Sex selection is a big thing in evolution.  Why does the peacock have a gaudy, useless tail?  The only reason we can think of is that drab little peahens like the macho display.  The tail says, “look at me!  I’m (bird)man enough to survive and thrive while carrying all this useless junk around.”  So generation after generation the drab little peahens flock around the guys with the biggest tail and cluck over his eggs, and so generation after generation the little male peachicks are the ones with the genes for the biggest tails.  So every generation the pea race gets bigger tails, tempered only by the fact that, you know, a lot of the peacocks sporting big tails probably get eaten.

That’s the theory anyway.  It’s the best explanation we can come up with for features that otherwise don’t make sense.Mankind appears to be one of the rarer creatures where the females have been fairly sex-selected also.  Big breastusses, for example.

In evolutionary terms, patterns of courtship and mating are where the rubber meets the road.  It doesn’t matter how well you survive if you can’t get a little honey to help you pass on your genes.  It doesn’t matter what great genes you’d give to your kids if you don’t have any kids, because you don’t have any mate.

Something seems pretty broken about our courtship patterns today.  The PUA Game diagnosis is that modern life has trained us men to conceal our inner peacock, which wants to strut around, or our inner gorilla, thrusting out its chest and going right after what it wants.

Maybe.  Could be.

My own very, very tentative thought for awhile is that we were meant for smaller groups where male display happened in productive settings.  My experience is that women, especially young women, *like* to watch the young men of their set doing guy stuff–building things, or play fighting (sports).  In smaller communities with more tangible work, the kind of work that could be watched, this would happen more often.  Think barn-raising.  Not so any more.  In such events, afterwards there would be a kind of community exhilaration that gets people talking and laughing and breaks down approach barriers (much like alcohol does at parties, or like Gamer techniques are supposed to do).

Bruce Charlton has an extremely stimulating post up.  In short, he argues that the ancestral mode of courtship was parental selection.  In the post but further in the comments, he argues that some features of Mormonism ape or replace this ancestral mode.  For instance, the urge to courtship and the organized mutual activities could be seen as a compensation for an environment where parents would be bringing the young people together, so many young people wouldn’t be organized on the biological level to do the seeking out on their own.

Read the whole thing. Its one of the most stimulating arguments I’ve read all year.



Prior posts in this series here and here

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