(This post was culled from the website of Wayne This and That).
A theory of why men sometimes do crazy things
In 1932 Robert E. Howard created one of the most enduring characters of all time: Conan the Barbarian. Conan was described as someone in whom the veneer of civilization was very thin. The idea was that at heart Conan, and to a lesser extent all men, were closer to the beasts than they appeared. The civilized world in which we live seems like it’s been with us forever and that we’ve changed because of it. In fact, for the roughly 3,000,000 years that humans, in one form or another, have lived on earth, the vast majority of that time the bulk of humanity lived under caveman conditions. It’s only been during the last 2,000 years that most people have lived in cities under civilized conditions. While there were large cities before that, most people lived on the land far removed from them. All the changes in humanity we associate with civilization, like growing taller, stronger, living longer, are in response to better living conditions and food. They aren’t evolutionary changes. Evolution is a powerful driving force in the shaping of a lifeform, but it works very slowly. The upshot is that while it’s true that civilized life is having an evolutionary effect on humanity, it’s only been in force for two thousand years. Most of the evolutionary forces that make us who we are are still determined by the previous 2,998,000 years. In summary: 99.9-percent of what we are is determined by our primitive past. We haven’t evolved into being civilization, we’re just acting like it. Civilized behavior is just a veneer that’s too thin and new to have have become a genetic trait. I believe many of the behaviors we exhibit are still being dictated to us by the primitive instincts of our ancient ancestors. So what are these basic instincts?
1. Men desire to accumulate material wealth. (Men with a strong desire to do so had more food and clothing to help get them through difficult times. More of these men lived and had more children so this desire became hard wired into our genetics.)
2. Men desire power over other men. (More men with this desire ended up getting power over other men. Because they had more people between them and the primitive threats to their lives they lived longer, had more children and passed this programming onto their progeny.)
3. Men desire to mate with as many young attractive women as possible. (Those with stronger mating drives produced more children than those who didn’t so this again became imbedded in our genetic blueprint. The emphasis on young, attractive women is purely practical. Young women are more likely to survive child birth than older women. Attractive women, characterized by symmetric features and clear skin, were less likely to have deformities or diseases that could reduce their chances of surviving child birth. They also had a greater tendency to produce children who were healthier.)
To these basic instincts we need to add one particular feature of the human psyche: substitution. If a man wants something he can’t have, but can substitute something else for it he can fool his subconscious into thinking he’s satisfied that primal instinct. Let’s see how this works.
Example 1: Men and Trucks:
The vast majority of men like driving large powerful vehicles. On a primal level this desire originates from men’s desire for power over other men. Actually getting power over other men is very difficult. A man has to know more than them or be stronger than them or more aggressive than them to work his way up the managerial hierarchy to do so. Even if he can do so, it’s a long, slow, challenging process. On the other hand, any man can buy a large truck with a powerful motor. When he gets in it and steps on the accelerator he feels the engine’s power and on a subconscious level this serves as a substitution for the power over other men he desires. He himself hasn’t changed. He himself doesn’t have power. But the truck does and by identifying himself with the truck he suddenly feels imbued with its power.
Robin’s take on this: Or the man could simply be compensating for the small size of his penis. Just saying.
Example 2: Loud Music:
We’ve all experienced the annoyance of someone blasting the neighborhood with over-based music. For the man playing the music the vibrational power of the music fills him with a sense of power. He isn’t any more powerful, but the loud music makes him feel as if he was. Additionally, he knows he’s forcing everyone within hearing to listen to his music so he gets the thrill of imposing his will on others. Again, he isn’t more powerful than anyone else on the block, but the music makes him feel as if he was. It’s rather like a medieval knight who has the biggest sword. He’s may not be stronger than any other knight but the sword makes him feel as him he was.
Robin’s take on this: Loud, thumping, ghetto, bass-heavy music is also a sign indicating that “the big man” is in town, the head honcho, or as they would say in anthropology class, the Silverback Gorilla, of head gorilla of the group, has arrived.
Example 3: Men Wearing Pants Below Their Buttocks:
Mooning, showing one’s buttocks to someone, is a universally recognized sign of contempt. The modern fad of men to wear there pants below their buttocks and showing their underwear is a soft-porn version of mooning intended to show contempt for the entire world, or at least everyone within viewing distance. Showing contempt for someone implies you are better than them. Actually proving that one man is better than another is difficult, sometimes dangerous and carries the risk that the opposite may turn out to be the case. But, any guy who drops his pants can fool his subconscious into thinking he’s achieved just that. A man can be the biggest looser [sic] in town, but by loosening his belt and lowering his pants he easily creates in himself the illusion that he’s established superiority over everyone he meets.
I have two additional comments pertaining to this particular male activity. First, while I’ve seen hundreds of young men, and a few adult men, do this, I’ve never seen a single female do it. This suggests there are fundamental differences in some of the primal instincts that drive men and women. Second, the constriction of the upper legs by the waistband of the pants almost always forces the male wearing his pants low to waddle like a pregnant woman. There is nothing wrong with a pregnant woman waddling because it’s forced on her by a change in her center of gravity. It’s a natural gate that increases stability and is desirable from a mechanical point of view. But, in an otherwise healthy male it creates a glaring contradiction. He’s wearing his pants low to prove that he’s a man, yet doing so forces him to adopt a gate that is gives the exact opposite impression.
Robin’s take on this: The reason why young men wear their pants down is because they’re emulating their prison buddies. In prison, wearing your pants loosely means you’re willing and ready to be “taken.” In the external ghetto world, the dress style doesn’t mean you want to be approached for sex by another man, but simply that you’re tough-minded like your prison brethren and you don’t care what people think because you’re the boss.
Example 4: Sports Fandom:
Very few men excel enough at sports to satisfy their competitive drive, which comes out a desire to prove they are superior to and therefore have power over other men. Yet they can fool their subconsciousnesses into thinking they do by identifying with a particular player or team by being a fan. When their hero or team wins they feel they’ve won as well. They feel they have power over the other team.
Robin’s take on this: If two groups of territorial animals arrive at the same watering hole at the same time, blood is going to be shed. To the victor go the spoils. Take no prisoners. One group to rule them all. And by all means, make the bloodshed as spectacular as possible so other groups will know that yours is not to be trifled with.
Example 5: Graffiti:
If a man tried satisfying his desire to prove he has power over other men by shouting in their faces, he wouldn’t get far before someone shut him up with a fist. Yet the weakest, most cowardly male can spray or scratch anything he wants on a surface open to public viewing and give himself much of the same satisfaction without any of the risk.
Robin’s take on this theory: Territorial Markings. This is one of the most common of primal instinctual behaviours. Leopards and jaguars mark their territory by rubbing themselves against vegetation. (Yes, your house cat does this, too). Wolves, ring-tailed lemurs, wildebeests and monkeys urinate on their areas to let others know to beware.
Example 6: Profanity in Public:
I can’t begin to count the number of times I hear men swearing loudly enough in public for everyone around, including children, to hear. They know they are giving offense and also know very few people will call them on it. They are imposing their will other others not by proving that they actually have power over them in the sense they can force them to protect them, but by being able to annoy them. Again, substitution enables this behaviors to be misinterpreted by the subconscious.
Robin’s take on this: Lions roar. Ravens and crows squawk. Bulls snort. All exaggerated behaviour to warn you to keep your distance because of the potential of getting killed.
Example 7: Obscene T-shirts:
The same as example 6.
Robin’s take on this: The dilophosaurus in Jurassic Park flashes it’s collar to make you scared. Squids squirt ink to blind and confuse you. This would be the same kind of behavior as chest beating amongst gorillas or flashy display of feathers by peacocks and other birds which says, “I’m here, I’m feared, get used to it.”
With the above examples as guidelines, it’s easy to identify why so many men behave as they do. I’ve focused on men’s desire to have power over other men because it’s the most illustrative of the substitution principle. The desire for material wealth originally concerned itself with food and materials for clothing and housing. Substitution isn’t a factor because people can satisfy this need by purchasing all they want. Substitution does play a significant factor is satisfying men’s desire for young attractive women. Few men are able to achieve this yet the desire is there, even if it’s buried in the subconscious. The proliferation of men’s magazines and pornography are the primary substitutions for this primal drive.
I’ve focused on male behaviors because being a man, I’m able to identify them. I’m certain similar primal drives affect women in the same manner, though expressed differently.
Please don’t interpret the above as an excuse for offensive male behavior. It isn’t. Rather, it’s meant to point out the causes for these behaviors in the hope that those forcing these actions on the rest of us will understand that they aren’t really achieving the actual goal and stop doing them.
I’m not a trained psychologist so all of the above is strictly a lay-person’s ramblings. Yet I find that time and time again it explains many male behaviors that are otherwise inexplicable. Next time you witness a man doing something annoying, or ridiculous, try applying the principles on this page to figure out which subconscious primitive instinct is driving that behavior.