Thursday, July 09, 2009

Aphorisms on Gender

(This article was triggered by reading this superficial rant)

Human beings are sexual. The sexual union of a male gamete and a female gamete leads to the birth of a new human being.

Human beings are mammals. After impregnation, the female species carries the offspring within her body for nine months, and begins lactating after delivery. For the first few years of a human infant, the primary care is usually provided by the mother.

Human beings are social. A human infant has to learn a lot of survival skills after birth, and hence, a long period of socialization, education and gathering of skills is required. This period requires the collaboration of a provider (male) and a nurturer (female).

Human beings use complex ways to thrive, and use advanced politics, financial systems and property rights. Hence, biological fitness counts little in how powerful a human being is in a society. A weak female may be very powerful due to inheritance, and a dumb male may be very powerful due to his caste and clan.

Human beings have a well-developed neo-cortex, and can compare their state with other human beings, and anticipate the future and remember the past in a way, and with a density and complexity, which other species cannot.

Just as all other species, human beings use aggression and strength (directly or indirectly) against members of their species, and against other species, to further their genetic survival and propagation.

Now, Feminism.

Feminism comes on the horizon when a perceptive enough human observes the gender inequality in human societies.

Feminism is the drive towards equal rights and protections for women. Women, being the females in a mammalian species, have certain roles driven by biology. Biology also drives institutional and social structures which strive to strike a balance between women's (and men's) happiness and their biological roles.

In mammals (and thereby in humans), one male and a hundred females is biologically a more productive community than one female and a hundred males. Males also specialize in combat and in procurement and defense of property. In general, males are considered more valuable in a traditional human community.

The centralization of power in the male(s) is termed as patriarchy. Feminism is a strike against patriarchy.

Biological and combat goals are becoming less important as human civilization progresses. Memetic goals, and ideas, are becoming more powerful and important than genetic or physical ones.

In a setting where biological and combat goals are secondary, it is considered unfair that the power structure be based on biology and physical strength. This is the basis of feminism.

Feminism has a chance therefore only in those societies where biological and combat goals are indeed secondary. One can thrust feminism down the throats of people in a primitive Indian village (through reservations and affirmative action), but without the eradication of situations in which a male is biologically at an advantage, such efforts are bound to fail.

Now, sexual perception.

Sexual intercourse is a pleasurable activity by (evolutionary) design. It is the gateway to propagation. No matter if urban humans have sex predominantly for recreation rather than procreation, the pleasure of sex is by design due to its preeminent importance in reproduction. Those human beings who do not find sex pleasurable are more prone to go extinct than others who do.

Biologically, men are bound to look at women as short-term sexual "objects". Biologically women are bound to look at men as long-term "providers". It is debatable which perception is more self-centered. Both are, in their own way.

A man who seeks a long-term female partner is as far from being an alpha male as a woman who seeks a short-term male partner is far from an alpha female. A woman is victorious (in the socio-biological realm) if she manages to land an alpha male (one who seeks nothing but sex) as a long term provider. A man is victorious (in the socio-biological realm) if he manages to land an alpha female (one pressing for commitment) as a short-term sexual partner. (Mills and Boon novellas cater to the former fantasy, pornography caters to the latter fantasy).

This tension, divergence of goals, and self-centeredness can only end if biological goals are superseded or eradicated as a guiding force in human relationships.

But will sex, which is a biologically designed pleasure with a specific biological end, remain pleasurable in that case? This is a subtle question, and I surmise that orgasmic release will become less of a goal in sexual intercourse than a playful sensuousness which involves the whole of one's body.

Also, heterosexuality and homosexuality will probably become less clearly defined, and humans will have a spectrum of preferred partners from both sexes. And that is only to be expected as biological goals become fainter and fainter, and recreation becomes the primary goal of sex.

If that sounds like science-fiction, may I direct you to this news-item.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"..and I surmise that orgasmic release will become less of a goal in sexual intercourse than a playful sensuousness which involves the whole of one's body." This is quite a thought but this will require the society to be at certain level. In a society where majority of people are busy fending for their basic and innate needs, it becomes just one of the need. The question of sex for progeny or pleasure does not arise. Only theory that remain valid is survival of the fittest.