As if we needed to be told yet again:
Australian anthropologist Peter McAllister has a new book entitled “Manthropology,” sub-titled “The Science of the Inadequate Modern Male.” Gratuitous male bashing? Maybe. After all, the same could be said of modern females compared to their ancient forbears. The main point McAllister makes is that our sedentary lifestyles in the modern world have rendered us slower and weaker by far than those who lived in ancient times and even as lately as the last century.
From a Reuters review:
* Roman legions completed more than one-and-a-half marathons a day carrying more than half their body weight in equipment.
* Athens employed 30,000 rowers who could all exceed the achievements of modern oarsmen.
* Australian aboriginals threw a hardwood spear 110 meters or more (the current world javelin record is 98.48).
McAllister said it was difficult to equate the ancient spear with the modern javelin but added: “Given other evidence of Aboriginal man’s superb athleticism you’d have to wonder whether they couldn’t have taken out every modern javelin event they entered.”
Why the decline?
“We are so inactive these days and have been since the industrial revolution really kicked into gear,” McAllister replied. “These people were much more robust than we were.
“We don’t see that because we convert to what things were like about 30 years ago. There’s been such a stark improvement in times, technique has improved out of sight, times and heights have all improved vastly since then but if you go back further it’s a different story
On the other hand, we are living much longer lives, thanks to modern medicine and (no doubt) the low-stress existence afforded by wealth, ease, and technology. So perhaps we are better off in the end. What is interesting about this book is that it is marketed in a way that arbitrarily singles out men.
The book might just as easily have been subtitled “The Science of the Inadequate Modern Female” – since it also cites examples of how women are no longer as stout as the once were. Maybe the author made this decision because strength and vigor (the themes of his study) are traits we more closely associate with masculinity, rather than femininity. Or maybe male-bashing is simply more acceptable in the marketplace.
Remember Maureen Dowd’s book entitled, “Are Men Necessary?” from a few years back? Dowd intends the title with a wink and a nod, no doubt, but it is interesting that a male bashing title is viewed, at least by some, as a marketing plus. Does such a title make women more likely to by the book?
McAllister’s book reminds me of a study from a couple of years back about declines in the male birth rate. The issue of male decline is biological fact, and not merely a fabrication of marketing departments in the publishing industry, as this report from 2007 indicates:
The University of Pittsburgh has found that during the past thirty years, the number of male births has steadily decreased in the U.S. and Japan. Perhaps more worryingly, the study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, also found that an increasing proportion of fetuses that die are male. In Japan, among the fetuses that die, two-thirds are male, up from just over half in 1970.
The study reported an overall decline of 17 males per 10,000 births in the U.S. and a decline of 37 males per 10,000 births in Japan since 1970. Lead investigator Devra Lee Davis said the figures translated to 135,000 fewer males in the U.S. and 127,000 fewer males in Japan.
I have also read that average sperm counts have fallen rapidly over the past century.
The National Institutes of Health agreed. “Their analysis of data collected from 1938 to 1990 indicates that sperm densities in the United States have exhibited an average annual decrease of 1.5 million sperm per milliliter of collected sample, or about 1.5 percent per year,” the NIH said in a statement. “Those in European countries have declined at about twice that rate (3.1 percent per year).”
So what does this all add up to? What is causing the male to simply melt out of the genetic life continuum? Is it pesticide? Fluoride? The microwave oven? Or have men been brainwashed and psyched out and simply scared into biological submission by relentless male bashing marketing campaigns from industries the world over??