Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Misogyny or Competition and Aggression

I consider myself a feminist in the strictest form of definition: that humans are all equal (even if different), and discrimination or subjugation of any group is wrong; especially when you're talking roughly half the human population (including your mothers or sisters), and in some places manifest as brutally violent torture, mutilation, rape, or murder.

Yet in online discussions not everyone who calls themselves "feminist" is someone I can agree with, and instead I often find a misplaced anger or resentment from past misdeeds transferred in inappropriate ways. Specifically "men", "patriarchy", and "society" are often a broad and blanket scapegoat terms with poor definition, impairing the movement's own ability to find and root out the root causes of these problems. I've long felt misplaced anger directed at outside causes is more accurately attributed to simple competition between women themselves, and it seems I finally have some sources that agree with me.

I feel some women poorly understand what motivates men, and as such construct overly elaborate theses, with malice attributed to the actors, to try to describe the unhappy conditions under which they find themselves. To take one example, I've heard it suggested that instead of telling women to be more aggressive at work with regards to promotion and advancement, so they can compete with men, instead men should be less aggressive, make more time for children and home life, and thus make more room for women in corporate life. While a compelling notion to consider, this strikes me as hopelessly naive, and the result of a poor understanding of the nature of competition and aggression. What will happen if all men curtail their workplace competition is the incentive for a defector to act aggressively increases until everyone breaks ranks and begins aggressive competition again, returning to the equilibrium state (competitive) society has always existed in!

A similar thought experiment can be seen in the Science Fiction scenario of a world where men are biologically no longer necessary, and women take over all functions of society: will there be no more soldiers or war? No more police or crime? No more competition or strife? I think it's very clear that amongst the remaining women, some (those with more testosterone) will generally act more aggressively, and as such gain a competitive advantage over smaller, weaker, or less aggressive women, and rise to increasing levels of prominence, with increasing levels of subjugation, until "men" (as intimidating, reckless, and aggressive actors) are "re-evolved" back into society through simple game theory.

The fact is so long as resources are scarce, there will be competition, and incentive to be the first to take from others (before someone takes from you) will grow -- which will give advantage to those who display aggressive tendencies (which in humans, as far as I understand is mostly regulated by testosterone). Of course excessive aggression is penalized when the incentive for the group to band together to punish the aggressor rises, but I'm not talking about the extreme case, I'm talking about competitive equilibrium (Nash equilibrium if you like game theory) that all society tends towards when resources are scarce. We live in a world where group collaboration is balanced against aggressive individual defection, and the latter cannot simply be removed in the presence of scarcity.

Sorry ladies, competition is here, for everything important, and there's no one to blame for it -- it is what it is, and it's not going away.

A Modest Feminist

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