Tag Archives: biological determinism

Of Ducks and Drakes: Male Violence Across Species

Mothers Day, several years ago, I went with a friend to feed the ducks (and possibly nutria) at a local park. It was supposed to be a pleasant excursion to take my friend’s mind off of troubles with her own kids and to see some animals. It ended up being a sad and clarifying outing.

The nutria did not come out which was unfortunate as they’re really incredible creatures to interact with. We were flooded with ducks and geese grabbing our treats. After we ran out of goodies for the birds we sat talking and let everyone get back to their routines. It didn’t take long before we witnessed a horrific scene on the water of several drakes gang-raping a duck, her screaming out in pain and fear. We shouted at them and threw rocks into the water in the hopes of scaring them off but could only do so much to frighten them. They did let up soon after they were interrupted by us but it was too late, she was already hurt and violated.

The drakes swam off, we went back to our spot, reeling from what we’d just witnessed. The duck climbed onto land and waddled over near to us and began letting out the most incredibly heartbreaking, defeated cries. We chased off any drakes that came onto land to bother her. When they’d get near she’d scream and get close to us. We were there for awhile and her cries got further apart but every single one of them still deeply unsettled us. Thankfully my friend is a radical feminist so we could be honest with one another about the horror we’d just witnessed this poor duck go through but what could we do for her? She was wild and when we got too close she’d get scared as well. We had to leave her eventually with sorrow for the inevitability of her continued violation by the drakes she couldn’t escape. I left with perspective on the female condition.

A lot of feminists and progressive types ignore the fact that male violence is a cross-species experience. They blame masculine gender socialization in humans for the high rates of men’s sexual violence and general violent tendencies as a sex. There is no doubt that humans have the capacity for deep thought, reflection and the ability to make moral choices and that masculine gender socialization encourages men to embrace a very destructive way of being. Getting the message from birth that you are superior and entitled to female labor in all of its forms doesn’t help sway men away from treating women like garbage but why do so many forget that this particular destructive and violent way of being is overwhelmingly male? Outside of male contact, these ideas seldom come into female minds at all.

My only guesses are that it is so difficult to live with the knowledge that men don’t commit the acts they do because they’re ignorant about consent or masculinity. They do these things because it is a part of their nature. It is a drive they possess deep in their cells. Women suffer because man’s will has always taken precedence over our own. It may be comforting to think that through social engineering we can achieve an end to the male violence that permeates every part of our world but it is delusional thinking. It requires ignoring what females across many species are facing. No one socialized the drakes I witnessed that day into raping the duck and yet they did.

Philosophy, ethics, social reforms and advocating that our fellow human beings embrace enlightened values are excellent uses of time and there is a pressing need for them but they will not stop rape or man’s manipulation of force. This means that if we want to do something about the massive rate of male violence we will have to create a vastly different social order. We will have to become stronger, smarter and take responsibility for the direction of the species. I do sometimes wonder if women are capable of this. Many are so helplessly stuck that they’ll confuse what I’m talking about in this post with gender essentialism/biological determinism or some nonsense like that.

Understanding that male violence is an innate problem with male creatures is not the same as believing men are destined to rule over women. Instead, it makes plain the need for women to dominate human society for everyone’s benefit. It calls on us to be strict, firm and heavy-handed. How much of women’s unwillingness to face the truth of why men rape has to do with many women’s attachment to femininity? I’m reminded of the famous line by Dworkin in her speech ‘I want a twenty-four hour truce during which there is no rape’ – “Have you ever wondered why we are not just in armed combat against you? It’s not because there’s a shortage of kitchen knives in this country. It is because we believe in your humanity, against all the evidence.”

Let’s go further than she did. Let’s stop believing in that which there is no evidence for. Let’s analyze the data.

 

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One of these things is not like the others

Biological essentialism is not gender essentialism and it is not biological determinism.

Or in plain speak – Believing that there are innate characteristics to both sexes is not the belief that the sexes are naturally inclined towards carrying out different roles in society and that one sex is therefore destined to dominate or be ruled by the other.

Yet when so many women hear talk about the fact that there is something about men which makes them act differently than women, something that exists outside of human social constructs altogether they immediately take up the charge of “gender essentialism” or “biological determinism”.  Now what “essentialist” radical feminist has ever in any way made the argument that men are destined to rule women?  Or that their system of patriarchy is natural?

These things don’t naturally lead into one another.

Most female animals organize their societies around females and their children.  The male animals are generally shoved to the periphery.  They are far less in number because they are not cared for by the female society (and you can sure as shit guess that the males aren’t taking care of each other).  The males that are on the edge interact with females for breeding purposes and in some cases act as a deterrent for other males of the species to come around.  The reason for this is that across the animal kingdom males are generally violent and destructive.  However there is no patriarchy among these animals.  They live in what is a female and child collective.  It is my belief as an “essentialist” that this is the natural order of things.  That patriarchy has taken men from the outskirts of society and thrust them into the center.  Turning the natural order of things on it’s head.

It makes sense that if males are inherently violent and destructive that patriarchy is therefore unnatural as they cannot be trusted to organize a decent society such is their lust for blood and destruction.

This does not mean I think women are immune to negative behavior, that they are incapable of horror.  But I seriously doubt any of the atrocities we as a species have witnessed throughout history would have happened if women were in the driver’s seat.

This also doesn’t mean I think men can’t bake cookies or sew, or like makeup and pink.  Confusing a biological understanding of male violence with a belief in the oppressive gender roles that have been thrust upon women since the dawn of history is just lazy thinking.  Confusing it with a belief that men are therefore naturally meant to rule over us is just absurd.

So much of women’s reality is hidden in plain sight.  We do not see the things that are right in front of us.  The distortions patriarchy levels have women chasing our metaphorical tails.  It is much easier to not see what is plain.  It is much easier to project humanity where there is none.  Project emotion where there is none.  This is how men are able so effectively to mindfuck women.  They can tell us to our faces (and often do) what they know they inherently are.  What they are capable of and we will argue with them until we are blue in the face that they are WRONG and that they’re really like us deep down.  They can openly treat their pursuit of women to fuck as sport and women will tell themselves that is not what is happening.  We have to, have to realize that our minds are not our own, that they’ve been accustomed to a lifetime of denying their own realities.

Radical Feminism requires that pursuit of women’s truth, women’s reality be primary.  As others have written before me, it requires us to follow our thoughts, no matter how scary, to their natural conclusions.

When I was a Marxist Feminist, a few years back I had this tendency to argue everything.  I had to be right.  I would argue with men about how they needed to change, how they were capable of so much more, how they denigrated themselves by being sexist.  I would have these blocks.  Like I wanted to go further but couldn’t.  Like I knew what I was arguing for was just bullshit.  But it was hard to let go of because of my own ego.  I had identity wrapped up in “not being like that”.  Meaning I wasn’t fucking crazy.  I was “reasonable”.  Basically I wanted men to validate that my feminist cause was just.  It took years to figure out that I didn’t need to argue anymore.  My cause needs no justification.  My boundaries need no justification.  My politics need no justification.  They simply are.  Real.  Elemental.