The Incredible Power of Call
Call is feminine, sexual power that emanates from the body.
“I govern the Athenians; my wife governs me.”
—Themistocles (Archon of Athens from 493 to 471 BCE)
To the extent that the human species has become the dominant life form, and to the degree that the male desire for sexual access to women has significantly fueled the pursuit of power—power achieved by fame, fortune, and military conquest—Call is the strongest force on planet earth, driving innovation and progress throughout history.
The standard line is that men have power and women are subjected to male power. This would appear to put men in a position of power, and women as subjects, and often victims. While true that in a skeletal-muscular contest men can usually overpower and victimize women, large powerful men can also do so with almost all other men. When a society with laws is established, and when weapons can equalize the largest and smallest human beings, physical power dimensions become vanishingly small. What is left is the original source of the male attempt to exert physical and sexual control over women, and that is Call.
The Biological Bases of Call
Call is hard-wired into the basic biology of our species, and there are two major ways to view the biological foundations of Call. The first is evolutionary biology, which explains why Call exists, how it was “designed” by natural selection over many millennia, and the specific features and forms that Call has taken in our species. The second is how Call operates; its genetic, hormonal, and neurological mechanisms.
In terms of evolutionary biology, for all sexually reproducing species the successful insemination of the female determines whether the genes of both the male and female will continue on into the next generation. Those genes—carried by male or female—that didn’t structure the development of an organism that produced viable offspring have disappeared, and the genes of unsuccessful replicators that do exist today are in the process of disappearing. The only evolved, behavioral motivations that are stronger than Call are those that make the immediate difference between life and death. This is illustrated by the fact that males of many species place themselves at significant physical risk by fighting one another for access to females. Attractive physical features (e.g., cumbersome antlers in deer, bright, colorful, heavy plumage in some birds such as the peacock) may be very costly in terms of the resources needed to enable them to grow and be maintained, yet their main adaptive use is in providing access to the opposite sex.
Evolutionary theory also provides context for some of the operational forms that Call takes in humans. For example, unlike most mammalian species, ovulation is somewhat obscure in human females. This provides human women (who have a much clearer sense of where they are in their fertility cycle) a sense of control and power to determine when they will be most sexually active and can thus use the power of Call to ensure that the fetus they will create and care for decades has the best genes available. However, fertility is not completely hidden, as there are discernible cues of fertility in women’s social behaviors, body scents, voices, and, possibly, aspects of physical beauty. Some of these changes are subtle, but others are strikingly large (Haselton, Gildersleeve 2011). Whether it is a woman’s behavior, or her body’s release of pheromones that makes her more attractive, increased attractiveness accentuating the power of Call is simply a fact of life during ovulation. So pronounced is women’s elevated attractiveness during ovulation, research has found that lap dancers earned 81% more tips when they were ovulating, as compared to when they were menstruating (Miller, Tybur, and Jordan 2007).
Here, we propose that Call operates (1) consciously (intentionally) via the woman’s behavior, (2) unconsciously (unintentionally) also via the woman’s behavior, and (3) unconsciously and biologically via the body regardless of a woman’s behavior. Whether they are consciously or unconsciously operating, they are all aspects of the female power to control attraction to her, i.e., Call.
More than 75% of communication is nonverbal. Psychiatrist Thomas Lewis and his colleagues dubbed this capacity for sharing deeper emotional states ‘limbic resonance’ which was first introduced in the book A General Theory of Love (Lewis, Amini, and Lannon, 2000). The concept of limbic resonance refers to the capacity of mammals to share deep emotional states, a capacity which arises from the limbic system of the brain. The limbic system includes the hippocampus, amygdala, anterior thalamic nuclei, and limbic cortex, which together are involved in motivation, memory, and learning. Limbic resonance arises in the act of animals physically connecting with one another, and is thought to be facilitated by the insula, a subcortical structure which functions as a superhighway between areas involved in sensory processing and the limbic system. States of limbic resonance are thought to emerge from increased activity in the dopaminergic circuits in the brain, circuits linked to the promotion of feelings of ‘empathic harmony’, as well as the norepinephrine circuity, involved in the generation of emotional states such fear, anxiety and anger.
This circuitry allows us to understand what others feel, and forms a fundamental building block in learning higher level skills like emotional regulation. Lewis and his colleagues put forward the notion that our nervous systems are not separate, or self-contained; beginning in earliest childhood, the development of the limbic system is directly influenced by those closest to us (via limbic resonance) and synchronizes with our immediate kin (via limbic regulation) in a way that has profound epigenetic implications in terms of our emotional health, awareness, and regulatory abilities. When limbic resonance is cut off or absent, humans and animals have been shown to suffer as a result (babies physically separated from the mothers at birth show heightened levels of stress hormones, etc). In other words, limbic resonance refers to the evolved, biological basis of our capacity for empathy and non-verbal connection that is present in mammals, and that forms the basis of our social connections as well as the foundation for various modes of therapy and healing. According to this understanding, our nervous systems are not self-contained, independently operating systems. Rather, our psyches are demonstrably attuned to those around us, especially those with whom we share a close connection. Other studies cited in A General Theory of Love have examined the link between mirror neurons, neurons which are activated during activities such mimicking. According to Chartrand & Bargh, 1999, “Mirror neuron areas seem to monitor this interdependence, this intimacy, and this sense of collective agency that comes out of social interactions. Interactions that are tightly linked to the ability to form empathic resonance.”
The human body constantly fine-tunes many thousands of physiological parameters, such as heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, immune function, oxygen saturation, levels of sugars, hormones, salts, ions, and metabolites. In a closed-loop system, individual bodies would exclusively self-monitor and administer correctives, keeping its solitary system in continuous harmonious balance. However, because human physiology functions (at least in part) in an open-loop fashion, environmental circumstances and external information can directly alter one’s physiology (hormone levels, cardiovascular function, sleep rhythms, immune function). Given this reciprocal process, we operate as open loops, exchanging information through the open channel that limbic connection and resonance provides. Thus, evolution has designed mammals in their present form to be uniquely attuned to and capable of influencing each other’s emotional signaling and the respective underlying physiological processes.
Limbic resonance can be illustrated in our daily lives. For example, why is a movie viewed in a theater of thrilled fans electrifying, whereas at home the experience is flat? Or, why is it that when a person filled with panic or hatred walks into a room, people report an ability to feel or sense it immediately? Similarly, when a joyfully expressive person walks into a room, limbic resonance explains we can feel that state as well. Other examples include the synchronization of menstrual cycles, sleep patterns, the surprising fluidity of crowded subway platforms, and the sense of danger in advance of any obvious threat. Limbic resonance goes on all the time, like when families share a meal, the rhythms of words as a parent reads to their child, conversational dynamics, musical dynamics, and more. Its also why the same sexual act can be experienced as painful, revolting, frightening, neutral, pleasant, pleasurable, enjoyable, or ecstatic—depending on how it is linked to an individuals goal state. A rape may not be distinguishable physically from a loving encounter, but their psychological and physiological effects are worlds apart (Csikszentmihalyi).
The Female Experience of Call
From the female perspective, Call is a sort of limbic signaling, a resonating frequency that women send out that biologically operates on many levels. Call is a woman’s body-based true arousal, and awareness of a woman’s Call signal occurs in the bodies of receptive or perceptive others as a tug, a desire to meet their desire, a thought, an interest, attention caught, sexual arousal, and more. It is the underlying erotic dance of energy being exchanged between humans all the time. It originates in – or perhaps through – women’s bodies. While Call may have started out as an estrus signal (i.e., period in the sexual cycle of female mammals during which they are ready to accept a male and to mate), the human female Call is like a volitional announcement of estrus that a woman can turn on or off at any point in her reproductive cycle. Whether conscious or unconscious, Call is always present and readily accessible, however, the challenge is that women can send the signal out unconsciously, as women often do not register their own sexual arousal (Bergner).
Given the immense power of Call, and that is often something women are doing but are unaware of, the unfortunate cultural response of shaming has become a standardized response to the feminine pursuit of sexuality. Little girls are taught to be demure and if they act like males and flaunt their sexual desires, they are ridiculed. And because Call is such a powerful force, and because men are physically more dangerous to women than women are to men, activating the enormous power of Call can be dangerous. A woman must exercise caution with whom she is calling. When complex sexual negotiations go awry—which they often do—a demure, sexually hesitant female is seen as being a victim and can often garner the support of her community. If her active role in the sexual encounter is consciously acknowledged, she can often lose the victim status and instead is often blamed, again, as a slut.
Historically, the overt use of Call has thus been dangerous for women. Although things have changed, there still is a great deal of negativity toward those women who freely delight in Call. Yet this can be amended when women learn to harness Call. In the same way that people who practice breathing meditation can gain control over the breath, when capable of harnessing call, one’s thoughts, desires and signals all correspond (Lisa Marachiano, Locus of Control). Conversely, when women think of themselves as oppressed, they may inadvertently cultivate what psychologists call an’ external locus of control’. Locus of control is a psychological concept articulated in the 1950s by Julian Rotter. Those with an internal locus of control experience themselves as able to influence outcomes that affect them. Those with an external locus of control feel that most of what happens to them is beyond their control. Though both external and internal loci of control confer advantages and disadvantages, research has shown that having an internal locus of control is associated with less stress and better health, whereas having an external locus of control results in increased anxiety. Importantly, an internal locus of control appears to be a decisive factor in determining whether one will be psychologically resilient in the face of adversity.
It is vital to put more control into the hands of women. To blame the victim and say “they were asking for it”, is to imply there is a ‘solution’( to the phenomenon of untamed Call), without articulating one and making it available. It is exactly this that continues to put women in great danger. It is the equivalent of withholding recovery to addicts because of the stigma around controlling impulses. In both cases, people experience harm that can lead to death. A woman who is unconsciously Calling that which she does not truly desire, is itself the cause for training her how to not do so, and how to move the locus of control internally, rather than any kind of indictment of that woman.
The Male Experience of Call
Similarly this issue must be matched with training for men, given that men are often reinforced to override perceived obstacles. Men must be trained to do the exact opposite, which is to sense any resistance in women, and then in the face of that resistance, to use assertion, but not aggression (as it is defined by Rollo May). It is not just sexual desire, excitement, and discharge that drives men. Men desire love. The power of Call is so overwhelming to men that it is the inability to obtain some form of sexual access to women that fuels the desperate sexual offenses of males.
As described in the context of limbic resonance, a woman who is fully aware of the strength and operation of her Call can exercise a good deal of conscious control and use it in the pursuit of her aims. However, conscious awareness of oneself and behavior is often limited; there are always elements of our psyches that manifest in our actions in unforeseeable ways. To the degree that a woman is not fully conscious of or acknowledges her Call and its immense sexual and psychological power, the signals she is capable of sending may biologically pull and push a man in unforeseeable ways. Extreme and potentially dangerous consequences to this dissonance could result in a man feeling like either a perpetrator, or a victim, because of what he so strongly desires to do, despite being uninvited.
We aim here to provide a framework for understanding the complexities of a dance that inevitably occurs when humans are sexually active. The evidence is overwhelming that women have a great deal of power in sexual negotiations, and it is the refusal to recognize the full extent of a woman’s power—and to help young men and women come to perceive it, and how it moves men—that actually places women in the greatest danger of victimization. The devastating agony produced by unanswered Call that we see in incels is also what drives rapists to violate society’s rules and risk exile, incarceration, social suicide, and often fatal violence in order to obtain sexual access to female bodies.
Who is the active agent?
Often the male is seen as the active pursuer in a romantic encounter. Like a bee moving through space towards a flower, the man is most often engaged in the active pursuit of a woman. But which agent is ultimately responsible? Flowers evolved bright coloration in order to alter the flight path of bees by attracting them. When fertile, flowers expand and exhibit their most vibrant colors during nectar gathering (and flower pollinating) daylight hours. Who is in control, the bee who searches for the colorful flowers indicating the presence of nectar, or the flower whose colorful advertisement acts like a tractor beam pulling in the pollinating bee?
The answer, of course, is that it is both; it is a dance in which both parties play an active role. Assigning the role of actor to the one who moves a greater distance through space, misses the point. A woman’s Call is the magnet, the limbic frequency, by which the male of the species biologically moves. When this is denied, ignored, or misdirected, Call can result in deleterious consequences. Denial robs women of the power they could wield were they fully aware of their influence and were they to learn to harness Call in accord with their deepest values and desires.
Every person, experiencing as he does his own solitariness and aloneness, longs for union with another. He yearns to participate in a relationship greater than himself. Normally, one strives to overcome loneliness through some form of love. The psychotherapist, Otto Rank, once remarked that all the women who came to him had problems because their husbands were not aggressive enough. Despite the oversimplified sound of that sentence, it contains a telling point: our effete cultivation of sex can make us so arbitrary and detached that the simple power of the sexual act evaporates and the woman loses the vital, elemental pleasure of being taken, carried away, transported. The “love bite”—that (Jenny Wade) moment of hostility and aggression, usually occurring at the point of orgasm but which may be an obligato all through love-making—has a constructive psychophysical function, as pleasurable, or more so, for the woman as it is expressive for the man.
In its right proportion, the daimonic is the urge to reach out toward others, to increase life by way of sex, to create, to civilize; it is the joy and rapture, or the simple security of knowing that we matter, that we can affect others, can form them, can exert power which is demonstrably significant. It is a way of making certain that we are valued. When the daimonic takes over completely, the unity of the self and the relationship is broken down; a fact confessed by the person when he or she says, “I had no control, I acted as if in a dream, I did not know it was I.” The daimonic is the elementary power by which one is saved from the horror of not being one’s self on one hand, and the horror, on the other hand, of feeling no connection and no vital drive toward the other person.
The Threat of Call
Is it possible to imagine a stronger, more direct and threatening challenge to our patriarchal society? This perspective essentially says: We’ve been organizing our world with an emphasis on so-called men’s sexual power, and it’s time to find a new balance that includes a direct focus on the female sexual experience. To balance out power structures dominated by male coalitions and create coalitions built on connections between all humans, men and women. By emphasizing the power of call, we can bring female sexuality and connection into its proper place, find balance, and end patriarchal domination. When we do this, everyone will feel more emotionally, sexually and spiritually connected. And human connection is the key to well-being and can bring about radical social transformation.
This understanding of Call suggests a new model that challenges repression and places equal emphasis on both the feminine and masculine principles and builds a bridge across a river enabling us to unite male and female principles in a union of the two. The world has for too long been dominated by male styles of rationality and action, often delegating female capacities for intuition and connection to secondary importance. Throughout the animal kingdom, females are active sexual agents. To deny the existence of this power in women is to deny the existence of the full female person.