by Melanie Anne Phillips
The concept of "Mental Sex" is one of my personal favorite parts of the Dramatica Theory. In fact, Chris and I didnít go looking for it but it came out and bit us during the theory development. Eventually, Mental Sex became the driving force behind the further development of the Mental Relativity Theory - a model of psychology which grew out of Dramatica.
Since I enjoy this topic so much, Iíve written quite a bit about it. Chris and I have talked about doing it up right as a book but we havenít yet gotten around to it. For now, Iíll post a few of these essays on the subject here for anyone who shares the interest. And, if you just canít wait until they all get posted, you can find most of the work on Mental Sex through the Mental Relativity Home Page.
The notion that "Men Are From Mars; Women Are From Venus" is in itself a very male way of looking at the differences between the sexes. A more gender-neutral perspective would describe men as coming from a place and women from a moment. In fact, it is the differing ways in which men and women view space and time that account for all of the principal biologic influences that determine Mental Sex.
First of all, imagine a range of open ground in a valley. Now, imagine the valley is split in two by a fence. In the middle, where the fence is, the valley is somewhat of a bog, half water and half soil. As we move away from the fence to the left, the valley becomes more and more solid, until mid-way from the fence to the left side of the valley, the land is perfect for growing crops.
As we continue to the left, the land gets drier and drier until at the far left end of the valley, it is a desert, where nothing can grow.
Now, imagine as we move to the right of the fence toward the other side of the valley, about mid-way the bog gradually becomes marshland, which harbors all sorts of life. But, as we move all the way to the other side, the land gives way to completely pure water, in which nothing can live.
If we chart the life in the valley, we see that there is none at the far left, none at the far right, and none in the middle. But everywhere in between there is some degree of life. The greatest concentration is at the two points midway from the fence to either side. And each of those points harbors a completely different kind of life.
Men are born with a spatial orientation, meaning they are to the left of the fence. Women are born with a temporal orientation, meaning they are to the right of the fence. How far depends upon the individual. Some men will be born right up against the fence on the left, and some women will be born right up against it on the right. But, statistically, most men will be born toward the middle of the left and most women toward the middle of the right.
This initial bias simply describes where they will be born - not where they will end up.
When we receive our pre-birth bias in the womb, it determines how much spatial or temporal bias we have to our thinking AS AN UNDERLYING AND CONTINUOUS PULL. But it does not indicate where our life experience, training, and personal choice will lead us.
Because this bias "sets" the L and R cells in the ganglia of the brain to a ratio between the production of Seratonin and Dopamine, we are constantly drawn toward one side of the fence or the other for all of our lives. This cannot be changed by our experience, training, or choice. But these three items are built upon that bias, and collectively, have three times the "pulling power" of our initial bias. We canít get rid of the bias, and but we can compensate for it - or NOT, as we choose, as the cards fall.
So, a given woman might lean way over to the spatial side, due to here experience, while a man might be way over to her right - the temporal side - due to his.
If we just go with our bias because of upbringing or choice, those men would ALWAYS be more spatial than any woman, for she will always be pulled by that initial bias just a bit to the right. Similarly, a woman whose experience leads to a complete temporal outlook will be farther into the time side than any many can ever get.
Now, letís add the final level of complexity, which really makes the whole thing a lot more simple.
Why would something like this happen?
We all have a space and time sense. We all have a degree of Seratonin and Dopamine producing cells. We also all have a limited mental bandwidth - a depth of field as to how much of the space/time continuum we can span at any given moment. Imagine our mental bandwidth as a railroad car on a track. We can move to the left or right on the track along the space/time line, but we can only cover a certain number of "ties" at any given moment. This is our mental bandwidth. Some of us have a bit more or a bit less, but we all have a limit.
Now, an individual who was centered right in the middle, would see a bit of a spatial view and a bit of a temporal view. But, if a spatial person bonded with a temporal person, collectively they could extend their bandwidth to almost double the number of ties on the track. Of course they would have to overlap a bit in order to communicate, but other than that, they would be complementary. Each one could provide a more clear view of one side, and they would watch each otherís backs.
As a bonded pair, they would be much better suited to survival than any single individual who could not anticipate or appreciate spatial and temporal patterns as well, at an instinctual level.
So, it is my contention that physical sex and sex roles did not create two different minds, but that two different minds formed quite naturally as a strong survival trait, and the differences in the bodies evolved to support the approach of the mind.
Note that although we all have a bias when we are born, it is enhanced by the addition of hormones at puberty. When we are young, before child-bearing years, we need to be more centered. But when we reach child-bearing age, then we need to form bonded pairs. The hormones do both jobs by making us more attractive and attracted to the opposite sex at the same time our minds begin to move farther from the fence and more to one side or the other.
In this way, just about the time we form a bonded pair, our minds have shifted to make it the strongest pair possible.
Now, in pre-society days, survival traits led to a genetic tendency for men to be far to one side and women far to the other in a double "bell curve". Anyone in the middle was not as attractive a mate, because the bonded pair would not be as strong, and the off-spring would not have as much protection, and would therefore not be as likely to survive.
As we began to build cities and to tame the wild world, we incorporated structural roles for men and women base on these biases. But as we continued to tame the world, the value of these biases became less and less crucial (in perhaps the last 10,000 years).
As society and culture advanced toward the information age, we see more and more individuals being born closer to the middle on both sides, for society itself began to offer opportunities to individuals who were more balanced.
In todayís information society, the bias to one side or the other is actually a deficit. The individual who can jump from the spatial to the temporal at the drop of a hat is the most successful and most desirable of mates.
As a result, the best food, the best care and the greatest resources go to those who carry more balanced genes. In addition, and in support of this, as we pollute our lands, it changes the hormone balance in human beings. Men have a measurable lower level of testosterone and women are significantly taller from generation to generation.
These things are indications that our own environment is rippling back to continue the trend that genetics has already begun. The end result is that the two bell curves are simultaneously becoming flatter and also moving closer to the center.
It is my belief that over the course of the next thousand years or so, the range of humans on the spatial to temporal scale will be almost a flat line, evenly distributed from one end to the other. (Except, of course, that this isnít likely occur due to genetic tampering with our own DNA).
Still and all, society itself is a structural beast. Human evolution is dynamic, in all of its forms. When the two meet, tensions are created, just like tectonic plates floating on magma.
The structure cannot bend, so it must either break or be progressively dismantled and rebuilt. One approach is cataclysmic, the other constructive. We, as a world of people, have a choice as to which approach to take. The one sure thing is that choice or not, the building pressure will be dissipated in one form or another.
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Copyright Melanie Anne Phillips - Owner, Storymind.com, Creator Storyweaver, Co-creator Dramatica