Essays and Theories
The Origin of the Angry White Male: The Jock/Conservative Connection; Falling Sperm
Counts: An Evolutionary Perspective.©
(Formally titled: Politics2000:The Origin of the Angry White Male: The Jock/Conservative Connection; Falling Sperm Counts: An Evolutionary Perspective)©
William A. Spriggs
I have to admit that the Republican party has made some impressive gains in controlling Congress, the State Legislatures, and the Governorships around the country; gaining momentum since the early 1980s with Ronald Reagan winning the White House and including the takeover of the House and the Senate in the conservative revolution of 1994. As frustrated liberals stood by and watched, it seemed almost like a force; a movement unstoppable and incomprehensible. Until now. The Clinton Boom years have changed the entire economic landscape and because of this, the country is about to swing in the opposite direction toward a period of benevolence and empathy. And the main reason is resources; the core of evolutionary psychology.
America's political spectrum has always swung from the left to right and back again throughout its short history. This modern conservative movement was born in the slow economic years from the late 1970s to the early 1990s when industrial change swept over the United States. It was a terrible time of economic upheaval in America when other countries were producing better and less expensive products. Many industrial and political analysts in this country thought that the United States was finished as an industrial power as Japan held sway as the instrument of change and modernization.
Impacted economically the hardest in this disruption was a large pool of hard-working male grunts who, (average in salary terms around 12 to 22 dollars an hour), saw factory after factory in this country close their doors. Many of these factories were shut by the hidden giants who rarely show themselves; the powerful males who believe that only under their tutelage and influence will the stars and planets align themselves. If people would just listen to their advice and blindly follow there sage examples, all will fall into its proper place. These economic powerhouse males who hold sway over the lives of tens of thousands of people would be the equivalent of an able ape in the simplest of jungle settings. The top tier position that was once won by physical strength and endurance has been substituted in our evolutionary voyage with its resource equivalent: those whom had the most resources in the form of money and economic alliances to help maintain that position. The power of the muscle to gain the top tier of one's hierarchy has been replaced with the coin of the realm as a test of a man's true power in our culture today; especially in America. If you ain't making 20 mil a year -- your a loser.
At the same time that the economic policies of these top dogs spread, the front-line blue-collar grunts were still expected, by the very nature of our historical culture and societal norms, to provide protection and substance to his family; to be the comforter against all adversaries. The blue-collar worker saw proof positive in the visual and printed news reports of desperate people in foreign lands willing to work at one half the wages of even his country's minimum wage. In this country, a wage that is unlivable for a man and his family. As management moved off shore, they divided and conquered the last vestiges of union unity, and left the once proud male worker with little recourse but to adapt in harsh environment or perish.
This scenario, repeated in town and city across the land became a constant, harsh reminder to the male blue-collar worker that he was powerless and weak and could do little about the changes flowing around him. What's a guy to do when he can't do anything? Like many, they began to listen to the gossip of others about jobs and opportunities, and when desperate, for any glimmer of hope, word, or message that may bring a solution. As paychecks shrank or disappeared, conservative venom aimed at this core audience stressed that bloated democratic government programs headed by do-nothing bureaucrat doling out piles of money to shifty "black bucks" and lazy "welfare queens" were sucking what little hard earned gains from the pockets of every self reliant American man who paid taxes, and thus supported these worthless beings. As I have written many times before, evolutionary psychology is ultimately about the resources. The hidden message that a solution is near if the "problem" were to be eliminated fell on fertile ground. Its a guy thing. Its in our genes yes, but mostly, its in our culture. The enemy has been identified who threatens your clan, your village, or your town; now is it time to send warriors out and attack the problem before it destroys your family, the very core of civilized humankind.
The conservatives found fertile ground for their selfish creed on radio stations whose main function is to report and broadcast the sports. Simple and brilliant. It is in this venue they found receptive ears where air time was cheap. Not being an avid sports fan, and even less a person who listens to conservative venom, it completely passed my attention until the shootings in Columbine High sent shock waves into every corner of society. I only became consciously aware of the sports-talk-conservative connection only after local media attention brought several of these participants together on one stage and I began listening to the conservative Mike Rosen in the mornings in my Denver area. In the afternoon, the same sports-talk radio hosts the widely popular Rush Limbaugh.
You would think that a bunch of gruff, testosterone-laden males, who work at jobs that one could be described as "blue-collar," and most likely belong to a labor union, would be inclined to be for the Democrats and against the hard wall of top-down managerial principles. Well, at one time they were. What happened was that blue-collar manufacturing jobs disappeared by the millions to be replaced by the information age technologies. But of the remaining grunt work positions left, and the new ones created, the dominate phenotype usually prevails. A phenotype is the outside physical characteristics; hair color, height, skink color, etc. You know, first hired, last to be laid off?
By studying the resources alignments on this web site, you should now have a fairly good understanding what I am writing about. Since the domestication of plant and animals some 10,000 years ago, resources flowed to those whose socialization culture dominated the landscape. As my Resource Retention Rule suggests, once resources flow into a person's or family hands, every attempt is made to keep the advantage that those resources bring. If the power of the industrial world cascaded down the timeline from Euro-American heritage, that translates in our country to the white male of European descent. Usually, it means a numerical advantage of counting heads, but it could also mean whomsoever controlled the economic purse strings at a particular longitude and latitude.
Whether the conservative movement won over the front-line group of males deliberately with a well-mapped out plan, or just a solid confirmation of the end result from the link between the two that was accomplished by trial and error matters not one whit. What the conservative movement has succeeding in doing is to equate poor general resource economic conditions that the angry white male is suffering and attached it to liberal governmental programs aimed as assisting racial and ethnic minorities as the source of the problem; individual's who are normally considered lower on the hierarchical social ladder.
The conservative hierarchical meta message pitch goes something like this: You are higher in the social order than "those people" and if you eliminate or reduce the influence of these programs that help "those people" you will have more for yourself and your family. If you follow the conservative doctrine, the resources that are allowed to go to "them" would be or should be going to you because you work harder than those "unwilling" to work. (Of course the sales pitch does not seem to mention that because they are white and male that they were most likely hired first at whichever jobs are located away from minority areas). You control the culture and purse strings of this country, and "they" (the poor and lazy) are dragging you down by the good will of bleeding-heart liberals. The mechanism of the message is the same as any hate group coming forth with anti-Semitic or racial slurs -- only the degree of the venom is different -- always subtle and polite and presented in legal and culturally accepted techniques. Perhaps the venom is only a one on the hate scale of ten, but the mechanism is still the same, nevertheless.
In evolutionary terms, the able dogs, who control the flow of resources, which everyone else wants, are convincing the beta dogs that the charlie and delta dogs on the outlying edges of the tribe or village are consuming too much of the resources and need to be trimmed back. Between the lines of the conservative doctrine lies the message that if you want the good life like the able dogs have, then members of the beta dog rank (and some of the charlie and delta rank) have to take care of this little social problem. For starters, the conservatives suggested in the Republican "Revolution," that they try and eliminate Affirmative Action and Welfare; both resource transference devices driven by compassion and empathy of "government." But something else is going on in evolutionary terms that even the able dogs might not be aware: That by convincing the beta dogs and others to take care of the "little problem," it also insures that more resources are not only more available for the beta dogs, but it also relieves pressure of the beta dogs coveting the able dog's treasure chest. In a phrase coined in the early 1980s by Nicholas Blurton-Jones, an anthropologist, "tolerated theft" theorizes that among hunter-gatherers, the sharing of meat from a kill evolved because the one who brings back the kill is relentlessly begged and shamed into sharing the prize. (you can almost hear Newt Gringrich whining about having to give up some of his giraffe kill). Understanding the theory is very simple; the cost to the defender to exclude others in gaining a piece of the kill would be too great. It would be easier to share some of the "wealth." I call these two behavior mechanisms that tug at each other, The Resource Retention Rule, and Resource Attainment Bias; the peaceful coexistence between the two behaviors, I call The Resource Differential Tolerance Ratio. If the visible differences between the two is deemed to be too large, those without will take. (read: physical take-over).
I strongly believe that much of these simple behaviors have evolved into the our modern day lives. We see the tension between those that have and those that do not have very clearly. Although not a concise and accurate statement, there is general belief that the wealthy of this country is considered to be conservative and right wing. It is always easier in our modern American society to abuse those lower in the hierarchy whom have little or no money; our judicial system is a perfect example. Its Machiavellian in its simplest form, but hey, its all legal, right? The question that the philosophers have to debate is who made laws and whom do they benefit the most. Ultimately, its all about the resources, people.
Being male and a blue-collar union member, I can understand the obsession some of my blue-collar work-mates have by listening to sports-talk radio incessantly. It blunts the pain of hard labor on your bones and allows the brain to drift toward strategies of any upcoming confrontations that may threaten one's self and family. In the environment in which I roam, brutal strength and bravado still prevail. One still lives by the endurance that our male ancestors fought and died for; keeping the self and family alive is job one. Is aggressive behavior really in our male genes? Some of it, I believe, yes. I also believe that behavior is still mostly based on cultural environment at the Longitude and Latitude where we and our families live. Are rural Texas male ranch-hands more aggressive in their mental thoughts and outward actions than males who frequent art galleries in New York's upper-east side? I'm really not sure because I have never been in both locations, but I can make a fairly educated guess that the facts would support the suggestion that that is an accurate assessment.
Talk is verbal news that we have depended upon for hundreds of thousands of year to comminute our intentions, feelings, hopes, and dreams to others within our group. It is communication of the group socialization norms taking shape within the group. Talk, sports, and radio is verbal news broadcast from individuals who control large resources aimed at those below who follow sports closely. It is the news of male warriors bonding near and far at its highest level. News of the home team, the warriors who must show their strength and endurance in their competitive journey, whether it be daily, every other day, or once a week. It is news of imagery warriors that must be coordinated to gain the resources in which will help in our survival. It is memories buried deep within our genealogical and cultural memes. Today's battles may be different from our ancient past, but it matters not that the news of the sport be cricket, football, basketball, baseball; they are all an imaginary battle between groupings of athletic males who must bond for the fight to be won. Until just recently in our long evolutionary voyage, it has always been the male's duty to go off and fight in wars and face the enemy in mortal combat. The sword has never been beat into a plowshare; it has rested above the hearth in a high place of honor. Sport talk radio is verbal news telling the listener when and where to take up the sword in the evolutionary substitute for battle.
What is important here is that wealthy able males who are highly competitive in their own business dealings, also can relate to the competitive flow of hormones that are involved just like their blue-collar brethren. After all, if we share 98.6% of our genes with the chimpanzees, how much is shared between a Chief Executive Officer and a front-line grunt? Male politicians are also able males in a different venue, but still aggressive in there alliances maneuvers; it matters not what the prize to capture may be, it is the behavior mechanism that obtains that goal that we much focus upon that is important. Is it any wonder that sports metaphors are popular with CEOs and politicians? "Management will stiffen its line in the bargaining position with the Union." "Let's pop that legislative bill up middle and see where it takes us."
Studies have shown that the average male testosterone rises by twenty percent when the home team wins and has a correspondent decline when there is a loss. It feels good to vanquish the enemy and bring home the rewards of victory; it releases the endorphins that exhilarate males and females. [I speculate that bringing back meat to share with others in the clan released these endorphins because all knew that they would survive to see the next several days. Thousand of years of repeated behavior produces inter-body chemical changes that co-evolves into genetic signals.] Behind each campaign, there is an objective to be gained for the hard fight. The objective is victory, but the rewards could be the plunder of the enemies' valued possessions or it could also be the women of the enemy who have been raped more as means to humiliate the male enemy then to vanquish. As a genetic strategy, it places the victor's genes in the enemies' females to convince the enemy of their weakness and the victor's superiority. Shifting to modern times, it transforms itself into a large shiny cup that represents the monetary reward at the end of a victorious battle. To men who labor in the fields and factories, it is our biological and cultural heritage.
And speaking of biology, I would like to touch upon very delicate subject which is very near and dear to most of us rough and tough guys: Sperm. I have some very bad news for my fellow male companions out there: according to the chief of reproductive epidemilology section at the California Department of Health,( Knight-Ridder News Service, Nov. 24, 1997), sperm counts have dropped an average of 1.5% per year since the 1930s. This is very alarming because at that rate our gender will be completely useless in reproductive functions by the year 2500. (that date is just a guess -- it could be sooner). Lionel Tiger, the Charles Darwin Professor of Anthropology at Rutgers University, in his new book, The Decline of Males, Golden Books, New York, 1999, writes that the reduction of the sperm counts in males can be traced to the pill. He, and several of his colleagues, have theorized that the pill tricks the female body into thinking that it is pregnant and the female no longer creates a pheromone which which drifts out from the female sex organs when she is not pregnant which then excites the production of sperm in the male. Now, as all my fellow males know, that when our balls are hanging low and heavy full of sperm, we begin looking for a depository to place this DNA load.
The problem with his theory is that as an animal, we are lousy smellers. In fact the human species in comparison with our "lower" animal relatives are worse swimmers, runners, predators, and not to mention, are not as sexually prolific. Our closest relatives, the chimpanzees and bonbons mate with more females of their own variants than a modern human teenage boy could dream about in a lifetime. And as such, Dr. Tiger has forgotten to mention that we modern humans wear clothes, which would block the transmission of pheromones; we bath on a regular basis, which would tend to eliminate any odor build-up; and of course, let's throw in our culture's obsession to block any vaginal odors in order to become "fresh" and "clean." (it's a marketing gimmick to make people buy the products of their clients). Add those influences, plus the fact that we are terrible smellers, and Dr. Tiger's theory falls in the dust of logic. (I'm always skeptical of scientists who have contributed an article or two for the Wall Street Journal).
I agree that there is most likely a pheromone that does emanate from the female, ( and possibly from the male), but because of our social and cultural behaviors, and limited physical abilities, we males are not aware of the connection. What I believe is behind the 90% reduction in sperm besides bathing, protective clothing, and aroma substitutes, is the rise in chemical pollutants since the beginning of the industrial age some 180 years ago and the mental stress and strain of modern living, i.e. road rage. (I will not go into detail at this time concerning the chemicals responsible due to the length of this essay). I believe that as a species, we have substituted the short-term gain of resource attainment in exchange for long-term survival. We have done it by being unaware of the consequences and being unaware of the results. Until now.
Do you think that this is all nonsense? Try a brief study of your own. I want you to type in the word "Vigara" into any good search engine on the internet. My own search found over 210 entries in just two searches, with over 40 web sites available in which to purchase the drug. This drug helps the male achieve a long and lasting erection. It is not an aphrodisiac, but the word of the drug's ability to relieve a hushed over subject until just last year, (thank you Ken Starr), has been nothing less then phenomenal. The wide spread use and acceptance of the drug, including males in their twenties, (as evidenced by ads in youth oriented newspapers), makes one believe that the problem of erectile dysfunction is more wide spread than thought, which would add strength to the study concerning the 90% drop in sperm reduction. Less face it, you can't have an erection if there is no sperm to deposit. (well, some males can, but I am speaking of the majority statistical sampling of all males). I hazard to guess that the presence of sperm buildup in the male testicles sends chemical messages to the brain to begin to look for a depository.
If everything is cool in tough-guy land, how come there is so much excitement about a drug that helps relieve erectile dysfunction? If everything is cool in conservative jock land, how come there has been an explosion of news and availability of the drug? What it may indicate is that things are not going well in macho land and could be a great backdoor entry for convincing the conservative/jock white male crowd to shift over to looking at the environment and other subjects.
There of course may be other, not so obvious, factors in the sperm reduction debate; the stress of everyday life -- competition, the daily commute with sucking up fumes of our industrial successes all are contributing to the demise of the male sexual prowess. If you want to get a man to change his opinion on pollution and vote on positive issues that effect the environment, drop the subtle hint that his pecker is limp because of his own waste. The perfect medium to do that, I suggest, is the same place where the conservatives found their angry white male and the core of their strength in the first place. Just do it on jock talk radio in the form of policy advertisements.
As for any liberals reading this essay, I suggest kicking it up the middle between the two goalposts.
Origin: July 12, 1999
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