Steve Moxon, Deepcar near Sheffield, UK. stevemoxon3(at)talktalk.net
HATE CRIME CONSULTATION RESPONSE (INCLUDING ANSWERS TO THE SET QUESTIONS) TO THE LAW COMMISSION
THE PROPOSAL TO DEEM MISOGYNY A HATE CRIME AND EXTEND HATE CRIME AS BASED IN IDENTITY POLITICS IS COUNTER TO ALL EVIDENCE AND IS ITSELF A HATRED
The focus of this reply to the Consultation is to show that adding misogyny to the set of hate crime domains is fundamentally in error. It is so counter to the evidence as to be truth inversion, given (1) not only is there no scientific or other cogent evidential basis whatsoever for the notion of misogyny, but instead the evidence is of philogyny and misandry; (2) that men (not women) are the great majority of victims across all current domains of hate crime; and (3) with the entire concept of hate crime being based on the assumption that identity politics itself has some kind of coherent or cogent basis when it not only has none at all, but its basis actually is a malicious ‘revenge’ towards the general population, as is clear from the well-documented history of its origin, development and manifestation.
The text of the Consultation reveals a complete absence of relevant actual evidence and of any proper examination of evidence, that is not merely reckless and irresponsible but unethical, and apparently deliberately untruthful, undermining the very reason for conducting a review. Even though previously — during the preparation of the Consultation document — the points herein have been submitted and explained, the Law Commission has chosen to completely ignore them. That such scientific illiteracy in both methodology and content is in line with that across all of government with respect to scientific fields generally, is of course no defence. It amounts to misconduct in public office.
Herein I outline why your proposals would be sex discrimination and actually themselves a hate crime by any normal understanding of such a concept. Even if misogyny were a phenomenon that existed, and either both misogyny and misandry were deemed hate crime domains or misandry were to be merely implicitly added by denoting the domain sex and/or gender, there would still be very serious sex discrimination (indirect), given the very well-known and well-studied phenomenon of male (compared to female) heavy under-reporting of any form of victimhood.
If what you propose you deem to pass the Consultation stage, then to be accepted by government and put into legislation, it would not survive legal challenge, with each and every case arising potentially failing through simple presentation of the facts, let alone expert witness testimony challenging its basis.
The loaded Consultation questions
Given that your Consultation questions are so loaded with bogus assumptions, it is impossible to answer them without qualification to place within a necessary wider understanding, and hence this exposition and relegated to its end the answers to the Consultation questions.
Many are ‘forced choice’ in the service of your serious misrepresentation of issues. Re specifically misogyny, your question number 11 betrays your intention clearly to dishonestly introduce it as a hate crime domain under the cloak of ostensibly adding both misogyny and misandry, with your full knowledge that the huge sex-differential whereby there is very heavy male under-reporting would mean this effectively does not add misandry. Ditto your question number 14. Again, fully anticipated heavy male under-reporting would render the category sex or gender effectively female. So again, as a ‘forced-choice’ question the answer can only be non-nuanced, obliging complicity with your deceitful, malicious enterprise.
The question that should be there but isn’t, is to add misandry as a hate crime domain; that is, to add only misandry, and to not add misogyny. The answer to that question would be ‘yes’, as here at least would be a genuine category of hate, though even this would be a ‘forced choice’ in that the whole concept of hate crime legislation and all rationale behind it is completely wrong-headed, given the basing of hate crime in the protected characteristics of identity politics, which arose as a backlash against — hate-mongering towards — ordinary people en mass, with roots now almost a century old (as fully outlined below).
* Misogyny does not exist. There is not a single scientific paper in support of the notion as currently understood of some generic negative attitude of men/boys towards women/girls, and in any case no scientific theoretical perspective that would point to other than the very opposite phenomenon.
* Philogyny and misandry instead are the real gender attitudes, as scientific investigation clearly reveals.
* Hate crime victims are not women but men; that is, by a large majority across all domains men are substantially in the majority as victims, as the Law Commission cannot but very well know from official UK data. This is why the CPS states that making misogyny an additional hate crime domain would be an “ineffective approach”.
* Men would be revealed almost exclusively the victims of hate crime after factoring in the enormous sex differential in under-reporting: males fail to report anything that would betray any sort of weakness, whereas females will tend to over-report, given not only that vulnerability in females is sexually attractive, but that female (and emphatically not male) is a protected characteristic in the identity politics extreme ideology that hate crime law is explicitly designed to serve.
* Being male and different is shown to be what evokes the negative attitudes seen in ‘hate crime’, across all domains: race, sexual orientation, etc.
* These negative attitudes are shown not to be hate at all, and instead to be pro-social behaviour / psychology to gate-keep male entry to the adult group and ‘police’ group members.
* It’s a false perception that misogyny exists, stemming from the root biological need to preference and protect the female as the limiting factor in reproduction, producing a profound evolved mindset. Failure to be demonstrably pro-female prompts over-anticipation in error-management mode (false positives being an acceptable cost given the importance of being pro-female). Uncommon behaviour thereby comes to be falsely imagined as default, requiring special effort to thwart. Whereas formerly folk wisdom would correct such truth inversion, now hegemonic extreme-feminist ideology compounds the evolved cognitive bias.
* All of the identity politics that the Law Commission states as its a priori position is shown to be not only nonsense but truth inversion. The well-documented history of the origin and development of identity politics (PC protected characteristics) is not any form of concern for minorities but hatred towards the mass of ordinary people; this being a century-long building backlash by the political Left against its perception of the workers declining to act according to Left prescription and prediction. So the Law Commission cannot hide behind identity politics being a given in its remit.
* The concept of hate crime makes no sense from any scientific theoretical perspective; only from an extreme-ideological one. Ideology is inherently non-scientific, inappropriately extending some facet (or, in this case, some imagined facet) of human nature to misrepresent human nature more wholly, so as to further some sectional interest, including when ostensibly the interests served are supposedly universal. Any scientific understanding of the sexes is of a profound mutual inter-dependence, with the female always being afforded especial consideration and protection by reason of being the limiting factor in reproduction.
* No non-superficial, cogent evidence is presented for peculiarly or majority female victimhood, and certainly not at the hands of males. On-line abuse is not mainly against females, and even that in supposed misogynistic terms is mostly by other females, which would have to invoke the highly implausible and non-evidenced notion of internalised misogyny. Forms of ‘female cloistering’ (FGM, veiling, foot-binding), are shown to be female-initiated and -maintained female-female competition, not male imposition. Honour crime as it would formerly have been defined (that is, not to focus on females and exclude males) overwhelmingly is of male victimhood, with the minority directed towards females being orchestrated by mothers or family matriarchs. Partner violence research conclusively demonstrates it’s mostly, indeed essentially female-perpetrated, as would be revealed partner murder if proxy agents and covert modes wee properly detected.
* NO EVIDENCE AT ALL OF MISOGYNY: INSTEAD PHILOGYNY AND MISANDRY ARE THE REALITY
* HATE CRIME STATS REVEAL NOT JUST THE NOTION OF MISOGYNY IS A LIE BUT THAT SO TOO IS THE WHOLE OF IDENTITY POLITICS
* IDENTITY POLITICS ORIGINATED AND DEVELOPED AS ITSELF HATRED, NOT A CALLING OUT OF IT
* THE USUAL NON-EVIDENCE PRESENTED AS EVIDENCE OF MISOGYNY IS ALL THERE IS IN THE CONSULTATION
* PARTNER VIOLENCE IS NORMAL FEMALE BEHAVIOUR BUT BY ABERRANT MALES ONLY
* ONLY MALE GENITAL MODIFICATION IS A FORM OF CONTROL; ITS FEMALE COUNTERPART ORIGINATED AS A FEMALE-INITIATED AND MAINTAINED COMPETITIVE PLOY
* ANSWERS TO THE CONSULTATION QUESTIONS
NO EVIDENCE AT ALL OF MISOGYNY: PHILOGYNY & MISANDRY INSTEAD ARE THE REVEALED REALITY
Evidence overwhelmingly shows the non-existence of misogyny and instead that the reality is philogyny and misandry. I’ll outline here first the scientific evidence from the relevant literature (gender attitudes research), followed by the concrete evidence in the hate crime statistics, and how the opposite of misogyny (misandry) accounts for all of identity politics. I’ll then outline the documented history of the origin and development of identity politics, showing that it is an expression of hatred towards the general populace and not at all any sort of concern for minorities and their supposed oppression; this being a feint. Finally, I’ll dismantle topic by topic what you mistakenly take to be evidence as you submit in the consultation document.
Exhaustive literature search (including of everything on Google Scholar, which is a complete repository of all academic research) produces no scientific evidence whatsoever — not a single paper (whether or not peer-reviewed, journal-published or otherwise) on the topic of misogyny demonstrating its existence. No science paper shows, however differently labelled, generic profound antipathy or hatred towards women by men; as misogyny nowadays generally is understood (both in new popular currency and as explanation in social psychology and other academic literature). The only papers dealing with misogyny take it as its own premise. The relevant science literature here is of what is termed gender attitude, which is fully outlined in detail below. It reveals not misogyny but philogyny and misandry.
The only supposed evidence cited in the Consultation document is non- if not anti-scientific ideology from ideological sources. It’s the usual mistakenly cited topic-by-topic context-less and distorted data, that is not only non-scientific, merely indirect (by interpretation in terms of supposed misogyny), but of what is not even relative female disadvantage and/or prejudicial targeting in the first place.
All of it is either (a) of actually minority female in comparison to male victimhood, often also at the hands of other females rather than males, or (b) a supposed female-exclusive phenomenon but which in fact it is not, because the relevant, equivalent category for males is not recognised and is ignored, or (c) the putative phenomenon simply does not exist; certainly not in terms of a motivation of hatred.
I will outline the falsity of all of your lines of evidence in due course, towards the end of this exposition, after unpacking first the gender attitudes research, then the hate crime statistics, and lastly the baselessness of the identity politics that give rise to the protected characteristics utilised as categories in hate crime. Expanding on critique of your lines of evidence there then follow full outlines of the reality of partner violence and also of genital modification (mutilation). Everything is fully supported by in-text brief citings, which are expanded into the full references that are all brought together at the very end.
Gender attitudes research shows no misogyny, and actually philogyny
Misogyny formally defined is a putative male-to-female hostile or highly negative attitude; gender attitude, as it were. Gender attitudes, both male-to-female and female-to-male, most recently have been reviewed and freshly examined by Dunham, Baron & Banaji (2016), in a culmination of their own earlier work in various collaborations. Looking at not just explicit but, more unusually, also implicit measures, and – for the first time in the literature – across all age groups, Dunham et al found for boys/men “no negative association with female whatsoever” (p5). [Implicit contrast with explicit responses in being default, automatic, tapped by taking only immediate response and to what is only indirectly evoked, so as to avoid either prompting or providing sufficient time to recruit other cognitive processes to modify or filter it. The usual methodology is to measure response latency to presenting a target together with another stimulus; the association between which dictating the reaction time. The closer seems the association, the faster will be the subject’s response.] Furthermore, with age, the same-sex positivity shown by boys, on implicit measures decreases so much that, from adolescence onwards, males show by comparison such a strong shift to a more positive attitude towards females that, overall, their respective consideration for the sexes completely reverses. The authors consider this change dramatic, which indeed it is, albeit that the male same-sex positivity was only modest at the outset. With explicit gender attitudes, there is also a shift, though here towards neutrality. The contrast with girls/women in all respects is striking. All age groups are “robustly pro-female” — strongly positive towards females and strongly negative towards males – and all the more so with age. Furthermore, the authors’ finding that there is no correlation between implicit and explicit measures reveals (as they themselves point out) that they tap into different and independent psychological constructs, as might be expected given the contrasting cognitive facilities available for implicit versus explicit responses. Whether in respect of responses that are automatic/default or considered, the findings here indicate misogyny is a fiction, with misandry, on the other hand, real.
Congruent earlier work
These findings are in respect of individuals (that is, where subjects were given an individual male and/or female as the target). This builds on much earlier research with groups (where subjects were given all-male and/or all-female groups as the target) likewise showing that, on explicit measures, by adulthood males as well as females have more positive attitudes towards females than towards males (Eagly & Mladinic, 1989; Eagly, Mladinic & Otto, 1991). Eagly’s work was prompted by studies hitherto using only indirect measures of gender attitudes: evaluations of what were thought to be either male or female stereotypes, which then were merely assumed to entirely govern impressions of others according to sex, in any and every interaction. By reason of the numerous major conceptual and methodological flaws evident with this approach, Eagly et al instead used direct measures – a number of kinds, and where there is a common metric across the sexes. Their conclusions were that (regarding same-sex target groups) both sexes were more positive towards women than towards men; in particular in attitude, but also in terms of how responses were manifestations of beliefs (or stereotypes) about the sexes, and even in their emotional content (albeit a difference in this case that was not statistically significant). Notably, despite looking especially for covert negative sentiments towards women, none were found. Furthermore, in analysis designed to uncover hidden ambivalence, this too was not apparent to any marked extent in either cognitive or affective (emotional) reactions.
Further replication of findings
Subsequent to Eagly et al, their findings and conclusions have been replicated and confirmed; first by Haddock & Zanna (1994), then by Aidman & Carroll (2003), who uncovered a strong automatic preference for female attributes in female undergraduates, and no significant gender bias in males. Similar results were obtained in work on target groups by Skowronski & Lawrence (2001), and (this time using implicit measures) by Carpenter (2001), albeit that the favourability towards women was much stronger in the case of women. When Skowronski & Lawrence also additionally turned from explicit to implicit measures, their data showed non-significantly pro-female or at worst neutral attitude in the latency responses. No pro-male attitude was uncovered until the authors switched to a different implicit measure, of error responses, and then only a slightly pro-male attitude was found. [Error response as an alternative to latency is based on the reasoning that the greater the association between the target and the associated stimulus, then the easier and, therefore, likely less error-prone is the response.] Mixed results – pro-male as well as pro-female – were not obtained without adding the extreme condition whereby the male and female targets were turned into soldiers, thereby introducing an obvious very strong demand characteristic that could not do other than confound results. Note, here, that notwithstanding in some respects anomalous results, still there was no basis of interpreting in terms of any negative attitude to females
Men don’t even prefer their own sex; but women do
Work squarely on what is conceived of as automatic in-group bias (homophily: the implicit preference for others of the same category to be considered fellow group members), as indicated in immediate-response experiments, revealed that this was strong for women, whereas men had no preference at all for their own over the opposite sex (Nosek & Banaji, 2002; Richeson & Ambady, 2001). This was quantified by Rudman & Goodwin (2004) as a fivefold sex differential (a factor of 4.5) in same-sex preference; interestingly by a purer measure of implicit attitude, in that the measure they employed entailed methods eliminating any confound with gender stereotypes. They further found a similar sex differential in respect of explicit measures. In explanation of their results, Rudmin & Goodwin conclude of women that “they alone possess a cognitive mechanism that promotes own group preference” (p506). So men have no cognitive mechanism to preferentially consider other males as co-members of their group. Most importantly, the neutral data means, conversely, that men have no cognitive mechanism to exclude or, to that end, in whatever way, to diminish females in considering them as fellow group members. On the contrary, a man – unlike a woman – sees everyone, men and women alike, as being fellow members of any symbolic grouping (such as the whole workplace or company, university year-group or department) to which he himself belongs (Maddux & Brewer, 2005). Similar was found by David-Barrett at al (2015), in their paper entitled ‘Women Favour Dyadic Relationships, but Men Prefer Clubs’. Maddux & Brewer also find that by contrast a woman has her own idiosyncratic individual grouping pattern cutting across symbolic organisational boundaries. This is well-known from decades of studies of social structure and dynamics: a personal network built on an exclusionary principle; a small number of close bonds, more or less to the exclusion of everyone else. The typical pattern is a core twosome or threesome from which one or more chains of association extend out to individuals at some remove from the symbolic groupings with which males so readily identify. This profound sex dichotomy has been found more recently (Szell & Thurner, 2013; Lindenlaub & Prummer, 2013). That key is an exclusionary attitude by females has been confirmed by Benenson et al (2013) — Social Exclusion: More Important to Human Females Than Males – and Goodwin (2002): Exclusion in girls’ peer groups: ethnographic analysis of language practices on the playground. [Note, the general understanding that men form all-male clubs stems not from male psychology of in-grouping but from that of dominance (or prestige) hierarchy, which is all-male (Van den Berg, Lamballais & Kushner, 2015). The research outlined here on in-grouping shows that males must readily either extend their within-hierarchy homophily to change it to an all-inclusive attitude when a wider grouping becomes salient, or that different psychology pertains in parallel with respect, on the one hand, to hierarchy, and, on the other, to grouping.]
Trying and failing to find misogyny in special conditions
With the failure to demonstrate misogyny and the literature clearly indicating at worst neutral and usually very positive attitude of males to females, there have been attempts to find or manufacture special conditions that prompt it. Having replicated Rudman & Goodwin’s findings in a Japanese sample (2009), Ishii & Numazakihad (2015) investigated males under threat (to their sense of self worth) when gender was made salient, on their hypothesis that this would produce a negative association with women. However, they found no evidence at all for this; only of an absence of positive association. Posing a similar but more specific scenario, Kasumovic & Kuznekoff (2015) claimed that women entering the workplace hierarchy pose a threat to males not generically but to those of lower status. However, critics (Brown & Cotton, 2015) point out that the authors used an inappropriate statistical analysis, without which their data does not reach significance. In any case, the authors proffer an evolutionary explanation which actually is itself a false understanding of hierarchy (see the section below on supposed inter-sexual dominance), ignoring more obvious evolutionary explanation not entailing male hostility.
Sexism in its supposedly hostile form
With the consistent failure to find any evidence of misogyny in terms of a profoundly hostile male attitude towards females, or even of a pro-male rather than a pro-female attitude, then research to try to establish the existence of misogyny appears to have been distanced from this conceptualisation and gender attitudes studies. This has been by employing a wider concept that can be conflated with and thereby (mis-)represented as misogyny, notwithstanding that any supposed manifestation under study would not thus be labelled if its appropriateness were to be directly considered rather than via the wider concept. Discussion has come to be in terms of the more loosely if not ill-defined notion of sexism. [The concept of sexism had begun as being defined simply as a negative attitude towards women (Allport, 1954), just as in gender attitudes research. But it was later diluted to (any sort of) prejudice or discrimination (Cameron, 1977), and, latterly, an (that is, any) attitude by virtue of the target’s biological sex (Lameiras and Rodriguez, 2003) – rendering the notion meaningless.] As sexism can be inadvertent, non-malicious and even benign, then its conflation with misogyny allows an unacknowledged broadening of definition thereby to misrepresent as misogyny a range of other phenomena. In turn, sexism can be qualified as negative (rather than neutral or positive) to assume the mantle of misogyny by the back door, as it were; in effect side-stepping the literature on gender attitudes. In essence, gender attitudes have come to be seen as superficial, underlying which is sexism. This would ignore that the very question of what is covert rather than overt has been substantially addressed in the research on implicit (as opposed to explicit) gender attitudes.
The major problem with the notion of negative – dubbed hostile (Glicke & Fiske, 1996) – sexism is the deeply flawed operational definitions employed in studies. The most recent sexism inventory, by Tougas et al (2015), is criticised by Tostain (2016), citing three examples (the first two supposedly denoting the hostile form):
* It is difficult for a woman to work as a boss.
* Men are incomplete without women.
* Women, compared with men, tend to display a greater moral sense.
The first, Tostain points out, is most likely to be actually an expression of support for women in terms of siding with them against what a woman might face in the workplace; the second, an acknowledgement of the importance of partnership between the sexes (an objective fact), and the gratitude towards if not aggrandisement of women as partners. It also acknowledges difference between the sexes (also an objective fact), that Tostain picks up on with respect to the third example, which he sees as being included simply because it is considered as essentialising women – in other words, acknowledging the reality of sex difference. The third example is overtly pro-female and anti-male real sexism – as also could be interpreted the second item, yet the second item, along with the first, nonetheless is deemed hostile sexism. The third is still classed by Tougas et al as sexism, but benevolent (see below).
The standard measure of sexism, an explicit one, is that by Glick & Fiste (1996). Here is the full list of their items indicating hostile sexism:
[Note that some are reverse-worded and would be scored accordingly, and to avoid confusion they are here worded correctly, as it were.]
* Women exaggerate problems at work.
* Women are too easily offended.
* Most women interpret innocent remarks as sexist.
* When women lose fairly, they claim discrimination.
* Women seek special favours under the guise of equality.
* Feminists are making unreasonable demands.
* Feminists are seeking more power than men.
* Women seek power by gaining control over men.
* Many women tease men sexually.
* Once a man commits, she puts him on a tight leash.
* Women fail to appreciate all men do for them.
This is self-evidently anything but a list of attitudes that clearly denote hostility, even inadvertently. All of the items are open to various interpretation. Given the current hegemonic identity politics, incorporating extreme feminism, then most, if not all, are not (or not necessarily) inaccurate generalisations. Being based on common personal experience routinely shared with others, that would not be unreasonable opinion; as near objective as opinion gets; if not tantamount to fact. And these may be views that a majority of people of both sexes would share. Some of the statements are simple legitimate and deserved criticism of ideological feminism, which many or most would agree with for reasons of being supportive of women generically rather than through expressing any antipathy. Not endorsing extreme feminism or those articulating the ideology is not negativity towards women
Sexism dubbed benevolent but not thus considered
The notion of benevolent sexism was hypothesised by Glick & Fiske (1996, 1997), and the same criticism as of their hostile sexism items applies here but magnified and self-evident. Here are the items on their scale:
[Note, as with their hostile sexism items, that some are reverse-worded and would be scored accordingly, and to avoid confusion they are here worded correctly, as it were.]
* A good woman should be set on a pedestal.
* Women should be cherished and protected by men.
* Men should sacrifice to provide for women.
* In a disaster, women should be rescued first.
* Women have a superior moral sensibility.
* Women have a quality of purity few men possess.
* Women have a more refined sense of culture, taste.
* Every man ought to have a woman he adores.
* Men are incomplete without women.
* Despite accomplishment, men are incomplete without women.
* People usually are not happy without heterosexual romance.
Benevolent sexism is envisaged by Glick & Fiske (1997) as being alongside hostile sexism within a general category, ambivalent sexism.
The empty concept of stereotype threat
The conduit by which ambivalent sexism supposedly harms women is the evocation of a sex stereotype, that is assumed to be interpreted by women as being what is or what is not expected of them. Self-inhibition then ensues, through feeling unable to carry out what otherwise would be a chosen role beyond a traditional one, so as to avoid any anticipated punishment. Akin to the concept of internalised misogyny (a non-parsimonious, implausible, non-evidenced construct based in turn on a contra-evidenced construct), this supposed mechanism of harm is encapsulated in the term, stereotype threat. Coined over 20 years ago by Steele & Aronson (1995), initially regarding race issues concerning African Americans; in respect of sex, very serious problems with this construct are apparent, not least when explicit measures are used. Not merely is there no negative impact of presenting a stereotype, but a positive outcome is produced (Kray, Thompson & Galinsky, 2001). Findings likewise entirely contrary to prediction have also been found by Fryer, Levitt & List (2008) and Geraldes, Riedl & Strobel (2011). All of the literature on this topic was reviewed by Stoet & Geary (2012), who find that there is no evidence at all for the phenomenon, not least through the multiple major methodological flaws in common to experimentation across the field. Most importantly, this is the absence of a control group and inappropriate data adjustments – in almost all of the supposedly successful replications of an effect in regard of women and maths; which in any case were only half of the 20 attempts in total. Jussim et al (2016) took further issue with data adjustment, and concluded that even if stereotype threat were a factor, it’s so tiny as to be an irrelevant one. [Note that though there is one prior review (Kit, Tuokko & Mateer, 2008), this was not an objective examination of the phenomenon. It was a look at how research within the field was progressing, on the unquestioned assumption that stereotype threat is a real phenomenon.] In the wake of Stoet & Geary’s review, further attempts at replication using large samples have all failed: Wei (2012), Ganley et al (2013), Stafford (2016) and Finnigan & Corker (2016). Many such failed attempts over the past 20 years have remained unpublished through publication bias (Flore & Witcherts, 2015) – non-replication being far less interesting to journals.
A more recent (2016) review by Tostain is comprehensively damning. His conclusion is that contrary to interpretation proffered in social psychology studies, the impact of presenting stereotypes is one among multiple factors, and anyway in itself very small:
“stereotypes do not necessarily have the power that is often attributed to them. Firstly, the perception and the judgements of individuals are not necessarily altered by gender stereotypes. And in addition, measures of gender stereotyping are not necessarily neutral, and can direct one towards a vision that artificially accentuates the presence and weight of stereotypes. Finally, the predictive value (in terms of links with discriminatory behaviours) of tests for the evaluation of stereotypes, particularly gender stereotypes, remains subject to debate” (no page number available).
Tostain outlines what he sees as the fundamental problem of “misunderstanding the fact that individuals can make reference to stereotypes according to different levels of judgement and different perspectives”, when everything is geared “implicitly to adopt a univocal causal schema … born of a vision of masculine domination”; the upshot being that “individuals are constantly faced with heterogeneous dynamics, some of which can be opposed to these stereotypes”. So not only is a negative impact of stereotype threat in serious doubt, but stereotypes would appear in any case to have positive impact in the very same terms. This is the crux problem Stoet & Geary uncovered: the absence of control groups prevents even the possibility of discovering any positive impact, thereby rendering the research worthless. The suspicion must be that this systematic failure to adhere to the most basic scientific procedure was necessary to be able to build any literature on stereotype threat.
The reviews and the slew of failed replications together demonstrate that stereotyping overall has no negative impact, leaving the notion of stereotype threat an imagined phenomenon; not a real one. As with misogyny, this is not a case of the phenomenon under investigation, in not being observed, requiring an explanation. Instead, it’s a case of what is believed requiring the invention of a phenomenon (through a tendentious interpretation of what is observed in staged scenarios very far from real life) so as to retrospectively justify the belief.
Even more fundamental problems are evident in considering definitions. Whereas the hostile form is defined by Glick & Fiske (1997) as “dominative paternalism, derogatory beliefs, and heterosexual hostility” (abstract), the benevolent variant is “protective paternalism, idealization of women, and desire for intimate relations” (abstract).
Given this definition of the benevolent form, it would appear that all inter-sexual interaction is here deemed sexist: an entirely circular reasoning. Sexism in this new ambivalent wider conceptualisation is deemed the cause of patriarchy and traditional gender roles; but anything and everything about these roles and patriarchy is deemed to constitute sexism. The claim, then, in effect, is that they are one and the same, and that sexism is its own aetiology: a non-explanation that cannot be a scientific hypothesis. The perfect circularity of argument leaves no hypothesis to test.
The whole sexism project has become an exercise in unfalsifiability: the cardinal sin in science. Given, then, that it cannot, even in principle, be disproven, it is by definition not scientific. The notion in academia of sexism has replaced, or rather, has been elided with the notion of misogyny to mean the same thing: ubiquitous male hostility to females. Whereas the supposed phenomenon of misogyny can be shown to be entirely lacking in evidence and, therefore, categorically false, sexism has been developed as a construct always to escape this eventually through becoming stretched to encompass any data, instead of data being used to test an hypothesis. Sexism thereby has been rendered nothing more than an ideological or quasi-religious belief.
Misogyny is not through control: the male is not the controlling partner
Moving beyond notions of sexism, control (controlling behaviour) is a further possible form of harm done to women by men that conceivably might be considered an expression of misogyny, but again research reveals the inverse of expectation. The context in which controlling behaviour is most evident is couples (sexual partners), but it is not men who typically try to prevent their partner from straying. It is women. Vogel et al (2007) find overall that the woman partner has complete charge of the relationship, both taking responsibility in representing it to the world outside and acting within it: “wives behaviorally exhibited more domineering attempts and were more dominant (ie, more likely to have their partner give in) than husbands during discussions of either spouse’s topic” (p173). Fully in line with this, Coleman & Straus (1986) long ago found that the woman is the controlling partner in 90% of couples. According to Graham-Kevan & Archer (2009), women even utilise male modes of control at least as much as do men. This would be expected to produce a very large asymmetry in favour of female perpetration, in that women will hugely if not exclusively predominate in female modes (because males adopting such modes would lose the very asset, status, they are keenest to hold on to). Most recently, Bates, Graham-Kevan & Archer (2014) tested the standard assumption of male control and found that “women were more likely than men to be categorized as showing high control” (p10). This picture, entirely contrary to the contemporary portrayal in media and by academia, is no surprise. It is the former popular understanding within living memory. The female ruling the roost, as it were, was the one theme rivalling sex in comic English seaside postcards. This picture fits with recent theoretical understanding of the basis of the evolution of human pair bonding being in the female interest rather than that of the male (Moxon, 2013).
Misandry: the real sexism is unseen
Whatever term may be used to denote it, and however it is elided with and diluted by other notions, misogyny is a figment of ideological imagination. As such, it is not misogyny but a charge of misogyny that becomes itself the very contempt for or hatred towards the other sex it purports to call out. In other words, accusation of misogyny actually is itself a manifestation of hostile sexism in the form of misandry, making this the real phenomenon now in need of study. The question is whether this is the extent of and the origin of misandry, or if misandry already existed, with ideological misandry being merely a further expression of something with much deeper roots. That it is the latter is suggested by the data generated in the failed quest to establish the existence of misogyny – notably what has been revealed (as above-discussed) about the stark sex dichotomy in human in-grouping, whereby women but not men group according to an exclusionary principle, and that this is far more towards the opposite sex.
That this actual sexism is not seen for what it is, shows up in research into bias in respect of sexism. Evidently, sexism of any form by females is unseen: not just women’s anti-male sexism (Rudman & Fetteroff, 2014; Goh, Rad & Hall, 2017), but also their anti-female sexism (Baron, Burgess & Kao, 1991); this being the perception of both males and other females. Hence the great surprise that greeted the Demos findings in 2016 that the bulk of on-line misogynistic abuse, on Twitter, was by not men but by women. Goh, Rad & Hall replicated in inter-personal dyadic behaviour what Rudman and Fetterolf had found regarding groups: women being biased to (mis-)perceive hostile sexism from men when it isn’t there; conversely not seeing men’s benevolent sexism when it is (albeit regarding this last, Goh, Rad & Hall’s findings were not statistically significant). By contrast, men actually under-estimated women’s hostile sexism as well as over-estimating women’s benevolent sexism.
Notwithstanding these biases as well as hegemonic anti-male ideology, research reveals not only female hostile sexism, but that this is at the same level as that attributed to men (Cárdenas et al, 2010; León-Ramírez & Ferrando Piera, 2013); the only sex difference being in respect of benevolent sexism, which was more evident in men, according to León-Ramírez & Ferrando (though at the same level, according to Cárdenas et al). In other words, women, unlike men, tended to exhibit their sexism in a hostile rather than a benevolent manner.
Misandry is acknowledged in a large multi-national study by a team led by the afore-cited principal contemporary researcher of sexism, Peter Glick (Glick et al, 2004): that there are “hostile as well as benevolent attitudes toward men“ (abstract). Yet Glick dismisses this as somehow in effect not actually being hostile towards men, in that it works together with the benevolent form to “reflect and support gender inequality by characterizing men as being designed for dominance” (abstract).
The misconceived notion of male inter-sexual dominance
This is the notion (or is predicated on the notion) that sexism is male inter-sexual dominance. But it is now clear that dominance in all species is always a male intra-sexual phenomenon. [For reviews, see Moxon (2016, 2009).] Not only do males not incorporate females into their dominance hierarchy, but females across species do not have the neural circuitry to process the winner and/or loser effects necessary to form actual dominance hierarchy even among themselves (Van den Berg, Lamballais & Kushner, 2015). Females no more have the facility to be sub-dominant (subordinate) to males than males would attempt to be dominant over them. Much evidence from biology shows that gender inequality is a chimera through profound failure to comprehend the basis of sociality: that males and females always have separate and very different sociality [For a very recent review, see Moxon (2016)], and that the ways in which they do interact are highly complementary. This means that in the workplace or other civic spaces that in a traditional society would be the arena of male intra-sexual competition, a hierarchy will not be psychologically salient to girls/women. Instead, they will attempt to fit in in other ways, facilitated by the complete absence of the above-discussed same-sex preference in male in-grouping. Nevertheless, women are bound to experience difficulty in mapping female sociality onto the social structure of the workplace. Albeit amorphous, in not being specifically male, necessarily the work organisation is modelled on male sociality through business competition and efficiency imperatives. It is these kinds of difficulties, in not being understood, that are mistakenly attributed to obstacles placed by males through some putative male-to-female hostility: misogyny.
Harassment is not a residual category of misogyny
The above findings of female mis-perception heavily undermine studies of sexual / gender harassment: another category of behaviour that might be thought to embody misogyny. With women liable to both invent male hostility and to be blind to male benevolence, then studies of harassment would have to control for these confounds. No such studies have come to light, and with no reason to suppose other than that these confounds apply in all male-female interaction, it is hard to envisage a viable experimental design. This compounds what anyway are multiple problems with already acknowledged eye-of-the-beholder effects: the perception of who is and who isn’t an harasser, and what is and what is not harassment, in respect of female and male attractiveness (youth/beauty and status) of putative victims and perpetrators. It is not merely that, for reasons of basic evolutionary / biological logic, both sexes are highly likely to over-perceive each other’s sexual interest: males, so as not to miss a reproductive opportunity; females, so as to avoid less than perfect reproductive opportunities. And note that here females may at the same time give out implicit proceptive signals in a courtship dialogue to assess the male before, in the end, rejecting him. The topic is similar to that of rape in being subject to ideologically-driven denial that motivation is sexual, in favour of unfounded assertions that it is instead ‘power’. This brings discussion back to the argument made above that dominance is not inter-sexual. It is also a related failure to comprehend the nature of courtship: males displaying their mate value in terms of their intra-sexual dominance in a call-and-response dialogue with a female, so that the female can better examine the male’s potential as a suitable mate. The male display here is an advertisement of dominance vis-a-vis his fellow males, not with respect to the female being courted. Overdone, non-reciprocated wooing naturally is likely to be viewed as harassment from the female perspective, but it is sexual interest in the female: a positive, hardly a negative attitude. To portray this as negative is unwarranted denigration of male sexuality. The notion that a high-status male is expressing ‘power’ in making sexual overtures also ignores that such males can realistically anticipate a favourable response to sexual entreaty, for the obvious reason that they are likely to be particularly attractive to women. That a male may use his work-place position as a basis of making sexual advances is often misrepresented as the use of sexuality to impose ‘power’, when it is very much the other way round. The mistake here is imputing to the male a motivation based on the female target feeling that her ability to make a mate choice is being constrained, as in the case of the male being merely such as a very junior manager. If instead the male is high status, then the female target’s attitude is liable to completely change (Colarelli & Haaland, 2002; O’Connell, 2009). It is easy to see how status and ‘power’ can be confused, setting up evolutionary explanation as a straw man, then to assert socio-cultural explanation.
A comprehensive rebuttal of the notion that sexual harassment is about ‘power’ rather than sex is provided by Browne (2002), who goes beyond usual discussion of harassment to include a good outline of the mis-perception as harassment of women being hazed in what formerly would have been all-male or predominantly male work-places. As an informal means of establishing membership of the work-group, hazing (initiation rites; ragging) is male intra-sexual behaviour not understood by women, who feel unduly threatened by it, even when males are extending hazing to encompass women for the very reason of trying to be especially inclusive.
For a variety of inter-related reasons, then, it is only to be expected that the literature on harassment is very confused. Browne’s is the most wide-ranging, comprehensive, non-ideological overview available. Mostly, though, there persists an overwhelmingly feminist, social constructionist and advocacy stance inimical to science, failing to tease out or identify confounds, if not adding to them. The problems, even from a sympathetic view of sociological perspective, are laid bare in the overview by Pina, Gannon & Saunders (2009), who consider the profusion of poorly evidenced theory and modelling (socio-cultural, organizational, sex-role spillover, socio-cognitive, and four-factor, in addition to biological) so perplexing as to be of great concern. Complex difficulties are also outlined by Vanselow (2009). There would be little to gain here in a review, short of an entire paper, updating Browne’s.
The coup de grace against the concept of harassment is that what constitutes harassment has become whatever it may be deemed to be by anyone claiming to be in receipt of it – or, indeed, by any third party observer (in which category would be an experimenter in a harassment study). [For the UK, this has come about in the wake of the Macpherson Report similarly redefining racism.] Harassment thereby is now every bit as perfectly circular in definition as is sexism. In any case, the notion of sexual / gender harassment as instead somehow embodying or being underpinned by hatred, contempt, or any negativity towards females, is so lacking in a scientific theoretical basis that it would require very substantial evidence with strong external validity for it to be taken as less pejorative and ideological than substantive. Inasmuch, then, as harassment could be considered a residual category of behaviour that in the male-to-female direction might be the last refuge of a basis of misogyny: any attempt along these lines to try to establish misogyny as a real phenomenon surely would be no more successful than the others.
Denial of the existence of the sexes is a basis of the notion of misogyny
The predominant if not hegemonic current academic line apparently is that as long as men and women see each other in biological terms, then there will always be gender inequality. This is captured in the afore-mentioned definition of sexism by Lameiras and Rodriguez (2003), deeming it simply an attitude towards others by virtue of their biological sex; and in the above-cited conceptualisation by Glick et al (2004) that sexist “attitudes toward men reflect and support gender inequality by characterizing men as being designed for dominance”. In other words, sexism towards men is nothing more than recognising men as behaving like men are meant to behave through their biological motivation – that is, what is commonly envisaged as their biological motivation, but which new thinking deems false understanding. The ideological line is that simply asserting a new cultural view will supersede biology, as if it were some mere historical aberration. This is philosophical illiteracy: culture is part of biology. [The facility to engage in cultural activity evolved to function to feed back to fine-tune and reinforce the very biology that gave rise to it. Consequently, there can never arise a cultural development that goes off at some novel tangent: if it ever began to do so, it would be co-opted by its own biological base so as to better express it (Moxon, 2010).] It is a pejorative, political, anti-scientific stance to insist that the male/female distinction is not biological but socially constructed, and as such is malleable, and not essential (inherent); so is replaceable, supposedly, by a new human reality. Ultimately, this is a residue of the Christian notion of ‘the promised land’ in the guise of a political religion (Gray, 2007).
Sexism is rendered anything and everything concerning male-female interaction. Again, this is a complete circularity, in gender inequality being synonymous with all interaction between men and women, which, simply by unsupported assertion, is here regarded as inherently and, therefore, irredeemably inequitable. The only solution, in this view, is the elimination of the sexes. The idea appears to be nothing more sophisticated than self-fulfilling prophecy: that by persistently asserting that there should be an end to there being sexes, eventually it will be brought about. As if simply talking up inter-sexual conflict would make the sexes disappear, this is closely akin to its being thought that enforcing speech codes will bring about the end of racism. But it’s not the sexes (that is, both of them) that are the real target. It’s the male sex that is for elimination in this line of ideological thinking. With no male sex, there would remain no sex to distinguish as female, so in place of men and women there would then be simply people. This astonishing flight of fancy is in the service of salving a cognitive dissonance in the Marxist mindset. Marxist intellectuals almost a century ago dismissed and turned on Western workers after no revolution in the West ensued in the wake of that in Russia. With males being those who would have taken up arms and for whom work is their raison d’etre and how they are judged, then, naturally, Western workers were envisaged as all-male. From then on regarded as turncoats (blacklegs in terms of failing to do the work of fomenting a revolution), they were deemed to be in need of replacement as the supposed vanguard of social change; by women (Moxon, 2014-2020). This is the tap root of the insistence on maintaining the contemporary notion of misogyny, notwithstanding that it’s a non-existent phenomenon.
Not only is misogyny a fiction but the reality is philogyny and misandry
Not only is there zero evidence for misogyny in any gender attitudes study and across all of them, but there is clear evidence against, and in support of both philogyny and misandry: the very antithesis of misogyny. Even attempts to water down and obfuscate in a retreat behind first the notion of sexism and then modifications of this, has failed to save the concept. Furthermore, the supposed mode of harm of diluted notions of misogyny in stereotype threat prove to be a chimera. Worse still, all conceptualisation ends in being entirely circular in definition, eliminating any vestige of a phenomenon to investigate in the first place. This is no surprise, as there is no theoretical basis of misogyny other than extreme ideology, which itself is non-, indeed anti-scientific. There is, on the contrary, fairly obvious theoretical basis for philogyny and misandry, which easily can be formalised in cogent evolutionary terms. Most damning of all is the clear political history that explains the need to conceive of misogyny irrespective of whether it has any reality, or, indeed, even in full knowledge that it is a chimera. It is inescapable that the construct of misogyny is naked anti-male ideology supported by natural anti-male prejudice (misandry), having no place in science.
The issue then is to explain misandry, but this is no mystery, and never has been. That females foundationally in effect are celebrities in collectively being the limiting factor in reproduction, is bound to elicit both deep suspicion towards males generically (prompting the policing of males, especially in regard to sex, but in any and every respect) and very special consideration towards females generically (prompting the protection of females, especially from sexual access by males, but in any and every respect). This is just as is found in the failed attempts to find misogyny; only philogyny being evident. Philogyny drives anticipation of potential harm that may befall women and girls, even when it’s unlikely or simply not present; perhaps even unlikely or absent in principle. And just as this harm to women is a figment, so too is a putative agent capable of causing the requisite harm. The class of humans considered agentic corresponds exactly to what is left after subtracting all females from humanity: males. In identifying males as the supposed agents capable of causing harm to females, it is by natural extension that intent to cause harm is mistakenly imputed to men. Consequently, sex-typically male activity that may in any way be conceived of as potentially causing harm to females is presumed indeed to do so. Hence misandry can be misrepresented as its obverse: misogyny. The notion of misogyny surely is the deepest and most tenacious false myth in all human imagination.
There is no historical misogyny nor view of women as actually inferior
The current conceptualisation of misogyny is new, being ideological. Formerly, the common understanding, still current among ordinary people, was/is that some individuals — of both sexes – may hold in contempt the opposite sex in general; typically through such as a series of failed romances. Of these two disaffections only misogyny was/is recognised, being considered notably negative, odd and not acceptable, whereas misandry has never been thus considered. An ancient Greek term, misogyny was coined, along with misanthropy and misoinia (hatred of wine) to denote notably unusual, unexpected dislikes of something good, amounting to disease; a pathology. There was no term for disliking men (which would be misandry), which means it was either not unusual and/or not extant, and/or not seen as significantly negative. The ancient Greeks had no such word: according to the Oxford Dictionary there is no record of its usage until the late nineteenth century. The presumption, without if not contrary to evidence, that the ancient Greeks were misogynistic, likely stems from the current understanding that historically women were held to be inferior in some respect. Latterly, the dissemination of feminist thinking has led to this being considered a form of misogyny, but it seems not to be the case.
The historical notion of female inferiority appears to be misinterpreted through a failure to appreciate that whereas men in the most important respects cannot be compared to women, women can be compared to men. Key female functions – conception, gestation, giving birth, lactating and maternal complete bonding with offspring (and even what was formerly communal childcare) – are impossible for a male to perform. By contrast, barring insemination male roles, at least in principle and to some if not full extent, can be performed by both sexes. Given no basis at all for comparing men to women – comparing male to female core functions — then men are seen as different from women rather than inferior to them. By contrast, given that there is a basis of comparing women to men, by reason that they can be judged both in female and in male terms, then vis-a-vis males they can be found wanting – even though much less so than correspondingly men would be found wanting judged in opposite-sex terms. Difference here can be seen as quantitative rather than qualitative: by degree. Hence the notion of female inferiority, notwithstanding that in female terms women are supreme beyond any comparison to men, and always are thus regarded because of the fundamental principle of the female being the limiting factor in reproduction. Women can never be considered inferior per se; quite the contrary. So it is that despite women invariably having been held in high regard, at the very same time they could be regarded as inferior.
This paradox is more apparent – and perhaps only then becomes clear – the greater is social scale and complexity, as this facilitates further natural separation between the respective socialities of the sexes: polarisation to the domestic and the civic spheres. As the latter developed into a progressively rarefied locus of male intra-sexual competition, it became ever less hospitable even for the great majority of men, let alone to women. If comparison is to a narrower and narrower top flight of men instead of with men as a whole (in general), then the extent to which women might then appear to fall short in male terms can become still more pronounced. This is intensified by males in comparison to females being intrinsically competitive (Moxon, 2015): men fiercely vie with each other when they feel they can play to their strengths, whilst dropping out of arenas where they realise they may be weak. As has often been pointed out, this leads to a surprising proportion of men who are either very high or very low performers: lots of both geniuses and dunces, as it were. This can be visualised in the distinctly contrasting shapes of normal distribution curves according to sex, almost irrespective of the sort of performance or ability being measured. The male curve shows fat tails both at the top and the bottom of the distribution, with a depressed median. Women show a near inverse form of variation, bunching around the median whereas the tails quickly go to asymptote. Note that this is the pattern even in those cases where the sexes don’t differ in performance / ability on average. That socially there is a distorted comparison between male high-flyers and females in general stems from the social invisibility of low mate-value individuals: men who are low in status as a result of poor performance / low ability in this way are akin to low-fertility women, only much more so — through the afore-mentioned foundational principle of the female being the limiting factor in reproduction, rendering the female being viewed as more valuable than the male. This basis of women being afforded extra consideration explains how it is that despite neither sex being intrinsically motivated to cross over to the other’s form of sociality to engage in non-sex-typical activity, it is felt that justification is required for the non-participation of women in men’s affairs, yet none is ever sought for the converse. Whereas it was never assumed that men are excluded from domesticity, or, at least, that there was no need to account for it even if they were; it would seem that even the potential for women to be excluded from civic life did require explanation.
The historical supposition that women were inferior surely was a highly qualified one. But the qualifications naturally would tend to have been lost in simplification to become, crudely, that women were inferior per se; despite this being the very sense in which women certainly were not inferior. In this shorn guise, the notion of female inferiority was a forced cod explanation rather than a pejorative view of women. The conceptualisation and its over-simplification may have been driven by the perennial general appreciation that the sexes are not motivated to engage in the usual behaviour of the opposite sex – by reason of its compromising display of (in the case of women) their femininity (female mate value). Thus is still further driven the contrast in attitude towards being competitive according to sex, whereby competitiveness per se seems almost inimical to females. The plain fact that men are physically prevented from being able to perform key female roles precludes motivation being an issue for them here in any case. It is generally the case that female relatively depressed performance in comparison to male is more through lack of motivation than as a result of sex differences or dichotomies with respect to abilities.[For the wider context explaining this, see Moxon, 2016.] A lack not so much (or at all) in female ability but merely in desire understandably might well have been seen as especial weakness. The portrayal of women as inferior thereby would be sustained even though it was not actually a disdainful view. Not inaccurately ascribing to women a comparative lack of drive to carry out a certain range of eminently performable albeit alien-seeming roles is not expressing negativity towards women.
HATE CRIME STATS REVEAL NOT JUST THE NOTION OF MISOGYNY IS A LIE BUT THAT SO TOO IS THE WHOLE OF IDENTITY POLITICS
If misogyny existed then the majority of hate crime victims would be female, but instead they’re male
Only 28% of recorded victims of hate crime are female, whereas 68% are male, according to DEMOS (Walters & Krasodomski-Jones, 2018): a more than 2:1 male:female sex differential. This is fully in line with the data in CPS Hate Crime Data Reports, which for 2016-2017 showed totals of 6,452 male and 3,731 female victims, and for 2017-2018, 6,003 male and 3,566 female victims. Buried in the data are breakdowns by sex of victim for each hate crime domain, in each of which there are (far) more male than female victims. The principal domains are of course race and sexual orientation. Included (albeit anomously) in the latter domain is the relatively tiny transphobic sub-domain, and here again the great predominance of male victims holds once the misleading labelling/recording is taken into account: male-to-female transsexuals are given as female (trans-women) notwithstanding that they are not only birth-males but remain clearly male in appearance (see below). The fully across-category excess of male victims of hate crime demonstrates that in the intersection of sex with other protected characteristics, sex trumps all; that is, intersectionality, as in the ideology of identity politics and PC protected characteristics, does not hold in any sense at all. Even the dimension of sex is completely inverted.
Sex itself is not a hate crime domain, despite its being the most common of the protected characteristics, which are precisely what are intended to be captured in the domains of hate crime, as is confirmed by the CPS (2019). Misogyny had been proposed, but it was rejected by the CPS, which stated (on page 19 of its Hate Crime Annual Report 2017-2018) that it would be an “ineffective approach”, but no explanation is offered. The CPS is here admitting that if deemed a protected characteristic, sex / gender would not lead to the expected exclusivity or even preponderance of female victims. The CPS’s own data in showing that the anticipated intersectionality re sex does not hold in any hate crime domain accounts for the CPS’ shyness about sex.
The clear data of the large sex differential in victimhood is intentionally hidden, with there being no mention of it within the main text, either overall or in respect of any domain. Ostensibly this is because of the proportion of cases (about a quarter to a third) where no sex is recorded, but in this portion of the data the profound skew towards male victims would be expected to continue if not intensify given that non-recording of sex is likely to reflect the absence of the expected female instantiation of the protected characteristic of sex, with the whole concept of hate crime being in the service of identity politics. The authors’ claim the data is “not robust enough to calculate proportions by gender accurately” avoids stating that the majority of victims are not female, which would contradict identity politics ideology. This evasion persists in the 2017-2018 Report, despite a decreased proportion of cases where sex is not reported. This misleading by omission is cemented in a Home Office review (Hambly, Rixom, Singh & Wedlake-James, 2018). No mention is made (even in footnotes) of the sex of victims; only that of perpetrators, who, being majority male, indicate the likelihood of a usual male intra-sexual phenomenon, though the authors may falsely infer (or may suppose readers may infer) male-to-female victimisation, in line with identity politics ideology.
This misleading by omission further distorts what is already heavily hidden majority male victimhood through the wide scope for frivolous and under-reporting. Hate crime data is non-scientific in that survey respondents not only are self-selecting, but, in hate crime being defined by no criteria, nothing can be putative about a report, as the claim in itself is all the confirmation required. Furthermore, there are the well-known demand characteristics associated with formal reporting to police and deeming an incident a crime. Consequently, data regarding hate crime even more than usual for survey data is liable to suffer from both male under- and female over-reporting: whereas for males, displaying any vulnerability results in loss of status and, consequently, reduced sexual attractiveness; conversely for females, vulnerability enhances sexual attractiveness (Goetz, Easton, Lewis & Buss, 2012; Rainville & Gallagher, 1990), and in evoking male protectiveness facilitates female coy proceptive behaviour.
The reporting differential according to sex of victim has not been researched in respect of hate crime, but regarding violent assaults, in marked contrast to women, “men victimized by strangers most often do nothing” (Kaukinen, 2002). If even violence does not prompt males to report to authorities, then it is likely the same for any sort of hate crime act. The finding is strongly echoed in those for crime generally, with male comparative under-reporting the principal predictor of the likelihood or not of reporting a crime (Avdija & Giever, 2012). It’s the most striking feature of domestic (intimate partner) violence, impacting the raw data by an order of magnitude (Stets & Straus, 1990) or even conservatively threefold (ONS, 2014). Even in anonymous survey, notwithstanding the most strenuous efforts to remove all demand characteristics, still men under-report (Archer, 1999). In health-care, men are only half as likely as women to seek assistance (Wang, Hunt & Nazareth, 2013). Male relative reluctance generally to seek help is found whenever it is investigated (Vogel & Heath, 2016; Möller-Leimkühler, 2002; Yousaf, Grunfeld & Hunter, 2015). Rasmussen, Hjelmeland & Dieserud (2018) find major barriers even prior to suicide: a feeling of total defeat, the imperative not to show weakness, and fear of (revealing) mental disorder; all concerning the shame of falling short of standards (losing status). With the very large majority of male over female victims of hate crime recorded across domains, combined with the very large corrective that would need to be applied to produce an accurate estimation of the sex differential, it is apparent that males overwhelmingly if not exclusively are the victims of hate crime, undermining hate crime data as offering support to identity politics–related theory.
Though proportions of hate crime victims reflect demographics, sex is the exception
Hate crime reports would be expected roughly to reflect the demography of the corresponding protected characteristics, and so they do, but not in the case of sex. With sex not included as a domain, the great majority of reports by domain are in respect of race, and not only in the U.S. but also in the U.K.: almost nine out of every ten (84%); followed by sexual orientation (8%) (Walters and Krasodomski-Jones, 2018). This more than tenfold difference corresponds to the proportion of the U.K. population of an ethnic minority (circa 20% on 2011 census data) vis-a-vis the prevalence of homosexuality (roughly 2% as the mean of reliable surveys). As the demographic of sex would be the most prevalent domain by far if it were one, its impact cannot be hidden. Sex interacts with other protected characteristics. The main supposed intersections are of sex with race and sex with sexual orientation. If, as according to identity politics notions, sex and race are mutually compounding, then black females would greatly outnumber black males in the hate crime data. Instead, the putative effect is not merely absent but in reverse: double the number of male victims over female in the race domain. That’s in line with the sex differential overall in hate crime, as expected from the race domain accounting for the great bulk of all hate crime cases. The 2017-2018 CPS figures for the race domain are 5,032 males, 2,816 females; plus 3,299 where sex was not recorded, that for reasons above-discussed would be expected to be even more in the male direction. The 2016-2017 figures are similar: 5,368 males 2,850 females, plus 3,636 cases where sex was not recorded. Apportioning the gender-not-recorded cases, as pointed out above, likely would increase male victim preponderance to three to one.
In respect of sexual orientation, again identity politics and intersectionality prediction is not only nullified but reversed. The 2017-2018 CPS figures for the so-called homophobic domain are 630 males and 441 females (plus 311 where sex was not recorded). The data for transphobia is 41 male (misleadingly dubbed transwomen), 25 female (misleadingly dubbed transmen), and 19 where no sex is given. And again, the 2016-2017 data is similar: regarding homophobia, 668 males, 434 females and 318 non-sexed; and re transphobia, 33 males (misleadingly dubbed transwomen), 20 females (misleadingly transmen), and 31 non-sexed. The sex differential is substantial, albeit, without adjustment to apportion the non-sexed reports, under two to one. That the skew towards male victimisation is less than for race likely is through the female fluidity of sexual orientation notably absent in men (Kinnish, Strassberg & Turner, 2005). Female bisexuality in some respects may be near ubiquitous. With prevalence effectively far higher for females than for males, there would be much greater scope for female (mis)construal of hate crime victimisation. The lower sex differential of the raw data in comparison to that for race is also in part through what in effect is sex miscategorisation additional to that regarding transsexuality, as seen in unpacking sexual orientation.
Homophobia is towards males, not females
Scientific investigation of negative attitude in respect of sexual orientation confirms the picture from hate crime data that its most striking aspect is of its being far more towards males than to females, and much of what is recorded as being towards females may be artefactual: data noise. The sex-difference applies to bisexuality as well as homosexuality, and not least transsexuality. With perpetration being overwhelmingly male, it must be suspected that the whole phenomenon at issue is male intra-sexual. Note that albeit transsexuality is not a sexual orientation, it is grouped thus in hate crime reporting and data analysis, so is dealt with at this juncture. Negative attitude across all forms of sexual minority is far more towards males (Herek, 2009), and specifically in respect of homosexuality, an abundance of studies show that attitudes indeed are more negative towards gays than to lesbians, and substantially so (Kuyper, Sommer & Butt, 2018; Sakallı-Uğurlu, Uğurlu & ve Eryılmaz, 2019; Ellis, Kitzinger & Wilkinson, 2003; Schellenberg, Hirt & Searset, 1999; Berkman & Zinberg, 1997; Nierman, Thompson, Bryan & Mahaffey, 2007; van den Akker, van der Ploeg & Scheepers, 2013; Wellman & McCoy, 2014; Oliver & Hyde, 1993). This sex differential is irrespective of methodology, not least in using a new, more refined measure (Monto & Sapinski, 2014). Breen & Karpinsky (2013) unusually find no negativity, but nevertheless find a profound sex differential, with positivity only towards lesbians. Van Leeuwen, Miton, Firat & Boyer (2016) point out that the negative attitude disproportionately in the male direction often is in respect of “tenor, content, and intensity”, with gays and not lesbians being those who face violence and notable crime. Where there is detection of more negativity towards lesbians, it is by females (Herek & Gonzalez, 2006). Neuroscientific study (Dickter, Forestell & Mulder, 2015) reveals that visual processing of a lesbian target is the same as if heterosexual, whereas gays are regarded as akin to out-group members.
The research reflects the completely contrasting way that male and female homosexuality have been treated in law, which must mirror longstanding opprobrium for male homosexuality, whereas female homosexuality has not been regarded as a problem. It must be suspected that the difficulty this poses for the identity politics model of female victimhood underpins why most studies hide the sex differential by aggregating data across sex. A more general confounding of data occurs in defining down criteria for what constitutes homophobia. Trivial putative forms of harassment and misinterpretation of what is innocuous and, indeed, well-meaning, can be elided with clear harassment and assault, further masking the sex differential.
What little negative attitude is experienced by lesbians is against the minority who are masculinised (butch or stud), as opposed to feminised (femmes), or neither (androgynous or unisex) (Cohen, Hall & Tuttle, 2009). It’s in respect of the extent to which they are perceived as male-like, by females and males alike. This nuance, though long apparent, as recorded in journalism, anecdote, and also survey (Kearl, 2014), is examined in no other scientific study, presumably because findings are anticipated to contradict intersectional compounding of negative attitudes in respect of female and sexual orientation protected characteristics — and for femme lesbians more so than butch, inasmuch as the latter supposedly benefit from the privilege attached to any perception of being male. (There is an attempt to address this in the intersectional invisibility hypothesis, discussed below in the context of race.) Its basis, Lick & Johnson (2014) find, is “gender-atypical” facial features, rendering masculinised lesbians “unattractive”. This is through actual masculinisation, by abnormal increased early exposure to androgens in butch and not femme lesbians (Brown et al, 2002), causing higher waist-to-hip ratios, greater saliva testosterone levels, less desire to give birth, and more childhood sex-atypical behavior (Singh et al, 1999); this last also being found by Zheng & Zheng (2016). With femmes effectively indistinguishable physically and in demeanour from heterosexual females, then unlike their butch counterparts they would have no apparent non-heterosexual orientation to be targetted with negative attitude. Likewise, for lesbians who are neither markedly feminised nor masculinised. Classing together lesbians of all types obscures that receipt of negative attitude is by a subset only. The inclusion of reports of hate crime by masculinised lesbians in effect artefactually reduces the sex differential in the hate crime domain of sexual orientation, contributing to why it seems not as large as that for the race domain.
Corresponding to the different types of lesbians, gays can be categorised according to sexual role and attendant demeanour and behaviours into tops, bottoms, and versatiles. However, whereas it’s a minority masculinised subset of lesbians liable to attract negative attitude, gays thus liable are all gays, especially subsets of gays making up the majority: those who are effeminate (Glick, Gangl, Gibb, Klumpner & Weinberg, 2007; Blashill & Powlishta, 2012; Ayres & Luedeman, 2013). Tops, in being overtly and exaggeratedly masculine in demeanour and appearance, appear to possess mate value in male terms (that is, they are superficially sexually attractive as if they were heterosexual males). In consequence they tend to be seen comparatively as less markedly incongruous, and, therefore, although they too attract negative attitude, it is not to the same degree as for bottoms and versatiles. By contrast, bottoms are feminised and may play up the role (campness), in what may even appear a taunting manner, inviting negative attitude. So may do versatiles, in that comparatively they too are conspicuously feminised (Ayres & Luedeman, 2013), even if less and less consistently than are bottoms. The lesbian counterparts of versatiles (unisex or androgynous) by contrast don’t stand out from heterosexual females and are effectively invisible. The mirror image contrast here between lesbians and gays still further reveals the proximal basis of the pronounced sex differential in negative attitude skewed towards male rather than female homosexuals being victims.
Bisexuals are a special case in that males and females have the same sexual orientation, leaving sex the only factor distinguishing them. However, by intersectionality reasoning, a female bisexual would attract a strongly negative attitude as a result of having two protected characteristics, whereas a male bisexual supposedly would benefit from male privilege to cancel out or at least partly offset the single protected characteristic. Contradicting this, Dodge et al (2016) find “attitudes generally are more positive toward bisexual women than bisexual men”. Herek (2002) found this to be true for male subjects, though that females don’t favour bisexuals of one sex more than the other (and rate bisexuals actually less favourably than homosexuals) is probably because of the confounding factor that for women bisexuals provoke the need for closure (Burke et al, 2017). That little research has been conducted on attitudes towards bisexuals likely is partly through definitional problems, and difficulty recruiting male bisexuals through their rarity—male bisexuality may not exist, given that in some studies a bisexual arousal pattern is not apparent in putative bisexual males.
The pattern of negativity towards males but not (or much less so) to females is also evident for transsexuals, in that those born male attract most negativity. Wang-Jones, Hauson, Ferdman, Hattrup & Lowman (2018) conducted several analyses and find that “overall people showed more implicit bias towards transwomen than to transmen,” corroborating plenty of prior evidence (Gerhardstein & Anderson, 2010; Schilt & Westbrook, 2009; Wang-Jones, Alhassoon, Hattrup, Ferdman & Lowman et al, 2017; and Witten & Eyler, 1999), confirmed by Nagoshi, Cloud, Lindley, Nagoshi & Lothamer (2019). (To reiterate, birth-males confusingly, indeed misleadingly are denoted transwomen, meaning transitioning to women; transmen are birth-females.) Their further analyses revealed that this bias is also evident in lesbian and bisexual women subjects. Rudin et al (2016) conclude that male-born transsexuals face a stark work-place negativity termed penis panic. As is well attested, male-to-female transsexuals are perceived as trying but failing to be women whilst remaining detectably male in appearance and demeanour, because of the irreversible impact of testosterone on bones & cartilage, vocal pitch and speech patterns, that subsequent transitioning by feminising hormones cannot eradicate. That this is readily apparent, further undermining intersectionality, may account for why the different perception of transwomen compared to transmen is still awaiting a first study. Instead of acknowledging that negative attitudes in respect of sexual orientation are much less towards females and much more towards males, research focuses on the politically expected greater male exhibition of negative attitudes. As hate crime data reveals, this is overwhelmingly real and indisputable, but here too, expectation based on intersectionality is thwarted. Negativity is largely same-sex. Lesbians not only experience far less than gays, but much of any they receive is from females (Herek & Gonzalez-Rivera, 2006). Ready report of exhibition as sex-separate data combines with only aggregate measures across sex of receipt, facilitating false inference of male perpetration towards females.
Summarising across non-heterosexual orientations, those who evoke negative attitude, in order of its severity, are, first, gays, in their being male and seemingly markedly different (especially those who exhibit feminisation) and specifically butch lesbians, in their being markedly masculinised, therefore also seeming notably different, albeit female. Next come male bisexuals, who are also seen as significantly different, and (pointing up difference) unpredictable in being so fickle, as it were, in orientation. Third, in receipt of negative attitude most of all, are birth-male transsexuals, in their being male and maximally different in trying actually to become the opposite sex whilst remaining detectably male. Crudely stated, the issue is that being male and different attracts negative attitude in proportion to the impression of the extent of difference.
Homophobia is a mis–named wider phenomenon accounting for why there is misandry and not misogyny
The standard notion of not simply homo-negativity but that males somehow fear homosexuals comes from the long outdated, comprehensively discredited (eg, Webster, 1995) non-science of Freudian psychoanalysis, and from where sprang the pejorative term homophobia, latterly homohysteria, and the use in this context of the expression ego defence. The supposition is the biology-denying modern mythological assertion the male is merely a gender role, that as such is held to be fragile and malleable in somehow being threatened by non-heterosexual orientation, notwithstanding its very low prevalence. This has arisen out of the extension of Marxist ideology (see the exposition below on identity politics).
Disgust, not fear, is the response to male homosexuals (Morrison, Kiss, Bishop & Morrison, 2019; Wang, Yang, Huang, Sai & Gong, 2019) confirming multiple earlier research (Cunningham, Forestell & Dickter, 2013; Terrizzi, Shook & Ventis, 2010; Dasgupta, DeSteno, Williams & Hunsinger, 2009; Inbar, Pizarro, Knobe & Bloom, 2009; and Tapias, Glaser, Keltner, Vasquez, & Wickens, 2006). Studies confirm male-specificity: that it doesn’t apply to lesbians (Inbar, Pizarro & Bloom, 2012, 2009; Herek, 1988). Fear is a response to immediate danger, whereas disgust is to avoid contamination. They are dissociable psychologically, having very different neural correlates (Xu et a., 2015). The supposed feeling of personal threat to a sense of masculinity taken to be the basis of fearing male homosexuality, is shown to be false: the evoked disgust is an expression of a general antipathy to those seen as threatening sex-related morality (Crawford, Inbar & Maloney, 2014), and not through homosexuals being envisaged as low-status out-group members. The morality evoked is not restricted to the sexual and is in the domains of authority and, especially, sanctity (Wang et a., 2019). The sense of contamination is far wider than some narrow challenge to personal sexual identity, but to group cohesion. This accords with what is apparent in the negative attitude in respect of sexual orientation: in its being deployed against males according to the extent to which they are different in significant ways. It appears to concern a mechanism of policing (as the term is used in biology) males within the social group. Non-heterosexual orientations seem to be a subset of indications of difference from group-supporting attitudes or behaviours requiring policing.
That homophobia (homo-negativity) per se is more ostensible than real, being part of a much wider phenomenon, has been long apparent. Rofes (1995) found that homophobic terms are used exclusively against boys, without reference to homosexuality, and become well-established long before sexual maturity, peaking in early secondary school years. Kite & Whitley (1996) find that although men are far more negative to male homosexuals than are women, they nevertheless view gay civil rights positively. It cannot be homosexuality per se, then, that evokes men’s negative attitude to gay men. Reigeluth & Addis (2016) find a much broader policing, functioning to enforce masculine norms, elevate and preserve status, and enhance friendship. More distally it’s to clamp down on potential defection from the group (van Leeuwen, Miton, Firat & Boyer, 2016). The authors find that women no less than men see gays in this way. Homosexuality seems to be emblematic of failing to demonstrate/signal group allegiance; a wider imperative apparent in Plummer’s (1999, 2001, 2005) research of the policing of boys:
“… if they are immature, weak, wimpy, woosy, overly-emotional, pacifists; if they don’t participate in tough team sports or don’t belong to a peer- group; if they are loners, aloof, elitist or different; if they are conscientious in class or conform too closely to adult expectations; and depending on their mannerisms, appearance and style of dress. … Rather than signifying a boundary between masculine and feminine or between one masculine form and another, in the minds of boys and young men, homophobia patrols an intra-gender divide between successful collective masculinity and male otherness. … it sanctions and polices stereotypical standards of masculinity and it proscribes immaturity and peer group betrayal too. Homophobia seems to arise from a more general preoccupation that boys should not deviate from the quest to become physically mature, peer-oriented, powerful, sexually potent men.” (Plummer, 2001, p. 6)
Plummer deems it “a wider taboo” (p. 4). The negative attitude denoted anti-gay is a misnomer, then. Anti-gay rhetoric is not concerned with policing homosexuality per se. It appears to be the use of exaggerated derogatory terms to impress on the target the risk of being censured and the need to respond on pain of possible exclusion. This echoes PC misuse of the term homophobic (and racist, sexist, etc): smearing to test compliance, detect recalcitrance and oblige self-censorship; though PC is always exclusionary (a pathological extension?), rendering people en mass permanently out-group with no scope for redemption.
Social deviance research is pertinent. Specifically, male in-group deviants are punished in a particular manner: exclusion from society and incapacitating practices, these being attempts to control future behaviour, not from restorative or retributive motives (Fousiani, Yzerbyt, Kteily & Demoulin, 2019). Once deemed a deviant, the label sticks, even if the deviance comes to be viewed as less unacceptable (Chan, Louis, & Jetten, 2010). Earlier work had established the black sheep effect, where an in-group member posing a threat to group identity is treated far more negatively than is someone from an out-group (Marques & Yzerbyt, 1988; Marques, Yzerbyt & Leyens, 1988). Congruent with and underpinning all these findings is that central to in-group identification is not competence or sociability but trustworthiness (Leach, Ellemers & Barreto, 2007)—a robust conclusion from a number of studies using a variety of direct and indirect methods.
The in-group male targets in such research are in the minimal group condition, which in verging on no group membership at all is akin to being on the threshold of membership of a group proper, as is the prospective new entrant to the adult male group. Males deemed eligible to join the hierarchy need to be those amenable to living within its confines and not liable to try to circumvent it, because male hierarchy is vital to the functioning of the group in determining male sexual access, requiring lower status males to acquiesce to very restricted mating opportunities. The benefits of hierarchy membership presumably are usually sufficient to dissuade dissent; however, a prerequisite is sufficient socio-sexual orientation, hence gate-keeping membership, and in these terms.
Gate-keeping by male initiation rites
The reality of gate-keeping admission to male full adulthood is evident cross-culturally in pain-endurance initiation rites. These are much more common for males than for females (Edwards, 1992). Still extant in many traditional and even modern societies, they are inferred to have been universal ancestrally. Often central to them is male genital modification (mutilation)—circumcision, which, through denuding sexual sensitivity, reduces propensity to engage in sex, impacting specifically extra-pair sex, functioning to control young males by lowering their competitiveness with high-status males for young females (Moxon, 2017). Research into initiation is outdated, sparse, and Freudian psychobable or cultural-anthropological gender politics. Fresh thinking surfaced with a hypothesis that solidarity was required to produce warriors (Ember & Ember, 2010), though this seems to be an assumption for want of biologically based theory of male sociality. At last, a comprehensive cross-cultural review of theories was published in 2017. Schlegel & Barry conclude, “they are a form of adult male control over adolescent boys and unmarried (sub-adult) youths”. This is in line with illuminating accounts of the exclusionary experience of failed or non-initiate Xhosa males of South Africa provided by Froneman & Kapp (2017) and Magodyo (2013); the former in a traditional society, the latter among urban dwellers:
“Significant stigma is attached both to failed initiates and uninitiated people. Boys have to be successfully initiated to marry, inherit property or participate in cultural activities such as offering sacrifices and community discussions. If they are not circumcised, they are given left-over food at celebrations, are not allowed to socialise in taverns with other men, are not allowed to use the family name to introduce themselves, and are sometimes forcefully taken away from their girlfriends. Uninitiated men have less autonomy and must often obey others. They are accused first in the event of theft because ‘only boys steal’ and are often subjected to public humiliation and name-calling. They are seen to be cowards, who do not respect their culture and would incur the wrath of the ancestors for not complying with cultural expectations.” (Froneman & Kapp, p.1)
“Of particular importance is how uninitiated men face social degradation, are ostracized and ridiculed (Bottoman, 2006; Mavundla, Netswera, Toth, Bottoman & Tenge et al, 2010; Tenge, 2006). Marginalization of uninitiated Xhosa males comes about through rejection and lack of respect (Mavundla et al, 2010). These men are rejected by the community at large by being excluded from community events, and by their (already initiated) peers and women, who maintain that they prefer to form relationships with men. Furthermore, this rejection also exists at the family level, as an uncircumcised male is thought to bring shame to the family (Bottoman, 2006; Tenge, 2006). Such individuals are not afforded respect and are continuously subjected to ridicule through associations with immaturity and inferiority, by being referred to as boys or dogs (Mavundla et al, 2010).” (Magodyo, p.29).
These descriptions hardly could better reveal the function of passporting a prospective sexual participant to group membership.
Cognitive policing of male deviants by cheater detection
Gate-keeping appears to require specific psychological mechanism keenly to recognise potential deviants. Experiments ruling out alternative explanation uncover cognitive adaptations for detecting violations of rules relating to maintaining coalitions, submitting to authority and providing aid, thereby to expose unhelpful individuals, traitors, and rebels (Sivan, Curry & Van Lissa, 2018). This is a form of cheater detection mechanism, that in functioning in social but not in other contexts is demonstrably specific adaptation rather than general cognitive facility. Cummins (1996, 2005, 2019) proposes and finds evidence for violation detection cognition to police low-ranking males in a dominance hierarchy. Equally, or as actually its main function, this could be employed for assessing the suitability of males to join the hierarchy in the first place. Cheater detection is implicit already even in early childhood (Cummins, 1996c), and not regarding mere outward compliance but truth and intent (Harris & Nuñez, 1996; Cummins, 1996b). What is being assessed is in a wide sense morality, through deontic reasoning: regarding obligations, permissions and prohibitions. These are just what apply to individuals by virtue of membership of a hierarchy, depending on rank. This mode of cognition is activated more in respect of low-status individuals (Cummins, 1999a), specifically males of low status (Oda, 1997); and in particular by other low-status males (Fiddick & Cummins, 2001). Furthermore, males of low status and deemed to cheat are perceived as unattractive (Mehl & Buchner, 2008; Bell & Buchner, 2009). Note for low status could be substituted nil status, as would be those yet to be admitted into the group as fully adult. More recently, van Lier Revlin & De Neys (2013) and Bonnefon, Hopfensitz & De Neys (2013) have reaffirmed the phenomenon, with their work in turn endorsed by Cummins (2013). Bonnefon’s team notably find that males are seen as less trustworthy than females.
With converging lines of evidence showing homophobia or homonegativity a misnomer, the next question is if this new conceptualisation accounts for negative attitude in respect of the principal hate crime domain (the second-most important protected characteristic after sex) of race?
Race too is negative attitude towards males
Many academic studies show that discrimination against blacks is mostly against males (eg, Seaton et al, 2008; Sellers & Shelton, 2003; Garcia Coll et al, 1996). Veenstra (2013) examined self-reports of experiences of both major instances of discrimination and chronic, routine discrimination, concluding that “high levels of both kinds of discrimination reported by men in general are at odds with the additive and intersectionality-inspired perspectives which accord women the gender identity most vulnerable to discrimination”. Experiments by Perszyk, Bodenhausen, Richeson & Waxmanet (2019) reveal implicit attitudes by using young children (four-year-olds) to exclude the possibility of socialisation. Negative attitudes were found most towards black boys, followed by white boys, then black girls. Clearly, not race but sex is operative here; it is maleness, not blackness attracting negative attitude (race perhaps focusing the impact of sex). This effect previously was found in preference for own-race over other-race faces only when the faces shown are male; this in infants aged just three months (Ziv, 2012), in line with older studies. Together, the research indicates an implicit, evolved basis of negative attitudes being towards male rather than black targets; with race an intensifier. Note that in the Perszyk study, most subjects were white or near-white, leaving black a proxy for difference. This fits with the fungibility of the perception of race: neuroscientific experiment by Gwinn & Brooks (2013) demonstrates that race indeed is cognised as a continuum, not as discrete entities of African, Asian, et cetera.
In explanation, Veenstra (2013) proffers the subordinate male target hypothesis, a-s had Sidanius & Pratto (1999), its originators. The proposal is that negative attitude is a male-male inter-group arbitrary-set phenomenon, in line with the understanding that race is just one possible in-group marker among a non-limited range of possible others. There is the rival out-group male target hypothesis, cited by Navarrete, McDonald, Molina & Sidanius (2010). However, these between-group models do not fit with in-group / out-group dynamics being founded in affinity with the in-group, not hostility towards the out-group (Yamagashi & Mifune, 2009; Wu & de Dreu, 2014). Out-group discrimination requires conflict and competition between groups (Abbink & Harris, 2019). Out-group male threat is held to be through a fear response to dangerous stimuli, as shown by its resistance to extinction, but this appears conceptually mistaken (Dang, Xiao & Mao, 2015; Koenig et al, 2017). This evolutionary rationale for specific cognition to serve out-group negativity is anyway questionable. Human female exogamy entails ancestrally the main contact males had with out-group males would have been the pair-bond partners of in-group females, through whom they themselves may well secure out-group females as pair-bond partners. This reciprocal exogamy is considered a foundation of human sociality (Chapais, 2008), binding together smaller groups that thereby become a subset of larger ones, hence the tribe, subsuming bands, so that almost all males likely to be encountered would not pose a threat. Males beyond the tribe, though indeed threatening, would have been very infrequently encountered. Even if, nonetheless, here was a selection pressure to drive cognitive adaptation, there is no conceivable cognitive facility to distinguish at a distance stranger within-tribe males from extra-tribe males; hence the universal cultural device of in-group markings.
A much more usual context and problem driving cognitive adaptation is that already outlined to explain negative attitude in respect of sexual orientation: assessing natal-group young males for worthiness of being granted full group membership as an adult male, plus monitoring males denied membership. These last would remain minimally within the social milieu, having nowhere else to go (the corollary of female exogamy is male philopatry, so a male could not expect to be accepted into another group, and surviving alone would be near to impossible). Tolerated in effect as adult children, they would be co-resident outcasts. Note that gate-keeping admission to the group is a scenario that is neither between- nor within-group, though more akin to the former, so data interpreted in terms of out-group is likely congruent with a gate-keeping model. For example, neural activity indicating greater attentional bias to racial targets presumed to indicate out-group status, instead may indicate gate-keeping prospective in-group members.
Assessment for possible group membership, to be fairly certain that the male individual will abide by the rules of male sociality, requires a judgemental orientation. Setting a low threshold for any form of seeming transgression, entailing some false negatives, and setting a high threshold for appropriate behaviour, thereby rejecting some true positives, creates the evident anti-male prejudice, which would have co-evolved with the emotion of disgust proximally to drive it, together manifesting in negative attitude.
Intersectional invisibility is itself invisible
The evidence contradicting the notion of race-sex intersectionality has prompted an extension of that hypothesis that in certain circumstances intersectionality does not occur. The intersectional invisibility hypothesis (Purdie-Greenaway & Eibach, 2008) posits a default perception of individuals as possessing no more than one protected characteristic, with the other characteristics in combination with it being implicitly presumed to be the supposed privileged alternatives. These individuals are termed prototypical. Those with two (or more) protected characteristics are termed non-prototypical, and seen as incongruous. Although they then supposedly do not attract negative attitude, they are purported to experience another form of disadvantage in being in a special way socially invisible. Thus, the category female is held to entail a default perception of white females; white heterosexual females only, indeed. These are prototypical females. Similarly, the category black by cognitive default constitutes specifically black (and heterosexual) males only: prototypical blacks. This perception is held to be through ideological androcentricism or ethnocentricism respectively. This is highly implausible. There surely is long evolved profound cognition relating to the sexes, both male- and female-centred, as it were; and to grouping and the sense of an out-group, with either white or non-white as in-group and among a plethora of potential in-group markers.
Ethnocentrism is shown to be a misnomer by simulation experiments (Hales & Edmonds, 2019) demonstrating that it is simply in-grouping, and may happen to be based on ethnic markers, but not on these alone, or necessarily in the main, or at all; instead on any sort of a marker of group identity, which can be fluid. Bizumic (2012) reviewed a plethora of hypotheses but could not decide between them, other than that the phenomenon is a function of the group rather than the individual. The absence of androcentrism in implicit cognition is shown in there being no difference in response times to identify faces according to whether they are male or female (Stroessner, 1996), and no statistically significant difference in the accuracy of recall of statements made by men as against those made by women (Schug, Alt & Klauer, 2015). A recent literature review (Bailey, LaFrance & Davidio, 2018) is from the near-tautological premise of a supposed power imbalance the authors outline is manifest in various ways males are considered typical humans. They come to no conclusion as to why this produces androcentricity, though they proffer that plausibly it stems from men being considered agentic. The corollary that females are seen as exceptional humans, specifically through their sex, is conceded, as is that females evoke positive attitudes whereas males do not. Would this not be gynocentricism? Androcentrism is a strange interpretation of a view of males as the ordinary humans with females the special ones. Experiments purporting to demonstrate androcentrism (for example and notably, Hamilton, 1991; Merritt & Kok, 1995) merely contrive to prompt the conjuring in imagination of a male rather than a female, and do not exclude evoking accurate stereotyping of males as the more agentic sex in the wider community or civic arena—as would be expected to be evoked in the context of a university psychology laboratory—where they compete for status as the passport to sexual access. The social invisibility occasioned by non-prototypicality is held to manifest as ”the struggle to be recognised and represented”, but women have a four- to five-fold same-sex in-group preference for females (Goodwin & Rudman, 2004), they are included in the all-inclusive symbolic nature of male groups (Maddux & Brewer, 2005), and they attract the sexual interest of males. Nothing about intersectional invisibility appears to be a fit with social reality.
No empirical work has been done by Purdie-Greenaway & Eibach. Their paper is speculation, with no explanation of the predictive failures of intersectionality. Intersectional invisibility in any case doesn’t explain attitudes to different sorts of prototypical individuals: why there is no negativity towards white females, yet especial negativity to black males. Both would be expected to be in receipt of untrammelled negative attitudes in respect of their single protected characteristic. That there have been few if any tests of intersectional invisibility is complained of by Williams (2018), who conducted three: to examine if perception of non-prototypicality does in fact lead to invisibility; to try to identify potential mechanisms for this; and to see if invisibility produces marginalization. Williams concluded, “ultimately the findings presented in these studies do little to show empirical support for the intersectional invisibility model” (p. 88). Sesko & Biernat (2010) purport to test it, yet produce no evidence withstanding scrutiny, either that black women are ignored or suffer any disadvantage in consequence. Their finding that whites have difficulty distinguishing between and remembering black faces is to be expected (relative unfamiliarity), and that utterances by black women are more likely to be misattributed to others (actually to whites rather than to black men) reveals a perceived inter-changeability, contradicting the notion that white and men are privileged characteristics. The authors concede invisibility confers the “advantage … that black women may be less likely to be targets of discrimination” (p. 357). Where, then, is the disadvantage in and the social invisibility suffered by black women?
A more concrete disadvantage of intersectional invisibility is posited by Goff, Thomas & Jackson (2008): sexual unattractiveness. They attribute this to black women being seen as more masculine, but this is a conceptual error (see next section). In any case, with male considered privileged, then would not masculine women be thought to attract less negative attitude? As for the notion of prototypicality, Ghavami & Peplau (2013) failed to find evidence (only “mixed” results) for the notion that it is a white man who is envisaged when thinking of a male. The authors comment on the apparent greater complexity of intersectionality theory than has previously been considered, which is to point to its being non-parsimonious, and, thereby, likely false.
Race prompts the salience of sex — maleness — and difference
Problems for intersectional invisibility continue when widening out race beyond simply black denoting African to encompass Asians, as only to be expected given the arbitrary extension of the identity politics race category from originally being only African-Americans. That Asians do not evoke negative attitudes as much as blacks is well known; found, for example, by Phills et al (2018). Whereas expectation of intersectional invisibility of prejudice to black males but not females is borne out by their data, Phills et al obtained “inconsistent” results for Asian males, that they interpret as further complication of intersectionality. Again, though, it’s non-parsimony—an implausible hypothesis. Liu & Wong (2018) examine additive, multiplicative (interactive), cumulative disadvantage, and subordinate male target hypotheses, and in finding little evidence for any, opt for their intersectional fusion syndrome of uniqueness of particular intersections that cannot be gauged from the components; qualitatively different according to sex, with seven stereotypes unique to Asian men. This is description, not explanation. The authors concede nothing in their model can be operationalised into a measure. It’s not scientific hypothesis.
The relative lack of negative attitude towards Asians is attributed by Galinsky, Hall & Cuddy (2013) and Johnson, Freeman & Pauker (2012) to being perceived more female, turning intersection from prototypical to non-prototypical, thereby to invoke intersectional invisibility. However, clear evidence against inherent sex of race is provided by Kim, Johnson & Johnson (2015): three- and ten-month-old infants don’t perceive Asian or white faces as more female, nor African faces more male. There is no evidence of biological masculinisation; no continuum with Asians an intersex: sexing is implicitly binary — this being hard-wired (Baylis et al, 2019), and the first cognitive process on encountering another individual (Kimchi, Xu & Dulac, 2007). Johnson et al’s experiments use computer generated inter-sex faces to create ambiguity, forcing a choice, as revealed by slower, more uncertain sex categorisation, captured in response-time or error data. Yet mis-categorisation occurs very rarely; hence it is likely artefactual. Galinsky et al’s research is of various measures or proxies of sexual attraction (mate value), which requires sexing in the first instance. The best interpretation of the data from both research teams is that racial groups differ in perceived mate value, and may also prompt greater or lesser salience of sex. Mate value is succinctly expressed in degree of maleness or femaleness as shorthand for sexing plus sexual desirability, operationalised thus by the experimenter and subjects alike. It is not that individuals are viewed as more or less gendered. Asian males have small body frames, light muscularity, delicate-featured faces, and reputed meek demeanour; ancestrally indicating low genetic quality, and consequently sexually unattractive. Asians are more neotenised (paedomorphic) than other racial groups (eg, Bromhall, 2003; Montagu, 1989), appearing relatively non-adult, failing to evoke sex as salient. The converse is true of African males. Confounding with sexual attractiveness would explain Schug, Alt & Klauer’s (2015) results (above).
Negative attitudes generally are towards males who are different, not towards females
With nothing concerning race here supporting either intersectionality or intersectional invisibility, race appears in effect to be an extension of sex as inverted from how it is envisaged in identity politics, not to females but males being targets of negative attitude. Seemingly, it sharpens the focus on sex, rendering sex more salient. The operative factor in the intersection of race with sex apparently is not race per se, but difference. That is, race is a proxy for difference. This would be expected, as even social scientists acknowledge, perception of race is as an arbitrary-set. It accords with the other protected characteristic of sexual orientation likewise denoting difference. The negative attitude identity politics is held to explain instead would be accounted for by targets being simply male and distinguished by whatever significant difference(s) from the norm they happen to exhibit, whatever the realm. Beyond its being wider than sexual mores, difference may be a general attitude or a range of specific indicators of non-adhesion to adult male social rules; very likely it’s both (information redundancy). Research is required.
The notion of a protected characteristic in identity politics / political correctness is revealed to be wholly misconceived, as soon as interpretation widens out from being reflexively in its own terms (non-circularly), providing a window on an important facet of sociality and psychology that identity politics had served to obscure: the policing of male sexual access by gate-keeping male full adult group membership. In misidentifying targets and direction of negative attitude, identity politics itself has been a principal source of the very sort of disadvantage and oppression supposedly it was devised to counter. Even worse, it disadvantages people in general: the majority, not a minority; but as this was the basis of identity politics, it hardly would have any other outcome.
IDENTITY POLITICS ORIGINATED AND DEVELOPED AS ITSELF HATRED, NOT A CALLING OUT OF IT
Identity politics — often or even usually dubbed political correctness, though it’s not the same thing, having a different, parallel origin; PC is the mode of enforcement of identity politics, as in speech codes and cancel culture — is the result of a political-Left major backlash against the mass of ordinary people (in Europe and ‘the West’), beginning in the 1920s, in the wake of the persistent failure of Marxist theory to be realised in European ‘revolution’ or any real change through democracy. In shifting the blame away from Marxist theory and its adherents, and on to those the theory had prescribed and predicted would have been the beneficiaries — the workers (if only they had responded accordingly) — then the cognitive-dissonance within the political-left mindset caused by this crisis to an extent was salved. [It is NOT at all the same as what the Left mistakenly term ‘the politics of identity’ to tag the new movements against the elite, on the false assumption that they are essentially nationalistic and ‘white backlash’. Trump and Brexit triumphed because the general populace have come to realise that the government-media-education elite has an unwarranted profound contempt for if not hatred towards them; and, therefore hardly is liable to act in their interests.]
The intellectual rationalisation was to build on false notions of Engels (co-author with Marx of The Communist Manifesto) that ‘capitalism’ created the family and false consciousness, by theorising mechanisms of how ‘the workers’ were somehow prevented from revolting. This was by invoking Freud’s now comprehensively discredited notion of repression, first to attempt to explain a supposed impact on the workers of ‘capitalism’ acting within the context of the family. With most workers (the group considered the principal ‘agents of social change’ in a ‘revolution’) being male, then the theoreticians had in mind the male as ‘head’ of the family. It was a simple extension in political-Left imagination for the worker to change from being the putative conduit of the impact of ‘capitalism’ to its embodiment, leaving by default women to be deemed a replacement supposed oppressed and disadvantaged ‘group’. The false notion of repression was also considered in a wider sense to produce false consciousness in the ‘proletariat’, supposedly obscuring what was in their own best interests.
This implausible and unfalsifiable non-scientific nonsense mainly festered within academia until circa 1968 the New Left in the USA, spurred by, indeed aping the Chinese cultural revolution, co-opted a movement which, though having nothing do do with the Left, appeared to be akin to the revolutionary activity predicted by Marxism: US ‘civil rights’. This added to the ‘new oppressed’ another category, which like that of women could be envisaged as an inversion of a retrospective stereotype of the worker. In the wake of the similarly seeming revolutionary Stonewall riots of 1969, the ‘gay rights’ lobby also was co-opted (again, despite having had nothing to do with the Left) to further add by inversion to the abstract demonised aspects of ‘the worker’, thereafter retrospectively stereotyped as male plus white plus heterosexual.
This prizing into the role of being emblematic of Marxist struggle naturally rendered the specific conflicts more generalisable, allowing expansion into more widely encompassing categories. US Afro-Americans, in being championed as the ‘ethnic minority’ supposed warriors of the Left thereby meant anyone generically of an ‘ethnic minority’ was deemed to belong to the club. Likewise, gays became generic ‘homosexuals’. The problem thereby arose of false identification. The category non-white / ethnic minority includes such as migrant Indians and Chinese, who by no criteria are disadvantaged or oppressed. Likewise lesbians drawn into the category homosexual. As for women, by objective, non-ideological analysis, women are privileged, as they are bound to be with the female being the limiting factor in reproduction. As has been regularly pointed out, Western middle-class women are the most privileged large ‘group’ in history. The ‘groups’ are far too heterogeneous to be in reality oppressed or disadvantaged, providing a window on the sophistry and origin of this politics as other than it purports.
The strands of the ‘new oppressed’ naturally combined as a new (neo-Marxist) conceptualisation to account for these political shifts after the fact, which came to be termed identity politics (or more pejoratively though actually more accurately, cultural Marxism). The deemed ‘groups’ replacing the workers subsequently were not only expanded in their scope but added to — by the disabled, the elderly, trans-sexuals, the obese … . Again, all are abstractions rather than groups per se. This relentless expansion and then the use and abuse of these mis-identifications of under-privilege by educated individuals belonging to one or more of the categories, has been dubbed ‘the oppression olympics’, making identity politics a gravy train for the already privileged, serving actually to substantially increase inequality. Worse still, it is an instrument of oppression against the very ‘group’ perennially disadvantaged and the victim of prejudice, which formerly had been identified as worthy of the liberation Marxism promised: the vast majority of (necessarily lower-status) men — the workers. This was the whole point of the political development, of course.
The pretence to egalitarianism is perfect cover for what actually is identity politics: the very perennial and ubiquitous elitist-separatism (status-grabbing) the political-Left ethos (supposedly) is to attack, and which Left zealots vehemently deny exists in themselves. Leftist bigotry betrays either unusually high status-seeking motivation or particularly deep frustration in the quest for status, which is projected on to everyone else, who actually have normal levels of motivation to achieve status and manage to ride the ups and downs of life without requiring such dysfunctional ideation. The Left’s egalitarianism is a feint for selfishly pursuing the very opposite. If everyone else is held at a uniformly low status, Leftists thereby become ‘the chosen few’. Transparently, this is an ideology in the wake — a residue — of Christianity. A quasi-religion of supposed inevitable progress towards ‘the promised land’, rendered a utopia of equality-of-outcome. The high priests of this faith — the social justice warriors — are the ‘saved’ striving to convert the rest of us on the promise of entry to ‘heaven’. This represents a continuation of secularisation: a shift in religiosity from envisaging a ‘god’ as being in man’s image, through the humanist deification of mankind, to worship of a supposed dynamic of teleological social change (Marxism). Identity politics, in being profoundly not what it pretends to be and so deeply entrenched across the whole and every facet of the establishment in Anglophone nations especially and to a large extent in ‘the West’ generally, can properly be regarded as the greatest political fraud in history.
The ideology that came to be termed identity politics has an origin and development in a re-shaping of Marxist ‘theory’ well documented in scholarship (herein outlined), not least in great detail by Marxist scholars themselves. This has long been generally recognised, though is still often denied by some on the Left, misrepresenting all investigation as ‘conspiracy theory’ (as inevitably re-edited by fanatics in the unwittingly amusing Wiki entries re these politics), in classic projection. It is, rather, dismissing all scholarship as collectively misguided according to some systematic bias that is the ‘conspiracy theory’ here. Even the existence of the politics had been written off by some as already as dead as the Marxism that had spawned it, being kept alive, supposedly, mostly in the imagination of some supposed conservative counter ideology. This was argued even by the usually highly perceptive commentator on matters cultural, Robert Hughes , in his book, The Culture of Complaint, but he was commenting over 25 years ago now, and evidently prematurely. The very opposite has proved the case. Identity politics all too apparently has grown to be accepted and predominant everywhere – not least among conservative politicians (whole parties, such as the Conservative Party in the UK) and across the whole of government administration. It is now so all-pervasive and deep-seated as to be a totalitarian quasi-religion. Critique of identity politics in the early 1990s had been mocked in the UK media (most notably in the UK on the TV satirical puppet show, Spitting Image) by the repetition ad nauseum of the jibe, ‘it’s political-correctness gone mad!’ This rather neatly illustrated, though, that those against PC had a point. Spitting Image‘s catch-phrase was at best elite ‘hip’ condescension, if not veiled denunciation in terms of sexism, racism, etc. It was to take the claims in ‘identity politics to be self-evident and no exaggeration, with criticism of it denounced as inventing a new ‘red peril’.
To clarify terms, political correctness has often and popularly been the ideology’s tag, used not least by some scholars, but this is rather to confuse the ideology itself with what perhaps is better understood as its surface manifestation, mode of enforcement and expression of its fervency: woke, the seemingly absurd ‘speech codes’ and blanket gratuitous charges of ‘sexism’, ‘racism’ and homophobia [sic] of ubiquitous in the media, politics and the workplace; cancel culture to render anyone who even slightly steps out of line with the new orthodoxy, or can be thus misrepresented, persona non grata. Political correctness is a term with a history that although inter-twining with the history of the ideology of identity politics is a separate one, with a different and slightly earlier origin: in the need to maintain a strict Party line within the Soviet state after 1917, where it was in use (in more than one near-identical translation) from the 1920s [Ellis 2002]. The Soviet Union’s lasting fame is for its cancel culture of anyone held to be not politically correct being liable to be airbrushed from history: literally, to be disappeared from photographs as well as from society (and into a gulag). The term quite suddenly became prominent in ‘Western’ politics at the turn of the 1990s when ‘identity politics’ started to become predominant. Having escaped the confines of academia, ‘identity politics’ had by then been in the ascendancy for two decades (see below), but this was not the term used popularly to label the phenomenon, as the already available term political correctness usefully denoted the impact of the new politics as ‘speech code’ attempts to enforce acceptance of what seemingly out-of-the blue quite suddenly came to manifest. Moreover, it neatly and distinctively shortened to PC, which immediately conjures its function of ‘policing’ through its long familiarity as the acronym for police constable. It is agreed by all who have commented on earliest usage in the West that political correctness had been a term current within US New Left circles through the 1970s and 1980s, and not least as a jibe against political excess: an ironic take on its use within the Soviet Union. Yet it is claimed that using PC in any negative way was by ‘the Right’. The latter does not follow from the former. It’s clear that neither the term nor its use was an invention of critics outside of the Left. Both the term and how it was employed was a creation and a practice of the Left’s that was taken up more generally. It is indicative of the extreme sensitivity of the Left to the ‘own goal’ identity politics is recognised to be that there is blatant denial even when the position is transparently impossible to uphold. It would seem that here is a case of criticism by your own side being deemed legitimate whereas that by those outside isn’t, in a usual reaction to the damage internal disagreement causes. If even those on your own side are highly critical, that’s an open goal for the opposition proper. Likely it also stems from the Left’s unjustifiable insistence on perspectivism. As with supposedly its being fine for US blacks to refer to each other with labels that in the mouths of non-‘lacks have long been deemed passé and latterly ‘racist’, apparently political correctness cannot (is not supposed to) be used in a negative way other than by those on the Left.
Note that identity politics is entirely different to what has been dubbed ‘the politics of identity’ (or, indeed, even more mischievously in this context, identity politics itself) to label or smear what appear deliberately mistaken to be ‘nationalist’ movements, and ‘white backlash’. In fact it’s revolt against the elite for imposing the Left’s ‘identity politics’ — in particular, the widespread if not ubiquitous (accurate) understanding that identity politics is cover for attacking ordinary people. The cynical widening by the Left of the applicability of terminology to try to make out that identity politics has long been with us as a political-Right phenomenon, evidently is a smokescreen to try to take the sting out of criticism of what has become the main manifestation currently of Left politics. It’s another projection of a mirror-image of own position on to those considered opponents, in classic ‘we’re the saints, you’re the devils’ mode. Very few individuals even in the USA focus politically as nationalists (or, vanishingly rarely, ‘white nationalists’): for almost all ordinary people a sense of belonging to a country is merely the furthest extent of possible group identification, and if present at the back of the mind at all, hardly is salient in everyday consideration. Of the very few who may now label themselves ‘ident(it)arian’, it’s as a new subversive ploy, pointedly to oppose identity politics on its own terms. Far from nationalism, the main political phenomenon of today is the backlash against the backlash that is identity politics / PC, as so starkly evident both in the election of Trump in the USA and the referendum result for Brexit in the UK. A recent study [Hawkins et al 2018] finds dislike of ‘PC’ is by the overwhelming majority (about 80%) of the US population, and contrary to usual commentary this is across all categories: the young as well as the old, the rich as well as the poor, blacks as well as whites (actually, most especially some ethnic minorities: nearly 90%); and fully two-thirds even of the college educated. Opposition, not only not being some form of nationalism, is not even conservative. Certainly there are more US citizens who are conservative (25%) than progressive (8%), but 66%, fully two-thirds, are “the exhausted majority”, whom the study’s authors found to have no political allegiance; indeed a flexible, open-minded attitude to politics. A UK parallel is provided by the very strong correlation between voting ‘Leave’ in the EU Referendum and several anti-PC attitudes. Describing as ‘a force for ill’ (as opposed to good) were 78% re feminism, 80% re immigration, 81% against multiculturalism, and 74% negative towards social liberalism [Lord Ashcroft EU Referendum ‘How Did You Vote?’ Poll, June 21-23, 2016]. The disconnection between (‘identity politics’ accepting and disseminating) government and the governed is unprecedented in modern history for nominally democratic societies. It has become apparent to ordinary people generally that identity politics / PC dubs them literally ‘oppressors’, when if anything this is an inversion of truth. In the past, ordinary people albeit reluctantly have gone along with the social programme of the Left through their support of the economic policies of redistribution against a background of increasing prosperity. The situation today is very different, with not only real wages having consistently fallen for many people (indeed, for most people if government transfers are not included), but both job security and career progression effectively evaporating. Further slicing a shrinking cake gives yet further redistribution the appearance of supporting the feckless at the expense of ‘hard workers’, which the large majority have never accepted. The overall political situation has shifted from the masses refusing to buy the elite’s social programme to one ripe — as is not infrequently pointed out — for trust in government to break down altogether.
It is well understood that the replacement by identity politics of what by contrast may be dubbed the former politics of ‘commonality’ was through the realisation that the workers were not going to bring about a Marxist ‘revolution’: “the failure of western working classes to carry out their ‘proper’ revolutionary (class) interests”, as Somers & Gibson put it [1994 p54]. Douglas Murray, paraphrasing the analysis in a 1981 Marxism Today article, summed up: “The working classes … had let down their theoreticians and had generally failed to follow the path of progress that had been laid out for them. … the disappointing workers could now be, if not replaced, then at least added to”. According to Cohen [2007 p196], the political-Left “despised the working class for its weakness and treachery, and condemned its members for their greed and obsession with celebrity. In Liberal-left culture the contempt was manifested by the replacement of social democracy by identity politics”. Gitlin  concluded: “In large measure, things fell apart because the center could not hold, for chronologically, the break-up of commonality politics pre-dates the thickening of identity politics”.
This has a long history. A century ago it was already becoming apparent that Marxist ‘theory’ did not work in practice, as evidenced by the absence of predicted revolutionary overthrow of regimes in the advanced ‘capitalist’ societies in western Europe. Adams & Sydie [2001 p395] put it in a nut-shell: “By the 1920s, some Western theorists despaired that this would ever occur. In fact, the 1917 socialist revolution in the semi-feudal Russian state seemed to call into question the original Marxist analysis of the capitalist state”. Marx’s predictions had been turned on their head, and in such a way as to pose major questions for the very basis of the theory. As Robert Hughes eloquently explains: “For the fact is that Marxism lost its main bet at the outset. It wagered its entire claim to historical inevitability on the idea that humankind would divide along the lines of class, not nationality. In this it was wrong. Because the bonds of nationhood were so much stronger than those of class, the Revolution could only be exported in three forms: as direct conquest by Moscow, as in eastern Europe; by the reinvention of ancient, xenophobic authoritarian structures with a ‘Marxist’ veneer, as in Mao’s China; and as a handy form of rhetoric which gave ‘internationalist’ legitimacy to nationalist chieftains, as in Ceaucescu’s Romania, Castro’s Cuba or any number of ephemeral African regimes. But the basic promise of Marxism, an internationale of workers joined as a transnational force by common interests, turned out to be a complete chimera. … Marxism set itself against nationalism, spread by adapting to it, and in the end was laid low by it” [Hughes 1993 p74-75]. The Russian scholar Frank Ellis just as forcefully outlined: “.… The outbreak of World War One is a devastating ideological defeat for the Marxist and later Soviet-Leninist myth of the solidarity of the international working class. Lenin and other Bolsheviks were confident that the workers of the belligerent nations would not kill each other. … the consequences of this ideological defeat proved to be profound and far-reaching … It convinced the post-World-War-One generations of Leftists — Marcuse and Gramsci — that in order to implement their programme in the West, they had to gain control of what one might loosely term as culture” [Ellis 2007 p71].
The cognitive-dissonance [Festinger 1957, & eg, Tavris & Aronson 2007] unfulfilled prediction must have produced within the mindset of ‘Western’-culture intelligentsia could only persist and grow with the continued complete failure across several decades of a political-Left ethos anywhere to effect real change in its own terms. This became especially pointed with the unprecedented rapid implosion of the Soviet Union in 1989 and the de facto capitulation to a rampant ‘capitalist’ model by the People’s Republic of China. All that remained in the East was the ultra-Stalinist regime in North Korea to serve as a reminder of just how appalling a Marxist revolution in practice is likely to be: a clearly non-exportable instance of supposed ‘world communism’; effectively an irrelevance. Likewise, in the West, Cuba, the sole persistent vestige of the ‘communist’ world, with the disappearance of Soviet support was exposed as a state-impoverished museum-piece which functions at all only through turning a blind eye to mass entrepreneurial activity. These inescapable realities still further intensified cognitive-dissonance, and by a quantum leap given their startlingly fast emergence in what was a huge political watershed. The former dissident Soviet, Vladimir Bukovsky  points out that the Soviet demise coincides in date with the almost as sudden emergence in the West of the notion of political correctness, in a transferring of essentially the same ideology.
The long recognised psychological phenomenon of cognitive dissonance as it applies here and how it was and is salved, echoes (the philosopher) ”… Žižek’s theories of how ideological systems, especially authoritarian ideological systems, work in psychological terms at the level of the individual. Žižek identifies a bias towards ‘saving the phenomena’, upholding the system, even if one can recognise that it is signally failing to reach its goals, and indeed, looks highly unlikely ever to do so. … a rather desperate ‘consensus’ among many of the populace as a coping mechanism” [Sim 2012 p 207]. Hughes  calls it “post-Marxist system-saving” [p 75] that “answers a deep need, if only the need to rationalize failure” [p 71]. The phenomenon has both individual and collective aspects. With the cognitively-dissonant mindset here being in common across a large group (the bulk of Western intelligentsia), then it functions as an in-group marker and the basis of groupthink, thereby becoming still more strongly driven, receiving so much investment that any intrusion of reality into the ideology is ever more strongly denied. And the intrusion of reality would be great, given that ideology is in essence a highly partial view of reality emphasising a particular dimension over others, which inevitably is exposed as a mismatch with reality, obliging further ratcheting up of the ideology to try to transcend what becomes a vicious circle. The only way this can be achieved is to assert an internal consistency to the exclusion of contact with reality in a tautological loop. The ideology becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy [Bottici & Challand 2006], that in groups is subject to a ‘synergistic accumulative effect’ [Madon et al 2004]. Seemingly with no end, the prospect is, of course, of a catastrophic implosion when finally it arrives. In the meantime, however, the stress on the belief system can lead to ‘shifting the goal posts’, with superficial changes over time perhaps to the extent of transmogrifying the whole ideology in effect to subvert itself – potentially so far as even to adopt an opposing position, if this can be passed off either as not incompatible or as the position actually held all along. All of this is in the service of saving face.
To try to salve their cognitive-dissonance adherents to an ideology admit neither their own gullibility nor the falsity of the ideology and instead blame others. In this way the failure of the ideology can be regarded and misrepresented as merely temporary, and the final reckoning postponed apparently indefinitely. In the present case, those blamed – the fall guys, as it were – were those perceived to have ‘let the side down’: the workers (the ‘proletariat’). Collectively intended to benefit from the predicted Marxist ‘revolution’ (or, at least, by the furthering of ‘the progressive project’), the workers had been designated the ‘agents of social change’, but, as already highlighted, they had not responded actively in this regard (as is discussed by many on the Left, as well as those on the Right such as Raehn [2004, 1997]).
The first attempts to explain this failure to act according to prescription and prediction were by Marxian academics beginning in 1921 in Frankfurt with the founding of the famous or infamous Institute für Sozialforschung — the Institute for Social Research — and then (to escape Hitler) New York [see eg, Jay 1973, Lind 2004, 1997]. This cohort of theorists became known as the Frankfurt School, devising ‘Critical Theory’ to try “to explain what is wrong with current social reality … (with the aim of) identifying and overcoming all the circumstances that limit human freedom” [Bohman 2005]. What is meant, of course, is problematising or ascribing all things negative (real or imagined) to ‘capitalism’. As part of this explanatory effort was developed a fantasy aetiology of worker non-revolt in terms of Freud’s psychoanalysis, which, though now comprehensively discredited [eg, Webster 1995, Loftus & Ketcham 1994], at the time was the only framework in psychology available, psychology at that time being really part of the humanities and not even embryonic as a science. Freudianism is as unfalsifiable as is Marxism, and therefore is in no sense science, and has long been superseded and abandoned by academic psychologists. As pointedly stated in the entry for the Frankfurt School in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy [Farr 2019], “psychoanalysis was an essential theoretical tool for the Frankfurt School from the beginning”. Readings and mis-readings of Freud persisted over the decades in being central to all manifestations of a neo-Marxism, including for all of the ‘post-structuralists’, not least Foucault [Zaretsky 1994]. Consequently, as Freudian-Marxist ‘theory’ took firm hold across academia and ‘trickled down’ via the graduate professions to society at large through the enormous expansion in student numbers, from the 1950s onwards there was a correspondingly huge explosion in its popularity — as most notably in the books of Erich Fromm. These and related books 1970s students considered essential reading (for myself included: Fromm’s The Art of Loving was my most well-thumbed book of the time). Those 1970s students of course became those inhabiting the higher echelons of institutions, and consequently, as Cohen [2007 p375] points out, “strange ideas that began in the universities were everywhere a generation later”.
The central ‘theory’ was a development of the anti-family rhetoric of nineteenth century socialists taken up and further radicalised by Marx and particularly Engels [Weikart 1994, Engels 1884, Marx & Engels 1848] to conceptualise the family as an aberration, created, it was imagined, by ‘capitalism’ in order somehow to render ‘the workers’ psychologically dysfunctional [Cerulo 1979]. Theory was developed during the 1930s in the Frankfurt School’s series of Studies on Authority and the Family. The two leading original Frankfurt School figures, Horkheimer and Adorno “found that under state capitalism the patriarchal bourgeois family was the foundation for the authoritarian personality. The oedipal conflict, involving the rejection of the mother in favour of the father’s authority, was the means for the child to accept the authority of society” [Adams & Sydie p409]. This is of course profoundly false in all respects. In particular, the notion of the oedipal complex is now known to be as ridiculous as common-sense would indicate. The Frankfurt School figure who did most work on the family was Fromm, who had trained as a psychoanalyst and had taken up and run with the now roundly discredited hypothesis that all societies prehistorically were ‘matriarchies’; the corollary being that ‘patriarchal’ societies are historical rather than biologically based, and thereby potentially blameable on ‘capitalism’. Any study of biology would reveal this to be false: the family has clear homologues throughout the animal kingdom, and therefore clearly is phylogenetically ancient. In any case, study of the very few extant traditional societies that are ‘matriarchal’ has shown that property is handed down through men, not women; just as in all other societies. [This stems from male mate value being genetic quality, as denoted by male status, which in turn is indicated by possession of or control over resources. By contrast, female mate value is fertility (egg viability), as indicated by youthfulness and developmental stability (which we compute as beauty). Consequently, property is of value to males but not to females; hence traditionally inheritance invariably is down the male line only, even if families are deemed to be headed by senior females rather than by senior males.]
Fromm considered the family was “the medium through which society or the social class stamps its specific structure on the child, and hence the adult. The family is the psychological agency of society” [Fromm 1978 p483]. The overall direction of the Frankfurt School’s efforts are summed up by Adams & Sydie in their major work on sociological theory thus: “The psychoanalytic focus on the family was important to critical theory because it was through the family that society put its stamp on the individual personality. Specifically, it was through the family that society reproduced the class structure” [2001 p403]. As well as citing the oedipal conflict, the key mechanism borrowed from Freud is the now equally discredited, non-scientific concept of ‘repression’. This is the supposed burying within the supposedly inaccessible ‘unconscious’ mind (the id), of mentality concerning what is core (deeply instinctual) motivation but which causes problems for the ‘conscious’ mind, requiring the exercise of restraint (by the super ego). There are no such entities of mind, of course, and the ‘theory’ is vague, in any case changing over time, as well as being unfalsifiable. Freud’s ideation put in more colloquial terms is that what at root the individual would like to do comes up against other considerations that change the best way to achieve it. Famously, Freud was thinking of sex. But for a male to engage in courtship sequences instead of demanding and immediately initiating sex at any and every juncture is hardy to suffer oppression or repression or whatever you wish to call it. It’s to be realistic, and much more likely to achieve desired outcomes by ‘going round the houses’, as it were, avoiding inter-personal conflict and necessary social regulation, all of which is in everyone’s interests, individually as well as collectively.
Outlandish theorising about the family culminated in another book popular in the 1970s: The Death of the Family by David Cooper , who, with RD Laing, belonged to a school calling itself ‘existential psychiatry’, which advanced the falsehood that schizophrenia is acquired as a result of nuclear family dynamics — a denial of genetics (studies in the 1960s had clearly demonstrated heritability, not an environmental cause from individual nuclear family milieu). Cooper considered the family so toxic that abolishing it would remove all need for mental health facilities. The book is astonishing rabid nonsense it is hard to believe was written in recent times, in which it is claimed [p 150] “all murders are family murders, either within a literal family or in family-replica situations”, and there is described [p1] “the secret suicide pact conducted by the bourgeois family unit” functioning as “an ideological conditioning device” within ‘capitalist’ society. Going beyond even abolishing the family, in Critical Theory’, an arcane development termed ‘the critique of value’ “aims at the abolition of the masculine and feminine alike” [Robinson 2018]. It became a Frankfurt School aim to eliminate what were seen as the mere ‘roles’ of the mother and father, so that, it was envisaged, all distinction between masculinity and femininity would disappear, taking with it the ‘patriarchy’ [sic] supposedly the foundation of ‘capitalism’ [eg, Raehn 1996].
The upshot of this development of theory — that was of course the basis of why theory developed in this direction — was that as the head of the family, the man (husband/father) was held to be the incarnation of ‘oppression’ from which the woman (wife/mother) needed to be ‘liberated’. Consequently, the workers, hitherto considered ‘the agents of change’ and the group destined to be ‘liberated’, could and indeed should be jettisoned. Absolving a refashioned Marxism of its core concern and sense of responsibility for working men, this allowed their replacement in Marxian imagination by … non-men: women, heralding the ‘feminist Marxism’ we see today [Kellner 1991], and the centrality to neo-Marxism of ‘third-wave’ feminism. This sort of development is a very long way from Marxism as formerly conceived. Marxism per se came to be supplanted by a theory of culturally based personal relations [Burston 1991], popularised later most notably by Marcuse , the most famous figure of the ‘Frankfurt School’ (who became ‘the guru of the New Left’), though there were several others.
Freud’s conceptualisation of repression as concerning sexuality was extended by the Frankfurt School to encompass pleasure, indeed motivation in general, as this could be used to explain the alienation Marx had outlined and why it persisted, thereby to (mis-)represent life under ‘capitalism’ as ‘non-authentic’ — a supposed prison of non-reality from which everyone naturally would wish to abscond. Again, the prompting of this was by way of building on the legacy of Engels: his further, related notion of false consciousness. [The term was first recorded in an 1893 letter from Engels to Franz Mehring.] Cohen [2007 p158] sums up that: “The Marxists of the early twentieth century took it up to explain away the discomfiting fact that the workers of the most advanced societies were not organising social revolutions as Marx had insisted they would.” Cohen elaborates [p374]: “To explain the catastrophic collapse of their hopes they have revived the false consciousness conspiracy theory, which has been present in socialist thought since the early defeats at the turn of the twentieth century, and given it an astonishing prominence. They hold that the masses rejected the Left because brainwashing media corporations ‘manufactured consent’ for globalisation”. This transparently paranoid, weak ‘conspiracy theory’ — representing a wilful refusal to accept the very basis of marketing in reflecting people’s actual needs and desires — led Marcuse to claim that “… higher standard of living … had obscured the distinction between the real and the immediate interest of the ruled” [1969 p24], going so far as to baldly assert: “the general will is always wrong” [1969 p9]. It’s familiar still today (albeit less in favour than it was), being that it is presentable in vague sociological terms in the wake of sociology eclipsing psychoanalysis as the popular pseudo-science from the late 1960s/ early 1970s. The incorporation of Freud’s bogus ‘repression’ notion to posit a thin conceptualisation of psychological ‘brainwashing’ became less plausible – not least in its being in the narrow context of the family, from which confines anyway it was taken that everyone was escaping – and it gave way to a nebulous pan-societal conceptualisation of a sociological kind of ‘brainwashing’. Both are highly implausible (even as to mechanism, let alone efficacy), but the latter appeared less so than the former. It is lost on the Left that the notion of a society-wide false consciousness created by an economically dominant group is precisely the basis of the Nazi notion of ‘Jewish conspiracy’ (as Cohen points out [2007 p375]).
A further, equally fatal problem with a conception of psychological impact of ‘capitalism’, Freudian or otherwise, is that ‘capitalism’ has no inherent agency, so hardly can have psychogenic force. It’s simply trade of a complicated form. Neither does it exclude as beneficiaries mere employees. The ‘surplus’ problematised in Marxism in fact is the basis of the market value of any labour, with benefits from better organisation and/or technology provided by the entrepreneur adding value sufficient to confer the extra competitiveness in the market pertaining so as to make the job viable. In other words, ‘surplus’ necessarily is of genuinely mutual advantage for all of the parties, including even unskilled workers. Any skew in allocation of ‘surplus’ to the entrepreneur away from the employee invariably is very heavily restricted not only by the need to pay at least market wages, but also by the imposition of various fees and taxes by authorities to reflect the contribution to the enterprise of infrastructure. There is no untrammelled exploitation in developed societies, so there is no such thing as opposite poles of ‘capitalism’ and socialism. Indeed, the economic development resulting from ever more efficient trading (notably through automation) is well down the road effectively to absolving most people from burdensome work or even any work at all, with universal basic income now an actively discussed possibility. Schumpeter, the famous economist, claimed that in a sense socialism is a normal evolution of capitalism (with the real problem being then that socialism begets fascism) [Rickards 2016 p235-240, Schumpeter 2008]. Schumpeter explains that the entrepreneur always remains, so actually the complex trading — capitalism — also remains, at least in state form. He sees ‘capitalism’ as a destructive force squeezing out the middle-classes as elites ‘buy off’ workers. Again, then, ‘capitalism’ turns out to be in the workers interests. As a bogeyman it is a chimera, so hardly the likely origin of repression / false consciousness as the Frankfurt School theorised, even if there were a feasible mechanism, which anyway there is not.
Notions of repression and false consciousness were enough of a dressing-up of a volte-face from eulogising to blaming the workers to prevent it appearing too transparently to be holding the workers directly culpable, and it was also sufficient a departure from orthodox Marxism that its origin in Marxism was hidden, thereby aiding its acceptance. This would have been important in the USA crucible of these politics when in the aftermath of McCarthyism the political-Left was obliged to present itself differently. With purging of ‘communists’ having proved resoundingly popular with the American working-classes, a far sharper sense of an ‘us and them’ vis-á-vis ‘the workers’ was experienced by the US political-Left, reinforcing its antipathy. By the late 1960s, the working class “has become a conservative, even counter-revolutionary force”, Marcuse [1969 p25] declared. The Left’s antipathy extended even to those who had come up through ‘the workers’ to legitimately act on their behalf. Marcuse [1969 p 67] summed up: “Among the New Left, a strong revulsion against traditional politics prevails: against the whole network of parties, committees, and pressure groups on all levels”. But on the previous page, Marcuse had ‘projected’ this in the long familiar manner of the Left, to transfer the antipathy on to those whom the Left subjected to it: “opposition meets with all but pathological hatred on the part of the so-called ‘community’, including large sections of organised labour”.
The replacement of the workers by women was the core of what became identity politics, though not until other ‘groups’ had been deemed to join the fray, so it was not known as such until the early 1970s [Knouse 2009], if not a little later if the claim is true that the first written mention of the term was in 1977 by some black feminists calling themselves ‘the Combahee River Collective’. As Hobsbawn points out , even in the late 1960s there was no entry at all under ‘identity’ in the International Encyclopaedia of Social Sciences. This is for the very good reason that until this time there was no multiplicity of ‘identity’ labelled as disadvantaged / oppressed. The decisive development to spur such a complete change in political discourse was the co-option by the New Left of a movement with which it had no connection at all: the civil rights movement. Though enjoying ubiquitous support within black communities – to the point often of various forms of extremism – it featured virtually nil endorsement of socialism (and even in the rare exceptions, any endorsement was equivocal) [Gross & Levitt 1998 p31]. As necessarily a broad church to encompass blacks generically and so as not to carry political baggage creating additional white opposition, black civil rights had to be a mainstream non-partisan affair. The New Left arose out of it in the sense of aping it [Weinburg 1990]. As with any fervent ideology, a hallmark of the political-Left is interpreting anything and everything in its own ideological terms to claim as a manifestation of the ideology and its prophecy – jumping on a bandwagon, so to speak; to hijack it. Put simply (here by Marcuse), “The fact is that at present in the United States the black population appears as the ‘most natural’ force of rebellion … Class conflicts are being superseded or blotted out by race conflicts … (because through) monopolistic imperialism … even the exploited white population in the metropoles (become its) partners and beneficiaries” [Marcuse 1969 p62-63].
It is from the time of this co-option that identity politics dates [Kauffman 1990]; many considering that the movement was incorporated into the Left in the wake of Martin Luther King’s assassination in 1968, though more pertinently this was also the year of the major turning-point in political-Left politics generally with the seeming near-revolution in France. At the same time in the USA there was the sustained violence between student demonstrators and the army at the Chicago US Democratic Convention. Both the French and US agitations took their lead from the onset of the Chinese cultural revolution at this time. These were parallel developments in that evidently the Chinese too had found that Marxism as an economic theory did not work, and that a draconian cultural revolution was required. Likewise, the ‘sixty-eighters’ in Paris were inspired by the then hugely popular French Marxist philosopher Henri Lefebvre’s ‘critique of everyday life’, that the consumer society (‘capitalism’) had commodified (‘colonised’) every aspect of life, creating a cultural more than a merely economic problem. The background to the Paris revolt was an electoral pact by socialists and communists, triggering students to ape their Chinese counterparts, but Lefebre’s ‘critique’ was too theoretically nebulous to lead to coherent demands, and consequently the usual splits among Left protestors ensued (not that they were not there from the outset, in that the French communists remained orthodox Marxist), and there were sizeable counter-demonstrations. The Paris students lacked a big issue on which to focus. By contrast, the US student movement aped Maoism as it became militantly extremist in the nation-wide huge opposition to the compulsory draft for the ‘anti-communist’ Vietnam war.
Vibrant US student radicalisation functioned as a melting-pot to facilitate incorporation of not just different strands of the Left but movements hitherto entirely separate, to be brought under the umbrella of what was more widely the ‘counterculture’. A movement famously setting itself against ‘middle-class’ norms, this was not a rebellion against parents — which was the dynamic of a near generation before, when the young were newly prosperous and the culture was widely perceived to be stultifying. It was an attack on the aspiration by ‘the workers’ to become anything else, when the goal of ordinary people was very much economic advancement (‘the American dream’). Civil rights, as the first great ‘single-issue’ campaign, served not least to provide an acceptable cloak for the Left to avoid provoking a resurgence of McCarthyism. The major social upheaval of civil rights with its large-scale and widespread rioting was easily the nearest thing in then recent US history to look like the promised Marxist ‘revolution’, and obviously was just the practical application the ‘theory’ was seeking. Moreover, the protagonists (black Americans) were eminently separable from the now despised workers per se, in being presentable as a new ‘group’ from outside of the former fray of boss versus worker.
This accident of history served to add black to woman as ‘the new oppressed’ without any intellectual shift or any cerebral effort at all: it was on a ‘gut’ level, so to speak; implicit rather than explicit cognition. With African-Americans taken to be emblematic of Marxist revolt, civil rights naturally thereby came to be seen not as the specific conflict it is but generalisable, allowing an expansion of those deemed to be part of ‘the struggle’, making for a more widely encompassing category. Black came to denote anyone and everyone of an ethnic minority. The worker in effect was retrospectively stereotyped as both man and white. An obvious problem here is that a blanket designation of disadvantaged / oppressed across ethnic-minority generically cannot square with the fact that many ethnic groups are far from disadvantaged let alone oppressed’ – some (eg, Chinese, Indian) actually out-performing ‘hites in all key measures. Nevertheless, the supposed new ‘agents of social change’ / disadvantaged / oppressed thus grew from women to also include all ethnic minorities. It is only with the knowledge of how this developed that sense can be made of why ethnicity is held above the myriad other possible differences that could be utilised as in-group markers, when in fact there is nothing inherent in ethnicity as an in-group marker to produce inter-group prejudice that is particularly more pernicious. Indeed, the worst inter-communal conflicts nominally between different ethnicities usually are between different cultural heritages with no discernable ‘racial’ differences of any kind – and what (non-ethnic) differences there are can be minimal; the lack of contrast actually fuelling the intensity of conflict, such is the need for groups to feel distinguished from each other. Furthermore, ethnic prejudice is anything but restricted to or even predominantly white on black: inter-ethnic (eg, black on Asian) and ethnic-on-white ‘racism’ can be, often is and may usually be the greater problem; and a negative attitude to a certain ethnicity does not imply a similar attitude to other ethnicities. The specific US experience, given the highly divisive politics in the wake of the American Civil War over the basis of the Southern US economy in African slavery, does not translate to elsewhere; notably not to Europe – as was starkly evidenced in the experience of World War II black American GIs stationed in England in how they were favourably received by locals, who sided with them when discriminated against. ‘Racial divides’ in European white host countries are the result not of mutual antipathy but affiliative forces, principally within migrant enclaves and secondarily within the ‘host’ community; in both cases being through in-group ‘love’, not out-group ‘hate’ [Yamagashi & Mifune 2009].
Given the template of a successful incorporation of another political movement, then naturally it follows that the next cause generating nationally prominent protest similarly would be ripe for co-option. The opportunity arrived the very next year with the 1969 gay Stonewall riots (and similar in several other US cities). Perhaps even more than with civil rights, the homosexual movement had little to do with the Left, being notably politically conservative as a pointed strategy to gain mainstream acceptance. It was known as the homophile movement up to the end of the 1960s, before being dubbed ‘gay liberation’. It’s co-option again prompted in effect a retrospective stereotyping of the worker by contrast as heterosexual. And just as black American was broadened generically to ethnic minority, so gay was broadened generically to homosexual – to also include lesbians. This anyway was bound to ensue given that women were already an identified new class of the oppressed. Thus, lesbians were added even though the draconian criminal discrimination and associated harassment by police had been a problem only for male homosexuals, who were the ones raising a grievance. Female homosexuals merely hung on their coat-tails, not having themselves a basis for grievance as a discriminated-against, oppressed or disadvantaged ‘group’. Indeed, lesbians had been so uninvolved in ‘gay liberation’ groups that they claimed were so completely dominated by gays, they formed a separate grouping just for lesbians. Homophobic [sic] bullying is fully part of group male (but not female) socialisation [Pascoe 2013], and consequently is a problem suffered far more by males [Poteat & Rivers 2010]; a disparity which would be even more marked if mere rumour-spreading was taken out of consideration, with this — rather than direct confrontation — accounting for the great bulk of what female manifestation there is [Minton 2014]. Males in any case are more visible as homosexuals, in that male homosexuality, it is generally agreed, is roughly twice as prevalent as female; and gay behaviour can contrast markedly with that of male heterosexuals (whereas heterosexual female intra-sexual behaviour is often physically close, resembling in some respects the behaviour of female homosexual intimates).
What everyone has missed is that it was not homosexuality per se that had led to disadvantage and severe discrimination, but being male: the combination of being male and exhibiting an extreme difference (differences between males being amplified in male dominance contest, with such an extreme difference as a same-sex preference sending a male to the bottom of the hierarchy, and rendering him a candidate for the unusual occurrence for males of exclusion from the in-group) [Moxon 2019]. This calls into question not just the identification of homosexuality generically as a disadvantaged / oppressed category, but it prompts checking of the presumption that women constitute such a category. And the conclusion upon examining all issues male/female is that not the female but the male is clearly the more disadvantaged and oppressed sex [see Moxon 2008, 2012 for summaries: this is a topic far beyond the scope of the present text]. This anyway has to be more than a mere suspicion given the bogus basis on which women came to be regarded as disadvantaged and oppressed, merely as a forced replacement for the workers.
In the bringing together of these disparate strands of sex, race and sexual orientation there was not just insulation from further McCarthyism, but a much-desired restoration of the lost sense of universalism of the political-Left ethos, now possible through demonising the worker. Robert Hughes sees this as a bizarre attempt to reconstruct culture, indeed to pose a supposed force equal to the nationalism that had destroyed Marxism: “… what’s left of the Left would like to endow ordinary internal differences within a society — of gender, race and sexual pattern — with the inflated character of nationhood, as though they not only embodied cultural differences but actually constituted whole ‘cultures’ in their own right. ‘Queer nation’, indeed” [Hughes 1993 p75]. As Gitlin pointed out , identity politics is a “spurious unity”, and that “whatever universalism now remains is based not so much on a common humanity as on a common enemy – the notorious White Male”.
From then on, anyone ‘belonging’ to a ‘group’ according to any of the inversions of one or more of the now supposed hallmarks of the worker as male / white / heterosexual, was deemed automatically to belong to the newly identified ‘vanguard’ of ‘agents of social change’, and deserving of automatic protection and definition as disadvantaged and oppressed. These three abstracted generic groupings of woman, ethnic-minority and homosexual, naturally were considered additive in conferring victim status, so that a permutation of two out of the three — or, best of all, the full house — was a trump card in what has been dubbed intersectionality. Given the ‘gravy train’ this spawned, then just as would be expected, further extensions again in effect by inverting the worker retrospective stereotype have since been made. Added were the disabled and the elderly; trans-sexuals, and even the obese – but on such dubious grounds as to reveal further the incoherent basis of ‘identity politics’ other than as a protracted agitation against the workers.
The disabled suffer neither discrimination nor any prevailing negative attitude towards them (if anything the contrary): they simply have a hard life, irrespective of how they may be treated. The absence of provision such as ramps to public buildings cannot constitute discrimination, because this would be special treatment, not equitability. Indeed, it could be argued that disabled-access denudes the lives of disabled people, in that in becoming less reliant on others they have still less social interaction, when the lack of this perhaps is the key difficulty in most disabled persons’ lives. The elderly likewise necessarily have a harder life, through being physically incapable of some tasks which formerly they carried out with ease; but this is an inevitability for everyone that no form of intervention can reverse or significantly ameliorate. There is compensation in usually being relatively in a good financial position, and without the onus of having to go to work to sustain it: the elderly commonly are better-off than when they were younger, and without the large expenses of younger life. They are hardly disadvantaged. Far from being in receipt of any discrimination or opprobrium, the elderly usually are at worst ignored, and likely to be afforded genuine consideration. [The real phenomenon of age discrimination in employment impacts only on the workers, of course: it cannot apply to those over retirement age.] The only sense that can be made of the inclusion within identity politics of both the disabled and the elderly is that they are non-workers (if not thus by definition, they are only unusually in employment).
Trans-sexuals are rare enough (roughly one in 20,000 pooled across sex) as to be effectively an irrelevance, but from the perspective of the basis of identity politics their inclusion is an extension of the homosexuality category in that they revive the mantra of homophobia [sic], and may be thought to challenge male-female dichotomy, along the lines of ‘non-essentialist’ feminist complaint, and the goal as outlined above; but they do not. Trans-sexual is a misnomer in that these individuals simply wish for their somatic sex to match what they strongly feel their sex to be (their ‘brain sex’, as it were), which usually they accomplish through surgery. [The only actual ‘cross-sex’ individuals are those possessing an extra sex chromosome: this is the ‘intersex’ condition, which is vanishingly rare.] Just as for homosexuality, only males suffer any significant disadvantage. Male-to-female (but not, or much less so, female-to-male) trans-sexuals are those enduring opprobrium [eg, Nagoshi et al 2019, Wang-Jones et al 2018] and this is because they are regarded as being essentially and irredeemably male (the impact of testosterone being irreversible in key aspects of physical appearance), whereas female-to-male trans-sexuals are considered to be females exhibiting gender [sic] flexibility. Opprobrium is most notably from (feminist) lesbians, who are at the core of identity politics activism, and naturally this would be falsely ‘projected’ on to males as supposedly a generic prejudice. As with homosexuals, the quality attracting any oppression is maleness, not trans-sexuality per se. Again, this is obscured in that most trans-sexuals are male – that is, male-to-female: one in 10,000, as against one in 30,000 female-to-male (according to recent APA figures averaged across studies).
The obese constitute an obviously spurious category within identity politics, in that being fat is not fixed and irreversible, being hardly an inescapable condition, and one which is rarely acquired without complicity – a failure to make a better lifestyle choice. That obesity is a ‘serious’ addition to the identity politics cannon is shown by the actual academic ‘discipline’ of fat studies. It might be thought that sense is made of this in terms of the non-workers basis of identity politics categorisation, in that non-working, sedentary very-low-income lifestyles are particularly associated with sugar-rich poor diets driving obesity; but the emergence of ‘fat studies’ was not (or not primarily) a pragmatic inclusion given the very high incidence of obesity in the USA. It arose as a subsidiary of women’s studies. It would seem more pertinent that lesbians – as previously pointed out, the keenest activists within identity politics – are more than twice as likely to be obese as heterosexual women [Boehmer, Bowen & Bauer 2007]. ‘Valourising’ the obese would be in line with the extreme-feminist notion that a female should not be judged according to her attractiveness (the female-mate-value criterion of fertility) – notwithstanding that there is no issue raised about correspondingly judging a male in terms of male attractiveness (the male-mate-value criterion of status or stature). [This may drive obesity in extreme-feminists, though for lesbians it may be based in not having to face the mate-choice criteria of males, leaving them freer to eschew the usual female concern with weight.]
The several abstracted faux groups, in entering political centre stage displaced ‘class’, because with the workers now considered collectively persona non grata, then being ‘working class’ was no longer recognised as a disadvantage. Class distinction was jettisoned from the neo-Marxist ‘progressive project’. The upshot is that a woman who is highly-educated, upper-middle-class and/or belonging to a high-achieving ethnic minority (such as Indian or Chinese), and/or is (or declares herself to be) lesbian, is eligible for various forms of state and employer assistance through positive action’ (an unwritten but effective quota system). By contrast, an ‘underclass’ white male from a poor family background with neither a job nor the educational qualifications needed to acquire one, is not only offered no assistance but is actively considered an oppressor of all those (apart from other males) far better placed than is he.
Given that Marxian ideological belief has always been in terms of a ‘power’ [sic] struggle between one bloc and another within society — formerly the ‘bourgeoisie’ versus the ‘proletariat’ — such that the ‘powerless’ [sic] are set to overthrow the ‘powerful’ [sic]; then it was not a large adjustment to re-envision the underlying dynamic of society as conflict between a more abstract but still supposedly dominant ‘group’ of generically men – anyone male / white / heterosexual / non-disabled / non-elderly / non-obese – as the one with ‘power’ [sic], against the one without, being a cobbled-together melange of abstractions – supposedly generically women, ethnic minorities, homosexuals, trans-sexuals, the disabled, the elderly and the obese. Indeed, the adjustment has been seamless, as would be expected from the benefits accruing in terms of saving face. With reality held to result from whichever ‘group’ is deemed to hold ‘power’ [sic] [Green 2006], then it follows in internally-consistent imagination that reality is changeable in the mere assertion that a ‘powerless‘ [sic] ‘group’ somehow is set to take the place of a ‘powerful’ [sic] ‘group’. This self-fulfilling prophecy is the imperative driving identity politics that has come to be dubbed political correctness, with its draconian fervency and focus on empty forms of words as if they have inherent efficacy.
In the absence of any external validity to identity politics reasoning, there was the need for a novel intellectual underpinning, which was supplied in the confused strands of philosophy grouped together as postmodernism (a term that did not share an earlier origin with that denoting a reversion to traditional or classical style in art), that in more concrete guise has a firm grip of the humanities and social sciences in the various forms of cultural studies / critical studies / theory. The incoherence of theory in postmodernism is ascribed, in an excoriating analysis by Gross & Levitt [1998, 71-92], to its being “more a matter of attitude and emotional tonality” [p71]. This is just as would be expected of what is an attempt to obscure the sophistry of ‘identity politics’. At root postmodernism is a taking-the-ball-home defensive ruse; a simple declaration that any and every criticism of identity politics is inadmissible. As is widely and well understood, the postmodernist stance is that any text is held to have no significant surface (ostensible) meaning, but an actual meaning supposedly specific to local context: meaning is said to be situated. This is the identity politics contention that given everything concerns ‘power’ relations, then all depends on someone’s vantage point in respect of these — in terms of their own oppressed status. Whilst all individuals from one particular oppressed ‘group’ perspective (eg, ethnic-minority female) are deemed to have an identical experience espoused in the same ‘narrative’, these particular perspectives are sanctified as being entirely opaque to anyone else with a different perspective, even if from what might be considered a parallel one in ‘power’ relations (eg, ethnic-minority ‘gay’), let alone from a non-oppressed angle, which in any case is held not to be worthy of taking into account. The perspective of a ‘group’ ‘narrative’ is considered to be trapped in the sub-text, rendering it decipherable only through the special technique of deconstruction.
The obvious fatal flaw in this thin reasoning is that there is no reflexivity in the theory in respect of the texts of the postmodernists themselves. Their own texts uniquely are deemed to be legitimately understood according to their surface meaning; so that within this ‘discipline’, where it is held that no text is privileged over any other, necessarily a complete exception is made for texts concerning the theory itself; otherwise the ‘theories’ of ‘postmodernism’ (and its subsidiaries re ‘deconstruction’) could not exist. The irony is that if postmodernist principles were applied to postmodernism itself, then the theory would become apparent as being entirely based in the very principles of ‘power’ relations it purports to reveal. A tautology, the ‘theory’ is without foundation. Postmodernism is naked special pleading, amounting to a claim that there is a magic unavailable to the uninitiated, which is practised by a priesthood of the political-Left. This is raw elitist-separatism: the very attitude and behaviour that a political-Left ethos purports to be fighting against and deems immoral.By way of an absurd extension of the circularity in postmodernism: with language being deemed to convey nothing but ‘power’ relations, by an elementary failure of logic, conversely ‘power’ is regarded as nothing more than language; and from this is deduced that all that is needed is a change in language to bring about a wholly new set of ‘power’ relations. This is a flimsy dressing-up of the self-fulfilling prophecy in ‘political correctness’ and ‘identity politics’. Language is an explicit communication form with no access to the vast bulk of cognition, which is implicit (non-conscious); and therefore it cannot possibly be of the nature ascribed to it by postmodernists. The refusal to be ‘found out’ on this score is, of course, through denial that there is a scientific way of acquiring knowledge about implicit psychology; but this is an argument no less circular than is everything in postmodernism. Gross & Levitt [1998 p75] sum up: “American postmodernism is often accused, with considerable justice, of being little more than mimicry of a few European thinkers, mostly French, who rose to prominence in the midst of the bewilderment afflicting intellectual life when the proto-revolutionary struggles in the late sixties in France, Germany and Italy fizzled out without having produced any real impact on bourgeois society.” In other words, postmodernism sprang from the very same place as did identity politics — its symbiotic twin; or, rather, its offspring.
In the transition to identity politics, the quintessential form of oppression [sic] in Marxian imagination changed with the family replacing the workplace as the putative key locus of conflict; transferring from ‘the boss’ lording it over the worker to the man ‘dominating’ the woman. This was a politics in line with pro-female/ anti-male natural prejudice, easy to get a handle on, and which mobilised in particular women hitherto sidelined in the UK in local political party associations, as it did people in general in these bodies – with anti-‘racism’ joining feminism in the new thrust of politics to fragment into related but ‘single issue’ campaigning — in the wake of the poor position of political-Left parties electorally after the 1970s. So the politics readily hit ‘the pavement’ where once it was mostly confined to universities.
The belief system was most apparent within the social work profession [McLaughlin 2005]. Political-Left-minded individuals seeking escape from work in commerce found not only a shelter in the burgeoning state, but a niche where they were able to act according to identity politics principles. Social work became a locus of problematising social issues, most especially intimate-partner violence [IPV], which was ripe for portraying as the supposed exemplification of male/female ‘power’ [sic] relations in the only portion of IPV that anyone is concerned about – that by males against females. As IPV in the female-to-male direction contributes significantly to undermining the neo-Marxist rationalisation of why ‘the revolution’ never materialised, then the occurrence and concept of non-gendered [sic] IPV, [see eg, Dutton & Nichols 2005], never mind the reality of greater female perpetration [Moxon 2011, 2020 in press) had to be resolutely denied whatever the strength of the evidence.
Facets of human psychology are fertile ground for this ideology to take hold and become entrenched. From the core biological principle that the female is the ‘limiting factor’ in reproduction: whereas she is treated as being privileged, prejudices evolved against the male through both the differential allocation of reproduction within male hierarchy [Moxon 2009] (and ‘policing’ associated with this) and, obviously, the close scrutiny of males by females to exclude most males in their mate choices. Further reinforcement comes from the self-serving utility of the contemporary political-philosophical mindset in salving cognitive-dissonance (and providing within-group status gains, not least through driving in-group / out-group competition). All of this works on the level of implicit as well as or rather than explicit cognition, given that the stronger the motivation the more implicit we might expect to be the associated cognition [Di Conza et al 2006].
The ideology of identity politics was so readily accepted not least because it is a recapitulation of ideation from Christianity, where the future is deemed inevitable in ending in ‘the promised land’. Social development is taken to be teleological: as if ‘pulled’ towards a ‘utopia’ of equality-of-outcome. This is a secular religion, transferring the notion of a ‘god’ from being in man’s image, via the humanistic deification of mankind, to worship of a supposed mechanism of social development, which is in no way scientific; merely an assumption that it is akin to a mode of reasoning – the ‘dialectic’ purported by Marxism. After Rousseau, the individual is taken to be in essence ‘good’, but contaminated by ‘capitalism’. The contamination is regarded as superficial yet irredeemable without the assistance of the ideology — and guidance by ‘the chosen few’ (social justice warriors) potentially to lead everyone to heaven whilst leaving others in purgatory or hell. That such secular ideology is very much a residue of Christian thinking is outlined at length by the philosopher John Gray [Gray 2007], who cites (neo-)Marxism as being the apotheosis of humanist political-philosophies, which all spring from an ostensible opposition to religion, that actually itself is a still more entrenched religiosity. A new quasi-religion, it seems to be as pathological as the closely related former quasi-religious ‘revisionist’ Marxisms as espoused by Stalin and Hitler (see below). Bukovsky  warns that just as the ideological progenitor of (what he terms) political correctness imprisoned him as a Soviet dissident simply for not being an active supporter, so it will be in the ‘West’; the ideology building unstoppably from excess to ever greater excess as adherents to the ideology refuse ever to admit they are wrong.
In sum, it is no surprise that what began as a desperate rearguard notion in academic political-Left circles to attempt to save face, has evolved over many decades into a mainstream ‘given’, with supporting notions, such as the previously prevailing theory of intimate-partner violence, resolutely data-proof. This is notwithstanding identity politics notions as to who is oppressed / disadvantaged and why, having no objective plausibility and being deeply at odds with perennial common-sense from any vantage outside of the ideology itself.
With the long development of ‘identity politics’ over almost a century, its origin had been lost sight of, and some commentators still lazily assume that it arose in the wake of well-intentioned championing of women, ethnic minorities and gays; rather than this championing being instrumental in attacking the workers. Others imagine that it is merely some result of the experience of modernity; but this is merely to cite symptoms of the cynicism behind which identity politics plays no small part. Commonly credited is post-colonial guilt, even though this hardly squares with the emergence of identity politics initially in the USA rather than in the ex-colonial power that is England, nor the centrality of women rather than or alongside ethnicity; and in any case it would be a moral sensibility rather too rarefied to account for the emotive intensity of the politics. Also suggested is an absence of meaning [Furedi 2013], as if this had not been a major issue at the time of Marx and before; or simply a feeling of anonymity [Calhoun 1994], which, again, does not explain the fervency of the politics when a more resigned or a diffuse political stance would be expected, as in ‘existentialism’.
Based on his mistaken analysis, Calhoun argues retrospectively that nationalist movements should be subsumed under the identity politics umbrella, and that therefore identity politics is nothing new; but nationalism could not better exemplify the politics of ‘commonality’. Nationalist movements both contemporary and historical are instances of perennial assertions of in-grouping at the most obvious fully autonomous level of social organisation. This reality was the basis of the early-20th century nationalist revolutions as pragmatic modifications of Marxian ‘internationalism’. As such they do share roots with identity politics in that this too is a pragmatic modification of Marxian ‘theory’. Indeed, on this basis, identity politics or ‘political correctness could be dubbed ‘fascist’, as a use of that label to better reflect what actually it is. Stalin engineered “socialism in one country” for Russia in the 1920s to try to keep at bay the rest of Europe in the wake of the failure there of early attempts at ‘proletarian’ revolt. This exactly paralleled the shift in position by leading socialist Mussolini (he was the editor of the newspaper of the Italian socialists) a few years before, at the outbreak of World War One. Mussolini and many others “had come to see Italy’s problems as being nationally specific, which could not be addressed in the orthodox univeral Marxist terms of capitalist crisis and class conflict. Italy’s unique problems of under-development and national disunity were brought into sharp focus by the country’s mobilisation for war. The issue was … the chronic alienation of state and society … an unrepresentative parliamentary system and a corrupt and unproductive liberal political class” [Morgan 2004]. ‘Fascism’ was ‘national socialism’, as explicitly labelled in the German copying of the Italian model: a Marxian splintering, not a political-Right manifestation. Revolution overthrowing elites in favour of the masses (however merely ostensibly it may be) was hardly any form of conservatism. Neither was ‘fascism’ ‘racist’: the ‘racism’ of the Nazis was not shared in Italy. Germany was an only recently unified collection of small states, and therefore anyway precarious, never mind the extremely severe stresses of defeat in the First World War, unpayable reparations, occupation by French (including many African) troops, unprecedented economic depression and complete currency collapse. Thus was fueled the contemporary mythologising of an ancient German race and the ‘stab in the back’ sentiment that the First World War was lost because of a capitalist club that was internationalist and essentially non-German, in industrial leaders being typically Jewish. Not only did this produce an especially forceful anti-capitalism, but also to a fierce anti-Bolshevism through that movement likewise being considered a feint to further international Jewish aspirations, given the leading Russian revolutionaries again were Jewish. The Nazis indeed were famously anti-communist, meaning anti-Bolshevik: opposed to Russian empire building masquerading as international liberation. That ‘fascism’ is the bogeyman of Marxism/socialism is through the former being derived from the latter, leaving little to distinguish them, which on the political-Left famously leads to fierce internecine conflict. All nationalism – whether emerging as a bastardisation of Marxist ‘theory’ or otherwise – clearly is in essence a politics of commonality, whereas identity politics concerns sub-division of society into abstract categories to constitute faux ‘groups’ in supposed opposition to the ‘group’ with ‘power’.
There has been wide discussion within academia that it is difficult to understand the nature of identity politics, but this is as would be expected of a system of thought which is not what it purports to be. Calhoun [1994 p29] reveals identity politics to only ostensibly concern actual oppression / disadvantage, when he asks: “… rather than being surprised by the prevalence of identity politics and seeking to explain it, should we not consider whether it is more remarkable and at least as much in need of explanation that many people fail to take up projects of transforming shared identities or the treatment afforded them?” The reason is that the identities in ‘identity politics’ do not arise within ‘groups’ themselves but are conferred according to what can be posited in opposition to the workers. Thus are ignored actually oppressed and disadvantaged categories wholly or mainly comprising males, whilst included are those not in reality comprising the oppressed and disadvantaged; and inasmuch as ‘groups’ in any way are, as they purport, indeed oppressed and disadvantaged, this is overturned either through being stretched in their inclusiveness beyond credulity (as with ‘ethnic minority’) or narrowed to the point of absurdity (as with the minuscule minority that is trans-sexual).
Another window on identity politics as being not what it seems is a fatal contradiction that is the major criticism in academic discourse today, highlighted by many, perhaps first by Gitlin : “For all the talk about the social construction of knowledge, identity politics de facto seems to slide towards the premise that social groups have essential identities. At the outer limit, those who set out to explode a fixed definition of humanity end by fixing their definitions of blacks and women”. The paradox is that the insistent political demand that all individuals are the same – not least so as to establish entitlement to equal treatment – itself negates the very purported non-equivalence that supposedly establishes any need that there may be for redress in the first place. And if instead it is held that there are major differences – as those on the ‘essentialist’ side of the debate contend — then equality would be better realised not by providing treatments that are the same, but by ones that are accordingly different. Yet, the firm belief that all is socially constructed pretends no difference that is not an arbitrary and merely temporary playing out of ‘power’ interactions, which equal treatment is intended (supposedly in time) to nullify. The circle of ‘reasoning’ is vicious. The feminist core of identity politics is a mess of self-contradiction in just this manner: simultaneously holding that women and men are quintessentially different whilst insisting that they are exactly the same. Recognised generally by theorists of feminism as a serious and seemingly intractable problem, it is the source of long-standing internecine fractious debate showing little sign of diminishing.
These distinct absences of internal consistency in the ‘theory’ are the direct consequence of its origination and development as an attempt to hide uncomfortable truths within academic political-Left politics; not to address issues in the real world. That it is hopelessly contradictory, in the end is beside the point to the ideologues, who rely on the contradictions to keep their juggled clubs in the air (so to speak); but the lack even of internal (let alone external) consistency is a confirmation of the non-sustainability of identity politics ‘theory’, contributing to what inevitably, as for any and every ideology, is its eventual demise. Yet there is the distinct possibility that this may not arrive until after ‘identity politics’ (or however else it is tagged, and whatever else to which it morphs) has grown unstoppably to become yet another recapitulation of ‘the terror’. It’s now well on the way, with the totalitarianism continuing to ratchet upwards. Identity politics is now so entrenched across ‘Western’ society that it has a life of its own well beyond the latter-day now quite intense critique of it from within the academia that spawned it. Such critique does not, however, extend to uncovering the actual origin and function of the ideology, indicating that this is just another phase in the endless attempted face-saving by the political-Left intelligentsia. Indeed, it’s often falsely claimed that the basis of identity politics is white guilt, but this is to mistake a mere contribution to how this extremism could manage to take hold with its roots. In any case, inasmuch as white guilt may exist in the minds of anyone other than Left political activists themselves, it’s a USA sentiment, in the wake of the still recent civil rights rapprochement. It does not explain how identity politics spread out from the USA to Britain and elsewhere. Putting forward the notion of white guilt to account for identity politics is further attempt to salve cognitive dissonance: this time not over the failure of Marxian political philosophy per se, but the crude, indefensible attempts to deal with it and explain it away that is identity politics. It’s second-order salving of cognitive dissonance, if you will. A convenient ploy to cover the unpalatable actual basis of identity politics.
Cited more widely has been ‘Western’ guilt in the wake of the West’s longstanding unchallenged and unchallengable supremacy, affording the luxury of critical self-examination. This is thought of as perversely hedonistic self-flagellation, which indeed it is, but drilling further down it’s status-envy by those in the West who elevate in their own minds their own (low) status, or justify their own lack of status, as being their high-minded refusal to strive for what they denigrate as the too-easily, inappropriately or (even) oppressively achieved; that thereby are deemed empty achievements. This was picked up by Professor of Organisational Behaviour, Howard Shwartz, in relation to postmodernism. He points out that “when the idea of an objective external world is lost, the idea of achievement, of earning love on the basis of good work, no longer has meaning. Individuals who have had status in the past … come to be seen as having acquired their status illegitimately. The idea of gaining status through achievement comes to be seen as a smoke-screen for theft.” Thus, Shwartz expands, it is argued that those with status deserve to have their power destroyed: “Those who have had status are thus redefined as having stolen love from those of low status”. [Schwartz 1997] This is less the product of postmodernism than its basis, of course. Postmodernism is a tool to try to legitimise just what it falsely purports to decry: ‘stealing love’, as Shwartz eloquently puts it. A core problem for the Left here is a radical failure to understand competition. A good grasp of biology would banish the notion that competition is antithetical to cooperation. The reality is that competition is instrumental to cooperation. A sentiment of emptiness in achievement, again inasmuch as it is at large beyond Left political activists themselves, clearly is soil in which identity politics could easily take root and grow. It would seem to be just the soil and not the plant nor the seed. However, although it is not any proximal basis of identity politics, it does look like its ultimate foundation. Is not unusual status-striving — elitist-separatism — the heart of the political Left mindset?
Underlying the more proximal explanations of identity politics and postmodernism, ultimately are the wellsprings of politics in general: what might be termed ‘competitive altruism’ masking perennial universal status-striving. Bidding for social pre-eminence is a combination of trying to acquire rank within society and also to be part of a pre-eminent in-group – one that is almost as separate from society as it is at its apex. Elitist-separatism. Implicitly (that is, beneath any conscious awareness, or in only dim awareness) this is what the political-Left foundationally, if unwittingly, is concerned with achieving. Through the ideological conceptualising of society in terms of cooperation, with any competition considered aberrational, those with a political-Left ethos are left peculiarly blind to their own competitiveness. Indeed, their ideology is very much a displaced expression of it, and explains the peculiarly vehement bigotry of its adherents, and why supposed ‘proletarian’ revolution invariably produced a tyranny, and one that is actually directed towards the ‘proletariat’, not by it. The politics espoused of egalitarianism is a competitive-altruistic feint to assist the otherwise standard status-grab. Functioning to deny the legitimacy of any rival elitist-separatists and their ethos, it dupes not only others aspiring though as yet failing to be part of an elite, but precludes even self-awareness of their own elitist-separatist aspirations by political-Left adherents themselves. It is in respect of this, ultimately, that are deployed the intense and protracted attempts to salve cognitive-dissonance so prominent a part of political-Left experience. The great paradox here is that in their strident efforts somehow to transcend human nature, the political-Left confirm its reality. Any such philosophically illiterate notion that we can ever ‘transcend’ ourselves is unlikely again to so easily hold sway, given the insulation to such a self-evidently foolish idea the political-Left in the end inadvertently looks set to gift us. A related, supreme irony is that the very charge made against the workers of a psychological dysfunctionality in supposedly not being able to see what is in their own best interests, boomerangs back on political-Left adherents as actually their myopia in respect of the psychology of their own ethos. It is not even the case that Neo-Marxism / identity politics / political correctness / postmodernism is the kind of altruism that really is disguised self-interest: it’s the antithesis of altruism. In the service of its own ends, the political-Left ethos adopted a deception designed to fail to identify the actually disadvantaged / oppressed, expressly so as to make their condition still worse, as a form of revenge on those regarded as ungrateful for past efforts made on their behalf (though not that anyway these efforts were other than ‘competitive altruism’). It is hard to think of a political fraud as great (as deep, wide, successful and sustained) as this in history, or even to devise one in mischievous imagination.
THE USUAL NON-EVIDENCE PRESENTED AS EVIDENCE OF MYSOGYNY IS ALL THERE IS IN THE CONSULTATION
* On-line abuse is not mostly towards women but towards men — more than three times as much abuse is received by male compared to female celebrities (Demos, 2014). Furthermore, on-line abuse in supposedly misogynistic terms is mostly by women: more than half of all Twitter posts in a comprehensive analysis (Demos, 2016). To ascribe this to a motivation of misogyny is to extend an itself scientifically baseless notion to a supremely implausible supposed internalisation of it. Internalised misogyny is a ludicrous notion. The only sub-group of women who do receive more on-line abuse than their male counterparts is that of journalists, but this is fully to be expected given that extreme feminism is the core of the ‘identity politics’ adopted across the media, which originated as a direct expression of contempt and hatred towards ordinary people en mass; males (‘white’, heterosexual males) specifically (see below). It is, to say the least, unsurprising, then, that this attracts abuse, which requires no supposed misogyny to drive or express it. Responding in kind to systematic hate-mongering when it is directed towards a sub-group to which you yourself belong, is perfectly natural and justifiable. The remedy is for elite individuals to cease their extreme-political hate-mongering towards the general populace, not to demand that the general populace refrain from reacting to it. Pointed feedback through social media is the only mechanism the powerless have to try to derail elite political pathology.
* Honour crime would perfectly label the time-honoured violent and other chastisement of males for actual, alleged or merely potential transgressions of sexual mores, by the family members of a female whose honour supposedly is compromised, commonly even by such as class/caste disparity. It is ideological perverted focus to entirely ignore (or ignore bar begrudgingly accepting a narrowly circumscribed subset of) male victims, to focus instead on what by comparison would be the rarer female victims, but whom by default are deemed the predominant or even peculiarly the victims when clearly they are not.
What’s more, female victimhood is a largely or essentially female intra-sexual phenomenon, as would be expected from arranged marriage being under female control. Perpetrators are mostly female: the instigators or major participants in 76% of cases (Aplin, 2017, 2019), with mothers the chief culprits, but also mothers-in-law, sisters and sisters-in-law. Physical violence, complicity in violence, ostracism and psychological abuse are all female modes, with violence to induce miscarriage exclusively so. In many cases a female instigator will not be evident through being well hidden behind her male agent (just as is the case in much partner murder).
* Female cloistering — FGM (female genital modification/mutilation), face/body veiling, foot-binding — is yet another case in point. All forms are shown to be female-initiated and female-overseen female-female competition for high-status male pair-bond partners (Moxon, 2017). The assumption of male imposition is false, being an inappropriate imagined extension from male initiation ceremonies, and in particular circumcision (MGM), all of which are an imposition: controlling sexual access by young males, so that they are obliged to legitimately gain status to be allowed sexual access. There is no such imposition on females. FGM is derivative of MGM, in MGM providing the idea of a formal, concrete denuding of sexual sensitivity so as to reduce the drive to obtain promiscuous sex, but its function is to female benefit: signalling likelihood of fidelity so as to increase marriageability. This is more for the benefit of the female marriage arrangers than to provide information to males. It’s actually against the interests of males, in particular high-status males (because it renders young females less interested in extra-pair sex and makes any sex, extra- or within-pair, less pleasurable), so hardly would be male-initiated or male-maintained. The false assumption that female cloistering are forms of male control springs not least from the false assumption that males try to control female sexuality so as to bolster paternity confidence. This conjecture is overturned by the recent conclusion that paternal investment is in the wake of pair-bonding, not a basis of it. Human pair-bonding evolved to increase female fertility, not male (Winking, 2007; Moxon, 2013).
* Rape, as is conclusively shown in the academic literature, from study of victim and perpetrator characteristics, is clearly about sex: not the ideologically supposed ‘power’ (eg, Felson & Cundiff, 2014, and even as long ago as 1979: Symons), which would require still further misconstrual to arrive at a putative motivation of hate. Rape occurs by a combination of sexual desire, a target of sexual attraction, and extreme disinhibition, usually stemming from a major in-group/out-group distinction between the parties (a profound separation between the groups to which the parties respectively belong, or extreme social anonymity: a social milieu outside a community).
Pernicious misconception in terms of power, hate, inasmuch as it can have any traction, derives from misunderstanding evolved courtship signalling; its being a co-option of dominance-submission signalling. A male signals his mate value in terms of dominance / prestige vis-a-vis other males and the female responds as if in yielding mode, to invite further male display, in a mutually reinforcing loop that can begin the process of pair-bonding. This is anything but display of male dominance towards (over) the female: there is no such thing anywhere in biology as inter-sexual dominance. Indeed, there is an evolutionarily highly conserved two-stage neural algorithm, whereby upon encountering another conspecific individual, he/she is first sexed, and then, if opposite sex, behaviour in courtship mode ensues, or, if same-sex, dominance-submission routines are initiated.
If rape as perpetrated in a war theatre is taken to be an act of subjugation of or hatred towards the enemy, then there can be no claim of exclusive or disproportionate harm to women without the comparison being made with the corresponding behaviour towards enemy males, which of course in this context is to kill, maim, or otherwise seriously injure sufficient to nullify any military potential. In comparison, then, rape, from any objective perspective, is a considerably lesser form of victimhood. If any of the maltreatment of females here is motivated by hate, it’s a lesser hatred than that directed towards males.
* Daughter aversion [sic] in countries such as China and India is nothing to do with negativity towards the female but rational son preference, given that sons but not daughters are available to care for older family members in societies that retain traditional multi-generational households (or the mindset of such a culture after migration to a metropolis), (eg, Brunson, 2010). This is because females marry out — evolved human female exogamy. Tied up with this is heritable resources being passed down the male line by reason of resource-possession indicating male status and hence mate value and thereby marriageability, whereas this never applies to the female (female mate value is not status but fertility: the ability to transmit a chosen male’s genetic quality to the next generation, which is not aided by indicating relative high general genetic quality, but simply youthfulness and developmental stability). [This is why even in matrilineal societies inheritance of resources is by males: the male close relatives of females and not between females themselves.]
* Sexual harassment is comprehensively shown to be sexual interest, not some imposition of power (Browne, 2002), and likely female mis-perception, given that women tend to invent hostility by men when it isn’t there and not see benevolence when it is (Goh, Rad & Hall, 2017). A male’s lack of power (low status) drives female perception of sexual harassment (Colarelli & Haaland, 2002; O’Connell, 2009). In other words, a perception from the putative victim’s viewpoint of sexual harassment actually is unwarranted negative discrimination against low-status males who are simply showing sexual initiative — normal healthy behaviour, that is essential for species survival.
Another scenario where harassment is falsely inferred by women, as Browne outlines, is hazing (workplace initiation), which is male attempt to be inclusive — including women in male intra-sexual sociality. The multiple, irresolvable problems with theory, even from a sympathetic sociological perspective, are laid bare in the overview by Pina, Gannon & Saunders (2009), who consider the profusion of poorly evidenced theory and modelling (socio-cultural, organizational, sex-role spillover, socio-cognitive, and four-factor, in addition to biological) so perplexing as to be of great concern. Complex difficulties are also outlined by Vanselow (2009).
* Forced marriage is a subset of arranged marriage, which all evidence shows is always under the auspices of and at the behest of women, not men; and, again, male victims are entirely ignored in recording through a false perception that they are neither victims nor pawns in the machinations of others: the usual natural presumption of male agency. Orchestration in all cultures throughout history has been and continues to be by female family members (aunt, elder sister, sister-in-law), possibly an older ‘matriarch’, and/or an outsider female ‘matchmaker’. For example, anciently in China (Benn, 2001) and Greece (Noy, 2012), or just as today with the famous ‘rishta auntie’ remaining a fixture in this regard across India and Pakistan (Krishnan, 2010); likewise the ‘khatba’ in Egypt (El Feki, 2013), and even in polygynous highly traditional African tribal societies, such as the Igbo of Nigeria and the Betsilio of Madagascar (Kottak, 2003) or the Vhavenda of South Africa (Raphalalani & Musehane 2013). It is now known that pair-bonding serves female rather than male interests (Moxon, 2013).
* Sexual trafficking is comprehensively exposed as an invented problem — as the Law Commission cannot but well know — by academic researchers with a strong focus on this particular topic (eg, Doezema, 2010), by organisations representing prostitutes themselves (eg, the English Collective of Prostitutes), and by police-led multi-agency several-month-long operations across the UK (Pentameter & Pentameter 2), which instead of finding victims found only illegal migrants who had entered the UK voluntarily. The supposed phenomenon is notoriously an invention of feminist ideological campaigners routinely misrepresenting any and every cross-border voluntary movement of a sex worker as somehow not voluntary but coerced. It’s a concept in the service of ideological opposition to prostitution: a ruse to define prostitution as inherently coercive, expressly to deny that any female would choose prostitution, despite its being very well attested that many women willingly earn what they consider easy money for providing a wanted or needed service: natural interaction they may sometimes or often enjoy or at least to which they are not averse. To try to rescue the concept, it has been redefined to include within-country inter-city movement of sex workers, which of course thereby includes what actually are cases of profoundly racist gang-rape by members of certain, specific ethnic minorities, most notably Pakistanis (as is now very well known).
* Sex worker victimhood is a false notion through entirely ignoring that exploitation here is in the other direction: of males for money (through the universal male desire for sex partners in number), with a significant minority of sex workers relying on male self-inhibition from aggressing against a female to further push this exploitation to perpetrate various abuses towards clients, notably what is dubbed rolling the client (defrauding by taking money and not providing any service at all), and, much more commonly, not providing key elements of what had been offered or negotiated, or a service so perfunctory as to have little or no similarity to what was negotiated. Even with profound male self-inhibition from aggressing towards a female, there are aberrant males with psychopathology where such self-inhibition is absent, and blatant sex worker crime against highly frustrated males may provoke aggression in a minority of normal males. Given the large volume of clients for each sex worker, then the wonder is why assaults on sex workers are not far more numerous than they are.
By stark contrast, there is no research into the crimes (including murder) against clients, which not least is through the extreme reluctance of males to report to police, for major obvious reasons. That they are extremely numerous is clear from popular on-line clients’ discussion boards, which reveal client victimhood at the hands of sex workers and/or their accomplices is near universal, and for many if not most clients of multiple incidence, despite clients individually encountering far fewer providers than vice versa.
The phenomenon of serial killers targeting prostitutes is acknowledged to be through their ready extreme accessibility (a highly unusual willingness to enter the car of a stranger male, unwitnessed, in secluded locations), for those with a form of extreme psychopathy combined with necrophilia, that is so vanishingly rare and profoundly aberrant as to be entirely uninformative of males generically — not that either necrophilia or serial murder is understood in any case — so likewise has no bearing on a putative misogyny.
* Partner violence is revealed in the convergence of all lines of research to be mostly, indeed overwhelmingly and essentially female-perpetrated, (as also would be revealed partner murder if there were proper recording of proxy murder by male agents and better discovery of cases employing clandestine modes), through women’s attachment anxiety, given that pair-bonding, hitherto thought to have evolved to ensure male paternity certainty cannot have done (Winking, 2007), and that instead it functions to maximise female fertility.
So important to the false notion of misogyny is the topic of partner violence — that is, the misrepresentation of it — that a full exposition is required here. This now follows, after which is another full exposition, of how & why genital modification (mutilation) also is in no sense any expression of misogyny. These are the full texts, reproduced below, of journal-published peer-reviewed science review papers [Moxon, S.P. (2020). How and why partner violence is normal female behaviour but aberrational male behaviour. New Male Studies, 9(1), 1-23. Moxon, S. P. (2018). Misogyny has no scientific basis of any kind: the evidence is of philogyny. New Male Studies, 7(2), 26-42.]
PARTNER VIOLENCE IS NORMAL FEMALE BEHAVIOUR BUT BY ABERRANT MALES ONLY
That intimate partner violence (IPV) essentially is female-perpetrated is explained bottom-up from the biological principle that the female is the limiting factor in reproduction, through genetic and neuro-hormonal levels. Female-specific aetiology stems from greater female need for pair-bonding, spurring greater mate-retention behaviours to assuage attachment anxiety, and avoiding implantation failure by restricting (channelling) partner sexual attention in evolved cyclical hostility (PMS). IPV is violence in which females specialise: uninhibited preferred physical aggression modes in couple context. Unless part of minority mental-pathological general violence, males are self-inhibited. The reality of IPV, captured holistically at its inception in dyadic study of adolescents & young adults, shows much greater female perpetration, initiation and escalation, uni- and bilaterally; males usually non-responsive or mildly reciprocating.
The complete inadequacy of current IPV theory
The current theory of intimate partner violence (IPV) according to all new reviews is wholly inadequate; it is at best a contribution to a partial understanding of the topic (Ali, McGarry & Bradbury-Jones, 2020; Chester & DeWall, 2018; Rothman, 2018); likewise typologies (Ali & McGarry, 2020). Burelomova, Gulina & Tikhomandritskaya (2018) take issue with conceptual frameworks and even basic definitions, echoing others that: “… existing theories are limited in their ability to explain contradictory findings or the heterogeneity of the IPV phenomenon … their empirical viability is yet to be determined”. Even what should be central to study of a partner phenomenon, a thoroughgoing dyadic perspective, has been lacking. It’s complained of by several research teams: Lantagne & Furman (2019) in their paper, More than the sum of two partners; Dokkedahl & Elklit in their 2019 review, Understanding the mutual partner dynamic in IPV; and (specially regarding adolescents) by Capaldi, Shortt, Tiberio & Low (2018). It looks symptomatic of hitherto an eschewal of methodology yielding undesired findings, to seek data to fit a rigidly held model instead of scientific testing. However, there are some recent dyadic studies proper, that bolstered by brand new ones address the deficiency. All show far greater female perpetration, in whatever pattern, and are reviewed below (after new original theory is outlined, to show its fit).
There is little or no fit of data with current IPV theory. An overall finding of greater female than male IPV perpetration has been comprehensively evidenced for several decades, as confirmed for example and notably in the exhaustive literature reviews across all sample types by Desmarais Reeves, Nicholls, Telford & Fiebert (2012), of worldwide and even clinical samples (Esquivel-Santoven˜a, Lambert & Hamel, 2013), and, ironically, in data from the USA National Violence Against Women Survey (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000). The findings here render untenable the feminist perspective of a main or exclusive focus on the male batterer. The now longstanding IPV paradigm among scientific aggression researchers, gender symmetry, is dubbed thus to contrast with the feminist notion, characterised gender asymmetry. A succinct distinction, certainly. However, it prises sex-differential data — greater female perpetration and male victimhood — into a non-gendered category of supposed zero skew by sex. This funnels consideration of IPV in whichever direction to be intra-couple dynamics as if males and females are interchangeable parties. So it is that the general conclusion is often understated as that women are perpetrators merely at least as much as are men, akin to the expression as good as any coyly denoting the best. A forlorn attempt to not worsen the divide in the research community with feminist researcher-activists? Or to avoid censure from the feminist hegemony across academia? Whatever the reason, the gender symmetry tag is profoundly misleading.
The reverse asymmetry, as it were, may well be very great indeed, considering order-ofmagnitude-plus disparity between anticipated and actual sex-differential IPV injury rates. Far greater male upper-body strength and weaker female body-frame together would yield a twentyfold preponderance of female injury (as calculated by forensic psychologist Linda Dixon; personal communication), even assuming no excess male over female perpetration. Yet actual IPV injuries show a small or zero sex differential overall, a (much) greater male serious injury rate, and (after multiple corrections) likely a large majority of male spousal murder victims (see Moxon, 2014, pp. 26–27 for a discussion and citations). Even the partners of males in IPV therapy admit inflicting greater injury (Bélanger et al., 2015), as Cook (1997) found from analysing a US National Family Violence Survey. The disparity may be still greater given specifically male IPV injury will be missed in hospital and police protocols of enquiring about injuries not being applied as either policy or in practice as for women.
Data quality is low because males under-report their victimhood
Particularly in the absence of proper dyadic study to fully cross-check, there will be a major confound in most data of male (relative to female) under-reporting of victimhood. Deriving from the male imperative to maintain status (the overall outcome of male intra-sexual competition indicating genetic quality, which is male mate value, determining access to sex), males individually are silent regarding any weakness, especially of sustaining violence — the ultimate indication of low status. There is evidence in all contexts, whenever investigated, of male failure in reporting victimhood and in help-seeking (for a mini-review, see Moxon, 2019, p25). This would be expected particularly for violence sustained from those with whom males never contest rank: females. (Contest inter-sexually for such as job promotion is de facto rank rivalry, but biologically meaningless, and experienced likewise). Even anonymous survey designed to exclude the demand characteristics known to evoke male under-reporting, nevertheless still results in male under-reporting (Archer , 1999). It’s a deep-seated phenomenon.
The sex differential in reporting IPV victimhood yet further widens as a result of female vulnerability being sexually attractive (Goetz, Easton, Lewis & Buss, 2012; Rainville & Gallagher, 1990). ‘Damsel in distress’ proceptive behaviour generally or selectively to draw male attention by evoking natural male protectiveness (see below) likely drives female over-reporting. Yet rarely in the literature is this mentioned even as a possibility, and neither is false reporting of victimhood, despite being a well-attested extremely common cover for and form of female perpetration, or the typical mischaracterisation of male attempt to restrain female IPV. A sex differential in reporting victimhood produced by male relative under-reporting in researched estimate of tenfold (Stets & Straus, 1990), or even, conservatively, only threefold (ONS, 2014), if taken into account would transform any raw data not showing greater female perpetration.
Understanding of IPV would revert to the status quo ante, as depicted in the until very recently highly popular English saucy seaside postcards of angry wives wielding heavy household objects chasing their husbands, and not dissimilar imaging in medieval English church misericords (back-rests for choristers; a photograph of one of many examples on the theme of husbandbeating by wives is the graphic at the head of this paper).
Building theory bottom-up from biology: avoiding female injury
Any theoretical consideration of IPV has to begin with the imperative of avoiding injury to female sexual partners, stemming from the biological principle that the female is the limiting factor in reproduction. All females can function to convey to the next generation genes of chosen males, who are but a subset of all males: only those of sufficiently high genetic-quality (the male functioning in reproduction as the genetic filter: Moxon, 2016), leaving all other males surplus. Whereas a single (alpha) male potentially may suffice, females are never in surplus in that their maximum individual total reproductive output is necessarily low. Avoiding physical damage potentially compromising reproduction of any and every female therefore must be not only important to their male partners but a feature foundational to social system, expected to have produced profound adaptation.
Evident from very earliest ages is the human seemingly implicit cognition in an unspoken rule that the male must protect the female (Euverman, 2009), paralleled in chimpanzee males’ protectiveness towards females: readily risking their own lives to defend them (Sagan & Druyan, 1993) as do human males. Boys and girls play games about boys protecting girls (Best, 1983; Kinney, 1999). Boys as young as four frequently say boys protect girls (Kagan, 2001). In mixed adult focus groups discussing violence, “the single most frequent (> 30%) type of comment involved men’s protecting women. In contrast, women were never discussed as protectors of men” (Hollander, 2001, p 92). An evolved origin appears well-evidenced.
Ubiquitous profound male protectiveness explains ready misperception of IPV as only male-perpetrated. In thus rendering male IPV unusual, it’s seen to be aberrant and unjustifiable. The opprobrium this evokes prompts over-anticipation in error-management mode (false positives being an acceptable cost given the importance of preventing the behaviour). Uncommon behaviour comes to be imagined instead as default and requiring special efforts to thwart. Formerly, folk wisdom that men hold back (whereas women may let fly) would correct such truth inversion, but currently hegemonic feminist ideology instead compounds the evolved cognitive bias. The corollary of hyper-visible male perpetration and female victimhood is rendering hypo-visible — effectively invisible — female perpetration and male victimhood. So it is that there is both more concern for female victims and greater denigration of male perpetrators (Hammock, Richardson & Lamm, 2017), and only when victims are female do adolescent bystanders intervene in dating violence (Debnam & Mauer, 2019). Both boys and girls view girls’ dating aggression as less serious and much the more acceptable (even controlling for level of aggression) (Ramsey, 2017), and justifiable (O’Keefe, 1997). Physical violence towards males is well tolerated (Mumford, Taylor & Giordano, 2020). Almost all (96%) women expect no disapproval for striking a partner (Bartholomew, Schmitt, Yang & Regan, 2013). Many studies old and new show males are viewed as culpable, irrespective of circumstances, even when exclusively the victims.
Male-specific self-inhibition preventing physical aggression towards women was first demonstrated by Felson, Ackerman & Yeon (2003), and then in an important series of vignette experiments (Cross, Tee & Campbell, 2011; Cross & Campbell, 2012), revealing the effect is not just within-couple but in any context where the target would be female. In a hypothetical provocation scenario, men have a threefold lesser propensity to strike a partner than do women (Bartholomew et al., 2013). Male self-inhibition extends to hesitating to reciprocate women’s hostile actions (Szell & Thurner, 2013), commonly so strongly as to be self-silencing (Driscoll, 2011), even in the case of otherwise particularly aggressive men (Felson, Savolainan, Hughes & Ellonen, 2015).
Neural, hormonal and genetic bases of male non-aggression to females
With an adaptation to avoid injuring females being well-evidenced, we should expect phylogenetically ancient highly-conserved male-specific profound neural, hormonal and genetic mechanism. Just such has been sought and found in primitive species: a double-layered inhibitory switch activating mutually exclusive aggression- and courtship-triggering neural clusters (Koganezawa, Kimura & Yamamoto, 2016). This would ensure males encountering females engage in courtship terms, not in dominance-submission mode (as if encountering another male), obviating risk of displacement from male-male aggression. Violence from a female would be experienced as seemingly highly incongruous male-type intra-sexual behaviour, evoking evolved deference (so much so in some species, like ring-tailed lemurs, as formerly to have been mistaken for female dominance). This is congruent with the discovery through experimental gene (TRP2) manipulation of likely the same or related mechanism: a sexing algorithm, whereby an encountered individual is first sexed and if opposite-sex engaged with sexually, or, if same-sex, then engaged in dominance-submission terms (Kimchi, Xu & Dulac, 2009; Stowers et al., 2002).
What specifically prompts male self-inhibition is close physical contact with a female, which triggers a male-specific three-tier neural pathway serving to nearly eliminate aggression towards females (Yuan, Song & Yuan., 2014). As this does not make use of other learningmemory circuitry, it’s clearly a dedicated mechanism for this function. The genetic underpinning of this or the aforesaid mechanisms (that are surely inter-related) is down-regulation of the doublesex (dsx) gene, causing reduced aggression by males towards females — yet elevated aggression towards other males (Beckers, Kijimoto & Moczek, 2017). Moving instead up a mechanistic level to the hormonal, and specifically in humans, oxytocin, the hormone associated with pair-bonding, reduces reactive aggression in men — but not in women — by lowering their sensitivity to provocation (Zhu et al., 2019); congruent with men needing much more provocation to perpetrate IPV than do women (Felson et al., 2015).
Neural, hormonal and genetic bases of female raised aggression to males
The experimental work of Cross, Tee & Campbell (2011) and Cross & Campbell (2012) further and even more interestingly revealed that females not only are uninhibited in cross-sex aggression, but actively prefer physical modes of aggression specifically in a couple context. The neuro-hormonal and genetic underpinning of this too has been found. The above-cited Beckers, Kijimoto & Moczek (2017) additionally find the doublesex gene has sex-dichotomous functionality in conversely producing increased aggression by females towards males (leaving their aggressiveness towards other females unaffected), all with no collateral impact on courtship or mating. The fine-scale neural mechanism for this appears to be in one mode of expression of the doublesex gene in activating a small subset of neurons with no equivalent in the male, that incites high amounts of aggression (Charles, 2019). This same or related circuity has been found independently by Palavicino-Maggio, Chan, McKeller & Kravitz, (2019). Again moving up another mechanistic level to oxytocin, females are prompted to aggress against sexual partners (whereas males are prompted to aggress towards male strangers) (DeWall et al., 2014). In a primate model, both oxytocin and vasopressin have robustly very different effects according to sex, most notably driving female threatening behaviors towards males yet affiliative behaviour to other females (Jiang & Platt, 2018).
A female specialisation and a subset of male aberrational general violence
An evolved male-specific profound mechanism inhibiting male-to-female physical aggression is not at all inconsistent with minority male IPV. Adaptations for various reasons may not be universally exhibited, and in requiring no more than a statistical advantage to become fixed may have in-built incomplete efficacy. Given the profundity of the adaptation here, a failure of male inhibition is unlikely to be caused by counter motivation but instead dysfunction owing to a mental health issue. The latter hardly would specifically compromise inhibition of aggressing against females, instead effecting disinhibition generically. Male IPV thereby would be a subset of an individual male’s unusual general violence and offending. Women’s violence conversely would be expected to be normal but couple-confined.
The criminal data supports this sex dichotomy. Women IPV perpetrators specialise (the term used in the literature) in that form of offending, whereas their male counterparts are generalists (Wolbers & Ackerman, 2020; Bouffard & Zedaker, 2016; Bouffard, Wright, Muftić & Bouffard, 2008; and Feder & Henning, 2005). Thornton, Graham-Kevan & Archer (2016) conclude: “Men perpetrated higher levels of general violence and non-violent offenses than women, whereas women perpetrated significantly more IPV than men”. A history of general physical fighting predicts IPV for men but not for women (Riggs, O’Leary & Breslin, 1990). Comparing male within-couple-only and extra-couple-only violent offenders, there are no statistical differences in their characteristics (Juarros-Basterretxea et al., 2018). A study by Theobald, Farrington, Coid & Piquero (2016) comparing males convicted of violence both outside and inside the home, or either only outside or only inside the home, shows males belonging to all three categories are similarly aberrant.
Female IPV stems from fearing partner defection, male from mental disorder
Men in all the categories exhibited marked psychopathology (mental, particularly anti-social disorder, conceived from a behavioural perspective). Feder & Henning (2005) find much greater anti-social behaviour by male compared to female partner-violent arrestees. A unique predictor of male IPV perpetration is psychopathy (Kiire, 2017). More specifically, the unique predictor may be primary (factor one) psychopathy (Bates, Archer & Graham-Kevan, 2017), or factor one especially and additionally secondary (factor two) psychopathy (Mager, Bresin & Verona, 2014). Alternatively conceiving mental disorder in personality terms, meta-analysis reveals male IPV is due to anti-social personality disorder (PD) (Spencer et al., 2019). Yu et al. (2019) find all forms of mental disorder, notably PD, together account for up to an eight-fold greater risk of male IPV perpetration, especially as manifest in or co-morbid with substance abuse. This is as for male criminals generally: PD is heavily over-represented in the male prison population (Howard, 2016). Note that with the full range of psychiatric disorder being under consideration in Yu et al.’s study (including autism, which shows no association), the correlation with IPV would be much larger still if the range were narrowed. So it is that Thornton, Graham-Kevan & Archer (2010) find that specifically Cluster A PD (paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal) traits predict male IPV; Cluster B (emotionality, essentially), female. The authors claim “this provides some support for the view that men’s IPV has different causes from women’s, and possibly the function of the violence is different for the two sexes” (p 7). Thornton (2012) points out “A is the cluster that is closest to mental illness. It is possible that men need to be more disordered than women before they perpetrate IPV” (p 214). By contrast, “it appears as though women’s IPV may have an element of instrumentality. Previous research has found that instrumental beliefs are related to women’s IPV (e.g. Archer & Graham-Kevan, 2003; Archer & Haigh, 1999; Moffitt et al., 2000)” (p 256). Thornton concludes that whereas male IPV is due to psychopathy, that by females is through anger and the male partner’s attachment avoidance. This has been more recently formulated by Thornton with Graham-Kevan & Archer, (2016), likewise Guay, Sader, Boisvert & Beaudry, (2016), as being for males a lack of self-control, and, for females, anger. IPV for males seems to be aberrant disinhibition; for females, IPV appears to be aggression given a normal free reign.
Researchers attribute the endogenous basis of female anger driving IPV to female concern for the possibility of partner defection, indicated by different but interchangeable terms: relationship anxiety (“not being able to reinforce levels of positivity”) (Ha, Kim & McGill, 2019), anxious attachment (Magelky, 2013), fearful attachment (Bonneville, 2016), or inter-personal dependency (Sharifi et al., 2018). Thornton dubbed it fear of abandonment, as a characterisation of cluster B PD traits, evoked by more normal expression of cluster A PD traits in the male as simply attachment avoidance — a preference for solitude and a dislike of close relationships. This spiral, dubbed the female’s insecure attachment, produces great relationship distress (Muetzelfeld, Megale & Friedlander, 2020), mutually escalating female anger and IPV (Rodriguez, 2000), with only male IPV victimhood (Karakurt, Keiley & Posada, 2013), or mainly male, even for males themselves in treatment for IPV perpetration (Bélanger et al., 2015).
A pattern develops where the female makes some demand to test the male, who declines to respond, instead disengaging and becoming avoidant (Eldridge et al., 2007; Chistensen et al., 2006, following earlier work by several others). Demand-withdrawal is a couple dynamic long known to be female-initiated. Christensen et al. confirm its cross-cultural reality, and that “evidence suggested women wanted greater closeness versus independence in their relationships than did men. Differences between partners in desire for closeness versus independence were associated with greater demand/withdraw communication”. Eldredge et al. show this is the basis of relationship distress, or, as Schrodt, Witt & Shimkowski (2014) and Christensen put it, reduced relationship satisfaction. Accordingly, it is women who start and escalate relationship conflict, want more than men to put the partner in their place, and are less motivated to avoid confrontation (Winstok & Smadar-Dror, 2018).
Overall, male IPV seems not due to something pertaining to typical men, being mental disorder; and therefore, is exhibited by a male small minority only. Telling specific deficits of male IPV offenders include unusual difficulty recognising fear in female faces, mistaking them as happy (Seinfeld, Arroyo-Palacios & Iruretagoyena, 2018). By contrast, the particular origin of female IPV as normal behaviour is apparent, motivated by the need to retain the partner. Women’s especial fear of a threat to the integrity of the pair-bond is revealed by their far more complex neural correlates to cues of relationship conflict (Flanagan et al., 2019).
Women’s greater mate-retention behaviours
That partner retention is more a female than a male imperative is apparent from mate retention tactics being mainly either female-specific and/or used mostly by women: vigilance, concealment of mate, monopolisation of time, jealousy induction, punishing threatened infidelity, emotional manipulation, love & care, derogation of competitors, verbal possession signals, derogation of mate, and appearance enhancement (Buss & Shackelford, 1997). Men instead employ resource display, possessive ornamentation (giving such as rings), commitment manipulation (eg, proposing marriage), submission, and self-debasement (giving in all the time) and — to other men envisaged as rivals, not to partners — threats and sometimes violence. The male forms conspicuously are rather more indirect. The findings replicate and build on those of Buss (1988), and accord with Kardum, Hudek-Knežević & Gračanin’s (2016), who stress direct guarding, manipulation, negative inducements and public possession signalling as particularly female ploys. Findings are robust in extending beyond face-to-face to on-line contact (Lopes et al., 2017). Male tactics tackle (potential) rivals rather than the partner, so IPV requires displacement, which would be de facto rather than IPV per se.
Women’s greater special need for pair-bonding as an ultimate root of female IPV
The greater range, number and use of female mate-retention behaviours accords with the pair-bond context necessarily being central to the aetiology of female-predominant IPV. Human pair-bonding evolved not to serve male paternity confidence but to maximise female fertility. This is achieved in effect by projecting forward in time female peak fertility through offspring being repeatedly sired by the same high-genetic-quality male acquired when the female is at her attractive peak, together with the presence of the male partner denying social/sexual access by low mate-value males (thereby allowing, even facilitating extra-pair sex with males still higher in mate-value than the partner) (Moxon, 2013). Males benefit in acquiring more fertile females than could be obtained promiscuously, but given variation in female fertility is much less than that in male gene quality, it’s a far weaker fertility enhancement than for the female. Consequently, women value the pair-bond far more than do men. Hence the extraordinary lengths traditionally women go to acquire a high mate-value pair-bond partner in vying with each other to honestly signal future fidelity, by face-body veiling or FGM (Moxon, 2017); also the intense focus women have on their pair-bond in their everyday communications, revealed in major sex differences in phone usage patterns (Palchykov et al., 2012), and in women’s far greater worry about infidelity (Shattuck et al., 2012), notwithstanding the male being the only partner at risk of raising another’s offspring. (For further citations and discussion, see Moxon, 2013, p8.)
Further aetiology in dissuading sex: hormonal partner-directed hostility in PMS
Further female IPV aetiology is surely apparent in premenstrual syndrome, with PMS being partner-directed hostility: irritability, moodiness and temporary relationship dissatisfaction (Fehlner, 2018), expressed by a large or overwhelming majority of women (many studies), and often used in mitigation of violent crime. That symptoms follow shortly after the female fertile window, and are partner-directed, is hitherto unexplained. Ziomkiewicz-Wichar (2017) reviewed but found wanting all hypotheses of PMS function. Reiber’s (2009) claim that it is the relative low mood in the shadow of hormonal mood uplift would explain neutral but hardly the evident highly negative mood; and Gillings’ (2014), that it serves to dissolve “infertile” pair-bonds, fails to account for the timing of negative mood within the cycle. There is abrupt decline in sexual intercourse after the fertile window (Wilcox et al., 2004), but its basis is that sex would severely disrupt implantation of any fertilised egg (Steiner, Pritchard, Young & Herring, 2014; in line with old work by others). Dissuading the male partner from initiating counter-productive sex would provide an important evolved function for PMS, and Gillings’ evidence can be marshalled in support of this hypothesis. This is the first presentation of an implantation-failure avoidance hypothesis of PMS.
The hormonal basis of PMS would be expected to involve estradiol, given its fluctuating levels through the female cycle peak during the luteal (non-fertile) phase, coinciding with PMS; also that levels directly relate to symptom severity (Seippel & Bäckström, 1998), and are negatively associated with women’s relationship evaluation and sexual desire towards their partners (Righetti et al., 2020). PMS may be the extreme of a spectrum of less obvious behaviour, in that estradiol levels rise not just through the luteal but also the follicular phase, falling only at ovulation — also rising steadily after pregnancy until term. It’s generally thought estradiol lowers serotonin, creating the irritability and anger keeping partners at bay when sex would not (or is less likely to) lead to conception, or sex would be damaging. Estradiol is high or rising at all times other than at ovulation (when sex would lead to conception) and menstruation (which itself deters both parties from sex). The consequent hostility through much of the female cycle to dissuade sex, though seemingly an opposite motivation to partner retention, is likewise grounded in the ultimate goal of increasing female fertility. The female needs both to keep the partner pair-bonded and to channel his sexual attentions away from when it might be damaging (or useless) and into the fertile window. Conflict between these motivations may yet further drive female IPV. (Note that mixed data about estradiol and aggression is re trait aggression — general predilection to aggression — not specifically aggression in a pair-bond context.)
A fit with the new theory herein: dyadic study of young couples reveals the reality of IPV
To see the fit with data of the new original theory herein outlined, a review follows of new and recent thoroughgoing dyadic studies, which usefully entail cross-checking data in holistic, dynamic overview, exposing the direction, initiation, non-reciprocation and skew in mutuality of IPV. The new theory would predict far greater, even overwhelmingly greater female vis-a-vis male IPV perpetration, both unilaterally and in skewed bilateral IPV. However, notwithstanding better methodology, confounding with male victimhood under-reporting bias surely persists, and likely also a degree of anti-male discriminatory recording bias, together masking data to leave apparent substantially greater female perpetration rather than overwhelmingly so; but the latter is what would be indicated. Most recently, Hines, Straus & Douglas (2020), in their paper, Using dyadic concordance types to understand frequency of intimate partner violence, find “for physical IPV, severe psychological IPV, and controlling behaviors, bidirectional IPV was the most common, followed by female-only perpetration. Within bidirectionally aggressive relationships, women committed significantly more physical IPV and controlling behavior”. With a marked imbalance of perpetration in bidirectional couples, overall the pattern would appear to be essentially female-unilateral, albeit in some couples the male responds to a lesser degree in kind. Similar emerged investigating young married couples (Leonard et al., 2014), even though this was not hypothesised. After first finding that wife-only violent couples were five times as prevalent as their husband-only counterparts, further (cluster) analysis revealed not only that supposed both-aggressive couples feature predominantly female violence, but a wholly unexpected type emerged: “… a cluster with a very high frequency of aggression in which the woman engages in substantially more aggression than the man is of considerable interest. This finding is consistent with a number of studies (e.g. Robertson & Murachver, 2007; Whitaker et al., 2007; Williams & Frieze, 2005). Similar to these other studies, this cluster was more prevalent than the cluster of high frequency aggression in which the man engages in more aggression” (Leonard et al., 2014).
Reviewing a decade ago the then limited number of thoroughgoing dyadic studies, Bartholomew & Cobb (2011) came to three inter-related conclusions: “Women are more likely than men: (a) to initiate violence in heterosexual relationships (eg, Archer, 2000; Ferguson et al., 2005), (b) to report that they would be violent in response to unacceptable partner behavior (eg, Winstok, 2006a), and (c) to perpetrate IPV when only one partner is violent (eg, Whitaker, 2007)” (Batholomew & Cobb, 2011). Strong evidence of female unilaterality comes from a review by Langhinrichsen-Rohling, Misra, Selwyn & Rohling (2012) of all post-1990 studies investigating bi- and unidirectionality in adolescents and young adults. Of the roughly half of IPV that was unidirectional, twice as many couples were female-only, and this was the case across four out of the five sample types they reviewed: all bar those from police reports (which obviously would be very heavily biased by male under-reporting of victimhood).
Dyadic investigation of adolescents and young adults should be particularly instructive, as IPV when initially emerging likely is in least-complicated form. Combining an holistic view and earliest manifestation is important in establishing aetiology. Most recently, Reyes, Foshee, Chen & Ennett (2019) find 12% of girls are perpetrators but only 5% of boys, with a male sub-group exclusively victimised (not returning aggression); the authors citing Goncy et al., (2016) as discovering the same pattern. Johnson, Giordano, Manning & Longmore (2015) found that the perpetrator-only group is overwhelmingly female (90%), with, again, a twofold sex differential overall in perpetration; for 21-24-year-olds, 29% female, 15% male. A study of late adolescents by Testa, Hoffman & Leonard (2010) showed just 1% of couples featured male-only violence, as against 14% female-only; and of the 20% mutually violent, 69% were predominantly female-violent, with a mere 7% mostly male. The authors note this is consistent with studies over the previous decade. For example, O’Leary & Slep (2003) found just 8% of boys but 15% of girls engaged in physical violence, and girls were considerably more likely than boys to persist with it.
Another though rare study mode here is simply to observe interactions; the first ever being of adolescents (Capaldi & Crosby, 1997): 6% of males and 16% of females perpetrated physical IPV considered by the coders to be not playful; in only 4% of couples was it male-only, whereas in 17% it was female-only. A particular use of observation studies is establishing who initiates, as was the focus of Capaldi, Kim & Shortt (2007) in finding 18-24-year-old females three to four times more likely to initiate than males.
Specifically regarding adolescents, an at least twofold overall sex differential of excess female over male perpetration is a very robust conclusion. Meta-analytic review by Wincentak, Connolly & Card (2017) showed overall prevalence rates for perpetration of 13% for boys and, for girls, 25%. A similar twofold sex differential, likewise looking at adolescents, is found by Taquette & Monteiro (2016), Calvete, Orue, Gamez-Guadix & López de Arroyabe (2016) and Taylor & Mumford (2016). That this is not culture-specific is shown, for example, by a study of Latino youth by Reyes, Foshee, Chen & Ennett (2017): 22% of boys reported victimhood as against only 9% of girls, whereas perpetration was reported by 17% of girls and a mere 2% of boys — sex differentials of twofold-plus and eightfold-plus respectively. Examination of teenage couples over a decade revealed no change in the considerably higher rates of victimisation of boys over that of girls (Shaffer et al., 2018). The pattern is also confirmed in a study using multiple focus groups: “both males and females explained that dating violence is more often perpetrated by females” (Taylor, Calkins, Xia & Dalla, 2017). Self-report by adolescent females of greater perpetration than males was previously found by Foshee et al. (2009) and La Greca & Harrison (2005).
Perhaps the most comprehensive dyadic research on adolescent couples is by Burk & SeiffgeKrenke (2015) and Seiffge-Krenke & Burk (2015). The breakdown of their dyad types is instructive. The most common (20%), physical-female, are of unilaterally violent females receiving little if any male aggressive response. Next most numerous is the aggressive-female type (18%), where females are both psychologically and physically aggressive. Only third in prevalence is the corresponding aggressive-male type (14%). Mutually aggressive couples are a mere 6%, with the remainder (42%) being non-aggressive. The preponderance here of unilaterally and more-or-less unilaterally violent females over males is almost threefold, with more than half of females being violent. Most tellingly, Burk & Seiffge-Krenke conclude: “In all of the dyads with aggressive females, irrespective of whether they were both psychologically and physically aggressive or only psychologically aggressive, male partners did not respond with aggression. This points to gender-specific functions and interpretations of aggression.” Seiffge-Krenke & Burk (2015) elaborate:
A large proportion in our sample consisted of dyads with one-sided aggressive profiles in which females were more aggressive than their male partners. The lack of aggressive responses of their male partners suggests a gender-specific pattern in the evaluation and application of aggression as a way of resolving relationship conflicts. … Male self-silencing as a pattern of dealing with female aggression has been consistently found among married and cohabiting adult couples (Page, Stevens & Galvin, 1996), and according to our findings, seems to have an early onset.
The data across these studies is consistent in showing substantially greater female IPV perpetration in whatever pattern, congruent with the new original theory here outlined, providing independent support.
Conclusion re partner violence
A comprehensive bottom-up multi-level new theory of IPV is available to address the failure of current theory to fit the data. From fundamental biological principle through genetic, neural and hormonal mechanisms underpinning greater female mate-retention behaviour to assuage attachment anxiety, it is shown that female special reliance on pair-bonding is the basis of understanding IPV. The strength and number of lines of evidence point not just to the predominance of female perpetration but its distinct functionality and aetiology, none of which applies to male IPV. In having no apparent function, being the result of dysfunction, and more by displacement than targetting, male perpetration is better considered the aberrational minority de facto counterpart to female perpetration of IPV per se.
ONLY MALE GENITAL MODIFICATION IS A FORM OF CONTROL; ITS FEMALE COUNTERPART ORIGINATED AS A FEMALE-INITIATED & MAINTAINED COMPETITIVE PLOY
Genital modification functions proximally in both sexes to denude sexual sensitivity, reducing propensity to engage in sex; impacting specifically extra-pair sex. Distal function diverges: male GMo is controlling (lowering young males’ competitiveness with high-status males for young females), whereas female GMo is ‘honest signalling’ of future fidelity (in contest for high-genetic-quality pair-bond partners). Only FGMo originated as a benefit for ‘cut’ individuals. FGMo is both performed and advocated overwhelmingly by females, and does not serve alpha males (in that they can have few concerns about partner fidelity), actually dis-benefiting them (because of impaired sexuality of current and potential pair-bond and extra-pair sex partners). With no basis for male imposition (‘male control’) to explain FGMo, it can only be intra-sexual.
[The expression genital modification is here used in preference to the pejorative mutilation or still slightly loaded cutting, in accord with an emerging scientific convention to resist what had become usual inappropriate moral / ideological imposition into what should be objective study.]
As is well understood by evolutionary biologists, a bodily structure directly involved with reproduction (the most crucial function of all) must have evolved to be highly efficient, and continues to be particularly strongly selected. Genital (especially male genital) morphology, being concerned directly with fertilisation efficiency, is subject to keener pressure to adapt than is any other morphology (Eberhard, 1985, 2010; Hosken & Stockley, 2004). In consequence, any such structure that has remained essentially unaltered and very similar across a wide range of species clearly cannot be vestigial and instead must have a honed adaptive value; and any crude surgical modification is bound to produce dysfunction, let alone no improvement. This is very much the case for the foreskin (the male prepuce); its being ubiquitous across not only all hominids but all primate species and all mammals (bar two egg-laying anomalies). This applies likewise to the clitoral hood (the female prepuce), which develops in-embryo along parallel lines to the foreskin in the male, as a most highly innervated sheath for erectile tissue essential for sexual sensitivity; the two structures being homologous (Cold & McGrath, 1999). Other structures involved in more extreme GMo (which occurs for both sexes) likewise are homologous. Yet almost all of the various suggestions for the origin of (male) ‘circumcision’ (and the forms just as extreme or more so than female types) fall foul of this basic logic, especially in respect of putative dysfunction in the case of the male prepuce. Logic, though, is not to be expected, either in the case of ‘traditional’ peoples or those in developed societies adhering to a religious doctrine or ideological line. The strong motivation to provide explanation for what is psychologically needed and to avoid ‘cognitive dissonance’ understandably tends to produce implausible rationalisation. This very much applies in respect of the practise introduced in modern times in the UK, USA and other developed nations, but which uniquely is still normative in the USA.
Common to how those within traditional and developed-world nineteenth century (and some within even contemporary societies) view(ed) MGMo – and how some academics view from outside –have been various claims that the foreskin causes hygiene problems: by trapping particles of dirt or facilitating infection (whether specifically sexually transmitted or by more general bacteria or viruses). These arguments are not mirrored with respect to the albeit much smaller female prepuce. It is understandable, though, how originally there was perceived a need to surgically intervene in respect of (if not to ablate) the foreskin, in that boys normally are born with the foreskin tight and non-retractable (phimosis) (eg, Shahid, 2012), and only in the course of development does it become retractable. Usually this occurs between the ages of five and ten (British Association of Urological Surgeons, 2017), and though in some cases much later, the prevalence of adult phimosis is only two percent (eg, Gairdner, 1949). [Most of these cases are of a tiny remaining piece of tissue causing adhesion at one point of the glans to the foreskin, in which category is the author, whom as an adult was offered the very minor procedure of a simple tiny cut just of the adhesion-causing tissue, but advised that there was no need, given no discomfort of any kind (quite the opposite).] That the age range for the onset of retractability is wide indicates an adaptation which is not necessary to be precise; rather for the change simply to be more age-appropriate than neonatal, in preparation for and well ahead of when sexual activity would be anticipated to commence. Staged development extending well beyond that which is in-embryo to delay something until it becomes more age-appropriate is a standard aspect of development, but there is often failure to understand this even today. Failing to appreciate that phimosis is usually temporary (and often not a problem, and in any case usually easy to rectify) may well lead to pathologising the infant stage of the foreskin as supposedly a permanent problem. This then can lead to notions of entrapment of particles or infective agents, or difficulty in what otherwise would be natural removal of secretions that could remain in situ and, it may be supposed, cause infection.
If infection or abrasion risks ever were salient, then the foreskin would have evolved to counter them, and it is to be expected that the foreskin indeed may in part have evolved to serve such function. And in being an ‘outer skin’, it hardly could not protect against damage to the skin integrity of what it sheaths. The snug-fitting mucosal membrane of the inner foreskin protects the glans from dirt and abrasion, keeping it bathed in a fluid, smegma, with anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agents (Van Howe, 1998; Fleiss, Hodges & Van Howe, 1998; Prakash et al, 1982). Hygiene claims have long been discounted, as Wilson (2008) reviews and adds further referenced arguments, pointing out that a supposed protective function of MGMo is contradicted by the procedure almost always being delayed until adolescence; that despite the universal issue of contaminating particles, most societies do not have MGMo; and that in those species where, through promiscuity, STIs pose the greatest threat, the male prepuce actually is most highly developed. Hygiene claims, then, are highly implausible, and appear to be thinly veiled translation of sexual disgust and/or usual contempt for the male rooted in biological ‘policing’ of male sexual access (see below). [This applies not least to the notion that ‘circumcision’ somehow protects against rather than facilitates HIV transmission, which was a predictable resurrection of the idea a century earlier re syphilis, and is no more worthy of affording space to consider.] There is anyway no conceivable way that much positive difference could be made by crude surgical removal of part of an organ; and the very notion otherwise itself betrays justifications for GMo to be bizarrely hopeful rather than rational.
Some of the beliefs held by those undergoing MGMo in ‘traditional’ cultures are clearly standard magic ideation, and are just as transparently rationalisation. Cutting as a form of sacrifice to placate a deity or to ‘ensure’ fertility – echoing female shedding of menstrual blood, or the part(s) of the sexual organ held to be symbolic being used as an item of sympathetic magic – or to render the individual more surely male (or female) in removing parts that oddly are taken somehow to be attributes of the other sex. These appear to be latter-day explanations for a lost origin: secondary in aetiology, in the wake of the practise becoming ubiquitous (maintained in terms of a frequency-dependent advantage), with either no relation to the founding purpose or at most an interesting distortion of it. This is also the case with any notion of the ‘circumcised’ penis being used to signify group identity (as an ‘in-group’ marker) – a particularly strange idea given that in almost all cultures, in the past as today, the penis normally is hidden. Hardly an account of an origin, but nonetheless it may be an indication of an aspect of the origin, providing a useful clue; as might be the usual appreciation of MGMo as a rite of adolescent passage despite, in some societies, the procedure normally is neonatal.
As a scientific hypothesis, it has been suggested that MGMo is an ‘honest signal’ of commitment to male-female co-operation in the willingness of the individual to endure the pain of the procedure (Rowanchilde, 1996), but it is a somewhat bizarre notion in more than one respect. It is difficult to see that ablation of a key part of the anatomy concerning reproduction, the most vital function of all, would be simply to cause pain, rather than that the pain is just a by-product of the operation. Why instead would the pain not be generated by sacrificing non-functional sensitive visible body parts, such as (for males) the nipples? Then there is a question of why there might be a shortfall in cooperativeness by the male pair-bond partner, when regular sex is the main feature and ‘glue’ of pair-bonding; and notwithstanding how possibly it would be addressed by reducing his sexual sensitivity, and in turn his interest in sex with his pair-bond partner. Rowanchilde’s suggestion might make more sense regarding co-operation within the group as a whole, or intra-sexually within the male hierarchy. The obvious context is warfare, where total co-operation between warriors, whether in defence or attack, is vital to survival.
This was proposed by Sosis, Kress & Boster (2007), as part of a general hypothesis to explain the various forms of body scarification, on the grounds that it would be important to prevent men from defecting to another group. Yet this is another strange notion, when one considers that ancestrally (and in many places even in historic times) males would anticipate that individually encroaching on a rival group’s territory would risk injury if not death, such was the hostility between neighbouring groups through the standard pattern of males raiding for females and even to kill all the males so as to take over all of the women – the pattern famously discovered in chimpanzees (Nishidsa, 1979), thought also to be the basis of human warfare (Chagnon, 1968). [The human species necessarily is patrilocal (that is, males stay for life within their natal community) (Murdock, 1967; Korotayev, 2003), with male sociality being whole-group inclusiveness and at the same time antipathy to other groups (for a review, see Moxon, 2016).]
To test the hypothesis, sixty small-scale ‘traditional’ societies were examined for correlation between the presence / absence / extent of permanent visible marks – scars, piercings and MGMo – and, on the one hand, mating intensity, and on the other, frequency of warfare. Sosis et al found that frequency of warfare was the better fit. However, in examining their data, Wilson (2008) found a clear association in respect of scars and piercings but not regarding MGMo; pointing out that MGMo hardly would be a viable identifying mark with its being neither displayed nor specific to just one local group. In running a test of his own data, Wilson again found that the distribution of MGMo is not predicted by the frequency of warfare, even though other forms of male scarification do conform to this model. An explanation of MGMo in terms of ‘honestly signalled’ group solidarity therefore appears not to be supported and not to be viable.
The premise has been that the supposed minor physical or significant cultural benefit MGMo confers is not outweighed by the implications of removing the foreskin; which, therefore, has to be presumed to be inconsequential. On the contrary, the disbenefit of MGMo (just as with FGMo) is readily apparent in the very procedure itself, especially in ancestral times before any understanding of pathogen transmission. The danger of fatal infection in the tropical / semi-tropical climes where MGMo has been traditionally practised is as it would be for incision anywhere on the body, and cannot but have precluded its arising in the absence of more substantial utility than any to which MGMo usually is ascribed. More particularly, sexual function hardly can be other than compromised in some way by surgical intervention on the normal organ – with an impact on the female partner as well as the male owner (see below). This could not be better asserted by advocates themselves of so-called ‘medical’ ‘circumcision’ in developed nations in the nineteenth century, when an avowed basis of the procedure was to limit or prevent masturbation (Darby, 2003). Indeed, it is transparently from the involvement of the foreskin in masturbatory pleasure that the notion of physical uncleanliness in retaining the foreskin arose.
There is now ample research regarding the properties and function of the foreskin in terms of its sexual functioning, to establish that it’s essential to the penis’ normal working and to sexual intercourse. Most importantly, the penilocavernosus reflex, crucial to sexual excitability and orgasm,recently has been found to be rarely experienced by ‘circumcised’ men, confirming previous observations. The author of the paper writes that the reason is “the elimination of the most sensitive part of the penis (ie, the foreskin), and to a lesser extent, desensitization of sensory receptors in the penile glans” (p584) (Podnar, 2011). The latter seems to be due to what is routinely attested anecdotally by ‘circumcised’ males to be the ‘drying up’ of the glans known as ‘keratinisation’, as a result of permanent non-sheathing by the musocal inner surface of the foreskin; though the experimental difficulties of longitudinal study appears to have left the phenomenon devoid of formal research. There is no such problem regarding the elimination of the foreskin: it has long been known to be the most highly innervated part of the penis (Winkelmann, 1959; Moldwin & Valderrama, 1989), and more recently this was found to be because the foreskin, unlike the glans, contains fine-touch receptors (Taylor, Lockwood & Taylor, 1996). That these receptors and their confinement to the prepuce is the main basis of penile sexual sensitivity has been confirmed(Sorrels et al, 2007). This results in ‘circumcised’ men having decreased sexual pleasure, lower orgasm intensity, and discomfort, pain, numbness or other unusual, unpleasant sensations of the penile shaft, as well as needing more effort to achieve orgasm (Bronselaer et al, 2013). This effort — the penis being thrust harder, deeper and being pulled out of and back into the vagina – takesout vaginal lubricatory secretions, causing excessive, uncomfortable penile-vaginal friction and dryness; in comparison to sex with an ‘uncut’ male, when what is in effect an outer skin of the penis (the foreskin) stays much more with the vaginal wall whilst the penal shaft slides in and out of what is its own skin, as it were (O’Hara & O’Hara, 1999). This results in ‘circumcised’ males having problems regarding orgasm and their female partners frequently experiencing a range of sexual difficulties: an overall sense of incomplete sexual needs fulfillment, notably through failing to achieve orgasm and dyspareunia (pain during intercourse) (Frisch, Lindholm & Grønbæk, 2011).
That the locus of penile sexual sensitivity is in the foreskin is amply researched sufficient to be conclusive, notwithstanding detracting papers. The controversy over ‘circumcision’ in the USA, given that it remains a normative practice, is so fierce that studies may be predicated on false or poor understanding, that either inadvertently or by design feature major methodological flaws. Specific areas or cell types other than what are the actually sensitive ones may be tested, or what is tested is relevant but inappropriate properties may be measured; non-applicable measures may betaken, or testing is done when the penis is non-erect; etc. The upshot can be that conclusions do not follow logically from the results, and/or abstracts do not fully follow from conclusions.Publications taking issue with MGMo causing sexual dysfunction can now expect direct denunciations within the same journal. No less than four attacking letters from fellow researchers were published in The Journal of Urology to greet the publication in the same journal of Bossio, Pukall & Steele’s 2016 paper, ‘Examining Penile Sensitivity in Neonatally Circumcised and Intact Men Using Quantitative Sensory Testing’ (Frisch, 2016; Rotta, 2016; Van Howe et al, 2016; Morris & Krieger, 2016). The fierceness of the controversy stems from the ‘cognitive dissonance’ in the pro-’circumcision’ mindset needing to be salved: the great irony that the contemporary denial that ‘circumcision’ denudes sexual sensitivity is to try to prevent the falling into disrepute of a procedure that was instigated over a century earlier for the express purpose of denuding sexual sensitivity, so as to curtail masturbation.
A theory of MGMo origin based on reduced sexual sensitivity was put forward twenty years ago by Immerman & Mackey (1997, 1998). In the abstract of their first paper they describe MGMo’s function as “lowering excitability and distractability quotients – sexual arousal – of pubescent males, i.e., biasing young males more toward increased tractability which would enhance group efforts and less toward individual goals of amorous exchanges”. Neurological data presented in the study shows that neonatal procedure over time leads to atrophy or reorganisation of brain circuitry concerned with sexual excitement, thereby greatly compounding the effect of the procedure. The authors alternatively state their position as that ‘circumcision’ functions to render the male “less sexually excitable and distractable, and, hence, more amenable to his group’s authority figures”.Further expanding, in their second paper, Immerman & Mackey state (again, in the abstract) that FGMo renders “young men of a social group (a) to be slightly more tractable in executing corporate activities beneficial to the community and (b) to be slightly more restrained sexually and more cooperative in the pair bond”. This is an hypothesis of imposition, without individual advantage. There may or may not be problems with such a conceptualisation, as will be explored in due course; but the more immediate problem with Immerman & Mackay’s position – just as with Rowanchilde and Sosis, Kress & Boster – is that it does not address the reproductive implications, which would be expected to be primary in the case of the involvement of a sexual organ.
Given the strong evidence for the negative impact of MGMo on both male sexual sensitivity and female partner satisfaction during sex, then it follows that there is likely to be not only a diminution in the propensity of both the ‘cut’ male and a female partner to engage in sex, but in turn that this would tend to reduce the likelihood of impregnation and consequent reproduction. This might be expected to differ according to context; the type of sexual encounter. For pair-bonded partners, where sex may be initiated freely by either partner and be a matter of routine, and given that younger (if not also older) couples have sex far more regularly than is required to ensure conception; then a lower inclination to sex probably will not have much of an impact on conception rate. With anyway the female rather than the male pair-bond partner being the likely limiting factor regarding sex, then a diminution in male (or mainly in male) ardour may have little impact. Extra-pair sex is a very different matter, in that it often takes far more effort to secure, and may well require secrecy, involving real, sometimes major potential risk, thereby considerably raising the threshold of the level of temptation required to either initiate or accept (in comparison to sex within a pair-bond). A reduced level of general inclination to engage in sex that would be quite enough to prompt responding to or initiating pair-bond sex, may then not be sufficient in respect of extra-pair sex, taking into account the difficulties. The lowering of sexual inclination may be ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’, as it were. The upshot is that reproduction circumventing pair-bonding is undermined, leaving reproduction through pair-bonding bolstered.
A different hypothesis concerning extra-pair vis-a-vis pair-bond sex is put forward by Wilson (2008)(in the same paper as he dismissed the hypothesis that MGMo serves to honestly signal co-operation). He sees MGMo as producing not a reduction in extra-pair sex, but a lower rate of conception through lessened efficiency of insemination and impaired sperm competition; both as a result of the change in penis morphology that is MGMo. In other words, MGMo increases the ratio of copulations to impregnations (fertilisations). Wilson then argues that this in effect disproportionately reduces extra-pair sex because whereas within marriage men can easily compensate by copulating more frequently, this is not the case with respect to extra-pair sex, given the high marginal cost of finding more extra-pair sex opportunities (as outlined above). Here, it is not that the rate of extra-pair sex decreases; it’s that the rate of sex within marriage increases.However, this requires that males would have some implicit mechanism to fine-tune their frequency of copulation to accord with some set level of reproductive output – and this having nothing to do with experiencing a reduced sexual sensitivity (which Wilson does not discuss, cite or even mention). That’s implausible, and there is no scientific evidence for such a mechanism. An outlandish aspect to an hypothesis, such as this is, suggests an attempt to salvage an argument too far. It might be speculated that as Wilson was writing a decade ago, at a time before the impact of MGMo on sexual sensitivity was scientifically conclusive, then he may have chosen not to base hypothesis on what then perhaps was perceived to be a controversial line of argument. If, instead, Wilson had done so, then using the insight that inherent in the different circumstances of pair-bond as against extra-pair sex, a factor serving generically to lessen motivation to have sex will disproportionately reduce the extra-pair manifestation; Wilson presumably would have arrived at the simpler position outlined above. As it was, Wilson was obliged to develop an additional layer of theory, and thought he had a viable hypothesis in terms of insemination efficiency and sperm competition.
Unfortunately, this relies on the assumption that any alteration to penis morphology likely will have this impact, when it is clear only in the case of rarer, extreme forms of MGMo (the only forms re which Wilson cites evidence), not the simple ablation of the foreskin as in ‘circumcision’. Wilson relies on a general conclusion that the shape and evolved accoutrements of the penis must serve sperm competition, and therefore that any damage will impede this. However, specifically the foreskin has clear functions not concerning sperm competition. According to Gallup, Burch & Mitchell (2006): “As a consequence of removing the foreskin the circumference of the shaft posterior to the glans may be slightly reduced, causing the coronal ridge to be more pronounced and creating a larger area for semen to collect where it could be scooped back away from the cervix” (p15). In this way ‘circumcision’ would actually enhance sperm competition, the opposite of Wilson’s contention, which would have the effect, in turn, of increasing the likelihood of impregnation specifically through extra-pair sex. Still more, with the absence of the intense sexual sensitivity produced by the glans being sheathed in the prepuce, as cited above, there is much more and longer thrusting in the case of the ‘circumcised’ organ (O’Hara & O’Hara, 1999), removing correspondingly more semen; again furthering sperm competition – and, again, the opposite of Wilson’s contention, having the effect of increasing the chance of conception via extra-pair over pair-bond sex. This is in line with the finding that men (that is, men generically, not excluding the ‘intact’) thrust more vigorously and deeper in sex with a pair-bond partner in reaction to suspicion of her extra-pair sexual activity; the only feasible interpretation of which being that this serves to displace the competitor’s sperm (Pham, DeLecce & Shackelford 2017).
In the light of this contra evidence and a lack of supporting evidence for Wilson to cite, then MGMo – or the most common form of it, at least — does not produce a significant difference along the lines Wilson suggests. There are no observations within Wilson’s paper (in respect of how MGMo relates to polygyny or geographical distance between co-wives; the public nature of the procedure, and that there is no family involvement) that are not alternatively consistent with MGMo causing reduced sexual sensitivity, which in turn, without any additional mechanism, causes a disproportionate reduction in the likelihood of engaging in extra-pair sex, as outlined above. It would anyway be more parsimonious, then, to leave Wilson’s speculation to one side, though to agree that the upshot is that MGMo reduces extra-pair sex conception rates, but that this is simply through reduced sexual sensitivity necessarily producing a reproductive skew away from that via extra-pair sex, because of the different conditions pertaining to extra-pair vis-a-vis pair-bond sex. This is more straightforward, mechanistically, and is well evidenced.
The next question is of what putative advantage there may be to individuals to compensate for their loss of sexual impetus and likely consequent reduction in overall reproductive output (fertility). In this regard, Wilson posits in his abstract that “men who display this signal of sexual obedience may gain social benefits if married men are selected to offer social trust and investment preferentially to peers who are less threatening to their paternity”. As possible benefits, Wilson suggests “respect, status and access to weapons, shelter or tribal lore”. (p158) The scenario Wilson envisages is that of young males albeit with high genetic quality, but as yet not fully assessed and tested in a way that translates into stable high rank (or much in the way of rank at all) in the male status hierarchy. In the absence of rank-passported sexual access, these young males, Wilson presumes, may attempt and perhaps even succeed in subverting hierarchy through extra-pair sex with the pair-bond partners of high-ranking males. The proposition is that married males established high up the hierarchy in some way ‘buy off’ the younger males about to start ascending it, who then bide their time until their access to sex is legitimate, as it were. Yet it is hard to imagine a form of assistance that would not manifest directly or indirectly in the upstart males more quickly gaining rank, thereby feeding the very problem that the attempt supposedly is to starve. Perhaps a compromise would ensue, along the lines of the political argument that it’s preferable to have your half-foe / half-friend on the inside of the tent excreting out, as it were, than vice-versa.
The bigger problem with this rationale is that effectively un-ranked or low-ranked young males, who are only at best potential high-rankers of the future (and, therefore, perceivable merely as potentially of high genetic quality), are unlikely to be of interest as extra-pair sex partners to females who, in being pair-bonded with high-status males, must correspondingly be of very high fertility. [Unlike men, women raise their criteria for sexually selecting an extra-pair sex partner (Szepsenwol, Mikulincer & Birnbaum, 2013). This is because it makes no sense, when normally impregnation would be by the pair-bond partner (whom the woman selected expressly for his high genetic quality), for the woman then to be impregnated by another male who does not possess still higher genetic quality. That this is a profound, biologically based phenomenon is indicated by the same phenomenon apparent in females of other species (e.g., Cochas et al, 2006; Kempenaers et al, 1992). The wives of apex males hardly are likely to risk the integrity of their prized pair-bonds for extra-pair sex unless there were very clear benefits of being impregnated by the extra-pair partner, and here it would be very unlikely that there would be a benefit at all, let alone a substantial one.]
A compensatory advantage to undergoing MGMo there most certainly is, albeit a ‘negative’ one, in the avoidance of being sanctioned for non-compliance; but this cannot come into play until MGMo is already well established. It is a frequency-dependent property, and therefore cannot account for the emergence of the practice.
More fundamentally, it may be mistaken to posit the need for a compensatory advantage at the individual level. Recent advances in theoretical consideration have transcended the long stale debate over group versus individual level selection, and quite apart from the reformulation of group selection by Nowak, Tarnita & Wilson (2010) to address the clear objection to its ‘naive’ version, which Dawkins famously and rightly argued. There is no need to accept even reformulated ‘group selection’. Now-standard ‘population genetics’ models (Keller, 1999), alternatives involving population structure (Powers, Penn & Watson, 2011; Lion, Jansen & Day, 2011) and ‘lineage selection’ (Nunney, 1999) are all mathematically equivalent, and, therefore, empirically interchangeable with each other and a ‘levels of selection’ analysis, to straddle the conceptual divide between selection acting on the individual and ‘population genetics’. This is an appreciation of ‘inclusive fitness’: that selection acts in effect at between the ‘individual’ and ‘group’ levels (see Okasha, 2008), through the genetic similarity of individuals within the local population in their being (usually) distant (if not closer) relatives. [As to which theoretical line (or combination thereof) is adopted is a matter of philosophy rather than science.] This understanding supersedes the controversy in the wake of the arguments popularised by Dawkins in The Selfish Gene that served as a significant corrective to wayward thinking about evolution at the time the book was published, almost half a century ago. Furthermore, even the polarisation between the various mutually non-exclusive ‘inclusive fitness’ models and reformulated group selection (that the publication of the Nowak, Tarnita & Wilson paper sparked) appears to be reconcilable (Birch, 2017).
This aside, a problem is not only that regarding each individual male, MGMo seems nothing but a particularly unwelcome imposition, but neither is there any immediately apparent basis for such imposition, with the phenomenon not being of use – indeed being a distinct disadvantage — even to the alpha male, never mind lowly men. He wouldn’t gain from the other males being further inhibited from obtaining extra-pair sex, because the most fertile females would not have any sexual interest in other males, in that all would be of lower genetic quality than himself. To reiterate: women raise their ‘standards’ regarding extra-pair sex, given that sex is pointless with men of the same or lower genetic quality than that of their pair-bond partner (see above). Furthermore, this is reinforced in that the very act of extra-pair sex very seriously threatens the integrity of the pair-bond, which is vital to the female. Pair-bonding in effect projects forwards in time the woman’s peak attractiveness (fertility), thereby to maximise fertility (reproductive output in terms of maximum genetic quality and number of offspring) (Moxon, 2013). Perhaps higher-ranking though sub-alpha males in coalition might be able to impose MGMo as a universal reduction in the propensity to obtain extra-pair sex? This would counter their vulnerability to their pair-bond partners having extra-pair sex with the alpha male. It would in turn make sense for a whole stratum of sub-apex males vulnerable to their wives having extra-pair sex with a cluster of apex males above them. In time, with the fluidity of ranking, as formerly sub-dominants gain alpha status and the sons of top-rankers not infrequently fail to arrive at the pinnacle themselves, it would not be long before all males in the inter-marrying group were ‘circumcised’, and the road would then be set for ‘cutting’ to acquire secondary (frequency-dependent) function (such as an ‘in-group’ marker) to sustain it as a whole-group practice in perpetuity. The problem remains, however, of how such a development would begin if it were not in – and instead were actually against – the interests of the alpha male. The alpha likely is in place himself through coalitional strength, and it is even more unlikely that a cabal of lowlier individuals could take on a number of apex males.
Alternatively, if the utility of MGMo is more collective, then this would be in line with dominance hierarchy (and the associated differential reproductive suppression); a mechanism all too apparently in collective rather than individual interest. Indeed, MGMo would make sense as an extension of dominance hierarchy – a further ‘extended phenotype’ of what is itself an ‘extended phenotype’ (to use Dawkins’ conceptualisation). This would entail a return to the mutually complementary modelling just outlined transcending the now stale ‘levels of selection’ quandary.
Briefly to outline regarding dominance hierarchy: in consideration of the function of the male, as ‘genetic filter’ (Atmar, 1991) / ‘mutational cleanser’ (West-Eberhard, 2005), males are ranked in terms of genetic quality in a dominance / prestige hierarchy. Each male correspondingly is both differentially reproductively suppressed and subject to female sexual choice according to his position in the hierarchy (Moxon 2009, after many authors). In this way, most males are in some way(s) prevented from reproducing much or at all, and fail to pass on and instead take with them to the grave accumulated gene replication error, which thereby collectively is purged from the local gene pool. Additionally, there has to be ‘policing’ so as to reduce the likelihood that males may try to circumvent the social structure in order to try to obtain otherwise unobtainable sex (Cummins, 1996, 1996b, 1996c, 1999a, 2005, 2013). This is achieved by biological mechanism (in-built deep psychology of ‘cheater detection’ mechanisms directed towards males, to be ultra sensitive to the slightest anomaly), which also would be available to underpin cultural manifestation in MGMo.
Nevertheless, it might be thought more satisfactory – parsimonious in scientific theory – if MGMo were understandable in terms of an obvious compensatory benefit to all participants individually and not just one to a minority in the context of a whole-group overall utility. Wilson’s proffered social benefits may fit the bill (without his sperm competition and insemination inefficiency hypothesis). The still more straightforward likelihood, though, is that MGMo both originated and became established as an imposition by high-status males that low-status males were in no position to resist, and therefore there was never required any benefit accruing to most males to ‘buy’ their cooperation. With the dynamics of hierarchy naturally rendering MGMo ubiquitous over time, the procedure would then be maintained for all males merely through the costs of non-compliance to a custom.
A picture now emerges in line with both practise in traditional culture and in how ‘circumcision’ was adopted and became widespread in ‘developed’ societies in the nineteenth century; the latter when famously there was a profound concern with male sexuality per se – as revealed by an obsession with masturbation, which, in wild imagination, widely disseminated and believed, was falsely held to cause a myriad ills. This was an overt concerted attempt to curtail the sexuality of adolescent and early-adult males generally, to engender pro-sociality, pointing up what is highly likely to be a parallel in the traditional practise. To couch in terms of hierarchy, it would serve to channel the very high energy of male youth into legitimately gaining rank rather than trying to circumvent the social order in premature sexual activity and inappropriately competing with stable-ranked males for sexual access. On the face of it, this is what Immerman & Mackey (1997) argued, but the problem MGMo addresses needs to be better specified.
It would be a lazy assumption that the issue is of upstart males trying to obtain extra-pair sex with the wives of high-status men. Not only would there be prohibitive sanction, but (as discussed above with respect to Wilson’s position) the high-fertility pair-bond partners of high-status men would have little interest in such males. The real problem is instead one of young males attempting to compete with high-status males for young females. High-status males can acquire young females as additional, that is, polygynous (or serial-monogamous or clandestine-polygynous) pair-bond partners, or simply for extra-pair sex. Young males, notwithstanding their as yet lack or absence of status, can markedly disrupt this in that they may have multiple attributes denoting genetic quality that will be detected by females, even though this can’t show up in the genetic-quality ‘ready reckoner’ of status for ease of assessment. Being within the social milieu of young females, young males are likely to take many of them out of the marriage market as well as swamping the sexual marketplace generally with attempts also to acquire extra-pair sex; significantly displacing attention and activity by high-ranking older males. Anything which can dampen down young male sexual voraciousness would well serve the socio-sexual order, thereby improving the reproductive efficiency overall of the reproductive group. Hence their hobbling by MGMo, which readily can be seen to make sense from both biological and cultural perspectives.
That hitherto this has not been well understood (or understood at all) is perhaps surprising, but then the origin of MGMo has been a much neglected question, as can be gauged from the paucity of theory papers above cited. Of the very few published, most are dated 1907 or earlier, after which the issue seems to have been regarded as impossible to reconstruct from prehistory, until, almost a century later, the ascendency of evolutionary perspective prompted fresh approach. Even so, there have been just three theory papers — Rowanchilde (1996), Immerman & Mackey (1997, 1998) and Wilson (2008); four if the paper by Sosis et al (2007) is included, albeit this dealt only in part with MGMo. Of these, Wilson’s is the one comprehensive effort, and it is in answer to points arising in that paper, utilising more recent findings, that the present formulation has been made; and now at last there is a good prospect of the function of MGMo becoming a settled question.
Turning to FGMo, a main question is whether or not it is essentially the same phenomenon as MGMo, and, in particular, whether or not it is male imposition. Given that it is the much less widespread and more recent practise (Gollaher, 2009; Davis, 1976), with only MGMo occurring in every continent bar Europe and represented in paleolithic cave paintings and sculptures (Augulo &GarcÍa-Diez, 2009), and with no geographical occurrence of FGMo in the absence of MGMo, then the female procedure may well be derivative of its male counterpart. If that is so, then it would be expected also that its proximal function is similar; but with the fundamental distinction between the sexes in overall function (see Moxon, 2016, for a full outline), then the distal function of GMo nevertheless may diverge profoundly according to sex.
With FGMo, unlike MGMo, not being a contemporary ‘medical’ established practise in the USA, there have not been corresponding outlandish notions as to function. In striking contrast to the case of MGMo, regarding FGMo there has not been resistance to accepting the obvious diminution in sexual sensitivity – not in Western nations, that is. As with MGMo, evidence of reduced sexual sensitivity and increased sexual dysfunction is provided by many researchers. Formerly, it had beento an extent mixed (likely because of methodological issues, arising especially from research by nationals of countries where FGMo is the norm, either inadvertently or through a desire to uphold the procedure); but not so today. Most recently, Rouzi et al (2017), Biglu et al (2016) and Anis et al (2012) all found that for ‘cut’ women sexual dysfunction was much higher across all domains –desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm and satisfaction – except pain during sex, which only Biglu et al reported. Two other research teams publishing in 2012 found that FGMo results in little or no sexual desire or satisfaction, and also either pain during sex (Berg & Denison) or that it significantly reduces women’s sexual quality of life as a whole (Andersson et al). Older surveys of ‘cut’ women returned that half of them do not enjoy sex at all (Hosken, 1983; 1989). There is plenty of further evidence from male partners, who complain that sex is far less enjoyable with ‘circumcised’ women because they are at best passive, if not actually suffering (Sæverås, 2003). Lightfoot-Klein (1989) observed that men sought non-FGMo wives on the grounds that they enjoy sex; even to the extent of seeking European women. Shandal (1967, 1979) most interestingly investigated the preferences of men who had multiple wives, only some of whom had undergone FGMo, and to varying degrees; finding that nearly all the men preferred their non-FGMo wives, and of their FGMo wives they distinguished in favour of those with the less severe forms.
The real question, though, if FGMo is akin to MGMo, is the impact specifically on extra-pair sex.The first study to directly address the relation between reduced sexual function and extra-pair sex is that by Onyishi et al (2016), who report that for individuals who have undergone FGMo, willingness to engage specifically in uncommitted sexual relations is more restricted across all domains examined: in terms of attitude, behaviour and desire. This comprehensive result reveals that in terms of proximal function GMo indeed appears to be the same in females as in males.
The utility of FGMo – its distal function – is generally agreed by academics to be ‘paternity certainty’ for males in the face of the risk of being cuckolded. This was first suggested by Hartung (1976), and then taken up and developed by many others, eg, Ericksen (1989). The World Health Organisation states that FGMo is: “to ensure premarital virginity and marital fidelity … believed to reduce a woman’s libido and therefore believed to help her resist extra-marital sexual acts” (WHO, 2014). In the same text, the WHO then falls in with the usual presumption of male imposition rather than female initiative, but this is to extend beyond evidence and logic, based on nothing more than an ideological perspective; which is disputed, not least even by feminists themselves (most notably Germaine Greer, 1999).
The notion of FGMo as helping to ensure ‘paternity certainty’ pertains not just within the developed world and academia, but also within the societies where traditional FGMo occurs, though in terms of its corollary: an attribute for females in obtaining marriage partners. It may or may not be intuited to be of use to males re ‘paternity certainty’, but by all accounts ‘cut’ women universally accept that without undergoing the procedure they will not be able to find a husband, or at least would have severe difficulty in this regard; and often they do recognise that this stems from a reduction in sexual sensitivity. For example, FGMo women told Hosken (1983, 1989) that it would be impossible for women to control their own sexuality and remain faithful to their husbands without ‘cutting’ to reduce interest in sex. And Lindner (2008) found that both young women and their relatives believe FGM curbs sexual desire, ‘purifying’ the girl into a ’treasure’ to make a chaste wife for an eligible man.
Although in such societies there is some rationalisation paralleling that for MGMo — including regarding cleanliness and also removing part or parts that may be considered somehow redolent of opposite-sex genitalia – the prevalent reason by far given for undergoing the procedure is marriageability (Ross et al, 2016), or at least it’s the most common one, notwithstanding the very wide variation of the practise across many dimensions (Hadi, 2006). Ross et al divide the range of justifications provided into three categories: re marriageability, ‘heterogeneous’, and tradition; but explain why all of those in the latter two categories should be considered to varying degrees more proximate considerations linked to marriageability, however indirectly. This is fully in line with other researchers surveying across FGMo societies, who cite preserving family honour and safeguarding female sexual purity along with enhancing marriage chances as clearly being facets of the same ideation (eg, Shell-Duncan & Hernlund 2000).
The alternative perspectives of the advantage to the male partner of assuring ‘paternity certainty’ and the female advantage of a bargaining counter to secure a better-quality pair-bond partner, are often denied in the West through the usual feminism-derived understanding that there is no female advantage. Instead, the advantage is held to be only for the male. This is an extreme ideological partial view predicated on the notion that all matters male-female involve male ‘oppression’ and female victimhood. Females here are deemed to have ‘internalised’ what is in male interests to falsely cognise and/or intuit that the interests served are their own. But if females did act actually against their own interests, it is hard to see how this would be a matter merely of ‘oppression’ by further degree rather than in some way qualitatively different. As well as being a non-parsimonious and thereby inherently implausible explanation, there is comprehensive evidence against ‘internalised’ male interest, both generally and with respect to FGMo specifically. In a major review, many separate lines of evidence converge to show that the range of phenomena that are subsumed under a ‘male control’ theory of female sexuality, instead are accounted for by female intra-sexual competitiveness (or what may be dubbed in mirror image, ‘female control’). Baumeister & Twenge (2002) conclude that:
“The male control theory was repeatedly contradicted. In view of these data, it would take a considerable amount of new and strong evidence even to make the male control theory plausible again. The female control theory, however, appears to provide a good fit to most of the available evidence”. (p189)
The authors go on to address the issue of possible male influence other than the proximal:
“… there are two important reasons to be skeptical of the view that men in general have conspired to exert indirect, distal influences to suppress female sexuality. The first is the fact that when we did find evidence of male influence over female sexuality, it was generally in the opposite direction. … [and, second] when the sex ratio is unbalanced in favor of men, the result tends to be more sexual activity. These findings suggest that if men really could exert direct control over female sexuality, they would opt for more of it, not less. To maintain a belief in male suppression of female sexuality, it is necessary to believe that men directly influence women toward greater sexuality while indirectly exerting influence in the opposite direction.” (p189)
Although now fifteen years old, the review has not been countered by any paper other than one (Rudman, Fetterolf & Sanchez, 2013) purporting to take issue with Baumeister & Twenge’s overall conclusion but actually addressing only attitudes to what is anyway the slippery itself ideology-laden concept of the ‘sexual double standard’, which attitudes themselves change under ideological influence. On this sub-topic Baumeister & Twenge used mostly data preceding the hegemony of feminist ideology for the very reason of avoiding such contamination. It is, therefore, a poor basis of criticism; especially in claiming to be valid in respect of the overall conclusion that the ‘female control’ and not the ‘male control’ model fits the data across all of the male-female phenomena where there is apparent or there might be ‘control’ by males.
In a ‘male control’ model it would be expected that FGMo would correlate clearly with what supposedly are the most obvious facets of a male-controlled or ‘patriarchal’ society: polygyny (the form of polygamy where there is one male pair-bonded separately with each and every one of a multiplicity of females) and formal hierarchy in a large-scale society manifesting as ‘social stratification’. Yet comprehensive cross-cultural review reveals polygyny is not an independent variable here (Hicks, 1993). What’s more, it has recently been found that there is no evidence that polygyny itself is to female disadvantage, but the opposite; supporting models of polygyny based on female choice (Lawson et al, 2015). As for social stratification: FGMo many times has arisen in cultures without any, and the pattern of occurrence of FGMo is mainly caused by factors orthogonal (with no relation at all) to stratification, leaving stratification itself a very weak part of FGMo aetiology (Ross et al, 2016). This anyway is unsurprising, in that ascribing significance to social stratification of indicating hierarchy where otherwise it would be absent, is false. Hierarchy, in being a universal male social structure, does not require any formal social structure to be manifest. That it may be thought not to be evident in non-complex human society goes against what would be expected: that a stable hierarchy in a small group usually would not and does not need to be to the fore. There is little if any evidence, then, to support any assumption that FGMo arose in complex societies built on agricultural surplus and conquest, featuring all-powerful rulers with huge harems (so-called ‘imperial polygyny’).
What looks like the most salient factor common to all occurrence of FGMo is arranged marriage; this being all but ubiquitous across the world prior to industrialisation (Apostolou, 2010), and it remains the dominant form of match-making across Africa, the Middle East and Asia (Hamon & Ingoldsby, 2003). There is no requirement for complex social structure, and socio-environmental variables generally have no impact: 85% of hunter-gather societies have arranged marriage (Apostolou 2007), and the few that don’t are strongly suspected to have lost it only recently, though disruptive pressure from agricultural neighbours, and assimilation and acculturation into state-level societies (Walker et al, 2011).
With arranged marriage much the more widespread phenomenon, then it appears to be the more ancient; and, therefore, likely the background from which FGMo sprang. If this is so, then the issue of whether men or women are the more operative in arranged marriage becomes material to the question of FGMo origin; of its character at its inception. To ascertain antiquity, mitochondrial DNA phylogenetic reconstruction of human marriage practices using Bayesian, maximum likelihood, and parsimony methods, reveals, regardless of method, that arranged marriage goes back at least to the initial modern human expansion, 50,000+ years ago (Walker et all, 2011), if not to ‘mitochondrial Eve’; an order of magnitude older than FGMo is assumed to be. The reviewers state that it is conceivable that arranged marriage has no less antiquity than the cultural encoding of pair-bonding – marriage – itself. It may, then, be a necessary albeit not sufficient condition for the emergence of FGMo. Either way, it is the principal background to and sets the scene for FGMo.
On the question of whether arranged marriage is controlled by men or women, there is no dispute. All evidence points to activity very much within a female domain: all is orchestrated by women family members (aunt, elder sister, sister-in-law), possibly an older ‘matriarch’, and/or an outsider female ‘matchmaker’. Throughout history this was the cross-cultural norm, whether, for example, anciently in China (Benn, 2001) and Greece (Noy, 2012), or just as today with the famous ‘rishta auntie’ remaining a fixture in this regard across India and Pakistan (Krishnan, 2010); likewise the ‘khatba’ in Egypt (El Feki, 2013), and even in polygynous highly traditional African tribal societies, such as the Igbo of Nigeria and the Betsilio of Madagascar (Kottak, 2003) or the Vhavenda of South Africa (Raphalalani & Musehane 2013).
With FGMo likely being an extension of the female intra-sexual practising of arranged marriage / matchmaking, then in turn it is likely itself to be a female within-sex phenomenon, as would be indicated if those who actually perform the procedures are all or mostly female. This is just what is found. Only women are practitioners (except where, in attempting to minimise harm, contemporarily it has become medicalised, or, in a few places, sometimes the village barber is employed). Usually it’s the mother, grandmother or local specialist ‘cutter’; generally an elderly woman of the community (Lindner, 2008). Sæverås (2002) found that “a grandmother may set up the circumcision of her granddaughter even if the child’s mother is against it. Friends may do the ‘operation’ on the daughter while the mother is away”. The mother-in-law is also regularly cited, though it seems that rather than relatives the bulk of operations are done by the older female ‘specialist’ (Worku Zerai / Norwegian Church Aid, 2003). Sæverås points to the power of the ‘exciser’: in being often also the community birth attender and/or healer, she’s held in great respect.
Regarding specifically who makes the decision that a female should undergo FGMo, Koroma(2002) summarises: “FGM is women’s business and they more actively perpetuate FGM than do men. … decision-making for undergoing the operation is in large part made by mothers, although there are instances where it is a joint decision by both mother and father with the latter ‘only informed to obtain his blessings’. Other decision-makers are wider female family members, particularly grandparents”. Earlier investigators concur that it’s the grandmother who decides if it’s not the mother (Hicks, 1996; Lightfoot-Klein, 1989). Shweder (2000) reveals that: “the practice is almost always controlled, performed, and most strongly upheld by women (p222).
Where men fit in, or rather don’t, Shweder continues: “… men have rather little to do with these female operations, may not know very much about them, and may feel it is not really their business to interfere or to try to tell their wives, mothers, aunts, and grandmothers what to do. It is the women of the society who are the cultural experts in this intimate feminine domain, and they are not particularly inclined to give up their powers or share their secrets”. Rye (2002) finds that “many many men find it a problematic part of their culture”. Hejll (2001) observes that “all too often men see FGM as ‘women’s business’. This is understandable in societies that segregate the sexes and where men and women seldom discuss sexuality. Women also keep men out of the matter” (p11). In noting that a midwife figure usually carries out the operation, Boddy (1989) notes that “men are completely excluded” (p84). So completely excluded are men that Greer (1999) concludes from her own non-formal fieldwork in Africa that most men don’t even know whether or not the women within their own families have undergone any FGMo procedure. If this is as much indifference as exclusion, it’s but another measure of the complete absence of any ‘male control’.
It is not merely that women perform FGMo, then, but that they make the decision that FGMo should be carried out, and they also exclude men. Tellingly, it is not the men but the women themselves who support FGMo; and zealously so (eg, Boddy, 1989, 1998). There is virtually no fieldworker who doesn’t at least acknowledge this. The female peer group regards the operation as a mark of positive status, and girls who have not yet had it are sometimes mocked, teased, and derogated by their female peers (Lightfoot-Klein, 1989). Priya (2007) concludes “it is much more difficult to convince the women to give it up, than to convince the men” (p189). Ali (2012) complains of “the cultural resistance of women, more than men” to rejecting FGMo. In a 2007 UNFPA report, it’s stated that “paradoxically it is Maasai women, more than men, who have insisted on keeping the tradition of FGM/C alive … most men, once they understand what the practice entails, are horrified by it and oppose it … in their extra-marital relations they prefer uncircumcised women from other communities”. Formal surveys have been conducted across several countries, confirming that smaller proportions of men than women support FGMo (Population Council, 1999; Population Reference Bureau, 2001). Even in countries where concerted campaigning to dissuade women has already led to a major shift away from supporting FGMo by women, it’s still not amongst women that opposition is strongest. Women lag behind men in this regard. Lindner, in her own survey, finds 79% of all male participants do not support FGMo, which is significantly more than the 67% of women,despite male attitudes not being targetted in campaigns. Men also actively object. Several papers reviewed by Hicks (1996) detailed men’s attempts to persuade women to substitute less radical forms of FGMo, but this is always thwarted by women; and even fathers objecting to their daughters being subjected to procedures are overruled (Lightfoot-Klein, 1989).
A case study providing an in-the-round illuminating picture has been made by Dellenborg (2004), ofan in-depth project among the Jola in Senegal. To briefly summarise: here, FGMo was only recently introduced (fifty years ago), mainly by young women, who, as do young women today, viewed excision as crucial to a female collective identity: a female secret society in which unmarried young women and childless married women live most of their social lives, and they feel empowers them tofully become female adults. The very few young women / teenage girls who had doubts rarely expressed them even to the investigator, an outsider; and never to the older women in their families. Some young and middle-aged men have joined together against what they see as an imported tradition ruining women’s health, fecundity, and, in particular, sexual desire – men preferring to marry uncircumcised women, whom they assume will take fuller pleasure in sex, and they describe as more ‘tasty’. But the mens’ opposition has met fierce resistance from their married daughters, sisters and wives, as well as from now older women earlier adopters of FGMo, who are its chief defenders. Most men, though, would not express their critique in public; its being considered indiscreet and shameful for a man to talk of ‘women’s matters’. Older women ridicule the male detractors as childish, irresponsible, and only thinking of sex. The very few women who did have doubts could not say why; just that it was ‘not good’. Sexual control is not mentioned either as a reason for women to be excised or a result of it. People were not concerned with women’s chastity or virginity– traditionally, the only taboo was reproduction out of wedlock (such babies usually were killed at birth). Female sexuality was not seen as a problem.
From this account it is even clearer that a ‘male control’ understanding of FGMo cannot be sustained, and that the phenomenon is profoundly female intra-sexual. The odd aspect is the apparent loss of any understanding of the function of the procedure just as it has come to occupy such a central place in local female sociality: that the women don’t register – or pointedly decline to register – the reduced sexual sensitivity caused by FGMo. Rather, though, this may be more of a key than a mystery. Dellenborg supplies a pointed anecdote: about the reaction of some Somalian women on a trip to Europe to a mistaken title of ‘mutilated femininity’ instead of ‘female genital mutilation’. They angrily protested that merely their genitals had been ‘mutilated’, not their femininity. This indicates a starkly different cultural perspective on sexuality that may be widely shared by women across African traditional or non-developed societies. It might be thought that perhaps it can be understood in part in the light of the notion that female orgasm is more a brain than a genital mechanism, but so is all orgasm, both male and female; and the contrast with males seems to be in the different nature of the tactile sexual stimulation than in brain mechanisms (Georgiadis et al, 2009). That the Senegalese Jola women here appear to view sex-organ mechanics as subsumed within a much wider, deeper sensibility of womanhood that is not only whole-body/mind but profoundly collective, seemingly with a spiritual dimension, would be consonant with religion hypothesised as being based in helping to ensure ‘paternity certainty’ (Strassmann et al, 2012). Alternatively, it may be more the case that these MGMo women are rendering more psychologically salient the human female reality of being highly co-operative, if not to the extent of humans being a ‘cooperative breeding’ species, then in women’s profound, protracted mutual child-caring evident in all traditional cultures. To a traditional African mindset, a European feminist focus on expressing one’s own sexual being as in essence mere clitoral stimulation, appears to be viewed as silly, vulgar, aberrant extreme individuality.
The most striking aspect of FGMo in its variable traditional manifestation is the absence of recorded evidence from interviewees in surveys within societies where FGMo occurs that the procedure is in any way male imposition rather than female initiative. What makes this particularly remarkable is that it’s notwithstanding the feminist-inspired interventions to try to eradicate FGMo. Many investigators are part of these political initiatives, and, having the required feminist or extreme-feminist mindsets, many would arrive in Africa with the expectation that they would be obtaining data revealing male imposition of FGMo. Such data would be expected to be contaminated with the researchers’ own confirmation bias to record victimisation at the hands of males. Yet survey data re FGMo indicating any sort of male coercion appears to be non-existent. It is only from outside these communities – outside the under-developed world – that it is taken to be axiomatic that apex males must be the dominant or controlling party in all matters male-female. Men are assumed to be behind FGMo by extension from them being considered to be generally ‘in charge’ of society as a whole; but this is an ideological construct not congruent with human sociality, consisting as it does of essentially sex-separate sociality evident even from toddler age (Fabes, Martin & Hanish, 2004), with the male sociality of dominance / prestige hierarchy not impinging on females given that dominance hierarchy is an intra- and not inter-sexual phenomenon (Moxon, 2016) – indeed, dominance hierarchy is found to be male-specific (Van den Berg, Lamballais & Kushner, 2015). Males are not ‘in charge’ even within their own pair bonds (Vogel, 2007; Coleman & Straus, 1986; Bates, Graham-Kevan & Archer, 2014).
With the examination above of FGMo in all its facets revealing it to be comprehensively a female intra-sexual phenomenon, it still may be thought that it is merely its second-order frequency-dependent manifestation; in other words, that it’s the maintenance of the phenomenon which is intra-sexual, with the origin after all being in ‘male control’. This would appear to be suggested if FGMo, as in the case of the two other ‘female cloistering’ phenomena of face/body veiling and Chinese foot-binding, had disseminated down through the rest of society from a beginning in nobility. This is taken to be as reasonable an hypothesis as any other (Mackie & LeJeune, 2009), but that’s as weak a position as could be posited. It remains non-evidenced conjecture, as Mackie & LeJeune concede. By contrast, foot-binding is well-evidenced to have “spread from the Imperial palace, to court circles, to the larger upper classes, and then to the middle and lower classes” (p1001) (Mackie, 1996). Similarly, veiling in Middle-Eastern ancient empires is documented to have been restricted to elite, married, ‘free’ (not slave) women (Khairunessa, 2013). It is not unreasonable, therefore, to assume FGMo developed according to a not dissimilar pattern, but this does not help a ‘male control’ model.
The parallel with foot-binding and face/body veiling is apposite, but for the very reason that all indications are of these phenomena being even more clearly female intra-sexual and not male-imposed. Veiling in Mesopotamia and Persia was so popular among women that it had to be forbidden by law to poor and single women, prostitutes and slaves (Khairunessa, 2013), with the laws backed up by punishments. In Assyria, veiled servants and prostitutes could have their garments confiscated, be given fifty blows and tar poured over them (Kinias, 2010). Laws required the reporting of women who should not be veiling, and that serious punishments (imprisonment, mutilation or public flogging) were introduced even for this (Nemet-Nejat, 1998), is good indication of men feeling decidedly non-involved and unconcerned with the practise. For such extreme measures to be warranted strongly suggests that men persistently failed to report women for these breaches.
Foot-binding in China is the more recent of the three ‘cloistering’ modes, and emerging within the bureaucratic ancient Chinese state is well-documented, so is the least opaque. Women bound their own and their daughters’ feet (Ko, 2008). The ‘matriarchy’ from both families of a couple were behind it, but specifically the prospective mother-in-law, was responsible for marriage selection requiring foot-bound discipline (Blake, 1994). The practice “produced permanent bonding with (their) mother(s) and female ancestors” (Ping, 2000). So taken with it were women that through the ages repeated attempts at banning by emperors failed and were reversed (Levy, 1992). From the many accounts of foot-binding (including all of the above-cited), it’s clear that acquiring a pair-bond partner – necessarily competing with other women in this regard – was the root of the custom. Mothers, family ‘matriarchs’, female village elders and ‘professional’ specialist practitioners were behind and to the fore regarding all aspects of the custom: introducing girls to it, carrying out the procedures and monitoring that it’s adhered to. There was the fear of not being able to find a husband and outcasting as lewd anyone who did not undergo the practice: give-aways as to the basis of the practise, as with FGMo and veiling.
There is anyway little in FGMo serving the purposes of an alpha male – just as there isn’t in the case of foot-binding or face/body veiling. An alpha male is at little or no risk of being cuckolded, because his wife / wives can have no use as extra-pair sex partners for other locally available males, given that they would not be of still higher genetic quality than the male to which they’re already permanently partnered. As cited above, in line with theory, the empirical evidence is that human females ‘up’ their criteria in choosing extra-pair over pair-bond partners. In any case (again, as mentioned above), engaging in extra-pair sex would not be worth the risk for a wife of being deserted by the highest mate-value male she already has as a pair-bond partner. What is more, the alpha male is of all males the one who would be able, potentially, to acquire any female as an extra-pair sex partner, and is likely to choose an unmarried younger (maximally fertile) female from a lower social stratum over the older, likely pregnant, same-stratum females to whom the males nearer to him in the hierarchy are pair-bonded. Not least are other considerations of avoiding destabilising the uppermost portion of the hierarchy that might lead to bids to oust him as leader. The alpha is on the lookout not only for extra-pair sex but also additional wives (in formally polygynous societies) or ‘mistresses’ plus serial wives (where polygyny is more clandestine); and again he would prefer young (maximally fertile) women – not that older still-attractive females anyway are available to pair-bond. Unlike females ‘marrying up’, males correspondingly tend to ‘marry down’. [To clarify the meaning of ‘marrying up’: a highly physically attractive (high fertility, high mate-value) female within what in male terms is a lower social stratum (that is, the social stratum to which her father and male relatives belong, and in which she was raised) can realistically seek high-status males (males from a higher social stratum) as prospective pair-bond partners in assortative mating, given that all concerned share high mate values (the female fertility and male status measures at at similar levels, and, therefore, are equivalent).]
The availability to the alpha male of young females potentially for extra-pair sex is tempered by usual female reticence and procrastination in the face of considerable potential costs, and the generic reduction in female sexual receptivity that FGMo produces can only compound these obstacles. This can be anything but welcome to the alpha. Likewise the lessened sexual receptivity in his own wives. Still further, with females being unlike males in not functioning as a ‘genetic filter’, and with their mate value being in terms of the fairly narrow set of criteria that constitute fertility, then the differences in quality between females (in comparison to that between males) is not that great, rendering those above a reasonable threshold of fertility to a considerable extent effectively inter-changeable. As an alpha male anyway will easily be able to obtain multiple pair-bond partners (in whatever form) from a considerable pool of females, then with the combination of near sure loss in competition to the alpha and the large supply of what is being competed for; there is little basis for intense male intra-sexual competition for wives at this level. It would be expected, therefore, that with the interests of the alpha male not being served, that neither he nor any of the males in the group, whom he out-ranks and controls, are involved in FGMo, just as evidence confirms.
FGMo presumably confers an advantage not to males, then, but to individual females. It might be imagined that high-fertility females who become the wives of apex males would require other women to undergo FGMo to render them less likely to lure away their husbands. Only weak motivation could pertain here, though, given that for wives any extra-pair sex by their husbands is not a major problem. There is no possibility of the pair-bond being vulnerable to the importation of genes from a third party to produce offspring. The husband cannot be impregnated by an extra-pair sex partner, then to be unavailable for reproduction for several years, as would be the distinct possibility should a wife engage in similar activity. This is a key reason why wives are minded and tend to stand by even serially unfaithful husbands, whereas husbands are minded and tend to desert wives at the first instance of unfaithfulness. [This appears to be a recently taboo area of research, rendering it difficult to find and cite any study of what is well attested anecdotally, but abundant research has unearthed an indirect measure: unlike men, women are less concerned with purely sexual than with emotional betrayal (eg, Sagarin et al, 2012), reflecting a relatively relaxed attitude to a partner’s extra-pair sex; reserving concern for the likelihood of being abandoned. This is in complete contrast to men, who are anxious not to be cuckolded, and it would seem that as longas they feel assured that no sex is entailed, then husbands may not be worried about a wife’s even profound platonic relationship with another male.]
Men rarely wish to convert an extra-pair sex partner into a wife, because, being already in possession of a wife or wives, extra-pair sex fulfils the extremely powerful male motivation for sex with partners in numbers; this being an obvious evolved predilection serving to profoundly increase potential fertility (overall reproductive outcome). For this reason too, male extra-pair sex typically is anyway merely fleeting and serial. Any residual threat to the integrity of the pair-bond is minimised by the usually clandestine nature of assignations. All in all, far from leading to the male dissolving the pair-bond, extra-pair sex by the male partner is often considered to act as a safety valve, in providing an alternative and different form of sexual outlet, or partners younger and more sexually active than an ageing spouse, taking the pressure off the pair-bond, leaving the male less inclined to seek its replacement. Paradoxically, male extra-pair sex in effect can assist in maintaining the pair-bond it circumvents. All in all, then, a woman does not have much to fear from her partner’s extra-pair sex, and, consequently, doesn’t have much to fear either from rival females poaching her man.
In the absence of an apparent individual benefit to women of their reducing their propensity to engage in extra-pair sex, it might be imagined that there is a collective benefit if all or at least a large proportion of females undergo FGMo, in that an overall restriction in the availability of extra-pair sex might serve to increase generically the value to males of pair-bonding. Considering,however, that with the raised criteria females require, then extra-pair sex effectively is unavailable to most males; still further restricting its availability would not seem to be an effective way to bolster the value of pair-bonding – particularly in the light of the ’safety valve’ argument that extra-pair sex indirectly bolsters pair-bonding. A putative collective advantage also would have to outweigh the undermining of pair-bonding that FGMo produces through the general reduction in female sexual responsiveness being detrimental to sexual satisfaction of both wives and their husbands.
There is instead a benefit to females, individually, of FGMo, that would be obvious but for feminist or feminism-derived assumption of male imposition. This is in the use females have for FGMo not to try to maintain a pair-bond but to obtain one. Rather than intra-sexual competition between wives and women trying to lure away husbands with extra-pair sex, women here engage in another form of intra-sexual competition: to appeal to and hopefully secure as a pair-bond partner a high mate-value (high genetic quality) male in the first place. Even a relatively high mate-value male (albeit not the alpha male) faces the potential problem of his pair-bond partner being in effect protractedly off-line, as it were, with respect to reproduction employing his own genes (rather than those of a male interloper); if she were to be impregnated in extra-pair sex, to then gestate for nine months, before bearing a child and lactating – which, ancestrally, would have been for several years. The issue here is usually held to be ‘paternity certainty’, but this is predicated on male investment, and human males did not evolve to significantly invest in offspring (Chapais, 2008, 2011; Geary & Bailey, 2011; Winking, 2006). The problem instead is the opportunity cost of being tied to a female whom (from a cuckolded husband’s perspective) is non-reproducing for several years. This is not a great issue ahead of marriage, because the intensity of courtship displaces any interest the female otherwise might have in extra-pair sex (which anyway could not be clandestine with the male being so closely attentive and able to close-monitor), and any prior impregnation quickly would become apparent not long into the courtship period – even well before visible pregnancy, in that males implicitly assess female attractiveness in terms of a high waist depth to waist circumference ratio, which indicates non-pregnancy (Rilling et al, 2009).
The evolutionary logic, therefore, is not that a male seeks a virgin bride per se. Virginity is a poor proxy, at best highly indirect indicator of being unreceptive to and unlikely to initiate extra-pair sex; albeit it is the best concrete evidence, and it has clear, indeed powerful symbolic value. The problem for the male suitor is how to gauge the future likely behaviour of his prospective pair-bond partner after that bond has been cemented. Not only is non-pregnancy anyway assured by courtship ahead of an actual sexual relationship, but virginity is evidence only of never having had sex. It is not evidence of the likely sort of behaviour engaged in once regular sex commences – that is, whether or not there is any predilection for or resistance to having sex additional to that within a pair-bond. The male needs to look out for indications of this if he is to try to ‘future proof’ against the possibility of being cuckolded, but there is obvious difficulty in how a male may go about detecting not an observable sign of past behaviour or even behaviour as it is current, but a mere attitude, and how this might or might not change over a considerable period in the future, after a significant change (embarking on sexual activity) that itself may trigger other changes in turn. Females can key into and pre-empt this male concern by formalising an ‘honest signal’ in this regard. And they will be exceptionally keen to do so in the case of apex males, in trying to obtain such a male as a pair-bond partner (to reiterate: pair-bonding evolved in the female interest – in effect allowing a forward projection in time of peak fertility, as well as to keep away social and sexual attention of low mate-value males).
The males who have come first and nearly so – the beta and gamma (and delta, epsilon, etc) as well as the alpha, as it were – in protracted competition to display genetic quality are indisputably the males with the very highest mate value, and will be the subject of determined efforts by females to secure them as pair-bond partners. With the entire basis of social system being to deal with the accumulation of gene replication error by a ‘genetic filtration’ / ‘mutational cleansing’ mechanism where males compete to be the formally appointed reservoir of the most uncontaminated genetic material; then a ‘top dog’ male or a small apex cohort of males would be the clear preference of all of the females within the local reproductive group. It would be possible and, indeed, in important respects desirable if all of the females could be impregnated (and repeatedly) by this / these few males. There are not really any corresponding females. Not only, in any case, can there be no female prodigious reproducer – all women are limited to a very slow rate of serial birth of offspring, ancestrally limited still more by several years of lactation – but the female mate-value criteria of fertility is a well-shared and fairly narrow measure, with not very many possible indicators – fairly obviously, youth (given that eggs are stored and decay), facial and bodily symmetry (revealing health and developmental stability) and a low waist-depth-to-waist-circumference ratio (indicating non-pregnancy) — over which it is hard to contest in order to increase it. The upshot (as argued above) is that compared to males, females above a threshold that itself can be nothing like as discriminating as in the case of males, are rather interchangeable. The mating game at what in male terms is the very apex of society, is, then, an inversion of the usual scenario of males competing fiercely for females. Here, instead, many females are competing fiercely for a few particular males. At the level of nobility (in a stratified society; just the group leader(s) in a simple sub-tribal community), in important ways an individual female has far more use for a particular male than the other way round. In consequence, even a highly attractive female would have very good use for anything which could give her an edge over her rivals in finding an apex pair-bond partner.
The direct intervention in the form of FGMo to conspicuously advertise marked diminution in sexual sensitivity achieves this neatly. Within the context of female mediated arranged marriage, the ‘cut’ female can offer herself as such to a high-mate-value male, with the guarantee from the marriage arrangers that the procedure indeed has been performed (and which anyway is a simple physical check for the male to confirm). This initiative provides a highly significant competitive advantage to the female who has adopted the ‘honest signal’, obliging her rivals to follow suit. On a conceptualisation of societies as being ‘stratified’ according to different levels of male hierarchy – as are all human societies, including supposedly egalitarian hunter-gatherer groups (hierarchy being indirectly present but not to the fore when it is stable) – then cohorts of females corresponding in mate value through their fertility to males of equivalent mate value in terms of genetic quality, would need to adopt FGMo in imitation of the cohort immediately ‘above’ them in order to be able to ‘marry up’ (see above), as women usually if not always try to do and often achieve.
This is just what is thought to have happened historically with FGMo, though evidence is lacking. In some societies, where the practise does not become ubiquitous, or once was so but then slips back; an advantage of FGMo to individual females would remain. However, once the practise becomes a fixed universal one, then the advantage to individuals would disappear. Yet the procedure still would be maintained, because social sanction for non-compliance would be a self-reinforcing phenomenon. The serious costs to reproductive potential that would be incurred strongly militate against any individual female breaking ranks, no matter how flimsy are complementary or substitute justifications for FGMo that may emerge to try to salve ‘cognitive dissonance’ over the mismatch between the severity of the practise and the paucity of any apparent advantage bestowed. It is easy to see how the original function of FGMo is lost from collective memory. Only if, unusually, a significant minority of ‘un-cut’ women quickly emerge, for men to realise they could obtain more sexually receptive pair-bond partners if they learn to distinguish between non-FGMo and FGMo individuals, could the benefits of being non-FGMo then start to outweigh the costs on non-conformity. [However, recent research shows it’s more complex than a battle between two norms of FGMo and non-FGMo. Attitudes towards FGMo evidently are heterogeneous, indicating that positive reasons for adherence to FGMo account for its persistence, and not just conformity to avoid sanction (Efferson et al, 2015). As a result, there is no coordination across communities whereby a non-FGMo norm can easily emerge, rendering interventions to try to eradicate FGMo still more difficult.]
The upshot is that whereas sub-alpha apex males likely would not be in a position to impose FGMo, even if they had sufficient motivation and also could figure out what would work for them, to then devise FGMo as a practical measure; women are both motivated and able to do so. A ‘male control’ form of FGMo presumably would never arise given that the alpha male (or a cohort of male leaders) could stymie any such attempt by lowlier males, but women constitute a completely separate sociality over which the alpha male (or a cohort of male leaders) has no jurisdiction. FGMo is a female ploy outside of and in effect circumventing the architecture of male sociality to provide a lure of something for which males hadn’t realised they had a use and could devise; so as to obtain the much-prized service of pair-bonding by a high genetic-quality male.
Note that on this model FGMo does not require FGMo females actually to engage in less extra-pair sex than non-FGMo females, as does MGMo: it is sufficient that the signalling of less propensity to engage in extra-pair sex is merely believable to males. Indeed, it is necessary only that it is believable to females (that males would take it as an ‘honest signal’). That the procedure cannot but reduce sexual sensitivity achieves this. As further evidence, the above-cited Onyishi study (2016) confirms that this translates into less interest in and willingness to engage in extra-pair sex. It would not be evidence against the model if actual data on extra-pair sex as an outcome showed that FGMo causes no diminution. In a forthcoming paper (that to date is only a conference presentation) on the impact on sex of FGMo (Howard & Gibson, 2017), the findings (stated in the conference abstract) are merely that FGMo “is not a significant predictor of reduced sexual activity either before or within marriage for the majority of women”, but, in a personal communication, the authors agree that extra-pair indeed is the operative form of sex; so, presumably, they have examined this specifically. Even so, as outcome data rather than attitudinal measures, this would not be evidence against the ‘signalling’ model herein – only against the ‘paternity certainty’ hypothesis. This is what the authors were testing; the very model which here is shown to be non-viable logically and evidentially. Howard & Gibson conclude that FGMo enhances marriageability, strongly implying that this is not ‘male control’, but without proffering (in the only available, short summary) any female intra-sexual mechanism, including that presently outlined, to which logic and evidence point.
The overall picture of genital modification, whether in men or (and especially) in women, is remarkably different from what commonly has been assumed – commonly but not universally, given some feminists (and not only Germaine Greer) have recognised that FGMo is a ‘difficult’ issue. Most aspects of GMo, whether within- or between-sex, do not conform to standard expectations. Far from there being anything akin to ‘oppression’ by men, the only locus of what could be deemed ‘male control’ is of men; and in place of a feminist model there is a completely female same-sex self-grown phenomenon, that notwithstanding any self-inflicted harm entailed, arose and developed as a real asset to women in their narrow locus of mutual competition. This is far from the supposed internalised male ‘oppression’ supposed by feminist ‘analysis’, predicated on the assumption that pair-bonding is an imposition on women they agree to in exchange for resources, when actually human pair-bonding did not arise from a need for males to provision females, and far from itself being male imposition, evolved in female interest, as explained above. [Indeed, it is the ideological blindness to this – the assumption that pair-bonding is itself male imposition – that is a major root of the long-standing failure to comprehend FGMo.] The notion of who are ‘victims’ in GMo has inverted, and inasmuch, in light of this, there are those who wish genuinely to assist ‘under-developed’ societies in ridding them of FGMo (and MGMo) instead of intervention that is really a conduit to impose extreme ideology; then a proper understanding of the phenomenon is essential. Otherwise, as currently, a principal effect often will be a counter-productive refusal by women to abandon the practise, instead utilising it to maintain a sense of group identity, by expressing a renewed vigour in adhering to the custom (Esho, Van Wolputte & Enzlin, 2011) — an effect so strong that concerted programmes to eradicate FGMo in some places has achieved the very opposite. A problem here is that feminist ideologues have a vested interest in FGMo persisting, because the ideology requires supposed female victimisation for its own validation and for it to continue and to attract funding.
The impact on MGMo of its proper understanding may be particularly profound. In place of the continuing unjustified resistance to consider MGMo as being in any way parallel to FGMo, ‘circumcision’ may come to be seen as the more major issue, reflecting that it is this form of GMo, and not FGMo, which at root is an imposition. Given the enormous disparity in the prevalence of the practices in developed societies (especially in the USA) – where FGMo may be present to a degree in some migrant enclaves but non-existent in host populations – then MGMo is set to rise up the agenda as concern with FGMo may fatigue. The already steep decline in neonatal ‘circumcision’ in the USA may accelerate with dissemination of the insights into its function, leaving MGMo (outside the Jewish sub-population) to become a purely elective adult practise with few adherents. In turn, an appreciation that GMo in both sexes actually is an intra-sexual phenomenon with no inter-sexual ‘oppressive’ dynamic, and that it’s explicable in biological more than merely cultural terms; contributes to a gathering general radical ‘bottom-up’ reappraisal of human sociality and the sexes.
ANSWERS TO THE CONSULTATION QUESTIONS
- No. There should not be a single hate crimeAct — nor any sort of hate crime Act, as a matter of basic principle.
- The protected characteristicsdo NOT identify the categories of victimhood. Victims are males who are ‘different’, not racial or sexual-orientation minorities per se.
- No, because the Law Commission evidently is incapable of objectively looking at evidence to establish need and additional harm and instead simply takes on extreme-ideological nonsense.
- It’s more idiocy along the same idiotic lines.
- Religion should not be protected from attack, and in practice the is a ruse to attack Christianity by artificially elevating other religions to a supposed similar importance when they are not, and then preferentially defending the as having minority status whilst facilitating attacks against the predominant religion.
- Religion should not be ‘protected’, never mind sectarian ‘groups’.
- Guffaw! A vanishingly rare ‘group’ [sic]. So then … yes! Let’s expose hate crimefor the nonsense notion it is.
- Intersex is the only transsex. So-called trans-sexuals are not ‘transitioning’ but remaining as they were when born, with in effect head and body belonging to different sexes. But again, carry on: expose hate crime for the nonsense notion it is.
- Who cares?
- This is a ruse to bring in sex-discriminatory law: the Law Commission well knows men heavily under-report, and this is through deep biology. So this is to bring in an added category of misogynyby the back door. This would be indirect sex discrimination and, therefore, clearly unlawful.
- It should include men, obviously. This will still lead to anti-male indirect sex discrimination, but it at least reduces it to an extent, even though it remains wrong for the reasons I’ve given in answer 11.
- Either is the deepest sex discrimination and would be unlawful, as I’ve pointed out in answer 11.
- Both are scientifically illiterate. ‘Gender’ is an abuse of terminology. There are sexes, not genders.
- Age does not evoke ‘hatred’.
- How daft can you get?
- Sex workers are not victims: they are exploiters of universal male desire for sex partners in number. A substantial proportion of sex workers play on the profound male self-inhibition against aggressing towards a female, to perpetrate various abuses against their clients without significant fear of retribution. This won’t always hold — the client may be psychopathic, or just pushed that bit too far — and the minority of occasions when it doesn’t accounts for the supposed victimhood of sex workers.
- You are joking?
- The victimhood here is of males who are ‘different’. The great majority of the homeless are male, and being in a state of living on the street in penury makes them stand out as particularly ‘different’. It is not homelessness per se that attracts negative attitudes.
- No. Many political-Left contemporary beliefs, including all concerning identity politics, are hate-mongering, and far from meriting ‘protection’ they merit attack.
- Intersectionalitydoes not exist: scientific investigation shows that it’s the combination of male + ‘different’ is the actual interaction that produces prejudice and hostility NOT the supposed combination of ‘protected characteristics as in identity politics ideology.
- Absolutely not. There MUST be an objective test. There can be no objective measure of intention, and establishing intention depends on a test of the effects of the putative intention, and these themselves must be subject to an objective test and certainly not the say-so of the putative ‘victim’.
- ‘Likely to’ is a weasel construction. The legal test should be that of a ‘reasonableness’ and explicitly exclude expectations form an ideological perspective, which are inherently unreasonable.
- Extreme-feminists need to be hoist by their own petard!
- Absolutely not. This would be used to protect extreme-feminist hate-mongering.
- There is no basis of the notion of prejudice / hatred towards identity politicscategories (protected characteristics). Prejudice/hatred is towards males who are ‘different’.
- This would the most fundamental destruction of basic civil liberties.
- These protections are essential although still less than the minimum to ensure free speech.
- These protections are essential although still less than the minimum to ensure free speech.
- As both are inappropriately highly politicised and re ‘identity politics’ totalitarian hate-mongering towards the mass of ordinary people, then it makes little difference.
- These protections are essential although still less than the minimum to ensure free speech. Especially is this required re scientific papers, that of all publications must be free from censorship of any kind.
- 56-61. No to all. Football supporter groups should be left entirely alone, as they are a major form of free sociality away from the contemporary insanity of identity politics extreme ideology, which is hate-mongering towards ordinary people. Ordinary people should be afforded a refuge from this. Football supporter groups in their friendly rivalry are a major outlet for natural enthusiasm and group affiliation, away from the isolation commonly experienced within modern society; and contrary to sociological myth actively preclude escalation to hostility rather than being a stage along the road to it.
- No. The very last thing anyone needs is some hate-mongerer-in-chief gruppenfuhrer oppressing ordinary people on behalf of a malicious extreme-ideology that should have no place anywhere in government.
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