Saturday, November 3, 2012

#112. Hope Via Understanding Gender Distinctions

ARCHIVE. For a list of all my published posts:

This is the 12th in the series of blog entries I began with #101-- a collection of notes and essays from my files all dealing in one way or another with the emerging new religious consciousness. They are mostly things I've written over the last decade or two to clarify my own thoughts but which I would like to make available for anyone who might be interested.

Post #112 is a few brief notes and thoughts on one of the early books dealing with psychology from an evolutionary perspective. It focuses on the origins of gender distinctions, and make especially good sense in terms of the four-fold understanding of the human psyche.

If you have questions and think I might be of help, you're welcome to send me a note:


EXILES FROM EDEN, Psychotherapy from an Evolutionary Perspective, by Kalman Glantz and John K. Pearce. (W W Norton & Co Inc; (June 1989) ISBN-10: 0393700739

I wrote these notes in Feb, 1995. They are from Chapter 7, the second of five chapters dealing with gender, reproductive strategies and their implications for the contemporary scene.

Sexual reproduction appeared early in the history of terrestrial life. Its purpose is genetic diversity for the sake of evolutionary adaptability to changing environments. Some individuals in a species produce many small sex cells (i.e., males), while others produce fewer but larger ones (i.e., females).

Even in an evolutionarily advanced group such as the lower vertebrates, among fish for example, females deposit eggs somewhere and leave, then males come along and deposit sperm on top of them, then they leave, too. No family life whatsoever!

As vertebrates evolve into land-dwelling mammals, the womb appears as a solution to the problems of reproducing on dry land; milk is also ‘invented’ to nurture the few precious individuals which emerge from the very small number of fertilized eggs which can be accommodated in a uterus.

With milk and wombs, motherhood is introduced to the world.

Motherhood allows for prolonged dependence of the young.

Prolonged dependence favors increased learning and thus higher intelligence.

The mammalian “family” consists of a female with her young and perhaps some female relatives. Virtually all parental investment is supplied by the female. (The human female's predisposition to nurturance and affiliation lies here.)

There is a cost to all this for females, in terms of time, energy, risks of danger, and poor health when resources are scarce.

Mammalian male investment in the family is just about zero so far. Males are peripheral; although, in a very few mammalian species, males may provide limited defense.

Because meat can be carried, with the appearance of primate hunting, male investment becomes a possibility. Male social carnivores share food with young.

As climate changes million years ago caused the widespread rain-forests of the tropics to slowly evolve into savannas, rain-forest dwelling vegetarian primates adapted to the new habitat by gradually involving into grassland-dwelling carnivorous humans. Thus hunting is, if not the very stimulus and source of humanness, at least concomitant in appearance on earth with it. Thus , too, it might be said not that human males became hunters but that male hunters became human.

Males compete with one another for females; more precisely, they compete to be chosen by females. Because far fewer males are needed for mating than the numbers available, females are unwilling to choose any but the best. “Best” is indicated by physical signs of health, strength, agility, etc. (such as horns, manes, dancing and other displays) and by “proper” behavior-- signs which indicate that individuals possessing them have the genes which promote survival and reproduction.

Females also compete with one another. When males become more valuable, females compete to be chosen to choose. The competitive traits are beauty, breasts, openness to year round sex, and orgasmic ability. Selection for both physical appearance and openness to sex without seasonal constraints is readily understandable in terms of evolution, but the evolutionary advantage of breasts and the orgasm is not yet clear.

In any case, human females are in great continuity with their earlier female counterparts: they are often pregnant, preoccupied with child-care, specialists in close-to-home food gathering, and specialists in personal politics as well. Because they are better at words-- better at talking, at relating, at feeling-- they are the heart of the family. Females dominate family politics; they even determine which male(s) will attain a dominate position (as is still true in some Native American societies today).

Thus, women and children are the true core of society, and the natural female (the natural or “wild” woman) is a Great Mother.

But (says the authors) “males have the spotlight, hunting their spectacular animals and performing their dramatic rituals.” Well might we ask which is more correct among primates: that the human male is a hunter, or that the human hunter is male, or that the male hunter is human.

In any case: males must cooperate with one another for the hunt and for the rituals surrounding it, so that, by definition, to be a male human is to be a hunter, and thus a trickster and a shaman all in one.


There would seem to be some strong distinctions between how archaic males and females use the (Jungian) consciousness functions. With regard to the judgment functions, males clearly needed to depend more on their wits (Thinking), while females were more dependent on family-related and inter-personal judgments (Feeling). (So the age old distinction between rational males and emotional females makes some sense.)

But with the perception functions, it seems less a question of preference than of a “division of labor.” While both used the Sensation function, males used it for tracking game, for clever disguises, etc., while females used it in the details of child care.

And while both also used Intuition, women used it for tuning in to the emotional web of the family group, while men-- hunters and shamans by their very maleness-- used it for contact with the animal powers and sacred ancestors of the spirit world. It’s clear, then, how Intuition would have been lost to the male psyche once agriculture was invented.

November, 2012: Today, I'd not say "lost" so much as "gone underground." The Intuition/Imagery function remained in the genes and minds and hearts of men as well as of women. But with the invention of Neolithic agriculture, it was much less needed and valued. 

It is that 'loss' which on the cultural level eventually resulted in religious dualism, patriarchal civilization and rationalist science. And which, in our time of "immense transition," is gradually being recovered as we work toward restoring a balance after many thousands of years.


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