We know a reactionary gender programme exists, that genderism, like any other repressive institution experiencing pushback, will try to encode and justify the prejudices that it has defined in the past. We know this programme exists because we see people (like State and religious authorities, MRAs and other anti-feminists, and sexists in general) using it.
These institutions use pseudo-science to justify their prejudices. So for instance, you have economics (a pseudo-science) justifying capitalism (a repressive ideology). The lies told by economists are basically the propaganda base on which capitalism operates. Basically you have to look not at their statements as attempts at truth, but as propaganda.
Evolutionary psychology, I think, fulfills the same role for genderism. It’s the propaganda front for what genderists actually want us to believe, and reveals the truth of the situation.
In Neo-liberal Genetics: The Myths and Moral Tales of Evolutionary Psychology, Susan McKinnon discusses the main conclusions of evolutionary psychology. These are: social relations are strictly genetic, men pursue fertile women, women pursue men with resources.
Susan McKinnon’s main argument in the book is that these supposed scientific conclusions are actually debunked by the anthropological data we have. There is ample evidence that social relations are only partially about shared genes, and that for the most part men and women have been more interested about mutual affinity than anything else, although both men and women are also interested in the other person’s ability to provide resources.
But beyond that, I also want to point out that these three points help us understand the genderist agenda. Let me look through them in turn.
* All social relations follow from genetic calculations. What this basically amounts to is that the family unit is the only real social bond that exists, and that people follow Hamilton’s Rule (that altruistic attitudes can only evolve when the benefits given are in proportion to the genetic relatedness of the person you benefit).
So this fits perfectly within the conservative atomistic view of society, actually. The basic conservative view of society is that society is solely composed of individuals that assemble in family units to reproduce. How much they believe this, I don’t know, but it’s the view they put out to the world. The conclusion that kinship can only be based on genetics becomes the “scientific” support for this view.
The importance of the family, of procreation, of child-raising for right-wingers cannot be underestimated. All of that is supported by the belief that one’s “blood” must be “transmitted,” extended throughout history.
* Men prefer women who look fertile (e.g. who have youth, attractiveness, shapeliness). I’ve already pointed out that men as a class are pedophilic, and this belief that youth is inherently attractive to men acts as a justification for that (actual pedophiles use it as a rationale as well). It’s also known that men as a class are attracted to vulnerability (foot-binding, neck rings, corsets, high heels), and youth is a form of vulnerability.
As for “attractiveness” and “shapeliness,” we can see that these subjective standards support the practice of objectification, because for the most part men are the ones who determine what is “attractive” and “shapely” in women.
This belief about men’s preferences is based on the belief that women exist to stay at home to make and raise children, and only produce a small proportion of their society’s resources. This of course is historically a lie. But if you look at the more extreme genderists (like the Quiverfull), we see that’s what they want women to be: enslaved brood mares whose production is quaint and inconsequential. This is what right-wingers believe is the “natural” state of the family unit, which is sacrosanct.
* Women prefer men who have resources (e.g. status, ambitiousness, industriousness). This is tied to the belief that men are the providers of society, which is rationalized by telling the story that men went out to hunt and women stayed behind (again, a lie). Ambitiousness and industriousness are qualities that the elite (who are 90% men) wants to grant itself, and refuses to grant to those inferior to them on the social ladder. Rich people are industrious, poor people are lazy.
Men must participate in capitalist competition and therefore should be encouraged to have these qualities. Women, who should not work, should be encouraged to cultivate their conformity to the male gaze.
Apart from these three main conclusions, evolutionary psychologists draw a variety of other conclusions, including many that concern gender.
* The differences in reproductive strategies imply that men must spread their DNA as widely as possible, including by rape. This is all part of the “men can’t help themselves” tactic which is pervasive in right-wing rhetoric about rape.
If men’s reproductive strategy is to spread their DNA as widely as possible, and women’s reproductive strategy is to mate for life, then it’s women’s responsibility to keep the man from cheating. It’s also women’s responsibility to not get raped, since men can’t control themselves.
* Wife-killing is a natural reaction to the possibility of being cuckolded. The theory here is that men do not want to spend their precious resources raising a child that does not share their DNA, and that they therefore kill spouses suspected of cheating. Well, I think that one’s not too hard to understand given the vast differences in sentences between husbands who beat or kill their wives and wives who defend themselves.
The main use of this principle, I think, is to argue that women are responsible for the violence inflicted against them, and naturalize that violence; men simply can’t help themselves and will kill women who are so unwise as to arouse the jealousy of their husbands. The goal is to police women’s behavior so the husbands’ ownership of their sexuality is maintained (in reality, 77% of battered women had not committed adultery, compared to a 90% baseline, making this “module” very inefficient to say the least).
* Women prefer muscular men, men prefer small women. This is supposed to be an instinctual consequence of sexual dimorphism. Really, it’s a naturalization of women’s body issues that are really brought about by gender enforcement in the media. A muscular body is a sign of power: we therefore praise it in men but shame it in women. A small body is a sign of weakness: we therefore praise it in women but shame it in men.
So I think there are two important roles being fulfilled by these just-so stories. One is that they provide justification for gender-motivated acts beyond simple desire or social pressure. The equation is obvious: if an act is natural, then it’s inevitable, and if it’s inevitable then there’s no point in criticizing or fighting against it.
As P.Z. Myers points out, there are ways to turn the just-so stories of evopsychs around to fit a different gender scheme:
All right, let’s embrace this ‘reasoning’. In the stone age, women stayed in the cave or sought out tasty roots, and mashed things together to create flavorful food, while men went hunting and flung spears at things. Therefore, skill at chemistry is encoded in women’s brains, while ballistics is a natural male talent. Stone age men went on long walks to hunt game, so they’re better suited now to do field work in ecology, while women sat and did intricate weaving, therefore their brains are adapted to do data analysis.
I could do this all day, inventing pseudo-scientific evo-psych rationalizations for why particular stone age tasks shaped brains in a sex-specific manner, but at least I wouldn’t be doing it to somehow magically always fit 21st century Western cultural expectations. But I can’t, because it’s stupid… I swear, these loons are always treating men and women as separate species evolving in parallel.
There are evopsychs who are deluded enough (or claim to be deluded enough) to claim that they are left-wingers and that evolutionary psychology can provide the means to combat unethical gender-motivated behavior. Some even offer “self-help” based on helping individuals follow their twisted conception of “human nature.”
But how does evopsych provide us with the means to prevent unethical behavior? What is the end game here? If rape is natural and universal, how do we even begin to fight it, apart from enacting the SCUM Manifesto? If men are innately evil, then the only possible end game is either genetic engineering (change the male “innate nature” to something non-male) or androcide (exterminate the male “innate nature”).
Are evopsychs ready to advocate for either of these positions? I don’t think so. So how does evolutionary psychology provide solutions beyond blaming women for triggering men’s rape module? And what’s the left-wing angle? I don’t know of any left-wing or radical ideology which promotes the idea that the causes of injustice are innate; how could that possibly be left-wing or radical?
So that’s the first role. The second one is to provide a framework for understanding what gender is all about. On the radical feminist view, gender is a social construct which does not reflect biological reality: there is no direct connection between one’s behavior and one’s genitals. On the evopsych view, gender is the direct result of biology and should be treated as part of human nature.
We know what gender is all about: it’s about the subjection of women and the exploitation of women’s energies. This is what the reactionary genderist agenda is all about.