Saturday 6 September 2008

The Hopeful Monster

Today I guess I've finally come to terms with something. And understanding the reason why it is, is some- though not much- consolation.

It's about genes.
It's about how evolution works.

I will die alone.
But I will die leaving descendants. I almost certainly have descendants already, and by the time I die - probably younger than most- I will have left behind more than the average person does.

It really is about that. I keep thinking it's about me, it isn't.
It's about what women want.

It all goes back to the reproductive strategy our genes thrust upon us. It's a numbers game. But for men, it's simple.

We can sow our seed wherever it is accepted. But with a limited amount of energy, our genes choose the genetic combinations they think will produce most variety. It is no coincidence I am attracted to women of other ethnic groups far more than I am to women of my own. As a general rule, the darker the skin, the more I'm likely to be attracted. It's my genes. Seeking diverse combinations.

Men, we choose to sow our seed wherever we think the combination stands most chance of survival. But push come to shove, it's a numbers game and we'll go for as many combinations as we can. We're selective insofar as we know (or our genes know) that our time and energy are limited.

For women, it's different. Evidence suggests women pursue a different strategy.

A study done in the UK after the Second World War found that in this, the most tight lipped country in the world, one in ten children had a different father to the one they thought they did.

And the evidence of nature suggests the same, amongst all species where males lay claim to women.
It makes sense.

Women want two things.
A man to BE a father to their offspring.
And men to father their offspring.

The evidence suggests human women are prone to 'cheat'.

They want a cuckoo in the nest.

That's their wildcard.

They want a man there for life to be with them to bring their children up. Mr Stable. Mr Responsible. Mr Caring.

But they secretly want something else.

They want at least one of those children he brings up to be the child of a wildcard. A hopeful monster.

Someone who loved and left.
Someone who has none whatsoever of those characteristics. A genetic risk taker.

Because Mr Stable is the man of today. Binding her genes to his, ensures the immediate survival of her offspring.

Including the offspring she has with the hopeful monster.

But her genes have an eye to the future.

And the future, that belongs to Cuckoos.

What is the cuckoo? What is the hopeful monster?

That bizarre genetic comination, that peculiar mixture of genes that fascinates just long enough for her genes to think 'This just might be the route to the inheritor species'.

Because in a million years, every gene that most of us carry will be extinct.

There will be no Homo Sapiens.

We will have descendants, for sure, but of all the genes that currently exist in mankind, the ones that live on then in our successor species, and maybe that will be several species spread across the galaxy, they will be a tiny minority.

And none of them exist in Mr Stable.

When a woman chooses the hopeful monster, she is throwing the dice for the future of her own genes.
Her genes are deciding 'This might be the route to the future.'

It's a risk.
But a risk her genes one day must play.

Because the genes that live in us today made that choice over and over again. They are the survivors of risk taking genes. The genes that were passed on through hopeful monsters.

And so it is.

I suppose I've always found it slightly wierd and uncomfortable the way women (and sometimes men) react to me. I guess I've always seen myself as quite asexual and I must admit to finding it slightly unpleasant when people see me in sexual terms. I resent being seen that way, I resent the fact that anyone should be attracted to me on purely sexual terms, I like to think people are attracted to me on the basis of my intelligence and my personality.

I just walked in to the pub and got blatantly leered at by several of the women of a certain age and type in there. And I find it wierd in some ways. Because I'm so NOT the typical ideal of masculinity. I don't get this tendancy to obsess about me. Sometimes I actually find it physically repellant.

And yet, really, the only women I'd actually want to feel that way about me never do.

I realise now it's about genetics. It's about the hopeful monster.

I will die alone because any sane women can see that I'm not fit to be a father to her children. Not in that way. Not in the way of life that we live today. I cannot satisfy here and now. I'm not Mr Stable. What they do see, is a father OF her kids, a sperm donor.

Children to grow up themselves as hopeful monsters.

I've come to terms with the fact that actually, most women see me as just fling material. That's all they'll ever want from me. Or all their genes want.
This is what puzzles them as well as me. Because they THINK they'd only want a fling with someone who was physically fit, good in bed, etc, etc.

And then they can't quite explain it when they tire of me so quick. Or realise that I'm not the man of their dreams. Just an easy ride.

Because the fact is, they didn't want me, just the chance to blend their genes with mine. They don't- nobody does- want to grow old with me.

They know, deep down, that in the here and now, I'm not what they want as a person. That the bizarre genetic combination they want to take a risk on, is dangerous in the here and now. That I will burn myself out and die alone. That I will love and leave them, or die young, or they will find me too much and tire of me. Deep down, they know.

They can see what life will bring me. They can see how I am driven.

Here and now, the man to be with them, care for them, hold them tight and be around is Mr Stable. The Breadwinner. Goes to the gym regularly, has the physical frame a man should have, is in touch with himself emotionally, etc, etc. He's here and now, he's Homo Sapiens of today. The man who will pay the mortgage every month.

But in that frail, boyish frame, in those blue piercing eyes, that taciturn face, that tinkling giggle, that mind that is slightly beyond the norm with that heightened set of communicative abilities that beguiles in the short term, but pales in the long term, is the chance to play dice with a hopeful monster.

Because maybe the genes that pair with that hopeful monster will inherit the earth.

Because maybe those genes that seem such an out of kilter combination today, will be amongst the ones that make up the successor species.

I've realised now that women don't lust after me. It's not my body they want, they don't, it actually completely goes against the type of body most women think they want. But yes, even though they don't realise it, they do really only want me for one thing. Maybe it is my mind, but not so THEY can have it. Only so that mind lives on in their offspring. They'd rather another mind, perhaps less advanced, but more in tune with THIS life, actually was there with them to guard those offspring.

Their genes see the genes that make my own life so complicated as being the genes that might be the ones that survive.

One day a Dinosaur gave birth to a brood of eggs.
One of them was slightly wierd. One of them had strange, slight indentations on its limbs.

The descandants of all the other eggs are dead.
His descandants are birds.

Any woman with her head screwed on can see I'm no good for her.

But her genes can see a world a million years from now where a human species of tiny framed people, in a world technology has made the need for physically fit bodies an irrelevance and therefore tiny frames are more economical, where the human form has neotonised (Let's be honest, my figure is quite neotonous), where synastheastic conceptualisation and the like are the norm of human thinking. And her genes want to take that throw.

I tell myself that this life I lead is my choice, but it isn't. It is the choice of genetics.

I really am nothing more than a hopeful monster, a set of genes to be taken in and then the shell that carried them spat back out.

Because today doesn't belong to me. Today belongs to Mr Stable.

I will die alone, I know that. The only woman I truly want will die in the arms of a Mr Stable somewhere.

But I have my vanity to cling on to.

I will die knowing that there is a chance- a slim chance, but a chance nevertheless that my descendants will inherit the earth.

Is that enough?

Not for me, no.
I'd rather die in the arms of the woman I want.

But I guess my descendants will see it differently. Not that they will have a clue that I ever existed, except in the logical sense I must have done. I'll just be one of their vast number of ancestors.

Survival of the fittest is a funny thing. The present does not select me, but the future may do.

I guess that thought is some comfort, in a strange kind of way.

I guess I just give up on expecting it to be any different. I am what I am and no long term use to any woman in the here and now.

Guess I should just head off to the pub and hawk my genes as I usually do.
After all, it sometimes gets me some short time comfort.
That's the reward my genes give me for being a hopeful monster. Pointless sex and the odd stroke on the cheek.

I'm used to it now.
I accept it.
I no longer care.

I can live with it.

I have no choice.


Anonymous said...

A study had researchers giving a book of male portraits to women, asking them to choose the face of a man they imagine they'd like to have sex with. Then they presented it again and had them choose the face of a man they'd like to marry. Almost invariably the women chose two different faces. Usually the 'sex' face had pronounced masculine features while the 'husband' face was gentler. But not always!

Because obviously genetic instinct does not account for 100% of our decision making and therein lies your hope, I suspect. No matter what you're selling, somewhere there's a woman confused enough to want it!

Anonymous said...

FWG- I'm going to answer your paragraphs separately.

My figure is and always has been quite androgynous. I play up to it, but mainly because it is what is.

But my features are actually quite hard masculine. So, by your judgement here, it's a 'sex' face.

Second paragraph- I'm a salesman by profession. I sell to every man and woman I meet, one way or another. Bedding women really isn't an issue. On that front, I doubt there will ever be a problem.

Except when I really do care. Then I show them who I really am.
And in that instance, it's not what they want.

I know damn well there ARE women out there who want the real me that exists behind the construct.

But here's the thing. They're not just confised. Very often they really aren't nice people.

That's the sad fact. The only women who want the real me really are horrible people.

Anonymous said...

This is one of the weirdest posts I think I have seen here Crushed.

I think we are long, long past the stage of this scenario and if women are looking for Mr Stable they are not doing a very good job of picking himm since so many of them are bringing up their children without any father at all.

It's all very well to formulate all this stuff in your mind, but look around you. Look at reality. That is not what is out there.

I resent the fact that anyone should be attracted to me on purely sexual terms, I like to think people are attracted to me on the basis of my intelligence and my personality.

Do you know what percentage of women could say that? Almost a hundred, save a few. Most women hate being considered a sexual object and you know it because you did not like it either.

As I have always said, the pub is not the place to find the woman who is going to appreciate your mind although maybe at the pub they appreciate your personality, but is that the real Crushed? No that's the stage Crushed, someone else completely different.

Anonymous said...

Very very very interesting....
'hopeful monster' is a catchy phrase... makes one pause and think.
Who says Mr. Stable's genes don't survive? ;-) But I see your point in the sense that if she wondered for one moment if she'd made the wrong choice, genetics-wise; then that wild card might be the answer, for her ;-) All depends what you're looking for, I guess :-)

Anonymous said...

Have you read "the sperm wars" ?? I read it years ago and was blown away by some of their theories. It made a lot of sense.

I think this was a bit too dark and prophetic for me crushed, I think you put yourself in a box too much. But then the other part of me says I probably do a lot the same - declare that I'll probably never be marriage material again and that I'll be alone for a long time....
is it a protective thing?

Anonymous said...

Like jmb say's the pub is not the place to find The girl... have you no hobbies rather than drinking and bloging ...

Anonymous said...

People see what they want to see - belief creates reality, and if you believe you are a hopeful monster, that is what you will become. A self-fulfilling prophecy…

Guess the other readers have already made valid points, so I can just agree with them. All I wanna say is that you always have a choice, even if it is between two evils. So chose wisely my friend.

Anonymous said...

jmb- I used the same ingredients the Tin Drummer used- well, similar. Bitter mainly. Bitter man, pints of bitter, bitter post.

Yes, many women bring up children without a father. But those children have biological fathers.

Being considered a sex object isn't always nice, no.

But sometimes, that's all there is.

It isn't perhaps, the real Crushed, no. But it's the day to day operating mechanism. And that's what they want. They don't want what lies beneath.

The women that I do let in to see that, are either totally repulsed or become very close friends indeed. But either way, they know that what they see isn't anything any woman wants for life. Not in that way.
As a friend, yes. But not as more.

Eve- genetics is a numbers game. Survival of the fittest selects the woman who, literally, doesn't put all her eggs in one basket.

Hopeful Monster, I'm not sure who coined it. Herbert Spenser maybe, I'm not sure.

But yes, I think the genes most of us carry today were largely passed on by cuckoos in nests, rather than the offspring of the loyal devoted fathers.

Kate- I like to try and understand these things as far as I can.

Quite often when I've done something really silly (woman wise, as in, bedding the wrong woman at thewrong time) I jokingly use the defence 0My selfish genes made me do it'.

It's tongue in cheek, but it's also true...

I don't know whether it's protective. There is someone I would want to be with, but it's no to be. Reason why is she IS actually in many ways my best friend. She knows me TOO well, if you like. She can see me for what I am and she knows that she likes having me as a friend but knows very well why she could never see me as more than that.

I'm only attractive at a distance, as part of a delusion when you don't know me well enough to count me as a a friend. That's truth.

Sally- It's the place to find what's on offer to me.

Other hobbies...

Yes, but they mainly connect to those two, somehow.

It's not a case of me finding 'the girl', it's a case of whether I'm what she's looking for. I'm not.

Crashie- I've started to accept reality. One day one has to.

I don't think it's bad thing having self-knowledge. Yes, it is all about choice, but I think I try be ethical with the choices I have.

I think I did used to be a little callous in my younger days. No two ways about it, I did hurt people emotionally I think. I didn't mean to, but I don't think I had much self-knowledge.

I've kind of accepted life as it is now.

Anonymous said...

Crushed, I think you got mixed up about genes where you say ” in a million years, every gene that most of us carry will be extinct.”

This is clearly not so, as a preliminary analysis in December of 2003, found 7600 genes shared between humans and Common Chimpanzees, differences between individual humans and Common Chimps are estimated to be only around 10 times the typical difference between pairs of humans.

Humans and Chimps have been separated from any common ancestor for way more than a million years. We carry those common ancestor’s genes, they are not extinct, they are alive and well and living in you and me. The genes that are not the same will have mutated from ones that were a part of our common ancestor, so are changed, not extinct.

The same is likely to be true for any successor species descended from us… Well not necessarily from you and me personally you understand, so much as ‘us’ as in the human race.

I think you are probably wrong to call yourself a monster but maybe this is poetic license, ‘cos it sounds dramatic.

Face it we are driven to reproduce, we are all descended from an unbroken line of people, and before them creatures, that successfully mated, reproduced and ensured one way or another that their children survived to do the same. If a gene helps promote this is some way then left to nature then I guess it will survive, if it does not then it will probably get edited out over time, If it hinders this it will definitely get edited out over time… Hasta la vista.

Oh and don’t forget back in those staid days, if a girl got herself into ‘trouble’ she more or less had to find a guy willing to marry her, so the reliable guy got to have more mating opportunities with this girl a high powered type found attractive enough to mate with once than he did.

Who says good guys don’t come out ahead?

Anonymous said...

Moggs- Perhaps not phrased as clearly as it might be.
Yes, there are a huge number of genes we all carry in common, and many we share even with the nematode worm.

But mathematically, for any individual lifeform the chances of any individual alive in a million years owing ANY of its genes to that indivual is slim.

There are several ways to demonstrate this; one is the often misconstrued 'African Eve'.

She lived about 150,000 years ago. We all carry a gene that she PERSONALLY carried. She is, personally the genetic ancestor of every living human.

But many other females alive at that time are no doubt also our BIOLOGICAL ancestors. She wasn't, in fact the sole surviving human being of some catastrophe who gave birth to the entire human race.

Just that she has passed that gene on to all of us. And none of the CORRESPONDING genes that the other females alive had, have survived.

What it means is that you have a finite number of genes. When we mate, a huge number of those are identical to our partners. But still, identical as they may be, only one is chosen- his, or hers.

Your child carries 50% of your genes. Simple as. Your grandchildren 25%.

And after this it keeps going down, Till one day, statistically you find that people biologically decended from you carry NONE of the genes you input into the situation. Or maybe they do, but only those we all share with every other mammal. But be a million years, chances are EVERY SINGLE GENE YOU PASSED ON, fell by the wayside.

Hopeful Monster is a phrase often used in evolutionary theory, much popularised by Stephen Jay Gould.

Your last paragraph kind of proves the point- the 'staid' guy uses his willingness to bring up someone else's child as a reproductive strategy of his own.

He may well rear five children with her, but the cuckoo fathere has rared five at least with DIFFEENT mothers and has therefore spread his options. Evolution favours him on two counts; one has spread his odds, two, he has reproduced withoutb devoting too much personal energy.

Evolution is, I'm afraid. It's survival of the fittest, not always the ones who fulfill our sentiments.

Anonymous said...

I hate being a sex object too, as I stroll down the road in my string vest and slippers, women can't take their eyes off me. It's horrible.

Anonymous said...

Crushed, I think the Eve you are basing your idea on was worked out on the basis of mitochondrial DNA and follows only the line of matrilineal decent back, so it is not quite subject to the same rules as the rest of the Nuclear genes in that test. She is only the genetic ancestor of us all in the sense of her mitochondrial DNA, not the whole blueprint, just a little part of it.

Concerning genes in general it is wrong to separate so called common genes. It’s like identical twins would have as much genetic stake in each other’s children as their own. Ten different identical mp3s carry the same song.

So you , or rather your genes, would have just as much stake in many of the genes even if you did not contribute them, none of the are the actual original gene anyway, they are all copies.

Also (and I may be wrong here) is it not the case that some genes tend to travel in ‘packs’ (groupings) that make them more likely to get passed on as a group?

I think what you were getting at is that if you go far enough back you get to what they call the’ identical ancestors point’, but that is the opposite of what you were suggesting. Go far enough forward and if you have an unbroken line then you would have an equal steak in all of humanity, not none.