The Lie of Socialization Creating our Differences:The Male Hierarchy
So why would men be getting this significant biological push from testosterone to strive for status? What purpose could that have? Most mammals and some other animals are separated into two categories, competers and choosers. The choosers choose their mates. They are usually the ones who are more involved in childcare and childbirth. Usually, but not always, the choosers are the females. The competers compete in order to prove to the chooser that they should be the one to be chosen as a mate. This fascinating competer/chooser pattern has been observed repeatedly and gives us a glimpse into the nature of these two groups. What scientists have noticed is that the competer group is usually physically larger, more aggressive, more competitive and has a shorter lifespan. They need these characteristics in order to win the competition for reproductive access. The competers strive to be the one chosen. An example is the male Bower Birds who work diligently to make the best bower. They work hard on this, usually spending years of practice at developing their skills. The competition is so fierce that the males will sometimes sabotage their competing male bower birds in order to ensure the female will choose his bower and mate with him. The males compete and the females choose. Then there’s the well-known pattern of the male Big Horn Sheep who butt heads in their hierarchical competitive dance. The winner of the head butting gets top ranking in the hierarchy and then has better access to the top rated females. The males compete, the females choose.
It’s interesting that the competers are not always the males. There are some animal populations (e .g. Seahorse, Red-Necked Phalarope) where the females are the competers and guess what? In those populations it is the females that are larger, more aggressive, more competitive and have a shorter lifespan. It is not your sex that is the determining factor of these qualities, it is whether you are a competer or chooser.
This same pattern of competing and choosing is played out in human males but with more complexity. It is not as simple as “women choose and men compete.” Women compete in other ways including the ways they dress or attempting to adjust their appearance. But men compete by working to appear culturally successful. The more successful he appears the more likely his reproductive success. The man who gets lots of money, fame, power, real estate, etc. will be much more likely to be at the top of the hierarchy and therefore be more likely to get the top rated female. Striving for status is the human male equivalent to the Big Horn Sheep head butting. Men strive to be seen as having status and work towards being seen as independent. That’s what gets the girl.
Even a glance at the male/female mating dance of humans shows us pretty clearly that the choosers are far more often the females. Who is it that has to get on his knees and ask her to marry? Who is the chooser? Yes, women are more often the choosers and this comes with related issues. How many times have you heard the words “Women’s Choice”? Okay, and now how many times have you heard the words “Men’s Choice”? Women’s Choice is a call to action from both women and politicians. What would happen to a political leader who demanded men have choice? Men tend to naturally be more involved in the competition, not in the choosing.
Think back to boys and their play. How do boys choose sides? Usually they pick sides by having the two leaders choose the best player available with each successive choice. You are either chosen early and at the top of the hierarchy or chosen towards the end and nearer to the bottom. I can remember when I was young wanting to be sure I wasn’t chosen last! I was not great at sports and knew I was not at the top but I prayed I wasn’t on the bottom! Choosing sides gave boys a taste of the hierarchy and a way to see their place in it. I frankly do not remember my daughter choosing sides to play house.
Men are in a hierarchical contest that pushes them to gain as much cultural success as possible. This striving is necessary in order to be chosen as a mate, a very important event in a man’s life. This hierarchy is fueled by testosterone which is pushing him to strive for status. In order to win this competition men have traditionally used a highly competitive approach that has focused on winning and staying on top. Men were rewarded for this and held in high regard for winning. Sadly, at this point the feminists and mental health professionals have re-interpreted these qualities as being toxic. This is a bizarre approach that shames men for being focused on staying on top and winning.
Now think for a moment about a Sheep psychologist going to the Big Horn Sheep males and lecturing them about their need to stop butting heads. Telling the Big Horns that butting heads is toxic behavior and they needed to act and be more like the female Big Horn Sheep. Easy going, relaxed, not so interested in winning or head butting. Can you see that is exactly what our psychological community is now doing to our boys? Boys are biologically geared to compete and to win and to appear on top and these characteristics are being labelled as toxic in boys. It is especially odd that these same characteristics are seen in girls as a sign of empowerment.
When you understand the hierarchy you begin to understand why parents treat their young boys differently from their young girls. Teaching him to present a strong front, to not cry in public, to work towards being independent are all geared to help him navigate the dangers of the male hierarchy. Parents know they must treat their boys differently since their girls will not have to deal with a similar competitive hierarchy. Parents love their boys and are treating them as they do to help them succeed. Our present psychological community has no concept of this. They only judge the parents and culture harshly for pushing boys to compete and maintain their independence whenever possible. The truth is the parents love their boys and want them to succeed in this male hierarchy and that is what is motivating them to treat the boys differently. If someone is unaware of the male hierarchy they will likely judge these parents harshly. That is a price we are paying for the ignorance of our mental health professionals.
So the second reason males and females live in different worlds is that boys and men are thrust into a competitive environment where they must compete in order to be reproductively successful. Being biologically pushed to strive for status and then having to compete is a very distinct set of circumstances, don’t you think?
Next up, precarious manhood.