Women Have Been Oppressed and Disadvantaged With Great Consistency Back to The Beginning of Recorded History — And Probably Long Before
October 13, 2017
The Institute for InterGroup Understanding was created to help people understand effective ways of dealing with issues of intergroup anger, conflict and misunderstanding, and to help people move to an intellectually enlightened and ethically supported path of intergroup harmony, trust, support, intentional and effective alliances, intergroup alignments, intentional and successful win/win strategies and outcomes, and ongoing and functionally self sustaining levels of intergroup Peace.
We exist as an institute to support an intergroup Peace movement for America.
The groups that have been targeted by the Institute for intergroup understanding and for intergroup Peace have included ethnicities, racial groups, community groups, clans and tribal groups, and all of the other kinds and types of groups that we create and support as part of our basic packages of Us/Them instinctive behaviors and thought processes.
The Institute has published several books that explain those instinctive behaviors and give advice, support, and counsel in ways people in any setting can use to help create positive, win/win based outcomes and mutually beneficial levels of success for the groups that exist in each setting.
The tool kits for the Institute include six explicit trigger motivation tools that can help bring people together in almost any setting, and eight categories of approaches groups can use to move away from conflict into alignment and positive outcomes in a very wide range of settings.
The tool kits in the InterGroup books and websites use both instinctive behaviors and cultures to help people in each setting achieve positive outcomes for their setting.
We need those tools — and we need them now. We live in an increasingly conflicted world, and if we do not deal more effectively with our conflicts we will end up doing significant damage to ourselves, and we will undermine and damage the futures for our children and grandchildren.
Our Us/Them packages of instincts have caused major damage to be inflicted on people in far too many settings based on the groups they are aligned with — and our ability to suspend conscience and feel no guilt when doing terrible, evil, and intentionally damaging things to the people we define instinctively to be Them are discussed in five of the InterGroup books, and are explained at multiple points and sections of the InterGroup Institute website.
The Institute Peace building tools and strategies are all intended to be used in settings where we have more than one group — and where our instinctive behaviors are creating anger, distrust, and various levels of conflicts between the groups today. Racism, ethnic discrimination, and prejudice have been the primary targets for the work of the Institute, and continue to be extremely important areas of focus — but if we truly want to build a future where we all prosper and are included at all levels — we need to look at sexism, sexual discrimination, and misogyny as clear patterns of intergroup behavior that we need to deal with more effectively as a people and a nation.
The two additional groups that need to be added more explicitly and more effectively in the basic intergroup thought processes and in the relevant factors that help build the core sets of intergroup strategies intended to create win/win outcomes for everyone in our society are — stated most simply and clearly — men and women.
WE DO THE SAME DAMAGE BY GENDER THAT WE DO BY TRIBE
Many of the same kinds of problems and negative consequences for people as both individuals and groups that we see in our conflicts between tribes — and in the sometimes damaging interactions and behaviors that we too often have relative to various ethnic identify groups — also very clearly exist in several important ways relative to some of our basic patterns of interactions between Men and Women.
If we aspire now to achieve more enlightened intergroup interactions in our society, and if we want to create more mutually beneficial outcomes for all of the groups that make up the rich fabric of our population and our people, then adding gender to the mix of factors we choose to deal with and understand in enlightened, ethical, and intellectually informed ways is functionally reasonable and appropriate.
OUR SOCIETY NEEDS TO MAKE ENLIGHTENED DECISIONS ABOUT OUR TREATMENT OF WOMEN
This is actually a very good time for us all to make intelligent, informed, ethical, and enlightened decisions about how women will be treated as a culture, a nation, and a people, and it makes sense to build those decisions into our expectations and our behaviors for intergroup interactions in every setting, because those issues actually fit well and directly into an overall Peace agenda that needs to be anchored in the core shared values we must use to create and shape a sense of who we are now, and who we will become.
To make those informed and enlightened decisions about how to behave now on gender related behaviors in every setting, it is very useful to be very honest about how women have been treated in each of our cultures in the past, and to have and understand an equally clear sense of how women are being treated today.
We need to be open, honest, clear, accurate, and explicit about the behavior and the role of men in those situations and settings. We will not make sufficient progress in changing the historic patterns of gender related behavior in a positive way if we do not take a clear look at male behaviors and male approaches in both our historical settings and in our situational settings today. We have strong patterns of men doing discriminatory things to women. We have far too many instances of men taking sexual advantage of women and being abusive to women. We need to be entirely clear about those issues and their origin as behavior, and we need to understand and address them.
The patterns of men with power taking advantage of women in sexual ways clearly involves both instinctive values and situational manifestations of behavior patterns that we need to directly address well if we want to enjoy a society where women are safe in all settings, and where sexual abuse does not damage lives.
We need to begin with an understanding of the relevant instinctive behaviors for both men and women that help create those problems.
INSTINCTS CREATE THE PATTERNS OF HISTORY
Instincts create the patterns of history.
Anyone with an understanding of instinctive behavior who wants to predict future behavior in any setting has a much higher likelihood of success, because our reactions to our instincts creates our history, and those same instincts will shape our future behavior in the same basic ways.
We never start with a blank slate. We always start with who we are at an instinctive level, and then our basic instincts guide and direct us in reacting to the situation we are in. Those instincts create clear patterns of behavior that are extremely easy to see once we know what to look for.
Those patterns of behaviors created by our instincts have been absolutely clear on gender related issues. Anyone who looks with clear eyes at the patterns of history can see that men and cultures have very consistently discriminated against women in many ways and many settings back to the earliest days of recorded history.
People who believe in Instinctivism as a basic theory and functional paradigm for understanding, explaining, and describing human behavior know the negative behavior patterns relative to women — and an almost equally robust set of positive behavior patterns relative to women — have clear and discernable instinctive foundations that we can and should understand much more clearly, as we decide at this point in our history what we should want, what we should expect, and what we should create as future patterns of gender-linked behavior for us as a country and as a culture
The negative behavior patterns relative to women that have been part of our history have echoes, parallels, and almost clone like structure and equivalent functionality in almost every society that has been created by groups of people anywhere on this planet.
Women have been discriminated against legally, functionally, and structurally in consistent ways that we need to understand and address as we go forward to create, implement, and then utilize the level of ethical and enlightened interactions, and gender based behavioral expectations that we should all want for every American.
Women in our society were not even allowed to vote until fairly recently, by historic standards. Women are still not allowed to vote or own property in a number of settings around the world. Women have also been banned from many occupations in a number of settings, and women have been punished and even executed for violating a number of restrictions on personal interactions and behaviors.
We have been making significant progress in those areas in our own country for a number of years, but we still have a very long way to go to end the damage done in all of those areas, and to end the residual patterns of behavior that extend those patterns of discrimination in various ways into our settings today.
In our own history as a nation, men were legally considered to be the heads of families, and women who married in a number of states had their property automatically taken over by their husbands upon marriage. Women were legally banned from some jobs, and were culturally and functionally banned from many others.
Our consistent pattern for group behavior in all key areas of our lives is to have a core set of instincts that determine our basic goals and our expectations as individuals and as groups. We then use our cultures in each setting to help us achieve those instinctive goals, and attain those instinct created expectations. All of the InterGroup books explain those instinct guided culture building processes, and how to use them to guide future behavior in more enlightened directions.
Our basic approach is to have the actual cultures we create for each setting create and define the rules and the expected behaviors we use to achieve our core and basic instinctive goals for each setting.
We all have very strong hierarchical instincts, for example, so every culture creates hierarchies. Each culture builds the rule sets, expectations, and structures of a hierarchy for its own group.
Each group defines its own hierarchy, and has its own basic patterns. Then groups become very creative in how they build those patterns into their own culture.
Hierarchies always have a leader of some kind. Each group and each culture identifies an Alpha head for the group. We have Chiefs everywhere. We have Kings, chiefs, captains, presidents, executive directors, generals, and a wide range of leader roles that are each used by the culture that invents them and chooses to use them.
Instincts guide and reinforce that entire process.
We feel an instinctive need to have a leader for each group, and we actually often tend to feel stress and even anxiety at a core instinctive level if we are in a group with no current leader.
We also have Beta and Theta instincts that help us define our own relative position and status in each hierarchy. Those relative status instincts have their own ability to influence our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors — and people will sometimes fight or do high impact and high-energy things to both maintain and protect their personal hierarchical position, or rise to higher levels in their relevant hierarchies when that advancement seems possible.
We instinctively expect our relative position to be accepted and honored by other members of our hierarchy. Captains expect to be saluted by Sergeants, and Captains are very comfortable saluting Majors — and people in layered hierarchical settings can become both offended and angry when those expectations are not met in either direction.
The book Primal Pathways explains all of those hierarchical and relative status instincts and how they affect each of us relative to our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
We also have turf instincts — so every culture creates rules for owning property and possessing turf. We each tend to know what we “own” in the context of our culture and its rules — and we expect others to respect that ownership position for whatever we perceive to be our individual or group turf. We are generally willing and often even eager to do battle to protect both our personal turf and our group or national turf — and we tend to feel both right and justified in doing whatever that turf protection instinct influences us to do in each situation to defend our turf when it is threatened or even simply not respected.
We also have maternal and paternal instincts, so the culture of every group creates both rules and expectations for parenting, and every culture has a shared sense of the function and the role and power of families and parents.
People feel right acting in accord with each of our basic instincts, and people feel right acting in accord with relevant cultural directions and expectations — and people can feel stress, anxiety, unhappiness, and even anger when they are not allowed accordance with either their instinctive or cultural expectations.
If we want to end the long standing practices of discriminating in a variety of ways against women, we need to first understand that our cultures tend to have different rules and different expected roles for men and women. We need to know why that is true. We need to have a sense of why those differences were built into our cultures in the past so we can decide now whether or not those reasons for our culture having different expectations for men and women still exist today.
BIOLOGY HAS BEEN THE ANCHOR REASON FOR MOST GENDER-LINKED EXPECTATION DIFFERENCES
Biology has been clearly at the root of most of those key expectation differences for our cultures. Functional aspects and fairly obvious elements of biology have been at the core of most of the commonly defined role differences for men and women that have been spelled out so clearly in all of our traditional cultures. Biology exists — and biology is hugely relevant for our survival as groups of people because we are all biological at our core.
Birth, itself, is the first biological reality that cultures need to address as they build their rules, roles, and behavioral expectations. Many of the gender related rules we have in our cultures have historic, physical, logistical, and functional roots in the fact that only women give birth to children, and only women both breastfeed and nourish children after they are born.
So if we want our children to survive, we need settings and situations where women are protected in some ways, both for the birthing process and for the time periods after each birth, when children must be fed in a safe place to survive.
Our biology and our instincts both favor cultural approaches and expected behaviors for both men and women that support those processes. Those cultural approaches and cultural processes that create that support reality for women in those time frames tend to feel right to us, because those approaches are aligned with our instincts and with our overall personal experience and life history as a member of our culture and group.
Basic male roles in our traditional sets of cultural expectations for male behavior have also had clear and direct connections with the core biological need for our families to be fed in order to survive. Food is a very direct biology based survival need for our children. Families need to be both protected and fed for children and families to survive
Men tend to be a key source of food for families in our early societies. In some settings, males are the only source of food. Hunting was generally the behavior that generated significant — and needed — quantities of food for families in those early settings. There are a fairly large number of settings in the world where those same behavior patterns exist today. We know what those behaviors looked like for our ancestors because we can see them happen now in a number of less developed settings. In those settings, hunting tends to be primarily done by the men in each culture, and hunting is very often done alone.
Hunting tends to involve activities that are hard to do with a baby strapped to your back. So in most early settings, men did not involve women or include children in those hunting processes most of the time.
Both men and women clearly have hunting instincts — but those instincts seem to be somewhat stronger in men than women for many people. A look at modern hunting license purchases in settings where people still hunt voluntarily at least part of the time shows us that 4 in 5 hunting licenses currently tend to be purchased by men.
The survival of families in those early settings generally also tended to require that someone in each family protect the family from attack from both animal predators and dangerous people.
Protectors have been needed by families as part of their survival tool kit in our early settings because, sadly, the reality is that our basic instinctive intergroup behavior patterns tend to involve conflict and our intergroup instincts far too often trigger damaging, dangerous, and threatening intergroup behaviors by men from other clans, tribes, or even other families.
The Us/Them instincts described in all four InterGroup books explain those behaviors. Warrior behaviors were often needed in family settings to protect the family. Having the warrior role as a behavioral expectation for men in many settings has unfortunately made survival sense for families because our basic behavior patterns are for groups to remain in ongoing states of intergroup conflict, and protection was needed when conflict was a reality.
Conflict between groups can be extremely dangerous to members of families. That is not just ancient history. People are killed today in far too many settings when intergroup conflict occurs, and those sets of damaging behaviors clearly extend back as far as people have lived in groups.
The heroes of cultures have tended to be the warriors of the culture. Young men in early cultures often have had clear patterns of warrior behavior and expectations.
Any time people in any intergroup setting define other people to be a Them, there is a very high potential for ugly and damaging things to happen to the people involved.
The four InterGroup books about instinctive behavior and the InterGroup website all explain why people tend to hate, dehumanize, and kill people who are perceived to be from other tribes or even other clans. The book Cusp Of Chaos explains many of those ugly, dangerous, and damaging settings we have in the world today.
Those conflicts between groups today in Asia, Africa, Malaysia, Myanmar, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East are all happening in each of those settings with high levels of support from our core packages of Us/Them instincts. The core instincts structuring destructive and negative intergroup behaviors in all those settings are not new inventions. Those intergroup behaviors go back to our earliest days on the planet, because they are embedded in our core packages of instincts.
Anyone who wonders why the Neanderthals were killed off so quickly and so completely after our own ancestors entered Europe only needs to look at how ugly and murderous the behaviors of ISIS are today, and only needs to take a look at how much damage we do to people in our own intergroup conflicts whenever those kinds of conflicts spring up.
The Neanderthals were clearly not an “Us.” We far too easily and far too enthusiastically use the ability to kill people who are not “Us.” There is no reason to not to believe that the Neanderthals simply experienced our ancestors exhibiting instinctive ISIS like intergroup behaviors, and died off because our ancestors were far fiercer and bloodier than their ancestors.
The pure and deeply damaging intertribal battles and intertribal wars we see today in places like Syria, Iraq, The Sudan, Serbia, Malaysia, Kuwait, Nigeria, the Congo, and even The Ukraine clearly prove that those basic Us/Them sets of instincts have massive impact on our intergroup behaviors today. This website points out the impact of those instincts on our multi-tribal settings in multiple places.
Cusp of Chaos shows how widely those instincts create intergroup damage and explains how much damage those sets of instincts are currently causing in settings where we have more than one group existing in proximity with one another.
Those ugly patterns of intergroup violence have been going on since our first groups gathered together in their earliest settings — so in order for children in each family and setting to survive to adulthood and create their own children, men were generally expected to be both hunters and defenders in our earliest cultures.
Both hunter and warrior roles are clearly supported by their own sets of basic instincts — and there are multiple settings where both sets of instincts have an impact on our goals, aspirations, and behaviors today.
Women were not expected or allowed to be warriors in almost all traditional cultures. Joan of Arc was burned at the stake, in part, because she violated what was perceived to be a sacred admonition against women wearing armor.
Women did not usually hunt — but women in a wide range of cultures did gather. Gathering can be equally important for generating food supplies for family survival. Women in many of our historic and ancestral settings tended to be both gatherers and nesters as key parts of the basic functions needed to help each family survive.
Gathering various kinds of nuts and berries, and using gathered materials to make clothing and dwellings of various kind were all extremely important activities for the survival of many early groups of humans. Gathering actually can be done with a baby strapped to your back, so gathering roles were often included in the behavioral expectations for women — and the people of many cultures depended on the gathered food as a key part of their group survival strategy. There are legacy behavioral expectations in many of our cultures today that have clear linkages to those roles for women in our earliest cultures.
We all tend to follow and internally structure the expectations of our cultures with a high degree of alignment — so the consequence of those rules was to accrue a number of roles that were clearly designated by gender, and it was the usual pattern for each culture to believe people should follow those gender-linked roles.
Those behaviors tended to be built into each culture as expectations, and even as requirements for the behavior of each gender. Gender roles tended to feel right to people in each setting because we generally feel right when we are aligned with the expectations of our culture.
WE GENERALLY BUILD FAIRLY EXPLICIT RULES ABOUT DIRECT SEXUAL ACTIVITY
Our cultures each built their rule sets about how men and women would be linked structurally, and then each culture also built expectations about what kinds of sexual activities would happen for both men and women in the context of those linkages. A primary and clearly understood goal of the linkage process in every setting was to produce children. That takes more than just designating people as “a couple” in some way. Marriage, alone, does not create offspring. Sexual contact between men and women is needed biologically and physically to create children — so cultures have each tended to identify the ways and situations in which that sexual contact was both expected and allowed to happen.
That fundamental, foundational, physical reality, biological necessity, and top priority need for each group to create babies is embedded in the goal set of each culture’s sexual activity rule set, and is at the core of our basic sex related behavior expectation guidelines.
We need eggs to be fertilized in women in order for babies to come into existence. So our cultures each needed to support, direct, encourage, and enable behaviors, activities, interactions, and circumstances that allow, enable, and even encourage that essential act of fertilization to happen within the context each culture wanted.
We tend to be creative in building cultural expectations that meet our instinctive needs in many areas of our lives. We have very strong hierarchical instincts — so every culture has a hierarchy in place and each culture invents its own model of hierarchical design. Those hierarchies vary considerably from culture to culture — ranging from kings and chiefs, to CEOs — and each setting creates, designs, and uses its own rule set for how the hierarchy in their setting is structured and implemented.
We have similar patterns of creativity and similar patterns of uniformity in our cultures relative to sexual activities. The rules about sexual activities vary significantly in several regards — but there are some very consistent underlying patterns of sexual activity and behaviors that are seen in all cultures.
Every culture has its own (sometimes complex) set of expectations about when and where those sexual encounters between men and women could take place. Cultures tend to have clear rules about their most important issues — and many cultures tended to be rigid, functionally adamant, and strongly insistent about how those rules are followed.
As a core common pattern, cultures all tend to have very clear sets of rules about who can fertilize whom, and under what circumstances fertilization can occur. The issue of who is the father of whom tends to be an important component in many settings. Highly visible lineage realities have been clear components of many cultures, and people in many settings announce their family and clan name after they tell their own name.
People in cultures with Kings often have explicitly clear rules about the exact set of birth linkages needed to name someone the rightful king — and people in those settings are sometimes willing to kill and die to ensure their rightful king is chosen.
In Scandinavian cultures, at a more basic level, the lineage is expressed by tying the names of children directly to the name of their father — so the son of a man named Halvor in Norway would be named Halvorson, and the daughter of a man named Halvor would be named Halvorsdotter.
Very complex rules exist in many cultures about who inherits family land and who enjoys hierarchical positions in each family — and those rules can define inheritance rights in very explicit, and almost nonsensical ways that still tend to feel right to the people in each culture, because we all have strong turf instincts, and we each tend to accept the directions and rule sets of our own culture about any instinctive issue as being inherently legitimate and right.
We have created similar sets of rules and guidelines in every culture about sexual activity and sexual interactions. Those rules also tend to follow basic and universal patterns at important levels, but they are clearly not identical from culture to culture.
One of the key reasons those sexual activity rules differentiate from culture to culture is that actual sexual activity has generally been directly used by our cultures as a motivation factor for both creating and sustaining families. Cultures vary in the specific ways that they use those motivation factors to influence group and individual behaviors.
Sexual activity is often used openly as an effective motivation tool by cultures because people tend to have a strong instinctive drive to be sexual. The desire, aspiration, and perceived physical and emotional need to have sexual encounters has been effectively used to manipulate behaviors by cultures who know that sex, itself, can have a major impact on decisions, thoughts, emotions.
Both men and women have the ability to generate powerful and positive neurochemical rewards from sexual behaviors. Both men and women have strong packages of sexual instincts, behaviors, emotional alignments, and functional aspirations that can influence and shape our thoughts, values, emotions, and behaviors in powerful and influential ways.
SEXUAL INSTINCTS ARE NOT IDENTICAL FOR MEN AND WOMEN
Sexual instincts and basic sex related behaviors for men and women are functionally and physically not identical. Basic differences in biological structure for each gender obviously cause some of those differences. In addition to differences based on gender, there are significant differences in sexual interest levels, alignments, energy levels, and basic subjects and objects of sexual attraction.
Sex is an area with a wide continuum of behaviors where individuals differ from each other in important ways.
There are some basic tendencies for patterns of behaviors by gender, but each person experiences their own sets of sexual attractions and interests — and those differences between individuals place sexual activity among our least predictable and most important set of human behaviors.
We have a broad continuum of possible sexual interests. And without direct knowledge of each person, there is no way of knowing where on that continuum any individual might fall. We each respond to our sexual interests and drives in the context set up for us by our culture, and our current situation.
This is an area where both patterns of behavior and individual preferences are relevant to the way our cultures create their rule sets and expectations for sexual activity.
The reality is that there are a number of individual differences between people in sexual behaviors, and there are also some very clear patterns of over arching behavior by gender that are consistent enough, so that our cultures in each setting have used those consistent macro patterns by gender to create culture linked rule sets and culture linked expectations of sexual activities and interactions for each gender.
Many books and articles have been written about the differences in sexual behaviors between individuals and the over arching patterns of sexual behavior and interest levels that have clear, but not absolute, alignment between behaviors and genders.
This is an area we need to get right as we go forward to figuring out in an intellectually and ethically enlightened way what our shared values and our behavioral expectations should be for our communities and our country. The final chapter of the book The Art of InterGroup Peace deals very directly with a range of possible values, beliefs, and commitments that we might use to become a values based people.
We have a chance, today, to do a much better job than previous cultures on creating and shaping our shared expectations and understanding about both gender equity issues and sexual activities and interactions.
For people looking directly at sexual alignments, there is a growing recognition that a major overlap exists between individuals on sex related issues, making it impossible to know, from anything other than direct experience with each person, which sets of drives, interests, aspirations, and behaviors exist in any individual. Differences from person to person make life interesting as a community, because it clearly makes both ethical and functional sense to include those differences in how we define our culture’s accepted sexual behaviors.
The InterGroup belief, goal, and aspiration is that we need to create a society where people can choose their sexual activity approaches based on their own sexual alignment and feelings, and that the key ingredient we need to enforce about sexual activity as a society is that people should be able to follow their sexual interests freely in non-coercive and non intrusive ways. The individual aspirations for non-coercive sexual alignments should be both accepted and supported by our cultures in enlightened ways.
However — the functional reality, and our very clear historical reality, is that our cultures generally have not maintained a sophisticated and enlightened understanding of those issues, and the values and behavioral expectations about sexual activities embedded in most cultures have not welcomed or allowed any range of variation in sexual interests extending beyond basic heterosexual relationships and activities.
CULTURES HAVE BUILT THEIR EXPECTATIONS AROUND HETEROSEXUAL SEXUAL ALIGNMENTS
Cultures in just about every setting have created their own explicit gender behavior rules identifying acceptable sexual behaviors, and those expectations about sexual behavior have consistently and directly reflected and followed the overall most common, heterosexual aligned gender behavior patterns.
Those most common sexual alignments and behaviors have been the key design factor for the expectations of sexual activity by our cultures. Our history in almost every culture in the world illustrates that each culture has imposed those most common heterosexual behavior and activity patterns as mandates, rules, and expectations for everyone in the culture.
The cultures all consistently created rule sets about gender behavior and sexual activity based entirely on the basic patterns of heterosexual behavior, which accurately reflected the sexual interests of the majority in each setting. Cultures also used that heterosexual behavioral expectation approach for their basic interaction behavior expectations and interaction rules, because the goal of sexual activity rules in each setting was to encourage reproduction.
Cultures also wanted both structures and behaviors in place for each family that maximized the likelihood children born into each family would survive. Formal, official, and functional marriage between men and women created structures, processes, and behaviors supporting basic family survival goals.
Family survival was the goal of the gender related rule set and sexual activity expectations in all of our cultures. The reality is that the traditional sets of rules about sexual activity and gender roles favoring family survival have the advantage of actually working well most of the time to achieve those survival goals. The disadvantage we need to understand is that those rules that were initially set up to help families survive and thrive, have often functionally discriminated against women in important ways, and have actually damaged, punished, and even killed people whose sexual alignment was anything other than heterosexual.
Heterosexuality is the most common behavior pattern for people. The biological and functional reality is that heterosexual behavior both impregnates women, and can be channeled to create family structures that both protect and feed families. There are clear reasons why the basic culture rule sets and sexual activity expectations that support, reinforce, and even require heterosexual behavior are in consistent existence in almost every setting.
We have become much more enlightened in recent years on a wide range of gender affiliation and alignment issues. We now know that the issue of whom we each feel a sexual attraction to is far more complex than simply having heterosexual behaviors and interactions as our only approach to loving relationships. We now have a much better understanding of the continuum of sexual attraction that gives people a much wider range of choices for who we each feel attracted to and love.
But the reality is that the more enlightened and relatively recent body of knowledge about sexual orientation that a growing number of people share today clearly did not guide the development of our basic cultures, and those cultures very consistently built their interaction expectations and their sexual activity rule sets along heterosexual activities and alignments.
Homosexual alignments — and other levels of non-heterosexual alignments — were not part of the basic culture rule sets for our traditional cultures. The sad truth is that many cultures actually reacted in very negative, damaging, and even cruel ways to both homosexual feelings and behaviors, and those negative reactions at the cultural level exist in many nations and settings today.
This is another area where we can see very unfortunate instinctive behaviors in gear. The intergroup cruelty that has been extended far too often to people with homosexual feelings and emotional alignments has been as ugly and evil in a large number of settings as the kinds of intergroup cruelty and evil we far too often extend in many Us/Them conflicted intergroup settings to people we define and perceive to be “Them.”
Whether triggered by racism, homophobia, intentional sexism, or misogyny — those damaging intergroup behaviors are wrong — and we need to take advantage of the fact that we now recognize those behaviors to be wrong, and we need to build a Peaceful society of inclusive, accepting, and mutually supportive individuals with shared values who all want each other to prosper and thrive.
We all need to understand those Us/Them instinctive emotions when they are triggered in intergroup settings — and we need to recognize that the ability we have to damage whoever we define to be “Them” without guilt clearly extends to homosexuals in too many settings today.
The functional racism we see in too many settings today has echoes and parallel behaviors both in some levels of homophobic behavior, and even some levels of egregious misogyny. We need laws — and cultural and behavioral expectations — that focus on putting an end to both misogyny and homophobia.
We are making some significant and welcome progress in many of those areas today as a nation. We are far more sophisticated and enlightened in our own legal system as a country on all of those alignments and issues today — but the reality is that our traditional cultures were all built on heterosexual expectations, and the rules and laws we created about sexual activity have uniformly been anchored on heterosexual behaviors. It will take consistently enlightened behavior on the part of all of us to move beyond that history into new vision-based expectations of who we are and what we should be doing.
SOCIETIES USED BOTH SEX AND POWER TO KEEP MEN IN FAMILIES
Part of the process of moving to a new set of alignments needs to include understanding clearly why our cultures made some of the choices they made in those key areas. None of us will ever be free of our instincts, but we have considerable power to change our alignment and belief systems embedded in our culture.
As part of the package of expectations about sexual activities used to channel and direct our behaviors, it can be very useful to recognize that most of our traditional cultures very directly took advantage of the fact that many young men tend to have strong sexual urges, desires, and aspirations. Our cultures used those strong desires and perceived needs to channel men into behaviors that supported and fed families. Those roles for men that caused them to remain with families increased the likelihood of survival for the children, simply because children are more likely to survive when they are fed.
The simple and consistent reality most relevant to the development of our basic cultures and to the survival of families in our cultures, is that a large percentage of young men tend to be highly motivated toward seeking sexual gratification, and men are often channeled into roles and behavioral expectations created by their cultures about both community and family roles if it helps them achieve that sexual gratification and activity goal.
The biological reality most relevant to that process of using sex to keep men with families actually is food. Families are more likely to survive if they have a source of food — and men in our historic settings have been that food source for their families. It is a good thing for a family to have a food source, and it is equally important for family survival to have its source of food remain with the family.
Sex has been used by many cultures as an incentive for heterosexual men to help accomplish that goal of feeding families.
Cultures could not have been clearer on their use of that incentive. Sex was only allowed, in most cultures, within the context of family and marriage. Many cultures explicitly outlawed sex outside of marriage. So a man in each culture that banned extramarital sex for everyone who wanted sex to be a regular part of his life would need to meet the role of hunter and primary food provider for his family in order to achieve his goal of having sex.
Sex was the immediate reward given to men for marriage in many settings — and that incentive clearly influenced behavior for men in many cultures to make family life a priority and motivator. Cultures, communities, and even some religions made that expected access to sex for men in a marriage very clear.
Sex involves both genders. Sexual activity is also clearly a motivator for women, and women also have very strong sexual instincts and interests. One of the reasons for women to marry in most settings was to make sexual activity possible and safe. The family settings and processes created by traditional cultures were also structured to give women safe ways of enjoying sexual activity as part of their lives.
Safety for sexual activity is sadly highly relevant for women because the ugly truth is that a disproportionally high number of men in a wide range of settings have been sexually abusive to women when the opportunities exist. Very much like our Us/Them instincts — where we know people have the potential to be both saints and sinners, depending on the alignment we feel with those around us — men clearly have the potential to be both positive and negative for basic behaviors that relate to sexual encounters. Marriage creates relationships and settings that protect women from the very real dangers and risks of sexual abuse.
Cultures tend to have strong rules requiring men to defend the women in their families against sexual abuse by other men. Men also tend to have strong emotional feelings that create strong levels of anger and aggression against other men who might threaten or damage the women in their family. So marriage in most traditional cultures both gives men access to sex as a reason to be married, and it gives women who are married, or part of a family, protection from being sexually assaulted by men outside the family.
It is both sad and horrible that those risks and realities are what they are — but we have too many instances, even today, of opportunistic sexually abusive behavior by men against women to ignore the fact that it was a good thing for women in those settings and situations, to have as one of the functions of being married, the security of having a family that defends against the risk of that abuse.
Access to sex was used as an incentive to keep men with families, but it was not used as an equivalent functional incentive to keep women with their families, because the clear reality and truth is that maternal instincts are so universally strong that women will stay with their children through almost any circumstances, and women don’t need access to sex to stay with families.
Men can be wonderful parents. Modern developmental science is teaching us layers of good and important reasons why children benefit at multiple levels when men are part of their upbringing, but there is no question that men generically have a much higher likelihood of abandoning their family, and the likelihood of a woman abandoning her children in any setting is usually tiny.
Those patterns for women are far too consistent not to be instinctive at a core level. Depending on maternal instincts to channel the mother’s behavior consistently allowed cultures to have expectations that women would remain with their families once any children have been born.
So societies built structures and expectations that allowed and enabled women to stay with their families in safe settings and that gave men access to both sex and power when they stayed with their wives and children.
POWER WAS ALSO USED BY MOST CULTURES TO KEEP MEN IN FAMILIES
Power was also a very common motivational tool used by cultures to keep men with families. The incentive used by just about every culture to keep men with their families for extended periods of time was Power.
Power has its own power and impact as a very consistent and effective motivator for men and families.
Power works as an incentive for channeling behavior because we have strong instincts that trigger positive neurochemical rewards when we are in Alpha status in any relevant hierarchical setting. People with those Alpha instincts activated in any setting tend to be motivated to continue to do what ever set of behaviors will continue to trigger those rewards. Cultures in almost every setting very directly activated those neurochemical rewards with a high level of consistency for men by having men be the Head of Families.
That Alpha instinct package is generally easy to activate. Being the head of a family very directly triggered that sense of power for men and men with that instinct activated stayed with their families in part because that was the only setting where most men could feel those Alpha rewards.
That combination of sex and power was an effective one of culture based incentives for men in our traditional cultural settings that caused men to want a family and to stay with them.
Sex and power can be a powerful set of incentives. Being the family Alpha, all by itself, can create and reinforce a form of addiction not dissimilar from the addiction that being a group Alpha creates for leaders in other settings. Leaders with those instincts fully activated in any group setting tend to do whatever they need to do to retain that power. The number of kings or even presidents who voluntarily retire is not high. Once people feel Alpha power at an instinct triggering level, they will stay in the positions that trigger those instincts as long as they can remain there.
Multiple political reformers in various nations have taken power from dictators of one kind or another and then pledged very clearly and very explicitly upon entering office that they would retire after serving only one term.
The number of those alpha leaders who actually give up their office after one year or one term is functionally zero. The leaders who make those claims often actually mean it at the time — but once they receive the repeated neurochemical baths created by those roles, giving them up is harder than surrendering heroin. Company presidents, political leaders, religious leaders, and other people who rise to alpha levels in their organizations often experience that same painful reluctance to retire at the times they had originally predicted and originally intended to leave the job.
That pattern is true for both men and women. Alpha instincts are extremely seductive for both genders once they have been activated.
The books Cusp of Chaos, Primal Pathways, and The Art of InterGroup Peace all explain both the power and the sometimes-unfortunate consequences of fully triggering those packages of Alpha instincts in any setting.
Cultures tended to use each of those incentives very directly and explicitly to cause men to want a family and keep them from abandoning their families.
Men are more than simply tools of our cultures and they can be more than subjects of instinctive drives for power and sex. Men also clearly have the individual ability to make personal, intentional, ethical, emotional, and even intellectually enlightened decisions toward having a family, remaining loyal to their sexual partners, and protecting their children, and other family members.
There are strong expectations and very direct hopes about those positive and supportive behaviors, attitudes, and feelings for men explicitly built into the context and core values of many cultures. This particular gender-interactions-focused thought piece is very hard on men in some places, but it is not an indictment of all men. That would be both unfair and inaccurate.
It is important for us to be honest with ourselves on those negative behaviors and the issues discussed in this piece, but we need to also recognize that men can and should be worthwhile, ethical, and loving human beings. We need to hold that fact about the positive aspects of male behavior for many men in our mind sets as we look at all of the negative behaviors for men that we also too often see, and we need to keep in mind that we need to steer men to those more positive behaviors in positive ways.
In today’s world — where sex and power are not the inherent functional consequences of being male or of being the male member of a family — we need men to understand and communicate the other broad set of blessings, benefits, and real joys that can come for men from fatherhood and from loving relationships.
WE NEED TO SUPPORT FATHERS IN THEIR INTERACTIONS WITH YOUNG CHILDREN TO HELP STRENGTHEN CHILDREN’S BRAINS
We need to support fathers and children interacting directly and often in loving and supportive ways. Children need fathers — and multiple studies show that children do better in many emotional and developmental areas when their fathers are involved in their upbringing. That involvement is particularly important in the first years of life. Fathers who interact with their children in those first months and years can build stronger brains and significantly more emotional security in their children.
The Three Key Years website and book explain a father’s role and their paramount impact on children in more detail. We need to make sure we teach those roles and that core brain development science to every father, because the benefit of father-child interactions is important for helping children establish the foundational trajectories of their lives.
We still need to make our children the top priority for what we expect our culture to do, and we need to build our behavioral expectations for both men and women around the success of our children. Chapter Eleven of The Art of InterGroup Peace has a section dealing with the support our children need, and that chapter explains how we can all prove to each other that we want us all to succeed by doing the right thing for our children.
Three Key Years, also available on this website, explains the science behind the support opportunities that exist for each child in those first months and years of life.
SOME CULTURES KILL WOMEN WHO ARE UNFAITHFUL TO THEIR HUSBANDS
Before focusing on those opportunities and issues, we also need to recognize, understand, and explain what has been another set of cultural expectations and behaviors in far too many settings that have also had direct and negative impacts on many women. Discriminating against women by keeping women from voting, owning property, and entering specific lines of work and specific professions are all areas where progress is being made. We also need to recognize that some of the negative treatment of women has historically gone to even greater lengths to do damage to women.
Sexual activity has been a trigger for some of those evil and damaging behaviors. Cultures sometimes do very negative things to women who are not perceived to be sexually faithful to their husband.
A number of cultures actually kill women who are not sexually faithful. The law in some U.S. states used to allow men to kill their wives if they caught them in the physical act of being unfaithful.
In a number of settings, women have been punished for simply being in physical contact with a man outside the family.
Cultures tended to consistently build rules about sexual fidelity for their women so that at a functional level, the men who were spending their lives defending their family and hunting for the family would know that the children each man was feeding and defending were, in fact, his children.
Some cultures created rules on that issue of sexual fidelity that were so strict that women in some settings were not even allowed to talk to men outside of their family. Even in modern times some women have been killed by their own family for violating the male contact rules of the culture. What are called “honor killings” happen in far too many settings today because women were perceived to have violated those particular cultural mandates.
Virginity for women was considered to be an absolute requirement in some cultures for similar functional reasons, and both sexual fidelity mandates and expectations about sexual exclusivity for women have been built into the rule set of many cultures.
Cultures were often much less insistent on rules imposing sexual exclusivity for men. Men with higher levels of power or wealth in a number of cultures were allowed to have multiple wives. But even in those settings, the women are expected to only have one sexual relationship, and that relationship needed to be in the context of their marriage. In a few settings where women had multiple husbands, those situations tended to involve brothers sharing a wife rather than a woman who chose more than one husband.
Cultures create our expectations for our own behaviors and for the behaviors of others in our cultures. We each tend to accept the rules created by our cultures as legitimate, appropriate, and right at a very basic level. Both men and women tend to feel right acting in accord with our instincts, and we all tend to feel right acting in accord with our cultures. Our cultures have huge power to influence our thoughts, values, behaviors, and even emotions — so we need to understand that impact and influence — and we need to shape our cultures in some key areas rather than allow our cultures to shape us.
Sexual activity is an area where we should shape our cultures.
Sexual behaviors are an area where we need to make some enlightened and informed decisions today about what our current values and future expectations for sexual encounters and activities should be.
We need to recognize the fact that sexual activities tend to exist in the context of the culture and situation of each individual.
Sexual interactions and sexual activities tend to exist and meld in a blended and sometimes complex context of instincts, situations, and cultures, so there is a wide variety of sexual interactions that are possible, and a wide range of activities and behaviors that can feel both right and wrong to various people in various settings.
CONSENTING ADULTS — WITH NO COERCION — SHOULD BE THE RULE AND EXPECTATION
Today, as we try to figure out which sexual interactions are right or wrong in our own lives, and which sexual interactions and activities are appropriate for our settings, relationships, and communities — an enlightened working guideline for us collectively making those decisions might be linked to coercion — with avoiding coercion for sexual behavior being the basic rule set we use to figure out what sexual activities are appropriate, and to determine which sexual behaviors are acceptable for any setting.
Sex should never be forced on anyone. That should be an absolute rule, expectation, and shared value.
The term, “consenting adults” has very useful standing when figuring out what sexual interactions and behaviors make sense for individuals, which interactions should be a violation of our cultural sexual norms, and should create levels of protection and enforced prohibitions for members of our group.
No particular non-abusive sexual activity should be the subject of externally imposed expectations or standards — and each consenting set of adults should determine consensually which sexual activities and which sexual relationships and interactions are right and appropriate for themselves and for their sexual partners.
The key issue and basic guideline for determining acceptable sexual behaviors needs to be consensual activities as opposed to coercive activities. We need to use consensual versus coercive relative to setting any guidelines, rules, protections, or even mandates for sexual interactions that we create for our communities today.
We no longer link marriage as an exclusive pathway to sexual activity — and we no longer legally mandate only heterosexual behaviors as opposed to any other gender alignment activities — but we still do need to have some sex linked guidelines and rules for us as a society because sexual activity is so important to us and because our sex drives can take too many people to some clearly negative behaviors that damage other people if we have no protections about being forced into sexual activities or contacts built into both our law enforcement and cultural expectations.
We need to protect against abusive behaviors and we also need some protections against discriminatory gender based behaviors.
The protections that exist relative to discriminatory behavior based on gender need to be part of a package that also protects people relative to racism and major ethnicity based discrimination. To do that, we need to understand the relevant instinctive behaviors for all of those activities and perceptions.
We need to build all of those enlightened expectations into a shared sense of values that can unite us as a nation and a people. We need to use our cultures for each setting to achieve those goals — and to do that, we need to reach out and communicate with one another in important and direct ways.
We need to reach out to others without feeling disloyal to our core culture and group.
OUR INSTINCTS USE CULTURES TO ACHIEVE THEIR GOALS
Loyalty can be a huge asset and an almost insurmountable barrier.
We each tend to identify with our culture. We are often fiercely loyal to the cultures we create. Because we tend to be so fiercely loyal to each culture we create. It is extremely important at this point in our history for us to collectively and individually understand exactly what a culture actually is.
Every culture is an invention. None are actually genetic. But they tend to feel genetic and inherent at a fundamental and foundational level, because we each have the ability to feel that our cultures identify us and are core to who we are.
We tend not to think of cultures as inventions, and we tend to think of our own cultures as fully credible, unquestioned, operational, and functional revelations of both appropriateness and truth — and as worthy subjects and objects of their personal loyalty.
That set of beliefs and feelings about the inherent legitimacy and functional credibility of each culture can make culture change difficult.
Loyalty makes that culture change process even harder. We each tend to be loyal to our culture. Loyalty is a very powerful instinct, and that set of instinctive thought processes shape our emotions and behaviors at very basic levels. The instinct to hate traitors and to never want to be a traitor is clearly very powerful — and we can feel deep unhappiness, stress, and even anger when loyalty is not maintained by anyone who we expect to be loyal — including ourselves.
Traitors are executed in a number of settings. That execution feels right to the people in that setting because that instinct to reject, hate, and get rid of traitors creates such a strong hold on our values and emotions that the most extreme behaviors feel legitimate and even desirable.
Those particular sets of instincts can make it difficult for us to reach out to create alignments and build positive relationships with people from other groups if our own group perceives us to be a traitor for creating those alignments, or if we even feel at a personal level that the relationship might be disloyal or even traitorous to our own group.
Intergroup relationships can be much easier to build and maintain when we understand at an enlightened intellectual level that the stress we sometimes feel with those intergroup contacts is very directly caused by an instinct, and not by any actual damaging behavior on our part relative to our group or our people.
We also tend to feel very right on gender related issues acting in the context of the expectations about those issues that is created by our culture. We need to understand that gender-linked thought process for our cultures in each setting — and we actually need to use that process to improve our inter gender behavior and situations and realities in all relevant settings.
We need to be very aware of the fact that the usual model that we use to guide and live our lives is for our intellect to serve our cultures and instincts. The intellect is generally only a tool for that usual and customary process of achieving both instincts and cultural expectations. We can and should do better than that, and we should now choose to have our intellect make enlightened and informed decisions that will guide our instincts, and then very intentionally shape our cultures.
That set of decisions and those intellect-guided behaviors actually are the core strategy for the evolving Art of Peace — as described in the book, The Art of InterGroup Peace.
We need to use our instincts rather than allow our instincts to use us. We need our cultures to very intentionally help us do enlightened and mutually supportive things for and with one another — instead of channeling us into behaviors that damage women and put us in dysfunctional conflict with other people.
We can never be instinct free. We can never stop our instincts from influencing what we think, feel, and do — but we can decide which instincts we want to activate and channel to help us achieve and maintain enlightened and ethical behavior.
We need to celebrate and build on the best features of our gender related instincts — and we should also work hard to keep us from being damaged either individually or collectively by our worst and most negative sets of gender related instincts and behaviors.
MEN ARE TOO OFTEN SEXUALLY ABUSIVE TO WOMEN — AND WE NEED TO STOP THE ABUSE
We need to be very honest with ourselves about how dysfunctional and damaging our worst gender related instinctive behaviors can be. Wishful thinking about that negative continuum of gender-linked behaviors is not an adequate response to that set of dangers for us at this point in our history. We need to be very intentional in not allowing our most negative sets of inter-gender behaviors to become activated and actualized by anyone relative to any other persons, including ourselves.
Very much like the Us/Them instincts that we all have that clearly can and do trigger very different values, emotions, and expectations for “Us” versus “Them” in intergroup settings, we obviously also have what can be very different sets of instincts relative to how men treat women and those different sets of instinctive reactions by gender clearly function at times like an Us/Them set of divisions. There is an important and sometimes very negative and damaging continuum for the patterns we see in inter-gender behavior we need to understand so we can steer our collective behaviors away from the negative end of the spectrum of behaviors.
At the highest and most positive end of the gender interaction continuum, men who are at that end of the gender-relations continuum tend to treat women with the respect due to their mother and family. Men with those values and perceptions in place treat women in ways that are positive, protective, and clearly supportive at core levels.
We know from vast amounts of clear evidence and functional history that men at that better end of the behavior continuum have positive and beneficial behavior patterns toward women, have positive emotional alignment, and positive and clear motivations to both protect and defend the women in their lives.
Men who have those most positive instinctive values activated, treat women well and both expect and demand that other men also treat women directly relevant to their situation and setting with respect, support, and good will.
Defending women is an expectation and even a noble cause and heroic calling for men in many cultures and settings, and men with those best sets of instinctive behaviors in gear will sometimes feel very right when going to great lengths to defend the women they perceive need defending, and whom they believe deserve defending as a member of their family, group, or relevant category of “Us.”
Men will sometimes sacrifice their own lives to protect the women in their group and family. Chivalry in various forms has its expectations and its supportive and respectful behaviors and positive interaction approaches in various cultures.
That is one end of the continuum. That is the very positive end of the continuum — and many men hold the perception of themselves that they are always functioning at that end of the continuum relative to the relevant women in their lives. It is true that men tend to feel good about themselves at an instinctive level when those behaviors and sense of context help define who they are and what they do.
Many men tend to enjoy feeling like and being perceived as, a hero — and both fighting for and defending your woman can activate those feelings in men. It is a complex, primal, and generally positive self-reinforcing set of interactions and perceptions when it is the working context for the mind of men.
RAPE HAPPENS FAR TOO OFTEN AND GROUP RAPE CLEARLY ALSO HAS INSTINCTIVE ROOTS
Rape and abuse occur at the other end of the gender interaction continuum. At that negative end of the continuum, women are abused, often badly. Women are damaged and sexually abused in too many situations and settings today and the damage is far too often very intentional.
Rape is sometimes a group behavior. Group rape can be a horrible event that pulls men in a setting into horrible and evil collective behavior that also clearly has linkages to instinctive behavior because we see group rape in a massive number of settings. Group rapes tend to happen with the highest frequency in intergroup settings where the parties in conflict clearly perceive each other to be “Them.”
We need to recognize and understand that the highly negative end of the continuum of treatment based on gender exists. Patterns of sexual abuse are not situationally invented in each situation and setting. There are horrible patterns of gender related behavior that sometimes happen in ways that clearly have their own sets of instinctive support and underpinnings because of their obvious consistency and their clear functional group-linked alignment with the behavior of other men.
Sexual abuse occurs far too often and with far too much consistency to be invented spontaneously in each situation and setting. In our own country — in our work places, communities, and schools — we see sexual abuse in several forms in far too many settings, and we know that there are instincts involved because of the consistency of the behaviors in all of those settings.
Significant levels of abuse are happening with horrific frequency and painful volume in far too many settings today. In the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Malaysia — wherever we are seeing true intergroup division and intergroup tribal, racial, and ethnic conflict today, we are seeing multiple settings where intergroup rape and various kinds of sexual abuse is damaging significant numbers of women.
To deal most effectively with that entire range of issues, we need to be honest and clear about the fact that those negative behaviors and damaging gender-linked issues are not limited to war zones. We have sexual abuse going on at far too many levels in our own country, and we need to honestly and explicitly recognize that behavior for what it is, and then we need to deal directly and honestly with it.
Unfortunately, we are seeing very damaging levels of sexual abuse in too many of our workplaces, schools, and communities in patterns that clearly prove there are underlying instincts triggered within the abusive individuals.
Sexual interactions can be wonderful, affirming, pleasing, loving, supportive, mutually reinforcing, and very positive. Sexual interactions can be the highlights of our lives — and the right sexual interactions can help create positive experiences and realities for us and can help support happiness linked lives. Positive sexual interactions can create positive life experiences, which can create a sense of well-being and happiness for the people involved.
Sexual interactions can be very positive and should be both encouraged and supported.
At the same time, in far too many settings and situations, we see negative and abusive sexual activities. Sexual abuse can be damaging, destructive, cruel, and even intentionally evil — and that abuse occurs far too often when we don’t put protections in place to keep it from happening.
We need to do the right things now in multiple settings to keep abusive behavior from being the reality for the people in those settings.
The differences between those realities for all of our settings and situations stem from which set of gender-linked instincts and which packages of gender-linked behavioral expectations are being triggered for each situation.
In the same way that we need to intentionally avoid triggering our Us/Them instincts in our conflicted intergroup settings, we need to avoid triggering those most negative and damaging gender-linked behaviors in all of our settings that involve gender related interactions.
We need to build cultures and behavioral expectations that make gender interactions in each setting positive.
We can do that, but it will not happen on its own. We need to make it happen by doing very intentional things to make it happen.
WE NEED TO BUILD ON OUR VERY BEST GENDER RELATED INSTINCTS AND VALUES AND WE NEED TO STRONGLY ENFORCE ABUSE PREVENTION
We need to build our future culture in each setting on the best sets of our gender-related instincts. The package of instincts that we all have on the positive end of the gender-interaction continuum that treats women as respected members of our family tend to be the instincts that we want to incorporate into our group and national cultures as our goal, our aspiration, our commitment, and our expectations.
We clearly have a best set of gender related instinctive behaviors that we need to understand and use in ways that cause them to have positive impact in each setting. We need our cultures to be intentionally constructed in each setting to build on the best set of basic and positive gender-linked instincts.
We all tend to feel right when acting in accord with the culture of our group, so embedding those values into our culture will have a high likelihood of success, and the values and expectations we embed about gender based behaviors will feel right to the men and women in that culture because it is embedded in the culture.
It will feel particularly right to both men and women that those positive behaviors are a believable and functional part of our culture if we have absolute rules about those behaviors and expectations, and if our culture and our leaders both enforce and support those rules.
Enforcement is critical and key. People who know that an expected behavior rule is actually going to be enforced — and people who know that violation of a behavior rule will be punished — tend to internalize those values into their sense of what their culture expects and tend to adopt both behavior patterns and belief systems that follow the rules, and feel entirely right to the people who are following the rules.
OUR MILITARY HAS FAILED TO ENFORCE RULES AGAINST SEXUAL ABUSE IN SOME SETTINGS
We clearly know from far too many negative situations, that when the rules of a culture or setting are not enforced, particularly in an area like sexual harassment and sexual abuse, a truly unfortunate number of men will assume that those rules are not part of their culture, and a number of men who hold that belief will, in fact, take advantage of and abuse women in far too many settings when they believe they will not be punished for those behaviors.
Our military is a sad and un-debatable example of that behavior pattern and that risk. We did a wonderful thing as a nation to extend admission into our military at every level to women — after centuries of very explicitly forbidding women from being part of the military — but we know from multiple reports that we have too many settings today where military women are being sexually abused.
Enforcement is the key to preventing abuse. The abuse levels drop in any culture or any setting when the rules are clear and offenders are punished.
That is true and works as a strategy because people are smart at very basic levels about what their culture is telling them — and it is clear that most people in any setting truly understand what their culture actually expects. When people see that their culture enforces a rule on any issue, that rule becomes embedded in the personal cultural expectation of the person, and it changes both expectations and the behaviors of that person.
We all tend to feel right when acting in alignment with the embedded rules of our culture, so we need to use that approach to change the values. The strategy that we need to use on those issues is to make absolutely sure people perceive which rules on those issues are embedded.
We all tend to judge each behavioral opportunity in the context that our culture creates for that opportunity — and we all know what rules our culture employs that govern each opportunity.
That same pattern exists in our work places, our schools, and our communities. Power in work settings far too often confuses men in power into believing that sexual abuse is allowable because the Alpha instincts that trigger those thought processes are in gear. We need to make it very clear that we expect all of our work settings to rise to higher levels of behavior on those issues.
We are perfectly capable of non-abusive behavior in all of those settings that will create opportunity and a positive quality of life for women in each setting — but we are also easily at risk of abusive and damaging work places and other settings when the culture that forbids and even punishes abuse is not clear and enforced.
We need to start by making all sexually abusive behavior not only illegal, but also condemned, forbidden, culturally rejected, and punished. In their earliest ages, we need to teach our children respectful behavior and values toward women, and we need to model that behavior for our children in clear and evident ways.
Children hear what we say and they believe what we do.
So we need to do the right things, and we need our children to see us doing them. We have made major progress as a country in very enlightened directions relative to not making any jobs, careers, occupations or employment pathways off limits to women — and that will have major positive economic impact, because it makes up to twice as many good people available in the areas that used to be limited to men.
WE ALL HAVE THE PROGRAMMING TO BE SAINTS AND TO BE SINNERS
When we look at our Us/Them instinctive intergroup behaviors, it is entirely clear that we all have the programming to be saints, and we all have the programming to be sinners. Both Primal Pathways and Cusp of Chaos outline those behaviors and explain those options and differences for us all. That pattern is clear. We tend to be saints to our “Us” and we tend to be sinners to our “Them.”
Likewise, for our gender interactions, we know from sad experience that settings can deteriorate into situations of abuse and even rape when the situational culture allows it. Most men do not go down those evil and damaging paths, but far too many do, and we need to let those men know that those paths will be punished. We need to build on the best behavior and outlaw the worst behavior.
We know we can all act in enlightened, positive, and mutually supportive ways when we build our very best sets of gender-related instincts into our expectations, and we can all believe that behavior is the right behavior for us when that is the positive and non-abusive culture we choose to create and enforce.
Those are sad and grim truths about the behaviors of some men, and those are clear functional realities about gender-linked behaviors in far too many settings. We need to get this whole process of gender interactions right, and the time is now.
We need to both understand the continuum of gender interactions we all have and we need to make intentional, deliberate, fully enlightened, intentional, and clearly ethical decisions about how we will treat each other in each setting.
We need to build our inter-gender interactions on the set of instinctive feelings of support, respect, affection, and love — and we need to build rules that protect us all relative to abusive and intrusive behaviors that violate that level of enlightenment and ethical underpinnings.
The InterGroup Institute books and the basic paradigm of constructive, enlightened ethical instinctivism calls for us all to understand our instincts and to use both our instincts and our cultures in enlightened ways to take us to situations and supportive settings and behaviors beyond the reach of biological evolution.
The InterGroup books also have chapters explaining why women have been discriminated against in both promotions, and advancements in government and business settings. Peace in Our Time has case studies of women succeeding in business settings, and Primal Pathways has an extensive addendum dealing with hierarchical issues and opportunities for women. This thought piece is intended to give a context for some of those writings.
BIOLOGICAL EVOLUTION IS OVER
Biological evolution is over. Our biology is what it is. Our basic packages of instincts are what they are. That reality of who we biologically are today can take us to grim places — or it can give us the tee up we need for enlightened behaviors and for the creation and support of positive settings where we all win.
We need to transcend and utilize the best tools we have — and we need to very intentionally use those tools now.
Win/Win is a core strategy for The Art of InterGroup Peace.
We definitely need to use Win/Win strategies, goals, and commitments for our gender related values and behaviors.
We need to decide to act in enlightened and supportive ways as men, women, and adults that will give us all the best chance of success in life — and we need to be clear with each other about how we actually do want us all to win.
Gender related behaviors have obvious win/win opportunities that we all need to understand and we all need to agree to create. There is no reason for us not to set up behavioral expectations that significantly enhance the success levels for women in multiple settings across our country.
We know what that particular level of success looks like, and we know what pathways we need to use to get there.
We only have ourselves to blame if we don’t use them.
Categorized in: Primal Instincts
This post was written by Institute for InterGroup Understanding