Gender-based factors blocking system change – a systemic perspective [DRAFT]

Note: The current article is a draft for discussion and will be updated based received comments! The used assumption are based on personal observations and therefore speculative.

At present a common observation in most industrialized societies is that most positions of power or wealth are taken by older, white men. In addition, it seems men tend to show are more dominant, competitive behavior against other men and against women leading to high carbon emissions and consumerism (eg super-yachts, large cars, high-profile jobs including long-distance traveling in highly-paid industrial jobs) (Note: I cannot support this by empirical studies differentiating different forms of dominant behavior between men and women but let’s just assume this is true.)

I would argue that male high-consumerism/high-emission dominant behavior  is strongly influence by partner preferences of women who prefer men, who show dominant behavior in relationship to other men (and maybe also in their relationship). Therefore, to change male behavior women would have to change their current partner preferences towards cooperative, non-dominant males with low emissions/consumerism, in their dating & mating preferences. In addition, women may be able to influence high-emission/high-consumerism behavior by indicating their physical commitment to men (cf sexual faithfulness), ie fulfilling their physical needs, which may reduces the need to fulfill emotional needs for dominance (ie keeping rivals at distance) by high consumerism [2].

A similar argument can be created for women.

I would argue that female high-consumerism/high-emission, submissive behavior in strongly influenced by partner preferences of men who prefer women, who are attractive (eg flashy, sexy cloths) in relationship to other women. Therefore, to change female behavior men would have to change the current partner preference towards cooperative women, who are not trying to attract by physical attention, with low emissions/consumerism in their dating & mating preferences . In addition, men may be able to influence high-consumerist/high-consumerism behavior by indicating their emotional commitment to women (cf emotional faithfulness), ie fulfilling their emotional needs, which reduces the need to fulfill emotional needs for bonding (ie keeping their partners close for support) by consumerism.

Although this systemic perspective may be misunderstood as an attempt to blame the climate and ecological crises on the other sex, I hope it has become clear that I think that both sexes are responsible.  However, without acknowledging each sex’s role from a systemic perspective which reinforces destructive behavior, society will fail to induce the necessary behavior changes.

Psychological theories and findings which are relevant in this context are:

  • Fundamental Attribution Error:  tendency for people to under-emphasize situational explanations for an individual’s observed behavior while over-emphasizing dispositional and personality-based explanations for their behavior [1]
  • Gender differences  on attitudes about infidelity: Men are characteristically viewed as being more concerned about their partner’s physical transgressions, and women about their partner’s emotional faithfulness. [2]

see also [10]