David Gettman

The Twinkle Theory

Online Originals

David Gettman

The Twinkle Theory

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Online Originals

The Twinkle Theory

David Gettman

The Twinkle Theory First published in 1997 by Online Originals London and Bordeaux Copyright © David Gettman 1997 All rights reserved. Readers are welcome to view, save, file and print out single copies of this work for their personal use. No reproduction, display, performance, multiple copy, transmission or distribution of this work, or of any excerpt, adaptation, abridgement or translation of this work, may be made without written permission from Online Originals. Any person who does any unauthorised act in relation to this work will be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages. ISBN 1-84045-009-6

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Preface

The best theories have three basic features. First, they are exceedingly simple. Second, although they may not have been obvious to the people who discovered them—once they are widely known, they seem rather obvious to everyone else. Take the theory of natural selection: that new beneficial traits are likely to be passed on. Or of psychoanalysis: that unconscious feelings can affect one’s behaviour. Both are easy to understand. And now that they’re familiar to us, they simply ring true in our daily lives, and have a secure place at the very centre of our common world view. Of the entertaining theory presented in this short book, I can say for certain only that it is simple. I cannot say whether the Twinkle Theory will fit in with everyone’s daily experience and so become part of our accepted knowledge of the world. But what has prompted me to write down this theory is that virtually everyone to whom I’ve mentioned it has commented that the theory seems to ring true. Since hearing the Twinkle Theory, people involuntarily see every father and child they meet in terms of its simple equation. It has already become a part of their world view. The third feature of a good theory is the Eureka! factor. This refers to the moment—such as when the apocryphal apple falls on Newton’s head—that a casual observation finds itself suddenly inflated into a full-blown
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truism. Whether a portent or not, the theory in this book started with just such a moment. One evening in spring, my wife, young son, and I went to a pizza restaurant opposite Hyde Park, here in London. Although a pizza place, and therefore suitable for children, this particular restaurant has a vaguely glitzy, adult atmosphere, attracting status-conscious urban parents who would rather avoid fast-food chains. As we sat waiting for our pizzas to arrive (two mushroom, one quattro formaggio, for historical accuracy), I watched a mother and two little girls—one about my son’s age, the other about a year old —come in the front door of the restaurant. By the style of their dress and the famous names on their shopping bags, it was plain to see that they were visitors from America. The mother was holding the pre-schooler’s wrist with one hand and pushing the baby’s pram with the other, the handles of which were laden with bags and parcels from Harrods, Laura Ashley, and the Scotch House. They were shown to a table near to ours. Then there followed the inevitable commotion: parcels and children put down anywhere, sweaters and wraps removed, high chairs and booster seats brought and assembled, cutlery knocked to the floor, whining, scolding, tears, consolation, and the repeated re-arrangement of seating positions. When the reticent waiter finally ventured near to clear the fourth place setting, we overheard the mother say to him, “No, please leave it. My husband will be here in a minute. He’s just parking the car.” I don’t know why, but with a sly grin on my face, I turned to my wife and whispered, “I’ll bet you anything that her husband is one of those macho guys with a moustache
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and a muscle shirt.” “What makes you think so? Do you think the woman is pretty?” she asked. “It’s not that. It’s because they’ve got two daughters. Those kind of guys always want a son—you know, to coach in Little League, go fishing on weekends, play rough and tumble in the living room. Having frilly daughters is, kind of, their come-uppance.” As my wife began to object that girls needn’t be frilly and can be just as good at sports as boys, in he came. Six-foot-three. Well-built. Moustache. OK, no muscle shirt—but a T-shirt with L.A. Rams insignia. Looking harassed, and to me rather resigned to his fate, he said not a word to his little harem of females, sat down, and ordered a Budweiser. I smiled at my wife. She rolled her eyes and said nothing for a moment. Then smiling herself, she said, “And what about you? Is having a boy your come-uppance for being a wimp and reading my magazines?” “No, it’s my reward for being kind and sensitive,” I corrected her. “My type always has boys.”

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Chapter One

The Twinkle Theory Proclaimed

‘When you were just a twinkle in your father’s eye,’ the old saying goes. It’s an intriguing thought—that there’s a tiny, magical glimmer of every new being in the eye of its predecessor. But what about this twinkle? What is its significance? And why is the twinkle in the eye of the father rather than the mother? The mother’s role in reproduction is naturally beyond all controversy. Her womb and hips clearly made for gestation, monthly cycle made for fertility, breasts made for first nourishment and bonding, and womanly instincts made for nurturing and nesting, couldn’t be more pregnant (excuse the pun) representations of her central, vital role in making babies. Moreover, it’s now generally taken for granted that a child receives most of its guidance in postnatal development from its mother, not its father —immunity and ideal nourishment from the mother’s milk, emotional security from the mother’s affection and physical contact, and intellectual stimulation from the mother’s face and voice, and later from her speech and activities. By contrast, particularly in the late twentieth century, the father’s role in furthering the species has been radically marginalised, and sometimes denied altogether. Apart from supplying (these days, not even necessarily implanting) the requisite sperm in order to make up the missing complement to the egg’s 23 chromosomes—the character, behaviour, or abilities of the father would appear to have
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little if any significance in child bearing or rearing. In terms of participating in procreation, the father is, if anything at all, a support and backup system for the mother—occasionally helpful, maybe desirable, but not at all necessary. In many aspects—from sperm banks to custody battles to confusion about sexual orientation—Western society in the late twentieth century echoes the effects of this marginalisation of the male. And it appears to be getting worse—lately, young women are intentionally arranging to conceive, bear, and raise their children without the burden, as they see it, of having an interfering man on the scene. Most dramatically, these attitudes have affected the Western male’s perception of himself. The heartfelt need of every modern thinking man to discover his cosmic relevance and even justify his very existence—mainly in terms of earnings, social status, or similar achievements—is the source of much unhappiness in men themselves, in their relationships, and in society at large. Perhaps the time has come to change men’s perception of their existential importance to the future of the species. For the essence of the Twinkle Theory is that the father too has a vital and hitherto unrecognised role to play in procreation, in society, and in human history. To put it succinctly, the Twinkle Theory holds that a child’s sex is determined by its father’s temperament (at the time of conception). More specifically, the Twinkle Theory proposes that a father with a traditionally ‘masculine’ disposition will produce a daughter, while a father with a disposition commonly thought of as ‘feminine’ will produce a son. More generally, the theory suggests that the father’s temperament may also determine other key characteristics of the child.
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Why should it be the case that psychology affects heredity? The simple, direct rationale is that a man’s temperament—volatile and changeable, as every woman knows—is a reflection of the state of the social group into which the child will be born. The male’s role in procreation, beyond simply contributing half of the child’s chromosomes, is to reflect by his psychological state the trends and needs of society, and to fulfil society’s needs through his effect on the inherited character of his offspring. The corollary of the Twinkle Theory is that the mother’s role in procreation—beyond contributing half of the child’s chromosomes and providing an appropriate environment for gestation and early development—is to balance the male’s changeability with hereditary constancy and stability. Apart from the Twinkle Theory, elementary biology itself already suggests a profound difference in the respective roles of males and females in the process of heredity. At a female’s birth, her ovaries contain all the eggs (approximately 400,000) that she will ever have. They never change. But the male, once matured, constantly manufactures new sperm throughout his lifetime. This makes the male’s gametes more likely to be subject to complex environmental influences. Why has Nature imposed this radical difference between males and females, if not for some essential reason? One must not be misled to assume that the Twinkle Theory is somehow addressing the nature (heredity) versus nurture (social environment) debate. In recent decades, this debate has ostensibly been resolved in a ‘de facto’ compromise—in the idea that every person is moulded by both their genes and their upbringing. The Twinkle Theory
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does not re-open the nature/nurture debate. Rather, it should be seen to signify the end of this dichotomy, because it implies that nature and nurture are the very same thing: that social environment changes heredity at every conception and that heredity changes the social environment with each new generation. Also, the sex determination aspect of the Twinkle Theory is in no way contradicted by the scientific hypothesis that the mother’s vaginal acidity may correlate with her baby’s sex. This correlation tells us nothing about cause and effect. A woman’s acidity may also correlate to her mate’s temperament, or even to her preference for that temperament in a man. It is nonsense to think that pH, for no reason, in itself causes X- or Y-chromosome-bearing sperm to succeed or fail. Such a correlation may or may not be a fact, but without a rationale it is a meaningless fact. By contrast, there exists a meaningful rationale for the Twinkle Theory (see Chapter Two). The biological fact that X-chromosome-bearing sperm yield girls, and that Y-chromosome-bearing sperm yield boys, is of course pertinent to the Twinkle Theory. In biological terms, the Twinkle Theory might suggest, for example, that the relative propensity of X- or Ychromosome-bearing (male- or female-making) sperm to fertilise an egg is temporarily affected by a man’s psychological state. There may be a reproductive link, for example, to the neurotransmitter seratonin, the levels of which have been shown to correlate with high or low selfesteem. Or perhaps a man’s temperament causes ‘protector’ sperm to alter the proportion of X and Y ‘fertilising’ sperm. If such hypotheses are not already being researched, I suggest that they are likely topics for lucrative grants. But scientific evidence is no more necessary for the Twinkle
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Theory than it is for, say, the theory of evolution, or for Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis. Experimental science is inadequate to the task, because the effects of such complex phenomena as social environment and individual temperament—or for that matter the ecological management of species, or the history of the subconscious —cannot usefully be examined by the isolation and study of single variables in a laboratory. The most entertaining implication of the Twinkle Theory is that one should be able to tell a couple whether they will have a boy or girl just by knowing the father’s temperament at the time of conception. Indeed, it seems that one can—although truly ‘knowing’ the father’s temperament at any one time is far from easy. And a lot of men are very skilled at disguising their real attitudes and feelings. Most of this book deals with the sex determination part of the Twinkle Theory—defining it, analysing it, and exploring its various repercussions. The last chapter, however, deals with what I consider to be the more interesting implications of the Twinkle Theory. Namely: that men as individuals are anything but surplus to Nature’s requirements. That a father’s role in life’s continuity is as much a given as a mother’s role. And that although men and women as groups have equally important roles to play in procreation, an individual father’s contribution to the character of his offspring is—dare I say it—ultimately more important than the mother’s.

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Chapter Two

Nature’s Reasons

Nature does not work by accident, and there are good reasons for everything under the sun, including the Twinkle Theory. As you will see, it makes perfect sense to the needs of Nature that a father’s temperament should affect the sex of his child. In the case of the Twinkle Theory, as with most modern explanations of natural phenomena, Nature’s main driving force is Darwinian: to ensure the strength and viability of the species. The survival of the human species, in particular, is in turn dependent upon the strength and viability of human society. People are social animals in every sense. Their very survival, from shelter to food to protection, is secure only in numbers. Lone humans, such as hermits, recluses, and castaways, are universally considered to lead unnatural lives. Unless steeled to the task by careful training or profound self-confidence, loners are very likely to suffer mental breakdown. Solitary confinement is of course one of the cruellest forms of punishment. In purely practical terms, the strongest loner is less assured of survival than even the weakest participant in a fully-developed society. Living outside society, the loner must find or build his or her own shelter, hunt, gather, or cultivate food, and defend himself or herself against disease and natural enemies, all without the benefit of any cultural knowledge or technology or traditional ways of working. Society’s strength and viability,
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through its accumulated knowledge, complex technology, and organisational efficiency, is far greater than the sum of the strengths of its individual members. So important to human survival are our social capabilities, that we can safely assume, in Darwinian terms, that any human characteristic not obviously essential to an individual’s personal survival or reproductive viability is bound to exist in service of social cohesion. Such is the case with the Twinkle Theory. The reason that a father’s temperament should determine his child’s sex is mysterious in the context of the individual. But in the context of the viability of the social group, the reason for the link becomes clear. To understand, we must first consider the familiar patterns of social behaviour that in common knowledge would be described as ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’. The Twinkle Theory would propose that in order for any social group, at any level, to be viable, it must contain a complementary balance of masculine and feminine behaviour. For example, for protection, a social group needs sufficient assertiveness towards outsiders and social misfits (a masculine tendency), but this must be balanced by sufficient social compassion for the disadvantaged within (a feminine tendency). To progress, society also needs social dissent and innovation (a masculine tendency), so long as it is balanced by the pro-active acceptance of a collective lifestyle (a feminine tendency). And to be run efficiently, society needs authoritative management (a masculine tendency), implemented by accommodating administration (a feminine tendency). A society in which one or the other social sex role becomes too dominant will soon be subject to internal confusion and chaos. It ultimately risks dissolution from within or destruction from without.
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Although the above will sound like sexist cliché to any modern sensibility, this assessment of ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ tendencies is not at all a comment on what biological males and females can do or should be doing. It’s just a description of two complementary categories of human behaviour. Indeed, the basis for the Twinkle Theory is a peculiarity in the correlation between the biological sexes on the one hand, and masculine and feminine social roles on the other. This peculiarity is the fact that biological males and biological females do not correlate one-for-one to masculine and feminine social roles. Men, depending on their inclination, are able to take on either a masculine or feminine social role. But women—that is, women who physically bear and nurture children—tend to be forced into a feminine social role by the biological and psychological demands of heterosexual sex, pregnancy, and infant care. Women who do not procreate are of course outside evolution and its Darwinian causes and effects. (Incidentally, this may be why society tends to dictate that women who take on masculine social roles should do so only if they give up or delay having children.) It is certainly unfair that men, whether they reproduce or not, have flexibility with regard to social sex roles, and that women, if they reproduce, do not. But this is a phenomenon rooted in biology, not in custom or values. The unjust consequence of biology is that so long as women conceive, bear, and nurture children bodily, these experiences—and the instincts that prepare them for these experiences—will tend to channel their social behaviour into femininity, which poorly equips them for achieving social equality with men. To achieve their just aims, feminists must either develop an artificial means of
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pregnancy and infant care—which may not be desirable in itself—or else make men participate more fully in all the biological and psychological aspects of procreation. It is important to state at this point that masculine males do not correspond to heterosexuals nor feminine males to homosexuals. There are both masculine gay men and feminine gay men—indeed, gays tend to exaggerate their social sex roles. Moreover, in accordance with the above analysis, because procreating females are normally forced to adopt a feminine social sex role, lesbians tend to adopt a masculine rather than feminine social role. (The complex subject of homosexuality is addressed more fully in Chapter Seven.) On our way to understanding Nature’s reasons for the Twinkle Theory, we should now consider what inclines a man towards either a masculine or feminine social role. The answer is that men are not born one way or the other, but are moulded by changing social pressures and circumstances. To behave in a masculine fashion (to be generally assertive, dissenting, and authoritative) feels right to every individual man in certain circumstances—in particular, when social conditions appear to him to be favourable or improving. Behaviour in a feminine fashion (to be generally compassionate, receptive, and accommodating) also feels right to every man in other circumstances—especially when it seems to him that conditions are difficult or declining. (Many historians have indeed noticed that social dissent is far more likely to occur in periods of rising expectations than in periods of continuing oppression.) In the context of individual survival and success, this behaviour pattern makes good sense: when there is opportunity, be masculine in order to take personal advantage; when there is scarcity, be
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feminine in order to share and pool resources. The problem for natural selection is that an individual man’s instinctive reaction to his perceived circumstances may be helpful to his personal viability, but it is precisely the opposite of what is needed for the viability of the social group. To put it simply, when things are looking up, the social group actually needs feminine behaviour—so that the existing prosperity is spread around in aid of social cohesion. And when things are looking down, the social group needs masculine behaviour—that is, as a group it needs assertiveness and initiative to improve its fortunes. Nature has provided two solutions to this conflict between the needs of individual males and the needs of their social group. First, Nature provides child-bearing females. Their constant, biologically-encouraged femininity creates an underlying social cohesiveness that helps to cement the group through both thick and thin. Secondly, Nature provides the phenomenon described by the Twinkle Theory. To every individual male who behaves in a masculine way, Nature gives an immediate feminine presence—ie, an offspring in the form of a little girl, who will tend to balance her father’s assertive selfinterest with gentle, social cohesiveness. And to every individual male who behaves in a feminine way, Nature gives the offspring who has the best chance of being masculine—ie, a little boy, who will tend to balance his father’s lack of inertia with his own energetic assertiveness. This complementing of sex roles that goes on at the level of individual families is the most basic expression of the aforementioned need to balance masculine and feminine in every social group. The balance prevents an overly assertive or overly accommodating behaviour pattern
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putting the family group at risk—and indeed, putting at risk the larger social group of which the family is a part. At the level of society in general, there is again a need to balance masculine and feminine. Thus according to the Twinkle Theory: for every masculine man, the social group at large gains an individual with the best chance of behaving in a feminine way—a girl. And for every feminine man, the social group at large gains an individual with the best chance of behaving in a masculine way—a boy. All this is very neat and logical, but do not forget that the Twinkle Theory is indeed just a theory. The above rationale of Nature’s needs does not prove its truth. A good rationale only makes it a better theory. But to those who feel they must have empirical evidence with their theories, I offer a polite caution. Like many aspects of human nature, the Twinkle Theory probably made most evolutionary sense in the formative, pre-technological era of human pre-history (from, say 1,000,000 BC to about 50,000 BC), when ‘social group’ meant extended family, tribe, or, at most, small village settlement. It is easy to imagine how relative shifts in the balance of masculine and feminine behaviour could affect the fortunes of small groups of inter-dependent and inter-related people pitted against harsh wilderness and mortal enemies. Consequently, it is probably very difficult to find empirical evidence of the Twinkle Theory in modern society. For instance, an empiricist may be tempted to wonder whether, as the fortunes of cities or nations rise and fall, there is an obvious swing one way or the other in the sex of newborns. But cities and nations are not really social groups with a meaningful effect on individuals—in respect of individual lives, nations are virtually mythical entities.
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There probably are, in modern societies, the equivalent of tribes—for example, close colleagues in small enterprises, remote rural communities, and tight social circles in urban settings—but these groupings are more subtle and complex than any in pre-historic times. To complicate matters further, the fortunes of these sub-groups do not necessarily mirror that of society at large. One can only surmise that if it were possible to see these modern social groups as isolated entities, one would undoubtedly observe the Twinkle Theory in collective action. Another reason that it would be difficult to find empirical evidence of the Twinkle Theory is that most men tend to exaggerate the extent of their hardships and good fortunes. A man who has had one bad day at the office will tell you that his career is doomed, that he has always hated that stupid organisation, and that he should chuck it all in and open his own business. Similarly, a man with a simple cold or flu (which any young mother would simply take in her stride) behaves as though he’s on the ‘critical’ list in intensive care. Conversely, it doesn’t take much good fortune to boost a man’s ego through the roof. A modest rise is pay is taken as a sign of imminent promotion to Vice President. And a smile from a pretty bank teller reminds him that he’s irresistible and that his wife is extraordinarily lucky. This tendency to turn non-events into either busts or boons makes it difficult to link his feminine or masculine behaviour to empirically-observable causes. Empiricism aside, let us now summarise Nature’s reasons for the Twinkle Theory. Because both individual success and social success are necessary to the survival of the human species, Nature provides both what is best for individuals instincts for self-promotion—and what is best for society—constant femininity, as well as offspring whose
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inherited traits are most likely to balance their fathers’ behaviour and meet the sex role needs of the larger social group. More specifically, when a social group’s fortunes fall and individual men respond with feminine behaviour, Nature gives us sons, since they have the best chance of bearing the masculine traits that will complement their fathers and improve the group’s fortunes. And when a social group’s fortunes rise, and individual men respond with masculine behaviour, Nature gives us daughters, since they have the best chance of bearing the feminine traits that will complement their fathers and build the prevailing prosperity into social cohesion. In brief, by attaching to every man a child who is his natural complement, Nature strives towards its ultimate and eternal goal—a balance.

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Chapter Three

The Temperament That Makes Girls

What are men like when they are producing female offspring? How can you spot such a man? Or, to be rather ruthless about it, how can a woman who definitely wants a baby girl be sure that her partner has the correct disposition? I have two acquaintances with daughters. One is a musician in a well-known rock band; the other is a photographer and director of his own successful studio. Now, both these professions are rather arty. Rock musicians are renowned for their spontaneous creativity and sociability; photographers for their responsiveness to such subtleties as atmosphere and composition. Surely, in terms of social sex roles, these seem to be feminine, rather than masculine, occupations. So why, in light of the Twinkle Theory, do these men have daughters? Well, the first point to recognise is this: knowing a man’s occupation is not at all sufficient to know the social sex role he is playing. There are of course professions which encourage one of the social sex roles at the expense of the other. In other words, a person whose behaviour is either masculine or feminine is more likely to succeed at certain jobs. Predominantly masculine behaviour—which can come from either a man or a woman—might be helpful in a job such as, for example, commodity trading, investigative reporting, or running a small business. Predominantly feminine
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behaviour—which again can come from either a man or a woman—might make it easier to perform a job such as consulting, teaching, or engineering. But few people are so lucky as to have exactly the right job for their personality. There are also other factors, apart from masculinity or femininity, that determine success at work—skills, training, and determination, for instance. To repeat: a man’s job is in itself no clue as to whether he presently has a masculine or feminine temperament—whether he will yield a son or a daughter. I have two other acquaintances with daughters. One is a young man very interested in restaurants, fashion, and consumer trends. He spends most of his waking hours thinking about what he will eat, wear, and buy. The other man is very religious. He attends church regularly, prays fervently, gets involved in parish duties, and immerses himself in religious philosophy. As with the rock star and photographer, these interests would seem rather typically feminine. Fashion and trendiness involve a slavish devotion to a collective lifestyle. And organised religion is based on compassion and acceptance. Again why, in light of the Twinkle Theory, do these men have daughters? The second point to be aware of is this: the subject of a man’s interests or hobbies is also in no way indicative of his social sex role. As with professions, there are of course certain fields of interest that tend to attract people with either feminine or masculine behaviour. But again, as with professions, people do not always do in their spare time what is best for their personalities. They pursue avocations for many different reasons—because of an intellectual interest, because their friends or spouses do it, because it is convenient, or because they were encouraged to get
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involved as children. To repeat (and please take note, any woman consulting a dating agency), a man’s current interests or hobbies are not indicative of whether he will produce sons or daughters. The true indicators of a man’s prevailing social sex role lie in a different direction altogether. To put it succinctly, it is not what a man does, but how he goes about it, and his attitude towards it, that tells you whether he is being feminine or masculine. This is of course much more difficult to ascertain, especially in a casual acquaintance. So men who produce only girls have a decidedly masculine way of doing things. Let’s consider each of the three basic features of masculine behaviour—assertiveness, dissent, and authoritativeness—so that you can spot this kind of behaviour amongst your acquaintances. What is assertiveness? Simply put, an assertive man is out for himself. He thinks of Number One first ... and last. When he does come to think of other people, it is usually in relation to himself: how they can be useful to him, what they may think of him, whether making them happy will make him happy. In other words, he sees the world mainly from his own perspective, and has difficulty seeing it from anyone else’s. In consequence of this, the assertive man thinks he is usually, if not always, right. If he is caught making an obvious mistake, he will deny it or belittle its importance. He finds it painful, if not impossible, to admit to being wrong. There are many women who would say that this most fundamental of masculine traits is there in virtually all the men they meet—and indeed it is, but to varying degrees. Almost all males, and increasingly many females in advanced Western societies, are trained (by their mothers, it happens) to be assertive from very early childhood. Many
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men later develop their assertiveness into an art form, and this is the trait that makes them appear masculine, or even macho. Women in Western cultures are also trained to respect and prefer men—and increasingly to prefer the company of other women—who are unequivocally assertive. Like all human traits, assertiveness has both a positive and negative side. On the plus side, assertive people can be very focused in their work and personal pursuits. Because they are determined to get what they want, they tend to be energetic achievers, who make things happen while others languish in uncertainty. Assertive people have high selfesteem—a sense of self-worth and purpose—and this certainly enhances their experience of life. On the down side, assertiveness can blind a person to the needs and feelings of those around them, leading to widespread resentments, private ridicule, and occasional enmity. Their sheer vanity can also offend, particularly those who are not assertive. Assertive people also rarely improve themselves, because they cannot perceive their deficiencies. Secondly, masculinity means dissent. This is when a man says, like Frank Sinatra, ‘I did it my way’. The dissenting man believes that the means he has devised to achieve any end are the best of all possible means. He never follows instructions or manuals (and as a result often botches up home repairs and other routine chores). He believes that all guidelines and directions, as well as all rules and laws, are pertinent only to other people—people who are too weak-minded to work things out for themselves. You could say, in essence, that the dissenting man believes he is more capable than ordinary people. Where rules may be to his disadvantage, he will take risks in order to ignore them. Thus an excellent environment in which to identify the dissenting man is on
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the road. The dissenting driver ignores yield and give-way signs, forces his way into busy traffic by intimidation, and exceeds the speed limit whenever possible, constantly changing lanes and overtaking other cars. Nothing angers the dissenting driver more than careful drivers, whom he considers to be the greatest menace to general road safety. He believes that his free-spirited, highly-dexterous mode of driving achieves far greater efficiency than law-abiding driving, and poses no additional danger. Another environment is which to identify dissent is the world of accounting and taxes. A dissenting man will happily bend tax rules, for example, and will risk fines and imprisonment for even a modest gain. Again, it is partly of matter of believing he simply has the superior ability. (Unfortunately for him, dissenting types also make good tax inspectors). There are benefits to dissent—both for the individual and the social group. Dissenters are innovators; they have the vision to see beyond routine and tradition to new ways to doing things. Their new ways are sometimes genuinely better ways, and can ultimately benefit society. Dissenters are also suspicious of people in power, and so they help society to keep the powerful in check. And dissenters make us all think, forcing us to examine our world, our values, and our actions. The great heroes and sages of society are usually dissenters. On the negative side, the difficulty with dissent is that it tends to be socially isolating. The dissenting man’s sheer contrariness is obnoxious to live with. Moreover, everyday life without comfortable routines can be awkward and anxious. Few dissenters actually become heroes; many are just lonely outsiders. Lastly we consider the masculine trait of authoritativeness. In brief, an authoritative man is an
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authority on everything. He believes he has more experience, more knowledge, and more understanding than everyone else. Consequently, he makes rules for other people to live by. The corollary to being authoritative is to lack sympathy for the predicaments of others, especially people in difficulty. An authoritative man believes that such people have only themselves to blame for misfortune, because their difficulties could have been avoided if only they knew this or that, or had done this or that. Whether he is truly knowledgeable about a subject or not, the authoritative man is comfortable pretending that he is a world-class expert. An authoritative man is obviously happiest in a position of professional authority—as a manager or coordinator of other people at work. At his best, he may be a natural or even charismatic leader. Alternatively, he may privately fume about his lack of authority and responsibility at work, and will therefore play the dictator at home. The authoritative man enjoys delegating and organising —ordering other people around and setting standards for them to meet. His self-assuredness sometimes inspires loyalty. But because he ultimately trusts only his own judgement, he eventually undermines the loyalty of all his subordinates. The potential social benefits of authoritative behaviour are then same as the benefits of management generally. And the benefits of good management to social cohesiveness cannot be overstated; an organised social group can achieve infinitely more than any number of individuals. The main risk of authoritativeness is its presence in people who in fact have no authority, for they will work to undermine existing management and diminish its effectiveness.
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Does this broad picture of masculine behaviour —assertive, dissenting, authoritative—fit the current behaviour of any of the men you know? This portrait of masculinity happens to fit very well the four acquaintances I mentioned earlier. The rock musician is assertive in his financial dealings (which have made him a wealthier man than the others with whom he performs), truly dissenting in his appearance and style of music, and unusually authoritative in organising and motivating the band. In his personal habits he knows what he likes and insists on it. The photographer is more a successful businessman than an artist. He is assertive in his business transactions, dissenting in his innovations and improvisations, and his every employee will attest to his constant authoritativeness. The stylish young gadabout is very assertive about his chosen fashion of the moment, dissenting to all those who wish he’d just get a steady job, and authoritative in all matters of good taste and ‘avant garde’ lifestyle. His general air of superiority is embodied in his view that few other people are sufficiently stylish to be acceptable company. Similarly, my religious friend is no less holy a man for being assertive and sometimes downright evangelical in his beliefs, for being a true dissenter amongst his mainly agnostic peers and colleagues, and for being authoritative in the way he elevates even the humblest church duty to the status of an appointment from Rome. He manages to be righteous and self-righteous at the same time. All this sounds rather critical, but these four men are all fine persons, in my opinion. They are simply unambiguously masculine. They prefer the company of other masculine men, and have all chosen very feminine women as spouses. And they have only female children.
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What is also interesting, in light of the Twinkle Theory, is that since having daughters, their common tendency to ultra-masculine or macho behaviour—to be not only assertive, but aggressive; to be not only dissenting, but contrary; and to be not only authoritative, but arrogant —has been noticeably tempered by the novel presence of little girls in their lives. Through the effect of the Twinkle Theory, Nature gives their masculinity its check and balance.

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Chapter Four

The Temperament That Makes Boys

There is a scene in the movie called ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ where two male characters mock the tendency of women to get tearful during classic sentimental films like ‘Casablanca’. They laugh at how ridiculous it would be if men sobbed and spluttered during westerns or war films every time one of the actors is wounded or blown away. Yet many men frequently get a bit teary-eyed at the movies—and at the same time feel socially-pressured to suppress sentimental feelings. I certainly felt my eyes welling up during the more soppy scenes in ‘Sleepless in Seattle’. But as usual I swallowed hard and fought it back. It is precisely the uncomfortableness of this emotional conflict that makes me—and many men I know—avoid the average tear-jerker at all costs. Women quite enjoy a good soppy love story, and the inevitable tears, because they feel comfortable expressing their feminine feelings. Men who are exhibiting masculine behaviour at the time will have little sympathy with such melodramatic goings on, and will therefore be indifferent to these films. And men who are exhibiting feminine behaviour at the time will be uncomfortable with the strong feelings that these films arouse. Men who would cry at the movies—if they felt they could—are the men whose children will be male. For this is a behaviour that is feminine in every sense. Femininity, whether in men or women, is basically sensitivity to other
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people. Feminine people are sensitive to other people’s feelings, which makes them compassionate. They are sensitive to other people’s preferences, which makes them culturally receptive. And they are sensitive to other people’s needs, which makes them accommodating. Thus to be feminine or sensitive, is to be compassionate, receptive, and accommodating. All men have the capacity to be feminine (although, to many women, the idea of a compassionate, receptive, and accommodating man is a contradiction in terms). At any one time, roughly half of all men actually are feminine—and you can tell, because they produce sons. Let’s look at each of the features of femininity in turn, so that you can detect them in the behaviour of men you meet. The feminine man—or as most will prefer, the ‘sensitive’ man—is first of all compassionate. He feels he is able to intuit the emotions, attitudes, and aspirations of other people, and therefore thinks he can see the world through their eyes. (This does not mean he really can; indeed, he is often wrong about people’s feelings.) This intuition gives him heart-felt sympathy with those who appear to be disadvantaged, vulnerable, or suffering some misfortune. When this compassion poses no threat, it makes a sensitive man want to help those at risk. But when their problems feel threatening, his sensitivity is bothersome and makes him want to banish the very thought of them. The social benefits of compassion are obvious. It helps bind people together with common sentiments and interests—people who would otherwise have no reason to act in unison. It ensures that the disadvantaged members of a social group are given opportunities, that the more vulnerable members are protected, and that the suffering are helped. Compassion also creates a common set of values,
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or morals, which may help to form an underlying ethical framework for the group. The compassion of the Golden Rule—‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’—is the basis for Judeo-Christian morality. But compassion also has a dark side. People who attend to and perceive the feelings of others are able to use this insight against them. Compassionate people intuitively know what makes others feel better—and what makes them feel worse. They can therefore become manipulative, inspiring guilt, anxiety, or resentment to achieve their ends. Sometime they manipulate people’s feeings simply because it is entertaining to do so. Compassion is basically knowledge, and so it can serve both good and bad ends. An acquaintance of mine, a professor of psychology, has long behaved as a particularly compassionate male. In his courses on humanistic psychology, he shows an exceptional ability to read the thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and anxieties of his students and therapy clients. This makes it a little scary to talk to him—he seems to see right through you. This ability has helped to make him an authority in psychology and an inspiring therapist from whom to learn. But according to his students, he also has occasion to use his insights self-servingly—for example, to embarrass the colleagues with whom he competes, and to seduce an endless stream of pretty co-eds. As well as being compassionate, he also happens to be receptive to the campus lifestyle in which he is immersed, and is a charming, accommodating social companion. In brief, he is a classic, if flawed, ‘sensitive’ male. And naturally, he is the father of boys (who live with their mother in another State). A second feature of femininity, or sensitivity, is to be receptive to local customs, beliefs, and fashions. Sensitive people—both male and female—take the way of life they see
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around them exactly as it comes, and embrace it wholeheartedly. This means taking on, without question or prejudice, the local language and vocabulary (including accents and intonations), styles of dress, aesthetic values, social etiquette, customs and beliefs, common knowledge and myths, and general world view, of their peers. Receptive behaviour is an essential part of the glue that holds any social group together—and this is its great benefit. In order for a collection of individuals to have an identity as a group, the majority must obviously share common behaviour. And it is feminine receptivity that makes behaviour common. Absorbing the received culture without resistance is so important to social cohesion, that this behaviour can be observed in most of the females in any society—and in around half the males. Because the essence of receptive behaviour is the repeated observance of particular rules and customs, there is also a negative side to this aspect of femininity. As easily as the sensitive male or female absorbs the culture around them, they can also fall into the observance of rules and customs that have no social significance—thus turning conformist behaviour into obsessive behaviour. Rituals that have no common cultural meaning, superstitions that do not derive from common beliefs, and habits that are never conducted in public, are all typical examples of this obsessiveness—and, unfortunately, are typical features of femininity. A fellow immigrant to England—perhaps because the need to conform is highlighted in the immigrant experience—to me seems to embody both the strengths and weaknesses of receptive behaviour. He has managed to absorb in only a few years not only the accent, look, and manners of an English gentleman—but also many of the
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requisite inner qualities, such as a sense of humble civility. At the same time, however, he has become obsessive about points of detail that he feels may give away his origins, but which in fact have no social significance. For example, he insists on blandness in foods (whereas most British enjoy spicy cooking), well shined shoes in perfect repair (genuinely wealthy Englishmen want to appear ‘down at heel’), and extreme neatness in arranging his possessions (not a famous British trait). This last point is a particular source of contention with his two young children—both of them boys. To be accommodating to other people in the social group is the third typical characteristic of femininity. To be accommodating means, for example, letting others who are in a hurry go ahead of you in a line. It means volunteering for duties in an organisation simply because no one else has volunteered. To be accommodating is to want to satisfy the needs of the group, before satisfying one’s own needs. Accommodating people therefore make much better followers than leaders. They are followers who are so good at following that they inspire other less-accommodating people to follow too. They feel and exhibit extreme loyalty to their group, and will defend it from any insults or attack, with great pride. Accommodating people, because they are such loyal followers, are clearly essential to the cohesion and viability of every social group. They are the ones who toil tirelessly, man the barricades, sing the anthems, and even lay down their lives for the group. In a purely practical sense, they are necessary to have around, because they do the bulk of society’s work—in supporting the group, protecting the group, and promoting the group to its members and others. They help to maintain the group’s very identity, by believing
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in its vision of itself and expressing this vision faithfully. But because accommodating people refuse to take precedence over their peers, they can be annoyingly passive. People should stand up for their rights and needs—for their own sakes, and because the power of the group must be softened by the power of individuals. Accommodating people not only refuse to be dissenting themselves—they frown on anyone else dissenting either. They are typically upset by scenes of confrontation, and want things to return as quickly as possible to innocuous harmony. This tendency to suppress the individual can be more than annoying—it can be harmful to individuals and dangerous for the group. Many women, forced into generally feminine behaviour by their biological and economic circumstances, can become overly accommodating to the particular social group that is their family. In the words of a recent best-seller, they ‘love too much’. But overly-accommodating behaviour is not really love; it springs from a selfish desire to excel in giving service. Men who are overly-accommodating are simply seen as wimps. I have an acquaintance in the English upper classes —with inherited wealth and a minor title—who to me is rather too accommodating. Loyalty to his upper-crust social group, which is attended by many honours and privileges, is natural enough. But he also has excessive loyalty to the smaller social group comprising his friends and colleagues. He will do anything for this small circle of people—endless favours, organising events, helping them when they are in trouble, or covering up their mistakes—all at his own expense. If you say but one disparaging word against any member of his circle, he will be at your throat. His loyalty to them knows no bounds, and he is utterly charming when in their midst.
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But in himself, he is frequently indecisive. He has opinions, but where they risk being at odds with the group’s consensus, they go unspoken. He refuses to engage in debate, deferring instead to the views of the group. His spinelessness encourages people to take advantage of his money, position, and influence—and deeply embarrasses his son and heir. The three characteristics of feminine behaviour that we have been describing—compassion, receptiveness, and accommodation—are familiar cliches of womanhood. But they are behaviours rarely acknowledged in the male. Perhaps because of political correctness, women these days are noted for their virtues, and men are basically pigs. Except, that is, for the new man, the ‘sensitive’ man—who, we are told, is a novel phenomenon of the late 20th Century. I say sensitive male behaviour has always been with us—observable, at any one time, in roughly half of the male population. It’s just that the ‘sensitive’ man has been portrayed of late, mainly by feminists, in a wholly positive light. Feminists, whose increased masculine behaviour has happily brought them so much more social freedom, want to believe there are men with a complementary increase in feminine behaviour. In seeking out these new, sensitive males, feminist women understandably think they are getting partners who can be compassionate, receptive, and accommodating. They fantasise that this new type of man will make a supportive father for their liberated daughters. Now divorced and disillusioned, many women are realising that new, sensitive men can also be manipulative, obsessive, wimps. And ironically, far from being supportive fathers for their liberated daughters, their sensitive men have given them only sons.
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Chapter Five

All Men Can Have Both

It occurs to everyone who begins to consider the Twinkle Theory that there is a simple fact that would appear to disprove it: there are many fathers who produce both sons and daughters, and these men are obviously neither the feminine type nor the masculine type. The reason that this does not disprove the Twinkle Theory is that it ignores the theory’s most fundamental principle: namely, that men are born neither masculine nor feminine, but are changeable in temperament. At any one time, they are inclined to one or the other behaviour pattern by the prevailing conditions in their immediate social group. Thus the phenomenon of mixed-sex siblings—far from disproving the theory—is proof-positive that the Twinkle Theory works. The father who at one stage in his life produces sons, and at another stage produces daughters, is living evidence of the effect of a social group’s changing needs on the inherited traits of its newest members. These fathers most clearly illustrate Nature’s reasons for the Twinkle Theory—to create more of the kind of individuals that will both balance the father’s current behaviour and meet the larger, long-term needs of the social group. What causes some fathers to have both sons and daughters, while others produce only one or the other, is that the former’s social sex role changes between conceptions, while the latter’s sex role stays the same. Whether this happens is in turn dependent upon several
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factors: the length of time over which a man’s conceptions take place, the stability of his personal circumstances and those of his immediate social group, and the degree to which his temperament is settled or unsettled. What do I mean by ‘settled’ and ‘unsettled’? Unsettled men, viewed in the extreme, are basically not comfortable with who they are, what they are doing with their lives, or where they are going—and their behaviour patterns are equally uncertain. They may well have at their disposal a stable career, but under the surface they are unsure of their total commitment to it. Some of these men will change jobs for no apparent reason, and to no avail. Other unsettled men wish they lived somewhere else—in another town, region, or even country—and they will go on idolising the desired place (unless they actually move there). Or an unsettled man may secretly harbour an impractical ambition—to become an artist, a private investigator, or an entrepreneur, for example. Men in this state may acutely feel the passage of time, because they believe they are largely wasting it. They fear the future, not because it may be bleak, but because it may reveal that they have not changed, leaving their ambitions unrealised. Some men, of course, do not wish themselves into instability, but are subject to involuntary changes in circumstances—for example, they are unable to find work, forced to change work locations, or handed an opportunity they can’t sensibly refuse. And it is not necessarily a younger man who faces these kinds of changes. Older men can be just as unsettled in themselves, and just as affected by changing circumstances. The upshot of this flux in a man’s life is that neither a masculine nor a feminine social sex role will work for him all the time, in all his various circumstances. Sometimes he
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will need to be assertive; at other times, willing to give in. Sometimes he will want to ignore the rules; at other times, he will want to fit into a new situation. Sometimes he will feel like a leader; at other times, like a follower. Settled men, by contrast, are largely comfortable with who they are, what they are doing, and where they are going. They attend to their jobs with little fuss, return home at a regular time, meet their friends in the same places, plod along with the same hobbies, look forward to vacations at the same spot every year, and thoughtfully plan their futures. Indeed, they are upset by change, and not at all perturbed by the prospect of sameness. Men in this condition loathe surprises, cannot be shifted from old habits, are generally uninterested in the comings, goings, and ambitions of the people around them. Instead, they plan and consider, look at the pros and cons, and if possible, put off any new commitment. A few men will have been settled in this way since they were boys, and are unlikely to become unsettled later without tremendous upheaval in their personal circumstances. The upshot of all this stability is that the social sex role such a man has settled into—sometimes decided at an early stage in his life to complement the social sex roles of the other members of his immediate family—continues to suit all the various situations he allows himself to encounter. He will have chosen a wife who is the ideal counterpart to his settled social sex role, a profession that well suits his settled assertiveness or sensitivity, hobbies or interests that make best use of his settled inclinations, and friends who are accustomed to dealing with him exactly as he is. Men are rarely either completely settled or unsettled for their entire lives. Rather they exhibit these tendencies to varying degrees at different points in their lives. When men
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actually conceive their children determines whether they will be mixed or of the same sex. In respect of men who have all their children within the space of a few years: if the man is quite ‘settled’ during those years, he will probably have children of the same sex; and if he is unsettled during those years, he will probably have mixed offspring. For men who continue to conceive children over many decades, it is obviously more likely they will have mixed-sex offspring. The point to remember is that all men can have mixed-sex offspring. If a man conceives only one sex, there is usually a good reason—either the conceptions were very close together, or throughout his conceiving years, either the man was highly ‘settled’ or his social circumstances were consistently favourable or difficult. If men who have mixed offspring do so because their social sex role behaviour is masculine during some conceptions and feminine during others, the next obvious question to ask is: What makes a man change social sex roles? Examining the experiences of my friends and acquaintances, I have identified at least three factors that are sufficiently powerful to cause them to switch social sex roles. These factors are: the man’s perception of his vocational success; the sex role behaviour of his female partner; and the sex role balance of behaviour in his immediate social group. Let’s look at these influences one at a time, to see how they work. First, to assess the influence of a man’s vocational prospects on his social sex role behaviour, let’s consider the professional experiences of a man I’ve known for some time. He currently works as a foreign correspondent, based in London, for a major national newspaper in another country. Unlike the calm, clean-cut types who appear in exotic
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locations on the evening news, this journalist looks the part of an ‘unsettled man’. Slightly rebellious in his attitudes, and still flirting with the trappings and pastimes of his youth—for example, still wearing 60s-style hair and clothes, playing the guitar, and occasionally smoking dope—this is a man in a prolonged post-adolescent search for meaning and fulfilment. Led into journalism by the idealistic prospect of benefitting mankind through investigative reporting, he found himself, in his first appointment on a national newspaper, in the less-than-profound position of trainee reporter for the ‘city desk’. His job was to monitor the rather slow-breaking stories that emanated from City Hall—planning disputes, tax issues, and minor scandals involving the profligate waste of public funds. This offered reasonable potential for muck-raking, but very few of my friend’s early attempts at investigative journalism got past the city editor. It was during this rather oppressive and disillusioning period of his career that he and his wife conceived their first child. His unsettled, changeable behaviour had naturally been much affected by his circumstances. With a new wife keen to start a family, and no other realistic prospects, he had adopted a decidedly feminine demeanour in order to cope—both at home and at work. In the office, he behaved sympathetically towards all his colleagues (to help win sympathy for himself), he accepted his daily grind of mundane assignments with humour and dignity, and he went out of his way to accommodate the individuals who could most benefit him. The struggling young couple had a son. But within a year, all that feminine grovelling began to pay off. The foreign desk editor took a liking to him, and
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gave him a shot at a difficult overseas assignment that was out of the paper’s normal range of coverage. The young man rose to the occasion admirably, and was soon assigned to the foreign desk full-time. By chance, when the paper’s North European correspondent decided to retire early, my friend was the bright young spark chosen to replace him. Within a month, he, his wife, and baby son were on a plane bound for London. These next couple of years were very heady stuff for the young family. Installed in his predecessor’s superb duplex overlooking the park, with a sizable spending allowance, a live-in nanny for the baby, social invitations arranged by the embassy, and exciting stories breaking daily across the European continent, my friend’s unsettled behaviour pattern was quickly altered. His new prosperity and position swelled his pride and all the other masculine traits that go with it. These new masculine traits proved useful. He began to get a lot more assertive in his interviewing technique, in order to produce the brilliant insights his editor expected back home. Faced with European officials—masters of obfuscation—he found it was essential to use devious means of obtaining information. And whereas he had started by taking orders from his editor, he soon began to insist on his own priorities and agenda. It was after about a year in London that the couple conceived their second child. And it was just after they were invited to attend the Queen’s garden party, the following spring, that their daughter was born. A second potential cause of change in an unsettled man’s social sex role is the social sex role behaviour of his female companion. This is not to say that women themselves change their social sex roles. Indeed, because it is rare for women spontaneously to change their behaviour
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patterns, it is usually the contrast between living with one woman, and then living with a different woman, that produces the relevant change in a man. For example, the contrast between living with a mother or as a bachelor, and then suddenly living with a female partner—in oldfashioned terms, getting married—can also cause a man to switch his social sex role. I have a close acquaintance whose experiences (and offspring) well illustrate the latter cause and effect. This good fellow, until his marriage at the age of 37, had only ever lived at home, where he was much loved and coddled by a rather overpowering mother. A hot evening meal was always waiting for him on the table when he returned home, at the same time each evening, from the quiet local drug store where he worked as an assistant pharmacist. Afterwards, the two of them watched TV until a few minutes before nine, when she was sure to switch it off before the potentially-upsetting evening news came on. In the morning, no matter how early he got up, she was always up before him. His breakfast would be waiting, and she would already be busy with some other chore on his behalf—ironing the last hairline creases out of his bleached white shirt, reinforcing the buttons, or adding a lick of black polish to his shoes. “She does everything for me,” he would say, “but only on her own terms.” She heartily disapproved of him trying anything new. She openly resented anyone, particularly any female, whom he might wish to befriend. Mostly he acquiesced to his mother, making excuses for her as a lonely old widow, accepting her rules, and accommodating her eccentricities. But he secretly yearned to break free of her, and every so often he rebelled with expressions of frustration or anger. She was quick to forgive him these
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‘fits’, as she called them, attributing them in her mind to indigestion, which caused her to revise her recipes. So this chap carried on living at home for nearly twenty years—unsettled in his inner life, wishing for what he could not have, and afraid to break his mother’s heart. In social sex role terms, although he was clearly unsettled, his behaviour had to be, of course, largely feminine. To avoid upsetting his mother, he had not dated at all since his midtwenties. Until, that is, he met at the drug store a particularly clever young lady, who could see in him a potentially good catch. It was after only four months of courtship (during which the mother feigned illnesses, repeatedly sabotaged their messages to one another, showed up unexpectedly at their rendezvous, and even openly questioned her son’s sanity) that the enterprising young lady had the mother packed off to a Florida condominium—where, to be fair, she was soon quite happy amongst her many friends who had already moved there. Within weeks the couple were married—in Florida, to pacify the mother—and within a few more weeks the new wife was pregnant. This first child was, of course, a boy. But the longer he was married to this pretty, clever lass, the more masculine my friend became. When an opportunity came up, she encouraged him—with pleasant, wifely cajoling—to buy his own pharmaceutical practice. And she helped him, ever so surreptitiously, build it into a thriving business. They soon bought an ambitiously large house, took to vacationing abroad twice a year (in addition to the annual visit to Florida), and enrolled the boy in private school. All the while she remained a happy and dutiful wife. When she became pregnant again, it was, surprise, surprise—a girl.
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The third factor that I believe is sufficiently powerful to change an unsettled man’s social sex role is a change in the balance of other sex roles in his immediate social group. An older gentlemen I recently met happened to tell me the story of his family, which I’ll relate now as an excellent example of this kind of influence. This gentleman had been married previously, and had a daughter by his first wife. Many years passed since he was widowed, and his daughter was grown and had left home by the time he met his second wife-to-be. This new lady, also a widow, but only in her early thirties, also had daughters from a previous marriage. She had three daughters, in fact, all very pretty girls, but the youngest one was strikingly beautiful. They were all a bit spoiled by their looks, and like most sisters bickered incessantly over clothes, make-up, jewellery, and the bathroom. The elder ones were also somewhat jealous of the younger one’s beauty, and she knew it. All in their adolescence at the time (the eldest was sixteen, the youngest a precocious twelve), the last thing these girls wanted in their lives was a new father to dampen their style. Yet this is precisely what they got. As soon as the marriage took place and he moved in with them, there was serious trouble. The girls deeply resented his being there: he was, first, a strange man in their house; secondly, someone to take their real father’s place; and thirdly, a man with unfamiliar morals, expectations, and standards. Although obviously a pleasant man, he was used to oldfashioned ways—no stereos after dark, strict bed-times, proper introductions to boy-friends, and bans on provocative clothing. He would tell them, in the nicest possible way, that he had already raised a daughter, quite successfully, and what was good enough for her was good
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enough for them. Their response, naturally enough, was to go behind his back. They lied, schemed, and deceived—both their mother and their step-father. They were always found out and punished, which only reinforced their rebelliousness. Things got worse and worse, until it seemed the group had reached a breaking point. The bewildered step-father, now thoroughly depressed, nearly gave up his new family. Then a little miracle happened. The mother, after all those years, became pregnant again, and was blessed with a sweet-faced little boy. I say ‘blessed’ because, as concerned this little social group’s cohesiveness, he couldn’t have been a greater blessing. The three girls fell completely in love with their baby step-brother. They vied with one another to cuddle him, care for him, and look after him. He became not only a blood link with their step-father, but an actual restraint on their behaviour—it was clear that they now needed to be quiet after dark, and generally that their help was truly needed. Moreover, their mothering instincts made them feel grown-up and responsible. If the baby had been a girl, the daughters may well have felt the new child to be an even deeper intrusion than the step-father—another girl to compete with, only halfrelated to them. But because the baby was a boy, with a little boy’s special loving temperament and vulnerability, he was clearly different, and no threat. Thus the little boy saved the family group from selfdestruction. In terms of the Twinkle Theory, because the family group’s sex roles had been way out of balance, with too much femininity all round, Nature gave the group— through the father’s despair—what it needed most: a boy.

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Chapter Six

Bettering Your Chances

Whenever expectant parents are asked whether they want a boy or a girl, they invariably reply (if they don’t already know from the ultrasound scan or amniocentesis) that they really don’t mind. It is true that a few people genuinely do not mind. But the vast majority have a preference. Those with the strongest preference are those who already have a child, or several of the same sex, and want the new child to be the other sex. (This is an instinctive version of Nature’s drive for a balance of social sex roles.) In some cultures, there is a general preference for a particular sex; in many developing countries, for economic reasons, parents tend to want boys. Therefore it is inevitable that people who hear about the Twinkle Theory will want to apply its principles to select the sex of their child. Let me make my position on this matter perfectly clear and unambiguous. I strongly advise against it. I advise against it not because the Twinkle Theory may be unreliable, but for a very good reason that is pertinent to the theory itself. The reason, to be rather philosophical about it, is this: Nature, as a force of fate, is far stronger and wiser than the will of any individual person. And it is Nature, through the action of the Twinkle Theory, that determines the sex of your child—for your own good and the good of the child. What is Nature’s goal in selecting sex? As I’ve said before, and will say again, Nature’s ubiquitous goal,
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apparent in every natural phenomenon, is to achieve a balance. (As discussed in Chapter Two,) Nature determines the sex of your child in order to create a balance of social sex roles in your immediate social group—for example, in a family group that lives together. If you somehow manage to trick or manipulate the natural operation of the Twinkle Theory, you could end up with an unnatural balance of social sex roles in your family, which could in turn work against the group’s long-term cohesiveness. To make the warning more blatant: if you try to select the sex of your child—and your selection happens to be the opposite of what Nature would have intended—you could unwittingly ruin your marriage, perhaps drive your other children away, impose emotional hardship on the new child, or plunge you all into unending conflict and misery. I realise the pressures, in Western societies, for nuclear families to try to have at least one boy and one girl. But manipulating Nature is simply not worth the risk. The balance of social sex roles in a family is so important that Nature literally moulds personalities and behaviour—beyond the conscious control of the individuals concerned—in order to promote family cohesiveness. An illustration of this mechanism that comes to mind is the story of a relatively happy, harmonious family that I have known for some years, comprising a mother, father, and two daughters. The mother is a go-ahead achiever, educated to a postgraduate level, very well read, and active in her profession. Appropriately, her socio-politics are unreservedly feminist, and she carries through these values into her home life and her work. Her modern-style husband concurs, at least in principle, in her feminist values, and goes along with her desire for economic independence. As much as his own
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travel-based career allows, he shares in the housework (except doing laundry; men seem to be incapable of this) and child-rearing, and enjoys the same kind of art-house films, experimental novels, and improvisational jazz music that she does. In himself, he is a cocky, assertive man, with strong opinions and a tendency to argue his position in a shrill banter. Their firstborn child, naturally a girl, is, like her Dad, a wiry, energetic, and assertive sort of person, easily over-excited. When the father and elder daughter are in the same room, there is a perceptible nervous tension in the air, as though their similarly rocket-fired personalities risk collision when they come too close. It is the younger child, the second daughter, who is interesting in the context of Nature’s need to balance a family’s social sex roles. Both parents, being pro-actively feminist in their parental ethics, were especially careful to treat both girls in a non-sexist way—almost as generic, ungendered children. For instance, as toddlers, they wore strictly unadorned jeans and T-shirts, and their hair was always neatly cropped. Whenever relations or acquaintances offered the girls dolls as gifts, these were exchanged at the toyshop (before the girls saw them) for building blocks or non-sexist picture books. The girls were encouraged, especially by their Dad, to play traditionally-masculine pretend games, such as superheroes, cops and robbers, and fire fighters—and always to play the heroine, never the victim. Even their bedroom furnishings were chosen for their gender-neutrality—green furniture rather than either pink or blue, striped curtains rather than either polka dots or plaids, and animal posters rather than either ballerinas or spacecraft. Then, when the younger daughter was around age
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three, just as she started to assert her budding feminist will and to express her unbiased mind, it happened—spontaneously and with no warning. The poor child went feminine. Very feminine. It started, innocently enough, with an animal toy—a plastic fantasy world of cutesy, pastel-coloured pony dolls. Her parents didn’t worry at first: horses are OK; after all, cowboys like horses. But that was only the beginning. Next it was Barbie. Then it was dolls of any kind. Then came make-up, with lots of lipstick and rouge. Then she refused to wear anything but dresses, preferably dresses with frilly hems, then with lacy petticoats underneath. She demanded and wore the ‘Belle’ costume from Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ with a passion, every day for weeks —before she ever saw the video or knew who the character was. She began to prefer as friends only feminine little girls with bows in their hair, to eschew all boys, and when she role-played, to insist on being either a ballerina or a princess. The odd thing is that she and her sister still get along brilliantly; now when they play ‘fire fighter’, there’s someone to be rescued. Her parents are baffled. Her father thinks it’s ironic, but cute, while her mother is both shocked and bemused. To her, it seems like sheer rebelliousness. But, she wonders, if it were natural for a girl to rebel against a non-sexist environment, why did the elder sister, who was treated the same, not rebel as well? In light of the Twinkle Theory, the younger girl’s behaviour makes perfect sense. With a feminist (ie, masculine) mother, a masculine father, and a distinctly unfeminine first daughter, the family was in a state of severe sex role imbalance. The second child was naturally a girl, as she was the best hope of redressing the balance. And indeed, despite her parents’ intentions, Nature gave the second
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child a powerful inclination to femininity, which came out as soon as she was old enough to express a preference. All this simply goes to show: there’s no getting round Nature, and no getting round the Twinkle Theory. It’s just as well that her parents did not try to trick Nature into giving them a boy. Would the feminist mother have been as happy dealing with a male child? Would this son have felt pressured to adopt feminine behaviour, despite a father who would have preferred a masculine son? The answer, in the end, is that it’s best to let Nature decide. Despite the fact that people manipulate Nature at their peril, manipulate it they will. So I am inclined to offer, as a further deterrent to readers, a discussion of the difficulties inherent in using the Twinkle Theory to choose your child’s sex. To start with, I am sorry to inform any man who imagines he can change his social sex role voluntarily, that this is simply not possible. Behaviour is an effect, not a cause; it cannot change itself. For example, if a man is now masculine and intends to act feminine, he will only be exercising his masculine assertiveness by trying to master his behaviour. If he is now feminine and intends to act masculine, he will only be indulging his feminine sensitivity by perceiving the need to change. The only thing that can change a man’s social sex role behaviour is a change in his social environment. A woman, if she is able to consider herself part of the man’s social environment, has a better chance of influencing the sex of her child. I can think of three ways a woman might try to achieve it. First, if she doesn’t yet have a partner, she could try to find an unattached man who in her judgement is appropriately masculine or feminine, depending on whether
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she wants him to father, respectively, a girl or a boy. One problem with this approach is that it is much more difficult than it would seem to be certain of a man’s social sex role. Men are expert at disguising or hiding their real feelings, aspirations, and motivations. (Their well-known dishonesty with women is discussed in more detail in Chapter Ten.) Anyway, it would be ridiculous to choose a spouse on the relatively trivial basis that his social sex role is appropriate to one’s gender preferences in children. Mutual love and respect, necessary for any successful relationship, are far more important to family happiness than the genders of the children. Moreover, it may be that Nature, in addition to creating the kind of child that’s right for its parents, also creates attraction between partners who are right for each other. In other words, the kind of man a woman is attracted to, by Nature, may also be the kind of man who is right for her (see the discussion on sexual attraction in Chapter Seven). Secondly, if a woman already has a partner who she believes is playing the wrong social sex role to give her the child she wants, she could try conceiving with a man playing the other role—without entering into a long-term relationship. In other words, she could have an affair. There is again the risk of misreading this new man’s behaviour. But the key risk here—apart from the obvious dangers of sexually-transmitted diseases, of being found out by her usual partner, and of later disputes about paternal rights—is that because the new father is not someone with whom she lives, the sex (and perhaps other characteristics) of the child that he fathers will have nothing to do with the natural requirements of her own family. She may well find herself with a child who simply does not fit into her family group, and who therefore contributes to its dissolution.
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Thirdly, a woman can try changing, or at least influencing, her partner’s sex role behaviour. This is probably the only feasible route to using the Twinkle Theory to determine the sex of a child. Again, for reasons already noted, I strongly advise against it. Nevertheless, there is no doubt in my mind that many women reading this book will consider having a go. The rest of this chapter is addressed to those women. Like most people, every so often I read the back of cereal boxes. The best cereal box headline I ever saw was on the back of Kellogg’s Special K, apparently a favourite of women on diets. The box read: ‘CHANGE YOUR MAN. Would you like a brand new man? Here’s how. Just send three box top tokens to this address ...’ It went on to explain that this was promoting not a match-making service but an exercise programme that will ‘re-make your man from headto-toe’. The person who wrote that advertising copy knew it would appeal to every adult female who might see it. From the Wife of Bath to Hillary Clinton, women have forever wanted to manipulate and control their men. The trick to changing your man’s social sex role, in particular, is to concentrate not on him, but on the social environment that he encounters day-to-day. In light of the Twinkle Theory, it is this environment that determines his social sex role. Your man’s social environment includes your kids (if any yet), his male friends, other couples you see, his colleagues at work, and any regular contacts he may have. But in most cases, the key part of his social environment is you. If you want a son from an assertive, dissenting, and authoritative man, who would ordinarily produce daughters, you must simply try to be even more assertive than he is. In every situation where you’re together, assert your views
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before he does, disagree with his views when he states them, and ignore his attempts to persuade you. For example, if you’re planning an evening out, get in first with your ideas on where to eat, and refuse to consider at all any of his suggestions. Then if he has lined up some film he’s been wanting to see, say that you’re certain it will be awful, and anyway that you’ve always hated the actress in the lead part. Lastly, after whatever film you do end up seeing, insist that you were absolutely right to choose it, and expound on how brilliant the film was, down to the last detail. (It’s hard work being masculine, isn’t it?) In other words, set your will against his so strongly, that the consequences of his disagreeing with you are simply too trying to face. Henceforth, make all the social decisions, in every area of his life, except one—his work—since, being a man, he will still need at least one exclusive domain. This probably sounds like a prescription for getting a divorce, not for influencing the sex of your child. Naturally, it’s risky behaviour, and if carried on too long and hard, could easily drive your man into someone else’s arms, or simply make him apathetic or depressed. But if your man and your relationship can stand it, then he will probably perceive that his social condition has taken a turn for the worse. He will respond to this downturn in fortune by becoming more feminine, and more likely to give you a boy. By contrast, if you would like a daughter from a man who is already to some degree compassionate, accepting, and accommodating—a man who would ordinarily produce sons—it is no use just being feminine like him. His sensitivity and insecurity will simply be reinforced. On the contrary, you again need to make decisions for him, decisions which help him to improve himself, so that it seems his fortune is improving. But you need to build him
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up in such a way that he thinks he’s doing it himself. Slyly encourage him to face challenges that you know he can rise to, and to take on projects at which you are certain he will succeed. Do this by always stating the positive, your complete faith in his ability, and the benefits of his achieving success. Create an impression of your own humble awe at each challenge, and of your loving admiration, and gratefulness, for his abilities. For example, present him with some small difficulty around the house that you know he can solve—say, a squeaky door—expressing your doubt that it can ever be fixed, that getting a new door is bound to cost a fortune, but how wonderful your life would be without that constant annoyance. Then, after he touches it with oil, be absolutely jubilant that it could be fixed so simply, and for no cost. Hug him and tell him you simply wouldn’t know what to do without him. Then, every time you walk through the door, remind him of how fabulous it is that you don’t have to listen to that awful squeak. (I know this sounds ridiculously over the top, but any man will think such admiration perfectly reasonable.) If you can do all this, consistently, with a straight face (some women, just imagine, act this way all the time, with every man they meet), then your feminine man will begin to think that he’s not such a dimwit after all, that perhaps there are a few things he’s good at, and that the world is really a pretty fine place. There is a risk, of course, that he will leave you because he thinks he deserves better. But if you can keep his arrogance from running amok, he will perceive that his social condition has considerably improved, and will respond to this upturn in fortune by becoming more masculine, and more likely to father a girl. As tempting as it is, and as easy as it would be to try
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the above approaches, nevertheless please heed my warnings, and resist trying to manipulate Nature to choose the sex of your child. Instead, I humbly suggest, try to see the Twinkle Theory as an insight into your existing situation, whatever it is. Use the theory to examine your partner, yourself, your relationship with each other, and your relationship with your children. Use it to understand otherwise inexplicable behaviour in your family. And use it to appreciate Nature’s good reasons, that the sexes of your children, exactly as they are or will be, are probably for the best.

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Chapter Seven

Sex and The Twinkle Theory

This chapter sounds rather titillating. Indeed, the subject of sex is never boring. But like everything else having to do with the Twinkle Theory, sexuality should be seen as yet another instance of Nature’s ambition to achieve a balance. Most everyone finds out sooner or later that men perceive their sexual experiences quite differently from women. For the male, sex is primarily an instinctive biological drive, like hunger, that simply craves satisfaction. Women, sexually (and probably otherwise), are much higher up the evolutionary ladder. There are hereditary remnants, like wisdom teeth, of sexual craving in some females. But for most women, sex has evolved to a largely social behaviour, and thus it is used to fulfil any number of social functions. For example, it can be an expression of love or commitment; a utilitarian means to security, sustenance, or power; a consolation for loneliness; a psychological tool for manipulating rivals or opponents; an indulgence in risktaking and intrigue; or even a kind of social entertainment. Of course it is possible, and quite common, for men also to attach social functions to sex. But men can make sex a social event only as a sideline to their gratification of the instinctive drive. As proof of the difference between them, there is one thing that women can happily do with sex that men cannot do: ignore it. This is all as it should be, in light of the Twinkle Theory. A man, whose reproductive job it is to
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communicate biologically to his offspring the urgent needs of the social group (see Chapter Two), must not mess about when it comes to sex. He needs to get on with sex, as quickly and as often as possible, in order to transmit his urgent genetic message to the next generation. A woman, on the other hand, must balance the male’s fickleness with her own hereditary stability. It is therefore appropriate that she lacks the male’s frantic biological drive. To protect her genetic heritage, a woman uses her instinctive and generally level-headed discretion to select with whom to mate, and when. And she tends to use the social functions of sex to help her in her complex process of selection. I realise that some women will object that they, like men, are also sexual creatures, fully capable of lascivious cravings, lustful ambitions, and purely sensual gratification. Of course it is impossible for me to know, categorically, that a woman’s sex drive is not the same as a man’s. But I would challenge any mentally-stable female, no matter how much of a voluptuary she is, to say honestly that she wants to make love to any and every handsome man she sees, regardless of the social context or consequences. By contrast, put any attractive girl in front of almost any heterosexual man, and he will indeed want to have sex with her if the opportunity were to arise. Many men, in all walks of life, risk virtually everything they value socially —marriage, family, job, friends—just for the sake of casual sex with a pretty girl. The only comparable female phenomenon I can think of is that if you put fresh cream chocolates in front of almost any woman, she will want to eat them, regardless of whether she should. The Twinkle Theory’s notion of the enforced femininity of women, and the variable femininity or masculinity of men, also makes sense in terms of this sexual
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division of labour. A woman, when she does consent to heterosexual sex, is being wholly feminine: receptive, anatomically and in every other sense; compassionate, in order to arouse her own passions; and accommodating, to her partner’s instincts for stimulation and gratification. Men, however, vary considerably in their sexual behaviour. And as I will explain, a man’s approach to sex directly correlates to his prevailing social sex role. More specifically, a man’s sexual behaviour is based on the difference between his prevailing social sex role and that of his partner. This is a rather technical way of phrasing the old adage, that when it comes to romance, opposites attract. If a heterosexual man’s social sex role is masculine, he will be attracted by, and be physiologically complemented by, the femininity of his female partner. Thus his approach to sex will be rather straightforward. Being masculine, he will be more self-absorbed, and thus sexually self-pleasing. In other words, he will generally focus mostly on his own pleasure, and will expect his female partner to focus on his pleasure as well. On the other hand, if a heterosexual man’s social sex role is feminine, he has quite a job to do to create a difference between his own social sex role and that of his female partner. This paradox typically yields two types of male sexual behaviour. First, he may encourage her to behave in a more masculine way, in order to make her seem more masculine than he is. This means, for example, he may encourage her to take the lead in foreplay, or to position herself on top. Secondly, he may himself try to be more feminine than she is. This means, for example, he may take his own sexual delight in her femaleness—in every feminine aspect of her body—and derive considerable enjoyment from her pleasure.
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Both these types of male sexual behaviour—masculine male self-pleasuring and feminine female-worshipping—are very common, and most women can see one or the other tendency in their partners. (Changeable men in the throes of change may exhibit both types of behaviour, even in the same sexual encounter.) As mentioned at the outset, conventional heterosexual sexuality is thus a direct expression of the balance Nature seeks between masculinity and femininity, where the female is feminine and the male can be either. But as every woman knows, often to her regret, conventional heterosexuality is not all there is to male sexual behaviour. Because of the sheer force of the male’s instinctive drive, his sexual impulses—whether masculine or feminine—can easily get distorted and rather out-of-hand, especially if too often frustrated. Frustrated heterosexual men with a masculine social sex role can get rather too assertive, dissenting, or authoritative in their sexual behaviour. Their assertiveness can turn to sexual aggression, or in extreme cases, to violence. Their dissenting nature can lure them into socially-unacceptable behaviours such as exhibitionism, voyeurism and pornography, and the addictive use of sexually-enhancing drugs or paraphernalia. And their authoritativeness, or sense of superiority, can translate sexually into various forms of neurotic sexual dominance such as paedophilia or sadism. Frustrated heterosexual men with a feminine social sex role can similarly get rather too receptive, compassionate, or accommodating in their sexual behaviour. Excessive feelings of receptiveness can lead them to want to behave and feel like a woman themselves. So they may experiment with transvestitism, or in extreme cases be tempted by
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transsexual surgery. Tendencies to be overly-compassionate and sensitive may be manifested as sexual obsessions such as fetishisms or other obscure sexual rituals. And to be too accommodating can lead to a whole range of regressive behaviours such as baby/nurse role playing, self-punishment and other discipline games, slave/master routines, bondage, and other masochisms. And frustrated heterosexual men with changeable social sex roles can exhibit any combination of these sexual deviations: for example, transvestitism with the use of sex drugs and paraphernalia, or sadism combined with bondage. Aren’t men charming? Of course, it is not unknown for women to go along with deviant sexual behaviours. But unless women themselves have a tendency to neurotic excess in their own social sex role, they are likely to be participating in these things out of blind devotion, loneliness, a need for money, or some other social reason —rather than because of an instinctive sexual compulsion. The good news for women is that because of the relationship between sexuality and the Twinkle Theory’s social sex roles, there are things that can be done to manipulate a man’s sexual behaviour through the manipulation of his social sex role environment. In other words, women can (and in the sex-for-hire business often do) use these principles to manage a frustrated man’s deviant sexual behaviour. (It happens that the principles here are exactly the same as for the woman who is trying to change her man’s social sex role [as described in Chapter Six] in order to influence the sex of her offspring.) Specifically, a man who is indulging in too much masculine aggressiveness in sex can generally be calmed by his female partner’s own efforts at domination. In other words, she should grab him where it hurts, scratch him, get
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on top and stay there, and always keep in control. In this socially oppressed state, the man’s masculinity will surely ‘soften’. Conversely, any man who is falling into too much feminine passivity can be coaxed back into machismo through female admiration and gratefulness for his supposed sexual prowess. For example, beg him to do something to you, scream with delight, and virtually worship him afterwards. Such behaviour will never fail to arouse the ‘real man’ in him. All of the above describes heterosexual behaviour. But what about homosexuality? As mentioned earlier, when it comes to romance, ‘opposites attract’ is the well-worn cliche. But if you were to observe this phenomenon more closely, you would find that sexual attraction actually occurs between two people who are different enough that they complement one another —but not so different that they threaten one another’s ‘status quo’. In terms of the Twinkle Theory, this means that sexual attraction is most likely to occur when there is a significant difference between one person’s social sex role and another person’s social sex role, but not so extreme a difference that it threatens either party’s identity in their existing role. Most homosexual males prefer men as partners because—for any of a variety of reasons—they feel driven to play a very exaggerated social sex role. When gay men are masculine, they tend to revel in masculinity, whether playing the part of a bodybuilder or a suave sophisticate. They become so masculine, in fact, that most women are simply too far distant on the masculine-feminine scale to be attractive to them. Only other men can sexually complement them without threatening their identity. Similarly, when gay men are feminine, they tend to be very
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overtly feminine, whether playing the part of a doting carer or a ‘femme fatale’. They become so feminine, in fact, that most heterosexual women are too close on the masculinefeminine scale to be attractive. Again, only other men can sexually complement them without threatening their identity. How does a homosexual man come to exaggerate his social sex role to such an extreme? In answer I can only offer a couple of relevant observations. First, in terms of social sex roles, masculinity and femininity in the male is much more vulnerable to external influence—including possible exaggeration—during his socially-formative teenage years, than in either childhood or adulthood. And homosexual behaviour can often start in a boy’s teenage years, when same-sex experiences—which sometimes occur because there is simply no opportunity for heterosexual sex—become an easy, familiar, and comfortable pattern that is then carried through to adulthood. Secondly, the impulse to adopt an exaggerated social sex role may be prompted by an extreme imbalance in a boy’s immediate family or other early social group. Because Nature’s need for balance is paramount, a far-too-masculine or far-too-feminine social group may lead a teenage boy to want to stress the opposite role rather too much, and again, he may grow comfortable with this exaggerated disposition. Female homosexuality, like female heterosexuality, is a largely social affair, and lesbian sexual encounters occur mainly to satisfy social or affectionate, rather than sexual, impulses. In social sex role terms, it is relevant to note that whereas gay men can be either extremely masculine or extremely feminine, lesbians tend to adopt a masculine social role—they all tend to act more assertive, dissenting, and authoritative. Many lesbians adopt masculine attitudes
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as an expression of their liberation, that is, to create a contrast between themselves and straight women, who are generally coerced into femininity by heterosexual sex and child-bearing. The social or even political rejection of heterosexual femininity—including its values, constraints, standards, and oppressive expectations (for example, the high value placed on long legs, lithe figures, and delicate features)—makes lesbianism a rational social alternative for some women. Many gay women are also simply repelled or disgusted by men, particularly if they have fallen victim to the excesses of frustrated ones. Because women, uniquely, can reject sexuality altogether, there are a lot of happily asexual or celibate women. And there are hundreds of different reasons for female celibacy, ranging from fear of pregnancy (a very reasonable fear, given that it is still a life-threatening condition in much of the world) to an intelligent preoccupation with more interesting pastimes. In summary, what is sex all about, in terms of the Twinkle Theory? First, we should regard sex as the most distilled, intense expression of a heterosexual man’s masculinity or femininity, and of a heterosexual woman’s femininity. It makes sense that it is, because from Nature’s point of view, the act of sex—the combining of our genes to perpetuate and improve the species—is the single most important thing we do as social creatures. Secondly, sexual behaviour itself is primarily a manifestation of Nature’s drive to create a stable balance between opposing social sex roles. The converse of this principle is that sexual deviations and exaggerations, which may themselves be driven by external pressures to correct social sex role imbalances, are neatly placed outside the process of procreation—they are, quite literally, external
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to Nature. More practically speaking, a man’s social sex role, as a determination of the gender of his future offspring, is highly visible in his sexual behaviour. Moreover, sexual behaviour as a sign of a man’s social sex role happens to arise at the very moment when an offspring would be conceived. Thus, sexual encounters are a good opportunity for judging which role a man is playing. And if the woman is trying to conceive, they are a useful tool for observing the Twinkle Theory in action. Since, as discussed above, it is quite easy for a woman to manipulate a man’s sexual tendencies, a woman may again be wondering whether this is a good way for her to influence the sex of her child. In other words, if a woman wants a boy, should she be dominant and on top, and if she wants a girl, should she scream with delight? The answer is no. Sexual behaviour is only an effect of, not the cause of, a man’s social sex role. And according to the Twinkle Theory, it is a man’s social sex role—not his sexual behaviour—that links the prevailing needs of the social group with the gender of his offspring. For me, the interesting implication of this analysis of sexuality is that the Twinkle Theory, with its constant counterpoint of interacting social sex roles, clearly has something say about more than the gender of babies. It seems to pervade every aspect of procreation—the very continuity of the species.

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Chapter Eight

Evidence, Such As It Is

There is no empirical evidence, at least none that I know of, to support the Twinkle Theory. More importantly, I think, there is in everyone’s life, if only they care to look, a lot of rather obvious anecdotal evidence. When I consider the new fathers I happen to know personally, or read in magazines about the rich and famous who show off their newborns, each man’s present personality—as predicted by the theory—indeed appears to contrast in masculinity or femininity with the sex of his newborn child. If he has previous children, the circumstances in his life at the time of each birth again seem to correlate with their genders in accordance with the Twinkle Theory. In each case, the theory helps to confirm my suspicions or beliefs about the man himself, and by implication his partner, and helps to inform my expectations of their behaviour in future. The Twinkle Theory also helps me to understand myself as a husband and father. As other people discover the theory, it may help them too, particularly to understand the nature of their own marriage and family. But this understanding should not be seen as a means to some end, such as determining the sex of your next child (see Chapter Six), or moulding your partner’s personality. I believe that change, and the desire for change, is far too ingrained in modern Western society, and it causes endless, fruitless frustration for everyone. So rather than incite people to change, I hope that the deeper understanding brought by
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the Twinkle Theory will be used to help people reconcile themselves to things exactly as they happen to be. Thus it matters not a whit that there is no scientific evidence for the theory. The important thing to decide about the Twinkle Theory, and indeed any theory, is not its experimental, technocratic, or scholarly validity, but its meaningfulness or lack thereof, to humanity. In the category ‘humanity’ I do not include the blinkered academics who would, if they deigned to read it, reject the Twinkle Theory because it may not fit in with their obscure researches. Nor am I referring to the moral crusaders who would either cite the theory to substantiate their prejudices, or torch it as politically incorrect. Nor do I mean the sly opportunists who would somehow profit by the Twinkle Theory (printing up ‘My Dad is You-KnowWhat’ T-shirts). Rather, by ‘humanity’, I mean the millions of ordinary people, like you and me, who coast through life in a bemused state of perpetual confusion. Ordinary beings such as us, in order to judge the usefulness of any theory, rarely defer to scientific research —which as we all know, in most cases, turns out to be ambiguous and self-contradictory. Instead, we listen as carefully as we can to a theory’s core idea, and then simply let it echo through the mundane and familiar in our lives —our personal experiences, half-remembered hearsay, and received wisdom. If the echo comes back fairly intact, we say the theory rings true, and later we are likely to repeat it to others. If it doesn’t come resounding back, we just let the theory go, and allow it to fade into inaudibility. That is all I aim to do in this chapter on evidence: to let the Twinkle Theory’s core idea echo through some of the personalities in contemporary society with whom we are all familiar.
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In thinking about which kinds of famous personalities would make good examples, I realised that although we feel we know many famous men quite well by their accomplishments—for example, authors, artists, architects, fashion designers, sportsmen, and business leaders—we generally know very little about their personal temperaments. Thus very few people could say offhand whether Stephen King, Ralph Lauren, or Jack Nicklaus, for example, are more assertive than accommodating, or more receptive than dissenting. We simply don’t see enough of their behaviour in enough different situations to know what they’re really like. I came to the conclusion that there are only two kinds of public figures whose personal temperaments we feel we really know: first, show biz personalities, and secondly, heads of state. We have the opportunity to see both these kinds of men in all kinds of situations—actors in their various roles on stage and screen (and in awards ceremonies), and leaders in their various political and social predicaments. Although actors read scripts and leaders read prepared speeches, they both necessarily have a personal style that shines through such formalities—and indeed partly determines the words they are given to say. Observing them as individuals over many years, we accumulate innumerable impressions of their behaviour, which we add up to a personal assessment of their temperament. There are two provisos I must make before I start naming names of actors and world leaders. First, as explained in Chapter Five: the vast majority of men, if they have enough children, will probably have some of each sex. This is as it should be, and fully supports the Twinkle Theory—since it is by men’s changeability that they embody the changing sex role needs of their social group.
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Thus, as we would expect, the vast majority of actors and world leaders, most of whose lives have had various ups and downs, are indeed found to have mixed-sex offspring. And if one cares to look into the changing circumstances of their lives when their children were conceived, it becomes evident why they produced which sex when they did. Also as predicted by the theory, there is a significant number of actors and world leaders who have children of only one sex—sometimes because they have had fewer children, but in many cases because when they conceived them all, they had ‘settled’ temperaments or because the circumstances of their lives were stable. The point is that the evidence should include both mixed and single-sex producing fathers. Secondly, as will be discussed in Chapter Ten: most men, and not least actors and world leaders, are excellent liars, and so there are bound to be some surprises—men who do not have the offspring we would expect. These surprise offspring do not disprove the Twinkle Theory; rather, they prove that the public persona of the man in question may well be the opposite of his private temperament. Now then, who are the contemporary show business types who, by virtue of their immutable masculine behaviour—assertive (achieving or selfish), authoritative (managerial or bossy), and/or dissenting (creative or devious) behaviour—have produced only girls? Well, there’s square-jawed Robert Redford, selfcentered Warren Beatty, heartbreaker Paul Newman, cocksure Michael Caine, man’s man Clint Eastwood, lifeguard David Hasselhoff, blunt Danny De Vito, and that most obnoxiously aggressive of all Hollywood men, Bruce Willis. Fathers of daughters also include stiff-upper-lipped Robert Wagner, delinquent Kiefer Sutherland, bounder Ted
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Danson, ham comic Chevy Chase, pushy Billy Crystal, sporty Woody Harrelson, persistent Peter Falk, ‘the fonz’ Henry Winkler, man-mountain John Goodman, and that classic Hollywood hero, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Leading men Clark Gable and Jimmy Stewart had just daughters. So did Elvis. On the high-culture side, there’s the over-achieving ballet-master Baryshnikov, and the opera impresario, Pavarotti—both these fixedly-masculine men, as one would expect, have daughters and no sons. By contrast, who are the entertainers who, because of their persistently feminine (ie, sensitive) behaviour —compassionate (charitable or manipulative), accommodating (sociable or wimpish), and/or receptive (cultured or obsessive) behaviour—have produced only boys? To start with, there’s the affable Bill Murray, smoothie Sean Connery, manipulative Michael Douglas, ideal ‘new man’ Tom Hanks, and that ultimate urban neurotic, Woody Allen. There’s also panty-bedecked Tom Jones, mysterious Michael Keaton, boyish Michael J Fox, chinless Anthony Perkins, and acquiescent Alan Arkin. John Lennon—the introspective, sensitive Beatle—had only sons. So did kindly, soft-spoken personalities of yore like Merv Griffin and Burl Ives. Kid-at-heart Steven Spielberg has sons by both his wives. Amongst cultured types, in direct contrast to the masculine Pavarotti, who is famous for being bossy and gregarious, is another great tenor, Placido Domingo, whom female opera-buffs adore for his compassion and romanticism. As predicted by the Twinkle Theory, while Pavoratti has three lovely daughters, Domingo has four charming sons. A surprise amongst masculine fathers is Tom Conti, who one would have thought is soft and sensitive. His
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daughters belie his secret pushiness. And a surprise member of the feminine ranks is Jack Klugman, whom you may remember as the slobbish, manly half of the Odd Couple, opposite the uptight, effeminate Tony Randall. But if you think about it, it was always the Tony Randall character who was aggressively getting his way, and the Jack Klugman character who was forced to compromise. Jack’s real-life sons are the proof of his more accommodating nature. Men who produce both sexes are, by definition, unsettled, changeable men. In the world of acting, settled men roughly translates to ‘character’ actors, who embody a particular type, and unsettled men translates to ‘dramatic’ actors, who adapt themselves to every role. Thus the onesex-producing actors listed above—for example, Warren Beatty, Bruce Willis, Billy Crystal, Bill Murray, and Michael J Fox—are usually hired for character roles. And among those who have a mixture of boys and girls are some prominent dramatic actors. The classic example is Dustin Hoffman, who after producing two girls from his first marriage, when he was aggressively rising through the ranks, in his second marriage conceived a boy, then a girl, then a boy, then a girl— illustrating perfect ‘method acting’ changeability. Other truly dramatic types who have had kids of both sexes include: evil/charming Robert DeNiro, tragic/sardonic Harrison Ford, moody Richard Dreyfuss, versatile Gerard Depardieu, and the ubiquitous Gene Hackman. There’s also good guy/bad guy James Caan, epic/disaster master Charlton Heston, seducer/monster Jack Nicholson, flexible Kevin Costner, lord/lush Peter O’Toole, chameleon-like Donald Sutherland, and respectable/laughable Lloyd Bridges. Roger Moore had sons before becoming 007, and a daughter afterwards. Likewise, Don Johnson had a son early
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on and a daughter with Melanie, after Miami Vice. In the high-culture arena, in contrast to the theatrical Pavarotti and the romantic Domingo is the world’s other great tenor, José Carreras—who, being by turns theatrical and romantic, has naturally produced one girl and one boy. Now let’s turn to the other group of men whose personalities we all believe we know: heads of state. In most countries, men at the top simply have to be masculine— assertive, authoritative, and devious—in order to get there and stay there. Fidel Castro and Boris Yeltsin, for example, have daughters; feminine compassion or accommodation would be their undoing. But the U.S. Presidency is an exception to the rule of ‘macho rules’. Luckily for us, the world’s foremost free market democracy revels in the varying personalities of its leaders. This obsession with Presidential personality is largely a phenomenon of postwar America, and so we will restrict our analysis to recent Presidents. First, consider the recent Presidents who had daughters and no sons—meaning, in light of the Twinkle Theory, that they were primarily selfish, bossy, and devious, or in a word, solidly masculine. Clinton qualifies here, with one daughter. Nixon had two daughters, as did Johnson before him. And Harry Truman had one daughter. There was only one recent President with an only son—and that was Eisenhower, who was probably rather wimpish as world leaders go. Interestingly, several recent presidents had a string of sons, followed by a daughter—as though they were long oppressed by their political ambition, until it was finally realised. This category includes George Bush (four sons then a daughter), Jimmy Carter (three sons then a daughter), Gerald Ford (three sons then a daughter), and Franklin Delano Roosevelt (four sons then a daughter).
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Only two recent presidents were evenly balanced in their offspring, and as we shall see in Chapter Nine, these sorts of men make the very best leaders: John Kennedy (one daughter, one surviving son) and Ronald Reagan (two daughters, two sons). Indeed, Kennedy and Reagan are probably the only presidents in the latter half of the twentieth century who will be remembered in the history books as great, and not just competent, politicians. Lastly, in terms of anecdotal evidence to support the Twinkle Theory, I must take you from the sublime back down to the ridiculous. My favourite evidence of the theory’s veracity is not Fidel Castro, Luciano Pavarotti, Elvis Presley, or even Bruce Willis. It is that most prominent assertive male in every recent American childhood: Fred Flintstone. I am certain it was no accident that Hanna-Barbera gave the loud-mouthed, bragging, hotheaded Fred a sweet little daughter, Pebbles. It was also quite natural that they gave Barney, Fred’s thoughtful, compliant, considerate neighbour, a very macho young son, Bam-Bam. I realise that cartoons seem rather trivial evidence, since they are not real people. But what’s striking about the pairing of Fred and Pebbles, and Barney and Bam-Bam, is that you simply cannot imagine the fathers matched to the offspring the other way round.

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Chapter Nine

A Rigorous Analysis

If I were reading The Twinkle Theory, and not writing it, I’d want to object after reading Chapter Eight that all anecdotal evidence suffers from the same weakness—it is by definition selective. When looking at movie stars, or heads of state, it is all too easy to mention only those cases which seem to support the theory, and ignore all those cases which don’t. As author, I must assent to this sensible objection, and hereby offer the reader an attempt at a more rigorous analysis. Speaking of heads of state, there is another particular group of leaders whose temperaments and offspring over many centuries are extremely well-documented. The group to which I refer is the British monarchy, which stretches some 900 years, from William the Conqueror to Britain’s future king, His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales. The royal line includes a few women (Mary, Elizabeth I, Mary II, Anne, Victoria, and Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II), but on the whole the British monarchy has been male. This group of men is a particularly useful test case for the Twinkle Theory, for three reasons. First, the deeds and behaviour of these men are well-known to historians, so anyone can make their own informed judgements about their personalities. Secondly, the circumstances of their lives are largely comparable with one another (in terms of breeding, privileges, social environment, and vocation), so the gender of their offspring can be attributed directly to
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their only unique characteristic—their temperament. Lastly, the intrigues of succession make all patriarchal monarchs very keen to produce sons, which creates an intense social dynamic between their temperament and their children. The English royal line of fathers comprises, as would any group of men, mainly the most common type—that is, one who produces a mixture of male and female offspring. I have mentioned before that if most men are allowed to father enough children, most will eventually have some of each sex. The British kings indeed tended to have many children—sometimes ten or more—and that’s just counting the legitimate ones, since they also had numerous mistresses. For the purposes of this chapter, there is no point dwelling on the circumstances of those kings who had a fairly even mixture of offspring. It can be assumed that the life of any king is one of constant ups and downs, and that this would naturally cause fluctuating masculine or feminine tendencies. Thus the following fleeting history will skip rather rapidly through the clearly changeable, heterogeneous fathers, in order to dwell briefly on those whose offspring were mainly of one or the other gender. But let us at least start the analysis with an ideal example of the most common type of father—the mixed male, who can exhibit either social sex role depending on the circumstances he faces. On his masculine side, William the Conqueror, or William I, was a descendant of Vikings, a courageous soldier, and a ruthless ruler, who early on in his youth had to struggle for his rights, in the first instance for his family inheritance. On his feminine side, he was the son of a trademan’s daughter, level-headed and an able administrator, pious, and clean-living. This combination of aggression and accommodation moulded his military campaigns into what was described as a calculated mixture
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of terror and mercy; he would literally destroy one village so as to elicit surrender by the next. His legacies, which included England’s entire feudal system as well as the impressive Domesday Book, testify to the political effectiveness of a balanced social temperament. William I had five daughters and four sons, including the future William II and Henry I. The red-haired William II was a short-lived tyrant who inherited only his father’s greed and ruthlessness, imposed harsh taxes, was universally disliked, and produced no heirs at all. He was succeeded by his brother Henry I, who was more like their father. Henry’s able, balanced administration again brought stability and prosperity to England. He had one son, tragically drowned at sea, and one daughter, Matilda, who made up for her lost brother by growing into a very strong-willed woman. To avoid making Matilda queen, Henry’s nephew Stephen, grandson of William I, was chosen as the successor. Stephen was noble, generous, and chivalrous —strictly feminine traits that were poorly suited to the harsh realities of medieval politics. Matilda willfully insisted on her claim to the throne, and led nine years of baronial civil war against Stephen. During this difficult time, Stephen naturally had two sons, but neither survived him. (Meanwhile, Matilda’s rather cowed husband, Geoffrey of Anjou, also gave her a son, who was named Henry after his grandfather.) Stephen was succeeded by this Henry II, a vigorous, long-reigning king, who represented a welcome return to the mixed social sex role type of father. He produced three daughters and five sons, including Richard and John. His successor, Richard I, called the Lion Heart, was known in his time as a greedy, arrogant, and cruel man. He died of a
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battle wound, married but childless. His brother and successor, John, was again the mixed type of father, but exhibiting mainly the bad traits of each sex role—selfishness and deviousness on the masculine side, and manipulativeness and obsessiveness on the feminine side. He had three daughters and two sons, including another Henry. Henry III was, in turns, encouraged in his ambitions, and roundly defeated. These shifting fortunes gave him three daughters and two sons, the eldest named Edward. Edward I was a truly masculine young man, and he came to the throne, at age 33, in his prime. He was tall, handsome, athletic, cunning, authoritative, and commanding—an effective soldier and leader who was to preside over the true flowering of medieval England. A cunning military man, he led successful attacks in the Crusades and on the Continent, but is best remembered for his campaigns in Britain. Edward’s defeat of the Welsh led to use of the title ‘Prince of Wales’ for the king’s son. But later in his reign, he failed to subjugate the more determined Scots, despite several key victories. His first, beloved wife Eleanor bore him nine daughters, as would be expected, and one surviving son, Edward. He was deeply saddened by her premature death, and therefore, after remarriage, had two further sons. The sole surviving son from Edward I’s happy first marriage turned out to be much less of a leader. Edward II was probably bisexual, shunned his royal responsibilities, and showed an impetuous temper. His wife, before she left him and plotted his destruction, bore him two daughters and two sons, including another Edward. Edward III started the Hundred Years War with France. Although he led successful attacks, victory was elusive, as England was
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burdened with serious problems at home. Accordingly he produced a mix: five daughters, and nine sons, including Edward, the famous Black Prince. The crown went to this prince’s son, Richard II, who was an ambiguous historical figure, but of little importance to us since he had no children. Richard was deposed by Henry IV, another grandson of Edward III in the line of the Duke of Lancaster. Henry was a capable, intelligent ruler, but he was hampered by constant rebellions, due to his imperfect claim of succession. He had two daughters and four sons, the eldest being another Henry. Henry V was probably the first English king to be thoroughly dedicated to his national social identity—a key feature of feminine behaviour. He began his reign by reconciliation with his father’s enemies, and declarations of allegiance to the Church. To strengthen his rule at home, Henry staked a claim to the French throne and proceeded to enforce it in a series of brilliantly strategic battles, which included his famous victory near Agincourt—which nearly repaid the Normans for their conquest. (Here is a clear illustration that ‘feminine’ by no means equals ‘submissive’.) He again sought reconciliation rather than subjugation, allowing the mad French king Charles VI to reign on. Henry became regent and heir—rather than conqueror—of France, and married the king’s daughter. She bore him, of course, a son, again named Henry. Whereas his father epitomised the beneficial effects of feminine traits, Henry VI showed only the drawbacks. An infant when he ascended the throne, he soon faced the revival of France, led by Joan of Arc, and later lost the Continental empire his father had so boldly won. At home, jealousies and rivalries started the dynastic War of the Roses. Sad Henry, who much preferred religion and high
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learning to affairs of state and conquest, was tossed about by the conflict, and fell prey to periodic fits of madness. His charming wife, Margaret of Anjou, bore Henry one son. But so weak was Henry VI that he virtually promised the throne to his cousin the Duke of York’s son, Edward IV, rather than his own. Tall, suave, and good-looking, Edward IV fought early battles for his crown, and later ruled England firmly and prosperously. He had five daughters and two sons, the eldest another Edward. Edward V, at age 12, with his younger brother Richard of York, became one of the ‘Princes in the Tower’, and reigned for only three months. His cousin, Richard III, is variously portrayed (as in Shakespeare) as the obsessed usurper and murderer of the two princes, or (by recent historians) as a manipulating but forthright master of a very unstable dynasty. In any case, the end of his two-year reign signalled the end of the medieval period in England. His claim to the crown was weak and resented by many, and inspired an uprising of discontents who joined with French soldiers across the channel. Oppressed by guilt, suspicions, and popular opposition, he had one son, who did not survive him. Richard himself was killed in the Battle of Bosworth by a force led by his successor, the Welshman, Henry Tudor. As has been suggested, men with an even balance of offspring, like William I, have the most potential for great leadership. Henry VII, who had two daughters and two sons, was to lead England out of the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance. A descendant of the Duke of Lancaster, he resolved the War of the Roses by marrying Elizabeth of York. By clever reforms, he revived respect for the law, raised considerable finance, and set the old enemy France against Spain. The younger of Henry’s sons was the next,
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more infamous Henry. Henry VIII inherited a secure monarchy, wellfinanced, and highly respected abroad. In his youth Henry was tall, handsome, athletic, musical, and scholarly—a true Renaissance man. He was masculine in all the best senses: an assertive achiever, an authoritative manager, and intellectually creative. It was the tragic conflict—as could have been predicted by the Twinkle Theory—between his undeniable masculinity, and his desire for a son as royal heir (to avoid the fate of Richard III, for example), that was to be his eventual undoing. The only surviving child of Henry’s first marriage, to Catherine of Aragon, the popular widow of his older brother, was naturally a girl, Mary. Hoping to secure a more fertile wife, less prone to miscarriage, Henry sought a divorce. But he was unlikely to get one from Rome, where the Holy Roman Emperor happened to be Catherine’s nephew. However, with Church reforms abroad, its unpopularity at home, and progressive Renaissance ideas, Henry’s masculine tendency to dissent was sorely tempted. He broke with Rome, set himself up as Supreme Head of the Church of England, and invalidated his marriage. He then hurriedly married Anne Boleyn, in secret, but within three years had executed her for giving birth to—as we might have predicted—another daughter, Elizabeth. By now obsessed with producing a male heir, Henry became fat, insecure, foul-tempered, and manipulative. Ironically, his increasingly feminine disposition, and his being surrounded by females, at last yielded the longed-for son and heir—Edward, by his next wife, Jane Seymour. Henry’s new temper succeeded in giving him a son, but it also condemned many good men and women to death, and inflicted serious damage on the spirit of the nation. Jane
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died soon after Edward’s birth, and Henry tried to get more male heirs out of three further wives: Anne of Cleeves, to whom he soon took a dislike; Catherine Howard, who deceived him and was executed for it; and Catherine Parr, who outlived him. There were no further children. By the time of Henry’s death, he was probably the most despised ruler England ever had. If only he had known about the Twinkle Theory! Henry VIII’s precious son and heir, Edward VI, sadly reigned for only six years, succumbing to illness at the age of 15. His elder step-sister, Mary, succeeded him, and restored Catholicism to England, persecuted and executed Protestants such as Lady Jane Grey (hence ‘Bloody Mary’), and married Philip II of Spain, but had no children. Her step-sister, Elizabeth I, then ruled brilliantly for the entire latter half of the 16th Century, returning the country to High Anglicanism, surpressing rivals in Scotland, defeating the Spanish Armada, and sponsoring a profusion of English literature, art, and exploration. Elizabeth never married. Her successor, the last of the Tudor line, descended from Henry VIII’s sister, was James I, King of Scotland. Lacking the common touch of his predecessors, unable to cope with the English Parliament, profligate with royal finances, and probably bisexual, his reign was unsuccessful. He had a daughter and two sons; the daughter initiated what was to be the Hanover line of kings; the second son was Charles. Charles I was a cultivated man, but an inadequate monarch. He offended Parliament, married a Catholic, and over-taxed powerful men—which led to an exodus of Puritans, the English Civil War, and ultimately his execution. His ups and downs gave him three daughters and three sons, including another Charles and James. The Restoration of the Monarchy after Cromwell brought Charles II back from a
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decadent life of exile in France, to rule alongside a powerful English Parliament. The new king was affable, witty, and merry. He took many mistresses, but he married a Catholic who bore him no heirs. Charles II’s younger brother James II, an avowed Catholic, succeeded him. A overly serious, industrious man, and a courageous soldier, he repelled his illegitimate nephew’s claim to the throne, and then pressed for the restoration of Catholicism and the suppression of parliament. The rather masculine James had two daughters by an earlier marriage, Mary and Anne, who became Protestants. But James’ ambitions brought great uncertainty into his life, as well as open opposition. So when his second wife, the Queen, became pregnant, it was to be a son, James. This deepened the country’s fears of a Catholic dynasty, and when William of Orange, James’ Dutch brother-in-law, was invited to invade and overthrow the king, James fled abroad with his wife and son. A convention then offered the throne jointly to William of Orange’s son, William III and his wife, Mary II, elder daughter of James II. Both were solid Protestants. William and Mary accepted a Bill of Rights that excluded Catholics from succession, established civil liberties, and assured an elected parliament of its supremacy. Mary, who died after only five years as queen, bore no children. They were succeeded by Mary’s younger sister, Anne, a virtuous and rather dull monarch, who was married to Prince George of Denmark but, despite 18 pregnancies, had no long-surviving children. James I’s eldest daughter had married a Teuton of the Rhine, and his German great-grandson George I was the most direct Protestant heir to England’s parliamentary throne. This unattractive monarch, who spent little time in
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England, had imprisoned his wife in a castle for alleged infidelity. She never again saw their daughter or their son, George. The reign of George II was notable for victories over other European powers, colonisation further abroad, and bitter quarrels at home. He had five daughters and three sons, including one Frederick. George III, Frederick’s son, loved England and was loved in turn by his subjects for his humble tastes, which contrasted with the general excesses of his court. He managed to hold on to his crown while revolutions in America and France transformed the world around him. But in later life he suffered illness and fits of madness. His mixed experiences gave him six daughters and nine sons, including another George. Where his father had been frugal, George IV was renowned for his voluptuary excesses, especially in later life. During his father’s long final illness, George the Prince Regent outraged the king with his drinking and carousing. But his taste for extravagance also made him the patron of some of England’s finest creative works, including superb painting, Regency architecture, and novels. His most magnificent legacy is perhaps the Brighton pavilion, on which no expense was spared. But as king, he was also ostentatious, self-indulgent, boisterous, and wholly indifferent to the widespread poverty and suffering of his subjects after the Napoleonic war and at the start of the industrial revolution. In sum he was wholly masculine: selfish, arrogant, but creative. His second wife bore him one child—a daughter, of course, who herself died in childbirth. The crown went George IV’s brother, William IV, an Admiral-Prince who, to put it kindly, had not been promoted for his abilities. He had a mistress who bore him ten children (sexes unrecorded), but his wife Adelaide bore none that survived infancy. His niece, the great Victoria,
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followed him, reigning brilliantly for the rest of the 19th Century, presiding majestically over the rise of a global empire and a period of profound social change. She had nine children, including one Edward. Before becoming king, Edward VII had been Prince of Wales for decades, dominated by his forceful mother. As both prince and king he was known for his genial demeanour and many self-indulgences, including amorous liaisons, many race-horses, and gastronomical excesses. But the king was also a popular monarch, and skillful as an international diplomat. He had three daughters and two sons, one called George. A 19th Century man faced with 20th Century problems, George V was a likeable monarch whose dignity and keen awareness bridged the two eras. He helped to steer a troubled nation through World War I, the triumph of socialism in Russia, and the rise of fascism, and yet he embodied solid family values and lofty ideals. Determined, yet sensitive and sympathetic to his subjects at home and abroad, George had one daughter and five sons, including Edward and another George. Edward VIII was a man of great promise, but fell in love with a divorced American, Mrs Simpson, and in order to marry her, abdicated the throne. They had no children. Edward’s brother, George VI, succeeded him. Outwardly shy and nervous as the Duke of York, George ‘had greatness thrust upon him’ and admirably lived up to the nation’s expectations all through its ‘darkest hours’. He had fought in the Great War, and was the first royal to qualify as a pilot. As king, he presided with statesmanship over a huge empire, became a focus of national pride through the horrors of the Second World War, and set the tone for Britain’s graceful, post-war diminishment of its imperial powers. One can only assume he had ‘greatness’ in
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him all along. This deeply masculine king naturally had two daughters, including the present monarch, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Lastly in England’s royal line, we should note the temperaments of the two princes who now have children, the heir apparent Prince Charles and his next younger brother, Prince Andrew. As it happens, the contrast between them couldn’t be more poignant in terms of the Twinkle Theory. In private, Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, is quiet, reflective, and sensitive; in public, he is a charming and sociable royal. He is a firm traditionalist and conformist—for example, in his manners, speech, and architectural tastes. Charles also dabbles a bit in domestic handiwork such as watercolours, storywriting, and gardening. He is most comfortable with close female friends, and spends his time supporting liberal social causes such as environmentalism and youth programmes, having set up his own social charity, The Prince’s Trust. By Princess Diana (who in her extreme femininity was rather too similar to Charles to make a happy marriage), he naturally produced two sons, Princes William and Harry. Charles’ brother, Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, is virtually his opposite. Trained as a helicopter pilot, Andrew saw—and by all accounts enjoyed—fierce action in the Falkland Islands War. He has since made a career out of the Navy. Although a good commander on board ship, he is awkward in mixed civilian society, exhibiting both naivete and a rude, schoolboy humour. He is very sporty, uninvolved in society and charities. Not at all taken with the splendour and romance of royal abodes, he built himself a crass, suburban mansion for (his equally-masculine and therefore incompatible wife) Fergie and their two
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children—daughters, of course—the Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie. This concludes my attempt at an ‘objective’ analysis. I was not at all sure what I would find when I embarked on it. And even I am a little surprised—especially when one considers such vivid examples as Edward I, Henry V, Henry VIII, George VI, and Prince Charles—just how accurate and relevant the Twinkle Theory turns out to be.

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Chapter Ten

What Men Are For

In women’s eyes, most men—whether masculine or feminine in social sex role—are total ego-maniacs. They act like they are the centre of the universe, that their personal desires and needs are paramount, and that is it perfectly reasonable that everyone should be concerned with them at all times. The truth, as any amateur psychologist will tell you, is that men act this way because they are deeply insecure. They are uncertain of their place in the world, of their own importance, and of other people’s feelings towards them. Their overblown egoism is a cover—a kind of bravado that they adopt to ward off their deep-seated insecurity. Most women naturally realise that men’s overblown egos are just a cover for their feelings of insecurity. But women have a harder time seeing just what it is that makes men feel so insecure. After all, they still hold most of the power in virtually every society, and certainly most of the money. Compared with women, men have a relatively easy life, with ample time and resources to devote to recreation and leisure. Their bodies are much easier to maintain and to dress flatteringly. Men also experience more social and physical freedom, make friends readily, and stay socially desirable for their entire adult life. What exactly is their problem? Rather than ask what makes a man feel so insecure about his place in the world, perhaps it would be better to
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consider what makes a woman feel so secure. In contrast to a man, the average woman does feel she knows her place in the world, her importance to the people who depend upon her, and the nature of her relationships. Most women of course have some insecurities—about their bodies and their mothers, for example—but women rarely question their fundamental reason for being. (There is not, nor has there ever been, a female following for metaphysics.) From where does a woman derive her basic human dignity? My guess is that it comes to her sometime at the end of adolescence, when she finally becomes deeply aware of her potential role in procreation. Whereas a boy’s adolescence is just an awakening of sexual desire, a girl’s adolescence means much more. Her sex and fertility become a source of real vulnerability and susceptibility to the powers of Nature—sex appeal, pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood. Compounding this fatefulness is a profound connectedness to the continuity of time (back through her mother and forward through her future children) and an empathy with other women. In response to these realisations, an adolescent girl begins to build in her unconscious an inner self-reliance, and a confidence to face up to Nature and move on with her life. After adolescence, if she chooses not to devote herself immediately to baby-making, the option is not discarded, but is set squarely into the background of her consciousness. By pursuing an early career, vocation, or art, she by no means frees herself from Nature’s calling, but willfully and constantly makes a choice to keep it at bay. Throughout her youth, until middle age, a woman derives comfort and security from the ever-present knowledge that there is another kind of life she could at any time enter into. (This is of course why some women, regardless of what they are
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doing, start to panic when they haven’t found a reliable partner by their mid-thirties.) In brief, a woman’s potential or actual motherhood is a kind of existential safety net, which bestows on her a profound inner peace and dignity. This dignity is also upheld and reinforced by female friends and relations, whose own confidence allows them to be sympathetic and honest in their dealings with her. It may be hard for women to imagine not having it, but men simply do not have this existential safety net. They have no natural ‘raison d’etre’. As a result, they are in a permanent state of existential crisis. Beneath their education, career, pleasures, family, buddies, sports, politics, and obsessions—is a yawning, infinite canyon of nothingness. To calm the vertigo and stop themselves falling literally into meaninglessness, men are constantly having to invent an aim, a direction, and values on which to build their lives. They struggle to create meaning in their work, to hear evidence of their own importance, to gain attention for their needs and wants, and to be re-assured of their place in relationships and in the world around them. This is the attitude that appears—especially to women—to be sheer ego-mania. Most of the time, men are unfortunately grasping at straws to create a semblance of purpose in their lives. They sometimes fail, turning to drink, philandering, apathy, hopelessness, or wandering. Those who don’t obviously fail—regardless of their superficial successes —would agree, if they thought about it, that they are ultimately only fooling themselves. This is also the reason that the vast majority of men are not honest and forthright with women, why they do not behave naturally around them, and why most husbands’ inner feelings, fears, and fantasies go unspoken. Quite simply, men dare not risk having their intricately woven web
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of self-delusion torn to shreds by the scurrilous attacks of more confident creatures. And women are all too quick to ridicule men and humiliate them, unaware that they are cruelly dangling a fellow human being on the precipice of nothingness. Men, for their part, defend themselves against attack by continuous private murmurings of misogyny and displays of disrespect. Hence the war of the sexes: one sex which feels it must conceal its true inner life from the other; and another sex which feels oppressed by and lives partly in fear of emotional or even physical abuse by the former. I hope that the Twinkle Theory, if widely accepted, may help put an end to this tragic and debilitating conflict. For acceptance of the theory is tantamount to an acknowledgement of the crucial role of the male in procreation and in the broader viability of the species. This feeling of being useful and necessary is, I believe, the existential basis for any thinking creature’s self-respect and dignity. The Twinkle Theory identifies several ways in which the character of the father—’who’ he is, and not just ‘what’ he is—is a necessary contributor to the future viability of his progeny, his family, his larger social group, and indeed the species. First and foremost, a father’s temperament, in determining his child’s sex, directly helps his immediate social group get what it needs for survival—a new masculine member when its fortunes need improving, or a new feminine member when its social cohesion is under threat. Secondly, the father’s production of a gender opposite to his current temperament enables the social group to maintain its necessary and delicate balance of social sex role behaviour. Thirdly, the father’s temperamental changeability is itself a key ingredient in his family’s and progeny’s
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survival—helping them to take advantage in times of prosperity and to build bridges in times of adversity. Without the chameleon-like temperament of fathers, neither families nor the social group at large could so easily adapt to a changing world. The Twinkle Theory also suggests another, broader sense in which fathers may play a role in procreation. If it is the father who determines the gender of his child, it is not unlikely that he also determines other key characteristics of the child—features which likewise satisfy the changing needs of the social group. To aid its viability or cohesiveness, a social group may at times need—in addition to a balance of masculinity or femininity—varying degrees of, for example: exploration, orderliness, gregariousness, communication, abstraction, curiosity, calculation, hard work, perfection, creativity, and independence. How individuals vary in these traits is the essence of who they are, and what they can contribute to the social group. Since men, with their inherent changeability, reflect the changing needs of the social group, it makes sense that it is men who determine all these many features of an offspring’s character—not only whether the child is a boy or a girl, but also how bold, sociable, inquisitive, hard working, and inventive that person is likely to be: in a word, his or her potential personality. This rather profound assessment of the father’s contribution to procreation is by no means intended to belittle that of the mother. Whereas the father may largely determine the offspring’s unique potential, the mother determines the actual development and fruition of that special potential—and of the child’s generic potential as a human being. For this purpose, whereas the father represents changeability, the mother represents constancy,
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The Twinkle Theory

David Gettman

since this is what any growing being needs most. A female’s eggs are fully formed even before she is born, and stay the same throughout her life. Then, at conception, in the same way that she always contributes the ‘X’ chromosome, while her partner may contribute either an ‘X’ or a ‘Y’, the mother imbues the child with the very essence of the species—the precious genetic heritage that defines it as a human being. As the foetus develops, the mother’s own body becomes a secure and stable environment for its growth. Then after the birth, the developing child benefits from the constancy of a mother’s presence—not only for care and nourishment, but also for familiarity and routine. And as the child grows and learns independence, it builds its entire world view on the foundation of that early, unchanging maternal order. All this is reinforced by the mother’s intuitive, and socially encouraged, femininity: unwavering compassion, the unconscious inculcation of her received culture in the child, and—as every mother knows—constant accommodation to the child’s needs and wants. The mother and father are equally important to the viability of the family, society, and the species. Unfortunately, at least in the Western world of the late 20th Century, it is only women who seem able to take their importance for granted—and to live contentedly, day-byday, secure in the knowledge of their underlying purpose on earth, whether or not they wish to fulfil it. Now I believe it is time for men to come to that same realisation, and to possess the same security and contentment in their lives. I believe this would benefit not only them, but also their relationships and society at large. What are men for? In light of the Twinkle Theory, the
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The Twinkle Theory

David Gettman

answer is clear: men exist to embody the social condition, to give voice to the Zeitgeist, to act out the spirit of their age. Responding to their perceived social condition in their every thought and action, men consciously engage in a Darwinian competition for the viability of their social group. And by their effect on the gender and character of their offspring, men unconsciously maximise the next generation’s ability to carry on the struggle. The essence of Darwin’s theory of evolution is that helpful new characteristics in a species are naturally selected by the pressures of a changing environment. Whereas all living things inherit physical characteristics, the human being also evolves—more quickly and effectively—on the higher plane of cultural adaptation. And just as changes in the natural environment drive the evolution of a species, so do changing social conditions drive the progress of every culture. It is a man’s role to witness, absorb, communicate, and assimilate social change—and ultimately to respond to those changes—through his direct behaviour and through its indirect effect on the gender and character of his offspring. Every aspect of culture that appeals naturally to men—for example, politics, sports, war, economics, science, technology, or engineering—does so because it both mimics and reflects changing social conditions. The world of spectator sports, for example, is a Darwinian microcosm, involving competition, rankings, new players, and impending struggles. Men are equally obsessed with political news and commentary, itself a microcosm of natural selection with direct causal links to social climates and trends. Without men playing their part, most great social change would go unnoticed. Societies would carry on as
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The Twinkle Theory

David Gettman

they are for a while, but cultures would soon stagnate and fail to adapt. The uniquely cultural evolution of humanity would virtually cease, and the species would soon be ousted from the peak of the evolutionary tree. Thus men, far from being redundant to human society, are essential to its longterm viability. Just as every woman is profoundly connected to the biological continuity of the species, every man is profoundly connected to the cultural progress of his society—in a word, to history. When men record the story of cultural progress, they naturally see themselves in the central role. In the most general sense: women make life; men make history. It is up to men to make the future as well. By their actions they shape their society for greater and greater viability and competitiveness. And by determining the character of their offspring, they shape the success of every subsequent generation. The ‘twinkle in a father’s eye’ is literally a reflection of his social condition, which will soon mould itself into a new, more effective member of that society. Every twinkle in a man’s eye is a tiny, magical glimmer of the world to come.

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The Twinkle Theory

David Gettman

If you enjoyed this work, try these other Online Originals: Being and Becoming by Christopher Macann Egoism and the Crisis in Western Values by Elton O’Keeffe Green Grass and Stones by Dorothy K Fraser Beyond the Wilderness by Kenneth Robinson On the Web at www.onlineoriginals.com

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