Incarnations of Human Masculinity

“And Eternity” is the 7th book of the Incarnations of Immortality series by Piers Anthony. In the fantasy world in which the series takes place, there are seven incarnations of day: Death (Thanatos), Time (Chronos), Fate (Clotho, Lachesis, & Atropos), War (Mars), Nature (Gaea), Evil (Satan), and Good (God). These are supernatural offices occupied by mortals. They all have distinct powers or abilities related to their office. There is also one Incarnation of Night (Nox) who also has distinct abilities. She knows the secrets and desires of every person.

In the 7th book, two girls, Jolie and Orlene, decide to pay Nox a visit. But during their trek into the chaos void to find her, Nox hurls obstacles at them, from man eating locusts, monsters, deadly weather conditions, and even an avalanche of glass shards. Their only way of escape is for Orlene to wave a magic wand that the two girls found on this journey, which allows them to escape these obstacles and was no doubt left for them by Nox. But every time Orlene invokes the wand, her body and behavior change. She slowly turns into a man. During her transformation, she becomes more eager to fight the obstacles, more determined to reach Nox, and most importantly, she becomes condescending toward Jolie, continuously making jabs at her, talking down to her, and, when the transformation is complete, decides to try and rape her before Nox shows up and finally intervenes.

In this situation, Nox was trying to teach Jolie and Orlene a lesson about men. The two girls conclude that the only reason all men do not behave the way Orlene did, when she was under Nox’s spell, is because they’ve had a lifetime to learn to control their instincts. The implication here is that men are naturally violent, rude, dangerous, sexist, and rapey. Good men are only good through enculturation…through being tamed.

But how true is this?

Testosterone is supposed to be the hormone that makes men men, what gives them their deep voices, their facial hair, their broad shoulders. And if they are naturally the way Nox thinks they are, then it makes them violent hostile rapists. But an article in Science Daily, called “Testosterone Does Not Induce Aggression, Study Shows” casts doubt on that. Previous assumptions about testosterone were based off animal testing. Mice injected with more testosterone behaved more aggressively, so it was assumed that’s what testosterone does, even to humans. This is actually false. What testosterone actually does is it makes people more intuitively aware of the prerequisites for status. It may cause men to be aggressive in certain environments, but it also causes them to be fair and cooperative in other environments where status requires those traits. This might explain why many men will be good and trustworthy toward you when no women are present, but suddenly become belligerent toward you when a woman enters the room. Another article at Science Daily “Testosterone Linked to Men’s ability to ‘Woo’ Potential Mates” confirms this, which showed that men with more testosterone are more likely to bash other men in the presence of an attractive girl.

Back to our story, the manlier Orlene became, keeping in mind that she does not have any previous life experience as a man, the more chivalrous and protective she should have become towards Jolie, more eager to prove her worth to her. Sure, she might be determined to fight the obstacles and reach Nox, but all in the hopes of impressing Jolie and maybe even Nox. Instead, her focus on the goal is done at Jolie’s expense, and eventually abandoning that goal when she finally notices her and, out of arousal, tries to rape her. In actuality, Orlene should have become a white knight or mangina.

One might ask “but what about all the rape statistics and domestic violence statistics which prove that men are aggressive and violent. Well it’s entirely possible, and I’m becoming convinced that it’s likely, that innate maleness has nothing to do with rape and domestic violence. Rapists, male or female, tend to be damaged people, and domestic violence tends to be much more complicated.

Nox might know all our secrets, but our secrets come from our minds, a safe haven from reality, and it is clear that reality is outside the jurisdiction of Nox. Perhaps the Incarnation of Night should have consulted the Incarnation of Nature before she began this little prank on her two lab rats.