The world is a confusing place. Things seem to go in a gnarly direction and we don’t even fully understand why. Luckily, nature gives us clues, all we need to do, is look at our ancestors.
That’s exactly what American scientist and bestselling author Jared Diamond does in his book ‘Why is Sex Fun?’. Diamond manages to perfectly describe a raw nerve of our society today:
“Women are becoming intolerant of men’s self-ascribed status and are criticizing those men who provide better for themselves than for their wives and children.”
Diamond examines the role of men in society and does this by closely inspecting the lifestyle we evolved from: the hunter gatherer society. What he finds, is surprising. Systematic investigation among hunter-gatherer families offers tells us something different than we expected. Before we look at the new perspective, we will visit the mostly widely believed understanding of our past.
The Hunter Hero
The traditional anthropological perspective tells us that the male in hunter-gather societies hunts with the reason to bring home the bacon for his wive and children. By sustaining his family, he secures healthy offspring through cooperation with his wife, who gathers food during the day and takes care of the children. Scientists took the hunting-and gathering separation as a logical division of labor. Evidence from hunter gatherer societies today, however, give a slightly different picture.The astounding findings of researcher Kristen Hawkes of the University of Utah tell us that hunter-men are indeed occupied with the survival of their genes, but not in the way we thought.
The perspective shift
Hawkes discovered that in hunter gatherer societies, the ‘greatest hunters’ don’t hunt for their families. The successful hunters who tend to go for the largest game, usually eat the prey on the spot while dividing it amongst the other men, or they bring it back and share it with the entire group. In fact, the bacon he brings home is on average less valuable than the food his wife gathers during the day. Moreover, the ‘show off’ brings home less food than the provider hunter who doesn’t continually focus on big game. The ‘great hunter’ hunts for status and popularity. The big benefits he gets besides the food do not contribute essential value to his nuclear family. His wife is pretty much self providing ànd she takes care of the children.
It’s all about being Mr. Man
‘How does this behavior help with spreading semen?’ you might ask.
The answer is simple.
Hunter gatherers are humans, and humans have idols.
Diamond explains that when a man improves his status, he has more chance to secretively seed his offspring outside his own marriage (and thus commit adultery). The good hunter is often the (potential) father of many children born outside his own family. Women trade sex in order to be with status and a pair of courageously muscular genes. But what sounds like a good deal to the women, turns out to be pretty lousy in the long run. Though the family might enjoy the advantages of having a popular spouse and father, each member receives less food and continually relies on one man’s gamble to bring down the largest game.
This situation feels uncannily familiar. Outside of hunter gatherer societies, this practice seems to equally exist. In our western world it is becoming crystal clear that a small group of big hunters aims for big piles of bacon. They divide it amongst each other. Think about it. CEOs, big managers and of course political leaders continue this ancient practice of showing off.
Now we know. The big show-offs impoverish their own nucleus. All the value this self-enriching-entity adds is in his own personal favor. He uses politics and capitalism to create status. He aims for the biggest game, pulls the trigger and shoots… over and over and over again. Until the game is extinct and the earth is exhausted.
Procreation leads to Extinction: An Evolutionary Paradox?
In hunter gatherer groups, devoted daddies who actually dó care about their core family and not just themselves exist but are, of course, not as popular. Most women still see ‘big game’ as status and success, even though the numbers don’t add up.
The desire for procreation has led to an urge for popularity. This urge for popularity, is becoming a leading force that is pulling our species down. Our human idolatry might very well be leading to our own extinction. It sounds strange, doesn’t it?
Yet, it is happening.
It is time to step away from this outdated practice of male courting that assists the gradual extermination of the planet. We need to change the way we see status. We can either choose to acknowledge and embrace the efforts of the not-so-shiny, but much more reliable and balanced ‘providers’, who care and nurture, and who work together with women. Or we can choose for the self-enriching-entity and embrace the one who cares for the wellbeing of the one unit only, his own.
The responsibilities of the defects in our system lie with both our men and women. If we change our expectations about what men need to be and ‘status’, the world around can reflect this thinking.