With the exception of my witty repartee sprinkled sparingly throughout, this section of my web site is pretty much as dry as a bone. It's the rock-solid theory that supports my views. You don't have to read it. Those with less patience or tolerance for "Acadamese" might prefer to skip this part and move on. For those with the patience to persevere, you might find the reward that there is, after all, a sound theoretical basis for dispensing with feminism.
Besides which, it's written to be easily understood by most anyone of at least average intelligence.
Welcome to a possible paradigm shift for the 21st Century.
Before we get started, let us make clear what this new vision does, what the problem is with the current state of play, and what we are trying to solve.
The problem with feminism is the problem with understanding how life works, because feminists don't understand how men and women make choices. Feminists are among the worst reductionists.
What commonly gets described as "reductionism" in biology is perhaps more accurately described as genetic determinism. This is the notion that organisms are constructed from the "bottom-up", in accordance with instructions in the genetic blueprint. There are a number of very serious problems with this perspective. Let's summarize a couple of them:
What I'm getting at is that life can never emerge solely from the bottom up. The notion that disparate details occuring randomly can conspire to come together in any kind of living system is an impossibility. Living systems can never be based solely in the details of a genetic code. A solely bottom-up development is statistically, intuitively and logically impossible. Systems theory, complexity theory, semiotics, however, are areas of study that aim to account for top-down influences, around which the bottom-up dynamics can self-organise.
- Genes-as-information - If the genetic code is the software program, where is the computer that runs it? Besides which, are we to accept that genes can account for the mechanism of their own interpretation? That is, can a software program provide the details and specifications of the computer that is to run it?
- Statistical impossibility - It is bad science to appeal to "intuition". Yet, there is something about natural selection based in mutation that does not sit well with many of us (Charles Darwin himself did not incorporate mutations as the source of change in natural selection). Even proponents of the evolution-by-mutation model acknowledge that the vast majority of mutations are harmful. Moreover, mutations are an expression of the natural law of entropy and increasing disorder. Listen to your intuition. Byles has (this website discusses macro-mutations. Micro-mutations pose another set of problems, which we won't go into here).
- Richard Dawkins, in his book "The Blind Watchmaker", provides a reply to the question "What use is half an eye?" Naturally, the same question can be asked of other organs where the simultaneous development of components is crucial (eg., the knee). Dawkins provides his explanation that the Nautilus (a kind of jellyfish) relies on a pinhole camera for an eye, thus providing an example of "half an eye" that works. But it is an explanation that fails to apprehend the important notion that the Nautilus' pinhole eye is ideal for the Nautilus' lifestyle, and so will never evolve beyond its half-eye status so long as the rest of the Nautilus' lifestyle remains unchanged.
The essence of this idea is that the choices an organism makes provide the conditions and influences around which the details self-organise. For example, if we compare a culture (city) composed of people to a colony (brain) composed of neurons, then how a brain modularizes itself into partitions (eg., visual cortex) is analogous to how a city self-organizes into its functional specializations (eg., industrial areas, commercial areas, etc). That is to say, there exists a direct analogy between the neural correlates of consciousnss (NCC) in the brain, and the human correlates of culture (HCC) in the city. Thus the "choices" that a city makes (based in historical experience - eg., war, production, fashion, technology) account for the self-organization of the city's people in exactly the same way that the choices that a human makes accounts for the self-organization of the brain's neurons.
In summary, then, a systems-theoretical model addresses most of the shortcomings of the genetic-deterministic model by providing an interpretation where:
Paradoxically, for all their contempt for "reductionist science", feminists have not escaped from reductionism at all. In having failed to provide any alternative beyond deconstructionism, post-modernism and withcraft, they have become more reductionist than ever before.
- Choice matters - the choices that an organism makes shape what it becomes;
- Principles in entropy and thermodynamics are satisfied - namely, life is no longer a progression of happy accidents within a sterile, lifeless universe, but an inevitability. Statistically, we now have a model that more readily appeals to the intuition;
- Top-down dynamics work in conjunction with bottom-up dynamics. The choices that an organism makes from its ecology provide "direction" and "guidance" for the self-organisation of the details and thus, the developmental trajectory of the organism.
FEMINISM NEVER HAD A CASE
Feminism is fraught with contradictions and inconsistencies. For example:
- In their zealotry, feminists have ignored the other half of the equation. Women oppress women. Women as mothers, women as girl-friends and women as role-models create the norms against which women compare themselves and each other, judge each other, and exclude those women that dare to be different.
- Women and men choose their gender roles - women like being women, and they like the roles that accompany such a state of being. Women have always wanted to be provided for. But being taken care of comes at price. The gender that is protected and provided for habituates roles that make it difficult for them to suddenly shift gear and compete with the gender that does the protecting and the providing.
- Feminists identify the "Patriarchy" (meaning men) as the enemy. But do they (we) even know what a patriarchy is? Some alien could just as easily find themselves on this planet and deduce that Earthlings are living in a matriarchy. After all, any culture where it is a man's duty to provide for women, to protect women, to deliver women from the necessity of ever having to get an education or to develop a career, is, in a very real sense, a matriarchal culture.
No matter how well-intentioned any feminism might be, to ignore or to gloss over such critical dimensions of oppression invalidates all feminisms of all stripes. Women have never been oppressed by men in any way resembling any kind of conspiracy by one gender against another. Indeed, the success of a movement as morally and intellectually bankrupt as feminism might instead seem to suggest another kind of oppression altogether, but of course we know better than to go down that path.
Many of the original feminists had good intentions based in real problems. But almost all of them have simplistically and naively overlooked the choices that women have always made and wanted, along with the other side of oppression (the oppression of women by women). For example, many of the original feminists raised legitimate issues about women being denied opportunities in employment, but ignored women's self-imposed priorities (being provided for) and the pressures from women that also kept them from developing meaningful careers. The custodians of this new feminist truth were falling down on their objectivity and reasoning. They failed to meet their obligation to account for inconsistencies. With their partial explanations, they've set in motion a juggernaut that has become a hate movement directed against men. In their unsound, poorly-formulated foundations they’ve discredited everything else that they’ve ever had to say. They have betrayed everyone’s trust and stand in dereliction of their responsibilities.
They’ve had their chance and they’ve run out of time. Their vision is sterile, their goal still-born, their case null and void. We need a new truth, a new language, in which the oppression of both genders by both genders can be properly understood.
THE LEAST YOU NEED TO KNOW
- Gender roles are habits;
- Gender roles are chosen;
- Men and women like the gender roles to which they have been assigned.
In knowing these three basic points, you have everything you need to know in order to begin to understand the role of complicity and the choices we make, in the evolution of cultures, individuals in cultures and the gender roles that define us.
There exists a whole field of study, based in semiotics, in which these principles are directly relevant. Here, I refer specifically to the semiotics of Charles Sanders Peirce (not to be confused with the semiotics of deconstructionists and post-modernists). Systems theory, complexity (chaos) theory and memetics are some of the foundations that mesh with semiotic theory. Many find semiotics abstract and hard to follow, so this website strives to focus on the simplicity of the self-evident, rather than the complexity of theory.
A BIT MORE YOU NEED TO KNOW - THE NATURE/NURTURE DEBATE
The essence of systems theory is that an organism’s development and growth are inextricably linked to the living system, or ecology, within which it finds itself. For a termite, the system is the termite colony. For a liver cell, the system is the body within which it resides. For people, the system is culture.
Semiotic theory is a systems theory in that the evolutionary forces acting on an organism are bi-directional. That is, the environment (ecology) creates external pressures on an organism that “compel” it to change in order to adapt (top-down). And internal pressures based in genes and biology impact on the organism’s physiological development and psychological predispositions (bottom-up). Thus the direction of “causation” is both top-down and bottom-up. An organism is “suspended” in its ecology, from both directions. An organism is “drawn” into existence by the choices it makes from its ecology.
Let’s translate this to what it implies for gender roles. For humans, the ecology (culture) creates external pressures (cultural values) on men and women that compel them to adapt (comply). But the bodies of men and women predispose them to different kinds of complicity. In semiotics, this idea is understood by regarding bodies as tools. Men with men’s bodies make choices that conform to what men’s bodies are predisposed to do. Women with women’s bodies make choices that conform to what women’s bodies are predisposed to do.
Bodies as tools
This idea of bodies-as-tools is extremely important, because bodies evolve to perform specific tasks. Our hands and vocal-chords are “tools” that predispose us to making choices from our human ecologies (cultures). In terms of gender roles, at their most basic and obvious level, men’s bodies cannot give birth, women’s bodies cannot impregnate, and these are also reflected in cultural expectations as to what gender roles should be. Think of how you use your work-tools. You do not use a screw-driver to hammer a nail. You do not use a hammer to drive a screw.
Think of how a dog uses its tools. With only paws and no hands, a dog will never be compelled to use a fork and knife to eat from its doggie bowl. It will never occur to a dog what a fork and knife are for, or how they are to be used.
The most essential point to realize is that every organism’s body predisposes that organism to making certain types of choices that are consistent with its body…. and with its ecology. And so men’s bodies are ideally suited to Culture’s male gender roles, and women’s bodies are ideally suited to Culture’s female gender roles.
If the significance of this most crucial point is still lost on the reader, think of it this way….. we know that men and women think and behave differently. These differences have less to do with genes and more to do with the choices we habituate. These choices are made from the options that our cultures provide. You learnt what a man is from the culture that expects you, with a man’s body, to be one. This is the heart of a semiotic vision of systems theory.
Moving with the flow
These ideas resonate with notions coming from many of the world religions, such as Buddhism and Hinduism. Even the noisiest, most gaudily coloured parrot does not spontaneously erupt by accident within its ecology, but evolves to fulfill certain types of roles in conformity with its ecology. It is in harmony with the flow of its ecology. If its bright colours seem to “clash” with the ecological flow, then its speed of flight or its agility compensate for its visibility, and it fulfills a unique niche in its ecology.
Bodies-as-tools within Culture-as-ecology
So let us restate one more time why gender issues are systems-theoretical issues. The ecology (culture) creates external pressures by way of expected gender roles that compel men and women to conform to those roles. This is the top-down sphere of influence. Moreover, men’s and women’s bodies predispose them to making choices that conform to accepted notions of how men and women are expected to behave. This is the bottom-up sphere of influence. Gender roles move with the flow of cultural expectations and the predispositions of men’s and women’s bodies.
Some systemic interpretations of gender roles
- Women choose the types of men that they would like their sons to be.
- Never underestimate the power of the hand that rocks the cradle. The little boy that grows to be a man must live with at least a subconscious awareness of the power that every woman has. The Oedipus complex is not a malady suffered by a minority of men with dominant mothers, but a spectre that hangs over every man that defines his sense of worth in the eyes of women, in his success with women whether as cad or as husband.
Semiotics and systems theory are very simple and fundamental ideas, but if you have not been exposed to them before, they might be difficult for you to place into a context that enables you to grasp what it all means. So let’s briefly look at what the systems-theoretical model replaces.
Systems theory contrasts with the genetic-determinist perspective, where the organism’s developmental trajectory is pre-ordained from birth, in the genes. In its most traditionally reductionist form, genetic determinism is exclusively a bottom-up perspective, where the genes are solely to account for what the organism becomes. The choices that the organism makes have no bearing on what it becomes, because the choices themselves are products of the bio-programming, as pre-ordained in the genes.
But the truth that systems theory confronts is that the choices we make do shape what we become. Our experiences change us, and they do so in predictable ways. For example, the courses we select when we go to university have a far greater impact on us than the mere acquisition of coursework “facts” would seem to suggest. Whether we study accounting or law or engineering or music or art, we embark on much more than a lifestyle choice that can turn us – body and soul - into career-motivated business executives, or conservative accountants, or technical “nerds”, or passionate artists or creative musicians, depending on the course we choose. Our participation in a course of study over several years is very much more than a mere acquisition of facts. It takes us into a state of being. Accountants are different to musicians in very real ways that lock them into lifestyle choices that are difficult to change later on. And our human bodies provide us with the tools that enable us to make these sorts of lifestyle choices that go on to become personality choices.
Animals also change with experience. If they did not, we would be unable to domesticate them. Domestication is an animal’s way of making choices from a human culture, using the bodies-as-tools that are unique to them.
According to the strictly genetic-determinist position, on the other hand, organisms do not change with experience. All desires, all emotions are already pre-programmed into brains-as-computers. Accordingly, men’s and women’s bodies have no part to play in how reality is experienced, and the desires that are formed. And so the mainstream view, as heavily influenced as it is by the genetic determinists, fails to understand how desires are formed.
Feminists have not escaped from this consensus view. They talk of “nurture”, but are wholly ignorant of the role of personal choice and complicity. They think that nurture happens to a person, a child. They do not consider personal involvement or complicity (making choices) to even rate a mention. By ignoring choice, they devalue Womanhood to the condition of ultimate victim incapable of reason. Devoid reason, the ultimate victim is overwhelmed by the oppressive Patriarchy. This is in accord with the post-modernist vision of “nurture”. Thus feminists assert that men and women, really, desire the same types of things, but that it is because of a systematic oppression by men across the millennia and across cultures, that women have been deprived of their right to realize their true potential. Feminists have failed to understand that the desires of men and women are developed and habituated in the choices that men and women make. For all their talk of “nurture”, feminists have never really escaped from the constraints of the nature assumption.
The most crucial distinction between a systems-theoretical perspective and a genetic determinist one is in the manner in which organisms obtain knowledge on how to be. From a systems-theoretical perspective, an organism learns from its neighbours how it is to interpret and behave within the world – whether that organism is a stem cell, an ant, a horse or a human - an organism makes choices from what its neighbours are communicating to it. From a genetic determinist perspective, the question of learning how to be (and thus, choice) is non-existent, because being and identity are accounted for in the genes, and any learning that takes place is incidental to what is already spelt out in the genes. The world of the genetic determinist is one without choice – an accidental world where evolution is held to proceed as a blind progression of happy accidents.
A quick word of reassurance
For those who are uncomfortable with this systems-theory stuff, fearing that it is about to unseat one of our treasured central tenets in the life sciences, rest assured that it does not diminish the role of genes. Genes are still very important. But we must now look at the role of genes in an entirely new light – perhaps as described in that fledgling new life science, biosemiotics. That is, genes are a part of the medium by which cells communicate and convey meaning to each other. This is analogous to how language, cultural artifacts and symbols work in society, as the medium by which humans communicate with each other.
Does this not make sense? Does this systems-theoretical approach not allude to an inevitability that obeys all the physical laws of thermodynamics and entropy?
And does not genetic determinism, on the other hand, imply that genes provide the mechanism of their own interpretation? How might a computer program create the computer on which it is to run? Besides which, where is the computer that runs the genetic program, anyway? Is it in my head? My feet? Maybe a gland or an organ?
Genes do not "cause" physiological characteristics any more than money or words or grocery products "cause" how a city is to be planned. We know that these things are exchanged in the planning and growth of a city, and are indispensable to life in any metropolis. But it does not make sense to attribute to the personal computer industry, say, any suggestion that this industry "causes" the internet, or computer nerds, or unemployment, or war, or stock-market crashes - or that any of these things "cause" the computer industry. Ultimately, people’s choices lie at the heart of all these things. But people, in turn, are molded by them. So if people create the things that constitute Culture, these things, in turn, provide the momentum by which people’s personalities are shaped. People constitute Culture, which in turn provides the momentum of identities that shapes people. This is the feedback loop, the endless cycles of recursion that systems theorists refer to. And it applies to multi-celled organisms just as it does to multi-peopled cultures. The words “momentum” and “flow” come to mind. Take a human being out of this loop, and they become as animals, in both mind and body. They become feral, and this feral condition would seem to suggest that there is no such thing as an innate human “nobility” set in the concrete of genes – as John McCrone's writings explore.
Single cells (indeed, all organisms) are just as dependent on the ecologies that sustain them. Remove a cell from the loop that sustains it and provides it with the symbols and meanings (genes) that it has habituated, and it dies.
NATURE IS NURTURE
At issue here is the old nature-nurture debate. In semiotic theory, nature is nurture. Nature does not exist independently of nurture, but physiological form is meshed inextricably with experience. In genetic determinism, however, nature is separate to nurture, and “nurture”, insofar as it is agreed to exist, is itself a by-product of nature.
But we digress. Let’s KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid. The least you need to know:
- Gender roles are habits;
- Gender roles are chosen;
- Men and women like the gender roles to which they have been assigned.
From these three basic points, we have the basis for my understanding of gender roles, the nature of human sexuality, and why men and women make the choices they do. Let’s touch on this.
OTHER STUFF YOU NEED TO BECOME FAMILIAR WITH
Semiotics (biosemiotics) confronts the basis on which every organism knows about its world. What is it about gender differences that account for how men and women learn about their worlds? What is it about gender differences that account for the types of choices that men and women make from their cultures? What is it about gender differences that account for the different types of things that men and women desire and choose?
- Femininity is about sustaining the cultural known. Why? Because women can;
- Masculinity is about exploring the boundaries of the cultural unknown. Why? Because men must.
Why can women retreat to the comparative luxury of sustaining the cultural known? Because the gender that is provided for sets the rules of supply. The gender that is provided for is the gender that is desired. The gender that is desired needs merely to “turn up”. We describe this as complicity. It is the reason that female complicity is so important. Its message is “I like what you do. Do it some more.”
Why must men confront the hazards of the cultural unknown? Because the gender that pays and competes is the gender that provides the demand. The gender that provides for is the gender that desires. It is not enough for the gender that desires simply to “turn up”. The gender that desires must declare what it is that is to be desired - and then to have it validated by the gender that turns up, or invalidated when no-one shows.
- The gender that is desired must conceal desire.
- The gender that desires must demonstrate desire.
The practical outcome of all this is very simple. If a man does not initiate, he does not get the gal. No initiate, no pussy. A passive, docile or acquiescent woman of at least average looks will still draw more offers of sex than her body or time can accommodate. However, the situation for a similarly passive, docile or acquiescent man is quite the opposite, and without even money or success, he is without purpose. As was pointed out by Dr. Drew Pinksy, M.D. at the 2nd Annual IWF Sex & Dating Conference:
- "Dr. Drew also addressed another paradox that successful women face. Like the reciprocal relation of success and family for women, self-esteem works differently for men and women. 'Women with low self-esteem are more likely to be engaged in [risky] sexual interactions,' stated Dr. Drew. 'On the other hand, guys with low self-esteem are less likely to have sex. And guys with high self-esteem are more likely to be sexually active.'"
[with self-esteem (whatever it is) assumed to be that of the western perspective]
As bizaare as this imbalance is, implicit in it are some crucial insights about the nature of cognition - into which I shan't venture within this website. I shall, however, by way of alluding to a more complex topic beyond the scope of this website, make a passing comment. There is no natural law that dictates that this is the way things "should" be. When Dr Drew says that "they [men] are under the influence of a very powerful hormone, and you just have to accept that”, he is quite wrong. You don't have to accept that. Just as we do not have to accept that all women are opportunistic, manipulative gold-diggers. Gold-digging and philandering go hand-in-hand, you cannot have one without the other. Ya pays da price and ya gets da goods. But we digress. For the time being let us accept that the ecology of sexual "freedom" conforms to the laws of supply and demand.
The law of supply and demand applies to gender roles as much as it does to economies.
The semiotics of sexuality
From these dynamics, we can infer a whole lotta stuff about human sexuality. Importantly:
- Female sexuality is about being desired;
- Male sexuality is about desire.
Where are these “laws” written? They are certainly not written into the genes. These laws come from very fundamental, first principles that are best explored from a philosophical, phenomenological perspective. The sorts of questions that are posed are concerned with how infants first begin to make the sorts of choices that either keep them on the trajectory of being taken care of, or force them onto the trajectory of competing. What is it that thrusts a dependent infant from its natural state of being desired, pampered and taken care of into one of competition, and how do the two states of mind differ? What are the criteria, the physiological predispositions and parental (cultural) pressures that keep an infant on the one path into adulthood (Woman as being provided for), or force it onto the other, as a matter of survival (Man as provider)? Some clues – remember the least you need to know - that gender roles are habits, that gender roles are chosen and that men and women like the roles to which they have been assigned.
In order to avert digressing into philosophical abstractions. Let’s stick with the KISS principle, and expand on our prior understanding, to know and accept that:
- Femininity is about being desired and sustaining the cultural known;
- Masculinity is about desiring and exploring the boundaries of the cultural unknown.
That is to say:
- Being desired is logically consistent with sustaining the cultural known;
- Desiring is logically consistent with exploring the boundaries of the cultural unknown.
That is to equate to:
- Women are the filters of cultural variety;
- Men are the producers of cultural variety;
- And this is consistent with the Darwinian theory of evolution, where any ecology is comprised of producers of variety and filters of variety.
We now have the fundamental principles that should warm the cockles of the hearts of chaos theorists and complexity theorists the world over. But that’s not what this website is about.
If all this is new to you, don’t worry too much about the theory, as you need to have spent some time in philosophical abstractions beyond the ken of normal, more well-adjusted folk. But if you are curious, you can access some of the "Cutting Edge" links on my home page, in order to begin to explore some of the theoretical issues of relevance.
You are now ready to read my very easy-to-understand essays with the knowledge that they are based in a rock-solid theoretical foundation, far removed from the unsubstantiated, incoherent and irrational inconsistencies of feminism.
Of course, you can completely ignore everything I’ve just explained, in order to revel in the sheer joy of the obvious points I have to raise. My opinions stand on their own. But wouldn’t it nice to be able to understand where I’m coming from?
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Mobus, George E. (1994). Toward a theory of learning and representing causal inferences in neural networks. In Neural Networks for Knowledge Representation and Inference, D. S. Levine and M. Aparicio (eds.), Chapter 13, 339-374.. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Hillsdale, New Jersey.
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Pylkkanen, P. (1992). Mind, matter and active information: the relevance of David Bohm's interpretation of quantum theory to cognitive science. Report 2/1992. Department of Philosophy, University of Helsinki (ISBN 951-45-6190-2)