Manthropology: The Science of Why the Modern Male Is Not the Man He Used to Be
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Manthropology is the first of its kind. Spanning continents and centuries, it is an in-depth look into the history and science of manliness. From speed and strength, to beauty and sex appeal, to bravado and wit, it examines how man today compares to his masculine ancestors.
Peter McAllister set out to rebut the claim that man today is suffering from feminization and emasculation. He planned to use his skills as a paleoanthropologist and journalist to write a book demonstrating unequivocally that man today is a triumph---the result of a hard-fought evolutionary struggle toward greatness.
As you will see, he failed. In nearly every category of manliness, modern man turned out to be not just matched, but bested, by his ancestors. Stung, McAllister embarked on a new mission. If his book couldn’t be a testament to modern male achievement, he decided, it would be a record of his failures.
Manthropology, then, is a globe-spanning tour of the science of masculinity. It kicks off in Ice Age France, where a biomechanical analysis demonstrates that La Ferrassie 2, a Neanderthal woman discovered in the early 1900s, would cream 2004 World Arm Wrestling Federation champion Alexey Voyevoda in an arm wrestle. Then it moves on to medieval Serbia, showing how Slavic guslar poets (who were famously able to repeat a two thousand-line verse after just one hearing) would have destroyed Curtis Jackson, aka 50 Cent, in a battle rap. Finally, it takes the reader to the steaming jungles of modern equatorial Africa, where Aka Pygmy men are such super-dads, they even grow breasts to suckle their children. Now, that’s commitment.
For modern man, the results of these investigations aren’t always pretty. But in its look at the history of men, Manthropology is unfailingly smart, informative, surprising, and entertaining.
HOW DOES MODERN MAN STACK UP?
Russian arm wrestling champion Alexey Voyevoda has a twenty-two-inch bicep and has curled more than two hundred and fifty pounds---with just one arm. But could he stand up in an arm wrestling match with an average Neanderthal male? Or, for that matter, a female? (p. 10)
Today’s Ultimate Fighters compete in a sport where bouts routinely end with an unconscious loser splayed out on a blood-soaked canvas. But what would a match in the Octagon look like next to the Pankration bouts of the Ancient Greeks: a battleground or a playground? (p. 77)
A modern army goes into battle with state-of-the-art technology and centuries of strategical insight. But for sheer determination, could they have bested Nero’s legions, who marched nearly two marathons a day for six days straight---each legionary carrying hundred-pound packs? (p. 99)
There’s philological evidence that suggests Homer may not have written the Iliad; he may have rapped it. If 50 Cent had to face Homer in a rap battle, would he come out on top? (p. 160)
Wilt Chamberlain is known for scoring on more than just the court. He claimed to have had as many as twenty thousand sexual encounters in his lifetime. Such conquest could only be matched by one of the world’s greatest conquerors: There is the evidence that approximately 32 million people are descended from Genghis Khan. (p. 248)
Between Muscularity and Self-Esteem, Depression, and Eating Disorder Symptoms.” Psychology of Men & Masculinity 5(2): 112–20. Oliver, D. (1974). Ancient Tahitian Society. Honolulu, The University of Hawaii Press. Oliver, D. (1989). Oceania: The Native Cultures of Australia and the Pacific Islands. Honolulu, University of Hawaii Press. Oliver, D. L. (2002). Polynesia in Early Historic Times. Bess Press. Pain, S. (2007). “Histories: When Men Were Gods.” New Scientist Magazine 2590: 46–47.
1998 study in the Italian Journal of Neuropsychology, for example, found that long-time judo practitioners showed almost no later loss of brain function, compared to professional boxers, of whom as many as 87 percent did.7 Clearly, in terms of sustaining serious injuries, modern no-holdsbarred fighting is about as ultimate as sword fighting with cardboard sabers. Yet has mano-a-mano fighting always been this distressingly wussy? What about in days gone by—were deaths and injuries more common in
Homo masculinus modernus, terrorism, has reached new, unparalleled heights of destruction. One post-9/11 academic work on terror, for example, pointed out that the 2,974 casualties in the September 11, 2001, attacks constituted an almost forty-fold increase in casualties over the 76 terrorist bombings recorded between 1950 and 2000.46 Yet the existence of the Shia Assassins—the historical terrorists par excellence—shows that terrorism was not unknown in the ancient world. Sun Tzu, the famous
Combatants in the Inuit nith song duels, for example, sometimes accompanied their ripostes with a savage head butt or straight-armed blow to the side of the head, which their opponent was required to accept stoically until his turn came to return it. Nor was fatal violence completely absent. True, the official ideology of the duel required combatants to laugh off their defeats and depart in good humor, but Inuit society was also strongly revenge driven: one early twentieth-century anthropologist
himself, represent an unusual deviation from the norm. More relevant is the experience of the ordinary man, the everyday Homo masculinus modernus schmo going about his business—part of which, presumably, includes trying to reproduce himself. How does he fare against his ancient and tribal “ordinary guy” competitors? Any inquiry into this immediately runs into a problem: reliable figures for the number of lovers the average modern Western male has in his lifetime are almost nonexistent. Every