#21 [url]

May 22 16 1:41 PM

4 Subsistence and Sex/Gender Roles 

Here I will take the research program on sex differences initiated by SBSEP proponents Buss and Schmitt commonly referred to as Sexual Strategies Theory (SST) as a case study. (see Buss 1989 for cross-cultural survey, Buss and Schmitt 1993 for an overview of SST, see the previously posted Buss and Schmitt article, 2011, for current status). It is a great example as it is more easily investigated than other hypotheses and is often touted as one of the centerpieces of SBSEP. SST relies heavily on subsistence methods, which are well-documented in evolutionary and archaeological terms. Buss' 1989 is taken as the starting point and confirmation of SST. Buss begins with the evolutionary framework of sexual selection theory, which posits that females will be choosier in terms of mating due to their larger physiological investment in offspring than males. However, based on current research, this is based on an over-extension of fruit fly experiments, so I will not comment on that point any further (see Brown et al for an overview). 

One of the main hypotheses derived from Trivers' conception of sexual selection theory is that women will seek high-status and resource acquisition in men. We're already in trouble here. Buss even notes the limitations of this theory: 

Trivers's prediction should apply only in contexts where resources can be accrued, monopolized, and defended, where males tend to control such resources, and where male variance in resource acquisition is sufficiently high (Emlen & Oring 1977; Trivers 1972) 

Male control of resources is already presupposed to be universal when it is not. This is trivially false from the ethnographic and archaeological records. Calories contributed by men and women can vary wildly, from women contributing very little to contributing the majority of calories (Hunn). Big game tends to be a high-risk and high-return affair while gathering, small-game hunting, and fishing tends to be lower return but more reliable, so this is not unexpected. Even this does not cover the whole problem, though. The emphasis on big game assumes an optimal foraging model. Social organization and practices may limit big game hunting even where this food source should be highly ranked in terms of foraging priorities (see Bird et al for an example). Even if men procure resources, they may not hold control of them. This is especially true in the case of hunting large game. Simply hunting such game is not enough for it to be consumed – it needs to be butchered, cooked, and prepared. Women may have control over any of these processes, which can give them control over the calories procured by men. Additionally, men may be reliant on women for tool production. The organic material often used in women's work does not preserve, so tools such as wooden spears that may have been made by women easily decompose. However, stone tool technology does preserve well. It was thought that male upper body strength was necessary for stone knapping, but this is not the case. Knapping is not a matter of smashing rocks together, but one of precise control. More successful knappers actually exert less energy than unskilled ones. So men in some cases may have been reliant on women for the production of tools (Bril et al, Gero). 

Although SBSEP seems to adhere to this view, the Man the Hunter concept is severely outdated (this was already the case in the 1970s and 80s, see Conkey and Spector). The primary difference is that men generally hunt big game while women don't. There are a few exceptions (e.g., the Agta, see Headland), but the rule holds in general. However, men and women both gather. Women may hunt small game, often expedient hunting while gathering. Men and women both engage in fishing. Women may also engage in certain elements of big game hunting that do not involve the actual kill. This typically involves setting traps and guiding the prey into them to be killed, such as the bison hunting of ancient North America or the springbok of South Africa (Dewar et al). The availability of game and vegetation, of course, is dependent on geography and seasonality. It doesn't take a degree in ecology to see this, not even a home garden. Considering the extremely broad range of environments humans currently live in and lived in during deep evolutionary time, there is no way to pick a typical case or model that covers all societies universally (see Kelly for an overview). 

Bird et al, Megafauna in a continent of small game: Archaeological implications of Martu Camel hunting in Australia’s Western Desert https://static1.squarespace.com/static/55eef123e4b087ad372e72cf/t/5630f1b3e4b0303d4aeab941/1446048179583/megafauna.pdf 

Bril et al, The Role of Expertise in Tool Use: Skill Differences in Functional Action Adaptations to Task Constraintshttps://www.researchgate.net/profile/Blandine_Bril2/publication/45582161_The_role_of_expertise_in_tool_use_skill_differences_in_functional_action_adaptations_to_task_constraints/links/09e4150879619d576d000000.pdf 

Buss 1989, Sex Differences in Human Mate Preferences: Evolutionary Hypotheses Tested in 37 Cultures.https://www.researchgate.net/publication/231858845_Buss_David_M_1989_Sex_Differences_in_Human_Mate_Preferences_Evolutionary_Hypotheses_Tested_in_37_Cultures_Behavioral_and_Brain_Sciences 

Buss and Schmitt 1993, Sexual Strategies Theory: An Evolutionary Perspective on Human Matinghttp://www.bradley.edu/dotAsset/165805.pdf 

Buss and Schmitt 2011, Feminism and Evolutionary Psychologyhttp://www.bradley.edu/dotAsset/165805.pdf 

Brown et al, Bateman's Principles and Human Sex Roleshttp://www.cell.com/trends/ecology-evolution/abstract/S0169-5347(09)00112-8 

Conkey and Spector, Archaeology and the Study of Gender https://www.jstor.org/stable/20170176?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

Dewar et al, Implications of a mass kill site of springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis) in South Africa: hunting practices, gender relations, and sharing in the Later Stone Agehttps://www.researchgate.net/profile/Genevieve_Dewar/publication/223359473_Implications_of_a_mass_kill_site_of_springbok_(Antidorcas_marsupialis)_in_South_Africa_Hunting_practices_gender_relations_and_sharing_in_the_Later_Stone_Age/links/0f31753ac3a0ac2703000000.pdf 

Gero, Genderlithics: Women's Role in Stone Tool Productionhttps://www.academia.edu/1247901/Genderlithics_womens_roles_in_stone_tool_production 

Headland and Headland, Four Decades Among the Agta: Trials and Advantages of Long-Term Fieldwork With Philippine Hunter-Gatherershttp://www-01.sil.org/~headlandt/fourdecd.htm 

Hunn, On the Relative Contribution of Men and Women to Subsistence Among Hunter-Gatherers of the Columbian Plateau: A Comparison with Ethnographic Atlas Summarieshttp://faculty.washington.edu/hunn/vitae/subsistence_contribution_JEB.pdf 

Kelly, The Lifeways of Hunter-Gatherers: The Foraging Spectrumhttps://books.google.com/books?id=rKoZBAAAQBAJ&dq=editions:QahG_EYw_VQC&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Last Edited By: Sofie May 22 16 2:11 PM. Edited 1 time.

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#22 [url]

Nov 16 16 2:10 AM

Jaimie Veale has made the paper on the identity-defense model available online here. 

Again: The most tricky part as regards this model for me is that it presupposes that the sexual orientation of a transgender person is based on its personality. That is: People pleasers are more likely to move in the direction of the "non-classical transsexual" (what a horrible term) and become bisexual or gynephilic.

(The people pleasers are those that most actively try to suppress their gender variance in order to fit in and be loved by family and friends.)

Given the signs that sexual orientation most likely has a biological core similar to the one of gender identity, I find this hard to understand. 

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#24 [url]

Nov 18 16 2:58 PM

We do not even know for sure, how much different are development of sexuality in cis- and trans- gendered people. Felix Conrad argues, that there are some fundamental differences, and most probably he is right. If we see biological origins of sexuality as initial state of some neural network, and assume that sexual core is not something rigid in particular case, then external factors can indeed play a significant role in development of sexuality.

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#25 [url]

Nov 21 16 3:16 AM

Carah Maisie wrote:
I would love to see a depository where we can place articles for everyone to share and have them organized by topics. I think access is important to generating the participation of everyone. 

Carah, there is already something like that on this forum: the Crossdreamer Library. I read the Veale paper a while ago and found it useful up to a point. She critiques the earlier theories of Docter and Blanchard and develops her own terminology, which is a great advance on theirs. I also like the notion of 'identity defence'. However, she loses me in the latter part where she leans for support on a curious theory – Bem’s ‘Exotic Becomes Erotic’ developmental theory of sexual orientation. This is Veale’s summary: 
Bem’s theory suggests that instead of coding for sexual orientation, biological variables code for childhood temperaments, which determine whether a child will favour the activities and company of peers of the same or opposite sex. This results in children feeling different from children of the sex they do not associate with, and perceiving them as exotic. This in turn generates autonomic arousal to the unfamiliar/exotic peers, which later results in erotic arousal to persons of that sex.

Admittedly, I haven’t read Bem’s original work, but judging by the summary, I cannot remotely relate it to my own experience. The assumption is that children operate in a free social market where they can choose their playmates. If, like me, you have no sisters and were packed off to single-sex schooling from the age of seven to be apprenticed in manhood, then you barely encountered girls of your own age. Yes, they became ‘exotic’ as a result, and that was alluring, but how you responded to the exotic stimulus at puberty would depend on your personality type. An outgoing personality would seek out every opportunity to find girls and date them. The painfully shy type, however strong his attraction to the opposite sex, would retreat into himself, perhaps idealising and internalising the boy-girl relationship in some ‘autogynephilic’ fantasy. And, if sexual orientation were in effect a result of childhood conditioning, then it begs the question whether a homosexual inclination could be undone through re-conditioning – the goal of misguided religious fanatics who offer ‘gay cures’.

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#26 [url]

Dec 7 16 8:50 AM

I think she's mostly on the right track. I'm not sure if 'identity' really exists, but the biological factors that create temperament, goals, emotional responses, sexual motor drives and same or opposite sex sexual attraction sure do, but they are part of an unfolding process of self-awareness that works much faster in some people that it does in others. 

So maybe I'm a bit of a strange example as having 'ASD' I seem to be on a very slow trajectory. 
Up until the age 8 or so I was just neutral, just learned about the world and did both girl things and boy things probably without much thinking about what I was, just what I found fun to do. 
After that I think it changed to I want to do girl things and I don't want to do boy things, but that was not saying I am or want to be a girl. Probably I want to be friends with girls, but at primary school they didn't really see me as one of them and I went to a single-sex secondary school. Who do I want to emulate?
It was just with the onset of puberty that I figured out that I also really want to be seen as a girl, and have sex as a girl, though I wasn't then thinking about any particular partner. 
It's only been in my late twenties that I've really started to want to find a partner, and both on consciously understanding the strengths and weaknesses of my own personality and taking some cues from my subconscious I now think that I want my partner to be a man, though probably an INTJ. ;-)

Again, as far as I can tell it's just a process of slowly unfolding self awareness. Understanding your own intrinsic motivations etc, not really something that is taken in from the outside of you from the environment, though that might have a big impact on how you respond to it. 

You feel things, both internally driven and externally motivated, you choose how you will physically respond to those feelings, and your aggregate understanding of both those feelings and your responses gradually creates and redefines your sense of yourself and your identity. 

Then there is the gap between the true 'id' and the 'ego ideal' that you have to try to cross in your sense of progress towards a goal. What is it actually possible to learn? Can I be as good at X as Y?

Spoken language is obviously socially learned, though we seem to have some sort of an innate propensity for certain types of grammars. Body language is somewhat gender specific and I don't believe is learned, though maybe we become unaware of our own or we learn to suppress it, I'm not sure. Gender behaviours are not learned, they are kind of an outgrowth of our innate sex and reproduction and bodily grooming functions, you are either a hunter or a gatherer, of both sexual conquests and food. ;-) There are obviously female bodied hunters and male bodied gatherers, lots of diversity in human phenotypes, but neither of them individually learned that, they just discovered what was true about themselves, what they enjoyed doing. 

Well personally, I think I have all the necessary neurological components to be a fully functional female, I'm probably quite a slut actually, I just had the wrong set of hormones running them since I was a teenager, so my intellectual bit split off and went into overdrive while my emotional bit rather stagnated. It's only as my T levels dropped a bit that I started becoming more aware of what my subconscious was really up to all this time. 

We do seem to have a habit of looking at everything backwards. The real human weirdness is spoken language, mental knowledge maps that define the boundaries of our social realities, and subjective self-consciousness. We now seem to assume we learn these things through repetition and conditioning, when really we just gradually become more aware of them.

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#27 [url]

Dec 7 16 7:49 PM

There's something else to the defense mechanism in my opinion: socialization.  It's not all about sexuality.  There's living life, making choices, selecting school subjects, choosing occupations, etc.  Preferences are unique to an individual, but if they happen to fall within those of the "other" gender, then taking the identity of the other gender helps the individual come to terms with his or her decisions.  Making friends with the other gender as the other gender is also a defense mechanism, or excuse, to mingle with the "wrong" camp for non-sexual purposes.  

My position is: what's there to be defensive about? We think what we think because it feels right.  The end.  

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#28 [url]

Dec 8 16 3:44 AM

I don't know how it is for you but for me it's often actively painful for me to spend time around the 'other' gender while not being one of them. Like I wish my boobs were like that, kind of thing. 
So if the driving force in your life is to seek pleasure and avoid pain, actually actively staying away from any women under about 30 is my way of avoiding pain.

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#29 [url]

Dec 8 16 7:49 AM



Before boys and girls hit puberty, they tend to play very well together.  The next time they return to this blissful state is post-menopause for women and .... whenever the dudes' testosterone level drops way down.  Put aside issues of material and carnal desires, and you get fulfillment of the yin-and-yang.  Not enough attention is given to older changers (in orientation and identity), but I see it. 


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#30 [url]

Mar 29 17 10:41 AM

I and others have made the same points here. I use the term 'coping mechanisms' rather than 'defence' because that is what you are really doing trying to do, 'cope' with it.

A shy, sensitive and intelligent kid will quickly work out that their cross gender feelings are 'wrong' and develop ways to 'cope' (hide/deny/control/suppress/etc) them.
I was like that and that is what I did from about 13 onwards.

And as I have made the point before, sexual drives are very strong and if you have managed to develop very good coping mechanisms, they can often be the only thing that breaks through them (for a short period). Usually your 30s and 40s are when your coping mechanisms are the strongest, your teens and 20s are when you develop and hone them. Usually they start to break down from the late 40s onwards because of the sheer mental and emotional energy they require.

For some people the gender desires 'pop out' from time time through sexual fantasies (and maybe even sexual activities), breaking through the defences. Because they are the only thing strong enough to do so. Some people go further (as I have discussed before). They actually incorporate those fantasies into their coping mechanisms, where they go 'I am really cis and straight, but with a sexual perversion', because that (to them) is emotionally less challenging than 'I am transgender'.....

Complex thing the old mind.

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