Back To The Lek

Whenever control of reproduction by the kin-group or wider society, which as far as we know is unique to Homo sapiens, breaks down, then the human reproductive pattern moves back towards that found in the rest of the animal kingdom. There, females breed with the “superior” males, whether by choice following a courtship ritual or by right of conquest following male-on-male competition. That a male’s victory in mating combat proves his fitness is obvious, while the sometimes bizarre male displays are nowadays regarded as “honest signals” of good genes. With humans, it is by no means clear to what extent failure to attract a mate is caused by genetic unfitness in the same sense as with a failed animal, and to what extent cultural factors can negate the possession of genetic advantages. Is it possible to take a male child with all the right genes, but to bring him up to be a socially incompetent dork who can’t get laid? In such a case the women would be missing out on something. Or is a dork’s social clumsiness proof positive in itself that his genetic make-up is undesirable? In that case the women would therefore be missing out on nothing, and all would be well with the evolutionary world.

It seems to be a general law of zoology that in species where the females acquire nothing in the way of resources or services from their mates, they choose on aesthetic criteria alone. The males of species that build nests and feed young, for example, are much drabber than the males of species who compete for females on their looks. Among human beings, how much a woman receives from men in return for reproductive services is a function of variable socio-cultural arrangements rather than biology. In the ideal progressive Western society, where the sexes are wholly independent economically, we would expect female choice to revolve around aesthetics. And what we have indeed seen in recent decades is an explosion in the sale of male cosmetic products, combined with staggering levels of public mockery of “nerds”. Whatever the term may have once meant, now it seems to denote any male who spends less than 95% of his mental energy on grooming and fashion.

Posted on July 8, 2009 at 15:07 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: AGAINST NATURE, "Love" Contra Social Stability

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