reprints of articles published in magazines

Thursday, 4 October 2007

ever wondered why men achieve more?

Have you ever wondered why there are not as many women achievers as there are male achievers? In every field, art, science, literature, craft, religion, you name it and it is the men who out perform the women, why would that be?

If you say, that’s because women are more focussed on taking care of their family and children, then you are perfectly right. But above and beyond that there are other reasons why men outshine women, at least career wise. And it has to do with the difference in the way that men and women think.

A woman’s thinking is broad based. She interconnects things effortlessly and thinks with a wide focus. But the man’s thinking is typically deep. From all the random thoughts that run though his mind, the man chooses the one that intrigues him the most and goes on to keep thinking deeper and deeper about that subject. His thought has a narrow focus, but is highly penetrative.

Now why on earth would the man’s cognition be different from the woman’s? Ah! Yet again it is the big T factor, testosterone!

At conception all foetuses are built in the default Female Design. That is why even those kids genetically designated as Male (with the forty five X and the single Y chromosome) are also provided with nipples that they have no need for.

But this All Female model is changed at the sixth week of uterine life. By then, the genes in the single Y chromosome of the male start expressing themselves by synthesising the big T factor. Testosterone courses through out the foetal body, imprinting the Male upon the pre-existing Female, through a process called Masculanization. To put it simply, all men are but women plus the testosterone. All the differences that exist between the man and the woman happen only after this Masculanization.

This process of Masculanization makes changes all over the foetal body. The texture of the skin, the power of the immune system, the strength of the muscles, the length of the bones, the structure of the voice box, the number of red blood cells, the capacity of the lungs, the design of the reproductive apparatus, everything is system is spared. The entire body is rewired. But the most important rewiring happens in the Brain.

The Default Female design of the brain has a large language area, hand gesture area and emotional area among other things. But the male requires special areas for hunting fitness, that would include the abilities to track moving prey precisely, to judge the speed of movement, the distance between self and the prey and to time the release of the weapon for a sure fire hit. All these abilities are collectively called Visuo-spatial skills, because these part abilities are all about Hand, Eye and Movement Co-ordination.

The humans come from the ape stock of insect eating herbivores, but later had to evolve into meat eating omnivores to survive the harsh Great Ice ages. Their insect eating herbivore heritage provided the early humans a simple brain that was absolutely no good at hunting. The human genes later evolved the Hunter Brain, to ensure their survival.

But there was a snag in this Ape Herbivore to Human Omnivore Brain Conversion. The brain was only so much; its size could not be increased too much, for the human pelvis cannot widen that much without compromising its mobility. To keep the Head: Pelvis fit good enough for easy delivery of the babies, the genes had to make a increase the brain size a bit, the pelvis size a bit and then to remove the less important functions from the Hunter Brain and replace the vacated areas with the new very-important-for-survival function: Visuo Spatial Co-ordination.

And so the men lost most of the language areas; hand gesture areas and emotion-recognition areas of their brain....they had no real use of these functions anyway. A good hunter has to remain silent. Can’t keep gesturing at chums...the prey would notice the movement and run away. And a man cannot afford to empathise with the ‘hey, please spare me man’ kind of look that the prey would give him....then he’d take pity on the prey, spare it for all its sad looks and return home empty handed. That would have been the end of the Human History.

Testosterone also engineered another major change in the Male Brain. It made the man perseverant. It made him focus deeper and deeper until he finally made his kill. But there was a snag in this too. What if the man tried all his best but was still bested by the prey, which dodged away at the last moment? Such a failure could potentially make him feel dejected, lose confidence and give up hunting for good. Now ‘Giving up after the futile chase’ would be extremely detrimental to human survival. It made genetic sense to keep the man motivated even if the chase turned futile...and so Testosterone altered the Reward Centre in the male brain. It made the man feel pleasure after every chase....even if it was futile.

Testosterone also had the additional effect of making the men aspire for dominance. For only the dominant male could get the attention of all the worthwhile females...and so whatever their activity, men liked to maximise their output and win the Brownie points for dominance rating.

All this Brain Masculanization made the men wonderful hunters. Hunting made the humans survive the vegetation-scarce Ice ages. But the Great Ice age ended some ten thousand years ago. With the ice receding away, the earth opened up with freshly evolved vegetation.

The women, who had been the food/herb gatherers from time immemorial, quickly discovered the high nutritive value of the new grainy plants. They learnt to plant these crops and reap good yields. They also learnt to tame the wild animals that hovered around the farm and breed them for personal use. The surplus yield they learnt to barter for goods that they needed but did not have. And all of a sudden civilization began.

With the women organising the societies into little kibbutzim, domesticating the animals, raising crops in the backyard and controlling their small time economy there was no need for the men to go hunting. And all these social changes happened so fast, that there was no time for the genes to redesign the brains again to suit the new living conditions. But the humans do not consider themselves intelligent for nothing.....their big brain learns to expend itself in useful ways whatever the circumstances.

There was no real hunting to do, yet the men set up virtual hunting games, set up some new targets as prey and closed in for the kill. Many occupations, sports, games, hobbies and past times that men have reflect this tendency. To this day, men call a sound business deal ‘a good kill’. That’s just how strong ancient instincts are.

And these instincts bred true in all ancient human activities. As the human populations spread, the women became more and more tied up with domestic chores. But the men were all free, with no hunting to do, now that there was ready-made meat available right at home. And so the men applied their highly evolved hunter brains to the peripheral activities like cattle rearing, soil tilling, bartering goods at trade points and defending the kibbutz from foreign invasion.

Their Every Chase is a Pleasure kind of deep-focussing brain design made the men make the most of every single job they picked up. The average women could be uniformly good in all her activities, she would sing ok, cook ok, sew ok, organise ok, raise crops ok, tend to cattle ok, run house ok and still be content with her performance.

But none of this would be ok for a man. His Point Focus, Deep Penetration, Chase is pleasure, Dominance seeking brain design makes him pick up just one line of thought, go on and on, on the same line, feel great rapture just with such thought chasing and then climb high on the dominance scale....

It is the woman who will be content with running a small time, subsistence farming kind of life style, the real Man would never be content with being small. Even if it is a simple thing like growing a cabbage, men like to make it bigger and bigger until their cabbage is the biggest in the whole world, what’s more the men would even organise a contest for Cabbage Growing and proclaim winners every year! That’s how powerful the man’s instinct for dominance is!

And so it was that the men, freed at last from the onerous job of hunting, filled their time and curious mind with picking up areas of interest and going deeper and deeper into it until they became the ultimate authority in that specialty. It is no surprise then that all the great philosophers, scientists, writers, orators, singers, poets, painters, doctors, politicians, actors, even chefs, tailors and jewellers throughout human history have all been men. Yet by large the average woman is a much better thinker, healer, leader, speaker, seamstress, actress, singer, composer, cook, and all else when compared to the average man. Despite her overall superior abilities the woman never reaches those dizzy heights of genius, because her interconnecting neurons think wide not deep. It takes a male brain to think deep. And typically such a deep thinking genius male would be a complete muddle in all other, even basic life skills. Anecdotes are plenty about such brilliant male geniuses who are absolutely clueless about other aspects of life.

It’s all thanks to the big T factor. It makes men think deep with such single-minded devotion that they reach great heights of achievement. All the achievements that the men made in every one of their chosen narrow fields eased the collective lives of the humans; every small step of each man became a giant leap for mankind.

And so it is that to live we need the women, but to live well, we need the men!

Why Worship Women?

The world history is literally strewn with evidence to prove that the early humans worshipped women. Archaeology has time and again excavated figurines of female goddesses. Literature has sung praises of the female deities. Anthropologists poking their scientific noses into the lives of primitive tribes have always reported deification of the female omnipotent. Evidences are thus aplenty, but the explanation remains elusive.

Why would humans worship women? Surely, the shy, coy, dumb and weak women were hardly worthy of respect, leave alone worship… or, so thought the great thinkers of circa 1700. It took another thee hundred years of cerebral effort to understand something that early humans had been doing for thousands of years.

Admittedly, understanding the early human mind can be a tough job. It would need one to travel back in time, shorn of all the conditioning of modern thinking and see the prehistoric world through the eyes of the humans while they were still in the making. Just for the fun of it, let’s all pretend to be prehistoric people.

To a prehistoric child, who would be the most important person in it life? Who else but its mother! The mother who laboured hard to bring it alive, who cuddled and cooed while feeding it, who showered it with unconditional love and unlimited care, who was always there – to understand, counsel, support and encourage; who nursed it through sickness and pain and nourished it through thick and thin; whose ‘disobey me and you’ll regret it later’ always turned out to be miraculously correct and whose blessings made even the most difficult tasks triflingly easy.

The one lady whose role nobody else could play any better… the nurturer, the caregiver, the Forever-there-for-me woman… truly in the eyes of the child, its mother is the best heroine ever. A heroine worthy of worship.

Perhaps this was the beginning of God Mother Worship - the child human’s atavistic tendency to look up to its mother. Even today, even in the most male chauvinistic societies of the world, it is the mother who is more adored, better taken care of in old age and least ill-treated by her offspring. Fathers always come second in the order of preference.

That would make a nice Explanation Number One for God Mother Worship, from the child’s point of view. Now let’s take another peek into the prehistoric world, this time into the psyche of the adolescent, for Explanation Number Two.

Life for the evolving human on the African savannah had been quite difficult. It was perpetual struggle between tender life and terrible death. Death was an every day reality - children died due to infection by the dozens. Mothers died in labour and its complications. Men died while hunting.

Thanks to this high death rate, humans remained an endangered species until some thirty thousand years ago. Their numbers were very few - a few thousand spread over several continents - quite the endangered species, don’t you think! For this handful lot to survive, they had to put in all their efforts to keep up a high birth rate to beat the mounting death rate.

Death taught them that life was precious – to the point of being sacred. Fertility thus became their most valued asset and birth was always a celebrated event. But birth had a very strange habit – it seemed to need a woman’s body to happen.

For the pre-literate man, this was the most perplexing riddle in all of nature. His seeds that fell on to earth yielded no children. His seeds that fell on other men also remained futile. But these same seeds when put into the woman grew into babies! This to him was truly magical!

Nature with all its ‘saving the best from the worst’ strategy kept all the woman’s reproductive organs deeply hidden inside her body. She had no outward clues about the inner workings of her secret parts. So well hidden were her precious cargo that, forget the preliterate man, even the so-called literate modern man could not understand the woman’s body until a few decades ago. They were absolutely clueless about the details of her baby-making abilities.

This anatomical ignorance made them awe the woman’s seemingly supernatural powers of creativity; the Power that no man could ever have. This single most important distinction made men respect the powers of the female. Without her there could be no life. She was the life giver. She was holy. She was venerable. She had to be God.

The human mind was, at that time in evolution, quite simplistic. He had a childlike penchant to attribute humanlike tendencies to everything around him. A phenomenon that in today’s psychological parlance is called Animistic Thinking.

Early man applied this same animistic thinking to the world around him and decided all those things that were capable of giving birth must be female… the earth that gave birth to plants, the rivers that gave birth to fish, the stones that gave birth to fire… in his eyes all these inanimate things became female. By virtue of being female, they were held to be specially endowed with supernatural creative power.

And even the so-called simple minded early man knew: power must always be heeded to. Please it and life would become easy, but provoke it and life would become miserable. No one in their right senses would choose the road to misery - so the humans chose the road to ease.

From their long ape-ancestry, humans had followed a hierarchical societal structure. The strongest of them got to be the boss – the Alpha – and the dumbest of them was relegated to the bottom of the hierarchy – the Omega. The Alpha’s role was tough. It had to lead the troops, make sure they were all well fed and well behaved; it also had to settle in-group disputes and defend against outsiders’ attacks. For holding all these responsibilities, the Alpha got extra privileges, better food, better choice of sex partners and better life style. But its life was always at risk.

In contrast, the Omega was a non-entity. Its life depended on whether the Alpha liked it or not. For if Alpha did not favour Omega, then Omega could very easily be driven out by the rest of Alphadom. So Omegas always made it their business to behave in an Alpha-pleasing manner. How could an Omega please an Alpha in the ape society?

Well, there were some proven techniques to win the favour of the Alpha: by grooming it, by feeding it, by displaying loyalty, by lowering oneself to make Alpha seem larger, by going out of one’s way to make life more comfortable for Alpha… whatever the means, the goal was only this: to win the approval of the Alpha. Then life would become easy - one could quickly ascend the hierarchy, become a delta or a gamma and get closer to the all-powerful Alpha.

This Omega-pleasing-the-Alpha trait was so deeply ingrained in the ape-humans that they automatically fell into the same pattern in their new big-brained Alphadom.

But there was a difference… in their old world the Alpha was a single female. However in the new world, with their better intelligence, and freshly evolved ability to express ideas in the form of symbols, the early humans could over-generalise this abstraction and conceive a larger-than-life-aggregate-image of the Worshipful Female. They personified this Super Alpha Female and created a stone-hewn sacred idol. She of the idol became their Fertility God, Bringer of Luck, Bestower of All That is Good.

To this idol, they offered their traditional Omega-pleasing-Alpha rituals… by garlanding it, by placing their best food before it, by singing praises to it, by prostrating before it, by making pilgrimages to it, by putting themselves to distress to show their loyalty to it, by thanking it for good co-incidences and appeasing it for bad co-incidences. They did their best to be in the good books of the God Woman.

According to the Tholkappiam, in the pre-sangam era - that is, some two and a half thousand years back from now - right here in Tamil Nadu lived the people, who before any hunt worshiped a forest dwelling goddess called Kotravai. This Kotravai was an all powerful lady god, who rode an awesome lion, wielded mighty weapons and bestowed great strength and luck to her devotees. Some scholars are of the opinion that it is this Kotravai who later became idolised as Kali, Shakthi and Amman. Literature has proven that Kotravai predates all the other male and female gods that we now know of…. Siva, Vishnu, Brahma, Skanda... the entire pantheon post-dates Kotravai.

Not only the Tamils, all the ancient people had an equivalent of Kotravai to worship. The Sumatrans had Ishtar. The Egyptians had Isis. The Indo-Aryans had Genetrix.

And this God Woman, they believed, favoured their fervour with such high fertility that from an endangered species the humans soon became the endangering species. They outgrew all other animals at such a furious pace that soon resources became so scarce and they were reduced to fighting among themselves for those precious little resources. Land, food, water, women… yes, the women also became a resource to be fought over. And when fighting became the way of life, godliness took a sudden turn.

Gone were the days when humans were a precious few and fertility was a prized trait. With so many humans fighting with each other, bravery and warmanship became the new ideals worthy of worship. And since men were the ones involved in fighting the enemies and protecting their clan, Godliness was slowly shifted onto the men. Suddenly, within the last two thousand years male gods began cropping up. Muruga, Thor, Mars and all other male gods all over the world represent this sudden deification of the warrior man. All the major religions that flourished during this era - Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism and Jainism purported the existence of The One and Only Male God.

Yet the Father God worship was only a newfangled thing that would not take a deep root in the human psyche…for the human mind had been so used to looking up to its God Mother for too long. They simply couldn’t let go of the all-empowering God Mother. And so we find the God Mother lingering on quietly but powerfully. She is still worshipped all over the world, in her ancient form and aspect, but as some male god’s consort or mother. Only, now she has earned new names. Some call her Amman, some call her Mary, some call her the Kabba (The Kabba Stone that the Moslems make a pilgrim to was originally a God Mother Idol, you’d be surprised to know).

The name, the lineage, the paradigm…all these might have changed. But like they say, ‘the more that the things change, the more they are the same’. And so do the humans continue to believe in God Mother Worship. Jai Matha Ki, you see!