Thursday, July 08, 2010

Philalethes #9 - Immaculate Conception

Sea horses are vertebrates Indeed they are; my error. I’m not good at thinking/writing in the haste required by these forums. Nor am I expert in biology; that’s not my point.

Unfortunately for the sake of your argument, females, or any other individual, cannot change their biology. There are many species, including birds, fish and most amphibians, which the females lay eggs regardless of the presence of males. The problem? The eggs are infertile. Every time. The male is NECESSARY for reproduction. In humans? Well, the Mother Mary excepting, there are no cases of Immaculate Conception documented. Why? Because it takes a male to create life.

Well, this particular thread started with my mention of a number of known species (at least dozens, probably hundreds, maybe more) in which it does not take a male to create life. These species are assumed to have consisted of females and males at some point, but now consist only of females. I don’t know how evolutionary biologists think that happened; given the example of the geckos, in which male+female species always overcome female-only species in head-to-head competition, it’s difficult to construct a simple Darwinian model in which an individual female who reproduced without benefit of fertilization would have an immediate advantage over her “heterosexual” sisters in the same environment. Nevertheless, somehow it happened.

The New Mexican Whiptail lizard ( Cnemidophorus neomexicanus ), for instance, is a female-only species; no males of this species have ever been found. She reproduces by laying eggs, which, though unfertilized and presumably haploid, nevertheless hatch as baby female New Mexican Whiptail lizards, essentially clones of their mother. Some such female-only lizard species engage in a kind of lesbian sex, in which one female mounts another, presumably to stimulate egg production; of course no fertilization occurs, but the eggs do hatch and produce the next generation of lizards.

("The simple fact is that every woman must be willing to be identified as a lesbian to be fully feminist." –National NOW Times, Jan.1988)

There are, I gather, examples of such female-only (not asexual, as in amoebas) reproduction in all the major life groups (reptiles, amphibians, fishes, invertebrates, plants) except the warm-blooded birds and mammals — I presume because the pace of life, evolution and competition simply don’t allow for it among the latter. As illustrated by the example of the geckos, it appears (and makes sense) that the primary requirement for this evolutionary development (or devolution) is a comfortable, secure ecological niche without any significant competitive pressure. As we all know, males are incurably competitive; they can be dispensed with only when species don’t need such abilities. But so they will when possible, as males are also expensive (as snidely remarked in the title of a recent feminist screed).

BTW, an American Indian (Iroquois/Mohawk) shamaness I once discussed this with told me that her teachers had told her that female-only reproduction was possible in humans, but the resultant offspring would be only female — as in other species known to do so. So perhaps the logical end of feminism is theoretically possible; though it’s worth noting that this shamaness’s wise women teachers apparently didn’t think the idea worth promoting. She herself is married, by the way.

Anyway, my point is simply this: that clearly the male is not “NECESSARY for reproduction.” The eggs are not “infertile. Every time.” Or maybe they are, strictly speaking, since they possess only a half-set of genes, but nevertheless they do hatch, and produce individuals of the species capable of surviving, living full lizard (and other species’) lives, and reproducing.

True, it appears that “females, or any other individual, cannot change their biology”; but nevertheless it happened, somehow. My picture of how (“she … could dispense with the male and redefine her species as female-only”) was of course a metaphor. Maybe God did it; maybe it happened through some kind of mindless evolutionary process. In any case, if there was some sort of consciousness involved at some level of being, it makes more sense to me to say that it was the survivor of this event (the female) who made the “decision” rather than the one dispensed with (the male).

My point was that the discovery of this fact, unknown to me before ca. 1987, and still unknown to the vast majority of people, was, like the discovery that the Earth revolves around the Sun rather than vice-versa, a life-changing event that put everything into a very different perspective, and gave me the necessary key to understanding what had theretofore been a frustrating mystery, i.e. the entire vexed question of “gender relations.” Clearly, Simone de Beauvoir had it exactly, 180 degrees wrong in the title of her feminist Bible, The Second Sex (assuming that she was referring to woman; I haven’t read the book).

Before I learned about this, I was caught in the “he said – she said” trap when trying to unravel gender issues. Feminists claim that they are tired of being the “second sex” and want to be “equal” now. But if the sexes are “equal,” then there’s no basis for differentiating between them; everything goes around in an endless circle; there’s nowhere to start. Are there real, irreducible differences between the sexes? Exceptions have been found, it seems, to every one that has been proposed. Can we define anything, and begin from there? I can now say: Yes. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, “equality” is a myth, nowhere more so than in the relationship between the sexes. And if we try to live by a myth, rather than the truth, we will come to grief. The apparent relation between the sexes, like the appearance that the Sun revolves around the Earth, may be very compelling to our senses of observation, but it is not the truth.

When I was a teenager, my father sat me down one day and explained something to me: that freedom and responsibility are indissolubly linked, indeed, two parts of the same thing, like two sides of a coin. At the time, he was simply setting out ground rules for my teenage activity (that I could have as much freedom as I was willing to be responsible for); but it was not long before I realized that this was a Fundamental Principle of Life, and in the 40+ years since I have found its application to be unlimited, and unfailingly productive of understanding, sanity, and peace of mind. I’ve had a similar experience in application of this understanding of the true relation between the sexes; it has clarified every situation I’ve observed, including those previously most confusing.

Thus I believe that no real, fundamental understanding of any of the issues discussed here can be gained without beginning from the foundation of this fact: males are the “second sex,” and are optional in terms of fundamental biology. Of course, that’s not all there is to it, by far — it seems clear to me that males are absolutely necessary if we have any hope of developing our consciousness and existence beyond the level of mere biology, i.e. the animal level, with all its attendant suffering — but this fact is where we must start, if we wish to understand how this world works.

Think of a man as a stick in a woman’s hand, a tool which she has created for her use. Clearly, the woman with the biggest stick will prevail in any contest with other women and their sticks — or against any woman who doesn’t have a stick (which covers the example of the geckos). (And the idea that females are not competitive is another of the Big Lies of feminism.) Fundamentally, that’s what males are: tools created by females to use for tasks which they cannot or would rather not do for themselves. (Including, for instance, taking the rap for human competitiveness: "It's those awfule men who cause all the wars; we're just here being sweet and gentle all the time.") Front men, fall guys, whipping boys. Garbage men, soldiers (the ones who actually do the fighting) … all the jobs that all those “equal” women somehow still don’t seem to want.

With the advent of test tube reproduction, we have seen that neither parent need be present to create life. Give it another few years and the artificial womb, or male womb transplants (for the gay community) will make the woman as unnecessary to the whole process as you claim men to be.

God help us. Of all the insanities thought up in the ever-busy human mind, these must be among the most grotesque. Nevertheless, none of these clever, hubristic expedients amount to creating life; like the male sea horse’s incubation of eggs from the female, they are after the fact. “Test-tube reproduction” combines gametes from two human parents in an artificial environment; it does not create the gametes. The two parents may not be in the room, but they are absolutely necessary. The same goes for an “artificial” or “transplanted” womb; they are but containers, useless until they contain something, and that something comes from (at least) a female of the species. Only the Creator creates life; human hubris creates only misery.

Women have not always been in charge of every species. I find it interesting that you claim my example of the sea horse feminist (more national geographic than feminist in origin), when your argument for females being in charge is exactly what “proof” feminists themselves use to justify their position.

Depends what you mean by “in charge”; but it seems to me clear that if, in a general, absolute sense, females can exist without males but males cannot exist without females, and females can decide whether males exist or not, while males cannot decide whether females exist or not, nor even, apparently, have any control over what decision females make regarding males’ existence, then one of the two is in fundamental control of the situation, while the other is not. This is not a species-by-species matter; it is a universal truth. Thus I would say that females have been “in charge” of every species. The female is the species; the male is an optional variation on the theme. Once I was talking with a woman about this subject, and she said, “But aren’t there any species that consist only of males?” And a minute later she said, “No, I guess that’s impossible, isn’t it?” Exactly my point. “Girls rule!”

The sea horse example I believe I’ve heard/read before from feminists trying to “prove” that males are as suited as females for childrearing tasks. (And who says there’re no feminists at National Geographic? These days, feminist rhetoric comes from everywhere, including many male scientists who are, apparently, doing their best at what has always been required from males: to please the female.) Such one-off examples are always cited to “disprove” general rules, and always remind me of Samuel Johnson’s famous quip: 'Sir, a woman's preaching [in church] is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all."

Not clear to me what you mean by the feminist “position” that is justified by the argument I present. Let me make clear that, as with the subject of “blame” addressed elsewhere, I am not seeking to “justify” anything. Justification involves moral argument, and requires first defining moral principles, etc.; it’s a completely different discussion. I am presenting only (what I believe to be) facts, because I believe that we must get our facts straight before we can begin to discuss moral or similar issues.

It’s not that I do not care about moral issues, only that their discussion will be fruitless if we are not first agreed on the ground. For instance, it’s pointless to discuss questions of power and its proper use unless we first understand what power is and who has it. Feminists are constantly complaining about being powerless, and in fact “everyone knows” that women are helpless victims of male power — and, as exhaustively documented on this site, our entire moral/legal system is constructed on the basis of this assumption.

500 years ago, “everyone knew” that the Sun revolved around the Earth; after all, you could see it come up in the east every morning and travel across the sky. Until someone really looked, and found the truth was just the opposite. If NASA were running its space program on the basis of the pre-Copernican world view, it wouldn’t get very far. And so long as we try to address the deep, painful grievances of both genders in the “battle of the sexes” based on untrue assumptions, we’ll only go around in circles, and everyone will hurt more and get more angry, until perhaps we reach some sort of sexual Armageddon.

It’s true that in a way I may seem to be agreeing with some part of the feminist view. Because it’s true. Girls do rule. Tactically, I suppose, my approach is something like the “gentle” martial arts of judo and taiji (I’ve practiced the latter): yield to the opponent, and use her force to accomplish ones own goals. But it’s not a game I’m playing; I wouldn’t “agree” with any feminist position because it’s a feminist position, I merely present the truth, and if a feminist position agrees therewith, well that’s a place to start. And then hold them to it. Yes, girls do rule: so why not quit whining and rule responsibly? As a Zen master once said, if your horse-cart isn’t moving, do you hit the cart or the horse?

In the encounter between the sexes, it is women who make The Rules. Men may hold some of the cards, but women own the deck. All that’s really necessary to find solutions to the problems between the sexes is for women to recognize and acknowledge the power they already have, and that what we have has resulted from their use of that power, and to begin using that power consciously and constructively rather than, as in the past, unconsciously and (all too often) destructively. Will this ever happen? I don’t know.

Disciple: Why is there evil in the world?
Ramakrishna: To thicken the plot.

But it does seem clear that we can’t go on much longer as we have, for we are truly accelerating toward a precipice of a magnitude that few of us can even begin to imagine.

I’ve gone on far too long again. Don’t know if anyone really reads all this; but at least it’s helpful to me to think it through while writing it. Hope you get something out of it, anyone who reads this far.

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Further Reading:

Philalethes #7 – All Female Populations in the Animal Kingdom