males versus females reproduce in a species like ours where each instance of reproduction involves one male and one female.
In relation to Ward’s view that females are the main trunk of life, Ward seems to think that asexual life can be considered “female” and therefore asexual life should be counted towards the female contribution to the continuation of life. It is scientifically and factually incorrect to conflate asexual life and the female sex as being interchangeable.
Lester says the following in his writings:
“Origin of the Male Sex. — Although reproduction and sex are two distinct things, and although a creature that reproduces without sex cannot properly be called either male or female, still, so completely have these conceptions become blended in the popular mind that a creature which actually brings forth offspring out of its own body is instinctively classed as female. The female is the fertile sex, and whatever is fertile is looked upon as female. Assuredly it would be absurd to look upon an organism propagating asexually as male. Biologists have proceeded from this popular standpoint, and regularly speak of “mother-cells” and “daughter-cells.” It therefore does no violence to language or to science to say that life begins with the female organism and is carried on a long distance by means of females alone. In all the different forms of asexual reproduction, from fission to parthenogenesis, the female may in this sense be said to exist alone and perform all the functions of life including reproduction. In a word, life begins as female.” 1,3
There is a big difference between the biology of an asexually reproducing organism and a biological female that sexually reproduces. It does do violence to language and to science to attempt to conflate the two. Most of the asexually reproducing species on this planet are simple forms of life and reproduce very differently to sexual reproduction. In contrast, most of the complex forms of life on Earth are sexually reproducing species. There is a big difference between the biology of bacteria asexually reproducing in a petri dish and a human female and how they reproduce. It makes no sense to categorise life that existed 3.8 billion years ago as “female”, or any other form of asexually reproducing life. Life did not begin female, it began with asexually replicating single celled organisms and in the absence of biological sex. Females did not come before males, females originated at the same time as males did. The existence of the female sex, requires the existence of the male sex.
Females in our species and in many other sexually reproducing species, cannot reproduce or “create life” without the male. Females do not “create life” in our species, human males and females create life. This basic reality seems lost on Ward. Ward’s related and skewed presentation that males simply act as fertiliser, fails to properly represent the breadth of what males contribute. Males do other things other than provide sperm, especially in higher order species and in humans (i.e like paternal investment in offspring). Ward does not appear interested in exploring or examining that in any detail, aside from giving it a passing remark.
There Is No Universal Law Of Male Inferiority
A major flaw in Ward’s theory, is his use of different examples in nature of males and females to demonstrate the supposed superiority of the female sex. Examples in nature can be found to demonstrate the exact opposite (i.e “male superiority”), but he does not seem interested in citing those examples. This is confirmation bias, selectively filtering information to confirm an existing belief or conclusion. Ward seems quite willing to accept that the greater variation in males, may lead to instances where females are in a “superior” position to males in certain respects in particular species. In contrast Ward seems uninterested in giving equal consideration to examples where this same greater variation of males, may put males in a superior position to females in certain respects in other species. Who is to say either that what Ward considers is a weakness of a male of a particular species in one context, might actually be a strength is another context. A male spider of a species might be smaller and therefore considered “inferior” by Ward, but that same trait may allow the male spider greater mobility than the female to roam through its habitat and confer certain advantages.
Biology across all of nature is extraordinarily variable across species, families, phyla and kingdoms etc. To draw examples from widely different branches of nature and then form some grand unified theory that males are naturally inferior to females based on cherry picked examples as Ward does, is rife with problems. The evolutionary forces at work across different branches of life can be vastly different. It cannot be assumed that observing a similar pattern between the sexes in two or more different species (that allegedly demonstrate male inferiority), is the result of the same cause and that this cause is male inferiority from greater male variation. It is likely there are completely different forces at work that produce a similar pattern across the species he cites, given how different the biology and habitat of each species he refers to actually are. This would especially be the case when citing examples of males and females from completely different kingdoms as Ward does (species from the plant kingdom versus the animal kingdom)!
Why The Sexes Are Different But Equal
Ward’s theory on gynocentrism, is an example of the warped thinking that occurs when the brain is on gynocentrism- Reality goes out the window and people get selective with facts. I could write far more about why Ward’s theory is fundamentally flawed, but what I have written should suffice. Ultimately one can make arguments that men are superior to women and women are superior to men, but only in certain defined respects (i.e the greater physical strength of men or the greater immunity of women to infectious disease). However when it comes to the overall value of each sex in our species, neither sex is more valuable. For this reason, it does not make much sense to claim either sex is superior in general. In our species the male and female sex each produce exactly the same total number of copies of the genome/number of offspring (the source of biological value) and consequently our biology produces males and females in roughly equal proportion. See Fishers principle4 for more information on why this is so. As mentioned, even in instances where greater numbers of women reproduce in our species, the fewer men that reproduce will do so at a higher frequency than any individual woman and the total reproductive output of each sex will still remain equal.
Our biology does not favour the production of “superior” males or “superior” females over the other sex (hence the roughly 1:1 sex ratio at birth), because each sex produces the same biological value (i.e number of offspring or copies of the genome). Any subjective value judgement of male or female superiority, is our own social invention. As males and females are produced in equal proportion in our species and have the same total reproductive output, each sex faces equivalent selective forces to develop and harness their different strengths in equal proportion to propagate the genome. Nature abhors a vacuum and will select against any scenario where half the population does not pull its own evolutionary weight. Consequently males and females may have different strengths, but over time selective pressures ensure these sets of strengths of each sex have equal value in terms of propagating the genome and the lineage. Ultimately propagating the genome is where all biological value comes from and so each sex has equal biological value. For more discussion on this topic on the biological equality of the sexes, consult this two part article of mine (linked here5 and here6).
It is possible for the sexes to be different in relation to each other, but equal in relation to biological value. This is no different from two houses being different, but having the same monetary value. People who argue that differences between people make equality impossible, fail to consider people can be different in some metrics and equal in other metrics. People can indeed be different in one respect and equal in another respect. Reductionist bigots generally don’t like the complexity of realities like that, but that does not make these realities any less true.
- Pure sociology; a treatise on the origin and spontaneous development of society (1903)