In yesterday's post, I proposed a theory explaining "protection" as the reason gender roles developed. In short, "masculine" gender roles serve as society's protectors, whereas "feminine" gender roles are the protected. That's obviously not the only function each role serves, but it's the foundation. In my theory, we have:
- Sheepdogs (the protectors that are willing to use violence to protect),
- Wolves (the bad people that are willing to use violence for crime),
- Sheep (the friendly, peaceful masses), and
- Rats (the nonviolent societal mooches.)
This is what my graph of the types looks like:
I specifically developed this theory to better understand interpersonal attraction and relationships, but the theory can be applied to all kinds of societal issues and constructs. Political affiliation is one such construct. We've known for some time that there appears to me measurable differences between the biology of conservatives and liberals. One of the most significant differences: Liberals have a tendency to think the world is safer than it really is and try to expand society, and conservatives have a tendency to think the world is more dangerous than it really is and try to protect society. As a result, conservatives tend to lean towards the Sheepdog side of the graph and liberals tend to lean toward the Sheep side of the graph.
In times of relative peace (like today in the United States), we don't have a great need for protection. As such, liberals tend to set most of our public policy which is geared toward expanding society to make conditions better for all of us (this is the "progressive" part.) This is manifested in ideas like sex, gender, and racial equality, universal health care, disarming the police and disbanding the military, expanded gun control, clean the environment, open our borders, opposed to the war on terror, etc. When it comes to how they see others that are different than them, liberals tend to be supportive and welcoming because, in a safe environment, strangers aren't a threat to the tribe. Liberals also tend to be more represented in the "helping" fields like education and medicine.
In times of danger (like war, post-9/11, etc.) we have a greater need for protection. As such, conservatives tend to set most of our public policy which is geared toward keeping America safe. That's reflected in support for military spending, keeping people that exhibit feminist characteristics from taking on protection roles (like the military), eliminating gun control, favoring commerce in favor of environmentalism (to be better able to defend ourselves), closing our borders and cracking down on illegal immigration, etc. When it comes to seeing others that are different than them, conservatives are skeptical and cautious because any stranger is a potential threat to the tribe. Conservatives tend to be represented in the "defending" fields like law enforcement and the military.
The tricky part (and annoying for me) is neither side really understands the other. Liberals scream from the top of their lungs "WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU SUCH A PARANOID BIGOT!" while conservatives scream back "WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU SUCH AN OBLIVIOUS HIPPIE!" Neither side really "gets" the other side at all, which results in a perpetual struggle for power to carry out their respective agenda. Liberals would like nothing more for conservatives to go away. Conservatives want the exact same thing.
Based on my theory, I argue both are necessary because sometimes our world does get dangerous and we need protection. And when that danger recedes, we need to expand our society so we can make progress as a species. A quick look at human history reveals a few telling things. First, every culture in the history of forever has had a conservative and a liberal dichotomy. Second, the influence of each ebbed and flowed depending on the specific situation at the time. Third, and probably most significantly, if by some weird chance one group or the other disappears, the society quickly collapses. A society of all liberals is easily overrun because they can't defend themselves. A society of all conservatives quickly collapses because it can't keep up with it's rivals.
The lesson - we NEED both liberals and conservatives to maintain a balanced society.
So How Does This Influence Gender Roles?
It's important to qualify this discussion by stating that "masculine" and "feminine" do not necessarily refer to male and female. A woman can exhibit masculine characteristics and a man can exhibit female characteristics. There are usually specific responsibilities that come with those combinations, such a masculine "protector" woman usually has to do more to prove her worthiness as a protector. Likewise, a feminine male usually has to prove his worthiness as a nurturer. While that may strike us as unfair, it's the small price of violating the conventional norms. It's also important to note that most of us exhibit some combination of masculine and feminine characteristics and will use them depending on the situation.
Okay, got all that?
Some of the biggest issues we face today have to do with the vilification of masculinity. While many people like to place the blame squarely on the Feminist movement, I call bullshit. Throughout history, every time of relative peace has experienced this move to expand society and promote progress, which almost always includes giving the formerly protected groups more power. This is absolutely necessary because the masculine sheepdogs that keep society safe kinda suck at improving society.
In Dave Grossman's article I discussed yesterday (and served as the primary inspiration for the theory), he discusses the idea that the sheep fear the Sheepdogs. They have sharp teeth, bark and growl, and are always eager to fight. That's not necessarily all that bad... except the Sheepdog looks a lot like the Wolf. And the sheep SHOULD fear the Wolf, but most do not. Fearing the wolf would mean they would have to accept the world is a dangerous place, and sheep really do not like to do that. They much prefer to go about their daily lives of producing useful shit and making our world a better place. Since the Sheepdogs move freely among the Sheep, they're a constant reminder the wolves are out there, which makes denial really difficult.
The Sheep's solution? They try their damnedest to turn the sheepdogs into sheep. They yank out their teeth, spray paint the Sheepdogs white, and lead them to the pasture. Some Sheepdogs go along, but most simply cannot ignore the Wolves they know exist. This is precisely where the
destruction redefining of masculinity comes into play. It's nothing more than the sheep trying desperately to yank the teeth from the Sheepdogs.
We've had an unprecedented period of relative peace and prosperity. We are, right now, better off than any other humans ever. We're so well off, almost all of our most serious threats to our well-being come from eating too much food. Needless to say, the need for Sheepdogs has never been lower.
The mistake liberals make is the assumption that this peace and prosperity is linear, not cyclical. A day will come when the shit will hit the fan and the herd will be overrun with wolves. When that happens, we'll once again need the Sheepdogs. It'll be okay, though, because most of the Sheepdogs don't really relinquish their teeth... they just change the way they smile. They're still there; they just learn to say "Baaaa!" instead of "Woof!"
This is a major reason why, as a male that falls pretty far towards the "Sheepdog" side, I've pretty much come to peace with our society's aversion to masculinity. It's also the reason why I don't blame Feminism for stupid shit... the feminists are a major reason why we're enjoying the prosperity we have today. The Sheep build it; the Sheepdogs protect it. Our seemingly new disdain for masculinity is a temporary issue. The real advantage of being a Sheepdog, of course, is that the Sheep simply don't have the capacity to force the Sheepdog to go disappear. We might as well sit back and enjoy our unprecedented progress.
Next time you get in a bitter debate with someone with an opposing political view, chill out a bit. If you're a liberal, realize the Sheepdogs you're talking to have provided and will provide the protection needed to keep us safe. If you're a conservative, realize the Sheep you're talking to are the reason you have such a valuable society to protect. Now kiss and make up. ;-)