A Q&A on Gender Relations


Question: Michael, what awakens a man to his true power, replacing his proclivity toward dominance? I don’t think I’ve ever posed this question to any of the men I know, who have found their power…do you have an answer?
 
Answer: I don’t know what you mean by true power. To me, who is deeply interested in sociobiology, the question is: what biological power do women have that men use social power to compensate for not having [I speculate that the power of 'sexual selection' could be an answer]? But answering how I have awakened myself to the issue of feminism: having a daughter helps! And being able to be honest about social relations does too. That seems to be about it. It’s always easier for the oppressed to be aware of and honest about social relations than it is for the oppressor, so finding ways for men to be faced with how they are a party to inequitable gender relations and what they could be doing differently seems to be a good strategy, and it makes it easy if you can make it personal. That’s what I meant about the daughter thing. I have a daughter and the idea of her being submissive to or below men is not an attractive thought. So I want to understand it and do something about it.
 
Question: Michael, I do so appreciate where you are coming from as a father and a sociobiologist…do you think that perhaps feminine biological power emerges as a response to dominance…as compensation, rather than enticing it? I see dominance as absence of power, absence of ability to communicate and collaborate, inability to see a larger context, inability to make room for the contributions of the many–rather myopic in nature and controlling–the need for control stems from fear–how do we identify our fears and make room for something better? A powerful person, whether masculine or feminine, empowers others…no doubt like you do for your daughter?
 
Answer: I am not a sociobiologist. It’s just a field of science I am interested in. And, no, our social relations did not come before sexual selection. We inherited human dimorphism – which largely explains sexual selection – through an evolutionary process that was going on millions of years before our species and its social relations emerged. I think we can identify the issue by looking at how privilege and responsibilities are distributed. So, a friend works all day and then watches the kids all night while her husband ‘unwinds’ with his friends. Identifying this issue and proposing the obvious solution seems to be best. He needs to share the burden of child rearing and equitably distribute ‘unwinding with the buds’ time. (What kills me is that when she does get to ‘unwind’ he still doesn’t watch the kids. He has her arrange for other family members do it!!!!!) In my home there is no ‘man of the house’ and responsibilities and privileges are equitably distributed.

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