Sex-Crazed Love Goddesses

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New at Reason: Adultery (rumored to be more common where the weather's sultry) isn't such a hot deal for the goose, but what could the gander possibly be getting out of it? Are men hardwired to cheat and women hardwired to lie, or is that just what the poets say? Does the science of evolutionary psychology have a future? You'd think the people would have had enough of silly love songs, but what's wrong with that? Cathy Young would like to know.

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  1. Dr. Tatiana, as in Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation, suggests that the females of a lot of animal species are sneaky sluts. A London Times story (URL:www.ishipress.com/noparent/htm) reported, “At least one in ten children are not sired by the man who believes he is their father, according to scientist in paternity testing laboratories.” Perhaps paternity testing will become standard post-natal procedure?

  2. “At least one in ten children are not sired by the man who believes he is their father, according to scientist in paternity testing laboratories.”

    The article isn’t very clear on whether this is a random sample, or just the statistics for those blood samples which are submitted for testing.

  3. I think adultery should be strictly confined to the workplace. Bringing it home is bad for kids and also, with the advent of concealed arms permits, probably more dangerous than it used to be.

  4. Just as an aside, am I the only one who thinks Michael Medved is a complete ass?

    I heard him on the radio the other day arguing that we need to defend marriage laws or else we’re all going to turn into queers and not sire enough offspring to sustain our economic juggernaut. A wonderful sentiment that is — breed, Americans, and keep the economy strong! Sounds a lot like Nazi propaganda I remember reading about.

  5. Plutarck, please get yourself a blog!

    Then refer us to it via a link instead of hauling us through the wind tunnel yet again. As interesting as the thesis was, it’s just way too long for this venue.

    Thanks.

  6. What’s that line, “Women need a reason (no pun intended), men just need a place.

  7. I could’ve saved Cathy a lot of research by simply pointing out that there are about 70,000 sperm cells in every ejaculation, but there’s only one egg being discarded during menstruation each month.

    Makes sense, then, that males would “go forth and (attempt to) be fruitful,” while females would have to guard that one egg closely, and be very, very picky as to who gets to fertilize it.

  8. The study that says the “roving eye” is wired in by evolution really only answers half the question.

    The other part of the question is as follows: Would you be comfortable with the idea of your spouse sleeping around?

    It’s possible that the unacceptability of one’s spouse sleeping around is just as wired-in as is the desire to sleep around itself.

    If both these hypotheses are true, it means that nature has played a big joke on us — set us up for eternal conflict. That possibility, however, should not be excluded, and should in fact be tested with the same kind of survey.

    Even in places like Saudi Arabia, where you can have up to four wives, it’s said to be a terrific psychological shock for the first wife when the husband marries a 2nd time.

  9. I could’ve saved Cathy a lot of research by simply pointing out that there are about 70,000 sperm cells in every ejaculation, but there’s only one egg being discarded during menstruation each month.

    Makes sense, then, that males would “go forth and (attempt to) be fruitful,” while females would have to guard that one egg closely, and be very, very picky as to who gets to fertilize it.

    For starters, it’s more like 20 million sperm cells… secondly, human females, unlike most other animals, are sexually active outside the fertile period as well. Pace anti-sex people, it’s preposterous to suggest that, in humans, sex equals procreation.

    Of course, it seems that people are prone to forget that women are cheaters too, albeit somewhat more discreet cheaters, given the sort of sexual restrictions women faced in the past (and still face in some societies). After all, if even in groups like the Amish something like 1 in 20 children has been fathered by someone other than their supposed father, imagine the “mainstream” rate.

    That’s the problem with these social science style “self-report” surveys, which of course are held in low esteem by practicioneers of the harder sciences – they only tell you what people say they do, not what they actually do. The two are often very different, especially in such a field rife with tabboos as human sexuality.

  10. The interesting part of the article is when it gets to the study of how college students answer questions about sex if they thought their anwsers might be seen. I think there’s a strong social reinforcement of any biological root to this sort of behaivor. I’ve had a good portion of my female friends say that they’d love to sleep with a bunch of different guys if they didn’t have to worry about accidental pregnancy, disease, and being called a slut.

  11. People are also hardwired to maximize their consumption of fatty and salty foods. That doesn’t mean we constantly gorge on junk food until we die.

  12. Another thing, part of a possible bit of confusion about the whole “sex is just a social construct” thing might be related to misuses of the word “sex” and “gender”; gender IS a social construct, whereas sex is NOT a social construct.

    This tends to elude many people, as it is subtle but an extremely important distinction. The idea that woman are more empathetic than men, for instance, is a matter primarily of gender – that of masculine and feminine, not in male and female (these are different things, though their difference in meanings are being lost and go unnoticed in common society).

    This may seem strage at first, but think about it; it is men, not women, who have throughout history been the primary professional traders and merchants, which quite extensively requires an solid understanding of how and why people behave and feel; similarly, political behavior that men engage in tends to have been more of the “if I screw up they’ll kill me” variety, and as such knowing what to say and do and what reactions they will provoke are at least as evolutionarily valuable to men as they would be to women, and probably more.

    Similarly, intelligence (as it is commonly used, not as-in IQ) is just as valuable to men as women; the idea that men were somehow solitary hunters, or some such bullshit, is just that – bullshit. Humans are social creatures, and always apparently have been, and we have never been individually so strong and powerful as to be able to overcome more physically intimidating predators. Hunting, at least of big game, was a group activity, and hiercharchies have always existed to decide who gets how much food and when, and who gets to make what decisions and when. The idea that men are more solitary and women more social is a gender, and therefore social, construct; to be dominant, as males usually have been in most societies, requires extensive and very strong _social_ connections, because no human has ever been strong enough to take on a whole group of people at once.

    To manage, control, and be dominate requires social relatations – if you don’t want to be quickly wiped out when a few adversaries get together to remove you from power – even more than it requires individual strength of body or mind. In multiple species of apes, such as gorillas and chimpanzees, it has similarly been shown that without a kind of “consent of the governed” among the top females, a dominate male can easily be deposed and replace by some other, more socially prefered, male. After all, while the dominate male might be the biggest, he is nowhere near big enough to take on one or more male rivals AND the dominant females.

    Another bit of a wide-miss relates to how males and females _are not different species_. This means we, as humans, will be far more alike than different, no matter the sex.

    Furthermore, conflict is inherant in nature precisely because interests differ, both long-term and short-term. For one thing, those who are simply promiscuous and entirely unfaithful is not what is evolutionarily prefered in an environment where such things are not looked upon well.

    Both males and females clearly have an evolutionary interest in loyalty and some form of fashion of monogamy, because neither males nor females can evolutionarily benefit from children that are not theirs. Thus individuals who insist upon non-promiscuity will be prefered over those who do not – male and female alike. This will thus end up producing a situation where one is only willing to be non-promiscuous if the partner is as well – for males and females alike.

    To detail this a bit more, if a man is promiscuous but the woman isn’t, this could jepardize her survival and the survival of her children as his resources might then be split, or lost entirely (one of the reasons mammals have done so well is through channeling the resources of 2 individuals, rather than one, to protect and support children). For the male the situation is seemingly even worse evolutionarily, as a cheating female might mean his genes are not passed on whatsoever.

    From this we would then predict that both males and females will be very much against having a cheating partner, with males possibly detesting it even more.

    Oh, and one last wide-miss – natural selection entails both Survival AND Reproduction, and as such the desire for sex need not, and in fact in most or all simians does not, serve purely reproductive purposes. That reminds me – humans and dolphins are NOT the only animals that have sex even though reproduction cannot be the result; bonobo apes, if nothing else, definately have sex for reasons other than procreation (including same-sex interactions), as do giraffes (though in a less prolific manner), and many other animals engage in same-sex sexual engagements (which obviously cannot have any strictly procreative value) which are often utterly inexplicably simply called “confused” (there being no proof for the assertion that the animals are not entirely aware of what exactly it is that they are doing).

    In a nutshell: nobody likes a cheater, everybody likes sex, and sex is not and never has been (in many species – not just humans) purely for procreative purposes, as individuals are selected according to both Survival and Reproduction.

  13. Plutarck,
    Damn, you sure know a lot about animal sex!

  14. Todd: You know what…I was thinking the same thing as I read over what I wrote.

    Considering human behavior in light of non-human animal behavior, and back, is indeed exceedingly useful in figuring out all sorts of interesting things about the world.

    This reminds me of the time I noted that whether or not a man’s penis floats in water depends upon whether or not it is fresh water or salt water (density and all that), and the obvious other factor; everyone then proceeded to ask, “…how the hell did you figure THAT out?”

    I forgot about how people take to wondering how you learned certain things. So now many shall ask, “How exactly does he know all this about animal sex, anyway?”

    *scratches head* That and people tend to just assume you learned something through personal experience, which…

    …oh. Well now, that’s just not a good combination of factors at all.

    Pretty much screwed myself strategically now, haven’t I? Really, it’s from animal behavior and primatology books, like Ape and The Sushi Master, and things like that.

    …really. Stop looking at me like that.

  15. Rick Santorum’s gonna kick your ass.

  16. Actually, it’s always been seen as a violation of property rights. Nailing the boss’s wife=re-expropriating your surplus labor. Or something.

  17. I think women would rather daterape out of revenge and for the excitement or thrill it gives them of possible being caught…though since they learned to date rape men I haven’t had sex with a women while conscience in 30 years. If they continue to date rape unconscience me I will never have conscience sex with a woman then when I die I could be scwered again…and according to the bible there is neither marraige or devorce in heaven and I with out there too. Actually with women using dildo(cucumbers,whatever..) spermbanks and artificial incemenation they do not need a man and according to the bible if they do not use what God gave them God will take it away so all the men will be done away with or die off and the world will be all women and then they will have to have sex with each other because there all that will be left. Hey Lady, if you didn’t love me why didn’t you just say so….I think they may believe in the r’s .;.._rape, _rip off, and _rest in peace…I could be like my brother get some and die…then I would be like that church song…Rest in Heavenly Piece….Rest in Heavenly Piece….What a way to go though….sign the one you said you loved

  18. wut up mofo? i love sex

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