"The world we actually have does not meet my standards." ~Phillip K. Dick

Dr. Who and monogamy’s link to oppression.

So I was watching an episode of doctor who and at one point he’s being trailed by three women (one of which ended up being his wife irl, lucky bastard), and I’m thinking if they loved him and had their way they’d force him to choose between them.

But pretending that all three are human, being what he is and being that he’s an endangered species, that would be bad for everyone. The choice would be good for whichever woman got her way from a selfish gene perspective, and of course out numbering him if they cooperated they would.

Long story short I think the impulsive genetic desire women have for monogamy is one large cause for why cultures throughout history have oppressed women and instead let men more or less run things, and this trend perpetuated for so many generations has led to a genuine inbuilt inclination. All of which stemming from the logistics of sexual reproduction and the genetic arms race we all live in.

This is starting to feel like a microcosm and a history lesson. Think about it like game theory, and look at history and how it played out in a similar way.

So back to the doctor analogy, by default the women can not agree on who should get the doctor but they can agree that only one of them should. Like toddlers fighting over a toy, the one thing they can agree on is that sharing is not an option. They each vote for themselves and create a deadlock, but in this case the deadlock is monogamy itself being ratified. Also while they are deadlocked or canceling each other’s effort, like a tug of war going nowhere, the men are free to cooperate and those that do are given all the advantages economy of scale can give.

So early on, and consistently, without understanding how or why, men worked more or less together or at least in groups, while women fragmented and sabotaged each other with the exact same ferocity and single mindedness that a teen male chases honor and power to impress the girl he wants.

So each time this happens the women get half of what they want, which has a kind of social symmetry to it, what with the binary nature of so much of life. But the moment they force a choice they then turn on each other. The only thing they can universally agree on is monogamy, and they have won that battle more or less globally. This leaves them culturally vulnerable and it creates a common good problem which may or may not be addressed by the culture.

Since the choice the culture is given boils down to letting women have their way or not, we end up with two sets of cultures, those that let them have their way more or less and those that didn’t.

It seems the ones that let them have their way died out. I guess that style of culture was simply too maladaptive in the ancient world. One can only speculate how they’d do now.

The cultures that didn’t let them have their way in theory could fully exploit the sexual model of reproduction, chose the single greatest male and give him all the mates he could handle, elevating the entirety of the male population to that genetic standard in a single generation. Adaptation on fast forward. This would spread immunity or other genetic desirable traits very rapidly. (Like the mongols and their congenital tolerance for lactose for example, assuming they had a winner take all mating model prior to Khan.)

Khan and Ramses spring to mind. Of course that’s a radical over simplification but you see what I mean. I think this worked at a certain scale but once cultures created different contexts for themselves, or grew to a different size, they forgot why they were not letting women have their way and having forgotten the original reason, got into some very bad habits. Assuming they ever even made the choice consciously. Also as per usual they made a tradition of what was originally the result of a complicated decisions or even an unknown one that just turned out well. (Like the Jewish prohibition on certain kinds of food protecting Jews from infection before humanity had a clue what infection was. Some superstitions are adaptive in some contexts.)

So the end result are cultures which began with a very specific prohibition for the good of the group and it bled out into other prohibitions that weren’t good or bad for the group sufficient to cull themselves leading to a situation where powerlessness begets more powerlessness and you end up with the older cultures reaching a point of maximum possible oppression (the middle east) or culture breaking (women’s lib).

I can’t help but think fondly of a world populated by grownups who know how to share their toys. Even if that sharing meant I’d never get to play with any as alphas would mass harems much like they now mass money and I’d be equally screwed. But then that’s the difference with me, I don’t mind making the culture better even if doing so makes my life worse.

Updated: February 22, 2013 — 9:34 pm
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