The evolutionary novelty of abandoning presumptive sex roles
Fascinating work. I wonder if feminised males and masculinised females (sissies and tomboys) have a functional role in acting as intermediaries between the teams and cliques that make up the two dominant factions in human societies. They seem to be produced at fairly consistent rates and many traditional cultures find specialised roles for them.
Excellent as always, some interesting new facts and theories in it for me. I hadn't seen it portrayed as risk transfer so much as generalized protection previously, there's a distinction worth making there.
Most satisfying breakfast reading, thank you.
/Pines for next essay while sissily stroking large white cat
Very few would argue that the foundation of an effective military is highly functioning teams and systems nested within a prestige hierarchy. The ignoramuses in charge simply deny biological reality. To them, the feminisation of the military won't necessarily result in teams being supplanted by cliques and a shift in focus from prestige to propriety. From my limited perspective it has already happened to a significant extent. I just hope we don't have to learn the hard way how effective this transition will be in large scale combat operations.
"Hence, their males have evolved large testes so as to spurt aside the sperm of the previous male to mate with a female and have enough to not be all spurted aside by the next male to do so. We do not have that adaptation." Thank God we don't, just imagine the washing!
In all seriousness, what a wonderfully absorbing and interesting essay. Some points e.g. the differences between male and female bonding, were familiar to me, others hadn't occurred to me before. I hadn't really thought about female features expressing emotion more easily, but it explains why to me, my husband always seems to have either a vaguely angry or a bewildered expression. I had assumed that was simply the natural result of being married to me, but perhaps sex differences have more to do with it.
I would be really interested in Lorenzo's thoughts on how contraception has changed the environment for both males and females and the likely consequences.
Well reasoned essay, looking forward to part 2. It might be useful to consider cultural factors as well. The West seems to have drifted toward placing females in roles that hasn't happened in other cultures. Perhaps prosperity itself has created conditions where feminisation is possible. Fat, dumb and happy isn't a positive for the future.
The redefinition of marriage has always been troublesome to me. My concept was it was based on ensuring children had protection from the two people responsible for their creation and society was then organized to support that concept. Same sex marriage defies that convention but might make sense where an excess of orphans might exist. OTOH, to my mind the combination of female/male thought patterns and goals seems to build a strong union. Don't think same sex minds can overcome biology; can males have female thinking? We see males pretending to be female but their walk is always odd given anatomy.
Excellent, thoughtful stuff as ever. Thanks.
“People who take testosterone they have not evolved to or been socialised to manage can be dangerous to themselves and others.”
I have been wondering about this in relation to an increase of ‘gender affirming care,’ and a subsequent rise of ‘lone gunman’ attacks in America.
Correlation, and causality being an unspoken thing in our polite society today.
Please, right into my veins with this stuff Lorenzo.
On thing I would love insight into, is for a few different behaviors you properly explain those as a result of the sexual dimorphism producing different incentives, producing different outcomes (bio or social). Though for some, start from well established behavioral tendencies and from that derived social outcomes. I suppose it would be cumbersome to always lay out the biological differences, but I find those explanations the most compelling to pull us away from blank slatism. Even if things like female tendencies towards emotional expression is the better framework from which to explain their more delicate features.
This is really interesting and I look forward to reading the next one. Re this:
"If something is found in all human societies, it counts as a human universal. ...If something is observed in every human society, it will have a fair degree of innateness to it."
This is exactly the point I try to make when I try to engage others in deciding whether the 21st century Western version of "being transgender" is a purely cultural creation. Spoiler: Yes.
A few people being gender-nonconforming from early childhood (very feminine boys/men; very masculine girls/women) seems to be found in all human societies. That's universal.
Believing that one is in the "wrong body"; believing that one needs to "transition" or be called by certain "pronouns" in order to be happy or healthy -- this is something we totally made up. Medicalizing people, sterilizing them, giving them medically unnecessary hormones or surgeries -- these are all cultural creations. As such, we need to examine whether they are beneficial or not.
> Adult humans also show high levels of cognitive dimorphism. Using the 15 personality traits* that are aggregated together to form the Big Five (Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism), approximately 80 per cent of us have a pattern of traits that do not occur in the other sex. This does lead to differences in patterns of behaviour, including occupational and other choices.
This should probably be cited or explored slightly - females are higher in Neuroticism and Agreeableness, but the other dimensions don't show consistent differences (except at the facet level, depending on the instrument used). The newer HEXACO model concentrates sex differences on Emotionality - combining Agreeableness and Beuroticism together - but the gap is not large enough to substantiate the idea that 80% of humans are sorted by personality. See https://thingstoread.substack.com/p/venus-and-mars
The big challenge right now is that there's an insidious assumption that to be a successful female you must be indistinguishable from a successful male.
My wife just asked how the female emotions listed help built a spaceship. The answer isn't great.
They won't help building the physics of the ship
They will help with building the living space of the ship and making it from steel girders and hard edges into something more human and supportive on a long flight.
And then I'll get accused of misogyny for saying that women aren't good aerospace engineers and instead should focus on interior decorating.
As if aerospace engineering mechanical systems is somehow more valuable than creating uniquely human living spaces that nurture and support.
The proportion of calories from men and women is not universally skewed towards male contribution. Among the Pygmies, females het hunt more than males: https://anthrosource.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1525/aa.2001.103.4.1024
The !Kung derive most of their diet from plants:
So do the Hazda:
Ultimately it is only in less fertile areas, generally above 40-degrees latitude, where male contributions outstrip those of the female:
This looks like an incomplete sentence:
"That is, whether female patterns of aggression, association, emotionality, and preferences are increasingly salient. "
Also, I was surprised by the claim that men have quicker reactions. It turns out that they do, with a large body of research supporting it; you might source it with, for example, this study on over 7000 individuals: Der, G., & Deary, I. J. (2006). Age and sex differences in reaction time in adulthood: results from the United Kingdom Health and Lifestyle Survey. Psychology and aging, 21(1), 62.