We’ve often talked in MGTOW circles about the innate desire of women for protection and provision, in essence The female attraction to violence or their attraction to men that are ready and willing to inflict damage onto other men on her behalf, and attraction to men who are fat juicy targets for the financial parasitism of, say, the typical stay-at-home wife. This would reflect in a binary model in which the preponderance of protection and provision as determining factors in reproductive success is roughly the same, however upon some investigation into the topics of fear, risk taking and aggression, I begin to suspect that it may not be exactly the case, but instead one merely informs the other. That is, I hypothesize that aggressiveness and risk taking behavior in males simply have a lingering influence as factors that once informed females on the resource gathering capacity of these same males. By observing the progression of humanity from a context of resource scarcity, to one of relative resource abundance through the advent of agriculture, it becomes clearer that the entire reproductive game may actually be centered solely around resource acquisition and satisfying hypergamy, and not on a protection/provision binary.
Before moving any further, some groundwork on aggression and risk taking must be quickly laid out by asking: What was the role of these traits in males during our evolutionary history?
As you may very well know, fertile females are the limiting factor in reproduction while a male could theoretically sire hundreds of offspring, reproductive variances that in primates come associated with effective polygyny, in other words these limitations allow for scenarios where one male effectively mates with multiple females. Buss and Shackelford write:
“Effective polygyny means that some males gain more than their “fair share” of copulations, while other males are shut out entirely, banished from contributing to the ancestry of future generations. Such a system leads to more ferocious competition within the high-variance sex. In essence, polygyny selects for risky strategies, including those that lead to violent combat with rivals and those that lead to increased risk-taking to acquire the resources needed to attract members of the high-investing sex.”
Among scholars in the field of evolutionary psychology, it is suggested that aggression evolved as a solution to particular adaptive problems, such as defending one’s resources against an attack, or on the flip side, taking resources held by another, or even penalizing a rival competing for the ultimate goal of genetic replication. Naturally, there is a little caveat for you to remember. Any sort of proclivity in behavior will necessarily be modulated by specific environments and contexts. For instance in an environment of relative resource scarcity, such as that of a hunter-gatherer society, we may very well witness more dramatic levels of intrasexual competition, than we would in an environment where resources are plentiful and easy to attain. So while modern humans inherited the psychological mechanisms that led to the success of their forefathers, it’s worth pointing out that it doesn’t translate to aggressiveness as some sort of default state, contrary to Lorenzian theories. Instead, we must always bear in mind that such mechanisms are merely “sensitive to contexts in which aggression probabilistically leads to the successful solution of a particular adaptive problem”.
With that out of the way, we are left with a difficulty in hands, which is, it’s practically impossible to analyze a population of Homo sapiens from 100.000 years ago, in the same way we can observe and analyze populations today. A way to work around that limitation would be to seek the most accurate as possible reproduction of environmental pressures, and for what we’re trying to observe here, that is, the impact of male risk taking behavior and aggression on reproductive success, we cannot overstate the importance of resource scarcity in this equation, be it food, clean water, and fundamental materials, as well as sexual resources (i.e. fertile women). So with that in mind I’d like to bring to your attention the work of the American anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon, on the Yanomami tribe, a hunter-gatherer society of the Amazon Forest, published in an article titled: “Life Histories, Blood Revenge, and Warfare in a Tribal Population”.
In order to paint a picture for you, here’s a quick overview on just who are the Yanomami. They are a tribe native to parts of southern Venezuela and northern Brazil, and a society of hunter-gatherers with no written language, formal laws, or representatives of institutionalized power such as judges or a supreme chief. Instead, they organize themselves politically by villages, which more often than not tend to be mostly comprised of people who are related to one another, with each village having its headman, its small chieftain, who usually is the man with most kin in the village, something possible by the presence of polygamy in Yanomami society. However, the Yanomami have quite the reputation for violence, with reports of constant fighting between different villages, fights that mostly originate over sexual issues, like infidelity, attempts to seduce another man’s wife, sexual jealousy, forcible appropriation of women from visiting groups, failure to give a promised girl in marriage and rape. And this violence can drag itself on for years, even decades, because if someone gets killed, that motivates a need for revenge by part of the deceased’s kin, that needs not be directed at the person who did the killing. Many times the enemy’s kin is just as good of a target. And this can go on an on, it’s a sort of tit-for-tat where each side hopes to deter the other if it displays such an aggressive and immediate response to an attack. Such is the prevalence of violence among the Yanomami people, that about 30% of the men die as a result of the constant fighting, according to Napoleon Chagnon.
Let us then focus on the aspect of violence in Yanomami society. Whenever blood revenge is sought, men form raiding parties of somewhere between 10 and 20 members to attack an enemy village, sometimes taking them 4 days of walking through thick jungle to reach said village. Once there, it is usually enough for the raiding party to kill the first guy they find by taking pot shots at him from behind cover, and then quickly going back home, however there are reports of real massacres taking place during these raids, where 10 or more people end up killed. For the Yanomami, becoming a killer is prestigious, it grants an individual tremendous status within his village. These men are known as unokais, meaning “those who have killed”. After a Yanomami man kills he must perform a type of purification ritual called unokaimou, meant to ward the man against any supernatural harm that might be inflicted on him by the spirit of the victim. When the ritual is completed the man henceforth becomes known as an unokai. Curiously enough, just as killers are lauded by their community, the men that hesitate in shooting their arrows at the enemy, or that chronically dropout of the raids by claiming sickness or that they stepped on a thorn, or any other excuse, soon acquire a reputation for cowardice, the têhe as the Yanomami call them. As a consequence these men become the laughing stock of the village, frequently insulted and ridiculed, and their wives start receiving a great deal of sexual attention from other men.
Among the Yanomami, for instance whenever there’s a village that doesn’t display a really aggressive demeanor, and has to rely on neighboring villages for protection, it is pretty usual to see these neighbors growing a lot bolder and openly seducing the women from that particular village, and stealing them away, because they know that there will be no retaliation.
Interesting findings indeed, but the author gives us yet another bit of information that is absolutely telling, with regards to the connection between risk taking and reproductive success. He compiled data on a group of Yanomami males composed of 137 unokais and 243 non-unokais, and found out 88% of those 137 unokais sired children, while only 49% of the 243 non-killers managed to become fathers. As you can see in the table below, there is a dramatic difference in the average number of offspring in pretty much every age category, resulting in a total average of 4.9 children for each unokai, compared to the meager one-and-a-half child for every non-unokai.
(fig.1) – Reproductive success of Yanomami killers vs. non-killers.
It really does paint a picture on the relevance of risk taking and fear management for men from an evolutionary perspective, when we observe that those 137 men that have experienced violence, that have killed, that engage in high risk behavior, fathered 673 children, whereas the 243 men that haven’t killed and that engage in considerably less risk, fathered 380 children in total. And this pattern is further confirmed if we look at the stats on marital success in the picture below (fig.2). Here we see again the unokais taking the lead over the non-unokais, with a bigger average number of wives in every age group, and a total average of 1.6 wives against the 0.6 wives per non-unokai. Interestingly, we can see that polygamy becomes apparent in the killers older than 30, only to become full-blown after the age of 40.
(fig.2) – Marital success of Yanomami killers vs. non-killers.
The numbers make something else apparent, that is, they highlight female hypergamy. Yanomami women are on average clearly going for the bigger better deal, for the most capable candidate when making their genetic investment, thus driving an entire process of sexual selection that will favor the traits of these hardened killers. I mean the numbers leave no room for doubt. According to the author, out of the 137 unokais 88% were married, and among the 243 non-unokais only 51% of them had a wife.
By solely observing the hunter-gatherer context, not much is revealed regarding whether the female preference for aggressive, risk-taking males goes towards satisfying a protection/provision binary model or if instead is just part of a provision-centered model for mate selection. In the case of the Yanomami, the lack of formal laws and institutions for enforcing them, such as courts and police forces, essentially mean that these women will most likely rely on their strong partners and remaining kin in order to have guaranteed protection. However when the context and environment is switched, one must wonder if the desire for protection remains as preponderant as the desire for provision, or if instead my suspicions are confirmed.
With that being said let’s switch to our own civilizational context, that is, an environment where agriculture, industry and the mechanization effect allow for an abundance of resources, and where bloodshed and sheer brute strength are no longer, for the great part, a requirement for gathering them in the first place, and see to what extent a female attraction for aggressive males manifests itself. Regarding the fearless and ultra-violent Yanomami unokais, their hunter-gatherer background generates an environment of relative resource scarcity, which in turn leads to tremendous levels of male-to-male competition for those same resources, whether those are natural resources or sexual resources. This makes their fearlessness and aggressiveness sought after traits, and critical factors for reproductive success. For our particular context and environment however, I would say that the military represents the best group from which one can draw a closer comparison to the Yanomami unokais, since it actively selects for aggressive individuals in detriment of those who are hesitant to take risks, through intensive drilling. On a side note, yes, the drill is merely a selection process to determine who has “what it takes”, it can’t instill aggressive tendencies where there are none to start with.
The researchers Benjamin Karney, David Loughran and Michael Pollard, analyzed the marital data of US male military personnel and male civilians between the years of 1998 and 2005 in a study titled: “Comparing Marital Status and Divorce Status in Civilian and Military Populations.”, and found that while there is this notion circulating in popular opinion that the marriages of active servicemen stand at a special risk of dissolution, over issues of distance and the long time away from home during deployment, etc., actually not only are men in the military more likely to get married, and earlier in life that civilian men, but also have a lower rate of divorce while they remain active. The authors give insight into a critical reason as to why such is the case. In the article they write:
“Today, the majority of service members, both male and female, are married, and military families have guaranteed access to resources such as health care and child care, resources that a considerable fraction of young high school graduates lack.”
“In addition to the benefits offered to all service members, the military reserves a number of substantial benefits and incentives for service members who are married. For example, married service members in the active duty component receive a housing supplement that enables them to reside off base. (…) Married service members receive a cost of living bonus; their unmarried brothers-in-arms receive no such bonus. The spouses of married service members are eligible to receive full health coverage; the romantic partners of the unmarried do not. Should a service member be killed in action, a spouse of that service member would receive survivor benefits, but an unmarried partner would receive nothing. As one analysis concluded: “The real value of compensation for married servicepeople substantially exceeds that for otherwise identical single servicepeople.”, providing an incentive to marriage for unmarried service members that comparable unmarried civilians lack. Furthermore, the longer an individual expects to serve, the greater the potential benefits to be accumulated from marrying.”
Given this, the authors posit that groups of men who, as civilians, would normally be less likely to get married due to their average lower income, such as young men, or black and Hispanic men, would show higher rates of marriage as a service member. And, lo and behold, that is exactly what the figures show (fig.3). For instance, between 2002 and 2005, the average enlisted black man between the ages of 28 and 32 was more than 27% more likely to have been married than his respective civilian counterpart. Looking at the rest of the numbers, we can see that there exists an obvious trend across different races, age groups and rank. In short, men between the ages of 18-41, regardless of their race, who serve in the military are more likely to get married, than men who never served in the armed forces, have at least a high school degree, and work a full time job of 35+ hours a week.
(fig.3) – Differences between rates of marriage in US Military service members and those of comparable civilians.
The numbers on divorce lend further substance to a female preference for men in the military (fig.4). Once again across the board, across age, race and rank, men in the military are in general less likely to get divorced than their civilian counterparts.
(fig.4) – Differences between rates of divorce in US Military service members and those of comparable civilians.
Oh but wait, there is more, and it’s about to get even more interesting. You see, this study only focuses on the stats of active service members versus civilians. Now let’s consider how these rates compare to those of veterans, that is, men who are no longer under the wing of the military. On a different article by the same authors of the previous study, titled: “Comparing Rates of Marriage and Divorce in Civilian, Military, and Veteran Populations”, Karney, Loughran and Pollard pose the question: What happens to the marriages formed while serving in the military once the couple leaves the military and returns to civilian life? In the summary of their findings they write the following, emphasis mine:
“Linear probability analyses of the entire military population between 1995-2002 indicate that compared to comparable civilians, military men and women are more likely to get married, and that military men are less likely to get divorced while serving in the military. (…) However, upon exiting the military, both veteran men and women have higher rates of divorce than comparable civilians, as indicated in the NLSY-79 using fixed effects models. Taken together, these findings suggest that the military provides incentives to marry (for men and women) and remain married (for men), but that once the service members return to civilian life AND THESE INCENTIVES ARE ABSENT, they suffer higher rates of marital dissolution than comparable civilians. This suggests that the military may encourage unions that would not normally be formalized into marriage in a civilian context, and are consequently more fragile upon exit from the military.”
And there you have it gentlemen, once the plethora of tasty benefits that the military offers to married couples dries up, we see without much of a surprise, that those unions will crumble in no time. Once again we see, crystal clear, the effects of hypergamy in action. Nothing new there.
So in an environment of relative resource abundance, where women can now rely on the power of the state, police forces and magistrates for protection, you can see that a risk-taking, aggressive male starts to lose his luster in the eyes of a female, the moment he falls short in the resource acquisition department. I’m not saying that women don’t display an attraction for the “bad boy”, let’s call it. I mean, for instance, the topic of female hybristophilia, that is, the sexual attraction to someone who committed a violent or gruesome crime is well documented, including by Barbarossa in his articles right here on Shedding of the Ego. However, I would posit that any female attraction for violence and aggressive males, isn’t an attraction to aggression itself, but rather for what they unconsciously perceive that aggression can do for them, for how it can be a tool to satisfy their hypergamous urges.
The reasoning is quite simple. In the hundreds of thousands of years of the history of human evolution, the advent of agriculture is a relatively recent occurrence, merely 11.000-12.000 years old, meaning that for an overwhelming part of our species history the norm was hunting and gathering, and consequently one major environmental pressures was resource scarcity. In order to acquire those resources, and therefore hope to survive and be able to leave behind some offspring; good health, physical prowess and the capacity to eliminate a threat, were pretty much absolutely necessary for the average male. After the agricultural revolution, the average man no longer needed to be able to, say, violently bash another man’s skull with a rock, in order to ensure that his family, or clan, wouldn’t starve to death. Resources became easier to attain, meaning that more men were now capable of remaining in the game, and of furthering their genes into the next generation. To give further credence to this hypothesis of a sexual selection model centered on resource acquisition and maintenance, consider one of Stardusk’s great videos: “Neolithic Hypergamy, Agriculture and the Mechanisation Effect”. In that video it was demonstrated the existence of female hypergamy in neolithic societies at the very dawn of the agricultural revolution, with evidence pointing to the presence of women from a hunter-gatherer background in agricultural communities, communities that were experiencing resource abundance in a way that was just not sustainable, or even possible, for hunter-gatherer ones.
However, evolution isn’t an immediate and hyper-rationalized process, it is but a series of prolonged adaptive changes to whatever is the environment. I have good reason to suspect that any perceived female attraction to aggression is most likely a remnant of the hundreds of thousands of years of adaption to an environment where resources were short, and risk taking behavior, aggression, and brute strength were a sure-fire way of getting and defending them, and that right now in our current environment, such an attraction might very well be maladapted. It is for all the aforementioned reasons that I hypothesize that traits such as aggressiveness, fearlessness and risk-taking in males simply inform female hypergamy on the capacity for said males to acquire and retain resources, not so much for satisfying a need for protection. Remember, even in a hunter-gatherer context, such as that of the of the Yanomami, men from in a woman’s kinship group (brothers, fathers, etc.) can perfectly satisfy her protection demands without the help of the woman’s sexual partner.
In short, right now in our specific environment and context I have reason to consider that violence and aggression as traits don’t hold a direct, overt influence over reproductive success. To repeat my previous point, the attraction for the “bad boy”, isn’t for what the “bad boy” is, but for what his traits can get. So instead of a direct influence, aggression holds a lingering indirect influence on reproductive success, while essentially the bottom line is all about resources and provision. Always has been, and for the foreseeable future, always will be.