This weekend the Wall Street Journal confirmed what we pretty much know intuitively, stronger-looking men enjoy higher social status than other people. (R & D: Daniel Akst, Flex the Muscles Of Leadership— sorry about the pay wall.)
The article reported the findings of this study. It comes with a couple of interesting caveats. First, this doesn’t work for women (sorry ladies), and second, it only works for a man if his strength is believed to serve the interests of others–so, buff firemen are good, but hulking thugs are bad.
Any man who has lived for a time on both sides weak/strong divide knows this without having to be told. He may not feel comfortable talking about it, especially if his politics is egalitarian. But it is hard to deny a fact as brute as this one.
My politics is not very egalitarian, so I’ll share my tale.
I was something of a late bloomer. On top of that my eager-beaver mother, who was convinced I was a genius, enrolled me in school early. Most boys will tell you that’s a bad thing to do. Perhaps many women are just incapable of seeing this, and maybe some men just don’t want to remember, but males form hierarchies based on physical strength very early.
So, for a good portion of my childhood and well into my teen years I was surrounded by guys I couldn’t compete with. A couple of things changed that. My family fell apart when I became a teenager and I spent time in a foster home. I had almost no parental supervision through my teen years. I played Ferris Bueller and skipped so much school I was held back a grade in junior high. This helped to reset the clock. By my junior year of high school the testosterone had finally kicked in and in my senior year I began to lift weights.
Things changed after that. If high school had been my night, college was my day. Things went well for me there. And while physical fitness doesn’t explain everything, it helped.
Since leaving college, my physical condition has fluctuated. It took me a while to accept that I could no longer eat like a teenager, and that staying fit would be the work of a lifetime. Today I’m 53, in good shape for my age, and while there are plenty of guys who are stronger than me, I’m not a weakling. But I’m not a beast either. I hope you get what I’m driving at. I’m not trying to boast. When it comes to this, generally speaking, I’m on the inside looking out, not the outside looking in.
If you’re Diana Moon Glampers I’m sure this really bugs you. But I can assure you being bugged doesn’t mean you don’t favor men like me. I’ve seen it, only the most embittered feminists can resist the impulse to defer to us. And if they let down their defenses for just a moment, well, you get the picture.
I understand, as I said I spent time on the outside looking in. Furthermore, I’m on the downhill side of life. I know it can’t go on much longer, ten years, tops. Then the descent will accelerate until I’m just a feeble old man on his death bed.
But apart from the obvious potential for abuse, why should this bug us? Who said every good thing in life has to be distributed evenly for things to be just?
In my experience, the closer you live to nature the less this bothers you. Aristotle called human beings, rational animals. And anyone who spends time with animals will tell you that dogs, chickens, elephants, whatever, just aren’t into equality.You have to abstract yourself from the body if you really want things to be equal. This is where rationality can get a little crazy. And this is also why Plato enjoys the favor of gender-egalitarians, at least on this subject. (It is the most repellant thing about him, in my opinion.)
I’m referring to Republic, of course, and the androgynous Guardians who rule it. The work of these philosopher-kings and queens is essentially cerebral, or so Socrates claimed. And since that’s so, women should be welcomed into the ruling clique.
But even there the body remains a problem. There’s sex, naturally, and the tendency for people to form families. Since forming a family would divide the interests of Guardians between their households and the republic, the Guardians must not be permitted to have them. But even Plato understood genetics at a rudimentary level, and not permitting the Guardians to breed would be disastrous over time. Consequently he dictates that male and female Guardians must have sex on rotation. And when women give birth, the child must be hidden from her and raised in common with all the other children of the Guardians.
Fortunately, no one has been able to pull this off. (What monsters would come?) But I’m not sure why anyone should even have tried. This is why egalitarianism has always smacked of gnosticism to me.
Sociobiology–Aristotle by the Backdoor
It took Aristotle to make a case for the body as something more than a bundle of irrational appetites. (That’s always struck me as odd. Why didn’t Plato apprehend the forms that give our bodies their rai·sons d’être?) According to Aristotle, we are suffused with reason, both body and mind, and so is a human society. Reason at work in our bodies harmonizes with the reason that orders social life. This is what philosophers call teleo-biology.
Contemporary gnosticism has found an ally in the materialism of our time. People who favor equality in all things require nature to be nothing more than a meaningless flux. That way we can order things to our liking. Just why a meaningless flux should favor egalitarians is something these people refuse to consider, even when you press the matter. If power is all that matters, then those with power are all that matter. That can’t be right.
And this brings me to sociobiology and back to the Wall Street Journal. Sociobiology is the study of heritable biological differences and their functions in human societies. And you know what? It is just uncanny how the conclusions of the sociobiologists largely harmonize with the old teleo-biology of Aristotle. Of course you can’t say that in mixed company.
Theology and Biology
I’ve taken a circuitous path to a very short point. It is this: the gender-egalitarianism favored by progressives is deeply hostile to our bodies. Not only is it unnatural, it is anti-social, seeking to turn us into interchangeable parts rather than interdependent ones. And where two things can perform the same job, one of them is unnecessary.
But this is all just crazy stuff. And it is only because we live sequestered lives in a civilization that has reduced nature to meaningless stuff, that the delusion is even plausible.
It is only when we rediscover that our bodies are part of who we essentially are, and that those bodies are lopsided gifts that must be held erect by other lopsided bodies leaning against them, that we will return to a sane and wholesome way of life.
We’ll get there eventually. Mother Nature is still God’s good servant, and she isn’t fooled for long.