Email Newsletter. Log In. Toggle navigation MENU. Email Address. Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept.
Do you work in the book industry? Which of the following best describes you? Literary Agent. Publicist or Marketing Professional.
Film Industry Professional. Other Book Industry Professional. Email address:. Please provide an email address. Categories of Interest: Select All. Current Affairs. Ask, and he shall receive. If women continue to worry that they need a man's money, because the playing field remains about as level as the surface of Mars, then we can't conclude anything about innate preferences. If women continue to suffer from bag-lady syndrome even as they become prosperous, if they still see their wealth as provisional and capsizable, and if they still hope to find a man with a dependable income to supplement their own, then we can credit women with intelligence and acumen, for inequities abound.
There's another reason that smart, professional women might respond on surveys that they'd like a mate of their socioeconomic status or better.
Smart, professional women are smart enough to know that men can be tender of ego -- is it genetic? If women could be persuaded that men didn't mind their being high achievers, were in fact pleased and proud to be affiliated with them, we might predict that the women would stop caring about the particulars of their mates' income. The anthropologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy writes that ''when female status and access to resources do not depend on her mate's status, women will likely use a range of criteria, not primarily or even necessarily prestige and wealth, for mate selection.
The allure of such men is not their income, for you can't earn much when you make license plates for a living. Instead, it is the men's gratitude that proves irresistible. The women also like the fact that their husbands' fidelity is guaranteed. Do women love older men? Do women find gray hair and wrinkles attractive on men -- as attractive, that is, as a fine, full head of pigmented hair and a vigorous, firm complexion? The evolutionary psychologists suggest yes. They believe that women look for the signs of maturity in men because a mature man is likely to be a comparatively wealthy and resourceful man.
That should logically include baldness, which generally comes with age and the higher status that it often confers. Yet, as Desmond Morris points out, a thinning hairline is not considered a particularly attractive state.
Assuming that women find older men attractive, is it the men's alpha status? Or could it be something less complimentary to the male, something like the following -- that an older man is appealing not because he is powerful but because in his maturity he has lost some of his power, has become less marketable and desirable and potentially more grateful and gracious, more likely to make a younger woman feel that there is a balance of power in the relationship?
The rude little calculation is simple: He is male, I am female -- advantage, man.
He is older, I am younger -- advantage, woman. By the same token, a woman may place little value on a man's appearance because she values something else far more: room to breathe. Who can breathe in the presence of a handsome young man, whose ego, if expressed as a vapor, would fill Biosphere II? Not even, I'm afraid, a beautiful young woman. In the end, what is important to question, and to hold to the fire of alternative interpretation, is the immutability and adaptive logic of the discrepancy, its basis in our genome rather than in the ecological circumstances in which a genome manages to express itself.
Evolutionary psychologists insist on the essential discordance between the strength of the sex drive in males and females. They admit that many nonhuman female primates gallivant about rather more than we might have predicted before primatologists began observing their behavior in the field -- more, far more, than is necessary for the sake of reproduction.
Nonetheless, the credo of the coy female persists. It is garlanded with qualifications and is admitted to be an imperfect portrayal of female mating strategies, but then, that little matter of etiquette attended to, the credo is stated once again. They love it, and may initiate it. And, intriguingly, the females of the species most closely related to humans -- chimpanzees and bonobos -- seem particularly amenable to a wild sex life, including a variety of partners.
Still, female apes don't do what male apes do: search high and low, risking life and limb, to find sex, and to find as much of it, with as many different partners, as possible; it has a way of finding them. DNA studies of chimpanzees in West Africa show that half the offspring in a group of closely scrutinized chimpanzees turned out not to be the offspring of the resident males. The females of the group didn't rely on sex ''finding'' its way to them; they proactively left the local environs, under such conditions of secrecy that not even their vigilant human observers knew they had gone, and became impregnated by outside males.
They did so even at the risk of life and limb -- their own and those of their offspring. Male chimpanzees try to control the movements of fertile females. They'll scream at them and hit them if they think the females aren't listening. They may even kill an infant they think is not their own.
We don't know why the females take such risks to philander, but they do, and to say that female chimpanzees ''work less hard'' than males do at finding sex does not appear to be supported by the data. Evo-psychos pull us back and forth until we might want to sue for whiplash. On the one hand we are told that women have a lower sex drive than men do. On the other hand we are told that the madonna-whore dichotomy is a universal stereotype.
In every culture, there is a tendency among both men and women to adjudge women as either chaste or trampy. The chaste ones are accorded esteem. The trampy ones are consigned to the basement, a notch or two below goats in social status.
healthcovepo.tk A woman can't sleep around without risking terrible retribution, to her reputation, to her prospects, to her life. Women are said to have lower sex drives than men, yet they are universally punished if they display evidence to the contrary -- if they disobey their ''natural'' inclination toward a stifled libido.
Women supposedly have a lower sex drive than men do, yet it is not low enough. There is still just enough of a lingering female infidelity impulse that cultures everywhere have had to gird against it by articulating a rigid dichotomy with menacing implications for those who fall on the wrong side of it. There is still enough lingering female infidelity to justify infibulation, purdah, claustration.
Men have the naturally higher sex drive, yet all the laws, customs, punishments, shame, strictures, mystiques and antimystiques are aimed with full hominid fury at that tepid, sleepy, hypoactive creature, the female libido. Why indeed? Consider a brief evolutionary apologia for President Clinton's adulteries written by Steven Pinker, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A woman who slept with fifty men would have no more descendants than a woman who slept with one. Thus, men should seek quantity in sexual partners; women, quality. Until men are subjected to the same severe standards and threat of censure as women are, and until they are given the lower hand in a so-called casual encounter from the start, it is hard to insist with such self-satisfaction that, hey, it's natural, men like a lot of sex with a lot of people and women don't.
Reflect for a moment on Pinker's philandering caveman who slept with 50 women. Just how good a reproductive strategy is this chronic, random shooting of the gun? A woman is fertile only five or six days a month. Her ovulation is concealed. The man doesn't know when she's fertile. She might be in the early stages of pregnancy when he gets to her; she might still be lactating and thus not ovulating. Moreover, even if our hypothetical Don Juan hits a day on which a woman is ovulating, the chances are around 65 percent that his sperm will fail to fertilize her egg; human reproduction is complicated, and most eggs and sperm are not up to the demands of proper fusion.
Even if conception occurs, the resulting embryo has about a 30 percent chance of miscarrying at some point in gestation.
"A love story, a war story, an ecological adventure, a biological poem, and a treatise on the fragility of life--Darwin's Wink has it all. The writing is so incantory that. Darwin's Wink: A Novel of Nature and Love [Alison Anderson] on cerdidemange.tk * FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Alison Anderson's Darwin's Wink is the.
In sum, each episode of fleeting sex has a remarkably small probability of yielding a baby -- no more than 1 or 2 percent at best. And because the man is trysting and running, he isn't able to prevent any of his casual contacts from turning around and mating with other men. The poor fellow. He has to mate with many scores of women for his wham-bam strategy to pay off. And where are all these women to be found, anyway?
Population densities during that purportedly all-powerful psyche shaper the ''ancestral environment'' were quite low, and long-distance travel was dangerous and difficult. There are alternatives to wantonness, as a number of theorists have emphasized. If, for example, a man were to spend more time with one woman rather than dashing breathlessly from sheet to sheet, if he were to feel compelled to engage in what animal behaviorists call mate guarding, he might be better off, reproductively speaking, than the wild Lothario, both because the odds of impregnating the woman would increase and because he'd be monopolizing her energy and keeping her from the advances of other sperm bearers.
It takes the average couple three to four months of regular sexual intercourse to become pregnant.
That number of days is approximately equal to the number of partners our hypothetical libertine needs to sleep with to have one encounter result in a ''fertility unit,'' that is, a baby. The two strategies, then, shake out about the same. A man can sleep with a lot of women -- the quantitative approach -- or he can sleep with one woman for months at a time, and be madly in love with her -- the qualitative tactic.
It's possible that these two reproductive strategies are distributed in discrete packets among the male population, with a result that some men are born philanderers and can never attach, while others are born romantics and perpetually in love with love; but it's also possible that men teeter back and forth from one impulse to the other, suffering an internal struggle between the desire to bond and the desire to retreat, with the circuits of attachment ever there to be toyed with, and their needs and desires difficult to understand, paradoxical, fickle, treacherous and glorious.
It is possible, then, and for perfectly good Darwinian reason, that casual sex for men is rarely as casual as it is billed. It needn't be argued that men and women are exactly the same, or that humans are meta-evolutionary beings, removed from nature and slaves to culture, to reject the perpetually regurgitated model of the coy female and the ardent male.