Woman has had a good run. For 200,000 years humankind’s anisogamous better (and bigger) half has enjoyed a position of desirability and safety befitting a scarce commodity. She has also piloted the evolutionary destiny of our species, both as a sexual selector and an agitator during man’s Promethean journey. In terms of comfort and agency, the human female is uniquely privileged within the annals of terrestrial biology.
But the era of female privilege is ending, in a steady decline that began around 1572. Woman’s biological niche is being crowded out by capital.
The most obvious and vulgar manifestations of female obsolescence are entering mainstream consciousness. Starting with artificial wombs and ending with bespoke recombination of entire genomes, no one seriously doubts that feminine reproductive hardware will become extraneous.
What will be the sexual-market consequences of excising one sex’s biological imperative within a single generation? Some of the best discourse on the topic is being conducted in amphibian corners of Twitter. Closer consideration of that question, though, reveals the focus on sexual-market dynamics as so shallow as to be almost besides-the-point. The entire social order, of which the mating market is a single piece, is constructed on top of sexual reproduction. Sexual reproduction is the atomic unit of every civilization we are familiar with, and soon it will no longer exist.
Strictly speaking, the breadth of the coming changes extend beyond even civilizational dynamics. They will affect things that are prior. One of the oldest and most practical definitions for a biological species defines its boundary as the largest group of organisms where two individuals, via sexual reproduction, can produce fertile offspring together. The imminent arrival of new reproductive technologies will render the sexual reproduction criteria either irrelevant or massively expanded, depending upon one’s perspective. Fertility of the offspring is similarly of limited relevance, since the modification of gametes will be de rigueur in any case. What this looming technology heralds is less a social revolution than it is a full sympatric speciation event.
Accepting the inevitability of the coming bespoke reproductive revolution, consider a few questions & probable answers regarding our external-womb-grown ubermenschen:
Q: What traits will be selected for?
A: Ability to thrive in a global market economy (i.e. ability to generate value for capital.)
Q: What material substrate will generate the new genomes?
A: Capital equipment.
Q: Who will be making the selection?
A: People, at least initially, (and who coincidentally will be making decisions that map 1-to-1 to the interests of capital.)
Replace any of the above instances of the word capital with women, and you would have accurate answers for most of our species’ history. But jumping-the-womb unambiguously clarifies our future: humanity’s evolutionary trajectory points toward increasingly integrated symbiosis with capital. Failing to orient toward the use of technological capital is to be out-competed by those who do. One sees why Nick Land’s accelerationism has emerged as the inescapable philosophical discourse of the last 25 years.
With that unsettling conclusion in focus–of capital poised to completely circumscribe female agency in the story of humanity — an examination of recent history reveals a certain continuity in the back-story. Before external reproductive technology or even genes themselves were imagined, technological capital was grooming women for their coming demotion.
The evolved traits of openness to experience & out-group cooperation that greased the skids for the scientific & industrial revolutions in NW Europe also produced sentiments that liberated women from traditional roles. Some thinkers, such as anthropologist Alan MacFarlane, even attribute the normalization of English spinsterhood a causal role in the industrial revolution via its relaxing effect on Malthusian pressures.
Liberated from older modes of domestic production, female productive capacity has been leveraged on an industrial scale, from Yorkshire mills to Bangalore cube farms. What women sacrificed in time and fertility, they gained in disposable income used for purchasing consumer goods. Indeed the female dopaminergic system, responding to the consumption urge, became the turbo-charger of capitalism. When mass-advertising entered the mix, the engine got a boost of nitrious oxide.
Disentangling the chicken-and-egg causal nature of female social liberation, economic production, and consumption is less important than understanding that each node in the circuit reinforces the others. Every year that passes strengthens the female-capital pair bond at the expense of the male-female pair bond. The Singularity is reaching backwards in time to assemble resources, and is transitioning women from biological to capital infrastructure.
Successive waves of feminist ideology have appended psychological rationalizations to this process while failing to recognize the fundamental capitalist dynamic at its core (Xenofeminists are the single notable exception). Capitalism, ironically, is both the apotheosis of feminism and a destruction of the feminine. Male-to-female transgenderism, by logic of substitution, is a longing to assimilate into the inhuman.
Humanity’s estrangement from the feminine, and by extension the estrangement from our fundamental nature as a species, begins with the instantiation of technological capital as a self-propagating process. The advent of capital is the real speciation event of note in this discussion. Any future evolutionary path as biological beings falls out of technological capital as a secondary process. In lieu of having any actionable ideas about this situation, I propose giving a birth day to our Star Child. For largely aesthetic reasons, it should be 11 November 1572.
This is the date that Tycho Brahe observed the unexpected appearance of a new star, de nova stella, that we now classify as a supernova. It was a signal beamed in from space, from 10,000 years in the past, and intercepted at just the moment of civilizational & cognitive development where it could change humanity’s consciousness. The implications of Tycho’s nova regarding the permanence and mutability of the universe immediately reverberated through Europe. Like apes at the monolith, humanity found a new orientation toward the external world, and immediately launched into a new mode of investigation. At the abstract limit, the tools, feedback process, and distributed network of science are indistinguishable from capitalism.
In terms of pure informational content, the supernova seen from earth can be represented in a singularly compressed way: a flash of light on a black field where there previously was none. A single photon in the cone of the eye, at the limit. Whether a certain clichéd term fits, this piece defers, but the example is consistent with Bergson’s aphorism that “the universe is a machine for making gods.” Women were once a key component in that machine, but a new production process will route around them before this century is over. Mercifully, capital was kind enough to ease women into the transition, and most seem at least superficially contented with their fate, for now.
Follow Gianni on Twitter.