Epistemic status: Speculation. An unholy union of evo psych, introspection, random stuff I happen to observe & hear about, and thinking. Done on a highly charged topic. Caveat emptor!

Most of my life, whenever I'd felt sexually unwanted, I'd start planning to get fit.

Specifically to shape my body so it looks hot. Like the muscly guys I'd see in action films.

This choice is a little odd. In close to every context I've listened to, I hear women say that some muscle tone on a guy is nice and abs are a plus, but big muscles are gross — and all of that is utterly overwhelmed by other factors anyway.

It also didn't match up with whom I'd see women actually dating.

But all of that just… didn't affect my desire?

There's a related bit of dating advice for guys. "Bro, do you even lift?" Depending on the context, the dudebros giving this advice might mention how you shouldn't listen to women about what they say they want. Because (a) the women don't really know and (b) they have reason to hide the truth anyway.

But… I mean… there's an experience here that's common enough to be a meme:

The more I connect the puzzle pieces, the weirder this looks at first.

For instance, my impression is that there is a kind of male physicality that does tend to be attractive for women. But it's mostly not about body shape (other than height). It's about functionality. Actual strength matters more than muscle size for instance. Coordination and physical competence are often turn-ons. Building stuff that's hard to build, and doing it with physical grace? Yeah.

So you'd think the ideal form of physical training for a guy to attract a woman might be things like mobility training plus some kind of skill practice like dance or woodworking.

But guys mostly be like "Nah."

(I mean, some go for it. I loved dance and martial arts, and I really tried to get into parkour, and these days I play with qigong & acrobatics. But the reason for these activities wasn't (& isn't) to attract a mate. It was (and is) mostly because I find them fun.)

But gosh, getting big does seem to attract men! 

I mean, literally this seems to happen in gay contexts I think? But even setting aside sexual attraction, there's something about getting other men's "Looking big, king" that somehow… matters.

And if you take the feminist thing about male gaze seriously, that'd suggest that the physique of action heroes and comic book superheroes is actually meant to appeal to men.

If I sort of squint and ignore what people (including me) say things like lifting is for, and I just look at the effects… it sure looks like the causal arrow goes:

"desire a woman" --> "work to impress other men"

I kind of wonder if this is basically just correct. Not just that guys do this, but that maybe this is actually the right strategy. Just with some caveats because I think postmodern culture might have borked why this works and now everyone is confused.

To me this connects to how women relate to their beauty.

Beauty being female-coded seems stupid-obviously about sexual signaling. And yet! Men complimenting a woman's beauty or even being stunned in awe of her has kind of a meh impact on said woman. Some women even get annoyed if a man thinks she's pretty when she hasn't put in effort.

(Maybe it lands for her as an attempt to manipulate? "Yeah, whatever, I'm frumpy and in my sweatpants and this dude just wants to bone me. It's not sincere. He'd hump anything with tits and an ass.")

But if another woman is sincerely enamored? Not (necessary) sexually attracted, but honestly says "Wow, you look stunning!"?

As far as I can tell, there's no ceiling for how much that can matter to a woman.

This is really weird if you think beauty is about signaling sexual fitness and attracting a mate. Male attention, especially involuntary bricking the male brain just by being, should be the most sexually validating thing for a woman.

But instead it's just… nice? And kind of amusing? A bit empowering?

Rather, what I see is women seeking compliments from each other. They form clusters of "Look at you, girl!" and cheer each other on.

Guys give zero fucks about manicures or whether your purse matches your dress, but boy oh boy do other women notice! And lo, what do women focus on when making themselves pretty?

When a woman is getting ready to leave the house and worries about how she looks, why does her man's glowing approval ("You look gorgeous, babe!") basically not matter to her? But if one of her girlfriends is there, her input totally does matter?

The whole picture strikes me as weird, in a similar way as guys bulking up, where sexual signals get primarily focused on one's own sex, even to the outright exclusion of the opposite sex's input.

Now why might that be?

There are a few other puzzle pieces that I think are worth putting next to the above. I'm selecting them based on a magic "This is relevant" detector in my head; they just feel to me worth naming:

  • Pick-up artistry (PUA) is very male-coded and creepy. Women seem to be loudest about the creepiness of it, but even men have to kind of rationalize it to get into it. Outside PUA communities, I usually see/hear the male sentiment to be "Come on, man. Don't be like that." It comes across like some kind of defection on everyone.
  • If a woman really hyper-targets her beauty to appeal to men, the collective female response is often slut-shaming. Folk often explain this as a matter of price control (i.e., women acting like a cartel keeping the price of sex high in their bargaining with men). But I don't think this explains it: slut-shaming happens even if it's clear the "slutty" woman isn't having sex. And I think a woman who actually has lots of sex with lots of men gets less overt slut-shaming if she generally doesn't doll up for the male gaze.
  • "Bros before hoes."
  • A man being deeply respected and lauded by his fellow men, in a clearly authentic and lasting way, seems to be a big female turn-on. Way way way bigger effect size than physique best as I can tell.
    • …but the symmetric thing is not true! Women cheering on one of their own doesn't seem to make men want her more. (Maybe something else is analogous, the way female "weight lifting" is beautification?)
  • As far as I know, every culture throughout all known history has made a point of having men and women act as two mostly distinct social clusters most of the time. (Today's postmodern culture, where we try to pretend as much as possible that physical sex doesn't matter, is extremely bizarre.) This separation is independent of how respected or oppressed women are in said culture. There's some variance in terms of how okay intersex friendships are… but even today, questions arise around whether men & women even can be just friends, and it's still kind of suss and not a good sign if nearly all of someone's friends are of the opposite sex.
  • Modern dating culture mostly focuses on having men and women meet each other as socially unconnected strangers in a shared context of "dating". Also, modern dating famously sucks for lots of (most? the loudest?) people. These two things strike me as connected.
  • My stereotype center says that when a (monogamous hetero) couple pairs off, it's disastrous to the mental/emotional health of either partner to lose touch with their same-sex friends. Women need their girlfriends, men need their guys. It does not do for the guy to have his social life be his wife's girlfriends coming over — unless he can bond with their husbands. And vice versa.
  • One of humanity's main survival traits is our ability to function in groups. And yet, sexual competition by default is very group-fracturing. Cultures evolved a bunch of strategies for sorting this out, like "Sultan gets the harem" or "No sex before marriage." But just thinking through the evolutionary timeline, we had to have had some sexual strategies in place before culture even could have started forming. This means culture evolved in part from sexual strategies. So surely we have some elements of culture navigating sexuality that are way, way deeper than just some malleable local strategies…?

Next to all of this, I want to name something more personal.

I grew up being taught that "Women are people too." The messaging was obviously meant to be anti-misogynist. But part of what I heard and received was that I'm supposed to treat women the same as men. That physical sex shouldn't matter when it comes to seeing someone's humanity. That it's dehumanizing to see a woman as "a woman" rather than as "a person with many attributes, one of which just so happens to be 'female'".

The thing is, physical sex does matter. If nothing else, it sure matters a lot in mate selection!

So if a young heterosexual man believes it's morally wrong and socially threatening to see a girl as a girl, but he also wants to date someone… how does that work?

Well, we have a stereotype for a psychic structure that deals with something like this: the closet-gay homophobe.

The deal is that Dude McDudeface both (a) feels involuntary attraction to some guys and (b) believes he'll be socially (and maybe physically) attacked if his attraction is discovered. And he fears it's more likely to be discovered if he's conscious of his attraction. So he learns to mix the reminders of his attraction with his social terror in part to suppress his own awareness of his homosexuality.

This is an example of what I named years ago as "Newcomblike self-deception":

If Omega is modeling your self-model instead of your actual source code to predict your actions, then you're highly incentivized to separate your self-model from your method of choosing your actions. Then you can two-box while convincing Omega you'll one-box by sincerely but falsely believing you're going to one-box. This paints a pretty vivid picture if you view the intelligent social web as the real-world version of Omega with "social role" playing the part of "self-model".

I recently came to realize I'd been caught up in one of these structures around sexual attraction. I'm supposed to appreciate women "for who they are", which I'd internalized to mean who they are when you factor out the fact that they're female. But I'm attracted to women in part because they're female! So now what?

Because of a recent revelation, it suddenly feels way safer for me to see some truths about myself that had felt socially Forbidden™. And ways I'd been disrespecting the social fabric as a result.

…but also a lot of compassion for myself in that. Kind of like how Dude McDudeface isn't inherently an asshole; that's just the output he landed on when his culture handed him an impossible and agonizing paradox.

I mean, I don't think I was doing anything as bad as beating people up. Just stupid and disrespectful stuff.

Like, recently I went to a discussion group, and one woman there was just stunning to me. Utterly gorgeous. And she was also super clearly paired with a guy there. I noticed how my habits would have had me wanting to "just be friendly" with her, and maybe with the guy too, to feel out whether I had a chance with her. But also to avoid letting myself notice that that's why I wanted to do it!

Two thoughts patched this in a way I found both kind and clear:

  • "It's okay that I'm attracted to her. It's just true that I feel drawn to her. There's nothing wrong with that, or with me."
  • "Bros before hoes."

The point of that second one was to highlight how I was viewing the guy. Was I respecting him? Was my inclination to interact with him honoring his humanity? To what extent was it a means to an end instead?

There's a clear difference, I find, between my sex drive operating within care for the social fabric vs. it trying to use the social fabric as cover.

And this is way easier for me to tell when I orient to people I'm not sexually attracted to.

"Am I being good to my brethren here?"

Crystal clear.

And it has me notice — in defiance of what I took in from my upbringing — that in order to be respectful it is absolutely necessary that I address the attraction question when orienting to a woman. Even if we're "just being friendly".

That doesn't mean we have to talk about it. Sexual stuff is mostly nonverbal and weaves with ambiguity. It can actually hurt the social fabric to bring this topic into explicit conversation.

But it does mean that at least internal to myself, I cannot ignore when a given person is a woman. I can acknowledge when it in fact doesn't matter; there's no sexual dynamic between me and my sister for instance. But it really is an extra step I have to sort out with women.

And it's not a step I need to take with men.

I'm now going to shift from "observations and questions, selected by a hidden agenda" to "wild fuzzy speculations".

I wonder if culture evolved in a context that relied on partly separating the two sexes and emphasizing within-sex bonding.

I'm reminded of a story I heard long ago about bonobos. Supposedly if you toss a big pile of food into the middle of a bonobo tribe, they start fucking each other before getting to the food. The issue being that if there's any possibility of there not being enough food for everyone, that could result in the bonobo tribe fracturing in fights, and they don't want that. So they start by affirming their bonds with each other.

I don't know if this really happens. But even if not, the fiction does a great job of highlighting the dynamic I'm thinking of.

If you have a group of men who rely on one another for survival, and then they encounter a Helen of Troythis could spell disaster for all of them.

But gosh, what if they had ways of reaffirming their brotherly bonds in the face of this temptation? What if that was more important to them, collectively, than was the erotic possibility with Helen?

What if… bros before hoes?

If human tribes tried to form by mixing the sexes, with sexual competition going unspoken and persistent and with culture just suppressing its worst expressions so as to stay functional… I kind of suspect culture would not have evolved.

But an easy neighboring strategy would be:

  • Separate the sexes so there's no immediate sexual dynamic.
  • Affirm bonds within each sexual cluster.
  • Ritualize the interactions between the sexual clusters so that they minimize harm to the within-sex bonds.

If something roughly like this were part of the basis of cultural evolution, rather than being simply one solution humans tried amongst many, then we should find that a lot of the human sex drive causes individuals to orient toward their own sex.

And then the whole bizarre puzzle throughout this post seems to snap into place.

It suggests things like, maybe football players get the girls not because they're muscly and rich, but because they're a respected part of an obviously functional tribe of men. Whereas a solo dude staying buff at a gym and bragging about his income is cringe rather than attractive.

And the issue with slut-shaming might be less about the collective price of sex, and more about calling out social defection. "You're choosing to appeal to the male gaze in ways we women find appalling — which means you're prioritizing sex over culture. Don't do that."

And maybe modern dating sucks because people are directly looking for mates, but this totally screws with the signals that for tens (hundreds?) of thousands of years would happen through culture. Maybe the way we evolved to find mates is by turning toward our own sex and being richly connected and supported and of value to them.

(A corollary here would be, a way better "dating" app might be one that helps people find folk of the same sex and helps them bond in in-person communities. And such an app would work best if it weren't just targeted at singles but still made it easy for folk within a network to know who's looking. Coincidentally, this design would fix the incentive problem where dating apps have reason to keep (monogamous) people hoping without actually pairing them off: the value is in facilitating healthy community, not in keeping people looking for a mate.)

Maybe the most… political implication of this line of oversimplified thinking is this:

Maybe the postmodern feminist push for equality of the sexes has been extremely damaging to the social fabric.

It might actually be essential that we try to divide people by sex wherever sexual dynamics can meaningfully affect a group's functionality. And where we don't separate them, maybe it's extremely important that there be total clarity for how the sexes are to interact.

That's not a claim about the sexes' relative worth. I think that's a point feminism rightly pushed back against.

I also don't mean to say that men and women can't be good friends or that there can't be healthy coed scenes.

But… I mean, think of a bakery of all (straight) men.

Then think of the same bakery, but it's all (straight) women.

Then imagine the same bakery, but it's mixed sex.

Can you see what happens?

Even if there's no attraction going on in the last case, the fact that there could be dramatically changes the unspoken dynamics. It's just not as stable as the other two.

Things like… if a man notices a female coworker struggling with a flour sifter, and he comes in one day with a device he purchased to help her out… it raises questions that just wouldn't have arisen if the two coworkers had been the same sex.

The problem is that there's a complete blurring of (a) being supportive members of the same team and (b) being potential sexual interests.

If there's no place to put a sexual exploration protocol, then everything becomes potentially sexual…

…and maybe culture's evolved ways of integrating sexuality break down.

But gosh, you know what would work really well to fix this?

If the kitchen staff were one sex, the serving staff were another, and this were explicit.

I think maybe a bunch of socially conservative ideas about gender had something of this seed in them. They were (and often still are) ossified in ways that hurt people kind of pointlessly.

But I'm coming to wonder if maybe the separation of the sexes was deeply structural in ways no one really understood before, and loudly asserting "Equality!" just forces everyone to pretend a false "should" is true.

And if maybe this is key to why mate-finding and child-rearing and even just feeling sexually safe at a job has been such a royal pain these last many years.

Some closing caveats:

Yes, I recognize I've been very cis/hetero normative here. I liken this to removing friction from physics. There's no such thing as actually frictionless physics in the real world (as far as I know)… but friction is derived from principles that are easier to see from the imagined frictionless case.

It seems dead obvious to me that all sexual dynamics have to arise from the ones governing how men and women mate. I don't mean to deny the existence of other configurations. But if I'm going to look at "frictionless" sexual dynamics, binary cishet ones strike me as obviously the right ones to focus on.

I've also leaned toward assuming monogamous pairings as a default. I haven't thought very carefully through how poly interacts with all of this. I've just done a few spot-checks, including with my own personal experiences with poly, and haven't encountered anything damning about the basic ideas here. But I want to acknowledge that maybe I'm overlooking something key.

There's also something to be said about flings and one-night stands. I'm definitely not the expert there though! Again, spot-checks seem to check out, but also maybe I'm just clueless here.

I also want to emphasize that I'm trying not to assert "should"s anywhere here. I mean all this as speculation about "is", not "ought". That can still imply some "ought", and I've gestured toward some of it! Like, I think people who are single and looking would like to have an easier & more successful time of it, so if the ideas in here are roughly correct then they imply what such people maybe should do differently. But it's a structural "should", like "You should put gas in your car if you want to make it to Mexico from here."

And it's all very, very hypothetical! I could imagine someone saying "Yeah, but what about the armadillos?" and it creating a cascade of "Oh, oops, yeah, I didn't think of that, this whole thing is silly nonsense isn't it?"

I name these caveats because I notice some neighboring ideas often get heard as saying, say, "Being gay is wrong." I most definitely do not mean anything like that! On so many levels. So please don't read that into what I'm saying.

I do mean to say, though, that there's maybe something complicated here that we can't actually brush aside simply by saying "Love is love." For instance, on the "gay" topic: if communal stability arises in part from subgroups that can implicitly trust there's no sexual attraction within those subgroups, then homosexuality really throws a basic wrench into the system. The only context where you can stick a gay person and know there isn't sexual attraction involved is with exactly one other gay person of the opposite sex. In binary sexual systems, there's no way to add a third person without risking attraction in some direction.

So I can see why some cultures might have evolved a "Burn it with fire" reaction to this problem. That's not a sane kind reaction, and (thus) I don't back it… but I can appreciate why it might have arisen, and how ignoring the problem doesn't make it go away.

And I'm adamantly against pretending real things aren't real. I think that's actually more fundamentally toxic than is homophobia, transphobia, etc.

There's also an asymmetry between the sexes that I haven't fully grappled with. Like, men are way more worried about being seen as gay than women are. And a woman being popular amongst her girlfriends has an ambiguous effect on men's attraction to her. And there's this thing where a woman's compliment to a man can actually make his season, not just his day. I have an intuition that these are all connected.

(If I had to force a guess: I wonder whether women have basically always been the main tenders of the social fabric. So they're reading men's positions in the social graph way more than men are reading women's, and it's way more tied to how they perceive men as potential mates. In which case the within-sex signaling for women would be less about "This is how I work within my community to find a man" and way, way more entirely about "Make sure my sisters are cool with me pursuing a man and will support me if I get pregnant.")


There's a ton of speculation here.

Some of it is surely just wrong. Just on priors.

Even if it were all totally correct, there are some essential pieces missing.

And I don't claim to know what that means we should all collectively or individually do.

I mean to offer this mostly as something to ruminate on, with the hope that it will help us (or at least me!) move toward truth.

If you can avoid it, please don't take any of this personally.

I care about this mostly because it might offer a way for people to be kinder to each other, and for culture to become more benevolent.

Hopefully we can engage on this topic within that benevolent spirit.

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Alternate hypotheses:

* Women are annoyed by compliments from men because they get a ton of them (and mostly they do end up being attempts to manipulate), and men are overjoyed by compliments from women because they get very few of them. (This does leave open, why do men compliment women so much more than the other way around?)

* In general, gender norms are mostly enforced within-gender - it's mostly men telling their sons to "man up" and men telling other men what's effeminate, and mostly women telling their daughters to "act like a lady" and policing fashion faux pas

* Several points here may be at least as well explained if you drop the genderedness - losing friends due to a primary relationship is bad regardless of the genders involved, being well-liked and high-status is attractive regardless of your gender and the genders of the people liking you, 

* The bonobos apparently use sex to strengthen bonds, but your argument is about strengthening bonds through non-sex with your non-sexually-compatible friends, so idk how those are related

* The "postmodern feminist push for equality of the sexes" has been damaging to the status quo, but I don't think that should necessarily be th... (read more)

Also, just as a data point, some parts of the OP that were presented as obvious but don't resonate with my experience at all (I am AFAB and identify as non-binary but am generally perceived as a woman)

* "it's still kind of suss and not a good sign if nearly all of someone's friends are of the opposite sex" - I've never had many female friends and men seem to find me attractive anyway (less so since I cut my hair short, though)
* "in order to be respectful it is absolutely necessary that I address the attraction question" - I'm not even capable of determining whether I'm attracted to someone I don't know well yet (but I think this is atypical for any gender, which is why it's called demisexual)
* I do not experience an obvious difference/shift when imagining a bakery staffed by one gender vs co-ed

Sorry if this comes across as super nit-picky! To counterbalance, here are some points I (genuinely!) liked and agreed with:

* "modern dating sucks because people are directly looking for mates", general support for community-building - people are way more isolated in contemporary Western cities than in pretty much any other time and place, and this seems pretty bad, we're highly social animal... (read more)

Also yeah I think the deal is less that women want someone to protect them and more that they want someone to do just general physical tasks - needing to be protected almost never comes up in day-to-day life but needing to move a heavy object or do grimy repair work comes up all the time

Speculation: This is interesting. Suppose in a tribe it's the strongest men most likely to be called on to defend others in the rare times it's needed. In that view , the buff gym bro's existence could be valuable primarily to less-buff men: he's making himself less (or at least no more) attractive to women, while (being perceived as) reducing physical risk to other men in his tribe from outside threats. In contrast, it wouldn't exactly be helpful for a woman to tie herself to the man in her tribe most likely to die violently.

The frequency explanation doesn't really work, because men do sometimes get excess compliments and it doesn't actually become annoying; it's just background. Also, when women give men the kind of compliments that men tend to give women, it can be quite unwanted even when infrequent. The common thing, which you both gesture at, is whether it's genuinely a compliment or simply a bid for sexual attention, borne out of neediness. The validation given by a compliment is of questionable legitimacy when paired with some sort of tug for reciprocation, and it's simply much easier to have this kind of social interaction when sexual desire is off the table the way it is between same sex groups of presumably straight individuals. For example, say you're a man who has gotten into working out and you're visiting your friend whom you haven't seen in a while. If your friend goes wide eyed, saying "Wow, you look good. Have you been working out?" and starts feeling your muscles, that's a compliment because it's not too hard for your friend to pull off "no homo". He's not trying to get in your pants. If that friend's new girlfriend were to do the exact same thing, she'd have to pull off "no hetero" for it to not get awkward, and while that's doable it's definitely significantly harder. If she's been wanting an open relationship and he hasn't, it gets that much harder to take it as "just a compliment" and this doesn't have to be a recurring issue in order for it to be quite uncomfortable to receive that compliment. As a result, unless their relationship is unusually secure she's less likely to compliment you than he is -- and when she does she's going to be a lot more restrained than he can be. The question, to me, is to what extent people are trying to "be sexy for their homies" because society has a semi-intentional way of doing division of labor to allow formation of social hierarchies without having to go directly through the mess of sexual desires, and to what extent people are
Ah yeah, oops, I noticed that possible confusion and forgot to say something about it. The fact that the bonobos use sex to reassure each other is purely incidental to why it came to mind for me. The structure of interest was more "Our tribe just encountered a potentially rare resource, so let's focus on reaffirming our tribal bonds before we even orient to the resource." Like for men, they could focus on just maximizing appeal to women… but that'd heat up competition between them. So maybe instead there's a draw to affirming male bonds. Being useful to other men. Working on being a more functional member of the male cluster. Likewise for women. The main factor in picking a mate isn't getting a guy to want to have sex with her. It's in making sure she's well-supported while having children. If there's competition between the women for attracting a specific man, that can create rancor in their ranks, and that can weaken all their children's support. So there's maybe a natural draw to focus on bonding with other women first precisely because they're the competition. Slightly different dynamic as with the men, but roughly the same overall effect.
Ideally you'd try to have a separate bakery with reversed gender-roles.

> And if maybe this is key to why (...) feeling sexually safe at a job has been such a royal pain these last many years

...reads like a mistake a feminist would not have made.

(Implicit assumption: "postmodernism" was coined in 1980 and "postmodern feminism" the mid-90s, and most people who talk about gender ideology date it to the last 10-20 years, so I'm assuming that's the time period you're referring to by "last many years".)

Men feel a little less sexually safe at work than they did sixty years ago, and women feel vastly more sexually safe. My grandmother, and the other women her age I've been close with, have stories about their bosses making explicit crude comments about them, groping them at work, and the like. In the story I remember most clearly, the boss didn't try to hide his behavior, because everyone agreed this was a normal liberty to take with your female employee. If she had complained, she would have been not only punished and likely fired, but also criticized by her coworkers for being precious about the situation.

I think separating the sexes into distinct classes ("kitchen staff are one sex and serving staff are another") wouldn't output a separate-but-equal situation; it would instead output a society that subjugates women overtly (again).

...reads like a mistake a feminist would not have made.

I guess maybe I'm not whatever you mean by "a feminist" then…?

I read you as meaning something a little like "You should have known better. You would have if you'd been the right kind of person. So you're the wrong kind of person."

I mean… okay? Sure? I guess you can believe that if you want?

But also… doesn't that make the conversation harder?

(And sorry if I'm misreading you here. I don't mean to trap you in a meaning you didn't intend if I'm missing you here. It just seems worth naming explicitly in case I am roughly catching your emotional tone right.)


(Implicit assumption: "postmodernism" was coined in 1980 and "postmodern feminism" the mid-90s, and most people who talk about gender ideology date it to the last 10-20 years, so I'm assuming that's the time period you're referring to by "last many years".)

I didn't mean anything formal. I was mostly reflecting on how #metoo seemed to imply women feeling pretty unsafe in workplaces and everywhere else for quite a while. And in the wake of #metoo guys feeling like their own sexuality was like Russian roulette.

So I guess I was gesturing at roughly the last decade or so.

I didn't... (read more)

I read it as "because you do not seem to be a feminist, it is understandable that you made this mistake; however, that presents an opportunity for skill increase".

I would recommend reading Angela Davis to get an idea what's referred to here, note that as someone who can barely read books for ADHD reasons I have not actually done this. There are probably others to recommend but if it's gonna be one I'd start with her.

5the gears to ascension
Not genetically, but there's a lot of social structure pushing towards it that is still self reinforcing. Women have better bargaining power against it now but the authority structure still leans male, and when women are allowed into it they are still checked to ensure they align with the male authority egregore. There's a name feminists use for this, but I'm tabooing it for clarity.

That's the narrative for sure. I wonder if it's mostly just a stale holdover and doesn't really apply though.

Like, misandry is vastly more blatant and serious these days from what I can tell. Getting emotional or social support as a man is a joke. There's a whole totally weirdly okay joke set that basically goes "What are women better at than men? XYZ…. What are men better at than women? Stupid pointless stuff, being wrong, yada yada, hahaha!"

There's a ton of stuff like this, like with child custody & paternity, or suicide patterns… but all this gets shoved into an eyerolling box of "MRA" or whatever. So it's un-talk-about-able.

I wonder if men are actually way more restricted in what they can do these days than women are. I don't know. But it sure seems plausible to me!

So I question whether it's really an anti-women pressure. I suspect it's more like, there's gender warfare going on, and we seem to have figured out how to culturally attack one direction of it pretty well, but we haven't stopped the war.

And having the suggested solution be even more women's rights just… doesn't seem like it's looking at the real problem.

At least to me.


Yeah like I said (ie, I know it was insufficiently clearly but don't worry, I didn't mean what you thought I did), women have much better bargaining power but men are still in the structure that egregorically wishes it was in control of women, resulting in men getting starved out. The solution has to look like men's liberation. (Which is a subreddit you may find interesting.) The male authority-hierarchy egregore was never male only; it was men and women coordinating to put a tree of male authority in charge of everyone, with the men on the bottom getting control of women as a reward for obedience, and women on the bottom not getting starved out of society from banks and jobs and etc as a reward for obedience. Women are in various stages of pushing back on that but that structure relies on men being obedient to other men while acting independent and strong, so now men are simply starved from both below and above. The solution has to look like looking sideways and not putting men below other men.

Note that I'm specifically talking about the structure of authority, not the structure of aesthetic culture in general any time it doesn't weigh on what support authority does or doesn't get.

6M. Y. Zuo
Can you lay out the argument(s) for this? I've seen this sentiment a lot on the internet but they always stall out past the ought-to-be statements.
4the gears to ascension
I'm going to answer as a series of definitions. I felt I wasn't giving enough examples and asked chatgpt & claude for more, but skip those lines if they're redundant, I've labeled them. Let me know if this isn't the kind of argument you were hoping to see; I'm more or less expanding what I previously said rather than saying something different, so I'm sort of expecting to be told "compile errors on lines 3, 7, and 8", so just let me know which parts aren't entirely valid local reasoning steps and I'll try to rectify them, because I'm sketching a fairly large argument that would require compiling pages and pages of cited examples if I wasn't eliding some details which I think are obvious enough from typical anecdotal experience. Also, I will explicitly note - this is zooming in on one network of cultural aesthetics and power structures I believe exists, and it is not the only shard of society that can be described usefully. Each of these parts exists somewhat independent of the others, but I claim several of these patterns support each other. * tree of authority: me: the network of positions of command in economy and governance. near the top (root) of this tree would be lawmakers, heads of state & their administrations, judges, police, military command, boards of directors, ceos & c-suites, bosses, decisionmakers, *illionaires, etc. In one sense it'd be more like a forest of command trees than a single command tree, but ultimately it all grows from the root of states' monopoly on destructive power. a member of the tree of authority would refer to the people who have are in the structure, such that they have incentive to ensure that the tree of command authority continues to exist (as opposed to people simply not giving or accepting commands at all, due to not strictly needing anything) and continues take the shape of (some number of) trees rather than more dynamic or flat graphs. that is, a member of the tree of authority would be someone who participate in a la
4M. Y. Zuo
How does listing out a large list of personal definitions, alongside what an LLM supplies, help in formulating an argument? It seems like it will make it more difficult, instead of easier, to get even a convincing outline down if you use any definitions other than the widely accepted ones as recorded in major dictionaries, such as the OED, Merriam-Webster, etc... I don't want to discourage you but wrangling this such that even a coherent, falsifiable, non self-contradictory, sketch of an outline emerges, seems really unlikely. 
2the gears to ascension
what do you want, then? typically one defines terms in a logical argument. shall I rename the terms to "variable 1" and "variable 2" to make it less ambiguous..? I could reduce word count significantly but it seems like you wanted me to expand on what I'd said previously, so I wrote some overviews of the moving parts I see and asked an llm to give specifics that can be checked for.
Weighing in here because this is a suboptimality I've often encountered when speaking with math oriented interlocutors (including my past self): The issue here is an engineering problem, not a proof problem. Human minds tend to require lots of cognitive resources to take provisional definitions for things that have either no definition or drastically different definitions in their minds outside this specific context. Structuring your argument as a series of definitions is fine when making a proof in a mathematical language, since comprehensibility is not a terminal goal, and (since each inferential step can be trusted and easily verified as such) not a high-priority instrumental goal either. But when you're trying to accurately convey a concept and it's associated grounding into someone else's mind, it's best to minimize both the per-moment attempted deviation from their existing mentality (to maximize the chance that they both can and will maintain focus on your communications) and the total attempted deviation (to minimize the chance that the accumulated cognitive costs will lead them to (rightly!) prioritize more efficient sources of data). This gives us a balance between the above two elements and the third element of making the the listener's mind be as close as possible to the conveyed concept. The efforts of all involved to maintain this balance is key to any successful educational effort or productive argumentative communication. PS: If you're familiar with math education, you may recognize some of it's flaws/inefficiencies as being grounded in the lack of the above balance, by the way. I'm not an expert on the subject, so I won't speak to that.
2M. Y. Zuo
To use more standard definitions in order to not make things more difficult for yourself?  Your free to ignore this 'want' of course, and use your own personal definitions for a bunch of concepts, but I'm not going to be able to help you along, nor likely will any other passing reader, since only you would know what's what. 
1the gears to ascension
I mean, outside of labeling the parts of what I'm trying to describe, what is it you want out of a description? what is the datatype of "argument" that you want - evidence? logical derivation from an already shared evidence base? it seems to me that we can just erase away the names of the definitions I gave, and then what I gave is... both of those things. so I'm trying to figure out what it's missing that you want to see, other than "fewer unnecessary words such as new names of terms".
1M. Y. Zuo
Can you explain what this means? Assuming it's just asking for what the request was, then; the outline of a potentially convincing argument. It's unclear what 'datatype of "argument"' means either, you can see already how difficult it is to have substantial discussions if one party could potentially use words with differing meanings and/or custom terminology. But I'll assume 'datatype of "argument"' just means 'type of argument', otherwise you'll have to explain it too. If so, you are free to pursue any line that seems promising. It could be a statistical analysis, it could be a purely formal logical derivation, it could be inferences, induction, etc... I'll stick to answering just the first two questions to keep the comment chain easily readable.
0the gears to ascension
Claude again, I've added strikethrough to parts I disagree with or are not relevant to how this affects men directly - strikethrough therefore does not mean it doesn't happen, just that it's not relevant to my point. italic here means I added it, note that how much these things happen is open to investigation and should not necessarily be assumed simply from argumentation to be enough to matter:
I think it's worth distinguishing between factors where businesses simply optimize to make as much profit as possible from issues involving gender.  If you don't do that then your thesis about gender isn't falsifiable. 
3the gears to ascension
It's late here so I'll reply with some thoughts in 24-48h, probably. night

at best, separating the sexes into distinct classes would result in a situation that sucks for any kitchen-gender people that would rather be serving staff, and vice-versa. And we should expect there to be a lot of such people, because in general the variance within the sexes is greater than the variance between the sexes.

A way of implementing the serving-vs-kitchen separation that avoids that problem (and actually the way of doing it I initially envisioned after reading the post) would be that within each workplace there is a separation, but different workplaces are split between the polarities of separation. That way any individual’s available options of workplace are, at worst, ~half of what they could be with mixed workplaces, regardless of their preference. (Caveat that an individual’s options could end up being less than half the total if there is a workplace-gender correlation overall (creating an imbalance of how many workplaces of each polarity there are), and an individual has a workplace-gender matchup which is opposite to the trend, but in this case at least that individual’s lesser amount of choices is counterbalanced by the majority of people having more than 50% of the max choices of workplace fitting them.)
In theory this would be a great solution; in practice I would expect coordination problems, as most (almost all?) people who start companies would simply go with the majority model. Analogically to the current situation where people often say "if you believe that X are discriminated against in industry Y, why don't you make an Y company that would employ only X?" That sounds like a reasonable proposal -- people cannot discriminate against X at workplace if everyone at the company is X, and if you are the only company providing great working conditions for X, you should be able to pick the greatest talent without having to pay them more. Sounds like win/win! And yet, calls to make such companies are not answered by examples who already did that. So this proposal sounds like something that people approve verbally, but no one wants to do the experiment with their own company.

I think separating the sexes into distinct classes ("kitchen staff are one sex and serving staff are another") wouldn't output a separate-but-equal situation; it would instead output a society that subjugates women overtly (again).

Maybe it's worth factoring out gender separation from gender roles.

Curves is a gym that's just for women. Does it have the effect of exacerbating gender inequality? (If so, in which direction?) Would a gym that's just for men exacerbate gender inequality?

The obvious story I can think of here is that a mono-gender space gives one gender the opportunity to coordinate against the other. So insofar as women have been rising in status relative to men, perhaps Curves helps a bit on the margin.

However, I think social media really throws a wrench in the works here. People are way more comfortable talking politics on social media, and many social media communities are de facto mono-gender. Especially those that focus on gender issues. It seems like social media is where the vast majority of the gender-based coordination is nowadays.

In theory, I like the idea of people feeling more freedom to form mono-gender groups IRL. In practice, I'm worried it would... (read more)

I was mostly nodding along the first part of the post, but I think that in the secod part you are making a crucial mistake by uncritically assuming that traditional culture around gender is a direct result of our evolutional history and not a goodharted reaction to it with all kind of indirection, misgeneralisation and lost purposes in between.

I'm reminded of a story I heard long ago about bonobos. Supposedly if you toss a big pile of food into the middle of a bonobo tribe, they start fucking each other before getting to the food. The issue being that if there's any possibility of there not being enough food for everyone, that could result in the bonobo tribe fracturing in fights, and they don't want that. So they start by affirming their bonds with each other.


If you have a group of men who rely on one another for survival, and then they encounter a Helen of Troy… this could spell disaster for all of them.

Men and women were not historically two separate groups whose survival depends only on relying on the other members of the gender ingroup. If anything, it's the opposite. Men need women to pass on their genes and vice versa. In natural conditions men and women were part of t... (read more)

3Rana Dexsin
That last reminds me of Gwern's “The Melancholy of Subculture Society” with regard to creating a profusion of smaller status ladders to be on.

I agree that strictly non-sexual social places are more efficient at... whatever their goal is... simply because people are not distracted by sexual games. One way to achieve that is to have groups of the same sex... assuming heterosexuality, or at least assuming that homosexuality is sufficiently repressed. But another way is to explicitly make sex taboo... that is, repressing sexuality in general. (Not everywhere, just at that one place.)

Something like that effectively happens at the modern workplace; we are supposed to behave asexually. But there is nothing intrinsically modern about this; people were also supposed to behave asexually in a medieval church. The main difference was, church was only on Sunday morning, work is 40 hours a week. You had plenty opportunity to meet people outside the church. The opportunities to meet people outside a 9-5 job are more limited.

Another example: when you are in a group therapy, you are expected to behave asexually there. (Otherwise, it might turn into an orgy. Or a massacre. Or both.) Sometimes the rules say that you should not try to approach sexually the participants even a few weeks or months later, although there is obviously no way to ... (read more)

I feel like, for certain coed social spaces, the cultural expectation of universal monogamy actually does (did?) a lot of work. If I (married man) am hanging out with some other married woman, we have Common Knowledge of each other's unavailability. In my subjective experience, it breaks the attraction->desire link. And it's desire that seems to add all the social tension, not attraction per se.

Yes. In certain situations (where sexual attention would be undesired) married people (who don't have a reputation of cheating on their partners) are perceived as more trustworthy, because it would be more socially costly for them to break the rules. Polyamory of course throws this all out of window.
This is part of what I'm getting at, but you seem very focused on the outside perceptions of the married people in that situation. I'm saying that the subjective experience of being one of the married people in that situation is different and, imo, usually better and more comfortable. Including in situations like a party where single people might be open to sexual attention.
This is also how it feels to me, and at least for me my being permanently monogamously partnered is sufficient.
Yeah, this matches my experience.

There's a lot in this post, so thoughts on just one part of it.

For men, their primary gendered psychology need seems to be something vaguely like respect. For women, their primary gendered psychology need seems to be something like commitment. This plays out in lots of interesting ways when you look at how men interact with each other, how women interact with each other, and how men and women interact in mixed company.

This simply story explains many things:

  • Men like to do things that make them feel powerful and worthy of respect, even if it's simulated.
  • Men try to cling to respect and many male pathologies are the result of trying to game respect.
  • Women like to be part of committed relationships, and form strong bonds with other women to mutually get that, even though they also want commitment from one or more men.
  • Women have analogous pathologies that result from trying to game commitment.
  • Mismatches in the dating marking happen due to misalignments:
    • Men want women to respect them, and do things to try to earn the respect of women,
      • but the things men do to try to earn respect aren't always things women will actually respect, and this results in frustration and resentment when men feel li
... (read more)

I wonder whether women have basically always been the main tenders of the social fabric.

This doesn't sound right. The social fabric of male friendships used to very much exist. It disappeared very recently, lots of people still remember it.

And I don't think integrated workspaces are to blame. The USSR had integrated workspaces, but still much more friendship than exists now.

My best guess is that the economy got too good at meeting people's needs, allowing people to opt out of doing "social fabric" kinds of things. Which is maybe what each individual person wanted all along, but they didn't expect everyone else to opt out too.


Yeah, I felt a kind of haunting horror of inevitability when I read this similar comment awhile back. For one example, it used to actually be important for a friend to bring you soup when you were sick, and now InstaCart just works better on most dimensions.

Also: The other side of the tidal wave

As a bisexual woman who strongly favors male peer groups and friendships, I'm unsure if I can help at all in moving towards truth without taking it personally.

FWIW, I meant something less like "Pretend it doesn't matter to you personally, please don't feel emotional responses" and more like "There's zero intention of attacking something precious here, I hope you can feel that and can engage in a way that's not attack-and-defend; let's honor all the precious things together in our pursuit of truth."

It seems like you are assuming historic gender segregation, eg men go out and go hunting together, women stay nearby gathering, etc.

There has been a lot of recent evidence that this isn't so cut and dry, but rather that we were applying our own modern lens while interpreting the past.

Specifically, newer evidence is showing gender parity or near-parity in participation in large game hunting. For example I recall that there were many graves that were assumed male because they were warrior or hunter graves, containing weapons and the like. But when they went back and tested them, something like 30% of them were female.

A handful of sources:



https://www.nytimes.com/2023/08/01/science/anthropology-women-hunting.html#:~:text=In cultures where hunting was,to hunting as they aged.

The quality of the newer evidence regarding sex differences in hunting - most of which is apparently not new evidence but rather reinterpretations of old evidence - is at least open to debate. It's worth considering the arguments and criticisms noted here: https://datepsychology.com/sex-differences-in-hunting/ 

A lot of the argumentation in this post is plausible, but also, like, not very compelling?
Mostly the "frictionless" model of sexual/gender norms, and the examples associated: I can see why these situations are plausible (if at least because they're very present in my local culture) but I wouldn't be surprised if they are a bunch of social myth either, in which case the whole post is invalidated.

I appreciate the effort though; it's food for thought even if it doesn't tell me much about how to update based on the conclusion.


As I started reading, my first hypothesis was that women often rely on the opinions of others. As a man, if I am trying to attract a woman, she will probably check with her best friend, whether the friend approves of me. If the friend thinks that I am unworthy, too bad. Thus, to increase my chances, I should impress the friend first. But there is a chance of misunderstanding; either of them may conclude that I am actually interested in the friend, and that may ruin my chances with the first woman. So the safest approach is to impress the men nearby. If I succeed, they will provide the evidence that I am worthy, and the woman I am interested in may act on that evidence. Even if she asks her best friend, the friend may be influenced by the attitude of the other men.

(But this doesn't work with the genders reversed. Men typically want beautiful women, and they evaluate it by looking at them; they don't care what other women think about who is hot. So why would women care whether other women see them as hot?)

The second hypothesis is that dating is an inherently risky business, especially for men. If I start talking to a woman some other guy also wants, he may react by punching me. So th... (read more)

> dating is an inherently risky business, especially for men

I don't want to start an oppression olympics, but it feels important to note that the risk to women of men getting violent or stalkerish at some point in the dating process is much higher than the risk to men of another man attacking them for being interested in the same woman. (and I think this has always been true, including in the ancestral environment)

Oh, I agree! I was focusing on the part why would it make sense to seek approval from the same sex. (I think that in the ancestral environment, some stalkers would get beaten up by other men. But that would not be universally reliable, and would depend on social status.)

This article made me realize a truth that should've been obvious to me a long time ago: the main benefit I get from polyamory is close female friends (where I don't have to worry about attraction ruining the friendship), sex and romance are secondary.

FWIW, my experience on this was… mixed.

My easiest time having female friends was in an implicitly monogamous context, when I was married, and my wife and I were exclusive. It was super easy. Like a switch in my brain could just filter out the attraction question. It's like it was as addressed for all women the way it's always addressed for all men.

It became way messier when she & I opened up our marriage. Then the sexual dynamic between me and her felt to me like it depended on whether I could find other female partners. I don't know if she really felt this way! But for me there was a real concern: When we were exclusive, other women not being into me was just expected. But when we were open, I feared other women not being into me was a sign she should focus on mating with other guys.

So there was a sense, for me, of increased pressure that I needed to find more partners even if my wife was the only woman I was interested in!

This increased stress on my female relationships.

Now, in an implicitly poly context, this isn't a huge problem. "Might we fuck?" is a lot more okay a question to explore.

But it became a question we had to explore, basically every time, at least on my end, at... (read more)

8Jacob Falkovich
When my wife and I just opened up, I did feel jealous quite regularly and eventually realized that the specific thing I was feeling was basically this. It felt like an ego/competitive/status loss thing as opposed to an actual fear of her infidelity or intent to leave me. And then after four years together it went away and never came back. Now I actually find it kinda fun to not explicitly address "might we fuck?" with some friends, just leave it at the edge of things as a fun wrinkle and a permission to fantasize. A little monogamous frisson, as a treat.
This feeds into my longstanding expectation that the world would be better if everyone were bi- or pan-sexual, polyamorous, openly accepting of these facts, and more self-aware in general so that we could at least all discuss the meta-level rules we're operating under.
Uh… maybe?
Or maybe we couldn't, because we would be too busy trying to impress potential mates (i.e. everyone). :D
Maybe true, but I think it's even more likely that the world would be better if everyone were asexual, or at least did not have such a high sex drive that it causes them to do things they don't endorse
Just a reminder that if everyone were asexual, the species would become extinct in short order :). 

It's still possible to feel romantic attraction without sexual attraction, and to want kids without wanting the act that created them for its own sake. While not the norm, this is a way I can imagine instantiating the thing Oxytocin suggested.

It is better to master one's urges than to either cut them off or be their slave.
4Adrià Garriga-alonso
Folks generally don't need polyamory to enjoy this benefit, but I'm glad you get it from that!
I actually wonder about the breakdown here. I agree many don't. I don't, though really I have few friends in general. But some do. I don't think there's very many people in the modern world that are in the extreme Mike Pence "I will never let myself be alone with a woman who isn't my wife" category of enforcing such boundaries (though some religious communities still have such rules!). But if you watch the start of When Harry Met Sally, I think a sizeable chunk of people do still lean closer to Billy Crystal's position than Meg Ryan's.
Why would attraction ruin the friendship?

I feel like just "gender" would be better than "physical sex" here. For instance, I'd expect trans women to fall in the female cluster (although being trans intersects with that in ways that strain this model but it still rounds to what I said so)

Interesting speculation!

But… I mean, think of a bakery of all (straight) men.

Then think of the same bakery, but it's all (straight) women.

Then imagine the same bakery, but it's mixed sex.

Can you see what happens?

Even if there's no attraction going on in the last case, the fact that there could be dramatically changes the unspoken dynamics. It's just not as stable as the other two.

I feel like you have some implicit additional assumptions WRT what you mean by "stable", here.

Like, are we talking about an ordinary bakery where someone is the owner and they hire staff to work there? In that case, if "stable" means something like "rate of staff turnover", I wouldn't expect the gender mix to significantly affect the stability. I'd expect it to be much more driven by things like ordinary working conditions, how well the staff were paid, etc..

(I also have the intuition that a single-gender environment would be less stable in the sense of being somehow "more stale" and "less alive" than a mixed-gender one, and thus less stable in the long-term, though that may very well just be my personal discomfort with single-gender environments.)

True! I think I meant mostly an intuition about how sexual stuff adds drama that isn't relevant to (say) baking.   Huh. Well, I guess it depends a lot on the social scene! Like, I don't think a football team would feel more alive if you mixed in girls. Even if you somehow navigate the thing about major physical differences between the sexes. There's something about the way the locker room culture there can be masculine that's actually part of the bonding. And I think having a girl or two mixed in there could add some rivalry that'd have to be sorted out to be a functional team! But yeah, if it's a group of programmers, it might actually work better to have mixed sexes. Vague intuition here. Though I notice that I picked this example in part because physical sex can be made way, way less relevant in that context. (E.g., it's possible to have a team of programmers that don't even know one another's sex and interact purely remotely and over text. That's just not gonna work in a football team.) All of what I'm saying here is spitballing and not very careful. Just playing with ideas. Thanks for pointing out the questions here!

There's a theory that one thing that women find sexually attractive in men is having a high position in the (male) status hierarchy. Consider Christian Grey, powerful billionaire, and also the many older (and old-fashioned) stories in which the heroine's desirable love interest is a Prince. As Henry Kissinger supposedly said, "Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac"...

Strong agree. The post as I read it says: * Women choose preferred mates based on the guy's position in hierarchies. * Men choose preferred mates based on the gal's beauty. And this is stated explicitly pretty often in a lot of what I read.

I spent a long time figuring out the same thing about women's beauty, and came to roughly similar conclusions: https://putanumonit.com/2022/12/13/why-are-women-hot/

We already established that men will happily have sex with women who aren’t optimizing for sexiness, and date women who aren’t the most sexually desirable, and persist in long-term relationships independent of the woman’s looks, and will care about their woman’s beauty in large part to the extent that they care about its effects their status in the hierarchy of men. And so my answer to the origi

... (read more)

Hmm, while it's true that many women can still attract a mate/have plenty of sex if they don't put effort into their looks, it definitely seems to me (anecdotally, through both my own lived experience and what others talk about) that women get more male attention when they do put in effort

I think the point is that women are clearly optimizing way harder for female approval of their looks than they are male approval.

This article is pretty wild to read in this context. I think it has some Hell Realm memetic code embedded in it, & LW is kind of awful at navigating Hell Realm memetics, so I kinda hesitate to point at it here… but with that caveat: it's just fascinating that here's an article spelling out how to maximally appeal to the male gaze, focused on some sincere attempts at data, and the apparent female reaction is disgust and eyerolling and attempts to censor?

(It's possible that the female reaction is actually to Hell Realm code, not so much to the optimize-for-male-gaze thing. I bet that's at least a factor. But it's still interesting that the rejection shows up this way!)

Seconding recommendation of the linked article both for its own sake and due to its relevance to this discussion.

Oh yeah, I read this article some time ago! It probably affected my thinking here. I also heard Louise Perry make comments pointing out something similar recently. I don't really get to claim a lot of originality here. Maybe my Great Insight™ is how there's maybe an analogy between the way women focus on beauty and men focusing on getting big.
[-]O O21

Personally I just simply like the idea of being an attractive person more so than the societal implications of it. It’s just an axis that I want to do well in (in addition to money, sociability, etc). A lot of that’s reinforced by what other men think, but I also (maybe even primarily) take into account what women think.

Male K pop stars are an example of men typically considered "unmasculine" by other men but who tend to be attractive to women. I think the women are just right here, and K pop stars are more ideally hetero-masculine than the muscly guys who are actually less attractive to women. It's more conceptually appropriate to define ideal hetero-masculinity in terms of appeal to women and vice versa. (The men could in theory be correct if they admitted to latent homosexuality, but they won't!)

It's natural and basically eugenic (in the literal sense, not the politica... (read more)

If within-sex coalitions are common and adaptive, isn't being good at the politics of those coalitions "eugenic" also?
Often yes. But within-sex coalitions can be "cartel-like" in a way that is dysgenic, analogous to how economic cartels reduce economic competition. Within-sex coalitions are often more about military than evolutionary fitness. For instance, consider this quote from the Futurist Manifesto: The pattern of enforced monogamy is also a product of within-sex coalitions; it reduces the level of competition among males compared to the evolutionary average.
Not sure what you mean by this, as the link goes to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancestor. Do you mean in the long run, all males in a monogamous society will have the same expected number of children?
"Some research suggests that the average person has twice as many female ancestors as male ancestors"
2[comment deleted]

The LessWrong Review runs every year to select the posts that have most stood the test of time. This post is not yet eligible for review, but will be at the end of 2024. The top fifty or so posts are featured prominently on the site throughout the year. Will this post make the top fifty?

For instance, on the "gay" topic: if communal stability arises in part from subgroups that can implicitly trust there's no sexual attraction within those subgroups, then homosexuality really throws a basic wrench into the system. The only context where you can stick a gay person and know there isn't sexual attraction involved is with exactly one other gay person of the opposite sex.

The traditional solution is the Monastery or Abbey, paired with harsh repression inside of them. You may or may not be able to do it without the repression these days, but I ... (read more)

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