Don't put all your eggs in one basket

狡兔三窟
jiǎo tù sān kū

The concept that men are inherently promiscuous, seeking copulation with numerous females, has already been discussed rather extensively throughout the book.[1] Women, in contrast, are often depicted as restrained, coy and conservative in terms of sensuality.[2] The fact that this does not necessarily have to be the case is also highlighted elsewhere. These chap­ters intro­duce and explain the notion that females seek and enjoy carnal pleasures, which do not always have to be connected with love and feelings. In other words, sex for fun is pos­sible also for women.[3] Moreover, it is established that their sex drive is gover­ned by various biolo­gical impulses, which themselves result from centuries of evolution and millions of inter­actions with the environment, specifically with males.[4] In a way, the following chapter complements those ones by shedding light on ladies’ wanton sides. As we are about to discover, some components in their genetic programming compel women to be just as loose as men, and, contrary to expectations and common beliefs, to seek sexual rela­tion­ships with more than one partner.

Under certain circumstances, it can indeed be in a lady’s best interest to have casual sex. The proverb chosen here reflects the potential superiority of the multiple- over the single-mate strategy and the cleverness of those individuals pursuing it.[5] Based on the premise that in order to thrive, one must have several alternatives, this chapter examines the benefits of promiscuity. During the discourse, the emphasis will lie on biological aspects (for example, as related to sexual selection) rather than on rational ones (e.g., when a woman sleeps with a man in exchange for meals or gifts, or in the hope to lift her social status or obtain future invest­ments). As David Buss writes in Evolution of Desire, “[j]ust as men have the capacity for commitment as part of their strategic repertoire, women have the capacity for casual sex within theirs, and they, in fact, pursue casual sex when they perceive that it is to their advantage to do so.”[6] This indicates that there must be a number of psychological mecha­nisms that drive them away from the monogamous mindset of the single, permanent mate towards more temporary coupling behaviours.

The first benefit to be mentioned here is related to the quality of the genes that a woman hopes to secure for her offspring. Procreating with a number of men instead of just one increases the genetic diversity of her children. This allows her to “hedge” her own invest­ment across several possible options.[7] For example, if she has sex with four men (a smart one, an eloquent one, a muscular one, and a tall one – assuming, for illustration purposes, that these characteristics are mutually exclusive), she can reasonably expect to have four children, each possessing the same quality as their father, i.e., a smart child, an eloquent one, a muscular one, and a tall one. With this multiple-mate strategy, she has four chips instead of one in the survival game, which could come in handy in the event of major environmental changes. Who knows, maybe the muscular or tall children have a compa­rative advantage today. But what if a technological or social revolution comes in, altering the rules? At that time, her smart daughter or eloquent son might have better chances of success. Since women can only bear a child every nine months at most, it is extremely important for them to choose a partner who will protect and help raise their progeny.[8] This is only possible with a man who is faithful and generous with his resources and who has the ability to provide day-to-day care. At the same time, females need to take other factors into consideration if their babies are to land the best possible genes and to have a good chance of survival.[9]


Notes

[1]    See chapters 3 “Men like, women love”, 4 “Beauty is the troubled water that brings disasters”, and 35 “No cat can resist snatching fish”.

[2]    See chapters 2 “A good woman doesn’t go with a second man”, 9 “The path to a woman’s heart passes through her vagina”, and 30 “You can’t help shoots grow by pulling them up higher”.

[3]    See chapters 21 “You can’t lead the life of a whore and expect a chastity monument”, 22 “Man not bad, woman won’t bed”, and 25 “A drop of sweat spent in a drill is a drop of blood saved in a battle”.

[4]    See chapters 16 “When you have musk, you will automatically have fragrance”, 19 “If you plant melons, you get melons; if you plant beans, you get beans”, and 29 “Cosiness and satiety breed lust”.

[5]    Notice that despite the reference to rabbits (which, due to their reputation as prolific breeders, are often used as symbols of playful sexuality – see the Playboy logo) the original proverb does not contain any sexual connotation whatsoever. The story behind the saying, told in the chapter about the Strategies of Qi (齐策, qí cè) in Strategies of the Warring States (战国策, zhàn guó cè), has more to do with long-term political skills than with sexual conquest. The chronicle itself remains unclear as to why this animal, in particular, was chosen to represent ingenious tactics.

[6]    Buss (2003), pp. 215-216

[7]    Buss (2000), p. 19

[8]    See chapter 17 “Finding a good job is nothing compared to finding a good husband”.

[9]    Pease / Pease (2009), p. 111

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