Greetings from Spinster HQ, O ye commenters and readers of comments! The “Latest Blamer Invective” sidebar function upon which you have come to dote so warmly has experienced a warp core breach. Two female characters with names are discussing it, and should have it back online before the third act. Meanwhile, please bask in the awesomeness that is the praying mantis. But not before taking a moment to contemplate the anti-female implications of an old bit of dudescience.
The lore related to female mantids eating the heads of males in order for them to successfully copulate has more recently been questioned. Apparently, the original research was conducted with starved specimens.” – Drees & Jackman, A Field Guide to Common Texas Insects
In other words, the storied stone-cold bloodthirstiness of oversexed killer mantid females has turned out to be bogus.
“In nature, mating usually takes place under cover, so rather than leaning over the tank studying their every move, we left them alone and videotaped what happened. We were amazed at what we saw. Out of thirty matings, we didn’t record one instance of cannibalism, and instead we saw an elaborate courtship display, with both sexes performing a ritual dance, stroking each other with their antennae before finally mating. It really was a lovely display”.[cite]
Stressed by unnatural laboratory conditions, mantid females go into survival mode and may eat the odd male or two. Who wouldn’t? Yet mantid researchers of yore obtained the result they wanted (female mantids are super-kinky brain-eating zombie bitches) by manipulating the subjects (starving them) until they exhibited the desired aberrant behavior (encephalophagia) that they could then characterize as abnormal compared to the default (male) subject. Thus was the time-honored Pyschotic Sexual Predator Sexpot narrative transubstantiated by dudescience into Mantistown. Where it’s become the bug world equivalent of “Snapped.”
Undoubtedly a capillary-wave or two of disappointment will ripple across Lake Savage Death when it becomes more widely known that unstarved female mantids don’t, as a rule, eat the heads off males during copulation. This disappointment is understandable. Because let’s face it, it tickles a feminist’s fancy, however fleetingly, whenever a female socks it to the Man, especially when she (the female) deploys grisly, antisocial methods likely to produce copious amounts of blood, even if she (the female) is an insect. But after the initial frisson of excitement dissipates, the feminist recalls that, as pleasant as it is to contemplate a world in which all men are dead, such a utopia could not be realized without violence, and that violence — i.e. domination — equals patriarchy.
What have we learned? That the dominant culture will unfairly characterize females as villains whenever possible, and that men are just going to have to figure how not to be fucking asshole schoolgirl rapist barbarians on their own. Their unwillingness to do this is the root of all human, and quite a lot of non-human, suffering.
Praying mantis, Cottonmouth County, TX. October 2010.