The Normalisation Of Gynocentrism

By Peter Ryan

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Civilisation is based on the capacity of human beings to control and manage their instinctual and emotional responses and behave in an intelligent manner. The degree to which that capacity is eroded by lack of self-awareness, lack of cultural wisdom, lack of discipline, fatherlessness and superresponses to superstimuli, is the degree to which civilisation will decline, regress and then implode.

This ancient understanding that natural impulses can be destructive when taken to extremes, was known thousands of years ago. As discussed in Paul Elam and Peter Wright’s article, “Slaying the dragon”,1 this understanding was a major foundational element of many religions and is addressed in cultural mythology, such as the seven deadly sins of Christianity and the story of Odysseus resisting the Sirens call. This ancient wisdom was recognised as key not just to the well-being of individuals, but also to the survival of civilisations over history.

It is important to note that fathers have played a major role in teaching children to postpone gratification and regulate their instinctual and emotional impulses, as we have seen from Dr. Warren Farrell’s research2into the boy crisis. Unsurprisingly and predictably, fatherlessness has been one of the main factors driving the decline of Western civilisation.

There is a distinction between pathological behaviour and instinct. Just because a behaviour is driven by instinct, does not then make the behaviour healthy or biologically optimal to Darwinian fitness. Overeating is driven by instinct and can kill you before you reproduce (and even prevent you from finding a mate in the first place). There is also a distinction between gynocentrism and human instincts. Gynocentrism is not itself an instinct but rather a product of human instinct, emotional impulses and cultural conditioning. Gynocentrism is a set of complex and pathological behaviours that arise from a superresponse to superstimuli associated with sex, neoteny, the parental brain and pair bonding. See the article, “Chasing the dragon”3 for more information.

Many animals and especially human beings, have a capacity to regulate and control their behavioural responses to instinctual and emotional impulses that come from the lower areas of the brain. We have a well developed prefrontal cortex and other areas of the cerebral cortex, that have been shown in neuroscientific research4 to keep our behavioural responses to instincts in check. Whilst we may have no control over feeling our primal urges, we do have control over whether we decide to act on them and base decisions on them. We may experience anger, fear and sexual attraction, but we can control whether or not we act on our instincts and impulses. It is a scientific fact we have the capacity to control our behaviour and override our instinctual impulses. It is also the reason why we have a legal system: we recognise people have self-control over their decisions and actions.

People go on hunger strikes and die from it, despite having a hunger instinct and survival instinct. There are numerous other examples of people overriding their survival instinct. Extreme sports, stunts from escape artists and countless acts of bravery in war being such examples. There are numerous examples of people overriding their sexual instincts too. There are heterosexual men that remain celibate their entire lives in the clergy on purpose. There are even in this hypersexualised culture, sizeable communities of people that still practice sexual abstinence before marriage. We have enormous control over our behaviour. People do not see attractive people and then jump their bones and immediately have sex with them in public (we call that rape by the way, which is a crime)!

We have self-control and it is considerable in its power. It is worth considering that in the context of gynocentrism and the underlying superresponse to superstimuli. Whilst the superresponse leading to gynocentrism may indeed be strong, so is our ability to regulate our own behaviour. In fact our ability to control our own behaviour, can be that extreme it can actually kill us. It is also the case that through self-discipline, training and neuroplasticity, we can actually strengthen our neurological capacity to regulate our behaviour even further. Fathers play a key role in developing that neurological capacity in children, through teaching them to postpone gratification. We certainly have the capability to overcome gynocentrism.

The literal interpretation of free will might be an illusion, but self-control does exist and we have parts of the brain dedicated to exercising self-control. The fact that neurological process of self-control may in part lie beyond our conscious awareness, does not negate the fact we can and do regulate our behaviour and suppress our instincts and emotional impulses very often. It is what makes Homo sapiens, “sapien” or wise. Our ability to postpone gratification of our instincts and impulses and control when, where and even if we choose to satisfy them, is one of the major traits responsible for allowing our species to do what no other animal on this planet has done- create civilisation.

The assumption (which is precisely what it is), that gynocentrism is some insurmountable and hardwired instinct and behaviour we are slaves to, is complete and utter nonsense. That is not to say gynocentrism is not difficult to overcome or that it is not a powerful force within society. But it is not an omnipotent force either. It does not matter how many times it is said, there will still be some people that will call you a denier of biology if you dare to make the claim gynocentrism is not an immutable part of human behaviour. All of human behaviour is biological in part. Not just gynocentrism. Stating that gynocentrism is biological, certainly does not then automatically mean that it is immutable and insurmountable.

Gynocentrism is a pathological set of behaviours driven by instincts and emotional impulses, just like overeating and obesity is driven by the hunger instinct. It does not automatically follow that the instincts and emotional processes that are involved in gynocentrism, will invariably and always produce gynocentrism. Just like it does not always follow that the hunger instinct will lead to overeating and obesity, or that the sexual instinct will lead to rape.

Gynocentrism is merely one of many manifestations of the sexual instinct, desire to pair bond, our emotional response to neoteny and our parental brain. The same general emotional response to neoteny drives millions of people daily to dog videos on YouTube. The same parental brain is active when raising children. The reason why gynocentrism is so common in society, is because unlike obesity and other addictive and pathological behaviours like smoking, we do not shame people for it or discourage it or teach people about the harms it will cause. People understand the risks of overeating, obesity and smoking and people are discouraged from doing it by wider society (with the exception of the fat acceptance people). People go to jail if they indiscriminately act on their sexual instincts.

We normalise gynocentrism and actually encourage it. Imagine if we normalised and encouraged smoking again? Gynocentrism is common because we normalise it in the culture. The culture at large reinforces and conditions us from a very early age, to train our instincts and emotional responses to produce gynocentric behaviour. Contrary to the opinion of some armchair evolutionary biologists, gynocentrism does not enhance the capacity of the species to perpetuate itself. Exhibiting indiscriminate deference to addressing the needs and wants of women and girls above everything else (the definition of gynocentrism), actually causes the complete opposite. It leads to extinction.

It is not really hard to imagine how lopsided and imbalanced priorities could lead to dysfunctional and suboptimal outcomes in a complex system like society. The only reason why gynocentrism has not yet caused mass calamity, is because gynocentrism like obesity was kept at bay for most of human history from getting too big of a problem. Thanks to the imperative and focus we had to maintain on our survival as a community and as individuals and the limited means of communication over most of history, conditions simply did not permit gynocentrism to grow to a point where it threatened the survival of society. Only fairly recently over the last few centuries and particularly over the last 50 years, has that changed and these changes have allowed gynocentrism to mushroom.

Once survival became less of an issue and safety, prosperity, nutrition and human health improved by many orders of magnitude and society became mechanised and women gained control over their fertility, the constraints on gynocentrism growing beyond a certain threshold were removed and societal focus began to shift more and more from survival to a gynocentric lens.

Combined with these changes were communication technologies that allowed superstimuli to have an unprecedented mass effect on the population. The printing press, television, computers, smartphones, the internet and so forth, have allowed superstimuli to have much greater effects on conditioning human behaviour and the psychological development of children than ever before. Marketing in particular has made multibillion dollar industries out of exploiting superstimuli.

As a result of these changes, gynocentrism has rapidly grown over the last few centuries and particularly the last 50 years. We now have runaway gynocentrism. Eventually like a runaway train approaching a cliff, runaway gynocentrism will destroy civilisation if society does not find the brakes in time. We have in my estimation about 20 years before we reach that cliff and society runs off the rails into the abyss. It is now a race against the clock to wake as many people up from their hypnotic daze as we can.

We can see right now the fertility rates plummeting in every developed nation, thanks to constantly pandering to the needs and wants of women and girls. Social scientists are calling it the “demographic winter”.5 Pandering to the princess culture and female entitlement mentality (as Australian columnist Miranda Devine calls it),6 does not produce offspring.

Societies that succumb to runaway gynocentrism die out. Of course there are also long term consequences building from decades of neglect of boys needs in the education system and the epidemic of fatherlessness, that will threaten the social cohesion and economic prosperity of a number of developed nations in the coming decades. Not only will gynocentric societies shrink and then die out, they will descend into poverty, crime and civil unrest before they disappear.

Gynocentrism is widespread because we consider it to be normal and the culture reinforces it as a good thing. Imagine how much more common obesity or gambling addiction would be if the culture normalised and encouraged overeating and gambling? Imagine how much more common overeating and obesity and gambling and gambling addiction would be if you were encouraged to overeat and gamble from birth? Why do we consider gynocentrism to be normal? There are ten reasons or causes for this:

The Influence Of Women

Part of the reason gynocentrism is normal, is because it is encouraged by women. A casino does not want to discourage you from gambling your life savings. Women generally speaking, do not want to discourage men from getting married despite being fully aware of the biased divorce and family court process. There is no incentive for women to discourage men from gynocentrism and every incentive to do the complete opposite – and they do.

The difference between gynocentrism and the casino example, is that women constitute half of society and also raise you from birth and casino’s do not. The food industry as powerful as they are, are not half of the population and are not your mother. When you consider the role of women in men’s lives as mothers, sisters, wives and girlfriends and the fact women generally are part of the most important and intimate relationships men have in their lives, it is not difficult to see how gynocentrism can be spread and become normalised in society if women promote it.

When women constitute the voting majority and control the majority of consumer spending, it is not hard to see how gynocentrism can become mainstream in the economy and in politics. That is especially true when women exercise an in-group bias, which research studies7 report is the case. On top of those realities is the fact men can and do white knight for female attention and approval. The enforcement of women’s desires on the rest of society, through female control over legions of male simps, politicians and corporations, cannot be overlooked in normalising gynocentrism in the culture.

The Change In Family Structure

The change in family structure over the last fifty years, has also played a major role in the normalisation of gynocentrism. We learn the gynocentric social mode of behaviour to a significant degree from our childhood upbringing in the household. When boys and girls are raised to adopt and expect male chivalry, then it is likely that behaviour will be exhibited by them when they get older. When boys and girls are raised with the message it is never okay to hit a woman, but never told the message it is never okay to hit a man, they internalise that double standard.

Over the last fifty years there has been dramatic changes in family structure. Many children are now being raised in fatherless homes from birth, or have been alienated from their fathers through divorce and family court. The lack of an adult male influence in the home combined with a lack of men in the education system, exacerbates gynocentric double standards being internalised in children and future generations. We also know the important role fathers play in teaching boys and girls to regulate their emotional and instinctual impulses, through teaching them to postpone gratification. We are now starting to see the impact of fathers being removed from the family, in the declining social behaviour of wider society.

We now have groups of young people and political movements fuelled entirely on emotional impulse and the abandonment of reason and evidence (SJW’s, university campus feminists, Black Lives Matter, Antifa, the women’s marches etc being examples). We are living in a post factual world, where what feels good is more important than what is true. This is what happens in a fatherless society and it will eventually lead to societal collapse as it gets worse.

The Prosperity Of Modern Civilisation

A subtle reason for why we consider gynocentrism to be normal, is because the prosperity of modern civilisation cushions society from the consequences of it in the short term. Our current debt based monetary system and welfare state, combined with major advances in technology, allows society to pass on the costs of ignoring major social problems onto future generations. It takes years, decades and in some cases centuries, before the severe and long-lasting consequences

of gynocentrism hit individuals and society. So society does not learn very easily to do draw a link between gynocentric behaviour and the consequences of such behaviour.

You do not immediately feel the consequences of divorce and family court when you marry a female psychopath. Economies do not feel the burden straight away of large numbers of unemployed men arising from decades of inaction on addressing the boy crisis in education. Societies do not feel the consequences of fatherlessness straight away either or the long-term consequences of social witch-hunts like metoo#. Universities do not immediately feel the financial consequences of lawsuits against them from men falsely accused of rape, resulting from university policies enacted from the Dear Colleague letter.

Virtue Signalling

Gynocentrism is also normalised because on the surface it appears to be good behaviour, feels good and is therefore encouraged by the culture. However when considered with more thoughtful and detailed examination, it can be seen that this is not the case. White knighting appears to be a noble act on the surface, but not when we look into the details of what is going on. Human beings are prone to surface thinking, simple heuristic thinking and emotional bias. Marketing is so successful because it takes full advantage of these biases and cognitive shortcuts human perception employs to make sense of the world (see the elaboration likelihood model8 for more info and check out the central versus peripheral route to persuasion). What may look and feel good and righteous on the surface, is not always the case.

The Proliferation Of Gynocentric Superstimuli And Mass Communication

Of course it is also predictable that gynocentrism will be normalised when our environment is swamped with superstimuli, that trains our brains through conditioning over many years to operate in a gynocentric mode. This consistent exposure has long term effects on the brain through neuroplasticity.

When gynocentric superstimuli is all you are exposed to every waking hour from birth until death and there is so much social pressure on you to conform to gynocentric social norms, it is predictable gynocentrism will be normalised in the society in question. We have a plethora of laws against broadcasting violent ads, shows and movies and against promoting gambling and yet nothing like that for gynocentrism. When you combine gynocentric superstimuli with modern communication in the form of the internet, television, computers and smartphones, you have the perfect delivery system to condition society and normalise gynocentric behaviour.

The Gynocentric Mainstream Media

Following on from the previous section, the mainstream media plays a key role in normalising gynocentrism. The gynocentric vomit coming out daily from major news outlets is constant. We have articles titled, “Why Can’t We Hate Men?”9 from the Washington Post and “The End Of Men”10 from the Atlantic. Imagine for a moment if we substituted men with Jews in such articles. Such material would not look out of place in Nazi propaganda. Men are being dehumanised by the media and the media are spreading outrageous bigotry that would never be tolerated if the sexes were reversed.

The media has shown time and time again, they are pushing a gynocentric and female supremacist narrative onto society. They have ceased being news outlets and now essentially spread feminist and gynocentric man hating propaganda. The media does shape the attitudes and beliefs of society and also shapes politics and propaganda does work as we have seen from numerous examples throughout history.

We are fortunate now to have alternative media finally rising up against this hatred of men, to challenge it directly. AVFM is one example of this. However the mainstream media has had a multidecade headstart on the alternative media to shape society and still has considerable influence, despite their falling subscriptions and viewers.

Reductionism

There is a reductionist bent in society to not look at the bigger picture. We often fail to see the connection between things and how things are interrelated in society. There is a tendency to assign responsibility or consequence to one thing, person or cause. This feeds not just into normalising gynocentrism, but into letting other problems in society grow too. Society is a system and systems theory would help enormously in understanding and correctly dealing with societal problems, particularly social problems.

Taking a holistic and systems approach to understanding the world, can be far more effective than perceiving the world solely through a reductionist lens. Take school shootings for example. We could prevent such tragedies from occurring if we bothered take a wholistic systems based perspective on the problem. Instead of blaming it all on toxic masculinity, how about we look at fatherlessness and mental health. As society becomes more and more connected, taking a wholistic systems based approach to addressing social problems is going to be more and more relevant.

When we examine the behaviour of men and women in society, it is often solely discussed and framed along gynocentric lines by the media and by the culture. We look at men’s behaviour toward women in isolation from women. We do not even consider women are agents in society and we fail to see how the behaviour of men and women toward the opposite sex, feedback on each other. The feminist narrative on domestic violence is one such example of this.

Domestic violence is often reciprocal in nature11 and yet we do not hear on the reciprocal nature of domestic violence. When we hear about men’s violence toward women only, its causes are framed along the lines of power and control by the feminist Duluth model. No other cause or factor is apparently at play in contributing to men’s violence. The role of alcohol, substance abuse, poverty, mental illness and abuse during childhood, is all overlooked and ignored.

When society fosters a reductionist perspective on looking at the world and does not consider a wholistic or systems perspective, it encourages gynocentrism to grow and spread. Gynocentrism is by its nature reductionist. Having a one-dimensional perspective of relating everything solely to how they impact women and girls, is much easier to spread and normalise in a society that is highly politically polarised and has a general reductionist mindset to looking at the world that is encouraged by ideologues in the media and academia.

Even in biology and the sciences, we can see how reductionism holds back progress in understanding the natural world. Systems biology12 is a rapidly developing interdisciplinary field at the forefront of life science research, that aims to go beyond a reductionist perspective, correct this limitation in scientific knowledge and develop a more accurate wholistic systems understanding of biology.

Biology is complex and is composed of multiple systems at multiple levels, from cell signalling pathways all the way up to entire ecosystems. When we examine what is required for evolutionary success and for genes to be successfully passed on from one generation to the next, it is not as simple as saying it is all about reproductive success. Reproduction is essential, but so is survival. An organism must survive to reproduce and its offspring must survive to successfully mate, otherwise it would be as if the offspring were never produced in the first place.

Reproducing once may not be sufficient either and an organism may need to survive long enough to mate multiple times, to ensure they produce enough offspring that survive to sexual maturity and pass on the genes. An organism must develop a strategy in investing energy, resources and time in survival versus reproduction, that is optimised to their environment and biology, to guarantee evolutionary success.

Evolutionary success is far more complex than simply just reproducing. If that were not the case and reproduction was really all that mattered, then the only life that would have evolved on Earth would have been asexual microbial life. There are selective advantages for species that reproduce more slowly, but have a more complex biology that can better adapt to, tolerate, manipulate and extract resources from the local environment. These selective advantages are partly what gave rise to the proliferation of multicellular life.13

Think for a moment about the thousands of lineages that have continued their existence today, because of the civilisation and technological advances men have created and been responsible for. Think of the billions of people alive today because of the intrinsic value men have provided to society. There are entire lineages that would have been extinguished long ago and billions of people that would not have been born, without the intrinsic value men have provided in creating the advanced civilisation we enjoy and modern technology.

Simply reproducing, especially for a slowly reproducing species like Humans, is simply not enough to ensure evolutionary success. That is why men have been sexually and naturally selected, to develop traits to enable them to provide, protect, discover, explore, invent, build, maintain, repair and fight for society. It is not as simple as saying one man can reproduce with ten women, therefore men are disposable. Biology is far more complex than that.

Notice no one seems to consider how one man can change the world and lead to an extra couple of hundred million people existing and passing on their genes. Think of the impact a handful of men in society have had on civilisation over the last two centuries and by extension the evolutionary success of the species. Think of how many less people there would be without electricity, machinery, antibiotics, modern medicine and modern agriculture that men were mostly responsible for. How many family genetic lineages have continued existing because of these technological advances by men and have avoided termination as a result?

Successfully passing on the genes is not solely about sexual intercourse. Biology is more complex than that. Many other things have to occur before and after sexual intercourse, to ensure genes are passed on successfully. The value men bring to the survival of the community and to society is unique. Despite what feminists claim, women really cannot do everything a man can do or just as well (Women are not inferior. Men and women just have different strengths.).

Men remain the majority of our leading scientists, thinkers, inventors, political and business thinkers etc, despite all of the feminist social engineering to artificially lift women up. Human adult males are also not immediately replaceable either, especially talented and gifted men. It takes roughly 18 years before they reach physical maturity (25 years if we are talking about the brain) and a great deal of parental investment compared to other animals.

Our failure to recognise that treating men as disposable is to treat civilisation as disposable, will eventually lead to the implosion of civilisation. Even if we consider men as machines, we all recognise what happens when you do not look after your car and do not change the oil. Either we unlearn the cultural belief men are disposable, or we can watch society start falling apart. Adopting a wholistic systems perspective and going beyond a simple reductionist mode of thinking, would help us unlearn the erroneous cultural belief men are disposable.

Gynocentric Authority, Institutions And Herd Mentality

Much of the influence in what shapes social behaviour comes from the top of society and from authorities like the government and institutions like university. Gynocentrism has been normalised in part because we have practiced it for centuries and our key institutions, leaders, celebrities and elite practice it, endorse it and impose it on the rest of us. We even enshrine gynocentrism into law.

There have been a number of psychological studies since WW2 showing how easily people blindly follow authority and rules (the infamous Zimbardo Stanford prison experiment14 being one such example) and how powerful institutional environments and rules are in shaping group and individual behaviour (that partly explains a lot about how Nazism came to power and how millions of people were exterminated without anyone speaking out against it).

The power of the herd mentality of human beings to follow authority and a minority of individuals, cannot be understated. Many people simply do not think for themselves and this reality allows a minority of people like feminists, to easily control large groups of people once they hold positions of authority in institutions and government.

Slavery was considered normal for centuries by our leaders, authorities and institutions and was widespread, as was barbaric punishment and torture. Only in the last two hundred years or so and after wars and huge political movements and massive legal reform, have slavery and inhumane punishment been mostly abolished and outlawed. People had the same arguments about slavery being natural and inevitable in the past, as people do today about gynocentrism.

Just like back then, the arguments today about gynocentrism being inevitable do not have substance when you examine them more closely. This is the naturalistic fallacy in action. The fact gynocentrism has natural or biological underpinnings, does not then mean it is morally acceptable, desirable, inevitable or a healthy expression of human behaviour.

The education system out of all of the institutions, plays a key role in normalising gynocentrism. Many boys and girls in school can now go through most of their education from kindergarten to postgraduate education, with few male teachers. The influence of feminist ideology is now present at the primary or elementary level and has been present at the university level for years.

The education system has now essentially become a system of feminist indoctrination and gynocentrism. This sort of environment does have impacts on the behaviour of children and the adults they will become. Like the changes in family structure, the feminisaton of the education system has played a major role in spreading and promoting gynocentrism in society.

Former KGB agent and defector Uri Bezmenov, warned in an interview more than 30 years ago,15 about the feminist and marxist takeover of our institutions and the ideological subversion of Western democracy. He made some very eerie predictions that help explain today’s society. Controlling the education system is key. He discusses the four stages of the takeover of society by the far left in the interview (demoralisation, destabilisation, crisis and normalisation).

He explains the first stage which is called demoralisation. This involves indoctrinating multiple generations of students in far left ideology in the education system. From there these people infect the government, academia, corporations and our institutions and then spread far left ideology within these organisations. He explains how the brainwashing occurring in the education system, corrupts people’s perception to the point where they cannot make logical sense of information. After years of indoctrination, their thinking is bounded within an ideological framework and they cannot see beyond that framework.

Sound familiar? It should. Uri was explaining what modern Western society would become 30 years ago. Think of all the revelations that have come out on the working environments of employees in the tech sector and in academia and the disruptive and violent protests on university campuses.

Gynocentric Superorganisms

Related to the previous reason behind why gynocentrism is normalised, is the influence of superorganisms on society and how they have succumbed to gynocentrism. MRA blogger Angry Harry, did an excellent series looking at the impact of superorganisms on human behaviour and how powerful they are in shaping it (See Angry Harry’s MRA corner on AVFM and check out the 4 part series titled, “Those Who Rules Over Us”).16

Superorganisms in the social context can be thought of as entities comprised of thousands, sometimes millions and even billions of individuals, that appear to mimic the properties of a living organism and wield enormous influence on society. Religions, governments, corporations, institutions and cities are examples of superorganisms. People in this context can be considered cells of these superorganisms. If we look at human civilisation as a superorganism, the slogan “feminism is cancer” is quite fitting.

Gynocentrism can be thought of in the context of superorganisms, as the underlying germ of a disease of the superorganism. It infects healthy human cells of the superorganism and then spreads throughout the superorganism. Eventually the superorganism succumbs to gynocentrism and then infects other superorganisms. Feminism could be considered a vector of the gynocentric germ that helps it spread, like how a mosquito is a vector of Malaria.

Superorganisms as Angry Harry explained, have enormous influence over our society and the individual behaviour of people. Corporations, governments, religion and institutions shape the way of life for billions of people. Gynocentrism has infested many of these superorganisms and turned them into gynocentric zombies. These infected entities can and have inflicted terrible damage on society.

Think of the impact feminist infested universities have had on society. Think of the impact the gynocentric legal system has had on the nuclear family, fathers and the lives of men. Think of the impact the feminised education system has had on the boy crisis in education. Think of the impact the gynocentric bias of the tech sector has had on the information that the public is exposed to and their censorship and filtering of alternative non-gynocentric viewpoints.

Learned Helplessness And The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy Of Gynocentrism

Men and boys in today’s society to a substantial degree, are exhibiting signs of learned helplessness. Many men and boys have essentially been conditioned to accept that gynocentrism is normal and inescapable. Once men and boys internalise that dangerous false belief, they accept their own marginalisation and disposability every day and in doing so enable gynocentrism to have almost complete dominance over society. Learned helplessness has been linked to depression17 and is no doubt a major factor driving the epidemic of male suicide. Learned helplessness fuels a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If men and boys believe there is no other way to live, then gynocentrism becomes inevitable and this fate then reinforces the belief that gave rise to it. Beliefs can be very destructive things when they go unquestioned, despite leading to highly destructive outcomes.

Men going their own way (MGTOW) is a pathway out of gynocentrism for men. It involves unlearning pathological gynocentric beliefs and daring to believe there is another way to live. Whilst it may not be easy to go against the social current of society, it is possible and once the rewards of going your own way become clear, it becomes easier and easier and easier to go your own way. We are social creatures and part of overcoming learned helplessness for men involves abandoning concern for social ostracism, particularly from women and learning how to identify and manage the risks that a predatory gynocentric society presents, so you can live life in your own way and avoid entrapment and attack.

Men and boys are punished for performing and exhibiting their natural masculine nature and at the same time ridiculed for failing to perform and demonstrate a masculine nature. At the same time that men are told they must live up to the hypergamous expectations of women to earn more money than their female counterparts in order to be worthy of a relationship with women, they are cast as privileged oppressors and blamed for the gender pay gap if they do earn more money than women.

Men are told they are losers if they do not perform and then are told they are privileged oppressors when they do perform. Women will write articles about “where are all the good men” and then write other articles about the gender wage gap and how we need female quotas in upper management and corporate boards because of male privilege. It is a double bind. Men have no escape from social ostracism if they follow external societal pressures and succumb to herd mentality and social pressure to conform. Such men must accept the message from society they are inferior, violent, privileged and evil oppressors.

MGTOW is the healthy alternative. MGTOW involves finding your own way in life, independent of what the culture or society or women expects of you or what they think of you. MGTOW is the only way out for men from the gynocentric prison society has been turned into. To borrow a line from the Shawshank Redemption you either, “get busy living or get busy dying”.

The biases in human perception, thinking and behaviour discussed, combined with the changes in family structure, the proliferation of superstimuli with mass communication and the influence of gynocentric institutions, media and authority figures, keep the silent killer that is gynocentrism from being detected and addressed by civilisation and by individuals.

To fight this, we need to develop greater self-awareness in society and awareness of what gynocentrism is and the harms it can and does cause. We need organised resistance to gynocentrism to emerge at the individual level of men going their own way and at the collective level of a well-funded and well organised men’s movement to tackle institutional and legalised gynocentrism. Either we address gynocentrism, or the harsh forces of natural selection will remove gynocentric behaviour from the human evolutionary lineage, or worse put the entire human race into the fossil record. For the superorganisms of society, they will have to either rid themselves of gynocentrism or look forward to bankruptcy or collapse. For the individual man, you either overcome gynocentrism or you suffer for it and in some cases lose everything, including your life.

It is our choice, we can either do this the easy way or the hard way individually, and as a society. It takes discipline to recondition ourselves out of bad habits and develop the self-awareness to recognise and stop bad behaviours. It does not happen overnight. Websites like AVFM, men’s discussion and support groups and male friendly life coaches and mental health professionals, can help with that process.

MGTOW helps in a big way in overcoming gynocentrism. MGTOW or men going their own way, is grounded on the fundamental principle of self-control. You cannot go your own way without it! MGTOW and its continued growth is direct proof it is possible for men to overcome years of gynocentric programming, instinctual and emotional impulses and take the red pill.

But like I said nothing happens overnight. That goes for individual change and also for societal change. Just because change is slow, does not mean change is impossible or will not eventually lead to profound shifts in people’s lives and the way society functions. Every journey begins with a single first step. It is time men broke free of their psychological bondage and dared to recognise and accept their true intrinsic value, in the face of a gynocentric society that would prefer they did not.

It is not just biology at play when we are talking about gynocentrism. Social, political, institutional, economic, informational and cultural factors, are also involved in normalising the social pathology we call gynocentrism. We are indeed living in the matrix of gynocentrism. Most people are still asleep in the matrix. We need to stop normalising gynocentrism by addressing the ten causes responsible for its normalisation discussed earlier. MGTOW and a well funded and organised men’s movement, would go a long way to achieving that objective.

We are at a critical period in human civilisation where we need to move beyond outmoded gynocentric ways of thinking and behaving if we expect civilisation to survive. Technology cannot be uninvented and we cannot return to a traditionalist path. Simply ending feminism will not be sufficient to advance society either. Gynocentrism has now become an unsustainable problem for society.

Tens of thousands of years ago when we humans transitioned from a hunter-gatherer existence to primitive civilisation, the dynamics between the sexes changed. Now we face a similar challenge to change those dynamics again, as a result of rapid technological change over the last two centuries. Dr. Warren Farrell has in the past described the need for a gender transition movement, to recognise and address this reality.

The Kardashev scale18 lays out the stage of technological advancement of civilisations. Human civilisation is currently undergoing a transition from a type 0 civilisation, to a type 1 civilisation in which we control all of the energy available on the planet and coming from the parent star (currently we can only make use of a fraction of the energy available). Technologies of a type 1 civilisation include: nuclear fusion and renewable energy on a large scale, the capacity to produce large quantities of antimatter etc. Some of these technologies we have obtained, some we are on the cusp of and other technology is quite a while away.

In several decades if everything goes right, we may have a permanent, sizeable and self-sustaining settlement on Mars. All of this civilisational advancement, requires a society that remains socially stable, free, safe, educated and prosperous enough to permit the required technological progress to occur and to ensure the technology is not used to destroy ourselves.

The relationship between men and women forms the backbone of the family and the family forms the backbone of society. Gynocentrism is now threatening to destroy the backbone of the family and of society. We need to wake up, otherwise the future for humanity is looking bleak. External threats like nuclear weapons appear to be well recognised. The same does not seem to apply for gynocentrism and the scale of the threat it poses for the continued existence of human civilisation. This needs to change.

References

[1] Slaying The Dragon. Peter Wright & Paul Elam, A Voice For Men (2018).

[2] The Boy Crisis: Why Our Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do About It. Dr. Warren Farrell & Dr. John Gray (2018)

[3] Chasing The Dragon. Peter Wright & Paul Elam, A Voice For Men (2016).

[4] Self-Control And The Human Brain: The Neuroscience Of Impulse Control. Elana Glowatz, Medical Daily (2017)

[5] Demographic Winter – the decline of the human family (Full Movie) Rick Stout. Acuity Productions. YouTube (Accessed 2018)

[6] Women believe they live in the age of entitlement. Miranda Devine, The Daily Telegraph (2012)

[7] Gender Differences in Automatic In-Group Bias: Why Do Women Like Women More Than Men Like Men? Rudman, Laurie A.,Goodwin, Stephanie A. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 87(4), Oct 2004, 494-509

[8] Elaboration likelihood model. Wikipedia (Accessed 2018)

[9] Why Can’t We Hate Men? Suzanna Danuta Walters, The Washington Post (2018)

[10] The End of Men. Hanna Rosin, The Atlantic (2010)

[11] Partner Abuse State Of Knowledge Project (PASK) FACTS AND STATISTICS ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AT-A-GLANCE (Accessed 2018)

[12] Systems Biology. Wikipedia (Accessed 2018)

[13] How did life become Multicellular?-Mysteries of Life #2. Ben G Thomas. YouTube (Accessed 2018).

[14] Stanford Prison Experiment. Wikipedia (Accessed 2018)

[15] Uri Bezmenov: Deception Was My Job (Complete) G. Edward Griffin. American Media. All West Video. The Reality Zone. YouTube (Accessed 2018)

[16] Angry Harry’s MRA Corner (Accessed 2018)

[17] Learned Helplessness: Seligman’s Theory of Depression (+ Cure). Positive Psychology Program (2018)

[18] Kardashev scale. Wikipedia (Accessed 2018)
Peter Ryan, also called TheAntigynocentrist, is a man going his own way who dares to believe men are not disposable and challenges the gynocentric zeitgeist. Peter’s blog is Theantigynocentrist.wordpress.com

Slaying the dragon

In an earlier piece Chasing The Dragon, we outlined Nikolaas Tinbergen’s concept of the supernormal stimulus (or superstimulus), which he characterized as an exaggerated environmental stimulus to which there is an existing tendency in animals to respond, or a stimulus that elicits a response more strongly than the stimulus for which it evolved.

Tinbergen demonstrated the phenomenon by placing a larger artificial egg in the nest of an oystercatcher bird which lays several eggs and then chooses the largest one to incubate. The bird made fruitless attempts to retrieve the oversized egg and place it in the nest, while neglecting its own real, normal-sized egg. Even though giant eggs never occur in nature, larger eggs are usually healthier so the animal generally improves its genetic success by retrieving a larger egg first. In another experiment, Tinbergen placed a football-sized egg in the nest of a herring gull who showed preference for the grotesquely large egg, even though it was unable to move it into the nest and kept sliding off when attempting to sit on it.


Supernormal stimuli are bigger or more intense than normal in color, shape, texture, or smell; eliciting an abnormally exaggerated response from the animal or human. We referred to that exaggerated response as a superresponse; one that, applied to humans, contributes to the increasing discord, unhappiness and confusion among men and women today. Just like the herring gull we are sliding off the egg in every which way, failing to identify the mechanism behind it.

Humans are wired to respond to superstimuli, having numerous biological tendencies that can be misdirected through the deployment of an artificial stimulus. Even in the beginning, human babies will smile at an oval shape cardboard cut-out with two dark circles where eyes would be, providing one of the earliest examples of the human face as a sign stimulus and a ‘releaser’ of the innate response mechanism.

Think also of the nipple to which a human baby automatically gropes and begins sucking, and of the larger-than-normal plastic pacifier that infants will hungrily suck as an early example of the superstimulus at work. No breast, no milk, indeed no mother but it will pacify just the same. Examples of the phenomenon multiply as humans mature, acquiring as they do a habituated attraction to superstimuli that the modern world is now manufacturing on a scale unprecedented in human history. All of this, we think, forments the kind of unsustainable lunacy that now characterizes human interactions — especially those which are sexual in nature.

Attempts to deconstruct the insanity abound but almost none seem to be making a difference to our relational malaise. While offering some sharp observations, the theorizing from gender studies departments, nutty liberals, politicians, religious conservatives or evolutionary psychologists have done little to explain the root biological mechanisms for the madness, and that’s where supernormal stimuli, and their unhealthy growth in the modern world, might provide a new area of exploration and discussion.

One reason for avoiding discussion of the supernormal stimulus theory may be that people like to rest on more mechanistic, determinist and ultimately reductionist explanations for human behavior, preferring as they do a less manipulable ‘lock-and-key’ explanation. That approach eschews the ramifications of supernormal stimulus that would place more onus on a variable environment and its manipulations in regards to human behavior. Those with a reductive bent might like to fool themselves into believing that infant pacifiers, artificial intelligence, silicone breasts, cosmetics and sexbots have been with is since the Pleistocene, but of course such superstimuli are relatively new to the human species.

Evolutionary Psychologists for example, especially those cherishing a fantasy of ‘traditional gender roles’ to guide and ultimately bias their research, tend to omit the theory of superstimuli from their discourse because it indicates primal urges can and do overrun their evolutionary purpose – eg. pathological displays in even ‘traditional’ gender relations as case in point. The operation of the supernormal stimulus reveals their “normal biological response” of “traditional evolutionary sex roles” to be a pathological perversion, in which case the theory is swiftly overlooked. That move however leaves a lacuna in the theoretical base of Evolutionary Psychology, and its research results may equally suffer.

Dierdre Barrett, author of Supernormal Stimuli: How Primal Urges Overran Their Evolutionary Purposeremarks that many evolutionary concepts have been applied to human behavior either formally in Evolutionary Psychology or have just crossed over into popular conversation. “However the importance of superstimuli” states Barrett, “doesn’t seem to have been fully appreciated in either of those arenas.”1 She states (quote);

Evolutionary Psychology has picked up a lot of Darwin’s ideas, and some ethology ideas which is the Darwinian branch of animal behavior that Tinbergen was a part of. But somehow Evolutionary Psychology never adopted the idea of supernormal stimuli, and I really think that of all the evolutionary concepts it’s the most important and the most directly relevant to human behavior.”2

Independently of Barrett we have been applying the concept to human populations, and with her believe it to be the most important and relevant fact to human behavior today, particularly as it shows in the addict-like behaviors plaguing modern humans and relationships.

Venus_von_Willendorf_01-1

Venus of Willendorf, statue exaggerating body and breast stimuli.

Mythology itself has been suggested as a form of supernormal stimuli, a position forwarded by the late Joseph Campbell in his Masks of God series. There he statesWhile the influence of superstimuli is responsible for a range of destructive and potentially anti-species outcomes, it is not altogether new. Observe for example the Venus of Willendorf whose exaggerated body parts would have elicited a possible superresponse in those who carved and first gazed on her. Think also of the cave paintings in Lascaux with their stylized renditions of animals, or of shaman dressed in animal costumes, not to mention the ritual enactments of animal behaviors in traditional cultures who routinely adorned themselves with animal skins or feathers and engaged in theatric play that would have acted as supernormal stimuli inducing longing, wonder, fear or hunger in the audience.

There is a phenomenon known to the students of animal behavior as the “supernormal sign stimulus,” which has never been considered, as far as I know, in relation either to art and poetry or to myth; yet which, in the end, may be our surest guide to the seat of their force…

Within the field of the study of animal behavior— which is the only area in which controlled experiments have made it possible to arrive at dependable conclusions in the observation of instinct—two orders of innate releasing mechanisms have been identified, namely, the stereotyped, and the open, subject to imprint. In the case of the first, a precise lock-key relationship exists between the inner readiness of the nervous system and the external sign stimulus triggering response; so that, if there exist in the human inheritance many—or even any—IRMs of this order, we may justly speak of “inherited images” in the psyche. The mere fact that no one can yet explain how such lock-key relationships are established does not invalidate the observation of their existence: no one knows how the hawk got into the nervous system of our barnyard fowl, yet numerous tests have shown it to be, de facto, there. However, the human psyche has not yet been, to any great extent, satisfactorily tested for such stereotypes, and so, I am afraid, pending further study, we must simply admit that we do not know how far the principle of the [stereotyped] inherited image can be carried when interpreting mythological universals…

The concept of the sign stimulus as an energy-releasing and -directing image clarifies, however, the difference between literary metaphor, which is addressed to the intellect, and mythology, which is aimed primarily at the central excitatory mechanisms (CEMs) and innate releasing mechanisms (IRMs) of the whole person. According to this view, a functioning mythology can be defined as a corpus of culturally maintained sign stimuli fostering the development and activation of a specific type, or constellation of types, of human life. Furthermore, since we now know that no images have been established unquestionably as innate, that our IRMs are not stereotyped but open, whatever “universals” we may find in our comparative study must be assigned rather to common experience than to endowment; while, on the other hand, even where sign stimuli may differ, it need not follow that the responding IRMs differ too. Our science is to be simultaneously biological and historical throughout, with no distinction between “culturally conditioned” and “instinctive” behavior, since all instinctive human behavior is culturally conditioned, and what is culturally conditioned in us all is instinct: specifically, the CEMs and IRMs of this single species.3

As detailed in Chasing The Dragon, nascent experimentation with superstimuli by our remote ancestors slowly increased from stone carvings, shaman costumes and mythological imagery, and went into overdrive in the Middle Ages with the birth of mass-produced cosmetics, the fashion industry, romantic love tropes, and the invention of the printing press. That revolution has been furthered by the invention of plastic surgery and the harnessing of electricity with its mediums of cinema, radio, television, internet, cellphone and the gaming console; all serving the superstimuli trends of the culture in which they were born.

In Chasing The Dragon we reviewed three domains of human instinct that have been hypnotized by the creation of superstimuli. Briefly reviewed as follows these are:

1. Neoteny and the parental instinct

While there are notable exceptions, adult women are not generally endowed with neotenous features sufficient to provoke men to find them cute in the way of a small child. Artifice however makes up for it by allowing women to imitate the features of children through the application of cosmetics or cultivation of childish gestures, with the ultimate aim of shirking responsibility and being cared for by a man and society with the least amount of effort on her part. Naturally such a routine robs her of agency, parentifies the man, and becomes a drag on relationships.

The following instruction video for women from the Fascinating Womanhood Movement provides an example of how this biological ruse, essentially a feigned neoteny, is a result of cultural learning (1.37 to 2.33):

The instruction for women to feign childlikeness is now endemic in the Western world, which may account at least partially for the tradition of ‘women and children first’ – a statement that captures not only that women look after children, but that they themselves are children in need of saving – in which sense the phrase might be more accurately rendered as ‘Children and children first.’

2. Sexual stimuli and sexual arousal

We regularly hear hand-wringing about the increase in skimpy, sexualized clothing among women and even young girls, along with the booming trend in tummy tucks, butt implants, botox injections, lip augmentation and boob jobs. We are told that women become overly reliant of these powerful methods of superstimulating men’s sexuality, and we are equally told that this makes sex like a powerful drug and leads to sex addiction. In a sense they are not completely wrong – the supersizing of sexual phenomena do result in an addiction-like intensity or what we have called the superresponse.

Many men and MGTOW have said NO to the exploitative potential that comes with female use of superstimuli, men who ironically opt out of relationships with real women in favor of more superstimuli in the form of internet porn and neotenous sexbots – superstimuli over which they secure full control. While a certain degree of superstimuli may prove healthy in catering to one’s sexual needs, it is up to each man to determine whether the stimuli are catering to a healthy expression of needs, or into an overly intense superstimulus and unhealthy superresponse.

3. Pairbonding – secure and insecure

In the pre medieval period simple courtship practices and arranged marriages ruled, leaving little room for the supernormal exaggerations of attachment security that we see in practice today. Modern rules for pairbonding are encapsulated in the notion of romantic love, which unfortunately turns out to be a cornucopia of destructive superstimuli. Romantic love is geared to fostering an extreme tension between feelings of possessing and losing a pairbond. It relies on an oscillation between secure and insecureattachment that generates a supernormal intensity of lovers’ feelings for each other, with the downside of inner turmoil and insecurity that feeds relational dysfunction and not infrequently psychological illnesses.

The poets are not lying when they say love is like a roller-coaster ride.

Frank Tallis’ book Love Sick: Love as a Mental Illness elaborates on the kind of pathologies that come hand-in-hand with the romantic-love based approach to pairbonding. From the blurb on Tallis book we read;

Obsessive thoughts, erratic mood swings, insomnia, loss of appetite, recurrent and persistent images and impulses, superstitious or ritualistic compulsions, delusion, the inability to concentrate — that exhibiting just five or six of these symptoms is enough to merit a diagnosis of a major depressive episode. Yet we all subconsciously welcome these symptoms when we allow ourselves to fall in love. In Love Sick, Dr. Frank Tallis considers our experiences and expressions of love, and why the combinations of pleasure and pain, ecstasy and despair, rapture and grief have come to characterize what we mean when we speak of falling in love. Tallis examines why the agony associated with romantic love continues to be such a popular subject for poets, philosophers, songwriters, and scientists, and questions just how healthy our attitudes are and whether there may in fact be more sane, less tortured ways to love. A highly informative exploration of how, throughout time, principally in the West, the symptoms of mental illness have been used to describe the state of being in love, this book offers an eloquent, thought-provoking, and endlessly illuminating look at one of the most important aspects of human behavior.4

Tallis traces the sickness-making version of pairbonding to its origin in the middle ages, and rightly suggests there are less tortured ways to love. Humans have loved less tortuously in the long past, and we might hope it’s possible to relate that way again in the stability and simplicity of a secure attachment. To love in that way however requires a slaying the dragon; finding alternative modes of pairbonding to those we’ve been duped into following.

_______________

Recognition of supernormal stimuli and their proliferation in the modern world answers the Why question, which leads us naturally to the question of What – what can we do to manage this biological and cultural travesty? As concluded in our previous article we can begin by recognizing we’ve been hypnotized by a stage show of sound and light, and deciding that we no longer wish to indulge it. As we suggested there it’s as simple as choosing not to chase the dragon, but to slay it. In essence we can say the dragon represents our unmoderated appetite, given freely and stupidly over to the snares of superstimili, and our thus-far untapped discernment and discipline can serve as the sword of redress.

Slaying of the dragon demands we employ our substantial neocortexes which are designed for overriding primitive impulses that lead us willy nilly into pain and injury. With that we can construct a defensive, self-protective approach toward the activities and the people we might choose to associate with, activating the traditional values of restraint, delayed gratification, conservation and self-protection against the arrival of superstimuli in our field of vision.

Think of it this way. By overriding our knee-jerk attraction to the false neoteny created by women’s makeup and sexually exaggerated dress, we build in a defense against gynocentric obedience as well as a protective measure for screening out personality disordered women from our lives. That is one application of many.

By that path we find a way forward, but also strangely a way back – back to the protective values of past cultures; to Buddhist teachings about pleasure as an illusion and potential suffering; to the Christian teachings of the Seven Deadly Sins and how to resist them; or to the messages of classical myth which invite us to hold fast to our values like Odysseus who tied himself to the ship’s mast in order to resist the Siren’s call, knowing that all the boons of Penelope await him at Ithaca as a result of his intelligent avoidance of gratification.

References:

[1] Deirdre Barrett, Ph.D. Talk on Supernormal Stimuli, at TAM 2012
[2] Discussion with Dierdre Barrett and Natasha Mitchell, Radio National Science, Technology and Culture Program, 2011
[3] Joseph Campbell, Primitive Mythology, Vol. 4 in Masks of God Series, 1959
[4] Frank Tallis Love Sick: Love as a Mental Illness, Da Capo Press, 2005 (GoodReads synopsis)

The tantalizing pairbond

We have all heard the advice of the seasoned matron to younger women; “Don’t turn your love on like a tap or he will lose interest – withhold some affection and you’ll always have him begging for more.”

Attachment 2 smallThis message is now so widespread that animal-training techniques are being redeployed by women who wish to control their man’s attachment needs. In How to Make Your Man Behave in 21 Days or Less Using the Secrets of Professional Dog Trainers we read,

Consistently a dog is “nicest” when he wants to be fed. Then he becomes all wags and licks. A known trick for keeping a dog on his best behavior is to just fill his bowl halfway so he’s yearning for more.

Same goes for his appetite for affection. Keep him in constant emotional hunger for you and he’ll be more attentive and easier to control.

As cruel as it sounds, withholding affection, sex, approval and love have become part of women’s repertoire of superstimuli used to coerce men into service. Perhaps there was a time when that service could have been considered an appropriate response to a survival oriented stimulus. Now, however, it has been replaced by superstimuli and male service has degenerated into a destructive superresponse.

Such dating advice for women abounds on the internet with the aim to intensify a man’s desire by turning a secure bond, a necessity for healthy relationships, into a brass ring. Only on the ride of romantic chivalry, like all carnival sideshows, the game is rigged. The brass ring remains ever just out of reach.

Men’s basic human need for love, acceptance, and security, is frustrated, leaving them in a perpetual cycle of deprivation.

Indeed, it is one of the core principles of romantic love to keep the bond in the realm of tantalizing denial, and men, therefore in constant readiness to be manipulated and used.

TantalusThe word tantalizing comes from the Greek story of Tantalus. Tantalus, as the fable goes, offended the Gods. His punishment was to be placed in a river with the water up to his neck. A tree full of ripe, red apples leaned toward him.

The Gods afflicted him with a raging thirst and hunger. When he bent his head down to slake his thirst – the waters receded. Likewise, when he reached up to grab one of the apples, the branch recoiled higher and out of his reach.

Women are socialized to tantalize men with the possibility of pair-bonding, to keep fruit of love ever out of reach, and to further muddy the waters with the dictates of romantic chivalry.

If you want that pair-bond, which is to say if you want to be more tantalized, you had better greet her with flowers, hold the door open, and of course pick up the bill.

Be prepared to live that way for the rest of your life, exiled to the river with Tantalus, ever thirsty and hungry. In modern times, simple attachment is transformed into something complex – an impulse now guided by customs of a romantic chivalry, designed to tilt maximum power toward the woman.

Even when the pair-bond is supposedly attained, you may still experience the withdrawal of love, sex and approval as a method of control. It can even be worse once bonded than during the courtship process.

Such behavior from women is not a simple, innate reflex, but one in which they are culturally educated and socialized. Most girls become fluent in the game of inclusion and exclusion, in groups or among friends, well before the reach the age of 10 and the meta-rules learned there reappear again in popular dating advice – rules designed to meddle in the attachment security we social creatures would otherwise enjoy sans the manipulations.

The rules for women resonate shamelessly throughout an entire genre of literature:

  • Keep an air of mystery
  • Only put in 30 percent effort
  • Make him come to you
  • Never see him with less than 7 days notice
  • Never call him unless returning a call
  • Never return a call or text immediately
  • Make him approach you
  • Don’t call back immediately. You are a girl in demand.
  • End call first after 15 minutes ALWAYS. (Even though it sucks. He will call you more.)
  • Even if you are not busy, pretend like you are

Those items are the product of a cursory scan of just two internet dating sites with advice for women. They are not, however, an invention of the information age. They are the long codified expressions of what women have been taught, from generation to generation, since the advent of romantic chivalry.

They are obedience training basics for conditioning the romantically chivalrous man — superstimuli, powerfully effective in eliciting a superresponse. In this case, servile, blind sycophancy from weak, non-introspective men.

The Supernormal Sign Stimulus

Some readers will have read or viewed the piece on superstimuli titled Chasing The Dragon, co-authored by myself and Paul Elam. The following piece written in 1959 by Joseph Campbell, scholar of religion and mythology, suggests Supernormal Stimuli as an explanation of the role of mythological and religious imagery in the lives of individuals and civilizations. – PW

_____________________

 

The Supernormal Sign Stimulus

by Joseph Campbell

One further lesson may be taken from animals. There is a phenomenon known to the students of animal behavior as the “supernormal sign stimulus,” which has never been considered, as far as I know, in relation either to art and poetry or to myth; yet which, in the end, may be our surest guide to the seat of their force, and to an appreciation of their function in the quickening of the human dream of life.

“The Innate Releasing Mechanism (IRM),” Tinbergen declares, “usually seems to correspond more or less with the properties of the environmental object or situation at which the reaction is aimed. . . . However, close study of IRMs reveals the remarkable fact that it is sometimes possible to offer stimulus situations that are even more effective than the natural situation. In other words, the natural situation is not always optimal.” 11

It was found, for instance, that the male of a certain butterfly known as the grayling (Eumenis semele), which assumes the initiative in mating by pursuing a passing female in flight, generally prefers females of darker hue to those of lighter—and to such a degree that if a model of even darker hue than anything known in nature is presented, the sexually motivated male will pursue it in preference even to the darkest female of the species.

“Here we find,” writes Professor Portmann, in comment, “an ‘inclination’ that is not satisfied in nature, but which perhaps, one day, if inheritable darker mutations should appear, would play a role in the selection of mating partners. Who knows whether such anticipations of particular sign stimuli may not play their part in the support and furthering of new variants, inasmuch as they may represent one of the factors in the process of selection that determines the direction of evolution?” 12

Obviously the human female, with her talent for play, recognized many millenniums ago the power of the supernormal sign stimulus: cosmetics for the heightening of the lines of her eyes have been found among the earliest remains of the Neolithic Age. And from there to an appreciation of the force of ritualization, hieratic art, masks, gladiatorial vestments, kingly robes, and every other humanly conceived and realized improvement of nature, is but a step—or a natural series of steps.

Evidence will appear, in the course of our natural history of the gods, of the gods themselves as supernormal sign stimuli; of the ritual forms deriving from their supernatural inspiration acting as catalysts to convert men into gods; and of civilization—this new environment of man that has grown from his own interior and has pressed back the bounds of nature as far as the moon—as a distillate of ritual, and consequently of the gods: that is to say, as an organization of supernormal sign stimuli playing on a set of IRMs never met by nature and yet most properly nature’s own, inasmuch as man is her son.

But for the present, it suffices to remark that one cannot assume out of hand that simply because a certain culturally developed sign stimulus appeared late in the course of history, man’s response to it must represent a learned reaction. The reaction may be, in fact, spontaneous, though never shown before. For the creative imagination may have released precisely here one of those innate “inclinations” of the human organism that have nowhere been fully matched by nature. Hence, not only the ritual arts and the development from them of the archaic civilizations, but also—and even more richly—the later shattering of those arts by the modern arrows of man’s flight beyond his own highest dream, would perhaps best be interpreted psychologically, as a history of the supernormal sign stimuli that have released—to our own fright, joy, and amazement—the deepest secrets of our being. Indeed, the depths of the mystery of our subject—which are the depths not only of man but of the living world—have not been plumbed.

In sum, then: Within the field of the study of animal behavior— which is the only area in which controlled experiments have made it possible to arrive at dependable conclusions in the observation of instinct—two orders of innate releasing mechanisms have been identified, namely, the stereotyped, and the open, subject to imprint. In the case of the first, a precise lock-key relationship exists between the inner readiness of the nervous system and the external sign stimulus triggering response; so that, if there exist in the human inheritance many—or even any—IRMs of this order, we may justly speak of “inherited images” in the psyche. The mere fact that no one can yet explain how such lock-key relationships are established does not invalidate the observation of their existence: no one knows how the hawk got into the nervous system of our barnyard fowl, yet numerous tests have shown it to be, de facto, there. However, the human psyche has not yet been, to any great extent, satisfactorily tested for such stereotypes, and so, I am afraid, pending further study, we must simply admit that we do not know how far the principle of the inherited image can be carried when interpreting mythological universals. It is no less premature to deny its possibility than to announce it as anything more than a considered opinion.

Nor are we ready, yet, to say whether the obvious, and sometimes very striking, physical differences of the human races represent significant variations of their innate releasing mechanisms. Among the animals such differences do exist—in fact, changes in the IRMs of the major instincts appear to be among the first things affected by mutation.

For example, as Tinbergen observes:

The herring gull (Larus argentatus) and the lesser black-backed gull (L. fuscus) in north-western Europe are considered to be extremely diverged geographical races of one species, which, having developed by geographical isolation, have come into contact again by expansion of their ranges. The two forms show many differences in behavior; L. fuscus is a definite migrant, traveling to south-westem Europe in autumn, whereas L. argentatus is of a much more resident habit. L. fuscus is much more a bird of the open sea than L. argentatus. The breeding-seasons are different. One behavior difference is specially interesting. Both forms have two alarm calls, one expressing alarm of relatively low intensity, the other indicative of extreme alarm. L. argentatus gives the high-intensity alarm call much more rarely than L. fuscus. The result is that most disturbances are reacted to differently by the two forms. When a human intruder enters a mixed colony, the herring gulls will almost always utter the low-intensity call, while L. fuscus utters the high-intensity call. This difference, based upon a shift of degree in the threshold of alarm calls, gives the impression of a qualitative difference in the alarm calls of the two forms, such as might well lead to the total disappearance of one call in one species, of the other in the second species, and thus result in a qualitative difference in the motor-equipment. Apart from this difference in threshold, there is a difference in the pitch of each call.13

Between the various human races differences have been noted that suggest psychological as well as merely physiological variation; differences, for example, in their rates of maturing, as Géza Róheim has indicated in his vigorous work on Psychoanalysis and Anthropology.1* However, it is still far from legitimate, on the

basis of the mere scraps of controlled observation that have been recorded, to make any such broad generalizations about intellectual ability and moral character as are common in discussions of this subject. Furthermore, within the human species there is such broad variation of innate capacity from individual to individual that generalizations on a racial basis lose much of their point.

In other words, the whole question of the innate stereotypes of the species Homo sapiens is still wide open. Objective and promising studies have been commenced, but they have not yet progressed very far. An interesting series of experiments by E. Kaila,15 and R. A. Spitz and K. M. Wolf,16 has shown that between the ages of three and six months the infant reacts with a smile to the appearance of a human face; and by fashioning masks omitting certain of the details of the normal human countenance, the observers were able to establish the fact that in order to evoke response the face had to have two eyes (one-eyed, asymmetrical masks did not work), a smooth forehead (wrinkled foreheads produced no smile), and a nose. Curiously, the mouth could be omitted; the smile, therefore, was not an imitation. The face had to be in some movement and seen from the front. Moreover, nothing else—not even a toy—would evoke this early infant smile. Following the sixth month, a distinction began to be made between familiar and unfamiliar, friendly and unfriendly faces. The richness of the child’s experience of its social environment having already increased, the innate releasing mechanism had been altered by impressions from the outer world, and the situation had changed.

It has been remarked that in certain primitive Australian rock paintings of ancestral figures the mouths are omitted, and that a significant number of very early, paleolithic female figurines also lack the mouth. How far one can presume to carry these suggestions toward the conclusion that there is a “parental image” in the central nervous structure of the human infant, however, we cannot say. As Professor Portmann has pointed out: “Since the effect of this form on the infant can be demonstrated with certainty only from the third month, the question remains open as to whether the central nervous structure that makes possible the recognition of the human countenance and the social response of the smile is of the open, i.e. imprinted, type, or entirely innate. All of the indices available to us speak for a largely inherited configuration; and yet, the question remains open.”17

How much more open, then, the question broached by Professor Lorenz in his paper on “The Innate Forms of Human Experience”: 18 the question of the parental response evoked in the adult by the sign stimuli provided by the human baby! The figure tells the story—as far as it goes.

Lorenz

And finally, it must be noted that there is no consensus among students of the subject even as to what categories of appetite may be regarded as instinctive in the human species. Professor Tinbergen, speaking for the animal world, has named sleep and food-seeking; so also, in many species, flight from danger, fighting in self-defense, and a number of activities functionally related to the reproductive urge, as, for example, sexual fighting and rivalry, courtship, mating, and parental behavior (nest-building, protection of the young, etc.). The list greatly varies, however, from species to species; and how much of it can be carried over into the human sphere is not yet known. Tentatively, it might reasonably be supposed that food-seeking, sleep, self-protection, courtship and mating, and some of the activities of parenthood should be instinctive. But the question—as we have seen—remains open as to what precisely are the sign stimuli that generally trigger these activities in man, or whether any of the stimuli can be said to be as immediately known to the human interior as the hawk to the chick. We do not, therefore, speak of inherited images in the following pages.

The concept of the sign stimulus as an energy-releasing and -directing image clarifies, however, the difference between literary metaphor, which is addressed to the intellect, and mythology, which is aimed primarily at the central excitatory mechanisms (CEMs) and innate releasing mechanisms (IRMs) of the whole person. According to this view, a functioning mythology can be defined as a corpus of culturally maintained sign stimuli fostering the development and activation of a specific type, or constellation of types, of human life. Furthermore, since we now know that no images have been established unquestionably as innate and that our IRMs are not stereotyped but open, whatever “universals” we may find in our comparative study must be assigned rather to common experience than to endowment; while, on the other hand, even where sign stimuli may differ, it need not follow that the responding IRMs differ too. Our science is to be simultaneously biological and historical throughout, with no distinction between “culturally conditioned” and “instinctive” behavior, since all instinctive human behavior is culturally conditioned, and what is culturally conditioned in us all is instinct: specifically, the CEMs and IRMs of this single species.

Therefore, though respecting the possibility—perhaps the probability—of such a psychologically inspired parallel development of mythological imagery as that suggested by Adolf Bastian’s theory of elementary ideas and C. G. Jung’s of the collective unconscious, we cannot attempt to interpret in such terms any of the remarkable correspondences that will everywhere confront us. On the other hand, however, we must ignore as biologically untenable such sociological theorizing as that represented, for example, by the anthropologist Ralph Linton when he wrote that “a society is a group of biologically distinct and self-contained individuals,” 19 since, indeed, we are a species and not biologically distinct. Our approach is to be, as far as possible, skeptical, historical, and descriptive—and where history fails and something else appears, as in a mirror, darkly, we indicate the considered guesses of the chief authorities in the field and leave the rest to silence, recognizing that in that silence there may be sleeping not only the jungle cry of Dryopithecus, but also a supernormal melody not to be heard for perhaps another million years.

11. Tinbergen, op. cit., p. 44.
12. Adolf Portmann, “Die Bedeutung der Bilder in der lebendigen Energiewandlung,” Eranos-Jahrbuch 1952 (Zurich: Rhein-Verlag, 1953), pp. 333-34.
13. Tinbergen, op. cit., p. 197.
14. Gaza Róheim, Psychoanalysis and Anthropology (New York: International Universities Press, 1950), pp. 403-404.
15. E. Kaila, “Die Reaktionen des Säuglings auf das menschliche Gesicht,” Annales Universitatis Aboensis, Turku, Vol. 17 (1932).
16. R. A. Spitz and K. M. Wolf, “The Smiling Response,” Genetic Psychology Monographs, Vol. 34 (1946).
17. Adolf Portmann, “Das Problem der Urbilder in biologischer Sicht,” Eranos-Jahrbuch 1949 (Zurich: Rhein-Verlag, 1950), p. 426.
18. Konrad Lorenz, “Die angeborenen Formen möglicher Erfahrung,” Zeitschrift der Tierpsychologie, Bd. 5 (1943), pp. 235-409.
19. Ralph Linton, The Study of Man (New York and London: D. Appleton-Century
Company, 1936), p. 108.

[Excerpt from ‘Masks Of God: Volume 4,’ by Joseph Campbell]

Latin love teaching of Facetus: Moribus et vita miseducated men

By Douglas Galbi

Charles Darwin’s seminal 1871 book, The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, pushed down men’s sexual status along with much subsequent, poor-quality academic work on sexual selection. Yet men’s sexual status descended even more significantly in medieval Europe through the love teaching in the Latin work Facetus: Moribus et vita {Courtly living: manners and life}. The miseducation of men about love and sex provides a sobering case study in the need to question authority and undertake independent thinking and probing.

troubadour Marcabru

Disseminated across Europe from about the middle of the twelfth century, Facetus: Moribus et vita imitates Ovid’s Ars Amatoria {The Craft of Loving}. Yet while Ovid offered considerable roguish wisdom for men in love, Facetus: Moribus et vita promotes the men-abasing, counter-productive cult of courtly love. For example, it advises men to address their beloved with extravagant praise:

Bright, radiant star, lovely, gracious of countenance,
look here — permit your servant to speak with you now.
If your nobility, virtue, and beauty are
praised properly, you are without peer.
You surpass all girls in shapely beauty
and would conquer Venus, were she not a goddess.
Your hair is golden, your forehead is high and rightly so,
your eyes are laughing, your brows gorgeous.

{ Stella serena micans, facie rutilante decora,
ecce tuum famulum nunc patiare loqui.
Si tua nobilitas, probitas vel forma decora
laudatur velut est, par tibi nulla manet;
tu superas cunctas forma praestante puellas
et vincis Venerem, ni foret illa dea.
Aurea cesaries tibi, frons est, ut decet, alta,
ridentes oculi, pulchra supercilia. } [1]

Wrong, wrong, wrong. Those words just encourages the girl to feel superior to you, if she actually believes such all-too-common nonsense. According to a late-twelfth-century troubadour lyric, an upper-class man seeking sex with a peasant girl tried such lines on her. He received poor but fitting payment from her:

“Sir, you have praised me so much
that I’ve gotten bored.
Since you have extolled my virtue,
Lord,” said the peasant girl,
“you’ll have this wage
when you leave: ‘Beware, fool, beware!’
and having wasted the afternoon.”

{ Seigner, tan m’avetz lauzada,
Que tota·n sui enojada!
Pois en pretz m’avetz levada,
Seigner, so·m dis la vilana,
Per so n’auretz per soudada
Al partir : bada, fols, bada,
E la muz’a meliana. } [2]

Facetus: Moribus et vita goes on to advise the man to act pathetic and to proclaim his willingness to have his beloved rule over him:

When I do not see you, I desire to see and perish —
I die foolishly, for love burns me excessively.
Already I am your domestic servant. To you I deliver myself, if that pleases you,
so that I can do always what you alone command to me.
If you should look upon me or deign to love me,
I would rejoice more than if kingdoms were given to me.
I pray only for this: that you acknowledge your loving domestic servant,
so that he may live through you, my life and my health.

{ Cum te non video, pereo cupioque videre,
insipiens morior, nam nimis urit amor.
Iam tibi sum famulus; tibi, si placet, exibeo me
ut semper faciam quod michi sola jubes.
Si me conspicias vel me dignaris amare,
gaudebo plus quam si mihi regna darent.
Deprecor hoc tantum: famulum fatearis amandum
ut per te vivat, vita salusque mea. }

Men relating to their wives in this way has increased the incidence of sexless marriage and divorce. Of course most women are happy to acquire a domestic servant. But fawning, weak-willed domestic servants don’t stimulate most women’s passion. Men who believe otherwise are learned fools.

Facetus: Moribus et vita even advises men to commit a serious crime in order to please women. Almost all men, like almost all male primates, won’t use force to compel women to have sex with them. Rape of women has been regarded as a serious crime throughout history, and most men are not rapists. Seeking to pervert men’s natural respect for women, Facetus: Moribus et vita declares:

Then let them not merely join sweet lips;
let them dally in long, passionate embraces.
Meanwhile, let one roving hand grasp her breast,
and let him feel her thigh and belly in turn.
After such play both will be aroused,
and having thrown off their clothes, he should lift her legs.
Let the boy use force, even if she fights back,
for if he should stop, the girl would grieve in her mind.
A woman expects to be conquered in the wrestling, rather than
wants to endure, like a whore, the crime willingly.
Only in brothels are they commonly soliciting sex,
those who for a price sell themselves to anyone.
He who desires sex, but refrains from using force after kisses,
is a simpleton, never worthy of greater loving.

{ Tunc non simpliciter jungantur grata labella,
sed teneant longas basia pressa moras.
Mobilis interea stringat manus una mamillas.
Et femur et venter sentiat inde vicem.
Sic postquam ludens fuerit calefactus uterque,
vestibus ejectis, crura levare decet.
Vim faciat juvenis, quamvis nimis illa repugnet,
nam si desistat, mente puella dolet.
Expectat potius luctando femina vinci
quam velit, ut meretrix, crimina sponte pati.
A ganeis tantum coitus solet esse petitus,
que se pro precio vendere cuique volunt.
Qui querit coitum, si vim post oscula differt,
Rusticus est, nunquam dignus amore magis. }

This advice upholds the pattern, prevalent throughout human history, of making men responsible for an act considered to be criminal. Men, merely by virtue of their human dignity, are entitled to a life that includes loving, consensual, enthusiastic sex. Men should not be required to rape women in order to please women. Instructing men to undertake a criminal act in order to please women promotes the huge gender protrusion among persons held in prisons.

Frustration and anger are the primary effect of literature encouraging men to abase and criminalize themselves in seeking love with women. Because men are generally unwilling to rape women, rape of men is about as prevalent as rape of women despite miseducation of men. Many men taught that they must rape women in order to have sex with women will instead simply not have sex with women. In their miseducation and ignorance, these men will become frustrated and angry. Such frustration and anger is apparent in some late twelfth-century troubadour lyrics:

Three pass before me up the passage-way.
Before I know where I am the fourth fucks her and the fifth comes running up.
Thus love declines and gets worse.

These cunts are lusty and rapacious.
All these ruffians claim a share in them, and they in the ruffians,
and the man who behaves best fares worst, as do shepherds with lambs.

{ Denan mei n’i passson trei al passador;
no·n sai mot tro·l quartz la fot, e·l quinze lai cor;
enaissi torn’a decli l’amors e torna en peior.

Aquist con son deziron e raubador;
tuit cill gartz i clamon partz et ill en lor:
e qui mieills fa, sordeitz a, cum de l’agol’ an pastur. } [3]

A society that cared for its men would provide a minimal level of sexual welfare for men. Instead, men in the U.S. are forced to pay monthly “child support” to women who have raped them. The lesson is obvious: question authority, think independently, and explore how life actually works.

*  *  *  *  *

Notes:

[1] Facetus: Moribus et vita {Courtly living: Manners and life} 209-16, Latin text from Cantavella (2013) pp. 273-87, English translation adapted from Elliott (1977) to follow the Latin more closely. Morel-Fatio (1886) provides Elliott’s Latin text. Cantavella’s Latin text incorporates small variants from a Barcelonian manuscript dated to the twelfth or thirteenth century. Cantavella’s study primarily concerns a Catalan adaptation made in the first half of the fourteenth century.

The second part of the conventional title Facetus: Moribus et vita comes from its first line, Moribus et vita quisque vult esse facetus {Whoever wishes to be courtly in manners and life}. Another, different twelfth-century Facetus poem begins Cum nichil utilius humane credo saluti {Since I believe that nothing is more beneficial to human welfare}. The latter Facetus poem, not the former, became part of the Auctores octo.

Facetus: Moribus et vita is thought to have been written in the mid-twelfth century. In some manuscripts it’s attributed to the poet Aurgena. Id. p. 27. At least thirty manuscripts of it have survived. The section on instruction to men in love also circulated independently. It has survived in whole or in part in at least twenty-five manuscripts. Dronke (1976) pp. 126, 128.

The subsequent two quotes from Facetus: Moribus et vita are sourced as the quote above. They are (cited by Latin line numbers) 235-42 (When I do not see you…) and 289-302 (Then let them…).

[2] Marcabru, song 30, L’autrier jost’ una sebissa {The other day, by a hedge}, stanza 8, from Old French trans. from trobar.org. Marcabru florished between 1129 and 1150.

[3] Marcabru, song 24, En abriu, s’esclairo·il riu contra·l Pascor {In April, the streams become clear towards Easter}, stanzas 7-8, from Old French trans. Gaunt (2006) (stanza 7) and Kay, Cave & Bowie (2013) p. 36 (stanza 8). For a looser translation of the full poem, see trobar.org. Here’s the fully edited, Old French text. Gaunt provides a conventional, academic-gynocentric reading of the poem:

we should take this altogether typical misogynist and crude language in which women are spoken about as cunts, represented as whores with queues of men waiting to fuck them, and caricatured as only being interested in the size of a man’s penis, simply for what it is: Marcabru was steeped in the worst forms of clerical misogyny.

Gaunt (2006) p. 87. Like miseducating men, describing men as ruffians and reducing them to their penises harms men. More generally, engaging in misandristic labeling isn’t an enlightening scholarly enterprise. Literature like Facetus: Moribus et vita circulated far beyond clerics. Cantavella (2013). The corresponding, understandable frustration and anger of men undoubtedly also was widespread. Literature of men’s sexed protest provides a high return to serious, compassionate study.

[image] The troubadour Marcabru. Illumination from folio 102r in Chansonnier provençal (Chansonnier K) manuscript made in the second half of the 13th century. Preserved in Bibliothèque nationale de France as Français 12473. Via Gallica.

References:

Cantavella, Rosanna. 2013. El Facet, una ars amandi medieval: edició i estudi. València: Barcelona.

Dronke, Peter. 1976. “Pseudo-Ovid, Facetus, and the Arts of Love.” Mittellateinisches Jahrbuch (Stuttgart) 11: 126-131.

Elliott, Alison Goddard. 1977. “The Facetus: or, The Art of Courtly Living.” Allegorica. 2: 27–57.

Gaunt, Simon. 2006. “Obscene Hermeneutics in Troubadour Lyric.” Ch. 5 (pp. 85-104) in McDonald, Nicola, ed. Medieval obscenities. Woodbridge: York Medieval Press.

Kay, Sarah, Terence Cave, and Malcolm Bowie. 2003. A short history of French literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Morel-Fatio, Alfred. 1886. “Mélanges de littérature catalane.” Romania. 15 (58): 192-235.

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The role of ladies in the first sporting tournaments

The following by Charles Mills (1825) documents interaction between men and women at the first sports tournaments, a tradition from which we derive much of the structure and symbolism of today’s sporting tournaments. Have we moderns lost some of the gynocentrism of the early sports tournaments, or have we added to it? You be the judge. – PW

Ladies were judges of the tournament

Chivalry tornament joust

The ladies were the supreme judges of tournaments, and if any complaint was raised against a knight, they adjudged the cause without appeal. Generally, however, they deputed their power to a knight, who, on account of this distinction, was called the Knight of Honour. He bore at the end of his lance a ribbon or some other sign of woman’s favour, and with this badge of power he waved the fiercest knights into order and obedience.

The heralds read to the knights the regulations of the sport, and announced the nature of the prize they were to contend for. The dames and maidens sometimes proposed jewels of price, a diamond, a ruby, and a sapphire, as rewards of valour. But the meed of renown was often more military, and the reader of Italian history remembers that at a tournament celebrated at Florence in the year 1468, Lorenzo de’ Medici bore away the prize of a helmet of silver with a figure of Mars as the crest. It was the general wont of tournaments for a vanquished knight to forfeit his armour and horse to his victor.

Knights were led by ladies

The knights then trooped to the listed a plain, with lords, ladies, and damsels, the chivalry and beauty of the country, mounted on gaily-caparisoned steeds and palfreys, whose housings swept the ground. Sometimes a lady fair led the horse of her chosen knight, and in the song of the minstrel the bridle became a golden chain of love. At the day appointed for a merry tournament, in the reign of Richard II., there issued out of the Tower of London, first, three-score coursers, apparelled for the lists, and on every one a squire of honour riding a soft pace.

Then appeared three-score ladies of honour; mounted on fair palfreys, each lady leading by a chain of silver a knight sheathed in jousting harness. The fair and gallant troop, with the sound of clarions, trumpets, and other minstrelsy, rode along the streets of London, the fronts of the houses shining with martial glory in the rich banners and tapestries which hung from the windows. They reached Smithfield where the Queen of England and many matrons and damsels were already seated in richly adorned galleries. The ladies that led the knights joined them; the squires of honour alighted from their coursers, and the knights in good order vaulted upon them.

Knights wore ladies’ favours, who imitated the dress of knights

The tilting armour in which knights were sheathed was generally of a light fabric, and splendid. Its ornaments came under a gentler authority than that of royal constables and marshals. If the iron front of a line of cavaliers in the battle-field was frequently- gemmed with the variously coloured signs of ladies’ favors, those graceful additions to armour yet more beseemed the tournament. Damsels were wont to surmount the helmets of their knights with chaplets, or to affix streamers to their spears, and a cavalier who was thus honoured smiled with self-complacency on the highly emblazoned surcoat of his rival in chivalry.

The desire to please ladies fair formed the very soul of the tournament. Every young and gallant knight wore the device of his mistress, while, indeed, the hardier sons of chivalry carried fiercer signs of their own achievements but they were unmarked by the bright judges of the tourney, for their eyes could only follow through the press their own emblems of love. Nothing was now to be heard but the noise and clattering of horse and armour.

Knights thanked by ladies

Every preux cavalier had by his side a lady bright. The minstrels tuned their harps to the praise of courtesy and prowess, and when the merriment was most joyous, the heralds presented to the ladies the knights who had worthily demeaned themselves. She, who by the consent at her fail companions was called La Royne de la Beaulte et des Amours, delivered the prizes to the kneeling knights. This queen of beauty and love addressed each of them with a speech of courtesy, thanking him for the disport and labour which he had taken that day, presenting to him the prize as the ladies’ award for his skill, and concluding with the wish that such a valorous cavalier would have much joy and worship with his lady.

“The victory was entirely owing to the favor of my mistress, which I wore in my helmet,” was the gallant reply of the knight, for he was always solicitous to exalt the honor of his lady-love. As tournaments were scenes of pleasure, the knight who appeared in the most handsome guise was praised and, to complete the courtesies of chivalry, thanks were rendered to those who had travelled to the lists from far countries.

Source: Charles Mills, The History of Chivalry Or Knighthood and Its Times (1825)

See also: Sporting tournaments: a gynocentric tradition

Instruction of boys in the arts of chivalry

The following excerpt is from the 1825 classic The History of Chivalry Or Knighthood and Its Times, by Charles Mills. Like many historical articles it shows that chivalry came to be about much more than military conduct, becoming conflated as it were with deferent and servile behaviour toward women – as it does to this day. The following describes the process whereby young boys were inducted into the cult of chivalry.

_______________________

The education of a knight generally commenced at the age of seven or eight years, for no true lover of chivalry wished his children to pass their time in idleness and indulgence.

At a baronial feast, a lady in the full glow of maternal pride pointed to her offspring, and demanded of her husband whether he did not bless Heaven for having given him four such fine and promising boys. “Dame,” replied her lord, thinking her observation ill timed and foolish, ” so help me God and Saint Martin, nothing gives me greater sorrow and shame than to see four great sluggards, who do nothing but eat, and drink, and waste their time in idleness and folly.” Like other children of gentlebirth, therefore, the boys of this noble Duke Guerin of Montglaive, in spite of their mother’s wishes, commenced their chivalric exercises.

In some places there were schools appointed by the nobles of the country, but most frequently their own castles served. Every feudal lord had his court, to which he drew the sons and daughters of the poorer gentry of his domains ; and his castle was also frequented by the children of men of equal rank with himself, for (such was the modesty and courtesy of chivalry) each knight had generally some brother in arms, whom he thought better fitted than himself to grace his children with noble accomplishments.

The duties of the boy for the first seven years of his service were chiefly personal. If sometimes the harsh principles of feudal subordination gave rise to such service, it oftener proceeded from the friendly relations of life; and as in the latter case it was voluntary, there was no loss of honourable consideration in performing it. The dignity of obedience, that principle which blends the various shades of social life, and which had its origin in the patriarchal manners of early Europe, was now fostered in the castles of the feudal nobility.

The light-footed youth attended the lord and his lady in the hall, and followed them in all their exercises of war and pleasure ; and it was considered unknightly for a cavalier to wound a page in battle. He also acquired the rudiments of those incongruous subjects, religion, love, and war, so strangely blended in chivalry ; and generally the intellectual and moral education of the boy was given by the ladies of the court.

“Generally the intellectual and moral education of the boy was given by the ladies of the court.”

From the lips of the ladies the gentle page learned both his catechism and the art of love, and as the religion of the day was full of symbols, and addressed to the senses, so the other feature of his devotion was not to be nourished by abstract contemplation alone. He was directed to regard some one lady of the court as the type of his heart’s future mistress ; she was the centre of all his hopes and wishes ; to her he was obedient, faithful, and courteous.

While the young Jean de Saintre was a page of honour at the court of the French king, the Dame des Belles Cousines enquired of him the name of the mistress of his heart’s affections. The simple youth replied, that he loved his lady mother, and next to her, his sister Jacqueline was dear to him. “Young man,” rejoined the lady, “I am not speaking of the affection due to your mother and sister ; but I wish to know the name of the lady to whom you are attached par amours.” The poor boy was still more confused, and he could only reply, that he loved no one par amours.

The Dame des Belles Cousines charged him with being a traitor to the laws of chivalry, and declared that his craven spirit was evinced by such an avowal. ” Whence,” she enquired, “sprang the valiancy and knightly feats of Launcelot, Gawain, Tristram, Giron the courteous, and other ornaments of the round fable of Ponthus, and of those knights and squires of this country whom I could enumerate : whence the grandeur of many whom I have. known to arise to renown, except from the noble desire of maintaining themselves in the grace and esteem of the ladies ; without which spirit-stirring sentiment they must have ever remained in the shades of obscurity? And do you, coward valet, presume to declare that you possess no sovereign lady, and desire to have none ?”

Jean underwent a long scene of persecution on account of his confession of the want of proper chivalric sentiment, but he was at length restored to favour by the intercession of the ladies of the court. He then named as his mistress Matheline de Coucy, a child only ten years old. “Matheline is indeed a pretty girl,” replied the Dame des Belles Cousines, “but what profit, what honour, what comfort, what aid, what council for advancing you in chivalrous fame can you derive from such a choice? You should elect a lady of noble blood, who has the ability to advise, and the power to assist you ; and you should serve her so truly, and love her so loyally, as to compel her to acknowledge the honourable affection which you entertain for her. For, be assured, that there is no lady, however cruel and haughty she may be, but through long service, will be induced to acknowledge and reward loyal affection with some portion of mercy.

By such a course you will gain the praise of worthy knighthood, and till then I would not give an apple for you or your achievements but he who loyally serves his lady will not only be blessed to the height of man’s felicity in this life, but will never fall into those sins which will prevent his happiness hereafter. Pride will be entirely effaced until the heart of him who endeavours by humility and courtesy to win the grace of a lady. The true faith of a lover will defend him from the other deadly sins of anger, envy, sloth, and gluttony ; and his devotion to his mistress renders the thought impossible of his conduct ever being stained with the vice of incontinence.”

 

Source: Charles Mills, The History of Chivalry Or Knighthood and Its Times (1825)