This is part two of a two part article, please see part one first before reading part two.
Some Further Remarks On Sexual Conflict
I do want to expand on a few points from my ICMI speech. Often people cite the sexual cannibalism of the female spider eating the male spider after mating as being evolutionary advantageous, as the male is described as a source of energy for the female and their offspring. This explanation is often used in the media with a combination of humour and derision directed at men, to set a frame in which sexual conflict can be seen as “natural” or justified when it is directed at the male of a species, with the unspoken implication that such a principle applies as well to human males.
There is an assumption buried within that explanation, that all of what is natural, must have been selected for by evolution in some way and thus be optimal or beneficial or have some evolutionary purpose for a species. Just because a trait or behaviour occurs in nature does not mean that it was selected for under natural selection and is biologically optimal or beneficial to the species or serves some function. Huntington’s disease3 is a classic example of a condition that occurs naturally in humans and is suboptimal under natural selection. Despite this Huntington’s disease remains in the population after numerous generations, because enough people that carry the mutated variant of the huntingtin gene survive to reproduce. Just because sexual cannibalism occurs in nature, does not make it an optimal or beneficial strategy that is favoured by evolution. As Paul Elam and Peter Wright have discussed in Chasing The Dragon4 and Slaying The Dragon5, biology can express itself beyond its own evolutionary purpose and do so in a suboptimal way. Remember that the biology of any organism does not have to be perfect for their genes to be passed on, just good enough.
There are costs to sexual cannibalism such as reduced genetic variation in the population from fewer males and lowered probability of females finding a mate, especially in larger habitats. The males that are eaten, also incur a high cost from the elimination of all future mating prospects. This cost is also indirectly applicable as well to the female parent spiders of the males that are eaten. It does not automatically follow that sexual cannibalism is the optimal strategy in all instances or that eating males provides any net benefit to the species. In many instances the males and the species as a whole may be better off if males are not eaten from an evolutionary standpoint and natural selection may result in the males of the species developing adaptations to counter sexual cannibalism. In many instances a cooperative mating strategy may dominate, with sexual cannibalism confined to the fringes of the population.
I am not suggesting that the explanation that sexual cannibalism of males in various species of spider is always suboptimal, but conversely I don’t think it follows that we should just automatically assume such phenomenon provide an evolutionary benefit simply because they occur in nature. Think of how much biological dysfunction exists in nature like cancer and how much of it has obviously no evolutionary benefit. Evolution is not intelligent design, biology is not perfect. Sometimes people go down a rabbit hole of looking for evolutionary justifications for why certain traits or aspects of biology exist, where there is no actual evolutionary benefit to find.
Another inconvenient fact often left out when discussing sexual cannibalism through a gynocentric lens, is the fact there are actually examples6 of spiders where the males eat females and also numerous examples in the animal kingdom of sexual conflict where males are the aggressor. Instances of sexual conflict against males is no more of what “nature intended”, than sexual conflict against females.
Like I discussed, it does not even hold that sexual cannibalism in spiders serves any special evolutionary purpose. Sexual cannibalism may actually be a by-product of extreme environmental conditions where female spiders are driven purely out of hunger and scarcity of resources to eat their mates. Even in humans under extreme enough conditions, there have been examples of cannibalism. No one would argue that cannibalism in humans is a specific evolved trait. It is merely an extreme manifestation of the survival instinct!
The existence of cannibalism in humans is incidental to the survival instinct and not something that natural selection has specifically selected for. The same may indeed be the case with female spiders eating their mates and vice versa. Whilst evolutionary explanations may be true, they are also difficult prove and may be wrong. Sexual cannibalism in spiders is hardly a phenomenon where scientists have actually proven beyond doubt, that it exists because of some evolutionary advantage in eating males to provide energy to the female spider and resulting offspring. Multiple explanations have been proposed on why sexual cannibalism takes place in certain species. It still all very much remains speculation at this stage.
Of course the gynocentric narrative on sexual cannibalism in spiders, leaves out the part that there are enormous differences between spiders and humans. The sexual size dimorphism which is at the root of sexual cannibalism in spiders, is reversed in humans where the male is bigger. Such facts are inconvenient to the gynocentric narrative you see, so it is not discussed in that way.
It is notable that we don’t see such explanations like what we see with sexual cannibalism of male spiders being celebrated in our culture, when females are the victims of sexual conflict. Dominant males in an animal community that sexual coerce or rape their female mates, is also a form of sexual conflict. Despite arguments to the contrary, it could be argued using the same logic as the spider analogy, that there is an evolutionary benefit to such sexual coercion. I am not supporting or in any way condoning this, I am just walking people through the gynocentric logic of the spider analogy with the sexes reversed, so people can contrast the gynocentric bias at work when our culture appeals to biology for explanations on things.
So here is the logic in reverse- Dominant males that rise to the top of the male dominance hierarchy from intense male intrasexual competition, are very often the strongest and the fittest males and so have the highest genetic quality. Therefore whilst females may incur some cost from the sexual coercion of dominant males, the genetic benefit of females giving birth to the offspring of dominant males (which share the dominant male’s high genetic quality) exceeds the cost. Perhaps this explains the popularity of 50 Shades Of Grey among women and the reported female sexual interest in male dominance!7
Now if you find that logic questionable and the conclusions drawn offensive (again I am not supporting or condoning the logic), then I would ask you why it is that when this dynamic is reversed and we talk about female sexual antagonism directed at men (like the spider analogy), that there is no scrutiny or offense taken to the armchair evolutionary explanations given? That discrepancy is the gender empathy gap in action, that I was alluding to in the speech. We have one standard of concern for females and a lower standard of concern for males. In fact it has been shown8 even in the relatively objective field of scientific research, that there is a clear bias against men when reporting sex differences that favour men in contrast to those that favour women. Only women it seems are allowed to have any biological advantage, for men it is taboo to report any male advantage no matter how trivial it might be.
Appealing to nature to justify behaviour as good or acceptable is what we call the naturalistic fallacy9. As I mentioned in the speech, murder, rape and genocide are all natural, that does not make them optimal for society or justifiable. Likewise running civilisation in such a way that we treat men as disposable and exploit them for women’s benefit and appealing to nature to justify it, does not make it optimal or acceptable for society. In fact we can see the negative effects10 already of what rampant gynocentrism is doing to our societies and it will only get worse as the consequences continue to accumulate at an ever-increasing rate. These societies are not replacing themselves and are rife with social problems as a result of marginalising men. Gynocentric societies are on a declining trajectory where they are on the track to eventually die out.
Some Further Remarks On Hunter-gatherer Societies And Survival
Another point that I wanted to address are claims suggesting that the survival of children is more contingent on women than on men in hunter-gatherer cultures. Such claims (and related claims) are questionable due to the simple reality we cannot directly observe what occurred in prehistoric times and as previously cited there is a gynocentric bias present unfortunately in the field of scientific research surrounding sex.
We cannot necessarily infer that modern hunter-gatherer communities adequately represent their prehistoric counterparts either, given the fact that one set of communities eventually developed into urbanised civilisation, while modern hunter-gatherer communities clearly did not. I am not making a judgement on any community being superior to another, I am simply pointing out there may be basic differences between prehistoric communities that transitioned into urbanised civilisation and modern-day hunter-gatherer communities that did not and that those differences may undermine making inferences that modern hunter-gatherer communities are a mirror of all past prehistoric communities. It is also worth considering that modern day hunter-gatherer communities undoubtedly have had their own cultural evolution over the last 12,000 years and may not necessarily resemble a mirror image of even their own past. I am not suggesting studies of current hunter-gatherer societies have no merit, I am suggesting caution in assuming what we observe in present hunter-gatherer societies in the modern day, perfectly translate to our prehistoric past.
With all of that said though, let us assume for a moment that the claim the survival of children in hunter-gather communities is more dependent on women is actually true. Is the survival of women not at least in part to some extent dependent on men? It is definitely the case that the survival of any community in prehistoric times is to a significant and substantive degree dependent on men. We know this by examining the evidence acquired from the remains of past human settlements and human bones. Tom Golden in his 2020 ICMI speech11, discussed inter-tribal conflict and the role of men in protecting their communities.
In evolutionary scientist David Geary’s book “Male, Female The Evolution Of Human Sex Differences”12, he describes a mass grave found in South Dakota (A US state) of men, women and children from a tribe that was was wiped out whilst the village fortifications were being reconstructed. The construction of such fortifications would have been a physically demanding task and primarily a male role, along with the actual physical defence of the village from attack.
Once the male defenders of the village were wiped out and the defences were overwhelmed, most of the village was massacred and the few survivors that were spared which were primarily younger women, were taken for spoils. This is not an example of gynocentrism, the women that were spared were taken as captives to do whatever bidding their male captors decided. Women were also found in the mass grave with men and children. Presumably these were women that may have resisted the male attackers, or been unwanted and disposed of by the attackers. The males of the village were eliminated not because they were less valuable, but because they were a threat. As David Geary noted in the book, the capture of women and the murder of male rivals had nothing to do with female mate choice and is simply an example of male competition at its most intense.
The male role in protection is something that has being going on for as long as humans have been around. The remains of this settlement were dated around 1325 AD before Christopher Columbus arrived and there was any contact with civilisation. Some like to argue that hunter-gatherer communities were always peaceful and war came from male patriarchal civilisation, but there is a plethora of evidence suggesting otherwise.
Hunter-gather communities fought each other in our prehistoric past, long before civilisation and there is plenty of evidence to show this and the role men played in protecting their communities. Resources were scarce at times and fighting over access to water, food and territory was a frequent occurrence. We also see the same patterns of territorial aggression in primates and a wide range of animals. War and combat are simply organised human manifestations of the territorial aggression seen in all animals and in both males and females. Aggression of course is not the sole domain of men and Geary does go on in the book to describe female aggression in humans, which is far less physical and much more relational in nature.
There are plenty of other examples in our prehistoric record and from current hunter-gatherer communities, showing how dependent communities are on men to survive. Karen Straughan discussed in one of her videos the Inuit13 and the importance that men have in those communities to hunt on the ice and keep everyone fed and alive. Karen also discussed more generally in the linked video in great detail, the biological evidence pointing to men’s substantive role in community survival and in provision and protection in prehistoric times.
Whilst we cannot perfectly describe past hunter-gatherer societies, we can draw some basic conclusions from the anthropological record of human remains and settlements we have found and also by examining the evolved sexual dimorphism of our species. Men have played a significant and substantive role in the survival of their community and through that they have enhanced the survival of women and by extension have then indirectly contributed to the survival of children. Basic sex differences in size, physical strength and physical fitness and psychological sex differences such as greater male risk-taking behaviour, would have had implications for the survival of prehistoric communities, especially in harsh environments.
The reality is that while women did hunt and did significantly contribute to the food supply in certain environmental contexts, it is predominantly men that are better suited to undertaking tasks that require high levels of physical strength. It is also a fact that men by virtue of not directly caring for infants or becoming pregnant, are more available to undertake physically strenuous tasks like hunting. These are physical realities that become much more apparent in hunter-gatherer communities without the benefits of mechanisation, no matter how hard the social constructionists would wish otherwise. The harsher the environment, the more relevant the physical sexual dimorphism favouring men becomes to the survival of the community.
So whilst it may be apparent to some people in a direct sense that the survival of children may be more dependent on women than on men (and that is a highly questionable claim), if there is any truth to the claim it may only be true to a certain degree in specific environmental settings and only in a direct sense. If we consider all of the environmental settings humans have lived in across the planet and we consider the indirect role men have on the survival of children through their support of their community and the women in that community, the picture becomes a lot more equal than certain gynocentric elements within the field of sex difference research wish to accept.
Even if we ignore all of the evidence and the points that I have made and just automatically assume the survival of children is more dependent on women in a hunter-gatherer setting in all instances and in an overall sense, such claims do not scale to civilisation or the overall health of children in a modern setting. The statistics on the prospects of children without a father in our current modern societies, show just how important fathers are to raising healthy children in our modern social environment. There is a difference between just surviving and offspring surviving to become mentally and physically healthy and capable adults that reach their potential. There is also a big difference between the requirements on offspring to develop in a hunter-gatherer environment in comparison to that of modern society. Such consideration does not fit the gynocentric narrative. Instead we are meant to take seriously the argument by certain feminist ideologues, that having no father has little or no impact on children. We are meant to ignore all of the evidence14 suggesting otherwise, while we watch the effects of fatherlessness play out in the society around us.
I want people to consider this next point very seriously and the implications it has for our Western societies. There has not been one advanced and fully developed civilisation or country on this planet that exists today or in the past, that has lasted centuries with widespread fatherlessness and marginalised men providing little or no contribution to the continuation of their communities. Not one. That should tell people something about how important men are. It has only been through harnessing the value that men provide, that civilisation has even emerged in the first place. It still remains a reality today that if men collectively walked off the job, our modern society would literally fall apart and descend into perpetual darkness (aside from the fires blazing everywhere at night). The statistics15 bare out just how essential men are to keep our modern civilisation running and how dire the situation would be if men left civilisation entirely to women and walked away from it.
None of what I have written in the speech or in these additional remarks or past writings, is intended to argue that men are superior to women or that all women are evil beings attempting to manipulate men every hour of the day. However we do now live in a gynocentric society that promotes the narrative that men have no value, are naturally inferior and disposable and that women are not capable of doing anything wrong or committing any violence, harm or evil in this world. We are living in a world filled with gynocentric delusions, which will eventually be our own underdoing as a society, because reality can and will eventually assert itself when everything eventually comes crashing down.
There needs to be some balance restored to our culture regarding how we consider men and women. Men do have value, enormous value and a great deal of that value is beyond just men’s role in community survival. Women also have value and a great deal of that value has nothing to do with having a uterus. There is a darker side to men’s nature and also a good side, but there is a darker side to women’s nature as well as their good side. I think society can accept the reality both sexes have value and both sexes are human and are capable of doing bad things, without having a nervous breakdown!