Saturday, October 21, 2006

Holding out for a loser

Tales from the Reading Room (written by the mysterious 'Litlove') finds an interesting correlation between diverse texts concerning the disaster that is Man:
What I found most interesting was the consistent implication that men have been socially and genetically estranged from the creativity needed to respond sensibly and strategically to the difficulties they face. Put a man in an awkward position, these three authors suggest, and he will instantly work to make it worse. After reproduction and aggression, man’s greatest instinct is for self-sabotage.
In the comments, Emily Barton observes:
that instead of working merely to make things worse, throughout history so many men have worked to make things worse (current example being the war in Iraq) and have then done everything possible to cover up the fact they’ve made things worse, often portraying themselves as great heroes. Obviously, the cover-up doesn’t always work, as noted by my current example.
Litlove replies that men have a problem with taking responsibility for their behaviour.

It's a fair cop. Except, I wanted to question the apparent feminine alibi. If men are predisposed toward aggression and self-sabotage, then it is due to their reproductive advantageousness. Such behaviour would otherwise die out. To use an extreme example (because human history is constituted by extremes) Ted Bundy pretty much fits the bill for the caricature of male behaviour. He was aggressive and self-sabotaging. So you'd think he'd be genetically repellent once his crimes were paraded. However:
During his trial for the Kimberly Leach murder, while Bundy was acting as his own attorney, he married former coworker Carole Ann Boone in the courtroom as the trial was being conducted. During his incarceration, Bundy received about two hundred fan letters each day from female admirers. [..] In October 1982, Boone gave birth to a girl.
Bundy would have been better off becoming a soldier, an entrepreneur, a rock star, an actor or a politician (such as the Bundy lookalike in the White House) where psychosis is a major advantage.

If it was clear that more women were of the Dorothea Brooke persuasion then, in the long run, aggression would probably diminish. Unfortunately (perhaps), so would the population. And wasn't Causabon psychotic in his own way?

The answer could be for women to take control (thereby relinquishing it) and mate only with unaggressive men with no interest in power, no instinct to cover up their passivity, and who embrace lack, humiliation and vulnerability.*

*That's an invitation.


  1. Oh very good, Steve, touche. Colette said it was men's gift to dazzle women with their difference. I don't expect that's about to change.

  2. There's middle ground here. Aggressive behavior only dies out if it disadvantages the aggressor. If aggressors thrive at the expense of the rest of mankind, and if silly women throw themselves at their feet, that only means it costs the rest of the population more to support them both. If the species survives, we can continue to talk about it.

  3. I think that the underlying assumption of all of this -- that women have no interest in power -- needs to be given a long, hard look.

  4. I don't think anyone's making that assumption. What's been said is that men seem more interested in the kinds of power being discussed. But there are different types of power.



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