Essays and Theories

Evolutionary Psychology and the Male Gender:
An Open Letter to My Gender.

William A. Spriggs
May 5th, 1997

Only two species of mammals have ever been observed to form aggressive coalitions against other members of their own species: Chimpanzees and humans. The male of our species has recurrently engaged in warfare over recorded human history, whereas, there is not a single documented case of women forming same-sex coalitions to go to war. D. Buss quoting Tooby and Cosmides (The evolution of war and its cognitive foundations. Institute for Evolutionary Studies, Technical Report #88-1, 1988)

The understanding of human behavior has advanced at a rapid pace in recent years due largely to the growing acceptance of evolutionary thought in analyses of that behavior. The evidence is becoming quite clear as we look into the microscope of our behaviors that we must break down human behavior into male and female analyses, strategies, and executions. When both gender's behaviors are separated, combined, and separated again, the clouded waters of our behaviors become crystal clear. We need both male and female interpreters who can reach deep inside their own behaviors, and armed with a knowledge of evolutionary psychology, tell us, from the perspective of their gender, what behavioral mechanisms are in operation for them. It has to be done this way because there is no way that we as males could possibly interpret the genetic software of females as they face each new problem-solving situation; nor, in reverse, can the female truly know the messages deep within our genetic heritage. The debate that nature and nurture twirl a dance, with nurture the dominate partner, still requires storytellers to tell us the deep secrets that nature holds. To my fellow males, in order for you to intertwine your knowledge with feminine interpretations, I highly recommend the studies done by Helen E. Fisher, Sarah Blaffer-Hrdy and Barbara Smuts.

Despite the publication of a recent book that trumpeted that science has discovered all that it is going to discover, science still continues to surprise us with new insights. As a case in point, it has been just recently that the male gender as a whole has become aware of overwhelming evidence that it has survived the entire evolutionary voyage with another gender. From this open letter to you, my fellow males, I hope that a better understanding of who you are as a gender will evolve; that your role in the evolutionary voyage will grow: and that this new knowledge will have positive, concrete effect on all our male behavior.

To accurately judge our own gender's behavior, you must stand back from the herd and observe your behavior as a living, breathing organism that has an evolutionary past. You know that you had parents, and that they had parents. You know this because most likely you have seen them or the recorded images of their existence. You may even have researched your genealogical heritage in vast databases stored in libraries and know that your genes reach far into recorded history. But now I am asking that you reach even further back before the beginning of recorded history, into your ancestral past, so as to gain knowledge of your present day behavior. For the brain that you process is basically the same brain that drew art upon the cave walls in southern France. This detached observation is something that all humans, but particularly males, do not do very well, or often. When we look ourselves in the mirror, we tend to minimize the damage that age or excesses have brought upon us, and tend to maximize the positive. The image in the mirror can do no wrong. It is time to exam the human species from a detached point of view as animals are observed in the wild. It is time to view the male animal that stares back at us for what it really represents. It is also time to report the truth and stop using science to serve political and social agendas that benefit our gender.

The human male has accomplished much. We are indeed a noble beast that has done his part admirably. We are strong, swift, intelligent, daring, gentle, inquisitive, and brave -- and in your case, handsome. Before the domestication of plants and animals, about 10,000 years ago, (or about 99.9 of our cultural existence since that date), the human male's greatest contribution to our survival as a species has been our evolved ability to Hunt, Explore, and Defend. (HED). What set us upon this trilogy of hunting, exploring and defending is still not yet clear. Speculations that, due to advancing polar ice packs the African forests where our ancestors lived experienced a profound climate change around 2.5 million years ago seem to be gaining credence. ( Read pg. 197, The Fossil Trail: How We Know What We Think We Know About Human Evolution, by Ian Tattersall, Oxford University Press, 1995). This quantum shift in the Earth's makeup produced a dramatic retrenchment of the humid, lush forests where our ancestors once lived into dry and hot savanna plain. We had to adapt or perish. The fruits and vegetation we ate, once in abundance, withered. These food sources had to be replaced by animals that grazed on these dry and hot savannas. Because of the large size of our brains, our species had to find a way to protect ourselves from the punishing heat that beat down on us. By standing upright on two feet, we found that there was less bodymass available to absorb the heat from the sun. (And while we are on the subject of cooling, was the loss of body hair of those who survived the punishing heat best suited to survival of the the fittest?) At the same time, carrying food back to our campsite was made easier because we could now carry ever larger prizes in our upper arms, giving further impetus for natural selection to entrench bipedalism. The reason to walk on two legs became more and more apparent as a means of survival and not of convenience.

We learned to hunt muscle-bearing animals that hunted over the land like us. Most were on four legs; some were larger than others. Some we captured by ourselves; others we needed the help of our fellow male hunters. We had no choice. We were forced to hunt and kill meat to survive. Did we enjoy the taste of blood? Probably not, as it was something new that our bodies never had to assimilate before. And the red color of our prey's blood was similar to our own life-giving fluid which perhaps gave us pause to ponder. We found that what we ate kept us and our families alive, and for that we gave thanks. Not only did it keep us alive, but we found that the bone marrow and muscle tissue gave us strength and stamina. When we captured our prey, we returned with the prize to the hearth, so that all in our grouping shared in the feast of life. We learned the prey's maneuvers and then we learned to out-maneuver them. As we grew in skill, we hunted in all-male groupings (AMG's) in order to capture even larger animals, which in turn, increased the food supply for an ever larger clan population. We males found that forming cooperative alliances benefited not just ourselves, but all of us in our separate family groupings. This complicated and yet beautiful coordination between muscle strength, voice communication, conceptual maneuvering, predatory weapon-inventing, open plain survival techniques, group social communications, and male bonding alliances forced our brains even larger. It takes few brain connections to capture a leaf or to pick a fruit. If you need it, you create it; if you don't use it, you lose it. It's open for speculation, but I feel that we owe the male gender most of the credit for our survival during our voyage from rainforest to savanna plain; the emigration northward and finally the domestication period in Europe and Asia. Why we emigrated north is speculative, but I hazard to think that our male ancestors followed or searched for animals to hunt.

The females, meanwhile, though doing much work of their own, were watching and comparing our skills at hunting, exploring, and defending, and each vied for the best amongst us for the benefit of her children and the future of the species. This gender we call woman is no fool.

Long ago, when not engaged in the kill of the prey, we explored. We explored alone, using the skills we acquired from others, and we explored with other males in groups. We explored the soil for traces of prey and noted the texture of that soil and the plants that grew alongside our path. We took chances and ate the plants and roots when our supplies were low. We noted, in passing, future water and wood resources for our clan and possible new sites for our camps. We explored the sky with our eyes to note changes in the weather patterns which could help in future hunts. We explored the night sky and used the patterns of lights in it to help guide us at night. We explored the air with our noses and associated smells with the time of day and with passing prey. When we reached the end of our farthest journeys -- with our supplies exhausted -- we looked out from the high peak and asked the ourselves the male question: What lies out there beyond my grasp?

Because of our evolutionary successes, the urge to roam, explore, question, experiment, and hunt for food had became part of our male genetic software. All of these repeated experiences of perhaps two million years have been logged and coded into genetic algorithms to create the behavioral mechanisms we continue to use to analyze each new problem or challenge in our present day situations.

There is nothing more important than the force that carries our genes from one generation to another. There is a driving life force within all of us that wants to live forever. Yes, it is there -- I have felt it, and so have you. But we are still infants in our evolutionary voyage and biologically, we don't yet know how to live for as long as we wish. So we do the next best thing. Our innate instructions make us find a partner and pass our genetic traits into the next generation. Finding a mate is both simple and difficult. To you, my fellow male, I must report some bad news that may deflate your engorged ego. In evolutionary genetic terms, today's female is not interested in the size of your penis, but in the size of your wallet and the resources that its contents could provide in assisting her children. The female is guardian of the seed and through her flows all past and future genetic instructions of our species. Her role is vital, but so is yours. From you she needs the highest quality of attributes to help provide and protect future generations. It is her obligation to make sure that you will not abandon her and the child that you will help produce. As a result of her choosing amongst us, our genetic software is programmed to make us compete in a dominance struggle with other males in order to obtain as much resources as possible so as to attract the highest-ranking female possible. It is the admittance price that we males all must pay to pass our genes into the next generation. (For the latest confirmation of this assumption, see Matt Ridley's magazine article "Why Should Males Exist?", U.S. News & World Report, August 25, 1997)

After we find a mate, the last phase of our ancestral trilogy kicks in. The birth of the child that we know is ours heralds a new stage in our lives. We males undergo a change in our personalities and behaviors as hormones cascade through our body and brain in response to this event. These new instructions call for us to defend and protect the child with a ferocity that only we fellow males can understand. For those of you who have not experienced the holding of your newborn son or daughter in your arms, I am afraid that you must wait to feel the change going through your mind. It is as strong as puberty.

Defense of our genetic interests is one of the strongest of our aggressive behaviors as a male. We will die to defend our family, our clan, our village, our city, our region, and our country. The closer the circle is drawn to our own family and genetic interests, the more determined we males become in our defensive behaviors. It is our genetic gift and curse. In a competitive world, the males that fail to protect children and the women who bear them will find little support in forming alliances from fellow males in their ranking struggles. This is very serious because we males are most successful at resource-gathering when we form alliances with other males. The old boy network is still operable and successful because it works.

Males have done many great deeds. We have explored the moon; we have gone to the deepest parts of the ocean; we have opened trade routes to the East, West, South and North; we have split the atom; we have sailed around the globe alone; we have built the highest skyscrapers; built vast networks of railroads; dug the deepest mines; painted the Sistine Chapel; written the Magna Carta; written the American Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and our founding fathers forged one of the most powerful nations on the planet that exemplifies political courage that other nations willingly follow.

But, there is a dark side that also has evolved in this trilogy of behaviorism. Perhaps because of our evolutionary successes, which include vast accumulations of resources, which perhaps encourages excesses, we tend to overlook our negative behaviors. We males tend to believe that whatever has happened in the past is part of our evolutionary heritage, and therefore acceptable. After all, it has gotten us to this point in the planet's history, hasn't it? Perhaps this is part and parcel of that view in the mirror -- the mirror that tells us that we can do no wrong.

Now it is time for that honest evaluation that I mentioned earlier. As a male, the following may be difficult for you to accept -- but, as general rules:

All of the above are behavioral mechanisms of the aggressive male. I could go on and add a few more to the list, but I think I have given your brain synapses enough energy to pop off for quite some time. But, let me add a most important note: As a cultural norm in our present society, it is the female of the species who has led the natural selection process into shaping the way we males act behaviorally. It is the female who has the highest potential ranking, the one who would benefit most from those attributes, who is most desirously sought by the highest-ranking males. The face that launched a thousand ships has led the male down the aggressive path. In our American culture, we males merely have to look at such institutions as Playboy, Penthouse, Hooters restaurants, and beauty pageants to see the prize that is offered to the male for his winning, aggressive, resource-accumulating behavior: Sex in exchange for resources. Sex in exchange for nest building, child-rearing assistance, status ranking, and protection. Men seek sex by offering financial rewards.  Women seek financial stability to rasie the child.

Perhaps, I am being too frank in my explanation, and I can hear the rightful protests from feminist, who, because of their failure -- through no fault of their own -- to be at our society's cultural beauty pinnacle have the most to lose. It is their shunning by society, based solely on their physical attractiveness that causes them to fall outside this perceptive acceptance curve, thus giving rise to their protests. But here's the rub -- our two genders are in the current mess that we are in because there is a large percentage of both the male and female gender who fall within, or land near, these acceptable beauty norms or wealth accumulations and perceive that they are satisfied with the current system and the benefits that it brings. The vast majority of the high-ranking females who fall within the bell curve enjoy making the choice between men and experiencing the exhilarating power over men that their choosing can create. On the other side of the coin, the vast majority of males who fall within the bell curve enjoy the power that resource accumulation has over competing females that seek out high-ranking males and they find that position exhilarating. Try reading the May 12, 1997 issue of People magazine with its cover story: "The 50 Most Beautiful People in the World" from the evolutionary perspective that I have just discussed above.

Just outside the bell curve of our ideal Hollywood types of female beauty and male tycoons, reside those who desire to belong within the bell curve. It is this vast majority that leads the direction of the herd as they still believe that they have a chance at belonging within the bell curve. It is those males and females who fall hopelessly away from the bell curve with no hope of gaining access, that find the most dissatisfaction in our cultural ways and are very likely to express complaints. 

Our culture is the primary cause of the male's aggressive behavior. It varies due the influence of the culture where we males live. To the male: Pass your genes. How? Attract a female, friend. How do I attract a female? Look around friend. Do what other males around you are doing. The same cultural laws apply to the female gender. To the female: Pass you genes. How? Attract a male, dear. How do I attract a male? Look around you dear and see what the other girls are doing. The sexual behavior pattern of both the male and the female is set by DNA instructions plus CLL -- Cultural Longitude and Latitude on the planet. (This is highly speculative, but I hazard to guess the DNA instructions weigh in at about 20%, and the cultural environment -- where on the planet we live -- to be about 60%, the rest of the percentage going to autonomic systems which once again is genetic).

I hope that I have given you, the male, a better understanding to the feelings that dwell deep within all of us who call themselves male. My hope in writing this essay was that by giving you the good tasting medicine first, it would make it easier to take the bad tasting medicine of the truth about ourselves. My hope is that once you can clearly see all of the good and the bad that we males have done to the planet and to those around us, perhaps we can adjust the evolutionary process by the use of our cognitive skills and evolve into even something greater than the merely accidental drift of our past.

As for my final words of this letter to you, the male, remember the first rule of evolution: Evolution is the adaptation to local environments. Knowing the truth of that environment will help you evolve into the true destiny that is uniquely male.   Our American culture is based too much on physical appearance by the female and financial successes by the male.  I know that it will change, but when -- and how fast, that is up to the common people and the ones that lead them to decide. I'm hoping that it will be the male that leads the way to the truth.  You are the hunter, explorer, and defender. Now, take us down the truthful path.

May 5, 1997

Updated: June 14., 1998

To further advance your studies of the male "criminal" mind, and the male gender in general, I have added a listing of mental disorders taken from the DSM-IV, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental disorders, Fourth Edition that appear to visit the male gender in larger percentages than found in the female gender.  This list is not to imply that the male gender as a whole is mentally ill, but that, in evolutionary psychology, the modularity of the mind would also   include those that are having difficultly adjusting to their local environments.   The Original list that I complied consisted of 42 disorders, but I  reduced the list to those disorders that I thought had a much greater impact on the male gender.  The final list came to 26.  Caution should be taken as they are presented: out of context, and should be considered speculative in nature when combined in their totality.  Please take particular note of the disorders that occur in the 16 to 26 years of age range and then rethink my above essay.

On the left, you will find the page number in the DSM-IV with the corresponding mental disorder.  Since this is a commercial web site, we have avoided quoting the manual word for word in its description of the the disorder.

Page 49                 Reading Disorders          Males are 60 to 80% more likely to be diagnosed with the Reading Disorder than females.

Page 64                  Stuttering                         Males are three times more likely to stutter than females.     

Page 68                 Autistic Disorder             Four to five males are more likely than one female to be Autistic.

Page 82                 Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder             In the general population, the male is four times more likely than the female to have ADD/HD.   In clinical settings, the male is nine times more likely than the female to be diagnosed to have ADD/HD.

Page 88                 Conduct Disorder          Males are much more likely than females to have problems in school or the work environment involving discipline, vandalism, or fistfighting.

Page 102                Tourtette's Disorder (rapid movements called tics).             One and a half to three males are more likely than a female to have this disorder.

Page 120                 Stereotypic Movement Disorder           More commonly know as head banging, this disorder is diagnosed in three males for every female.

Page 188                Substance-Related Disorders                In almost every drug related substance, the male is more likely than the female to be affected by this disorder.  In an almost exact matching of the primary hunter-gatherer age group of our own primal ancestors, the ages seem to be most prevalent between 18 and 24 years of age.  It is my strong opinion that the lack of resource opportunities is in direct proportion to substance abuse.  

Page 235                 Hallucinogen Use and Intoxication             Males between the ages of 18-25 years seem to be three times more likely than females to use hallucinogens.

Page 241                 Inhalant-Related Disorders                  70% to 80% of emergency room visits involve males in their adolescence.

Page 254                  Opioid Dependence   For every three to four males, only one female seems to be dependent on opidids.  Usage after the age of 40 has been called "maturing out" in the DSM-IV manual, but if you read my essay above, you will find that this merely reflects the rising of serotonin levels in the aging male that produces this "mellowing out."

Page 260                 Phencyclidine-Related Disorders (PCP)            As with page 188, males account for about 75% of emergency room visits.

Page 522 -- 524     Paraphilias                This is the most startling section of the study.  All the Paraphilias below are almost exclusively male in their behavioral mechanisms.  The only exception appears to be Sexual Sadism, in which for every 20 males, only one with the disorder will be female.  All of the behavior mechanisms are meant to sexually arouse and or enhance sexual orgasms. They include:

Page 535                 Gender Identity Disorder                Males with this disorder outnumber females by 5:1 in general; 2 or 3:1 in clinical settings.

Page 559                Primary Hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness)             They syndrome known as Kleine-Levin is diagnosed in three males for each female.

Page 571                 Breathing-Related Sleep Disorder                 Commonly known as snoring, this disorder is about eight times more common in males than in females.

Page 614                 Pyromania                 Pyromania is much more prevalent in males than in females.  It is my strong opinion that the behavior shows up more in males of lower socioeconomic and learning dysfunctional young males as a method to receive attention from adults as a message that they are shunned by their peers because of their academic difficulties.  The physical act of Pyromania is easier to accomplish (to them) than academic achievement.

Page 660                 Nacissistic Personality Disorder                This disorder is most common in males, with the male-to-female ratio of 2 or 3:1.  The disorder is the need for admiration from others; lack of empathy to others, and thought scenarios of grandiosity.

Page 671                 Obsessive-Complusive Personality Disorder                There are approxiamately two males to every female with this disorder.


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