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Feminisation has consequences: II
Women are not a finer form of Homo sapien
This is the fifteenth piece in Lorenzo Warby’s series of essays on the strange and disorienting times in which we live. The publication schedule for Lorenzo’s essays is available here.
This one can be adumbrated thusly: Just because men commit far more violent crime than women does not make women the superior sex. Women, too, compete with each other in destructive ways. Given substantial female movement into the professions and governance, female competition styles are now having consequences.
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We Homo sapiens—along with colonial invertebrates (such as corals), eusocial insects, and social mammals—are the pinnacle of evolution among social species.
Eusociality and homosexuality
High levels of cooperation need high levels of information management and exchange. Eusocial insects such as ants use an externalised version (i.e. pheromones) of the hormonal system used within organisms. Worker and soldier ants are self-maintaining organisms serving their queen’s survival and reproduction, which means an ants’ nest can be thought of as a sort of super-organism. It evolved from information via internal hormones to information via external pheromones: a parsimonious set of adaptations.
While social species are fantastically successful, being a remarkably high proportion of total animal biomass, they are phylogenetically rare, as it is difficult to shift from lineage competition to systematic cooperation. Indeed, in the case of eusocial insects, they solve the problem by not being a separate lineage: the sterile worker and soldier daughters serve the lineage of their queen and mother.
As evolutionary biologist Jacobus Boomsma argues:
… lifetime monogamy makes the evolution of obligate eusociality analogous to the evolution of multicellularity and that both types of development happened at roughly equal frequencies over evolutionary time.
Humans are an ultra-social, rather than a eusocial, species. Nevertheless, our species has an analogue to the sterile workers and soldiers of eusocial insects: same-sex oriented folk (i.e. homosexuals).
We are a cognitively dimorphic species. In terms of the 15 personality traits* that aggregate into the Big Five personality traits (Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism), 70 per cent of each sex has a specific pattern of personality traits that no member of the other sex has. This is because the distribution of various traits tend to have different median points in each sex, with the male distributions being “flatter” (meaning longer “tails”). You only have to have one trait that is outside the distribution of the other sex to be cognitively distinct.
Aggregating that together (because each sex has all the congruence but only half the non-congruence), over 80 per cent of us has a specific pattern of personality traits that does not occur in the other sex.
That is a high level of dimorphism. Such significant cognitive dimorphism has to have been selected for.
If a male is strongly cognitively congruent with female patterns, they can become so feminised in traits that they are sexually attracted to men. If a female is strongly cognitively congruent with male patterns, they can become so masculinised in traits that they are sexually attracted to women. Being sexually oriented towards your own sex inhibits breeding, thereby, I argue, inhibiting cognitive convergence between the sexes.
It’s in human lineages’ evolutionary interest to maintain an adaptive level of cognitive differentiation between male and female gene expression. Producing the occasional homosexual inhibits such cognitive convergence.
There are some ancillary benefits. The same-sex oriented can invest in children of their siblings: the gay uncle/maiden aunt effect. This was likely an advantage in the highly locally-connected communities that has tended to be the dominant pattern in human societies.
Moreover, if the same-sex oriented are not investing in their own children, they are more able to invest in cultural services, aiding cooperative connections to other lineages. From the shamans of forager cultures onwards, being a ritual and cultural specialist was (and has continued to be) a useful role for the same-sex oriented to play.
The more dominant local interactions are (due to, say, living on an island), the stronger both benefits are likely to be.
That male homosexuals in developed societies are wildly disproportionately likely to work in caring and cultural professions fits in with this. Male homosexuals are more numerous than female homosexuals because males are more reproductively disposable and the trait-distribution curves for males are “flatter”: bigger tails, so more likely to “trip over” into same-sex orientation.
That female sexuality is more flexible than male sexuality is likely a result of female sexuality being more emotionally triggered (by indications of good genes, resources and commitment), compared to male sexuality being more physically triggered (by indications of fertility). Also, two women can raise children, provided they receive appropriate small donation(s) of biological matter.
The tendency of same-sex oriented folk not to reproduce would thus be an advantage to their lineage, analogous to the sterile workers and soldiers of eusocial insects being advantageous to their queens.
When thinking about evolutionary effects, it’s much more likely that the most salient evolutionary feature has been selected for rather than being some weird misfiring. Even at around 1-3 per cent of human populations, homosexuals are simply too common for some “weird misfiring” or “indirect benefit” effect to be at all likely.
Recent dramatic increases in LGBT+ identifications are mostly not in identifying as gay or lesbian, which largely remain in the 1-3 per cent range. There has been some rise in same-sex sexual activity, but that has always had a strong situational aspect: hence it being much more common in prisons and highly sex-segregated societies.
There are various predictions from the above hypothesis. The biological children of two homosexuals should be wildly more likely to be themselves homosexual. Societies with higher levels of cognitively assortative mating (like mating with like), whether by choice (courtship marriage) or limited alternatives (islands), should have more homosexuals. Societies whose mating patterns systematically disperse traits (e.g., are strongly patterned against inbreeding, largely or entirely lack courtship marriage) should have very few homosexuals.
It is conspicuous that Melanesian and Polynesian (islander) cultures have social roles for the same-sex oriented yet homosexuality is entirely absent from Australian Aboriginal myths and largely absent from anthropological reports. Aboriginal marriage norms typically restricted marriage choices in ways that dispersed genetic traits.
Even given that Homo sapien males (particularly fathers) are at the far extreme in their investment in resources for children among male mammals, or even primates, there are good reasons for Homo sapiens to show a high level of cognitive dimorphism. There is the biologically normal pattern of the sex that takes greater reproductive risk being choosier. This is enhanced because human mothers breastfeed particularly helpless infants. This is coupled with the human pattern of risks being transferred away from childrearing and resources to childrearing.
Women have to be physically more cautious: they are the physically weaker sex who have to act appropriately given they often have kids in tow. Add in how biologically expensive Homo sapien children are, women have to be more alert to emotional patterns and group cohesion, so more cautious. They are likely to be more kin-oriented, as kin provide the strongest support for them and their children.
As part of transferring risks away from childrearing and being the physically weaker sex, it is generally better if women hide their aggression (to lessen the risk of retaliation), including from themselves (so as to be more persuasive). Often, they’ve had to be willing to embrace, and breed with, their conquerors.
Women compete with other women for the best mating opportunities and prospects for their children, with the most effective form of competition being attacking or undermining the reputations of rivals. This generates shaming and shunning: a form of aggression that can be highly self-deceptive and is easily moralised.
Weaponised propriety, weaponised compassion, criticising someone in the language of care and concern, is a typical way female aggression manifests itself: the mean-girl pattern. It tends to be particularly effective in all female social milieus, due to the low risk of physical retaliation plus pervasive emotional caution and desire to maintain connections. Hence the saying, “sisterhood is powerful; it kills mainly sisters”.
While men and women both gossip, gossip tends to be more basic to both female bonding and female aggression. This is especially as gossip is often a mechanism to enforce propriety.
Female-typical aggression—attacking people’s reputations, moral standing and connections, through gossip typically couched in the language of moral and social concern—scales up quite readily through network effects.
Social media hugely magnifies this. The massive empowering of female-typical relational aggression via social media is very much part of the current process of feminisation. Female patterns of aggression, association, emotionality, and preferences are increasingly salient.
All this means that women in general are not the solidarity sex. They have not evolved to be team players. To the extent that even in team sports, female players are much more likely to display aggression against fellow team members, including while playing, than male players are.
Years ago, when there was a spate of so-called “green-on-blue” killings in Afghanistan, whereby Taliban supporters within the Afghan police or army would open fire on comrades or allies, a very smart, very well read, female friend shocked me by saying she thought it was a clever tactic, thereby showing she did not have a strong team mentality. Conversely, I thought it was contemptible behaviour. It did affront my team sensibility.
Men, as part of both transferring resources to child-rearing and risks away from it, have evolved to be team players, to be the solidarity sex.
All of which ends up with women tending to be more alert to other people’s emotions than men, but men tend to be more self-aware about their own aggression than are women.
The transfer of risks away from human child-rearing made it much easier for males to gain prestige through public competence and successful risk-taking and to build teams. It meant men were systematically physically stronger.
Male rank-sorting tends to be quicker and easier than female rank-sorting. This is useful for team building, not so good for female social coordination, and so solidarity.
Women in male-dominated workplaces can often become emotionally bruised due to the “ragging” that is part of team-building-through-testing. Meanwhile, men in female-dominated workplaces can often feel emotionally smothered due to overt emotionalism.
“Bring your whole self to work” is both classic feminisation and a really dumb idea. You want work relations to be functional, not familial or emotionally charged.
Women have historically been important vectors for religious conversion and adherence because they are typically so concerned with group cohesion. It has been the defection of women—due to gaining unilateral control over their fertility—from Christian mores attaching sex to marital commitment, which brought a civilisational cycle that started with the Christianisation of the Roman Empire in the fourth and fifth centuries to an end in the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s.
The downsides of feminisation
This means it’s relevant to recent social patterns that developed democracies have not just feminine, but feminised, elites. This is especially the case on the progressive side of politics.
As noted in the previous essay, it’s important to distinguish equal rights from feminisation. How strongly a society displays female-typical preferences, social patterns and forms of aggression, how much one sees cliques undermining and replacing teams, has little inherent connection with whether men and women have equivalent rights.
The relative status of women in societies depended on other factors than strength or prestige. Polygynous societies with male-controlled productive assets—so women were hoarded, and elite women competed within the same household for the prospects for their children—have strongly tended to be the most patriarchal societies. (Patriarchy being: the presumption that authority is male.)
Some past historians claimed that feminisation was a sign of decay in polities and societies, a prelude to decadence and collapse. Surely, this was just old-fashioned male chauvinism?
Now we can see the consequences of feminisation manifesting around of us, it may be that, yes, those historians were male chauvinists, but they were also onto something. It turns out that women are not a finer form of Homo sapien, with fewer flaws than men. There are significant downsides to the feminisation of organisations, institutions and professions.
It is not that feminisation is a sign of decadence. Rather, it is a source of social corrosion.
The corrosive effects of mean-girl aggression and weaponised propriety are greatly aided by social media, structured as it is for propagating propriety-based aggression, status and social leverage.
Patriarchal or not, societies rely on male-dominated teams to be effective. Feminisation means undermining such teams and replacing them with cliques that enable forms of aggression that target individual connections to others. These include such techniques as weaponised compassion (X doesn’t care enough) or ostentatious propriety (X is not conforming to the right norms).
Women can be spectacularly good at moralising their self-interest and their aggression.
Yes, societies rely on suppressing the physical and sexual incontinence of a minority of men, or, at least, directing it outwards. This uses other males—including team dynamics—to suppress or direct as the case may be.
There is a reason the overwhelming majority of violent crime is committed by men, a violent minority of men. In modern societies, around one per cent of the population (around 97 per cent of whom are males) commits around two-thirds of the violent crime and around three percent (who are about 90 per cent male) commit the rest of it.
But social flourishing also relies on suppressing the emotional incontinence of (a larger) proportion of women. We are a group-living species alert to the emotions of others. Social-emotional dynamics matter. This has been particularly so for societies living close to subsistence.
Folk tales the world over warn of the danger of step-parents. The classic danger of stepfathers (and live-in boyfriends) is they will beat, or seek to have sex with, (not their) children. The classic danger of stepmothers is that they will seek to denigrate, isolate, emotionally-abuse (not their) children in order to favour their own.
We look at the scold’s bridles and ducking stools of medieval and early modern Europe and see patriarchal misogyny. In fact, they were relatively humane ways of dealing with destructive emotional incontinence via legal signalling rather than the more common pattern of thumping mean girls and nags in private. It was a sign of the relatively higher status of women in European Christendom that such enforcement was a matter of public—rather than generic male or kin-group—authority.
Even within female spaces, it is often more masculinised women who generate cohesive organisation. It is more masculinised women (lesbians and tomboys) who dominate women’s team sports.
Hence the importance of lesbians within the women’s movement. More masculinised women generated more solidarity than heterosexual women would otherwise generally manage. Using the more masculinised personalities promoted more team behaviour and less clique behaviour, less alienating and isolating emotional aggression and shunning.
The TERF wars, targeting lesbians (with the demand that they sexually fancy people with penises) and tomboys (with the trashing of women’s sport), is targeting precisely the women who meant there was a women’s movement in the first place. And it’s being done through a social-media-enabled surge in mean-girl backbiting: relational-reputational aggression motivated by moral concern operating through mobbing and shunning.
We’ve seen this in the vicious public ostracising of Kathleen Stock; the attacks on Laura Favaro for a well-researched piece on the debate within academe over gender-critical feminism; the targeting of Holly Lawford-Smith; the vicious physical assaults on Posie Parker. We are back to: sisterhood is powerful; it kills mainly sisters. It’s noticeable that female critics of Trans ideology and activism are particularly viciously targeted.
Given the targeting of lesbians and tomboys by Transactivists, those men who resent the historic feminist attacks on male freedom of association—men who are happy to use the Transcult to smash feminism, and thereby female freedom of association—are being strategically canny.
The efforts of lesbians and tomboys have not stopped women’s moments from being regularly wracked by vicious clique conflicts. Weaponised compassion and ostentatious propriety is used to isolate individuals who then find themselves lacking support from their “sisters”—who either go silent, shun them, or join in the attacks. Meanwhile, the problem with relying on lesbians to counteract female emotional incontinence within the women’s movement is that lesbians have no inherent interest in productive relations with men.
Male teams, of course, can be dysfunctional and destructive. Youth gangs and crime gangs are prime examples.
But teams can also be mechanisms for cohesion and trust. Indeed, they are necessary mechanisms for the same. And you make teams work by sitting on your emotions: apart from those that test trustworthiness.
Cliques can provide intense emotional support. But they can also be highly unstable (precisely because of their intense emotionality) and socially corrosive, undermining trust and cohesion. So, yes, feminisation can be a marker for the corrosion of institutions and consequent social decay.
The systematic contemporary undermining of freedom of speech and thought is disproportionately pushed and supported by women. Highly educated women are proving all too willing to trash other people’s freedoms to protect their emotions.
Such feminisation pushes societies back into a gigantic Gossip Trap of enforced conformity based on reputation destruction, shunning and exclusion.
The smothering mother of safetyism has increasingly become the dominant authority mode, especially for children and young adults. This is behind the increasing loss of resilience among young folk as they use devices that foster female-pattern aggression: particularly girls and young women, as boys and young men are more likely to play games. An approach that infantilises the objects of its authority is not a way to encourage children to mature into adult resilience.
The organisational shift away from teams and solidarity towards cliques and dissension—without compensating norms directed against emotional incontinence—has been corrosive of institutions, and of wider society. In particular, it has been corrosive of trust, of social solidarity, and of effective feedback.
The patterns within the women’s movement of the 1960s and 1970s Jo Freeman set out in her 1976 essay Trashing have been disseminated throughout the developed world. Social media has supercharged the process. Creating institutions, and public spaces, increasingly dominated by “mean girl” cliques that are increasingly dangerously dysfunctional.
What to do?
A process of closing down and replacing feminised institutions is not a stable solution. If women are going to participate in areas of society at levels that are wildly novel for human societies, then they are going to have to learn to sit on their emotions, have no truck with feminism’s ludicrous self-valorisation of their sex, and accept that there is masculine wisdom applicable to making things work.
Just as men should keep their dicks in their pants and their hands off other people: i.e., restrain their sexual and physical incontinence.
The next essay examines the consequences of the increasing feminisation of progressive politics.
* Warmth, Emotional Stability, Assertiveness/Dominance, Gregariousness/Liveliness, Dutifulness/Rule‐Consciousness, Friendliness/Social Boldness, Sensitivity, Distrust/Vigilance, Imagination/Abstractness, Reserve/Privateness, Anxiety/Apprehension, Complexity/Openness to change, Introversion/SelfReliance, Orderliness/Perfectionism, and Emotionality/Tension.
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