Relationship Advice from a Wolverine

When I’m bored, I look through this blog’s data page to see what search terms lead people here. I’m usually looking for phrases like, “Will a wolverine chew off my arm?”  and other such tidbits that illuminate the general American perception of the species. Sometimes I find evidence of enthusiasm (“Amazing things about wolverine research!”), sometimes of mysticism (“I dreamed a wolverine was guarding me.”), and frequently of confusion about North American wildlife (“I saw an anteater in upstate New York.”) But I can usually tell how and why these people ended up on my blog.

Yesterday, however, I found, among more typical search terms, this: “Why do men use women and then throw them away?”

I have no idea how this search query led to my page, because I have never written about the varied shortcomings of our cultural model of romance, nor about how I would fix that model, nor about my general skepticism of human nature in all its glorious selfishness and fascinating self-delusion. I’m not going to write about those things now, either, but it did occur to me that people have an abiding infatuation with wallowing in the attempt to derive Meaning from being in love. And it occurred to me to wonder what we might learn about relationships if, for example, we had a wolverine advice columnist to whom we could write with these perplexing questions.

Dear Ms. Wolverine,

Why do men use women and then throw them away?

Sincerely,

Perplexed

Dear Perplexed,

I’m not really sure what you mean by “throw them away,” but here’s how you should judge the character of a potential mate before getting involved with him. First, can he defend his own territory? Second, does that territory overlap with yours? Third, how good is he at killing, scavenging, and/or caching food? Really, this is all you need to worry about. If he disappears from your life after you’ve been hanging out for awhile, it probably means he was driven off by something bigger and meaner. Don’t worry. Go about your life. Another mate will eventually show up. It will all work out.

Sincerely,

Ms. Wolverine

 

Dear Ms. Wolverine,

I think my boyfriend is cheating on me. What do I do?

Sincerely,

Devastated

 

Dear Devastated,

Among wolverines, we share our mates. This works because we maintain strict boundaries between the territories of wolverines of the same sex. If you really have a problem with this, you’re going to have to drive the other female out of the male’s territory. To do this, you will need to patrol and scent-mark extensively. But seriously, if it’s not interfering with his ability to help raise your kits, what are you worried about?

Good luck!

Ms. Wolverine

 

Dear Ms. Wolverine,

My wife keeps bitching at me, saying that I’m not helping out enough with the kids. This isn’t the man’s role; I’m supposed to be earning a living, she’s supposed to take care of the babies. You’re an animal, please tell her that this is nature’s intent in creating two sexes.

Sincerely,

Backwards

Dear Backwards,
I don’t know what weird world you’re living in, but among wolverines, males and females share kit-raising duties. It’s true that there are some things a male can’t do – like give birth and nurse – but even during that time, a male is expected to make contributions, such as patrolling the territory, checking on the den, visiting his kits to get to know them, and making sure the female has enough food. Once the kits are weaned, males have an equal responsibility in teaching their offspring how to live in the world. Do you think your children will be able to face down a grizzly bear, determine a safe travel route over avalanche-prone snow, or learn to hunt without your input as well as your mate’s? Also, seriously, kits can be really annoying and exhausting, and sometimes we just want a break. We need to build up our fat reserves for the next round of reproduction, and we can’t do that with this year’s kits constantly clinging to us, biting our ears, jumping on us, etc, etc.

I’m really astounded that I have to explain this to you. How have humans survived and prospered for thousands of years with this archaic belief that females are solely responsible for childrearing?

I’m annoyed with you.

Ms. Wolverine.

 
Dear Ms. Wolverine,

I am a happily single woman with a great life. My friends are all coupled up and keep trying to set me up with guys. This really annoys me; it’s just another example of peer pressure for conformity among women, only this time it’s the pressure to find a mate instead of wearing the right clothes. How should I deal with these friends of mine?

Sincerely,

Adventure Girl

 

Dear Adventure Girl,

I’m having trouble with the idea of “peer pressure.” What is that, exactly? Also, “friends” is a somewhat baffling concept. Wolverines are happily solitary. In fact, we have a saying: “You stay on your mountain, I’ll stay on mine.” If these other females happen to share territories with males, that’s their mountain, and they should stay on it. If your mountain happens not to be shared by a male, that’s fine, as long as there’s plenty of food. I lived for five years  – which, as you know, is pretty much half a wolverine lifetime – running around in my mountains without a mate, and I was never worried about it, because the mountain goats up there are delicious. These other females sound bossy and you should probably stop letting them into your territory; if you scent mark and patrol, they won’t be able to get close enough to say stupid things.

Enjoy your mountain!

Ms. Wolverine

 

Dear Ms. Wolverine,
I can’t find a mate. I was wondering if you can tell me how to do this, since wolverines seem really good at finding mates despite vast territories.

Sincerely,

Lost

 

Dear Lost,

I’m beginning to think that humans can’t scent mark. Is this true? No wonder you guys have so much trouble. Wolverines communicate with each other via chemicals that we leave on the landscape. If you can’t do this, there’s always the internet, which is a similar means of conveying information, although somewhat more dubious. Musk chemicals don’t lie, but I suppose an internet profile can be very deceptive. Best stick to tried and true methods.

If you’re a female, just hang out in your territory and enjoy yourself until a mate shows up. One will, eventually, but it might take longer if there is a trapping season in your region, since this may remove robust young males from the population. But the trick to being single is just having fun with your life. If you’re bored, here are some suggestions: learn to hunt marmots, they’re really tasty. Climb trees. In snowy weather, go to the top of a hill and slide down; do this repeatedly, it’s very entertaining. When all else fails, pick the biggest peak in sight and climb it. Dismantling things is also fun, and good exercise for the brain.

If you’re a male, and you’re complaining about not having a mate, this means one of two things: there’s no vacant territory that overlaps with a female, or else you’re just being lazy. Male wolverines travel hundreds of miles in search of mates, and then they defend their territory, demonstrate their ability to obtain food, and show that they are able to help raise kits. If you aren’t being proactive about all of this, what are you complaining about? You can’t expect a female to be impressed if you’re being lazy about being a contributing member of society.

Of course, we live in a world where the resource base (cold habitat) is shrinking and is increasingly in the paws of the elite few. If no further territories with adequate denning sites are available, how will any of you young folks manage to mate and raise kits? But I guess that’s another topic.

Good luck!

Ms. Wolverine

Dear Ms. Wolverine,

My mother-in-law is pressuring me to have kids. How do I tell her to back off?

Sincerely,

Happily Childfree

Dear Happily Childfree,

I think your mother-in-law is confused. Doesn’t she understand that females don’t become pregnant until environmental conditions are correct for raising kits? Sometimes that never happens, in which case we just keep resorbing fetuses before they implant. This is because we are biologically engineered to produce only as many wolverines as the environment can support. Perhaps you should advise her to see a therapist, because it’s your body condition in question here, and how can she possibly think that she has any influence over that when you’re in your territory and she’s in hers? Unless she’s in a position to give you some supplemental food so you can build up better fat reserves, but that would be very strange since wolverines are quasi-matrilocal and therefore her son must have dispersed over a very great distance from his mother’s territory to find you.

I am beginning to think that I don’t understand enough about humans to be an advice columnist. I am going to go back up into my territory to think about this before I confuse anyone any further.

Sincerely,

Ms. Wolverine

 

(Sorry about the weird formatting, the blog program seems to have taken over. Also, the opinions expressed are those of Ms. Wolverine, and don’t necessarily reflect my own. The very last thing I would ever advise any woman is to just wait around for some guy to show up and mate with her. Also, taking up scent-marking would probably be socially detrimental. Don’t do it. But wolverines may have something when it comes to enjoying the single life, and their opinions on having and rearing children seem particularly enlightened. It’s worth consideration.)

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7 thoughts on “Relationship Advice from a Wolverine

  1. Absolutely inspired post – you managed to sneak in so much information on wolverines people will be educated without knowing it, which is all we can hope for anymore. Your use of those tags should result in some interesting searches on your blog, so Ms. Wolverine may have to be a regular contributor now…

  2. Thanks, glad you enjoyed it. If anyone does have further questions about relationships and would actually value the input of a (somewhat feminist, as my sister pointed out, although I maintain that this is probably pretty accurate) wolverine, feel free to ask. But just remember that I myself know nothing about relationships, so you really would be relying on the wolverine perspective 🙂

  3. Thanks. I really do think certain things about wolverine biology suggest a “feminist” interpretation – but on the other hand, feminism would refute the idea of just waiting around and then having a family with the first guy who shows up, and the idea of turning a blind eye to your mate’s girl on the side (of course, female wolverines seem to have guys on the side, too, so that one may be a draw….) While we’re busily anthropomorphizing, I also think that wolverines have some great lessons on how to be a rugged and simultaneously kid-oriented guy (minus the tendency to kill other male’s kits), so it’s not just females who can take inspiration from gulos. But advice columnists and the relationship-obsessive tend to be women, hence the female-orientation of the post. I suppose I could get in touch with a male wolverine if any guys were seeking advice….

  4. Pingback: Relationship Advice from a Wolverine | The Wolverine Blog : : Relationship Advice – Free

  5. Pingback: Ms. Wolverine on the Presidential Election | The Wolverine Blog

  6. Just stumbled across this post. I loved it! Very amusing, and very sound advice from a she-wolverine perspective!

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