Chapter 26: A sly rabbit has three burrows – Part 3

Now that it has been established that physical and social qualities play a major role when women are contemplating short-term sexual relationships or infidelity,[1] the next question concerns what exactly they regard as attractive and therefore as genetically superior. As pointed out in the chapters about the definition of beauty[2] and importance of smell in mate selection,[3] body symmetry is one of the key traits in the assessment of a person’s sex appeal. The same remains true for the choice of extra-pair sexual partners. Since symmetry is supposed to be a heritable marker of fitness by signalling resistance to pathogens and environmental stress, this feature represents a fundamental indicator for the quality and health status of people. Furthermore, it is said that symmetrical men also tend to be larger in size, more muscular and vigorous than their less symmetrical peers.[4] Accordingly, it only seems reasonable that women would prefer such fellows for their carnal affairs – one of the central findings in Gangestad and Thornhill’s version of the Sweaty T-shirt Experi­ment.[5] Yet this is not even the most surprising aspect in adulterous sex selection. What may shock us is to know that women loosen their quality standards significantly when seeking brief encoun­ters. For instance, while they expect their husbands to be in the 61st percentile in terms of degree of education, the 47th percentile is enough for the fling. In line with the sexy son hypothesis, they reciprocally require their one-night stands to be in the 76th per­centile on sexiness (77th on physical attractiveness), but set the bar much lower for their hus­bands, with the 58th percentile (on sexiness), respectively the 54th percentile (on phy­sical attrac­tiveness).[6]

These results show one thing: Namely that men do not hold a monopoly on sexual objectifi­cation. For good reasons, women complain about men’s obsession with ladies’ phy­sical appea­­rance and sexual availability.[7] They feel treated as sexual objects, their bodies being much more important than their personalities or other capabilities, such as intellect, kind­ness, humour, etc. The sexy son hypothesis suggests that some females are not so differ­ent from those superficial machos, caring just as much about appearance and sexual grati­fi­cation. In their minds, lads only come in two categories: The hubs and the studs. This form of discrimination is evocative of the so-called Madonna-whore complex, which was descri­bed as a bias to see women as either saintlike virgins or impure pros­titutes.[8] Trans­posing this dichotomy to the female context, I would like to use the term “Casanova-hubby complex” to designate that same prejudice, i.e., when a woman regards men as either hus­bands (sought after for their resources) or lovers (sought after for their genes), but not both.

The previous paragraph sounds derogative towards all those females who opt for a two-timing strategy. Criticism is not the intent though. On the contrary, it should be good news to know that men and women are much more similar than one would think. Furthermore, promiscuous behaviour does not have to be morally reprehensible. Thinking about it, no harm is done if the couple is not married or does not plan on having children. In that case, if the cheated partner feels offended, it is more a question of jealousy (i.e., his problem) than of ethics. So what hurts the most is not always the fact that a loved one had intercourse with another man (or woman), but the storytelling that follows when the culprit is trying to erase the traces of her “misdemeanour”. No one likes to be taken for a ride. In this regard, lying and deception are much more reprehensible than sexual frivolity.

If one lesson has to be learned from this chapter, it is that Darwin’s “coy female” is no more than an anachronistic male fantasy.[9] Some ladies enjoy casual sex, sleeping with several handsome men – sometimes subsequently, sometimes simultaneously. Unconsciously, they do so because they wish to become pregnant with a genetically superior child, thus gaining a reproductive advantage. Nothing more natural than that. Thus, it is not only all right to be a slut, it is actually highly recommended to have casual sex. If not for herself, then at least for her baby. A woman does what she must – in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers, and pressures – and that is the basis of all human posterity.


Related proverbs and citations:


zhǎo gè ài wǒ de zuò lǎo gong, zhǎo gè wǒ ài de zuò qíng rén

A verse suggesting a woman marry the man who loves her, and to make the man she loves her lover.



[1]    Campbell (2002), p. 175

[2]    See chapter 15 “Flowers look different through different eyes”.

[3]    See chapter 16 “When you have musk, you will automatically have fragrance”.

[4]    Buss (2003), p. 236

[5]    Cited in: Buss (2003), pp. 236-237

[6]    Cited in: Buss (2000), pp. 163-164

[7]    Buss (2000), p. 163

[8]    See chapter 1 “Men are like mud, women are like water”.

[9]    Ryan / Jetha (2010), p. 266