Oh deer!

Lief M. Hendrickson (hendrick@NOSC.MIL)
Thu, 16 Mar 1995 10:21:22 PST

On March 16, Harriet Whitehead wrote:

>Oh brother! Sorry to have started yet another potential gender antagonism
>thread on the list - especially as I'm about to "set nomail" for spring
>break, but just for the record I'll repeat what I've sent to the
>concerned others in private posts: the dynamics of the deer herd that
>Thomas Rimkus was alluding to are gender dynamics. It's built into the
>analogy. Take the gender out and the analogy becomes senseless. I was
>responding according to the analogy. Now suddenly the analogy user seems
>to want to wash his hands of the gender implications. IMHO that won't work.

I guess this is where the divergence is because I feel you have
to take gender out for the analogy to make sense. This is from having
seen many deer in the wild (not as a hunter). In the fall,
before deer season in some regions, you can find herds of buck
deer congregating together. For some reason, on the first day of
hunting season, the bucks have mysteriously disappeared probably
having gone to higher ground (bucks can be hunted before does).
I remember being in the mountains a couple of weeks before
hunting season one time and counting something like 30 bucks at
dawn in the course of about 2 miles on a jeep trail. I don't
know where the does were, but I remember seeing one on the side
of a steep high mountain climbing upward. She was being pursued
by about 4 buck as they slowly made their way upward on the very
difficult trail. The buck eventually gave up and came back to
the group.

Once the group of bucks is formed, in a sense gender is no longer
an issue because they're all the same gender. Here, we're not
talking about the spring mating season where bucks mark territory
and fight vigorously in competition for does. At the point we're
considering, they behave as a group of creatures with certain
behavioral traits that conform with group requirements. Sure, we
know they're all male, but their gender is not a consideration
precisely because it's all the same. We're looking at their
comparative behavior within these groups, i.e. it's differences
that distinguish their behavior. I think Tom's anecdote was
simply referring to a group of creatures with great strength at a
point where they were peacefully coexisting. Then a feisty new
comer came along who created a lot of commotion- maybe
facilitated by an excess of youthful energy. After some knocking
around, cutting him down to size so to speak, all was peaceful
again. In the academic analogy, established scholars (who are
male and female) are interrupted by an arrogant youth (who can be
either male or female), who causes inordinate disruption and is
subsequently disciplined.

The behavior of hens can be elicited to describe certain
group dynamics. When one talks about a "pecking order", I don't
think failure to mention roosters would be considered as
discrimination against males.

These analogys are just comparisons of certain limited behavioral
traits and should certainly not be seen as a slight on one of the