Are men governed by primitive ancestral notions of beauty?
An idea prevalent in our society is that men determine what is beautiful in women. Because of evolutionary instincts drive us towards females are powerfully connected to reproduction: The top image depicts the evolved human female as slender, fit, and healthy (supposedly) for reproduction.
Which image above would men pick as the best mate? It's hard to say. In reality, both women could successfully give birth to children. So what determines beauty in women?
Many contend that men do: men determine what makes a beautiful woman. This morning I read at "Captain Capitalism," whose website title alone made me leery:
Men determine what is beautiful in women. Just as it is women that determine what is "hot" or "sexy" in men.
The captain captures the rationale of the mainstream media, and probably of the majority of men in the population. "Men determine what is beautiful in women" is so absurd that I would not address it, if it were not such a widely held an opinion.
Key to his argument are what he calls binary "realities." This needs some explanation. Binaries are two opposing concepts that humans are prone to categorize the world into. For example, some binaries are white and black, good and evil, pure and polluted, etc.
This writer's error is in referring to "binary reality" because binaries are not reality, and are almost always false. Spectrums always exist between the two extremes. With the example of black and white, there are infinite shades of gray in between the two poles. Because of this, binaries can be hurtful to the majority of the population that is neither good nor evil, but somewhere in between.
The captain sets up a ignorant binaries and simply labels them reality. So, women are sexy or ugly and men are handsome or homely in his scheme. Men determine the nature of women, and women define the positive qualities of men.
The captain also lumps all men in a binary group - we are men and therefore must be on board with the captain. We agree with him or we are not men. Black and white, male and female, fat and thin, never capture the full story of variation and individuality in between the extreme poles.
If the captain intends to say that superficial women and shallow men determine the nature of "sexy," then he is accurate in a sense - for his faction of culturally backward men, governed by mass media images of hollow women objects. The automatons in this group select the ideal stereotypical Barbie or Ken mate, maybe because of an evolutionary predisposition, but perhaps not.
Primitive pseudo-science of gender
Biology, chemistry, and pheromones could very well push mass culture towards an ideal vision of beauty. I will give the captain that. What I cannot tolerate is the ignorant justification behind the animalistic rationale that drives crazy ideas of beauty and the human body. Let the captain elucidate his point:
Think of the word, "attractive." Well that implies "attraction" which means there are two entities involved. You are attracted to one person, just as another person is attracted to you. It's implication is damn well near the law of gravity that two bodies will have a gravitational, or in human's case, sexual pull towards one another. Ergo, to claim you don't need anybody else to think you're attractive of beautiful, that you on your own little lonesome are "beautiful merely because you exist," implies there are no other entities providing a gravitational or "sexual" pull.
In sum, the captain falsely believes that because attraction is a scientific law like gravity, men's attraction to women determines the ideal female. The women they select, therefore are deemed beautiful. So we can determine true beauty in women by following penises to the shelves of Playboy and Penthouse. According to the captain, biological attraction determines beauty, and we simply must accept the fact because it is a law. "Sexual pull" determines male-female beauty in other words.
This is basic biological, animal thinking. In thinking this way, the captain surrenders to the lowest common biological denominator in humans. Allowing this surrender reduces you to biological instincts, the exact same ones our simian cousins possess. You are admitting that you are no different than your sexual animal relatives.
Binaries of beauty neglect the influence of cultural evolution
Demonizing the term "feminism" is not enough intellectual work support your claim. Just as there are not binaries of beauty, the binary opposition of feminist and non-feminist is inaccurate, and I despise the way that the captain lumps me in with this ape-like masculine culture.
You see, captain, millions of years ago when your ancestors were dominating the fire-pit and cave, women began a remarkable thing called culture, which is a compilation of tradition, stories, and ideas that human beings are capable of passing on to new generations. Culture quickly became an evolving entity, in many cases growing culturally beyond biological limitations. These cultural traits can evolve, improve, and gain wisdom, trumping genetic predispositions.
With science, reason, and skepticism, some aspects of human culture have evolved far beyond our animal ancestors. This is why we have iPhones and chimpanzees do not. If genetics alone govern men, we are similar to lower animals, and the captain and his mates seem to be choosing the low cultural road, following penis rather than brain, hormones rather than reason, and lust rather than empathy and love.
The highest evolved capacities in human beings lie not in our genetics or biology, but in our cultural evolution that brought the fire pit indoors, along with plumbing, books, and computers. While culturally speaking, one may still choose to drag one's knuckles across the pavement, this is to elect the basic, animal evolution. Cultural evolution elevates us above our primitive ancestors because it contains knowledge built over time.
May the barbies and kens continue to mate and roast flesh on the fire pit outdoors, so long as cultural evolution pushes the rest of us on to more enlightened conceptions of human existence. Embracing your evolutionary past is to reject human cultural evolution, and by ridiculing enlightened views of gender, you harbor painful, hurtful prejudices.
I hope that those archaic genetic impulses are driven to extinction by the positive forces of cultural evolution. Captains of the world, man yourselves with your clubs and wedges, while the rest of us move on to greater heights with cutting edge knowledge and technology - iPods, computers, and enlightened views of women.
I am hopeful that the majority of men and women are more enlightened on gender issues and that we will continue to evolve culturally away from damaging mindsets. Our biological evolution has subjected women to a male version of the world for millions of years.
Let me end on the captain's most preposterous notion. He compares feminism to a lesbian "sexual black hole collapsing on itself and only attracted towards itself." If this absurdity were to happen, then I will be pleased to see a planet that slowly produces fewer people, until an equilibrium is found that positions men and women on an equal footing. We might do well with fewer captains.
May empathy and kindness go viral.
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By Darin L. Hammond
Writer for ZipMinis and owns ZipMinis Freelance Writing. Darin Publishes across the web on sites like Technorati, BC Blog, Blog Critics, Broowaha, Demand Media Studios, and Social Media Today. Google
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