“Oh help me, please doctor, I’m damaged/There’s a pain where there once was a heart,” Rolling Stones front man Mick Jagger sings on the band’s 1968 song, “Dear Doctor.” But, alas, it’s more than a heart. It’s the chromosome—the one we call “Y.” The thing that defines about half of us as male. And damaged isn’t quite the right word—that would mean broken or malformed in some way. We’re certainly not that, right? Better to say “enhanced” (yeah, that’s the ticket.) We’re exactly what nature was looking for millennia ago when it slipped the “Y” into our drink. It’s now in our genes, calling out instructions for building muscle and bone. OK, that’s obvious, but what else? The extra muscle and bone is nice, but were there other additions to the drink, maybe some less conspicuous enhancements? How about side effects—could nature have been a little lax with that? It wasn’t subject to FDA oversight, after all, and there seem to be some peculiarities associated with our muscle and bone enhancement. Not to sound ungrateful in any way, but there are some observable oddities that appear affiliated with the “Y” half of our little “XY” gift. If the FDA did indeed have oversight on nature, the possible side effects profile might appear rather daunting.
For starters, there are several neurological diseases that display earlier and more severely in males—OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder are three following that course. Although gambling is arbitrarily labeled a disease, its potential for obsessive expression is generally recognized. Males are more likely to exhibit gambling obsession and to assume higher risk in its pursuit. It’s of side interest to note some of the display tendencies that pop up in a few of the disorders. With OCD, men are more likely to express sexual and religious obsessions, while women are more prone to exhibiting contamination or cleaning rituals. In bipolar disorder, males more often foster episodes of manic and violent behavior than do females. Men showing addictive gambling traits are more often attracted to competitive “skill-based games,” while women are inclined to address the so-called passive games of “chance.” Later in life, we’re twice as likely to exhibit symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
OK, so there are a few drawbacks associated with the “XY.” We did get the muscle and bone though, and the side effects are reasonably rare, so maybe it’s a risk well taken. However, seeing that some neurological side effects are measurable (and that they exist at all) sure waves a yellow flag to premature exuberance. It begs the asking of what lies beneath. Even if we’ve been lucky thus far in escaping clearly defined disease, there are other looming issues associated with the “XY” that auger bad headlines along our path. More ominously, the dangers extend beyond personal health and wellbeing.
MAYBE A FEW MORE
If we watch or read the news for a week, the evidence is inescapable: men are prone to acts of violence and its glorification. We commit 70 to 90 percent of all murders. We perpetrate about 98 percent of all mass killings, and we constitute at least 90 percent of all modern day serial killers. In domestic settings, 80 percent of spousal murders are committed by men, and in the workplace we account for 97 percent of all rampage-style killings. After mass killings, spousal murders, or workplace rampages we often follow up with one last act of violence—suicide. Violence and male sexuality are frequently conflated. Aside from all the murders, about 380,000 Americans are raped each year. Nearly all the victims are women and children; it goes without saying who the perpetrators are. Beyond the assaults that generate statistics, there’s the undocumented (and more numerous) acts of violence and coercion that avoid prosecution. So what’s up with all that—where does it come from? The violence is clearly associated with “XY.” Do we simply have it, or do we pick it up along the way?
A thread of domination weaves through our acts of violence. We impose our will and experience some form of release or gratification. In violent outbursts, the thread is clear and apparent; less so when imposed through manipulation. Having seen that the “XY” is susceptible to some forms of neurological variance or breakdown, it’s not a stretch to suspect an organic component to misanthropic expressions of control. Social influence also warrants consideration. While not necessarily aimed towards dominance, our various proclamations of “manly behavior” can project amplified expectation and prompt conflicted behavior to that end. From whichever origin, malevolent domination represents an exaggerated need to exhibit control and appears with unsettling frequency in those of us having the male genome.
Control acquisition provides the stage setting for procreation. Like canaries, we’ve warbled our song for thousands of years: always some form of “Choose Me” or “You’re Mine” (and often without the cuteness of those heart-shaped little Valentine candies). Nature’s muscle drink elicited our first songs. It was “bigger,” “stronger,” or “faster” that won the tribal karaoke contests for mating and genetic continuity. Winning procured dominance over male rivals and access to (and control over) females. The reality of muscle (and inertia) has maintained that relationship through recorded history, even with the coming of higher consciousness. The expansion of awareness and thought did introduce “clever” to the mix, becoming part of the “All Eyes on Me” anthem. They now sing together: clever at center stage with muscle harmonizing nearby. Regardless of current arrangement, “XY” sings “Me” as it always has. Intriguingly, the performance begins well before the desired audience is seated, and lingers long after the seats are vacated (if they were ever filled at all). It’s this amplitude and pervasiveness of the song, performed beyond relevant audience that will destroy the earth.
Procreation is the objective, but it’s preceded by the acquisition of power and control that provides visibility and acoustics for the performance. It’s functional as such, but the preparation sometimes veers off course into ceaseless indulgence. As progenitor to procreation, stage setting holds an ascendant position and seems able to acquire its own impetus. The original objective may be subordinated or sometimes even supplanted (as in displays of celibacy) to enhance control. An ultimate indulgence goes beyond even that: murder-suicide as a final dominating wail, extinguishing life and all possibility of procreation. The need to dominate can thus eclipse the target and become its own reward. It’s not all about individual expression either; obsession with power is clearly visible in institutional entities, including government, industry, and religion.
Remember the so-called seven deadly sins: envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, sloth, and wrath? They’ve been long presented as transgressions or evidence of weakness in man’s character. Several years ago Michael Soule took a biologist’s perspective and posed them as genetic survival traits. For example, when humans were hunter-gatherers, whoever acquired and consumed the most food in a short amount of time was more likely to avoid starvation between kills. Today, in a non-threatening environment, we call it gluttony. The genetic code for survival in hard times may still exist, but in a plentiful agrarian setting the expression has lost value and now poses survival risk in the form of obesity. An obsession with power can be seen in similar light. In past tribal settings, an exaggerated quest for control may have provided group survival values. Tribal strength and sustainability were likely related to power and sphere of influence. The world was endless, inexhaustible, and forgiving of excess. Today the world is defined, near exhaustion, and not so forgiving. Gluttonous resource consumption and obsessive power quests pose current risk to species survival.
Cultural domination is still a male-driven phenomenon. We hold all meaningful reins of power: the industries that gouge and pluck the earth, the companies that pollute the earth, the armies that destroy one another and everything in between, the governments that control the armies (and the industries), and the religions that animate the masses (and the governments). It’s nearly all “XY.” We control everything except ourselves; we’re lost in perpetual stage setting and appear unable or unwilling to stop.
We’re nearly always at war, and rarely is it clearly defensive. Since its inception almost 242 years ago, the United States has experienced just twenty-one years of peace, according to the most rigid assessment. That indicates an awful lot of war for a peace-loving nation. We always have good reasons for going to war—so does everyone (but not really). It’s a predilection adorned with eloquence, much like the political bias predicating “impartial” judicial argument in a high court ruling. In every war, someone high up, on one or all sides, is lost in stage setting. The war is always necessary and the words taking us there are always convincing. Through confrontation, the commanders of at least one side become strong and heroic. Through warfare, the soldiers and civilians of both sides become dead. War eventually leads to peace. We pause for a while, reload, and do it again. The words ring true, and always sound reasonable. They might even be true at times, but they’re also cover for male predisposition. As either leader or follower, we’re inclined to display power and disinclined to show weakness. Both are aspects of stage setting. Words like “freedom,” “liberty,” “justice,” “destiny,” and even “God’s will” are embellishments to “All Eyes on Me.” It’s irresistible, we can’t get it out of our heads, and our feet seem to march of their own accord.
If the above appears melodramatic, consider the Vietnam years. Secrets by Daniel Ellsberg underscores the arc of five presidential administrations overseeing US involvement. All five (Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard M. Nixon) misled or told outright lies to Congress and the American public concerning the extent and prognosis of American intervention. The Kennedy/Johnson/Nixon years were particularly egregious. Along with the lessons of prior French involvement to draw upon, before every expansion of the war, each received advisement on the inadequacy and futility of their chosen escalations: more soldiers, more bombs. There was no ending victory to be had (short of annihilation) and the futility was known. In essence, the escalations were for calculated visuals; they provided holding patterns to avoid the appearance of weakness or defeat. For the sake of appearance, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon sent 58,000 American soldiers to death, along with 1.3 million Vietnamese soldiers (North and South), and 2 million civilians. How should that be weighed? They hadn’t gone rogue; there was a hierarchy complicit in the decision making. Can it simply be dismissed as political expediency? Let’s take a leap and recognize the action as sociopathic (how can we not?). What are the implications? Does the disregard for human life reflect human nature in general, or does it more precisely reflect a vulnerability of human male nature, i.e., having an overriding need to display strength? Vietnam wasn’t an anomaly; previous wars of disregard tell us otherwise, and current forays in the Middle East and Africa show an eerie semblance to the Vietnam incursion.
It’s not just with each other, either. We’re at war with the earth. The language is often similar: economic freedom, independence, prosperity, jobs. It’s mouthed by politicians and lobbyists in support of corporate greed. The captains of industry become revered and wealthy. The earth becomes gouged and polluted. It’s gluttonous stage setting; the song remains the same.
GOD AS MUSCLE ENHANCEMENT
It’s been a long run during which we’ve been largely successful at keeping women from the decision-making process. Since the beginning, we’ve had the muscle. We’ve used it on each other and on our female counterparts. Along the way, we managed to pick up cleverness and higher consciousness; so did women. Was it around this time that God began speaking to males? The discourse introduced a challenge (or an assist) to mere physical muscle. The holder of God’s word wielded a new power. Whereas muscle could win a battle, God’s word could control a tribe. Whenever the conversation with God began, we’ve been pretty effective with controlling that also. Given our affinity for dominance, doesn’t it seem a little convenient that God speaks to and provides guidance towards male initiative, while the lesser spirits of dead people give talk to females? Even that allowance is dubious, as it’s presented with risk of heretical punishment.
If male, it’s flattering to think God has chosen our gender to be the exclusive vessel of his word. Really though, shouldn’t it be asked: Why would God do so? Knowing human weakness, shouldn’t we first consider a couple of earthly possibilities—that maybe we pretend, or deceive ourselves? There’s abundant evidence that we males have a strong proclivity for stage setting and the acquisition of control (we’re known to kill for it). Speaking for God would certainly assist the campaign. A conscious manipulation of that sort is sound strategy in a quest for power. Then again, there’s always the possibility of delusion. We can see neurological vulnerability in the “XY” and know it carries a detectable fragility. It needn’t be full-fledged. That it can be clinically observed and statically measured doesn’t mean it must always rise to the high level of recognized pathology. Eccentric, quirky, driven, odd—these are just a few adjectives for still-functional behavior falling short of clinical diagnosis but lending suspicion of delusional or obsessive thought. That God’s discourse with man might be linked to “XY” fragility and the male quest of power is warrant for scrutiny. That the ensuing dialogue is often linked to violence and subjugation is demand for it.
It’s deeply embedded and difficult to approach without reproach. For thousands of years, through scores of generations, Western religion has been bedrock for conflicted ideals. Love and hate, peace and war, tolerance and bigotry—each a bipolar pairing and each exemplified in sacred verse. Respect and subjugation is another pairing, and pretty much exemplifies the biblical address of the male-female relationship. Women are deserving of honor and respect insofar as they accept and display a male-defined subordinate role. When stated, it now sounds archaic and exaggerated, but is quite alive in Abrahamic religions (most of Western civilization). The dynamic is rigidly enforced in some cultures and receives limited observance in others. The degree of rigidity is often reflective of religion-government entwinement. Because it’s religious and traditional, breaching the norm presents invalidation to the holders of current practice. It brings threat to family and tribal unity, with risk of violence and irreparable rift. That’s a lot to stand in the way of reassessment and the asking of a needed question.
IS IT TIME FOR AN INTERVENTION?
It’s beyond the whisper stage. On every continent, save Antarctica, there are world leaders with questionable integrity and arguable sanity. They’re largely male, and represent male-dominated societies. The military of each is male controlled and host to weapons of mass destruction. Bombs are falling somewhere every day (out of sight, out of mind), while the arsenals of atomic, biological, and chemical weapons continuously expand in range, power, and sophistication. Some of our leaders are fragile and unbalanced while tottering on the edge of irrevocable confrontation. This is our plight: we’re men and pose a clear and present danger to ourselves and to all around us. We’re males and can’t seem to resist the display. So, yes, it’s time for an intervention.
Ironically, we’ve spent thousands of years negating the role of women, only to realize we’re doomed without their involvement and guidance. If “guidance” sounds preposterous, consider our history and what it portends for the future. We’ve had 8,000 years of male dominance on the planet, with uncountable years of war. Each war introduces new and more lethal weaponry, while male decision-making impulses are still received from tribal era “XY” transmitters. At least eight nations have weapons that can destroy the world. More such nations are on the way. A call for guidance isn’t preposterous; it’s crucial. We need objective collaboration. We need to recognize the vulnerability of solo “XY” and the necessity of “XX” inclusion in intelligent decision making. Male dominance is a failing strategy in the post-medieval world. Our manic, Neolithic stage setting in a modern info-tech world threatens species survival. Reliance on male geopolitical domination represents the species equivalence of murder-suicide.
Let’s consider some of the existing evidence and dynamic examples of female participation in government and industry. “Gender Differences in Leadership Styles and the Impact within Corporate Boards” is a Commonwealth survey noting the impact of female inclusiveness in corporate bodies. Its evidence points to this: women improve corporate performance in regards to profitability, governance, and ethical behavior. An MSCI study, “Women on Boards” delineated a similar relationship with corporate performance and female presence, and suggested a 30 percent inclusion goal as minimum for meaningful impact on company boards. A 2015 paper, “The Effect of Women in Government on Government Effectiveness,” explores the benefits of female participation in political governance. The author cites several studies and observes that governing bodies with female representation are more open to cooperation and compromise. They’re more willing to explore creative solutions and are more team and goal oriented. Regarding policy issues, women are more likely to prioritize women’s issues, social welfare, environmental concerns, child welfare, healthcare, and infrastructure. Governments with influential female participation spend more to address these concerns. The study also contains a style assessment: males are more apt to be inspiring leaders and wield power as a manipulative tool. Females are more likely to promote communication and entertain compromise.
Finland provides a vivid example of meaningful female representation in government. According to a 2015 Fortune report, its ministry is 62 percent female. Their public education system is stellar; teachers are well paid and students perform at the top in recognized international standardized testing. It provides generous maternity leave and subsidized child care. Its work environment is ranked among the best, and the country itself as one of the best places to live. The government of Finland has also been recognized as the world’s least corrupt. With slightly less representation (52 percent), Sweden provides a similar environment. Other Nordic countries are on the same path, including Iceland, which has also experienced the benefits of significant (50 percent) female representation in government.
Several African nations (including Rwanda, South Africa, and Uganda) are among the world leaders in female political representation. While benefits are visible, the pace is slowed by obstacles not experienced in the Nordic examples: vestiges of colonialism, established authoritarian hierarchies, famine, tribal warfare, and religious polarization with militaristic expression. Much of it can be seen as a struggle against the established oppression of “XY” stage setting.
The observable evidence validates inclusion of female decision-making in government and industry: it provides the needed intervention. Meaningful female representation appears to offset or counterbalance the over-expression of male control and domination behavior. The examples suggest that “XX” inclusion is helpful in promoting dialogue, creativity, and cooperation within governing bodies, while prioritizing socially beneficial activity. And these examples aren’t exclusionary; they’re evidence that men and women working together are apt to make healthier choices and better decisions than men working alone. Men shouldn’t feel diminished by the prospect of collaboration. Sharing control harbors the possibility of liberation: release from the hook of “XY” stage setting that so often impedes clear thought and humane decision making.
It’s a narrow path, with obstacles. The promising examples aren’t reflective of widespread inclusion. There’s a lot of obsessive stage setting already in place and it’s well defended. Male (and female) intransigence is alive, still vigorous, and maintains institutional support. Traditions aren’t quickly or easily circumvented, particularly when they’re of a religious nature and have been entrenched for thousands of years. While much of the world is moving forward and reaping the benefits of female representation, three of the world’s largest, most powerful (and often aggressive) nations (the United States, Russia, and China) fall way behind. Female representation in the US Congress is less than 20 percent, while in Russia and China it hovers around 10 percent. Russia governs as an autocracy—China does too, but it’s a “shared” autocracy: a one-party system of complete control. Clearly the threat posed by unbridled “XY” expression is still prevalent in a changing world. In several countries and corporations around the world, women really are showcasing the benefits of meaningful representation, but it’s into the headwind of long-present storms.
The situation is clear: the world is in dire need of good decision making. Men hold position to make those decisions, but are under the influence of “XY” stage setting and prone to tainted judgment. Men and women acting together are more likely to make sound decisions. Collaboration with “XX” provides the needed intervention, but in much of the world, women have no position to provide it. An ally would be helpful in addressing that problem. “XY” and the world are in need of the intervention that “XX” can provide. “XX” and the world are in need of the ally that “XY” can provide. Step forward; it’s the path towards a humane and sustainable world.