It’s all kicking off in monkey-land

I’m mostly monkey.

But so are you. In fact, you’re not even mostly monkey – you’re mostly banana. A significant part of you is yeast, and I’m not just talking about that embarrassing itch (to quote the mighty Belle and Sebastian, “there are potions you can take to hide your shame from all those prying eyes”).

I say this not to promote one the greatest bands you’ve never heard of, but to tell you why I’m slightly apologetic about all this “women are whores” business. You’ve probably never heard of that either, so I’ll give you the run-down.

  1. @katy_red wrote a blog about things men shouldn’t do/be, which included a peroration about the horrors of “going Dutch”. Men, she said, should always pay for dates.
  2. In a reply on the Honey and Cream blog I made a crass, not very funny joke about women who demand payment for a date being – and in my defence I didn’t use the word – prostitutes.
  3. I then posted a very silly, utterly pointless, and deliberately irritating mock-apology, and assumed it was all done with, and we could move on with our lives.
  4. And now @girlonthenet has added her own take on it, which is smart and incisive and means there’s a chance it could rumble on, and everyone will start to feel slightly peeved. This is the internet – nobody wants smart and incisive, we just want trolls and tits.

First of all, you’re right: all of this is a pointless, narcissistic storm in a teacup; why should a bunch of intelligent people spend so much time having little squabbles like this, and then treating them to a Levison-style enquiry? I should just leave it alone and go back to my forthcoming treatise on what the fuck has gone wrong with everything in the world.

But it bothers me that people might think I actually believe that women who insist men pay for the date are tantamount to whores.

And that’s where the monkey comes in. You see, I’m mostly a monkey. A few thousand generations of rutting hominids later I can put on my own shoes if you give me a few goes, and if I’m accompanied by a responsible adult I can often be trusted to fetch a coffee.

But underneath all of that I’m still an ape. We all are, although not many have got a back as hairy as mine, so maybe I’m more ape-like than, say, Duncan Goodhew.

Before we were monkeys we were something else, and before that something else again, going right back to being lizards and fish and fruit and yeast. It’s all still in you, so next time you fancy a banana, remember that’s a very mild form of cannibalism. You can’t deny it, folks: it’s science.

Actually, a lot of people do deny it. I should, at this point, explain that I’m dating a lovely girl who is a student of disability rights, and she’s going to go mental about the term I’m going to use (and possibly about the use of the word “mental”). But anyone who denies evolution is either a Republican presidential candidate or a fucking retard.

I said retard. Now I’ve got another apology to write.

But you know I’m right: people who think a self-created creator said “alakazam” one morning 6000 years ago and – ping! – as if by magic,there’s the universe with every species fixed and unchanging, as though pickled in aspic? Those people are mentally subnormal in a way that hasn’t yet been classified appropriately by medical authorities. So in the absence of a better term, I think “fucking retard” is perfectly appropriate.

I’m in so much trouble.

The thing is, I’m a great believer in science. I think people with contempt for science are, by and large, utterly deluded, and overlook absolutely overwhelming evidence that science is, by its very nature, a method of finding truth. If the truth annoys you and your magical, invisible friend in the sky, that’s not science’s fault: science doesn’t have a doctrine except for “I want evidence”. Individual scientists might have an axe to grind, or a theory to promote: as human beings, not all scientists are bereft of self-aggrandisement or corruption. And science as an “industry” has made mistakes, although there are sound reasons for that (Richard Feynman, as always, said it better than anyone else).

But – and this is the important thing – rationality’s mistakes have always been resolved by more rationality. Whereas religion’s mistakes are never made any better by more religion. That just compounds the problem.

So as a sciency type of nerd, I naturally resort to a sciency explanation for human behaviour: a mixture of biology, physics, evolution and anthropology.

And this is why I think it’s entirely natural for men to have an urge to pay for dates, and for women to have an urge to sit back and let us do it. Many of our actions are just sophisticated elaborations on the actions of ancient ancestors. As a cave-man, the thing that would make me attractive to a mate is the ability to feed her. I would walk casually in through the cave entrance with a dead boar over my shoulder, throw it next to the fire, and lie back to be gratuitously, moistly “thanked” by a horde of hungry and nubile Raquel Welshes.

That’s me, paying for the date.

Men, you see, are hunters. And women are gatherers. So while my “sophisticated elaboration” has turned hunting for meat into handing my Visa card to the waitress, women’s “sophisticated elaboration” has turned gathering nuts and berries into collecting shoes.

Dammit, that’s another apology I’ll have to write.

It’s written into our DNA: paying for a date makes me feel like a “man” (whatever that is) in the same ape-like, laughable way that winning a fight in a pub car park does. It may not impress women as much as we want it to, but men are driven to act like this by primal urges that we simply cannot control.

Similarly, women want to be dominated… come back feminists, don’t be like that! I mean it. I’m talking in a totally general way, and about a primordial, anthropological set of behaviours that can be explained by our ancient ancestors struggling to survive on the Serengeti. It made evolutionary sense for females to seek out a man who was strong and powerful, and who could lead the tribe and provide food and protection for the young. That’s why female gorillas compete to be impregnated by the silverback – he’s the biggest, strongest, most dominant male.

Hence, women want a dominant man.

Hence, women want to be dominated sexually.

It’s just a fact. You like to be thrown across the bed by a big strapping fella, who then leaps on, holds you down, and refuses to respect you for half an hour. A man’s sex face is, by and large, a “sophisticated elaboration” on bearing his teeth and growing and looking fearsome. It’s dominant behaviour.

I’m obviously using “sophisticated elaboration” for comic effect in this instance. My sex face looks like I’m trying to have a particularly troublesome beer-shit after running a marathon.

But the fact that we’re all beasts isn’t necessarily something we need to be proud of or happy about, and it’s certainly not a fact that sits comfortably alongside estimable modern innovations like feminism and equality. Truth is, we’ve only been modern man for a few millenia, and that’s barely the blink of an eye in evolutionary terms. Our primal urges aren’t hiding below the surface, they’re bursting through all over the place, and make all of us look stupid sometimes.

All of which is intended to say that if I buy dinner, I don’t necessarily think that makes you a hooker (although a blowjob-of-gratitude would be nice). It simply means that deep inside me is an urge to provide. And deep inside you is an urge to find a provider.

But a good definition of the word “civilisation” is the ability to overcome primitive urges. Otherwise we’d all be constantly murdering strangers and sexual rivals, and honestly m’lud, I haven’t done that in ages. In other words, just because most of me is a monkey, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t occasionally offer to cough up for a round on a date. We’re struggling to leave behind all that ape-man nonsense, and preremptory demands that we give in to our baser instincts don’t help.

Go Dutch. If it’s good enough for the Dutch, it’s good enough for us.


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