Rap Guide to Evolution in Vancouver

In two and a half weeks I’ll be performing my first-ever public theatre run in my hometown of Vancouver, BC, and the first run of any kind there since the Vancouver Fringe in 2003. My early forays into hip-hop theatre have taken me around the world, but it took a full decade for them to bring me home again! The Rap Guide to Evolution runs from October 29 through November 10 at the Cultch in East Vancouver.

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6 Responses to Rap Guide to Evolution in Vancouver

  1. monica yuzak says:

    Saw your show last night and loved it.
    Went to bed uneasy, today am angry, and rarely opine but feel I must.
    Found your talkback blatantly sexist .
    ” women are not represented in culture and art because they are not prepared to suffer in poverty in order to make it”

    Our patriarchal society does not value female thought, culture, or art.
    It has always been thus and is improving. It is sad that a man of your intelligence, married to a neuro scientist has not figured this out.

    Preform, feedback, rewrite.
    How about :Rap Guide to Sexism .
    Monica

    • Baba Brinkman says:

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments Monica. I take them seriously and you deserve an honest answer. I assure you, it isn’t that I “haven’t figured it out” that the under-representation of women in art and culture is due to our patriarchal society; rather, I have weighed that argument carefully and I find it lacks any explanatory power. As Geoffrey Miller and many others have argued, it is very unlikely that all men would dedicate their efforts to the advancement of all other men at the expense of all women. I think it’s more likely that men compete with each other strenuously for status and public acclaim, especially because women find those qualities impressive and sexy, and the outcome is an over-representation of male voices in the arts and culture.

      I’m pretty sure I didn’t say that women are not prepared to suffer in poverty in order to make it, although I may have said that women are less willing to do so than men, on average, when they have a clear choice, especially in riskier winner-take-all fields like the arts where the successes and failures are separated by a massive chasm. By contrast, all high school teachers have relatively equal social status, whereas the most successful musicians and comedians are many orders of magnitude more rich and famous than the least successful. If there turns out to be an over-representation of men amongst successful public entertainers but not amongst high school teachers, an explanation is required, and I find the evolutionary psychology explanation a lot more intellectually compelling than the “patriarchy” explanation, especially because it casts light on gender disparities at many different levels of society and in both directions, from violent criminals (almost all men) to kindergarten teachers (almost all women).

      Also, if we’re both agreed that greater openness and gender equality at all levels of society is something we’d like to achieve, I think an accurate diagnosis of the real causes of inequality will give us more effective tools to fix the problem than a misdiagnosis. I know this isn’t the most politically correct or popular line of thinking on the subject (and you’re not the first person to, in my view unfairly, call me “blatantly sexist” for it), but I’m convinced it has the most likelihood of being accurate and gives us the best chance of achieving positive change, so I am committed to engaging with it head-on. I recommend Geoffrey Miller’s book The Mating Mind and Steven Pinker’s book The Blank Slate for further reading if you’re interested.

      Needless to say, if I ever do tackle a Rap Guide to Sexism, I would have a lot more to say than “down with patriarchy” : )

      Thanks again for your comments!

  2. Forrest Cahoon says:

    I follow that, Baba, but I find myself wondering “what about Rosalind Franklin” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosalind_Franklin)? Her work was critical in determining the structure of DNA, but until recently remained almost totally unrecognized. It seems reasonable to conclude that history has been full of Rosalind Franklins who, due to the selective memory of a male-dominate culture, have become completely forgotten. Here’s another example: in “modern” art (that is, the art developments that took place first half of the 20th century), I’ve heard a lot about Magritte, Picasso, Dali, Kandinsky … all men. It was just happenstance that I stumbled upon the works of Lyubov Popova (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyubov_Popova) but a single glance at her works would tell any right-thinking person that she belongs in that pantheon.

  3. Nic says:

    Evo is more than a linear progression Evo moves in every direction
    Evolizin Evolatin Evolovin Evolutin
    See Ya Sunday
    ps what is the origin of concsiousnes
    curious
    way to go Baba

  4. Lin says:

    Hi Baba,

    As you know, this is a subject that has come up between us on a couple of occasions, where a couple of times I’ve had cause to accuse you of sexism. I’ve spent some time reading your response to Monica and the Miller piece you refer to.

    There is undeniable evidence that men do actually dedicate their efforts to the advancement of all other men at the expense of women. Proof: women have only been allowed to vote the last 100 years or so in most western countries and are still not allowed to vote in many parts of the world. In many cultures, women are still not allowed to choose who they marry or indeed if they want to remain unmarried. In many parts of the world, women are denied rights to education, the right to drive, the right to dress how they want. In many parts of the world, women are denied the right to sexual pleasure with the act of forcibly removing their clitoris. How could even one of these examples be backed up by an argument that it’s down to an “evolutionary history of sexual selection”?

    You mention women find competitive men ‘impressive and sexy’. I don’t deny that some women probably do, but I would argue that as many women find non-competitive men just as sexy. If men have had to pursue their loud-talking chest-beating behaviour simply to stand a chance of successful reproduction, how does that explain the fact that men are just as good at reproducing in matriarchal societies?

    You say men compete with other men for status and public acclaim. Maybe, but why can’t men compete with women for status and public acclaim too? In my experience men often hate it when a woman tries to get in on some of that action. One only has to look at how women have been written out of so much history, be it artistic, scientific or social to wonder that there indeed has been a collusion to advance one gender only.

    As a woman who has been through times of poverty and struggle to ‘make it’ (whatever the definition of that is – is it international fame and fortune or the ability to make a living?) in the arts, it is undeniable that sexism is alive and well in artistic pursuits. I can assure you that the ‘loud male voices’ Miller refers to absolutely prevail, but to excuse them as ‘evolution of the species’ or ‘necessary for reproductive success’ seems more a convenient way of perhaps brushing over what would be a much more difficult, but perhaps less scientific discussion. That is, why do men hate women so much that they feel the need to deny them the right to vote, to choose their spouse, to choose their clothes, to be educated equally, or the right to equal success or pay in their chosen fields?

    I found it interesting that yesterday you were accused of two separate things as a result of your show. I know you well enough to say that you are in no way guilty of ‘black-faced minstrelsy’ (is ‘minstrelsy’ even a word?). However while I think the word ‘blatant’ is a little strong, I think that from some of my own experiences from working with you in an artistic capacity, combined with your comments above and references to the Miller piece, ‘sexist’ is a term that could be applied. That said, I know that you are a thoughtful caring intellectual who will in the course of your life and your studies no doubt ponder the subject of patriarchy, its roots and perpetuation, and hopefully ponder that outside of the boundaries of evolutionary science. And for the record, there would be nothing wrong with a simple ‘down with patriarchy’ approach for the hypothetical ‘Rap Guide To Sexism’ because as someone who’s been on the receiving end on it, both personally and as part of the collective female experience, I find it hard to come up with something that might support anything other than a ‘down with it’ approach.

    Keep doing what you’re doing Baba, it’s the type of open honest discourse that you actively encourage that’s needed and appreciated by many.

    Yours respectfully,

    Lin

  5. Guy Immega says:

    I enjoyed RAP GUIDE TO EVOLUTION IN VANCOUVER. You conclude with the admonition: “Don’t sleep with mean people.” The problem is, of course, that mean people are often difficult to recognize.

    Sociopaths are often charming and intelligent. They are amoral parasites who prey upon normal people and do incalculable damage to society. Estimates vary, but about 3% of men and 1% of women are sociopaths – although they concentrate where opportunities are greatest. Recognizing sociopaths is very difficult, especially if you’re lusty or in love.

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