A mass mail forwarded to me by a friend a while ago, exacerbated my fundamental fears about the human situation. It is only today, one and a half years later, and after having revised Darwinist accounts of life for my philosophy exam, that I feel confident enough to see what truth there is in the calamitous claims and that I shall examine if my fears about my genes’ timely demise are, after all, justified.
The text in question, clearly written with abundance of testosterone and shortage of sex, claims that everything men do, they do, directly or indirectly, to get access to women. Civilization, as opposed to chaos and Barbary, so the author, is being upheld by women’s insisting on proper male behaviour. Here is some of the stuff (the full text can be read here).
“If science is progressing, it's not because of man's need to know. It's because of man's need to let other people, namely girls, know he knows. Men want to invent shit so they can brag about it to women.”
“Thanks for being smart and for having high standards cuz if you weren't into buff guys and sick cars no man would work out or buy a sick car.”
Despite the obvious lack of structure, badly expressed argument and other evident errors, charitable reading can unearth an argument, namely about male motivation, that is worth being considered. It raises the question of the motivations behind our actions, about the existence of objective moral standards and constitutes a practical example of applied game theory.
A reading of the text produces the following main claims.
- Whatever men do, they do it to get access to woman, either by directly impressing them or by increasing their social status, with the ultimate view of attracting women.
- Women have proper standards and are only attracted to men living up to them
From which it follows
- Everything that is that is good about the world, is brought about by women insisting on suitable male manners. Otherwise the world would go down in barbaric behaviour.
One problem with the text is that no evidence is produced for the claims made. Is it so that everything men do they do to impress women? Clearly the author feels that it is so (he longs for woman on the bus in the morning, in the university etc), but he gives no evidence that would justify believing his claim, for example evidence involving people outside his age class (he excludes kids below 15), which would make the sample more representative. He says his claim does not apply to everybody, but is unclear who exactly does not have this behaviour. On the other hand, it is true than common sense and observation of daily life suggest that men do want to impress women. But it is at best unclear if his claim is true. A counterclaim “I do the science for the sake of science” produces a draw in a prospective discussion.
The other claim, about women having the “right” moral (and hygienic) standards is even less well underpinned by evidence. It is true that some of the issues the author cites are usually accepted as proper behaviour (showering) and more associated with women, but this is less clear with others (sick cars, going to the gym), which seem to be more male fantasies about what women like. This would of course not rule out male behaviour as under point 1), but shows that there is something dubious his claim that women have the correct answer to all questions of moral and hygiene.
Like before, too little evidence is produced, and counterexamples (fear of spiders, gossiping, shopping-sprees) suggest that not everything women do is good, all things considered.
However, the author might grant that point, and say that even though what women insist on is not “the right thing” in all cases, men will still be forced to accept it due to their desire for women.
The preliminary discussion has shown some issues with the author’s claim, but his modified argument (that the world is as it is, because men will do whatever women think is right) stays intact, if we grant him his empirical premise about male desire.
However, there are more problems with the text, which probably went unnoticed by the author due to his high testosterone level. His conclusion rests on the assumption that men do not have bargaining chips in the game of attraction between men and women. He touches the issue when he introduces his claim that male motivation is to get women, but does not seem to notice what follows.
“Why any man would do any of things he ever did past the age of 15? PUSSY. It's not money, money is a means to pussy itself. It's not fame or success. Those are the tools men use to show off and get pussy.
Here he at least implies that some form of competition is going on between men, meaning that women, according to him, are more attracted to men with certain characteristics (a PhD in neuro-biology, the winner of Mister Universe). This in turn would mean that at least those high status men would be in a position to select from suitable women, which means that, logically, some sort of competition would take place between these women, too. (this of course is also borne by common sense and observation of daily life). Since not every woman can get the Mister Universe and/or PhD, they will have to settle for the second best, displacing other interested women. The chain-reaction continues successively, bringing about competition between women for men on (almost) all levels.
Thus, the text is inherently incomplete and would have to be amended by a roughly similar account, just seen from the point of view of women. A good point of departure would probably be a woman of child bearing age, struggling to find a partner. The woman doing science, on that account, would then also do it to attract a high-status partner, knowing that intellectual capacities are currently an important selection criteria. This would give a more complete account of what is going on, and would end up in a game-theory in which men are pinned against women in a competition of mutual self-exploitation, such as in the theories put forward by adherents of evolutionary psychology, even though interesting aspects, such as for example the question whether attraction is mainly environmentally or genetically inducted, would have to be settled and there is no hint in the text about what the author could possibly think about it. (the attraction to high status partners might be genetic, while the evaluation of the actual position might be cultural).
The text is also incomplete about the reasons why everything anybody does would be motivated by a desire to attract potential partners. Humankind (womankind?) being a reproductive species, evolutionary success will ultimately depend on your ability to get your genes into the next generation, and part of this is attracting suitable partners. But this does in no way imply that everything we do, we do to attract a partner. So that our offspring live, we need to earn money, build a house and hunt for food etc. Our desire for socially high positions might also be motivated by that. Crucially, the motivation of people renouncing procreation to pursue their careers (or the ones being beyond the age in which it is possible) would not be explained either. Another questions left open is to which degree the motivation is conscious. I might seek a high social position due to a) socially- or b) because of genetically-induced behaviour. In both cases I need not be aware of my motivation, and it would be unfair to say that I do the things I do to attract women.
Finally it should be said that the text is incredibly sexist, despite his worshipping of women, because he reduces women to rather object like figures and a traditional role as objects of desire, rather than independent actors.
In the final analysis and on the authors account of things, the text is a cheap intent to get the attention of women, desperately accepting the account of life he thinks women appreciate, making in the process, according to his own argument, a powerful statement about the size of his own wee wee.