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The Link between Self-Recognition, Social Equality, and the Patriarchy [podcast #64]

Cracking the Code on White People

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I wanted to crack the code: Why are ethnic European people so different from other races?

And I started with the peculiar observation that ethnic European children born and raised in Western societies can almost all recognize themselves in the mirror by age 12 to 18 months, whereas, for example, African children from Kenya or Cameroon, barely seem to be able to do so by age five.

Only less that 4% of children were able to recognize themselves in the mirror by 18 months. And no, exposure to mirrors does not seem to influence this behavior.

Why is it so? I suspected that there is a spectrum ranging from social cultures, such as those of chimpanzees, dolphins, and ethnic European humans, to cultures that tend to isolate or discard lower-ranking males, a practice found among gorillas, lions, horses, and many African, Asian, and Amerindian cultures, namely cultures that favor one or two dominant males but who treat other males as socially inferior.

I began researching this problem by starting with the following hypotheses:

  1. Self-recognition is the basis for social equality. Meaning, if you cannot recognize yourself in a mirror, you are equally unlikely to recognize another member of your group as an equal. Think of cats and dogs trying to attack their mirror image. They clearly perceive their mirror image as a separate being, and as socially inferior.

  2. Western, or rather, ethnic European children, do so well on the Mirror Self-Recognition test because in their culture, males also regard other male members of their group as their relative equals, even if unrelated, whereas males of other races tend to treat unfamiliar men as socially inferior (like the cats and dogs attacking their mirror images). In fact, there is a saying in India that goes, the tears of strangers are just water. It means they don’t feel obligated to help people they’re not related.

  3. Patriarchal societies produce greater equality precisely by allowing men to cooperate in more equalized social settings, even if in a hierarchy where the lowest soldier is still considered human, whereas in matriarchal societies, in which females prefer one or two large and dominant males, the lesser males are considered socially inferior, and therefore, matriarchal societies produce less equality because they have to discard the unwanted males.

A quick review of known facts easily verifies my hypotheses:

  1. Indeed, Western children, meaning children born and raised in patriarchal social settings, are quickest to recognize themselves in the mirror, whereas children from matriarchal or matrilocal societies are slowest to do so, such as children from Kenya or those among the Cameroonian Nso people.

  2. According to Wikipedia’s List of matrilineal or matrilocal societies, indeed, we find matriarchal types of societies predominantly among Africans, Asians, and Native Americans, but none among modern Europeans with the exception of the Basque people, and rural Danish people.

  3. According to research on the Mirror Self-Recognition test, indeed, mammalian cultures that tended to discard their unwanted males—such as customary among gorillas, lions, and bears—failed the test, whereas more social groups of mammals that allowed males opportunities to coexist with the females—such as among the chimpanzees, bonobos, and orangutans—passed the test.

Note that Western gorillas that lived among humans—meaning, among Western scientists from patriarchal societies—tended to do better on the mirror test, and some even succeeded. Also note that among the bonobos, although they are called matriarchal, they do have males leaders, and, unlike matriarchal species, they do not discard their males.

And so, in conclusion,

  • Equality among males produces patriarchal societies, increasing male cooperation in the form of established hierarchies that soothe aggression among males;

  • Matriarchal societies favor one or two big and dominant males but must discard other males and treat them as lesser, thus creating a two-tiered society that forces males to fight all other males.

  • And, therefore, it is bizarre that Western feminist women now say they wish to deconstruct the patriarchy, while somehow maintaining equality, since equality produces patriarchies and patriarchies socialize men to treat others equally, whereas matriarchal societies teach men to treat others as inferiors and to fight, at all cost, to win the position of dominant male.