(sung to Tina Turner’s à propos catchy tune)
Two events unfolded simultaneously in the last few days: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s admission that he left a household servant with a “love child” and Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s arrest for attempting to rape a hotel maid. Before that, we had the almost weekly litany of celebrity/tycoon/politician/figurehead caught with barely-of-age girl(s)/boy(s). In a sadly familiar refrain, an ostensibly liberal commentator said:
“…we know that powerful men do stupid, self-destructive things for sexual reasons every single day. If we’re looking for a science-based explanation, it probably has more to do with evolutionarily induced alpha-male reproductive mandates than any rational weighing of pros and cons.”
Now I hate to break it to self-labeled liberal men but neither love nor sex have anything to do with sexual coercion and Kanazawa-style Tarzanism trying to pass for “evolutionary science” won’t cut it. Everyone with a functioning frontal cortex knows by now that rape is totally decoupled from reproduction. The term “love child”, repeated ad nauseam by the media, is obscene in this context.
Leaving love aside, such encounters are not about sex either. For one, coerced sex is always lousy; for another, no reproductive mandate is involved, as the gang rapes of invading armies show. What such encounters are about, of course, is entitlement, power and control: the prerogative of men in privileged positions to use others (women in particular) as toilet paper with no consequences to themselves short of the indulgent “He’s such a ladies’ man…” and its extension: “This was a trap. Such men don’t need to rape. Women fling themselves in droves at alpha males!”
As I keep having to point out, there are no biological alpha males in humans no matter what Evo-Psycho prophet-wannabees preach under the false mantra of “Real science is not PC, let the chips fall where they may”. Gorillas have them. Baboons have them, with variances between subgroups. Our closest relatives, bonobos and chimpanzees, don’t. What they have are shifting power alliances for both genders (differing in detail in each species). They also have maternally-based status because paternity is not defined and females choose their partners. Humans have so-called “alpha males” only culturally, and only since hoarding of surplus goods made pyramidal societies possible.
The repercussions of such behavior highlight another point. Men of this type basically tell the world “I dare you to stop my incredibly important work to listen to the grievances of a thrall. What is the life and reputation of a minimum-wage African immigrant woman compared to the mighty deeds I (think I can) perform?” Those who argue that the personal should be separate from the political choose to ignore the fact that the mindset that deems a maid part of the furniture thinks the same of most of humanity — Larry Summers is a perfect example of this. In fact, you can predict how a man will behave in just about any situation once you see how he treats his female partner. This makes the treatment of nations by the IMF and its ilk much less mysterious, if no less destructive.
Contrary to the wet dreams of dorks aspiring to “alpha malehood”, women generally will only interact with such specimens under duress. They’re far more popular with men who (like to) think that being a real man means “to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.” Civilization came into existence and has precariously survived in spite of such men, not because of them. If we hope to ever truly thrive, we will have to eradicate cultural alpha-malehood as thoroughly as we did smallpox — and figure out how we can inculcate snachismo as the default behavioral model instead.
Images: Top, Malcolm McDowell as Caligula in the 1979 eponymous film; bottom, Biotest’s “Alpha Male” pills.