alpha males – paranormal biotruths and rape culture

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Evo-psych is a favorite pet topic of R Scott Bakker and assorted shitlords. It’s the domain of the uneducated who nevertheless believe they are brilliant; evo-psych is popular pseudo-science at its worst, used to justify roughly every form of bigotry you can imagine (and a few you can’t), with special attention paid to misogyny.

Imagine my surprise to discover that it’s also an obsession in the lofty genre of paranormal romance/urban fantasy.

“Don’t you understand? You, your subconscious or whatever wanted a life mate, and you wanted me bad. Something deep inside you wants to be loved, manu. All you have to do is let me.” –Shirin Dubbin, Dream’s Dark Kiss

Apart from being rapist logic, this line of thinking–“your subconscious wanted a life mate”–lines up neatly with the rhetoric and reasoning of real-world misogynistic creeps. Shirin Dubbin’s Keeper of the Way exhibits the genre-typical obsession with a certain kind of masculinity and a preoccupation with women as the protected, and the male whether romantic or paternal as protector–

Severin laid Nii down so softly it seemed he was tucking her in for a night’s sleep. He looked to her father, who didn’t need to be asked to protect her with his life. He always had—always would. The two males shared an understanding.

–and objectifying male attention as flattery rather than disturbing or unwelcome:

Wynn shrugged in his peculiar way. “Every male has checked you out. If the Elders didn’t have him pinned the qilin would be trying to ride you like you were one of my bikes.”

How about the idea of “mating”?

Dragon thorns worked with efficiency. She would be dead from poison-induced paralysis in a matter of heartbeats. And she felt no pain…nothing…other than the agony of her bond-mate.

Or–

“Soul meets soul when eyes meet eyes. When your bond-mate shows up, those sunshades won’t make a pixie’s shrug of difference.”

The trope of the predestined mate runs rampant throughout paranormal romance: the idea that when you meet THE ONE!!! your consent will cease to matter. Your ability to make decisions and judgment will drop away because he is THE ONE!!! and you can’t deny the inevitable bond. This, again, circles back to rapist logic; the character attempts to protect herself from forming a “bond” by wearing shades (so as not to make direct eye contact) but this is portrayed as (and the other characters tell her it is) foolish and unnecessary. Silly girl, trying to resist fate. Silly girl trying to resist what amounts to forced marriage.

she sensed a man enter the dry cleaners. A sensuous chill rode up her spine. The longing in the sensation rendered her speechless. [...] His addictive-as-dark-chocolate scent made her want to get naked…. That was a lie. His scent made her want to go five or six steps past naked and straight into ‘how’d they do that?’ Mmm, but it was more than the way he smelled. In her eighty-eight years of life she’d known no emotion so… so untamed.

Once he shows up she does find out she can’t resist him: the reaction is pheromonal because he’s such a “bastion of all things male” and “seriously male.” Evo-psych excrement swirling all the way down, and heteronormative as a matter of course. It should be noted that this lust at first sight (which treats things like “compatible personalities” and the like as optional and irrelevant) will always turn out to be correct; THE ONE!!! is indeed the one. The man’s reactions are similar: “Severin’s gaze followed the elfin female as she left the dry cleaners. He inhaled, taking in scents of ceasing and quickening, death and birth.” So he’s a dog. “The sway of her hips and the sexiness of her power nearly hypnotized him” as well, and it’s to be noted that her magical power’s primary significance is that it makes her sexy, not that it makes her powerful.

“Kill the male…shred and claw…the woman…mate and breed.”

The woman in question tightened her fingers around her weapon of choice. Mate and breed? Not bloody likely.

–Dreams’ Dark Kiss

This is another common component in paranormal romance: the female protagonist is broadly desired, usually by a number of alpha males but failing that, she is the target of some sort of rape prophecy. These women may possess some magical power of their own, but she’ll almost always be characterized by her specialness as a broodmare, thus necessitating that THE ONE!!! must protect her.

“When do I get to choose? You’re telling me the ankou hold my life in their grasp.” She screamed in frustration. The piercing sound dug furrows into Keoni’s brow but she couldn’t be bothered. “The Dream Guardian Guild forces a mate on me, and you order me around under the guise of protection. No! I won’t stand for it. I want to choose. My life on my terms. It should be on my terms!” She stamped her foot. “I don’t want this. I want to kill them all! And I. Don’t. Want. You.”

–Dreams’ Dark Kiss

This is portrayed as a horrible, hurtful thing to say to THE ONE!!! (a result, again, of her trauma having distorted her judgment). When her soulmate badgers and pesters and bullies her enough she eventually comes to accept that they are meant to be an item, with an accompaniment of paranormal evo-psych: ““You. Chose. Me!” His eyes burned. “Somnian males are chosen, we don’t do the choosing. You think we wanted to parade ourselves before you, peacocks spreading our feathers in hopes of your acceptance?” When did she choose him? Well, when she accepted his help during a rape attempt. “Whether you realize it or not, you sent out a mating imperative with your distress call.” Biotruth-assisted rapist logic.

He and the rest of his Somnian brahs recognized it the moment her distress call went out. Each of the alpha bachelors—Jay, Alexi, Archer and Keo—had responded to her cry for aid and the mating imperative held within.

“Alpha bachelors.” Really.

The Werewolf Penis and the Zipper that Bites

I discovered Marked via Dear Author, whose reviewer fails entirely to acknowledge that its central “romance” is based on sexual assault and date rape. Let’s just say the reviewer is an inferior reader and possibly illiterate, which is the most charitable that can be said of the majority of that site’s content. Aline Hunter’s Marked is about, as the Dear Author review obliviously describes it:

Along with the birth mark have come some incredibly vivid dreams of a faceless man who does all sorts of luscious things to her. [...] Imagine Chloe’s shock when she walks into The Wolf’s Den and the man she’s been dreaming of is in front of her. Even without ever having seen his face, she knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jackson Donovan is that man. To go along with her shock, her birthmark is now painful and sore. Jackson is, of course, Chloe’s mate. He’s known for some time that he was mated, as he’s been enjoying dreamsharing with Chloe. Even though he didn’t know her name, he knew for sure that she would come to him at his place of business.

Essentially, what you and I might call rape, paranormal romance readers and writers will call “mating.” Marked invests even more deeply into rapist logic than Dreams’ Dark Kiss, which is no small feat. The crux of it, much like in Dubbin’s work, is mainly that the woman secretly wants it and if she says no, then badger, pester, and otherwise intimidate her into saying yes–the same line of thinking that forms the backbone of PUA.

She followed as he guided her to a room on the left of the hallway. She wondered why it didn’t frighten her when he closed the door behind them. He was a stranger, after all.

“It’s going to be okay,” he said softly and spun her around. Their hands brushed in a whisper of skin against skin. In an instant, a connection was made. Something inside her reached out to him, desperate for a deeper link. The fuzzy sensation in her stomach exploded, a tidal wave of heat erupting from her pussy. Time seemed to stand still, the walls of the midsized room closing in. She swayed, afraid she might fall flat-faced on the floor.

Instant, biotruthy connection put next to her behaving as if she’s been drugged–

Frown lines deepened, tugging at the corners of her mouth. “This is so weird. I know you but I don’t. And I feel so strange. It’s like I took a trip down the rabbit hole.”

[...]

She cocked her head to the side, a puzzled expression on her face. “I don’t think so.” Something seemed to dawn on her. Her brows lifted, her plush lips parting. “Wait. Am I dreaming? Is that why you’re here?”

[...]

“Are you sure?” She looked around the room and then peered up at him, her grass-green eyes wide, pupils dilated. Her legs shifted as though she was trying to stem her sexual excitement. “Because this doesn’t feel normal.”

[...]

“This isn’t like me.” She shook her head, trying to clear mental cobwebs woven with lust. “Something’s wrong. I don’t feel right.” “Nothing’s wrong. It’s the moon heat, and it’s only going to get worse. You’re in the early stages.”

I think we can all agree that if the pupils are dilating, the person might not be in a condition to give meaningful consent. When she attempts to leave:

“Actually, I think I’m going to go,” Chloe said and started to inch around him, the sharp smell of her fear spreading through the room. “Coming here was a bad idea.”

Jackson reached out, snagging her by the wrist. The contact did exactly what he knew it would. She whimpered and cried out, sagging as he tugged her toward him. The days preceding the full moon were difficult on a female in season. She had to be feeling the changes, drawn by the desire to mate, beginning the transformation to her other form if she was able to change. Until a male—preferably the female’s mate—spent his seed inside of her, the ache would only worsen. That’s why he’d held himself back, trying to give her space. The first touch had muddled her thoughts. A second would throw her completely off balance, until all she could think about was the sexual frustration she was sure to be experiencing. And the poor thing didn’t have a clue what she was dealing with. She didn’t fight or struggle, resting against his chest as he urged her closer. She felt perfect against him—exactly right. A growl of contentment carried up his throat, his wolf eager for her touch.

“What’s the matter with me? This has to be a dream. I just have to wake up.”

Again, she’s behaving as if she’s been drugged and the werewolf rapist knows that touching her will make the magical roofie even stronger, so he goes ahead and does that. What’s important isn’t her ability to give consent or make decisions; it is that she “felt perfect against him.”

“Whoa, wait.” She squirmed against him, slapping at his chest. “I can’t leave with you!” When he tightened his grip, she screamed, “What do you think you’re doing? Put me down! Right now!”

[...]

“Let go!” Chloe shrieked. “Get your hands off me!” She landed an elbow to his gut but he didn’t stop, striding for the door.

[...]

They made it to his car without incident but the instant her feet touched the ground she tried to run. He caught her with ease, forcing her against the side of the vehicle. There was no time like the present to establish who was boss. He wedged his thighs between hers so she could feel the hard ridge of his cock. Her eyes went wide, her full lips parting in surprise.

This is very similar to what happens in Dubbin’s Dreams’ Dark Kiss; the language is one of sexual assault, only more overt–“establish who was boss,” “forced her against the side of the vehicle,” “wedged his thighs between hers.” Notably, just as with Dubbin’s work, the woman’s anger and violence are simultaneously portrayed as trivial (easily shrugged off by the man) and irrational even though reacting with violence is perfectly rational when someone is trying to rape you. Let’s get started on the rape apologia.

Jackson Donovan attempted to shake off his shock. He’d known his mate would find him. Dreamsharing only occurred when a female was ready to mate, and his had come at him like a freight train. She’d been nervous but eager in their encounters, shaking off her inhibitions as though she wasn’t aware the dreams were real. He’d known it was in a female wolf’s nature to play hard to get, so he’d bided his time. Once a woman got a taste of her male, she’d instinctually track him down. Distance wasn’t a factor. Instinct paved the way.

In the real world, shitheads come up with approximately five billion excuses to justify that the target of their sexual assault “really wants it deep down” so it’s “not really rape-rape” (this is a real thing). In paranormal romance, the excuses become objective facts: “a female was ready to mate,” “she’d instinctually track him down”–never mind that the psychic sex they had was something she thought was just wet dreams.

He drew a breath, taking in her scent. Pure feminine heat assailed him, clean and rich, the hot fragrance of her cunt slamming into his lungs. She smelled good enough to eat, as sweet and warm as honey. [...] His muscles tensed, his wolf growling in his head. He fought for control, trying to ice his desire. She was human, not wolf. He could scare her if he didn’t watch himself. If he wasn’t careful he could also hurt her, and a werewolf never harmed his mate. He was shaken by his lack of control, caught off guard by how she affected him. His primal urges rushed to the forefront, his wolf ready to take over. Realization hit, hard and fast. Damn. She’s on the brink of her season.

And then, when Mr Rapist is thinking of fucking her, it’s “her season” of course, and her pheromones or their super-special “mating bond” affecting him. It’s not his fault and he may not be held accountable; it’s his wolf that’s doing the urging, and it won’t take no for an answer–

He suppressed a snarl, fighting for control. He wasn’t letting his mate walk out of his life. Not after he’d waited so long for her. Somehow he’d make things work. It was his responsibility to protect his female and his people. At his age, he’d seen and survived a lot of shit. He’d be damned if he let his mating come in the way of what he’d worked so hard to accomplish.

Not just a rapist, but an abusive controlling shit as well: and all of that is, again, portrayed as good and right because she’s “his mate” and it’s “his responsibility to protect his female.” In-universe paranormal biology, such as it is, is the dreams of evo-psych shitlords come true: a world where their misbegotten “science” is truth and people really behave according to their “mating instincts” and all actions are motivated by genitals while human intelligence is erased.

He forced his hands into fists, trembling with the effort not to pull her into his arms. His fingers itched with the need to touch her, his cock straining against the sharp bite of his zipper. The metal teeth subdued his wolf, the sharp lance of pain into his engorged flesh more than welcome. She needed patient and gentle—two traits he seriously lacked.

[...]

His rock-hard dick jerked inside his pants, fueled by his female’s scent. He hadn’t been able to see her face until now. That was the way it worked with dreamsharing. The big reveal didn’t happen until a couple came face-to-face. It was nature’s way of promoting a bond that defied all things superficial, bonding a couple together on a deeper mental level.

Because paranormal romance operates on logic that says rape is romantic, a man who can barely wait to hump a woman’s legs (whether or not she can consent) becomes the height of sexy. “Isn’t it flattering,” the rapist coos, “that I want you so bad I’m about to take my pants off and fuck you right now whether or not you say yes, because secretly–deep down–I know you really want this?”

“I understand this is confusing but what you’re feeling isn’t going to go away. You need this.” He shoved his hips forward, pushing his pulsating length against her belly, grinding his teeth at the contact. “Over and over again. And you need it from me.” “This is crazy,” she whispered, fingers shaking as she rested her hands on his chest. The sweet smell of her pussy drifted to his nose. She might be shaken but she was also hotter than the asphalt in summer. “We don’t even know each other.”

Just as telling is that the woman feels threatened throughout–

She gawked, unable to focus on anything but him. Another wave of heat rushed through her, making her lightheaded. “Keep looking at me like that, and I’m going to give you what I promised, Chloe girl.” He lowered his hand and growled, gold eyes sweeping over her. “I’m trying real hard to be a gentleman but you’re testing my control.” “I…” She tried to think of something to say, realizing she was alone with this gargantuan man inside his home. He could do anything he wanted and she wouldn’t be able to stop him. Not to mention he was a werewolf. Not smart. Not smart at all.

Like the “alpha bachelor” in Dreams’ Dark Kiss explaining to “his female” what is what, in both scenarios the woman submits to the man’s paternalism: he is placed in a position of superior power, “mentoring” the woman in supernatural ways. The key is that the woman in each case is the “innocent” or at least the ignorant one–she doesn’t know about her own werewolf heritage or her combination of special dream powers or whatever, and so she needs the man to help protect her from her emerging power. The next step is that he will “awaken her to her own desires,” because he knows her sexuality better than she does and it’s of crucial importance that a woman’s sexuality centers entirely around what a man wants to tell her about it. I would say it’s mansplaining taken several steps beyond the normal sort, but it also has all the components of PUA techniques–manipulation, gaslighting, objectification.

It’s no coincidence that in both Dubbin’s and Hunter’s books the woman at first resists, even violently, only to be subdued and then bullied into sex and what’s essentially forced marriage, which becomes something of a comedy when you think that westerners always lose their shit over the idea of arranged marriages in those horrid backward primitive savage brown-people countries. But as long as the woman is given a magical roofie, it’s suddenly beautiful and sexy to westerners.

Across various romance writers and writer wannabes I gleaned from Dear Author we’ve got excrement such as “the single most masculine creature she’d ever seen in her life,” “this rich masculine scent,” “his face was perfectly masculine.” From one of their typically vacuous reviewers we’ve also got “the very masculine, absolutely gorgeous hero.” Yet another book offers up, very tellingly, “[a mouth that] might have been thought almost feminine in its beauty, were it not for the firm, purely masculine line of the jaw beneath.” Similar descriptions can be found in Anita Blake, of men who are “beautiful but too masculine to be feminine.” (NO HOMO, NO HOMO.)

In addition, the closer that Caroline and Simon grow, the more beta male he became. I felt as if you defanged the manslut hero in order to make him hero material, but in doing so, you lost the things that I found appealing about him in the first place. By the end of the book, Simon is wimpy and needy and I was longing for the arrogant manslut of the first few chapters.

One might consider whether the straight women who read and write these things are insecure about their heterosexuality, but what’s certain is that they believe in a rigid gender binary–and that for a man to be desirable to a woman he must be obviously and emphatically “masculine.” These being cis men constructed within an oppressive, heterocentric imagination, manliness is defined by their physical stature–towering over the women generally–muscles, or a “strong jaw.” The werewolf rapist in Marked is an embodiment of machismo: “protecting his female” and “[fighting] any would-be suitor who wanted to take his place.” Machismo is, rather than deconstructed or denied, endorsed and touted as desirable: what women would want in a real man. And, of course, they are “alpha males” who despite having come under criticism from genre readers, bloggers and the like continue to be incredibly pervasive. Nobody obsesses over the “alpha male”–itself a scientifically unsound concept–as much as misogynistic creeps and the romance genre. Nobody.

Additional reading:

The sexual evolution of females where they have as much freedom of choice in the bedroom as men — especially in romance novels. Heroines are as sexually active as heroes are these days. The old standard of the virginal heroine and the stud hero are long gone. [...] But romance novels are still focused upon the age old dance of the hormones and heart, where the man (men) wins the woman, and they live happily ever after (for now). That’s not feminist at all. That’s biology. That’s tradition.

Full-on biotruthy shitlady with a side of homophobia, fuck yeah.

Romance Fiction: Feminist?

Neurological studies have shown men and women have very different brains which process emotion in very different ways. So when a man reads a romance novel, the emotional experiences the book describes are not how he experiences the same things. So he just doesn’t get it.

A man reads a romance and thinks, “This is not how I perceive reality. This is just smut for women.”

As a result, romance is viewed as unworthy, stupid, purple, florid….I could go on, but I’m getting depressed. Anyway, the end result is that only 9 percent of the romance readership is male, according to the Romance Writers of America.

Feminist critics are just as likely to deplore our fiction as men are. I suspect few of these women have read a romance published after, say, 1990. For one thing, many feminist literary critics proclaim our heroes are all rapists, something that has been unacceptable in romance fiction since 1988 or so.

Evo-psych again! Aline Hunter’s Marked was published in November 2012, Shirin Dubbin’s Dreams’ Dark Kiss in December 2010. Illiteracy or no real understanding of rape culture? You be the judge.

Read Romance or Perish: A Biological Perspective on Romance Novels:

As some of you may know, I’m a biological scientist, and so I tend think of things from a biological perspective. [...] But at the end of the 60s, two independent changes occurred. The contraceptive Pill became widely available, and modern feminism was born. Those who were around at the time, and yes, I was, will remember that early feminism had a very clear message: that a woman didn’t need a man, marriage or children to be fulfilled. While no one would question the value of either the Pill or feminism, together they posed a potent biological threat if too many women followed the strict feminist path and gave up having children altogether. Biologically, societies would be doomed. The Pill and feminism hit at the end of the 60s. By the middle to late 70s, the birthrate of all western nations had fallen to 1.7. Governments took serious notice, but 1.7 for a short time isn’t reason for panic – the birthrate had been much higher in the previous decade – so most countries decided it was a case of a biological pendulum – if left alone, it would swing back.

[...]

The US did nothing, but allowed romance novels to respond to women’s need to hear the biologically, socially critical lesson that love, marriage and family are worthy and desirable goals. And the US thrives. Australia, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy, facing the same threats, also did nothing, but specifically removed romance novels from the equation. These societies are facing social extinction. France replaced romance novels with government propaganda and assistance. It might survive, but by the skin of its teeth and only at great financial cost. Propaganda is never as effective as reaffirmation. The conclusion is obvious. It’s read romance or perish. That’s an inconvenient truth a lot of people won’t want to hear. But as with that other inconvenient truth, perhaps it’s time we stopped closing our eyes to the incredibly potent, survival support system we’ve spent the last 40-plus millennia perfecting.

As we’ve just seen, pretending that system doesn’t exist, and isn’t important, can be socially fatal. As the guardians of genre fiction in your communities, I hope you take back with you a strengthened belief in the social and biological importance of keeping a wide range of genre fiction, and of romance in particular, on your shelves. Not only will it improve mental health and enhance your communities’ creativity, but it will also insure that your country continues as a biologically stable nation.

Biotruthy shitlady dinosaur with reality distortion field on, and unsurprisingly, no real understanding of biology despite her claims to being a scientist. There’s probably some racism in there too actually, and much of this reasoning sounds very Aryan Nations (what with the horror that WESTERN CIVILIZATION MAY FALL!!!) as well as heterocentric as all fuck. Avid defenders of romance!

137 thoughts on “alpha males – paranormal biotruths and rape culture

  1. I would tentatively add to your conclusions that perhaps one reason why the fantasy of the prophesied one is so prevalent is due to a highly individualist exceptionalism in North American/English culture and, in a larger sense, the anxiety of choice that permeates everything subjects of late capitalism see and feel. The prophesied one helps assuage the anxiety of choosing one mate from the countless thousands of possible suitors. Since the heteronormative package of “mate for life with this one dude or else you’re a slut” is being presented continuously, there’s an anxiety to make the right choice; a prophesied one alleviates this anxiety almost entirely. Fucking nonsense, of course.

  2. I think a large part of this conception of “mating” is to humanize or make your female protagonist “relate-able”. I think that most of the women who read this might feel helpless or otherwise consigned to a specific role. So it would, of course, be unseemly if your female protagonist had all this power and magic and was, in some way, superior to a man. That clearly goes against the deranged perception of gender roles, which isn’t based on what talents or skills you have. Doesn’t the dude end up, not only sexually superior, but more powerful in the end in some way in most of these?

  3. The rapist logic in these books really is astounding, right down to the old “womem cause uncontrollable lustful urges in men” thing.

    As some of you may know, I’m a biological scientist, and so I tend think of things from a biological perspective

    [...]

    the biologically, socially critical lesson that love, marriage and family are worthy and desirable goals

    Citation badly needed.

  4. Stephanie Laurens, for all of her claims of being a real scientist, doesn’t seem to exist in PubMed? Perhaps she publishes under a different name – I sympathize. But it has proved surprisingly hard to find any reference of her scientific work, apart from her author biographies. Which raises the points:

    The US did nothing, but allowed romance novels to respond to women’s need to hear the biologically, socially critical lesson that love, marriage and family are worthy and desirable goals.

    OH FUCK OFF

    And the US thrives.

    NO IT FUCKING DOESN’T HAVE YOU EVEN EVER BEEN THERE. I HAVE BEEN THERE. I AM FROM THERE. I WAS A CANCER RESEARCHER THERE. I COULD NOT AFFORD BIRTH CONTROL.

    Australia, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy, facing the same threats

    Sorry, but “having a low and reasonably sustainable amount of children, most likely due to the education of women and the higher cost of raising children, in resource-devouring Western countries” is not so much a threat as it is the only way to continue living on the planet.

    also did nothing

    I believe that those five countries offer substantial maternity leave and reasonable paternity leave, as well as social housing; Germany, I believe, offers two years of maternity leave.

    but specifically removed romance novels from the equation.

    I seem to recall that the big romance publisher, Avon, which apparently first published Laurens’ books when she was living in England, is one of the oldest and more popular romance imprints in the world, and that British romance novels are quite popular on both sides of the Atlantic…?

    These societies are facing social extinction.

    NO THEY FUCKING AREN’T. Well, Italy is rather poor and traditionally cannot afford to pay scientists very much. But I think she means that the rate of “immigrant births” (dog whistle for non-white births, obviously) is high in these countries?

    in which case, fuck off, Laurens, you’re an immigrant yourself.

    • in which case, fuck off, Laurens, you’re an immigrant yourself.

      Now now, we all know that if it’s a white westerner they are an expat. That unsavory label “immigrant” is reserved only for those of color and Eastern Europeans.

    • This obsession of Laurens and other shitheads like her with the preservation of the Aryan race is really disturbing. And curiously those very same people oppose any form of assistance to parents of young children (see all the rage against “government assistance” in France). Of course, it’s possible that by making it really hard for poor/ people to have children, then only “worthy” people will breed.

      And I’d like to add that, actually, parental assistance is pretty poor across the board in Western Europe. Paid maternity leave is 14 to 16 weeks in most countries, and paid paternal never exceeds 2 weeks or so, except in Norway. Free nursery schools are scarce in Germany, and are becoming harder and harder to find in France and Belgium.

      Having a kid almost always means the mother* has to work part-time for some years untill they’re old enough to go to school. With the economy going to hell all over the continent, it’s not surprising to see that people would rather have a stable income than kids.

      *Patriarchy still very much alive in Western Europe. I know it’s obvious to the intelligent folks here, but by reading the papers over here you’d think that only those foreigners and brown immigrants have patriarchal ideas.

      • Thanks for this perspective! I was offering mine as an American immigrant* living in Europe. The US remains the only “developed” country that does not offer maternity, paternity or adoption leave, hence my feelings that Laurens does not actually support the existence of… well… children. A country where childcare is incompatible with working outside the home ≠ the thriving, child-nourishing country that Laurens has centered her romance/biotruth ideal on.

        Further, Western Europe has social and medical safety nets that are unparalleled in the US. Council housing in the UK means that homeless families are housed, and a family can live out their lives in a reasonably appointed home. Prenatal care is relatively cheap or free in Western Europe, as is the cost of actually delivering the baby; it costs $3000-$6000 to deliver an American baby uninsured and about 20% of that with insurance.

        I agree completely with what you’re saying, and I’m adding the point that the US is not the Beautifully Landscaped Haven of Bountiful Domesticity that Laurens is trying to portray. It’s not a great place to have a baby or raise a family and in comparison to Western Europe it is, in fact, a nightmare shithole. .

        * I agree with, and have personally experienced what you mean about the patriarchy; there has been incredible bureaucratic confusion here in the UK about the fact that my name is different from my husband’s. In fact, I was only able to open my own bank account because said husband is a Doctor.

        • Oh yes, certainly, some social safety net is better than none at all. Punishing people for having kids (paying thousands of dollars? Really?) and saying this is a thriving model of demography makes no sense at all.

          Unfortunately, the EU Commission and most european governments are bent on destroying what little is left of welfare because DEFICITS. (Well, I’m sure you know that, the prime minister in the UK is freaking Cameron). It’s not getting any better.

          I’m sorry you had to go through so much bullshit (yay for classism and misogyny working together) just to open a damn bank account. Must have been frustrating.

          [And full disclosure: I'm not actually a parent. I have two aunts who live in two different european countries and each of them has two little kids. The one in France had to enter a one-year waiting list for the nursery school while the one in Spain wouldn't get by without her parents-in-law. It's mainly their experiences that I'm talking about.]

  5. It’s not even at the level of “biotruth” nonsense, because humans don’t go into heat or form structured packs. Some animals do, we don’t.

    The social structures and sex scenes in these books are based upon a (probably pretty shallow) understanding of canine life. So yeah, the books are basically dogsex, er, I MEAN WEREWOLF fantasies. Enjoy!

  6. “…the qilin would be trying to ride you like you were one of my bikes.”

    What is this I don’t even

  7. Evo-psycho conveniently opines (with zero real data) that the “ideal” human configuration is a combination of a fifties suburban US household and a baboon troop. A few months ago, I debunked Bakker’s “It’s hardwired, do you dare dispute science!!” blather: That Rare, Elusive Rape Particle (http://www.starshipreckless.com/blog/?p=6311). Maybe it’s time to tackle Laurens. “Exhausted women with kids clinging to their skirts” don’t need romance novels. They need access to contraception and people willing to share labor.

  8. Calling evolutionary biology or evolutionary psychology pseudoscience because you don’t understand it is the same as decrying the study of genetics because some people use it to support eugenics.

      • No, you’re bad at comprehension.

        Evolutionary psychology and evolutionary biology are logical extensions of the idea that humans have been around for longer than our recorded history. I’m not sure if you believe in evolution or not, but if you do, it follows that we evolved under certain selective pressures that vary greatly based on differing environments.

        Anyone who takes this concept and uses it as an excuse for rape in a progressive, modern society doesn’t understand what evolutionary psychology is.

        So, when a friend links me to this site, and the first thing I see is this:

        “Evo-psych is a favorite pet topic of R Scott Bakker and assorted shitlords. It’s the domain of the uneducated who nevertheless believe they are brilliant; evo-psych is popular pseudo-science at its worst, used to justify roughly every form of bigotry you can imagine (and a few you can’t), with special attention paid to misogyny.”

        It tells me that the author of the above post has little to no real understanding of what evolutionary psychology is.

        I believe that comparing such a misunderstanding to genetics is a good analogy. See, when genetics became a new field of study, governments worldwide implemented selective breeding programs. As with any new idea, people didn’t truly grasp what the idea meant, and used purported facts to justify their own nightmarish ideas.

        Today, with further advances in the field, we now know that there is more to genetics, such as epigenetics, the idea that the actions we take influence our genes in future generations, regardless of our base genetic makeup. Looking back, our understanding of genetics based on limited information was completely wrong and led to horrendous treatment of people.

        And, just like genetics, most people don’t understand what evolutionary biology or evolutionary psychology actually mean, and they use it to justify terrible things.

        This is what I meant with my analogy. Evolutionary biology and psychology really aren’t arguable as concepts, nor is genetics. If there is an argument for any of the three, please, share and refute me.

        But evobio and evopsych aren’t really disciplines one can study, as there is no way to go back in time to “prove” anything. They are useful concepts in certain cases, useless in others. Anyone who takes them to mean more than this is misguided.

        Anyone arguing for a positive slant towards rape is, in my opinion, a monster and inhuman, just as anyone would argue we should kill living, sentient beings based on nothing more than the fact that they have a different biological makeup than we do, is also inhuman.

        • Your conflation of evo-psych and evolutionary biology suggests to me that you are illiterate. Are you?

        • Since the moderator has made it so I am unable to reply directly to their post below, I offer a rebuttal here:

          Indeed, literacy is a strong suit of mine. I will ignore your ad-hominem attack in place of a well-reasoned argument responding to my point, and instead seek to further discussion of the article.

          The ideas are conflated in general terms in the beginning of my response because the brain is part of your biology. Evolutionary psychology, logically, is therefore an extension of evolutionary biology.

          Assuming your knee-jerk reaction to prove me wrong was correct, how, then, does that invalidate the rest of my argument?

        • Your own words: “But evobio and evopsych aren’t really disciplines one can study, as there is no way to go back in time to “prove” anything.”

          You compare the describing as pseudoscience a field which is by definition pseudoscientific to decrying a non-pseudoscientific field because of a tenuous association with a thoroughly discredited pseudoscientific field.

          These situations are not analogous.

    • Equating evolutionary biology and evolutionary psychology demonstrates that you understand neither.

      • I didn’t equate them. I said that evolutionary psychology is a logical extension of evolutionary biology.

        If I were equating them, I would have said that evolutionary psychology is the same as evolutionary biology.

  9. To Alex Wolfe: I’m a practicing biologist, so don’t waste everyone’s time with the tired line of “Your ignorant little brain can’t comprehend the sweep and grandeur of X.” Take your whining elsewhere or, better yet, read PZ Myers’ evisceration of evopsycho.

    • You know, as an ostensible scientist, one would think you would resort to providing empirical evidence instead of dramatic, ad-hominem attacks.

      • You mean…. THIS evisceration?:

        “There are days when I simply cannot bear the entire field of evolutionary psychology: it’s so deeply tainted with bad research and a lack of rigor. And that makes me uncomfortable, because the fundamental premise, that our behaviors are a product of our history, is self-evidently true. ”

        Source (so you know I’m not just name-dropping and making things up): http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/01/17/the-evolution-of-rape/

        • Hello dear Alex, I was going to actually inform you why you should perhaps re-read the post (and perhaps even your own post!) on second inspection you’re just a mansplainer. I’ve been studying it for the last 3 years for both personal reasons and to get a degree, and I’ve yet to come across a published theory that cannot readily be explained by other factors. The human brain’s very likely a social one, sure, but it’s also a very plastic one.
          I’ve yet to read of anything relating to race and sex (etc) that have any weight behind them.
          Also, your argument technically refutes itself… “Evolutionary biology and psychology really aren’t arguable as concepts, nor is genetics. If there is an argument for any of the three, please, share and refute me. But evobio and evopsych aren’t really disciplines one can study, as there is no way to go back in time to “prove” anything.”

          Awwwwwkwaaaard.

  10. Postscript: it’s actually amusing that a tried-n-true technique for evopsycho defenders is to try and tar its critics as creationists: “If you don’t believe that women like pink because they gathered berries, you’re denying evolution!!” As a molecular neurobiologist whose research focuses on brain function, it’s also funny to see people whose only acquaintance with the domain is (at best) Wikipedia try to explain to me how genes, neurons and brains work.

  11. Strange also that romance writers insist on incorporating the concept of ‘one true mate’ when it tends to suck out a lot of the tension and drama out of the story. Because then there is no question of if/how this relationship will happen, only when. That leads to desperate attempts at adding conflict which means – the woman is reluctant because she doesn’t UNDERSTAND the rapey logic working here, and the MASCULINE man has to persuade/coerce her, because it’s meant to be!
    Sigh.

    • Ah, but when you’re talking romance novels, the “when” is the only thing that matters. If/how are taken for granted, because I’m pretty sure most readers would just spontaneously explode into ash if the heroine/love interest didn’t get together at the end.

      Not to mention how conveniently the “one true mate” crap lines up to allow the heroine to a) find a lifemate w/o dating, because dating makes you a slut/interferes with your ~strong, independent action woman~ lifestyle, and b) have premarital sex w/a stranger quickly and often w/o being “easy”. Because he’s the ONE and her subconscious just knows it and all and she’ll never do it with anyone else.

      God I hate this trope.

      FYI, the PC term for alpha-male rape is “forced seduction”.

    • Rapeyness and other such unpleasantries aside, I think you’ve hit on why I really don’t care for the genre. I don’t mind a romantic element in a story I’m reading, but when it’s the main point and there’s really no question about its outcome? Boring.

  12. @Alex Wolfe: I’m a molecular geneticist, with a particular emphasis on the genetics of immunology and the evolution thereof. Evolutionary biology can explain trends and relationships between organisms, but there is a great deal of nuance there. It doesn’t do what you seem to think it does.

  13. Do the werewolves (and “hybrids”) in these books ever have to deal with the multitude of issues that would come with having “mating seasons”? Do the males have to spray musk all over the place? Are the females presenting their asses to everyone? I know that’s more like cats, but that’s how I imagine it. Romance is supposed to be a uniquely human thing, but genre writers seem obsessed with stripping the characters of their humanity because the process of people meeting and falling in love would obviously take way too much time and skill to depict.

    • Weirdly, I just read the bit in Margaret Atwood’s “Oryx and Crake” featuring people who have been engineered to do more or less exactly that. It’s depicted as a good time for everyone involved, but not particularly romantic.

  14. speaking of nonsense involving wolves and elves and mating with THE ONE, have you ever subjected yourself to the old Elf Quest comics? If I remember right there’s a whole subplot about how true mate love is the only way to get the smartest, magicallest, elfiest elf babies and that an entire tribe of elves is stupid because they mate when they want instead of when true mate love demands it. A quick google search even confirmed that the terrible line above “soul meets soul when eyes meet eyes” was even stolen from that comic. Fuckin elves, man. When they aren’t white power fantasies, they’re evo-psych fantasies.

  15. A lot of this is not just promoting and upholding rape culture but also getting women to accept their “lot in life” especially as it comes to accepting the men in their lives are “just the way they are, it’s biology, so stop complaining about how he leaves dirty socks all over the place and won’t wash the dishes.” Not that this will surprise anyone but lots of women read this stuff thinking they’re “escaping” into a fantasy but what they’re really doing is succumbing to the propaganda that their lives aren’t theirs to control, so instead of doing anything to improve themselves (which might upset other people, i.e., men) they just “let off steam” by reading these rapemances. So that’s why they can say “it’s just fantasy, I don’t take it seriously!” because that’s how deep the brainwashing goes.

    • Yes. I believe it’s just a reinforcing reaffirmation that the way things are is the way things are supposed to be, even if the way things are makes them miserable. Which is why the unhappiness of the heroines is treated as trivial or wrong or easily fixed with the right man: besides the fact that it’s a reflection of culture, the stories are there to say that even though those feelings do happen to women, it doesn’t mean things need to be questioned or changed in uncomfortable ways for women to achieve health happiness. Because that is easier than rejecting things. This is why ‘ignorance is bliss’ is a misnomer and ‘pretend things are okay until they are because you’ve changed your attitude even though things haven’t gone away’ is detrimental in general even if it helps individuals feel better.

  16. To the twisted spinster:

    I couldn’t agree more. The great irony of fantasy fiction is that despite ostensibly being escapism, it almost always operates within and maintains a political status quo. The culture industry’s modus operandi is to infantilize the subjects (women who need access to education, contraception, as somebody upthread put it so well) and to convince them that their leisure time is a necessary reward from labour — when in reality, their leisure is a small island of respite between vast oceans of labour. I fucking hate this escapist fantasy shit that reinforces and perpetuates this garbage.

  17. @Alex Wolfe:

    It seems that there has been a possible misunderstanding. Speaking for myself, but inferring that others read it the same, I think we read your comment as endorsing evo-psych on the basis of your concept of evolutionary biology which is flawed. It also seemed that you were not directing your comment at Bakker, but ACM, in which case, you’d be wrong in our view.

    With that said and if it is true, then your conception of what evolutionary biology does and explains and how is flawed and incorrect. In this case, Athena proving anything to your or providing you with any kind of deep analysis would’ve been a grim and futile prospect at best. But I have no idea what you mean that genetics or evolutionary biology is not a concept. Allowing those things to inform policy or perception is not wrong. They explain the world in meaningful ways. What is wrong is when people outside of the field and who have no notion what those things actually are or what they do try to get into the game of extending those things into other things that confirm whatever predatory or discriminatory biases that they have which lead to horrific outcomes.

    • “your concept of evolutionary biology which is flawed.”

      Please, I would love to read a response on how is the following flawed: “Evolutionary psychology and evolutionary biology are logical extensions of the idea that humans have been around for longer than our recorded history. I’m not sure if you believe in evolution or not, but if you do, it follows that we evolved under certain selective pressures that vary greatly based on differing environments”.

      I think we’re on the same page when it comes to everything else, save that I wouldn’t be interested in, nor would follow through with, someone providing me with more detailed analysis of the issue. Indeed, I read Athena’s suggestion immediately from PZ Myers, who happens to agree with me.

      • “Evolutionary psychology and evolutionary biology are logical extensions of the idea that humans have been around for longer than our recorded history

        Define ‘human’. Define ‘recorded history’. And human behaviour in different environments can vary greatly across just about every aspect of human behaviour, so any kind of determinism is highly suspicious to me.

        • A human is an animal belonging to the species “homo sapien”. Recorded history is the sum of written material produced by humans.

  18. To Alex Wolfe: I’m not obliged to spend my limited time and energy to provide you with the troll’s favorite demand of “empirical evidence” that you can find strewn across the scientific landscape, including works of legitimate evolutionary biologists like Sarah Blaffer Hrdy. You should also look up the definition of “ad hominem”, “ostensible” — maybe even “evolutionary biology” while we’re at it.

    • You’re already spending much of your “limited time and energy” responding to me, so why not do it like an intelligent adult?

      In light of your next reading suggestion, I must assume that PZ Myers is no longer a legitimate evolutionary biologist. Is it because he said, nearly word-for-word, what I did? My words, quoted from above:

      “Evolutionary psychology and evolutionary biology are logical extensions of the idea that humans have been around for longer than our recorded history. I’m not sure if you believe in evolution or not, but if you do, it follows that we evolved under certain selective pressures that vary greatly based on differing environments.”

      Compared them to the words of PZ Myers:

      “the fundamental premise, that our behaviors are a product of our history, is self-evidently true.”

      Again, source: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/01/17/the-evolution-of-rape/

  19. Had you read past the first line in Wikipedia, you might have discovered that an ad hominem argument is perfectly legitimate if the person fits the description he receives. I have written extensively on these issues, you’re perfectly free to quote out of context from my work as much as you’ve done from Myers’. And continuing to point to the stain on your trousers is neither persuasive nor attractive.

    • I dare you to link the whole paragraph and show how the context surrounding this:

      “the fundamental premise, that our behaviors are a product of our history, is self-evidently true.”

      Changes its meaning.

      Unless you can summon up enough humility to do as such — without simultaneously calling me stupid, crazy, or a fundamentalist, I’m finished humoring you.

  20. Alex Wolfe: how does evo-psych explain the existence of long-winded mansplainers. I’d think that such rambling bores would have been bred out since they’d have been a clear liability in hunting parties. “Why didn’t you bring any meat home?” “Ogg here wouldn’t shut up with his lectures about proper spear points and kept alerting the prey.” (Later, Ogg was eaten by a dire wolf.)

  21. @Alex Wolfe:

    On the surface, that statement is true. But you are using it in a deeply flawed manner and removing all context and nuance. When Athena mentions how neurobiology works and you try to draw a line from a social construct to a scientific one, you are not correct. Athena was trying to show you that when she mentioned the absurdities of women liking pink. That is a social construct. Women’s place being in the home is a social construct and you can see that because as soon as you educate or imbue women with any kind of power or agency, the odds of improving lifestyle goes up along with women working outside the home. It is also violated whenever a father decides to stay at home. So when you draw these lines that evo-psych says are there to some social construct, you are doing it wrong and without discernment.

    But, ultimately, what you are saying is that men are vile creatures. You are saying that it is the providence of men to rape. Now you can try to say it is the providence of women to accept that, but that flies with the emotional consequences and impact on the woman and how men try to rationalize the basic evil of rape. Most of what evo-psych does is some bizarre and cruel kind of metaphysics and that’s saying something because metaphysics quickly goes to the bizarre.

    Actually explaining it to you would require a dissertation and actual investment on your part. Hours of investment because those notions and practical applications are wrong and you can’t even see how you are wrong because you start with a somewhat true statement.

    • You put a lot of words into my mouth. Let me take these one at a time.

      “Athena was trying to show you that when she mentioned the absurdities of women liking pink. That is a social construct. ” — I agree.

      “Women’s place being in the home is a social construct and you can see that because as soon as you educate or imbue women with any kind of power or agency, the odds of improving lifestyle goes up along with women working outside the home.” — I agree.

      “It is also violated whenever a father decides to stay at home. So when you draw these lines that evo-psych says are there to some social construct, you are doing it wrong and without discernment.” — I agree… but if you read my posts, I never argued for any of these things you say I did.

      “But, ultimately, what you are saying is that men are vile creatures.” — That’s libel, quote me where I said that.

      “You are saying that it is the providence of men to rape.” — Also libel, and quite offensive that you would draw THAT from what I actually wrote.

      “Actually explaining it to you would require a dissertation and actual investment on your part.”

      Put your money where your mouth is. Take half the time it took you to write out the response above and suggest 1-3 books I could read to further my education instead of saying “I’m a biologist, you wouldn’t understand” and underhandedly calling me a fool.

  22. “Machismo is, rather than deconstructed or denied, endorsed and touted as desirable: what women would want in a real man. And, of course, they are “alpha males” who despite having come under criticism from genre readers, bloggers and the like continue to be incredibly pervasive. Nobody obsesses over the “alpha male”–itself a scientifically unsound concept–as much as misogynistic creeps and the romance genre. Nobody.”

    Perfectly said. I hate the alpha male trope, oh, how I hate it, and it’s fucking everywhere. I like romance, but I tend to think of it as two people liking each other, so they talk, flirt, save the day, and decide to have great sex, not a creep chasing some poor woman fleeing for her chastity until she trips and falls and he can leap on top of her and call it true love. (And she’s supposed to be the one “really in control”, because, as we all know, the ability to compel people stronger than you to attack you is power.) As much as I enjoy werewolves, I had to give up on the paranormal romance genre because if I read one more mate-rape fantasy I was really going to hurt someone.

    The almost universal fetishizing of the lack of choice is what really bothers me. A female character who chooses her suitor, sets the terms of how they interact, and goes at her own pace is evidently forbidden. Such a total loss of control is more like infuriating nightmare fuel to me than an example of compelling passion.

    • Anyone who spends time around animals knows that their social dynamics – including choices of how and when to have sex – are much, much more complicated than ‘common knowledge’ would have it. Even behaviouralists don’t always get it right, not in the least because they tend to disregard behaviour that does not fit their mental model as ‘aberrant’ and look for evidence of the things they want to see. (One of those things, at least among male researchers, seems to be ‘the strong male gets all the females he want. Funny, that…)

  23. Dear Alex Wolfe,

    You’re not actually comprehending the basic fundamental stance that these posters have taken. You’re quibbling with the most superficial details because you think that’s how logic and rhetoric functions. If you had read more of PZ Myers — it only took seconds for me to do so — you would have seen that he intrinsically disagrees with evo psych because its fundamental premise is flawed due to a misunderstanding of how evolution works. You are willfully misconstruing his points in order to serve the most superficial of points. Again, even though this is the Internet, it doesn’t mean that you can’t argue as if it weren’t. With this in mind, take the time to a) read some other posts on this blog and b) digest what people are saying.

    Sincerely,
    a guy entertained by the flailing about but irritated by the wrongheaded deployment of basic logic functions

  24. @Alex Wolfe:

    Here is where I’m gonna say something insulting and then stop humoring you and believing that you are in this discussion in good faith. And I’m doing this because you have no idea what words mean or, indeed, that they mean anything. When you endorse evo-psych and it’s tenets, the above things that I outlined are the direct implications of that endorsement. Unless you are saying that you don’t endorse evo-psych, which has no basis in science. There are consequences to lines of thought and science. You have elevated evo-psych such that, to you, it is a real thing. It isn’t. Therefore, the line of inquiry and thought that evo-psych purports to have lead to flawed, cruel, and bizarre ramifications. It’s like you refuse to engage with your own argument and perform basic critical analysis and conclusions. Your are incredibly superficial and it is to your detriment.

    Also, one book or three isn’t going to give you the education and depth of nuance you need. You actually need to be reading peer-reviewed items. Lots of them. You have to perform literature review…and it doesn’t look like you’ve even done a bare examination of what is actually out there other than blogs and essay. Those can be good and meaningful but unless they have the backing of peer-review, they don’t have the necessary authority to meaningfully give you information.

    • The following is what I said about evolutionary psychology, no more, and no less:

      “Evolutionary psychology and evolutionary biology are logical extensions of the idea that humans have been around for longer than our recorded history. I’m not sure if you believe in evolution or not, but if you do, it follows that we evolved under certain selective pressures that vary greatly based on differing environments”.

      The most I publicly revealed of my actual opinion was this:

      “Anyone arguing for a positive slant towards rape is, in my opinion, a monster and inhuman, just as anyone would argue we should kill living, sentient beings based on nothing more than the fact that they have a different biological makeup than we do, is also inhuman.”

      Now, here is my offer to ANYONE reading this. ANYONE.

      If you can quote me from the above posts and show where I say that I believe evolutionary psychology is justification for rape, I will donate $100 to the charity of your choice, and publicly apologize to everyone on this board for wasting their time.

      I am very serious.

      I am leaving for a few hours to enjoy the day with a friend. I await your response when I return.

  25. Satoshi Kanazawa, is that you??

    More seriously, you were given legitimate evobio names to read: Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, in my very first comment — unless of course “legitimate” to you means “agrees with me.”

    Actually, we’ve been the ones humoring you. Believe it or not, this conversation is not about providing you with any “evidence” (aka untruths or garbled conclusions you find palatable). As for the epithets you say we imply for you — if the codpiece fits, wear it.

  26. “which becomes something of a comedy when you think that westerners always lose their shit over the idea of arranged marriages in those horrid backward primitive savage brown-people countries”

    Likes over 9000.

    @Athena: I would very much enjoy you taking down the latest babble from the evospsych world. :-)

    I do find it amusing how reading romance novels suddenly becomes a matter of biblical import, a consumer choice where all Western civilization hangs in the balance.

    @Twisted Spinster: Good point on how evo-psych gels so readily into a heteronormative call to let “men be men”…which only ever seems to imply an allowance for sexist behavior.

    @Alex: You’re just embarrassing yourself. Seriously, you’re up against at least two scientists by my count. I suspect I’ve got the same layman’s background as you do in biology and I can’t see what your point is. At best, I think the conclusion to be drawn is there may be some limited capacities in which some traits of human behavior can be partially explained by evolution.

    That’s hardly a ringing endorsement of evo-psych though, nor do I see any justification for retrograde behavior in the acceptance of that reality.

      • @Alex: Fool? I’m not the one arguing with a geneticist and a neurobiologist about how one should take evo-psych as seriously as evolution.

        I mean…Do you understand no one is taking you seriously? There are the nice people trying to educate you and the ones who are thinking how silly your tantrum is.

        • “When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.” — Jonathan Swift

        • Oh my goodness haha, you really are that narcissistic and oblivious. And uneducated–stop citing wikipedia, dude.

          Keep going and you may become the first person ever blocked from commenting here for the sheer offense of being really fucking boring.

      • Stuff your offer and your self-importance. Seriously.

        As for your definition of “talking sense”? All you’ve been doing is snobbing at people. You haven’t been providing worthwhile references and your longest rant included a part where you said that this nonsense, whose hill you apparently are chomping at the bit to die on, isn’t provable which puts all of your defenses for this nonsense idea that people are hardwired into patriarchal gender roles (which I admit is probably not at thing you’ve directly said but which is, at least to my understanding, the core of evolutionary psychology) pretty well useless.

        If “talking sense” involves calling other people stupid because you have not provided adequate evidence for your chosen phenomenon which could not be explained equally well or better by other explanations (hello, socialization), then the bar for “talking sense” is absurdly low and the term means nothing even resembling what I always took it to mean.

        • “which I admit is probably not at thing you’ve directly said”

          Congratulations on being the first person to read what I’ve typed instead of assuming what I believe.

  27. >France replaced romance novels with government propaganda and assistance.
    WTF. We have plenty of romance novels in France? I don’t even… Arg where’s my flamethrower.
    (also: 2012 birth rate in US 2.06 children born/woman, 2011 birth rate in France 2.00. Funnily enough I don’t really see a difference…)

    • You haven’t been given access to the statistics of ‘the right women breeding’ and ‘the wrong ones’ doing it. As everybody knows, the problem isn’t ‘American’ or “French’ birth rates, but ‘the right ethnicity’ because only if white aryan women breed with affluent white aryan men will civilisation survive. Or something like that.

      But yes, the idea that Romance = deliberate propaganda is…

      … actually, it would explain a thing or two.

  28. I’ve been out of touch; when did evolutionary psychology become a “thing”? I remember taking college classes in the late 80s that touched on some of the themes being bandied about here, but I don’t remember that term at all. Some of the reading was fascinating though: Edmund Wilson (the original sociobiologist – with ants!); Daly and Wilson (I remember a chapter on phalarope ducks that was pretty cool); David Rindos (human and corn coevolution); Thornhill & Thornhill (rape examined as a possible reproductive strategy; for such a galvanizing topic, the paper was dreary with statistics).

    I don’t recall this stuff had entered popular culture at all then, but apparently at some point it escaped. What happened?

  29. At this point, Alex Wolfe has contributed nothing to this discussion other than some choice quotes from Wikipedia in his defense. In fact, I’m inclined to say that he hasn’t argued anything other than a poorly deployed analogy. Block him for the egregious arrogance of replying with a Jonathan Swift quote. Yes, we have fed the troll.

    • Yeah, he’s gone from mildly amusing to just irritating. Maybe it’s the fact that the two scientists who are trying to educate him are women, but I don’t see anything penetrating his willful ignorance.

      • For “a guy entertained by the flailing about but irritated by the wrongheaded deployment of basic logic functions”,

        I notice you assert my original analogy was poor. Fair enough. I worried that my wording was poor, and using the powers of empathy, I decided that perhaps it was difficult to understand the analogy from my point of view. Worried about being misunderstood, I outlined the reasoning behind my analogy in what I believed to be clear-spoken, level-headed argument.

        Most of the posters in this thread assume I am like them, and spend my limited time on the internet participating in a snark-filled hate-fest.

        There is another logical reason. That I believe this: “Evolutionary psychology and evolutionary biology are logical extensions of the idea that humans have been around for longer than our recorded history. I’m not sure if you believe in evolution or not, but if you do, it follows that we evolved under certain selective pressures that vary greatly based on differing environments.”

        and wish to see if I am correct. I wish someone would prove me wrong because that would lead to re-conception and refinement of my idea, ultimately resulting in a world-view more consistent with reality than it was prior to entering the conversation. Alternatively, no counterargument could be provided, despite having two professional scientists in related fields participating in the conversation, and my idea would also be validated.

        See Mathew, the next logical step for the person who originally made their assertion that my analogy was poor would be to create counter-arguments for each of my points. This did not happen. Nor, when given the opportunity, did anyone else prove me wrong.

        This is strange to me, considering that there were two self-proclaimed scientists in the thread. See, what happened was two people TOLD me they were scientists, but paradoxically to me, instead of using their position of knowledge to educate someone regarding evolutionary psychology, they decided to belittle me.

        To me, this means I must be correct.

        Perhaps you are thinking something resembling the following:

        “But they just didn’t want to waste their time on some random troll idiot@!”

        To combat the argument that the two scientists simply did not have the time to respond to me, I made an offer of $100 to a charity of their choice, thinking that one hundred dollars to a charitable cause would be a nice olive branch if I was indeed false in my claims. I would be humble, happy to have my thinking improved, and they would not have their limited time spent on undoubtedly important research wasted, as they would provide $100 of help to a cause near and dear to them. Additionally, one of them being being an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, I expected a more educational response.

        I was wrong. Neither scientist thought donating $100 to charity in exchange for a small amount of their time they were using to hang out on the internet, regardless of my actions, was a worthwhile investment. That, and I’m doing research.

        Fine. For the scientists specifically, but for anyone in the thread, a new contest is open. One winner take all.

        I offer the same premise as before:

        “If you can quote me from the above posts and show where I say that I believe evolutionary psychology is justification for rape, I will donate $100 to the charity of your choice, and publicly apologize to everyone on this board for wasting their time.”

        In lieu of the $100 to charity I offered previously, $100 that EVERY PERSON IN THE THREAD decided not to take advantage of: a personal check written in your name for $250. Either the money was not more than they make an hour (if they claim to be scientists, they can type out a response in under an hour countering my points, otherwise they’re hacks), or they couldn’t waste their time.

        Fine. I offer the $250 as, what I believe to be, reasonable compensation for creating a response in an internet comment section.

        You have no logical reason NOT to prove me wrong now.

        But you know what? I think the both of you are cowards that can’t step up to the plate when it matters and defend their point. I know you’re reading this. People don’t coincidentally lurk on a blog entitled “Requires Only That You Hate”.

        Prove me wrong. Gain your honor back and make some easy money for yourself (or $250 for a charity of your choice if you aren’t as petty as I believe you to be) in the process.

        I fucking dare you.

        For Mathew: As a person claiming to have a better understanding of logic and rhetoric than myself, I invite your counterargument to the above train of logic.

        For Saajan:

        “*Just to be clear, I’m referring to his thick headedness and not saying Shard or Athena are at fault for being female!”

        HAHAHA! Feel guilty much Saajan? It’s like you’re one of those anti-gay politicians that is a closet homosexual, except with misogyny! Only someone worried about revealing they secretly or subconsciously hate women would create an addendum for their first post asserting it wasn’t derogatory towards women.

        I guess you were right when you said it was you guys humoring ME. I’m getting far more mileage out of this than I ever dared to hope at the outset.

        And to the author: “Oh my goodness haha, you really are that narcissistic and oblivious. And uneducated–stop citing wikipedia, dude.”

        The quote is the lead-in quote to a landmark of contemporary American literature, Pulitzer Prize winning “A Confederacy of Dunces” by John Kennedy Toole. Ironic that a quote from a seminal work of American Literature would earn the pejoratives “oblivious” and “uneducated”.

        Unless a response to my contest is posted, this shall be my final post. I conclude with the following quote as to why, taken from wikiquote:

        http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Friedrich_Nietzsche

        “He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.”

        — Friedrich Nietzsche

        • Sorry guys, I could not not let this comment through. It is a thing of, well, it’s something anyway.

        • “prove me wrong…gain your honor back” Yeah MRA evopsychos are always going on about “honor” like they’re Prussian soldiers with dueling scars and eyepatches but no I can’t even go on it’s too ludicrous the idea of pasty white keyboard warriors like this dude even talking about “honor” like they were qualified to discuss the concept.

        • “Only someone worried about revealing they secretly or subconsciously hate women would create an addendum for their first post asserting it wasn’t derogatory towards women.”

          Or I wrote quickly while doing other things and realized what I said could be misinterpreted? But, for your information, it did make me think that I need to examine my own psyche and clean out any possible, unconscious sexism that is there. I accept that I continually need to check my privileges and hope I’ll do better.

          I’d suggest you do the same. Athena and Shard have given you explanations and resources that you seem to willfully ignore. It seems to me that your condescension towards them possibly stems from sexism.

  30. If I could laugh in Alex Wolfe’s face, I would. I guess I’ll have to metaphorically laugh at his unyielding, hilarious display of stupidity…at least there is a remedy for ignorance. It isn’t his lack of self-awareness or even how trite and petulant he sounds. It’s that he doesn’t even understand his own position or what it means to adopt a stance. It is to laugh. Laugh until the very act of my laughter generates a tsunami of spittle that drowns him.

  31. Alex Wolfe, if you’d simply said “Evolutionary psychology is a legitimate thing to study, even if most if not all of the people doing it are dolts who draw mountains of conclusions from molehills of evidence to justify bigotry”, you wouldn’t have half as many people insulting you. As it is, you seem to have expended considerable effort over what comes across as nothing more than split hairs.

    We call evo-psych a pseudoscience because its practitioners perform their work in a pseudoscientific manner. That’s all there is to it.

    • And now I notice Alex’s most recent post, submitted while I was typing.

      You know what? Forget I said anything.

      • I know right? I just didn’t say anything at all because…. yeah.

        On my part, so much popcorn was eaten. There is nothing else to be said anymore because the only response would be ‘Yeah well, can you make the logical inference to determine who’s right? Oh yes, I’m right! And guess who’s the troll? Surprise–it’s you!

        To be quite honest he can just stay pressed. I have unfortunately known people like that, the kind who may or may not be invested in that point of disagreement, but who either way milk all they can out of conflict because that is how they get their jollies. It can be entertaining but sometimes the popcorn runs out, you know?

  32. @: sonamib and everyone else

    Did you know that the genesis of welfare and other things to help poor mothers was first envisioned as a remedy for white women to *not* have to work? The explicit rationale for that kind of assistance in the US was so that women could stay at home with their children and not be forced to join the workforce. It was a case of patriarchy that helped women, but in a very skeevy way. The revolt against welfare came after a decade or two when Black women and other minorities began to see benefits from this kind of assistance. See? Even more racist than you thought since it was perfectly fine for white women, but not for the “other” women.

  33. oh my God, that last flounce from Super Troll was a piece of beauty. Never have I witnessed such egotism, such head-up-your-assness, such magnificent self importance. This must be framed and revered as the gold standard of trolling. Please give it it’s own plaque and special place on the Interwebs. Forever shall Alex Wolfe be known as the Trolling King!

  34. I came here to see acrackedmoon performing a sharp takedown of somebody saying something utterly horrid. As usual, I’m horrified to see more evidence of the ubiquitousness of the rape culture, and thrilled to see someone exposing it to daylight with intelligence and savage humour.

    But I also got Alex Wolfe! In twenty years on the internet, I’ve never seen anybody hold onto a lack of a point quite so tenaciously. I’ve been crying tears of laughter. He doesn’t realise how easily he’s been let off here. You’ve all have been amazingly patient with him.

  35. OK, I’m not going to try to defend Alex Wolfe’s comments or style of argument, but I do have to defend his original point. ‘Evo-psych’ doesn’t deserve to be thrown around like a rude word. Evolutionary psychology *is* a genuine scientific discipline, not just pseudoscientific speculation: it makes hypotheses which can be tested by experiment, and produces factual results. Yes, to a certain extent it is speculative; but so is, for example, physical cosmology, and no one suggests that isn’t a real science. I realise it’s just a blog post, but this is a fairly reasonable introduction to the subject: https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/is-evolutionary-psychology-worthless/

    Unfortunately, evo-psych has been badly misinterpreted by popular culture, not helped by the behaviour of some of its practitioners (the above-mentioned Satoshi Kanazawa being the most infamous example). It’s certainly true that evo-psych can be used, and has been used, to make ridiculous claims and try to justify all manner of oppressions. The books mentioned in the original post here seem like particularly awful examples of attempted invocations of evo-psych-type arguments. But none of that means the basic idea of trying to apply evolutionary explanations to human psychology and behaviour is invalid.

    I think the idea that evo-psych is *inherently* a sexist or racist discipline is unfair to the people working within it from a progressive standpoint. There are feminist evolutionary psychologists who specifically try to use evo-psych arguments to support feminist objectives, which isn’t as crazy as you might think. For example, on the subject of rape, feminists has argued it is used as a weapon by men to subjugate women and reinforce their own dominance; and many evolutionary psychologists say the exact same thing. Feminists say that male supremacy over women is a cultural phenomenon, rather than being necessary or inevitable; and evolutionary psychologists don’t disagree. They simply seek to explain how human society came to be that way. The fact that something is a cultural phenomenon doesn’t mean it might not have evolutionary origins. And perhaps, if we can understand why the world is the way it is, that might make it easier to change it.

    Obviously, not all evolutionary psychologists are good people: many hold views that could charitably be described as old-fashioned, and even those who aren’t openly sexist or racist are often ignorant of how their well-meant work can be used to uphold a sexist or racist system. Evo-psych is not holy or above criticism as a subject, and nor should it be. But I’d just like people to recognise that it isn’t in principle a complete load of bullshit, either.

    (And no, before anyone asks, I’m not an evolutionary psychologist myself; I have a friend who is, and my understanding of the subject is influenced by my conversations with him.)

  36. I’m late to the party, it seems.

    RE: “Evolutionary psychology and evolutionary biology are logical extensions of the idea that humans have been around for longer than our recorded history.”

    I admit I’m not sure what that statement really means. It’s possible for something to pre-date recorded history without evolving.

    “I’m not sure if you believe in evolution or not, but if you do, it follows that we evolved under certain selective pressures that vary greatly based on differing environments.”

    Yes, but evolution happens in species, not individuals. Selective pressures act on a population to alter allele frequency over time. Human populations are grouped into societies, and societies react to evolutionary processes via social conditioning that exerts pressure on individual behavior. But evo-psych seems to draw too straight of a line connecting evolution directly to individual behavior and cutting out society as a force acting on individuals, as if it were an unnecessary middleman. This conveys the notion that individual behavior itself is a direct product of evolution and thus “hard-wired”. It isn’t. Individual behavior is shaped by societies, and societies are shaped by evolution. The connection is not linear. In living things, emergent properties are observed at different levels of organization. A property observed at one level cannot necessarily be applied to explaining activity existing at another level (as in, the properties of living tissue cannot necessarily be applied to the individual cells that make up that same tissue).

    Evo-psych seems to, more often than not, try to use the template of evolutionary biology to explain individual behavior, but I don’t think the model fully works because behavior itself is not a gene and cannot be measured the same way.

  37. Er, I should read things more closely before I start yapping (sorry, my science skills are rusty).

    @ A Wolfe: “I read Athena’s suggestion immediately from PZ Myers, who happens to agree with me.”

    Did you get to the part where he referred to an evo-psych article as “poor science propped up by a conviction that plausibility is sufficient support for certainty”?

    Or his conclusion: “Too often investigators start with the assumption that a feature absolutely must have been selected for, or it wouldn’t be there, and then contrive elaborate rationalizations for processes that could have favored its preservation in our ancestry…and the aura of plausibility is then sufficient to conclude that it must be so, even in the absence of any supporting evidence, and sometimes even in the face of contradictory evidence.”

    That seems to be a common fallacy in evo-psych, that a particular trait had to have been selected for by evolution or else it wouldn’t exist. The rest is often filled in with armchair philosophy.

  38. To Alasdair Murray: Nobody with a functioning cortex denies that humans are the product of evolution. However, it’s a mixture of wish fulfillment and sloppy logic to argue that 1) each and every behavior is “selected for” and therefore adaptive, 2) all the socially dominant behaviors are “hard-wired”, 3) humans are not heavily influenced by local context and 4) behaviors of other animals can be transposed on humans.

    Furthermore, whereas cosmology can be extrapolated reliably, that doesn’t quite hold for psychology across eras and cultures. I also wish you would not act as if we did not name evobio practitioners who are trying to debunk pernicious myths. I named Sarah Blaffer Hrdy twice already; there are others (Anna Fausto Sterling, Alison Jolly). Also, Jerry Coyne, judging by his behavior in the Rebecca Watson fracas, is not exactly unbiased.

  39. “the biologically, socially critical lesson that love, marriage and family are worthy and desirable goals.”

    Or maybe the even more critical lesson that pop-evolution idiots don’t have any grasp of history and think their notions of family and marriage were always the norm. What a load of bullshit.

  40. Sorry about the double post, but I have to say it.

    Whatever legitimate science evo-psych people are doing, THIS kind of thing isn’t it. If you step up to defend people who set up elaborate narratives about how current cultural prejudices of Western civilization are justified by something or other that happened in the Pleistocene – you’re going to be rightfully tarred with the pseudoscience brush, because this is pseudoscience.

    To show that men being hunters and women being collectors have shaped our brains to do different tasks, you have to overcome the simple fact that every single human had a mother and a father. Meaning every “hunter” necessarily has half the genes of a “collector” and vice-versa. Sexual dimorphism isn’t the same as women conveniently being inadequate to be in the places modern-era dudebros don’t want them to be.

  41. @Athena Andreadis: hi, thanks for your reply. Sorry, you’re right about previously referring to people like Sarah Blaffer Hardy, and I should have recognised that. And it’s true that Coyne is not an unbiased source (although personally, I think the idea of ‘an unbiased source’ is something of a fantasy anyway – everyone writes from some point of view.)

    And I agree that evo-psych explanations can be (and often are) stretched wildly beyond what can be supported by data to make highly dubious claims. Particularly common, as you say, is the blunder of assuming that every observable human behaviour has some kind of evolutionary explanation, and then trying to find one. This is a good way of distinguishing the real scientists from the pseudoscientists in the field: someone who’s taking a scientific approach will not automatically assume that any given behaviour has an evolutionary explanation, and will always look for other possible explanations. I don’t think any serious psychologist would suggest that *all* human behaviour is ‘adaptive’ or ‘selected for’ – I mean, that’s obviously untrue, unless you’re talking in the loosest possible sense.

    The other points you make are true as well. Human behaviour varies a great deal across geography and history, meaning psychologists should be wary of making universal statements; and even if some particular phenomenon does appear to be a ‘cultural universal’, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is the product of evolution. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to definitively identify an evolutionary explanation of any phenomenon, because there are always competing explanations.

    As I say, none of this means evo-psych isn’t scientific, only that it is by necessity speculative; its practicioners should be cautious about what they claim; and all those claims should be taken with the right amount of uncertainty.

  42. I’m totes late to the party and Athena et al have already soundly thrashed everything needing to be thrashed BUT, this first line of Alex’s is something I see a lot, used in various ways, and didn’t seem to actually be tackled except peripherally by Captain Falcon:

    “Evolutionary psychology and evolutionary biology are logical extensions of the idea that humans have been around for longer than our recorded history.”

    Do you see it? Read it again. Well okay, I read it again and I see two things. It’s like one of those fun word puzzles where you have to count all the i’s or something and instead I tear my i’s out because of how stupid this kind of puzzle is. First, he puts evolutionary psychology in the same clause as evolutionary biology. I think this was actually mentioned by Athena first but he didn’t seem to understand why that meant he was conflating them, despite ranting on about the importance of rhetoric (and where’s MY $250? I need to pay rent!).

    Second, and the thing I actually wanted to say, was “logical extension” is a phrase used so many times to describe so many illogical things that I think I might puke if I have to type it again. As Falcon and Athena said, the basis of evo-psych, as popularly used (sorry Alasdair, I haven’t met or read a practicing evo-psych who wasn’t a liar and/or misrepresenting their major) is that evolution is obviously true, and that evolution selects for survivability. Now here’s the sleight of hand, watch carefully: ERGO, everything that is done by a species today is the result of evolution having selected for that trait, AND IS THEREBY necessary for survival.

    Okay, okay, I know even the non-science background people see this all clearly, but seriously. To have a logical extension of something, IT HAS TO BE LOGICAL. It can’t be a slapdash of things you want to be true plastered like papier-mâché around a nugget of almost-truth like a pseudoscience pearl of nested metaphors. I guess my message here is, STOP USING THE WORD LOGICAL. Because chances are you aren’t using it right.

    Also, hi again, Moon.

    • If I typed “Jim and Sarah came from the same parents”, does that mean I am saying that Jim and Sarah are the same people, or that Jim and Sarah have similarities in their genesis?

      • If I typed “Alex Wolfe is as thick as pigshit”, does that mean I am saying that Alex Wolfe is physically viscous?

      • You are saying that Jim and Sarah are the topics of this statement. You are saying that Jim and Sarah are even contributors to the reality of the following information. You are, in short, conflating them with each other and the fact that they have the same parents.

        Evolutionary biology, which grew out of modern evolutionary synth, is the study of the process of evolution in a living system. It involves currently observable phenomena and testable hypotheses. Evolutionary psychology, as pertains to humans (ie, not animal behavior), takes its viewpoint from evolutionary thinking but found its genesis in anthropology and, of course, modern psychology. It involves some good bones of science, but much of what it purports to examine is, currently, unmeasurable. (If I was being uncharitable, I’d say it was largely created by a couple of white folk with a hankering for the recognition they were unable to garner within their own field.)

        So, if you had said, “Evolutionary psychology and evolutionary biology are logical extensions of their respective fields in the view of modern studies of evolution,” instead of some drivel about recorded history, you’d have been factually correct.

        If you had said, “Evolutionary psychology, kind of like evolutionary biology but not really, is a logical extension of what we know about the human brain and instinctive behaviors,” you would have been more correct and rhetorically more honest.

        If you had said, “Evolutionary psychology is a science troubled by hacks and struggling to find authenticity, not unlike evolutionary biology’s beginnings,” you would have been factual, honest, and rhetorically spot on in tying an albatross to a respectable science’s neck.

        If you had said, “I don’t actually know anything about this topic, but isn’t evo-psych basically used by fucktards to excuse their own shitty behaviour by saying ‘racism is natural!’?” then we might have been friends.

    • “ERGO, everything that is done by a species today is the result of evolution having selected for that trait, AND IS THEREBY necessary for survival.”

      Therefore, via appeal to nature, it is morally justified.

    • “So, if you had said, “Evolutionary psychology and evolutionary biology are logical extensions of their respective fields in the view of modern studies of evolution,” instead of some drivel about recorded history, you’d have been factually correct.”

      That IS what I said. I’ll show you:

      Part one: “Evolutionary psychology and evolutionary biology are logical extensions”

      So far, that’s identical to what you wrote. Now for my part:

      Part two: ” [of] the idea that humans have been around for longer than our recorded history”

      What is the idea that states we were not created by an omnipotent deity, and that our planet and the creatures that populate it have been around for a very, very long time?

      As for the check, if everyone will practice their reading comprehension skills a bit more (a stretch, I’m sure), you’ll find this is what I actually wrote:

      “If you can quote me from the above posts and show where I say that I believe evolutionary psychology is justification for rape, I will donate $100 to the charity of your choice, and publicly apologize to everyone on this board for wasting their time.”

      • Actually…you’re right! I read all the comments in one go and tied this quote:

        “Please, I would love to read a response on how is the following flawed: “Evolutionary psychology and evolutionary biology are logical extensions of the idea that humans have been around for longer than our recorded history. I’m not sure if you believe in evolution or not, but if you do, it follows that we evolved under certain selective pressures that vary greatly based on differing environments”.”

        to the offer of money. But saying that evo-psych and evo-bio are tied into that idea is both factually true and rhetorically dishonest–which you chose to ignore, I guess, the last time I said it, so whatever. I’m even taking your second quote, and not your first, which had the same fault but was even more disingenuous:

        “Calling evolutionary biology or evolutionary psychology pseudoscience because you don’t understand it is the same as decrying the study of genetics because some people use it to support eugenics.”

        Poor analogy aside, you are not only setting up an equivalancy between evolutionary biology and evolutionary psychology, but with both of them and eugenics. If you had taken out both genetics and evo-bio from that quote, where they had no reason to be to begin with and somebody had better wash their hands, it would have read something like:

        “Calling evolutionary psychology pseudo-science because you don’t undersatand it is the same as decrying the study (or support, if you prefer) of eugenics.”

        Eugenics, as you may well be aware, firmly advocates rape in the pursuit of greater species fitness, as defined by whoever decides what’s best for the species (usually, in this context, humans).

        But wait, there’s more! By trying to tie something as ham-fisted, misused and shaky in its logic as evo-psych (read more on that by Athena) with something as well-defined as evo-bio you are saying, intentionally or not, that they are of equal worth. Presuming, as one does in a debate, that you’re trying to bring one up to the level of the other and not the other way around, you are saying that evo-psych should be taken at the same quantitative value as evo-bio.

        Here’s a scholarly (haha, sorry, couldn’t say it with a straight face) article from evo-psych

        TRIGGER WARNING: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X00069120

        If you don’t have a DOI membership, I’ll C&P the topic of the abstract TRIGGER WARNING:

        “Psychological adaptation underlies all human behavior. Thus, sexual coercion by men could either arise from a rape-specific psychological adaptation or it could be a side-effect of a more general psychological adaptation not directly related to rape. Determining the specific environmental cues that men’s brains have been designed by selection to process may help us decide which these rival explanations is correct.”

        This is an article about why it’s natural for men to be sexually coercive. A scholarly, peer-reviewed article. About why rape is natural. (And if you are about to start typing about the difference between sexual coercion and rape…I implore you, please don’t.)

        If you are saying that evo-psych should be taken as seriously as evo-bio? You’re a proponent of this.

        • “But saying that evo-psych and evo-bio are tied into that idea is both factually true and rhetorically dishonest–which you chose to ignore, I guess, the last time I said it, so whatever.”

          I didn’t ignore it, I just didn’t see what you were getting at. I do now. Taken in the context you guys have been talking in, you’re right. Evolutionary biology and evolutionary psychology, when it comes to their research, have qualitatively different bodies of evidence supporting them. The biology is far more testable, whereas the psychology, to me, seems like many hypothesis that are difficult (if not impossible) to directly prove.

          However, the way I see it (I’d be interested in your take on this) is that the brain is PART of our biology. You can’t separate biology from psychology. You can understand biology far more effectively, whereas being human, the psychology is more difficult to prove, let alone understand. But by virtue of being connected in such a way, even if we can’t understand psychology as well, it does lend veracity to the discipline of evolutionary psychology.

          “Presuming, as one does in a debate, that you’re trying to bring one up to the level of the other and not the other way around, you are saying that evo-psych should be taken at the same quantitative value as evo-bio.”

          I assume you meant qualitative and not quantitative, but regardless, I see what you mean. That was poorly written, and it wasn’t my intent to qualitatively compare the bodies of evidence supporting each discipline. My intent, however poorly communicated, was to note the fact that people often take incomplete or unproveable knowledge and use it to make ridiculous decisions. That’s it.

          Perhaps you can see why, having that be my intention, it was offensive to me to be told what I think regarding issues like rape, or being called a fool despite having read piles of peer-reviewed literature on the subject. I’m not a scientist, but that doesn’t mean I don’t take great pains to verify the truth of what I read as best I can.

          “This is an article about why it’s natural for men to be sexually coercive. A scholarly, peer-reviewed article. About why rape is natural.”

          Please. As someone who I believe reads a number of peer-reviewed articles, I’m sure you’re well aware that just because something is peer-reviewed doesn’t mean it gets a gold-stamp of legitimacy. Peer review is an essential first step, but it doesn’t make anything fact. There are plenty of peer review articles that are garbage, just as there are plenty that are great.

          “If you are saying that evo-psych should be taken as seriously as evo-bio? You’re a proponent of this.”

          Here is where I would argue that while the above is factually correct, it is also rhetorically dishonest. First, I think the CONCEPT of evolutionary psychology SHOULD be taken as seriously as the concept of evolutionary biology. In practice, this isn’t the case because, as I noted above, I don’t think you can measure psychology as accurately as biology. The discipline should only be taken as far as the evidence supports it. From my reading, there is little-to-no evidence(I’m not qualitified to judge that), and mostly conjecture.

          But the conjecture exists because rape is a part of humanity. Sorry, but that’s a fact. That’s a far-cry from saying “all men secretly want to rape women”, which, even if that isn’t explicitly said, I find to be the general tone of the board. That’s an absurd statement, and it should be ridiculed, as should the statement that “women evolved to sleep around (evo-psych argues this), therefore all women secretly want to cheat and be whores”.

          In a broad sense, that’s simply not true, just as in a broad sense, even if rape is a part of humanity, it doesn’t mean all men have a secret desire to rape women.

          And as far as being a proponent of rape because I believe there can be value in evolutionary psychology? I think that’s a ridiculous statement and you know it. It’s one thing to say “people rape other people. There is a long history of this occurring. Why?” and a completely different thing to say “supporting evo-psych is supporting rape”. I believe the former, not the latter.

        • Let me first say, yes, of course I ran with a rhetoric. That was the point. I’m not obligated to play fair with my words any more than you are, intentionally or not, and I was specifically making a point about that, more even than about evopsych.

          I’m not really interested in discussing brain biology right here, but if you spot me in another forum actually dealing with the topic, I’d be glad to share my own and other common hypotheses. However, as far as your assertion “rape is a part of humanity” and asking “people rape other people. There is a long history of this occurring. Why?” I can reasonably and briefly explain right here what the problem is.

          These questions are far from unique to evopsych. And the problem isn’t the answers, but the question doesn’t stop being asked. Because the answers have been given again and again, from rape statistics, rape survivors, rape investigators. But, and I’m generalizing but this last year in US politics speaks volumes in its defense, when men in power are told that it’s their fault? That we have built ourselves a culture in which we can, from our perspective of safety and privilege, tell a woman that it was her fault she was raped, fiddle with the definitions, and walk away from convictions? We turn around and ask the question again, louder, to somebody else. “Why is rape still occurring?” And evopsych comes up with an answer that makes it not at all our fault, isn’t that nice?

          So, when a woman has a blog and soundly and without reference denounces evopsych as the latest tool in the rape box, and some righteous white man sallies forth in its defense? There is no reason to treat him with anything like dignity, no reason to explain, to coax understanding from him. All the resources are available, and so it is not unreasonable (or, shall we say, hysterical?) or “without honor” (haha, really man?) to simply assume that he is somebody who has chosen to believe rape is part of a man’s natural right, and react accordingly. Is it a lot to take on assumption? Sure, probably. But as the blog’s owner and much of its readership is marginalized precisely by this sort of chain of oppressive logic, that level of assumption can be much more readily forgiven than that of somebody who has absolutely nothing to lose.

  43. To Layo (long time!): psychology itself is a shaky discipline, strewn with the debris of messianic glop. If you read bios of Freud and Jung, you realize that many psychologists are still applying precepts of cult rule by charismatic autocrats. Anthropology can also go astray in many ways, including shallow understanding, deliberate misleading & confirmation bias.

    So evopsycho has several strikes against it at its very root. It’s no accident that it has been enthusiastically embraced by those who feel they are not getting whatever their “biological destiny” would have entitled them to, were it not for those pesky non-defaults (most of humanity) that point out significant issues of accuracy — forget justice.

    But even if you took for granted that humans are totally defined by evolutionary pressures (false at this point, when culture is such an engine for change), “natural” would be defined as something close to what we see in our closest relatives, bonobos and chimpanzees. This would include: no recognized paternity, extensive female “wandering” within and beyond the group, multiple sexual partners, routine miscarriage & infanticide as a resource conservation method, total absence of rape, group status derived from the mother’s standing. For bonobos, there would be additional group sex to smooth over conflict, including genital touching of females. One of the unique items for humans, in fact, is the systematic cultural obliteration of female power alliances.

    Evopsycho is routinely used as the “scientific basis” for declaring that “women’s brains are wired for coyness and placation” and “men are hardwired for rape and for spreading their seed” — especially the fabulous non-existent “alpha male” species. As I pointed out, this is totally bogus at every biological level, though it’s an easy tool for asserting social dominance (That Shy, Elusive Rape Particle, http://www.starshipreckless.com/blog/?p=6311).

    • Hey Athena, good to see you! I agree entirely that psychology has its own issues besides, but even as many laymen pretend they’re brilliant by quoting Jung and Freud, contemporary studiers are routinely debunking them, so I gave the field the benefit of the doubt for my above comment. Anthropology…anthro and I have some personal issues to work out, so I didn’t know how objectively I could come at that one.

      Otherwise, yeah, I’m generally pretty amazed by how people with no idea about what “nature” is like to call human-behavior-of-the-day It or Not-It. Rape? Natural! Homosexuality? Unnatural! Sitting in your mom’s basement eating Cheetos and having arguments about nature online? What does that have to do with anything!?

  44. I’ll personally write a check for 2,000 dollars to the charity of anybody’s choice if you can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Alex Wolfe isn’t living in his parents’ basement eating cheetos drinking Mountain Dew and chortling at his “excellent” rhetoric, shaking his head at these misguided women and their “facts”.

  45. Alex Wolfe! Allow me to demonstrate the disingenuous nature of your offer with an equivalent disingenuous offer. I notice that your video doesn’t prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that you’re not chortling over the rhetoric! Thus, your proof is worthless.

    You see, Alex Wolfe, your offer was completely and totally disingenuous. You were asking people to prove something that they couldn’t and thus that confidence allowed you to make the offer. You wanted them to prove an implication that could easily be dismissed because it’s an implication.

    If your offer had been to prove that evo-psych often implies rape justification (rather than “my comments imply rape justification) then it would have been a legitimate offer.

    And there’s a demonstration of proper logic, not the ad hoc fallacy you so hastily deployed. I can happily mobilize more if you’d like, but I’m pretty sure the multiple scientists in this thread did the job satisfactorily.

    So in other words, fuck off.

    • “You see, Alex Wolfe, your offer was completely and totally disingenuous. You were asking people to prove something that they couldn’t”

      Actually, I was asking the person who accused me of supporting rape to show me where I said that. You’re correct in that they couldn’t, which is indeed why I made the offer — to highlight the fact that someone accused me of saying something I never said.

    • “I’ll personally write a check for 2,000 dollars to the charity of anybody’s choice if you can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Alex Wolfe isn’t living in his parents’ basement eating cheetos drinking Mountain Dew and chortling at his “excellent” rhetoric, shaking his head at these misguided women and their “facts”.”

      By including “and” in your statement, you made it possible for me to disprove your statement by disproving any of the individual elements of the sentence. I disproved one of them, though not the chortling.

      Pay up or go hide behind the rhetoric of the scientists again like the coward you are.

  46. OK, this is getting silly. Enough already; the dogpiling on Alex Wolfe is not adding much at this point. And Alex: as I said, I basically agree with you on evo-psych, but there has to come a time when you accept that you’re not persuading anybody and it’s better to retire with some dignity. That’s what I was trying to suggest with my last comment.

    For what it’s worth, I do think the point you were trying to get across is worth making: that even *if* it could somehow be proved that there is some evolutionary tendency to rape among human males (and that’s a very long way from being proved, if it can ever be), that wouldn’t provide even the remotest justification for committing rape, whether morally, legally or otherwise.

    If Athena is correct and rape is wholly a phenomenon of human culture (which is certainly arguable), then clearly it’s avoidable, as culture can be changed. But even if the evo-psych arguments are right and it’s partly a product of evolution, then it’s *still* entirely avoidable, as we’re not animals driven solely by our instincts. Obviously, we’re all products of evolution and culture (and the two aren’t entirely separate), and however primitive humans might have once been, we’ve come a long way since then. While on the one hand, human civilisation has created power structures and oppressive systems, on the other hand it has also created concepts like equality, human rights and social justice. While the idea of a linear progress from barbarism to utopia is a myth, taken as a whole humans are rather less nasty than we used to be. We’re not just the inevitable result of our biology; in many ways, we can bypass and overcome it. For all those reasons, whether or not there’s anything ‘natural’ about rape, that shouldn’t matter: either way, it can in principle be eradicated.

    And that’s the last I have to say on the topic. I hope everyone else can let it drop as well.

    • “but there has to come a time when you accept that you’re not persuading anybody and it’s better to retire with some dignity.”

      What makes you think I’m doing this for anyone’s benefit but my own? I said it before — when you talk sense to a fool, they call you foolish.

  47. Alasdair, although I largely agree with you, there is one fairly important item in your comment that needs clarification: “If // rape is wholly a phenomenon of human culture (which is certainly arguable)”. That’s not what I said, either here or in my Rape Particle article.

    Forced intercourse is a way of establishing dominance. It has a biological basis, but not the one ascribed to it by computer sysops or economists trying to pass as visionary scientists. What is completely incorrect (again, more details in my article) is the persistent evopsycho assertion that we’re hardwired for rape and that this hardwiring is adaptive and part of instinctive behavior. Furthermore the hardwiring is postulated to be at the gene, hormone, brain module level, any/all of the above. This is biologically incorrect: genes don’t code for high-order behavior, hormones are far more complex than Venus/Mars demarcations and brain modules are fluid and dynamic.

    Also, one other item: you may drop this conversation whenever you wish; I venture to hope that you can extend the courtesy of this choice to everyone else.

  48. I really should have known better than to say ‘that’s the last I have to say’, I should have known I’d come back for another comment. :)

    Regarding your final line, you’re right of course – the only person here who can tell us all to shut up is ACM, everyone else can keep talking as long as they want. Sorry if it sounded like I was trying to silence anybody; I was just getting a bit tired of the email updates, but I can always unsubscribe from them.

    Regarding the rest of your comment – you know more about biology than I do, so I’m not going to try to argue on that. But I’m still not sure whether you’re giving a fair representation of evolutionary psychology. I’ve only read a little of it, but I distinctly remember reading a paper which argued that the whole idea of ‘hardwiring’ in the brain was a complete misnomer and brains are much subtler and more complex than that. No doubt some evo-psych writers do use the concept, but I know there are those who rightly recognise that our brains are not ‘hardwired’ for anything.

    For my part, I don’t mean to suggest that ‘male brains are hardwired for rape'; I would only be prepared to consider that, at most, there *may* be some genetic tendency towards sexual aggression among *some* human males. But as you say, the relation between genes, hormones or ‘brain modules’ and behaviour is far too complex for there to be any stronger link than that.

  49. Alasdair,

    We’re dog-piling (such an unfortunate turn of phrase, so distasteful) not just because of Alex Wolfe’s miscontrual, but also for the sheer ego on display. His ridiculous offer of “charitable” donation positively reeks of arrogance. A number of people in this thread have attempted to argue dispassionately with him regarding misunderstandings or miscommunication — with Alex sometimes responding with alacrity but more often with goalposts being moved at great haste. This is the problem: not his fundamental point, but his style of argumentation that leaves much to be desired. Evolutionary psychology as a discipline, divorced from political aspirations, can and possibly should be recuperated into a scientific discourse. It is worth discussing. Disingenuous offers to “prove me wrong” are not the way to do so. It takes great huevos to argue without any irony biology with a biologist.

    • Translation: Alex Wolfe made me look like an idiot, I don’t have the balls to respond directly to his ideas, so I whine about how he argues and hide behind the idea that he’s a young person arguing with a scientist.

  50. Alasdair, this is the third time in this thread that you have done the “This is what you said/did not say” to me. I rarely use soundbite terms, but you’re verging on mansplaining. This time, you are saying that I’m being unfair to evopsycho — even after I drew your attention to my listing of legitimate practitioners of the discipline, and after I said that indeed behavior has a biological basis, just not the one routinely claimed by pseudo-scientists like Kanazawa who try to pass themselves as scientists. I suggest that you take my comments in this thread in their context; I don’t intend to do a total rewind each time I comment.

  51. Alex….you do realize we’re just laughing at you right? I suspect that’s why ACM is letting your comments through, purely for comedic value.

    This post is specifically about using evopsych to justify sexism, so when you jump in and accuse ACM of ignorance one can rightly assume you are trying to defend sexism. I know it’s hard for you to abandon your messianic role, but everyone here realized before you showed up that brains are part of the evolutionary process, especially Shard and Athena seeing that early on they offered you resources relating to legitimate evopsych.

    What you seem to have trouble understanding is that no one owes you a fair hearing, though IMO you received one when two biologists took time out of their day to explain things to you. I’d think a thank you would be in order, but you’ve opted for being a whiny brat.

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