Fair Questions: Are we the beautiful ones?

In a recent Breitbart article seeking to explain why so many men are opting out of the mating game, a reference is made to a famous study conducted with mice by John B. Calhoun.  Specifically, the claim is made by one man who was interviewed for the piece that we are “the beautiful ones” from the mice study.  This group of mice was the group of mice who stopped reproducing after a breakdown of normal social order (apparently caused by overcrowding).  They did what they needed to do to stay alive and groomed themselves, avoiding conflict with one another.  Naturally, the population died off due to the lack of reproduction.

It was also inferred in the article that in human society this trend towards what the author calls a “Sexodus” from the mating game was driven by a shift in power dynamics brought about by feminism, particularly more radical forms of feminism.  While I do think that certain critiques of certain forms of feminism have real merit (particularly where those forms of feminism deny empirical research out of an ideological imperative), I don’t think that we can blame feminism for this shift away from the mating game, at least not directly.

If it is the case that the Calhoun mice study results are applicable to human populations that reach high population densities (and there are certainly plenty of strong observable  similarities), then it is entirely predictable that women would feel an instinctive need to stop reproducing.  It is also entirely predictable that, humans being humans, we would seek to find a rationalization for our instinctive drive to curtail reproduction.  Under this view, feminism would simply be an ad hoc rationalization for the perfectly understandable evolutionary instinct to curtail reproduction when we are unlikely to have resources available to care for children.  We wouldn’t blame feminism for this situation; we would look to our natural instincts as the cause.

We also wouldn’t blame feminism for causing the MGTOW movement, at least not directly.  We would look to the same natural instincts that lead men to decide to opt out of a mating game in which the benefits of reproduction are far outweighed by the drawbacks due to a collapse of the social order that supported the benefits of male reproduction.  We would not blame feminists for a collapse of social order when feminism was merely a rationalization for our instincts that broke down social order in the face of a perceived lack of resources for children; we would look to our natural instincts as the cause.

We also would not blame Men’s Rights Activists or the MGTOW movement for keeping men from participating in the mating game, because under this view their ideas are ad hoc rationalizations for the perfectly understandable cost-benefit analysis performed by men when deciding whether or not mating is worth it by using their evolution-driven instincts.

None of this is to deny the role that feminism has played in changing educational trends such that feminine behaviors are normative and masculine behaviors are treatable as serious disorders with lots of Ritalin, as the author points out.  But even this would be explained by our instinctive behaviors under a situation in which high population density has prompted us to stop reproducing.  If we assume that women no longer have a good reason to reproduce while keeping in mind that their survival often depends on the support of men while they are reproducing, then it makes a lot of sense that women would seek to take control of the resources necessary for their survival and do so by taking those resources away from men.  After all, under this view they have every reason to expect that men will stop providing them with resources when they are not reproducing.

The perfectly sensible response to this situation for women is to ensure that they can have access to resources without the support of men by making education work for girls and women, and because we human beings are wired to consume whatever resources are available rather than giving away the extra, they would likely not stop en masse to worry about the negative impacts on boys and men.

None of this really makes us sound very beautiful, does it?  But we can certainly see trends towards us becoming like “the beautiful ones” in the mice study.  There are indeed many young people who are not reproducing and are content to eat, drink, and groom themselves while avoiding the conflicts (the pervasive “No drama!” imperative) that were previously driven by reproductive imperatives that seem to be muted or gone entirely.

This trend is quite serious in Japan currently, but in other parts of the world it is less so.  This may be because there is still a perception that resources are available in those parts of the world.  Or it may be because those parts of the world seek to expand into new frontiers like other planets.  Even if those perceptions end, I think that the diversity in the human population will keep us alive as a species even if we see birthrates plummet across the board. As long as there are groups that retain a cultural or philosophical imperative for reproduction in the face of the “rational” argument that we need to stop reproducing, we won’t go extinct. Well, at least not from failing to reproduce en masse like the mice.

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