Amoeba’s Lorica: Thanks For Nothing, Walter Mitty

Seen this evening (1 November) on Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba’s Facebook feed, from a woman associated with some of YFNA’s radical feminist FB friends:

Dear dumb, entitled, insecure, angry men of the world: I am tired of you.

thurber_knowsfactsYFNA has spent his life studying biology. Creatures, basically. Their names, their habits, their sex lives.

Especially, their sex lives. Even amoebae have ’em. Yeah, yeah, amoebae are supposed to be immortal. But, stuff happens. Rotifers, for example. And there’s gotta be somebody to pseudopod on. Or else, like, no amoebae. Facts of life, hm?

And one of those facts is this. Males are expendable.

Incredible as it may seem, YFNA once wrote a scientific paper in which he tried to count how many gametes a male red seaweed produced, vs the number produced by a female seaweed of the same size. (Yes, there are male and female seaweeds.) The ratio was something like 1000 to 1. For land plants like maple trees and ragweed, the ratio of male gametes (pollen) to female (baby seeds) is more like a million to one. Which is getting closer to the ratio of male (sperm) to female (egg) gametes produced by the average human being.

That’s one hell of a lot of excess male capacity. And the females know it.

Famously, the female praying mantis insect tells her suitor, “You want to get it on with me, you have to feed me.” Literally. The hapless dude doesn’t take his sweetie out for dinner, he gets taken out. As dinner. But at least the babies get taken care of. And he doesn’t have to worry about her cheating on him with another mantis. Or anything else.

The male wishes to play the one-night stand gig, like, more than once? He’d better bring something to the table. Enough size, strength, and testosterone aggression to guard the den where the kids are sleeping, for example. Better still if, when not guarding, he can be going out gathering provender for those kids and their mother so that they can stay out of harm’s way, and he himself stays off the menu. Parental care of offspring is relatively rare in nature, and biparental care rarer still, and costly. It only happens when the consequences are worse. Like when a nest guarded by two adults has a chance of getting the kids to teenager status war stage, but a nest guarded by only one does not.

Going to war is a male privilege, you think? It’s more like a cutting contest. “Survive this, and the girls, and the kids, will be yours.” Not a trivial consideration when you consider that wars do a number on males. Like, for instance, the nearly 70% of the male population that died during a war between Paraguay and her neighbors, a century and a half ago.

And just a few of those survivors can repopulate the village. Assuming, of course, that none of those survivors has syphilis. Not so much if the army you’re fielding consists mostly of women. Diseases or no diseases.

Males are expendable.

Human males have, historically, exacted a high price for agreeing to be expendable. The Amoeba expects to be flamed, or (far more likely) ignored, for suggesting this, but here goes anyway: the social subjugation of women in most societies has taken place at women’s insistence. For, in a crowded, resource-strapped, disease-ridden world, the hired muscle is what has kept women alive. And they have developed strong social codes, more or less, to keep the testosterone aggression that was needed to keep the nest intact from breaking out upon its female occupants. More or less. Like, more than, oh, let’s say, once a month.

If we’re going to have to bow and scrape to our male partners, let them be strong, and competent, and of noble bearing. Let them prepare the nest, and provision it, and guard it, as it is necessary to do. Let them be able to do this without [ahem] too many unfortunate incidents. And let them be expendable enough to win our wars. Hence, the exalted status of males.

Into the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

While the circumstances that justified that status were eroding away.

Machines that make women just as strong as men. Already, by the time of the Confederate Revolutionary War US Civil War, Union men could be sent to the war front without collapsing the national economy, because women could harvest the crops with machines, negating the economic advantage of (slave) male brawn in manual harvesting.

Medicines. Medicines that make women nearly as free as men from the costs of sexual indiscipline – both children and disease.

Circumstances that should have impelled human males to be more competent, more disciplined, more noble of bearing, in order to continue to justify their exalted social status. Especially in a vastly overcrowded, increasingly resource-strapped world, where the very last thing anyone needs is more children.

Instead, we have Walter Mitty.

Walter [deleted] Mitty.

Walter Mitty, in case you haven’t heard of him, is a fictional character appearing in a short story by American writer and cartoonist James Thurber, a story first published in 1939. In a world that was about to need all the male heroes – expendable male heroes – that it could lay hands on, Mitty is the anti-hero.

Incompetent.

Undisciplined.

Ignoble.

At least he wasn’t vulgar. That would get added later, Donald. Probably didn’t have the energy for it. Spent too much of it with his daydreams – so much so that he couldn’t even remember to buy puppy biscuit as his wife (NB) had asked – to have anything left to spend on crudities.

Besides, why would he have to? He was still male. He was still in charge. On top. Status untouchable.

American male archetype 2016And he became the archetype for the American male, especially the American urban male (can you say ‘progressive’?) of the 1950s and beyond.

Not for nothing did the phrase a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle begin making the rounds. In 1970. Throughout history, the incompetent, who keep trading on a remembered status without earning it, eventually lose it. Especially the males. Who are reminded that they are expendable.

Thanks for nothing, Walter Mitty.

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