Flutterby™! : risks, reward & gender

Next unread comment / Catchup all unread comments User Account Info | Logout | XML/Pilot/etc versions | Long version (with comments) | Weblog archives | Site Map | | Browse Topics

risks, reward & gender

2007-08-21 15:05:32.837473+00 by Dan Lyke 6 comments

Is There Anything Good About Men?

For women throughout history (and prehistory), the odds of reproducing have been pretty good. Later in this talk we will ponder things like, why was it so rare for a hundred women to get together and build a ship and sail off to explore unknown regions, whereas men have fairly regularly done such things? But taking chances like that would be stupid, from the perspective of a biological organism seeking to reproduce. They might drown or be killed by savages or catch a disease. For women, the optimal thing to do is go along with the crowd, be nice, play it safe. The odds are good that men will come along and offer sex and you'll be able to have babies. All that matters is choosing the best offer. We're descended from women who played it safe.

That's roughly his thesis, that male evolution has favored extremes (which is why there are more developmentally disabled males than females, too), some interesting thought fodder there.

[ related topics: Sexual Culture Sociology Biology Handicaps & Disabilities ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2007-08-21 18:27:19.184523+00 by: ziffle

Awesome - he is right on.

Which of course brings me to "Mad Men" - its a wonderful show - a time when there was freedom, respect, and of course drinking and smoking all the time everywhere. And you could sleep with your secretary and she liked it.

Of course I am not politically correct - eh?

#Comment Re: made: 2007-08-22 15:58:57.244239+00 by: Dan Lyke

Interesting arguments and counter-arguments in the MeFi thread.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-08-22 21:21:58.897931+00 by: Diane Reese

WAW? Hmm... I like men way better than women. Always have. I seldom have a good female friend, but I always have a good male friend or three.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-08-22 22:47:35.271317+00 by: Dan Lyke

I think it's always bad to take evolutionary psychology too seriously, after all it's an extension of psychology, and it's wrong to take that "discipline" too seriously.

On the other hand, it seems like it's rarely a bad thing to evaluate metaphors to see where they help expand our own thinking on various issues. For instance, evolutionary arguments have to expand a bit to include people like me who have no particular desire to procreate, but end up helping the offspring of others quite a bit.

As for men vs women... well... I dunno, I get along well with both.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-08-23 00:23:02.594374+00 by: topspin

This guy seems to forget that for much of history childbirth was quite risky, quite unsafe. To posit that women "played it safe" when simply procreating might easily kill them is to ignore the dread, the fear women had of pregnancy. Further, a woman had the burden of knowing her infant might also easily die and she, as the primary "baby guardian," would be looked upon as having done something wrong. Also, during much of history, women have not had the benefit of being much more than chattel property of man, so their reproductive choices have not been choices at all.

I'd not pretend to know much about the origins of culture, but I'm thinking that the first societies were tenuous sharing systems that often erupted in violence and theft. That those societies favored muscle mass and testosterone fueled traits seems a sure bet. The world continues to run on violence, at the core, despite our glossy structures hiding it and men are simply better at violence. So I will give him the point that men "advance culture" more than women, though I'm not attributing that as a favorable point for men.

I'm gonna hope he's engaging in little more than academic trolling here.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-08-23 14:02:39.896808+00 by: Dan Lyke

There may be an argument to be made that part of the reasons the social structures evolved to encourage risk in males and discourage risk taking in females is that without some sort of balancing mechanism, men would greatly outnumber women, no? If you've got every third or fourth woman dying by age 20 on an organism that can generally make it to 70s (although, when the women are dying in their teens the men are generally dying in their 30s), encouraging the men to go out and fight and die in large numbers to protect the tribe seems like a reasonable balancing mechanism.

But I'm not sure at all how this holds up in cultures outside our own for the last three or four hundred years, let alone for the thousands or tens of thousands that evolutionary psychologists seem to be looking at.