Sunday, April 22, 2018

Millennial Androgyny

At Costco yesterday, it hit me again: millennials must be the most androgynous generation we've ever had. There were plenty of girls with short hair and no makeup, dressed in jeans and sweats and lots of guys with soft voices and feminine manners, it's kind of creepy. On an individual basis, it's no big deal to me, but when it seems to be the majority, it's really weird. I can't help but wonder from where the next generation of babies is going to come. The other thing I wonder is how many of the guys know how to work on cars.

Yes, yes, I know, I'm a curmudgeon and the good old days were never as good as curmudgeons remember. This isn't a rational analysis, it's a gut feel that I get when I'm out in busy, public places. Perhaps I've become over-sensitive to it after reading too many polemics about gender rubbish.

The other thing I can't help but wonder is the difference between a generation of gender-indecipherables and Muslims who have no such ambiguities. In a Darwinian sense, shouldn't the subspecies that practices sexual specialization win out in the long run? Is this just a symptom of what we see in European demographics?

Finally, is this the result of the LGBT movement of the last ten years? Is there a certain amount of celebrity to be gained from appearing gender-fluid? Does it spice things up to have people wondering about you? Or is it that being explicitly a man or a woman is inappropriate these days?

Oh well. It's not really my problem as I don't have to relate to Millenials in any way where their genderless appearance makes a real difference.



Timothy Eisele said...

" I can't help but wonder from where the next generation of babies is going to come."

Why on earth do you wonder that? Briefly reviewing in my head the people I know where I am aware of how many kids they have, the "androgenous" men[1] have at least as many kids as the "manly" men (maybe more, the four couples I'm thinking of have two, three, four, and seven kids respectively, while the "manly" guys seem to average about two to three. And the "androgenous" men are pretty much all stably married, while a lot of the "manly" guys are divorced). I don't see any reason why androgenous men and women wouldn't be just as capable of reproducing and raising kids as anyone else.

And as for inclination, its generally accepted that, on average, women have a stronger desire for kids than men do. And androgenous men are supposed to be more like women than other men are. So wouldn't it be reasonable to expect that they would also be more interested in having kids than other men are? This seems to be borne out by observation; the fathers I know who are most concerned about participating in raising their kids tend to be the "androgenous" ones.

And if you're going to invoke natural selection here, I'd like to point something out: The males of strongly sexually differentiated species, like bulls and roosters and lions and hercules beetles and gorillas and peacocks and Birds of Paradise, are mostly randy buggers who mate with many, many, many females but then don't give a damn about their offspring. But in monogamous species, like prairie voles and swans and penguins and beavers and eagles and wolves, the sexes tend to be very similar in size (and, in some cases, practically impossible to distinguish without close examination), and work together to take care of their offspring.

Given that the society that you (and, for that matter, I) favor is one where people have just one spouse and stay together to raise their children, wouldn't we expect such a society to select for more androgenous people?

[1] I'm considering these to be men who are (a)smaller than average and/or approximately the same size as their wives, (b) not much given to "manly" pursuits like sports, hunting, and auto repair, and (c) staying home with the kids so their wives can have careers.

Jedi Master Ivyan said...

I think natural selection strongly favors androgynous men. Why? A woman's preference for men shifts according to her menstrual cycle. At the peak of fertility, she wants that manly man, the strong male specimen to sire her offspring. But most of the rest of that cycle, it's the androgynous or even feminine man that wins out. Now consider that most girls go on birth control and remain on it through adolescence. A perpetual state of pseudo pregnancy is maintained. These girls never go through the cycle and will be programmed through neuro plasticity to have a desire for androgynous men, possibly for life.

Francis W. Porretto said...

-- Finally, is this the result of the LGBT movement of the last ten years? Is there a certain amount of celebrity to be gained from appearing gender-fluid? Does it spice things up to have people wondering about you? Or is it that being explicitly a man or a woman is inappropriate these days? –

There are several ingredients. Possibly the most important one that’s been overlooked is the intensity among young Americans of the desire to “stand out” somehow. This has a highly ironic feel, like the old 60s & 70s trend of asserting your individuality by dressing and acting just like everyone else in your age group. Nevertheless, since World War II our younger folk have striven to distinguish themselves from their parents’ generation. Also, they seek to shock their parents “just enough” – i.e., enough to make Dad frown and Mom wring her hands, but not enough to put a stop to the remittances.

It’s become increasingly difficult to outrage the old folks. We’ve already managed to endure homosexuality, bisexuality, cohabitation without marriage, casual drug abuse, and cosmetic alterations to the anatomy all the way from tattooing to the implantation of horns. What’s left?

I imagine that fairly soon some of our young’uns will start claiming to be aliens from the moons of Saturn, if not Ophiuchus 17.

Foxfier said...

From the front end of that generation, and a geeky member to boot-- I didn't wear makeup or stylish clothes because there is no win condition.

If you go with the crowd, they'll just turn on you eventually anyways; wear subtle makeup, you're not stylish. Wear flashier makeup, you're trying to hard. Either way, you spend an hour on something you don't even care about, to get the I-suppose-it-will-do level approval of people you don't like, and if you do manage to get male attention, it's of the sort that thinks they're entitled to your body because they take you out for drinks and finger food. So jeans and a t-shirt, no makeup, with hair cut so you don't have to bother with it, makes you mostly invisible to the bigger predators. You don't want attention from anyone that hasn't already been vetted.

The only way to win is not to play.


My husband tended more towards either bowling or polo shirts, cargo pants or shorts, had mostly female friends, and because he had classic manners most folks assumed he was gay. (Not horndogging after women= must be gay.)

Of course he doesn't know much about working on cars, one because most cars you can't really work on as a shade-tree these days, and two because nobody is there to teach it. (It is a little funny that I know more about mechanical stuff, just doing ranch stuff as a kid, but we've both been stung by the "you're smart so you're supposed to know absolutely everything even if there is no teacher or even suggestion of what to learn" shtick.)

Over a decade into a quite suitable marriage now, and baby #6 is due this summer. ^.^

It's not anything you'd be able to see, or that he'd talk about without vetting you first, but he has perfectly good masculine hobbies-- good tobacco for his pipe, guns, tactics up to large team level with various forays into battlefield level, engineering, much better at using power tools than I am (yay, body strength) and at eyeballing design errors.....

If I remember the old books at Grandma's house right, many folks had the same reaction to women wearing jeans or other pants regularly. And my aunt got in trouble for wearing makeup in high school.... (lipstick, horrors!)