Chapter 12: Love my house, love the crow on it – Part 4

Yet these misunderstandings and mutual accusations are no accident. Communication pat­terns or preferences are deeply engraved in our brains, and the programming is very diffe­rent in men and women, in boys and girls. Due to the instincts that we inherited from our ances­tors, we still behave like them in many respects. For example, the perceived lack of emo­tions of males can be explained by the fact that their forefathers had to learn to suppress or at least hide these in order to be successful. When hunting wild animals or fighting enemies, the practical use of emotions was rather limited. On the contrary, they could cause mental conditions such as fear, stress, timidity or high spirit, which in turn lead to errors or mental paralysis. What men needed in their daily job was logic and rationalism, which enabled them to foresee dangers and to react accordingly. For a woman, on the other hand, there was little reason to keep her emotions in check. Her feelings and compassion were a convenient tool when dealing with physically superior males. She had to rely on cues to read other people’s tempers, general dispositions, or moods on any given day, in order to be able to respond in the right way. Thus, women are accustomed to trusting their guts.[1] Fur­ther­more, in their function as nest-defenders, harmony and openness were a necessity. They knew that they had to be co-operative and show vulnerability, especially when they were in a situation where they solicited help from others. The opposite is true for men: By nature, they are more contained, suspicious, defensive. For them, staying in control is their life. Emo­tio­nality is a sign of being out of control, a sentiment that most men do not like and find threa­tening. The legacy from ancient times that males must be brave and show no weakness can still be found in today’s teaching of young lads to “act like a man” and that “boys don’t cry”.[2]

Similarly, hunting or fishing required men to be patient and to silently wait for animals to come across their path. Any sound could have scared away the prey or expose the tracker. If the beast was coming closer, they had to remain all the quieter. They could not just talk about their stress and hope that it would vanish.[3] That way, they learned to say words only when they had to, at the same time becoming more acutely aware of their own needs, which more or less corresponded to what was essential to protect themselves in the wild. Not so with women: In the home cave, their job consisted in caring for others. For this, they had to be able to identify people’s sensitivities, anticipate their emotions, and foresee conditions and defi­ciencies. Then, in order to gather information and to interpret it properly, they had to ask questions, to share their impressions, to express their opinions, etc. Joined by other women and their children, it was crucial for them to build and maintain relationships.[4],[5] If one of them had problems or was worried about something, she could talk about these with the others. They would then confabulate and try to support her. Letting everyone know made it easier to receive help. Moreover, performing tasks with the group gave them the oppor­tunity to chat, thereby creating bonds, getting to know each other better and streng­thening the sense of community. Members who refused to participate, were aloof or did not commu­nicative enough, faced the risk of getting marginalised, or, in the worst case, expel­led from the tribe. Once on their own, their chance of survival was much lower. The incen­tive to actively contribute to the daily cackle could therefore not be any stronger.

Under such premises, it is not surprising to see contemporary women enjoying great verbal and language skills, being more intuitive, emotionally expressive, and more in touch with their feelings than their male counterparts.[6] These advantages are the results of thousands of years of evolution, during which time our brains developed in opposite directions. As this diver­gence has its roots in biology, it would be delusive to assume that our brains (and there­fore our habits, preferences, communication styles) could suddenly adjust to the new reality of gender roles, as we are experiencing now.[7] Collisions between men and women, misunderstandings and frustration are inevitable and here to stay. There will always be some­thing to complain about in every couple. The art of love resides in tolerating each other’s weaknesses and quirks, to accepting that nobody is perfect, not even one’s soul mate. Couples work at their best when both partners manage to avoid sexist behaviour and free them­­selves from gender preconceptions, in other words, when the colloquial crow feels loved as well.

 

Related proverbs and citations:

也要马儿好,也要马儿不吃草

yě yào mǎ ér hǎo, yě yào mǎ ér bù chī cǎo

You want a good horse but won’t give it grass to eat.

Nothing is perfect. Don’t have unrealistic expectations.

 

瓜无滚圆,人无十全

guā wú gǔn yuán, rén wú shí quán

No melon is completely round, and no person is perfect.

Nothing is perfect.

 

水至清则无鱼

shuǐ zhì qīng zé wú yú

No fish can survive in absolutely clear water.

One should not demand absolute purity or perfectness.

 

十个指头不一般齐

shí gè zhǐ tou bù yī bān qí

Ten fingers, all of different lengths.

You cannot expect everything to be perfect. There are always good and bad in everything.

 

知者不言,言者不知

zhī zhě bù yán, yán zhě bù zhī

He who speaks does not know. He who knows does not speak.

(Quote by Lao Zi, 老子, lǎo zi)

 

 


 

Notes

[1]    Satana (2007), p. 65

[2]    Pease / Pease (1999), p. 162

[3]    Gray (2012), p. 37

[4]    Pease / Pease (2002), p. 161

[5]    Gray (2012), p. 36

[6]    Townsend (1998), p. 204

[7]    Gray (2012), p. 37

Chapter 12: Love my house, love the crow on it

Love me, love my dog

爱屋及乌
ài wū jí wū

Men and women are different. People know it and are curious about this kind of “other­ness”, willing to clarify or solve misunderstandings that frequently happen between both sexes. The existence of books like the present one, of relationship manuals, magazine arti­cles, dedicated blogs, etc. bear testimony to the ongoing awareness about the issue. These dis­­si­­mi­larities are frequently the object of sexist jokes (in both ways), but can also build a major source of conflicts and relationship problems in couples. Each gender has its own pre­fe­rences, standards, expectations, leading to different definitions of what is acceptable or irritating. Male idiosyncrasies that regularly cause eye-rolling among women include the following: Leaving the toilet seat up, “forgetting” to replace the empty toilet paper roll, eating without a plate, scratching in public (in particular when it concerns his private parts), not disposing of beard shavings and nail clippings, farting in the bed, leaving dirty socks and underwear around, feigning not to hear the baby crying, etc. Men, reciprocally, may regard the following “typically female” habits as annoying or stressful: Eye-rolling, nag­ging, being complicated, getting offended easily, complaining, spying, gossiping, lea­ving behind all kinds of stuff in his car, wearing his clothes, and so on. Although these quirks and perso­nality traits can be seen as rather nerve-racking in the long term, they remain harmless as compared to what many people commonly consider as deal-breakers, for example, poor hygiene, neglect, bad manners, excessive con­sumption of alco­hol, condescen­sion, imma­tu­rity, lack of commitment, impatience, a violent disposition, needi­ness, infide­lity, vulgarity, lavish­ness, selfishness, etc.

In spite of these perceived flaws, discrepancies and disagreements, millions of heterosexual couples are formed every year. For some of them, the journey goes even further when they decide to get married, vowing to love one another forever. Even without matrimony, the decision to stay or to live together does not only require mutual trust and confidence, but also a great amount of tolerance. More often than not, harmony and success in the relation­ship depend upon both parties’ willingness to accept, if not to adapt to, the little oddities and eccentricities of the other. After all, these are the characteristics of a person that make him or her so unique. The proverb introduced in this chapter, therefore, serves as a reminder that love requires sympathy, broad-mindedness and mutual understanding for all these dif­feren­ces.[1] If you hold someone dear, then you should care for that person, no matter his or her imperfections.

In this connection, it shall be noted that this section is not meant as a potpourri of every­thing men usually dislike (or cannot figure out) about women, and vice versa. Nor does it intend to resolve this kind of gender-based misconceptions. Rather, the purpose is to call attention to them and to explain why our ways can sometimes be so diametrical. The simple con­scious­ness about this matter already represents a decisive step forward to solve existing relationship problems or avoid latent ones. In the process, the argumentation will focus on the differences in communication patterns and behaviours. Indeed, it seems that items rela­ted to this very matter predominate in articles or rankings about “annoying behaviour”, and that mutual accusations or complaints in this regard are especially frequent and varied.[2] Furthermore, given the importance of communication in romantic partnerships, it certainly makes sense to lay special emphasis on this facet of the issue. That being said, one should remem­ber that similar insights could be drawn for other areas where clashes tend to occur (e.g., personal grooming and hygiene, bodily noises, toilet usage, shopping, fashion and clothing, prefe­rences concerning television programs, driving behaviour, etc.).


Notes

[1]This expression constitutes the contracted form of an expression found in fú Shèng’s (伏胜, also known as Master Fu) Amplification of the Shangshu (尚书大传, shàng shū dà zhuàn). The work is a commentary on the Shangshu (also called the Book of Documents or Classic of History), a collection of rhetorical prose attributed to several figures of ancient China, including Confucius). One of the Five Classics of ancient Chinese literature, it also served as the foundation of Chinese political philosophy for over 2,000 years. The remark in question can be translated as “I love you so much that I even love the crow on top of your house” (original: 爱人者,兼其屋上之乌, ài ren zhě, jiān qí wū shàng zhī wū).

[2]Examples:

http://www.cosmopolitan.com/sex-love/relationship-advice/annoying-guy-behavior-explained#slide-1

http://idiva.com/photogallery-relationships/10-things-men-hate-in-women/27644/

http://idiva.com/photogallery-relationships/top-6-habits-your-man-hates/18684/

http://www.babble.com/mom/omg-your-husband-does-that-too/

Chapter 9: The path to a woman’s heart passes through her vagina – Part 3

Furthermore, women are inclined to avoid the term “having sex”, which they consider as an unworthy, unmerited, and loveless deed. In lieu thereof, they prefer using the word “making love” to express the simultaneous merger of two bodies and minds. The truth is that women like to see love and sex as an event causing the unification of what is otherwise separated. For them, love creates an emotional bond between two people, while sex is the physical bridge to one another. Together, love and sex have the power to combine the best parts of two individuals and amalgamate them into a new, comprehensive whole, just like two rivers join to become at their confluence. Through love and sex, something original is cre­ated, some­thing that is much larger and more powerful than the two individuals taken sepa­rately.

Hence, for women, sex is a truly affective act and a manifestation of how they feel about their partner. Although it would be naïve from anyone to expect a man to return such fond­ness and share similar motives when sleeping with a woman (at least for the first time), one should be aware that females are very thin-skinned about any kind of sex practice, but in particular about those involving penetration. Such sensitiveness that is absolutely appre­hen­sible and legitimate in view of the position of submission they are in during copulation. Let’s picture it: Typically, they have to lie on their back, spreading their legs wide open, and let a long, hard, alien object into their body. Indeed, even if she likes the guy, the vision of his peter introducing her fanny can be quite appalling. Nevertheless, it is not so much the fear of somatic pain that scares a woman as the apprehension to be left distressed and un­happy by someone who views her as a casual shag or as an instrument for physical release. For females, not many things are more upsetting than the impression to have been used and the absence of meaningful tenderness by the man she just had in her.

Different details play a role when a woman selects a man to sleep with, respectively decides whether or not to make that step with a prospective mating partner. The most important one is certainly trust. Given the inequality in physical strength between the genders, it is critical for her to know that she can feel safe with him. It is only under these conditions of fami­liarity, closeness, and overall well-being that her brain can release the right combi­na­tion of hor­mones that will ultimately let her open up to a man. That being said, their desire will not only depend on their own affinity to the counterpart. What is even more crucial for her to establish that emotional link is the confidence that she really means something to him, that he really cares about her. Notice that, in this context, the word “caring” goes beyond the sig­ni­ficance of “liking” or “being fond of”; it also refers to the open exhibition of com­pas­sion for her or to the active display of attention.

One of the reasons women evolved with a lower sex drive than men is that they needed to take time out from procreating to care for their young. If they constantly had sex, they would be pregnant all the time, which would necessarily lead to the risk of disregarding and neglecting her current children. Such a modus vivendi would be damaging to their own health and that of their progeny. No serious mating partner or husband would want that. Furthermore, while males can spread their seed as widely as they want, the time window (in terms of age) within which human females are fertile is quite limited. In theory, men can father hundreds of heirs every year, whereas even the most prolific women can only bear a maxi­mum of about 40 children in their lives.[1]

Given that men themselves are naturally adverse to the idea of sharing their partner(s), it then becomes, from an evolutionary and survival perspective, one of the key challenges in a woman’s existence to identify the right mate. The goal is not only to find a strong man with good genes but also to retain him after sex so that he can provide and look after her and their offspring. It is, therefore, no wonder that, over time, females have developed very sophisticated selection mechanisms to make out (with) the right guy. They are programmed to single out and cream off the most eligible bachelor after numerous tests. During the pro­cess, she sets out on a mental quest for answers to questions such as “Does he love me?”, “Am I the only one?”, “Do we match?”, “What kind of relationship with me is he looking for?”, and so on. For inexperienced men, this may sound quite bothersome or challenging. But displaying involvement is not that difficult after all. Most women nowadays do not expect real commitment, let alone a diamond ring, to share deeply intimate moments with a man. Some of them do not even want a lasting relationship. What a woman needs to be tur­ned on sexually is some kind of fervour for her (and only for her) and the hope for at least some sensibility. The bare promise of physical comfort, multiple orgasms or other sen­sual delights, is just not enough to stir her up. All she seeks before sex is the prospect of bon­ding instead of bondage; the vision that her man will penetrate her with emotional meaning rather than with his penis; the foretaste of him planting a seed in her heart, not his seed onto her breasts, etc. Once she has sensed that affective connection from the man, she might well be into all the other stuff as well…

Related proverbs and citations:

此地无银三百两

cǐ dì wú yín sān bǎi liǎng

“No 300 taels of silver buried here”.

A guilty person gives himself away by conspicuously protesting his innocence.

A clumsy denial resulting in self-exposure.


Notes

[1]    Assuming 30 years of fertility (between the age of 15 and 45) and 40 weeks of pregnancy – not taking into consideration the time the female body needs to recover from giving birth, or the occurrence of twins, triplets, etc.

Chapter 9: The path to a woman’s heart passes through her vagina

到女人心里的路通过阴道
dào nǚ rén xīn lĭ de lù tōng guò yīn dào

Strictly speaking, the present expression has not reached the status of a true proverb yet. Although often cited and widely known among the younger generation in China, it is “only” a quote from Lust, Caution (色,戒 – Sè, Jiè), a novella by Eileen CHANG. The full quote reads as follows: “They also say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach; that a man will fall easy prey to a woman who can cook. Somewhere in the first decade or two of the twentieth century, a well-known Chinese scholar was supposed to have added that the way to a woman’s heart is through her vagina”. The name of the story it is extracted from sets the tone for this chapter. As was the case in the previous one, sex is going to be the main theme. This time, however, the female perspective shall be at the core of the discus­sion.

To come to the point immediately: Women also want sex. And more often than they care to admit. This should be good news for everyone. Yet, it does not mean that they express and enjoy their sexuality in the same way as men. On the contrary, females do have signifi­cantly different sexual needs and motivations, which need to be acknowledged, respected and carefully attended by the partner if the relation is to last. One cannot expect women to have the same magnitude of natural arousal as men. Some certainly do, but the individuals to whom this principle applies are commonly called nymphomaniacs and represent a minority. In order to reach the same final destination of pleasure, satisfaction, physical release, or warmth, the female sex drive will normally take a completely different direction from the male’s. While a man’s path is quite direct, a woman’s mind will wander from one inner state to another, taking rides through various forms and levels of physical, emotional and soul attraction.

This process lets women appear as if they were procrastinating or were reticent, while, in fact, they are just trying to protect themselves from their own impulses. Often, all a woman needs in order to make up her mind and to decide to sleep with someone (other than a minimum of mental che­mistry, of course), is time. Indeed, if you give her enough time, let’s say five years, to hang out with and to know a potential and desirable mate, there is a high proba­bility that she will consent to be intimate with him. When reducing that period to six months or one week, however, her eagerness will be much lower. This may sound rather obvious to many readers, but for men, five years of acquaintance, or six months, or a week – that did not matter to the male college students surveyed in a study about temporary and permanent mating. Some of them would even accept intercourse after one hour, something virtually impos­­sible for women. Simi­larly, more than half (55.2 percent) of men agree to the idea that it is all right for two people to have sex if they really like each other, even if they have known each other for only a very short time. Compared to that, only 31.7 percent of women strongly agreed or some­what agreed to the same statement when surveyed.[1] Finally, during another study, 73 percent of males, but only 27 percent of females admitted having had sex deliberately with­out emotional involvement.[2] For the rest, it has been established that the fact that women prefer sex with emotional bonding and commitment, applies to adults in all ages, i.e., through­out their thirties, forties, and fifties, and also to those individuals with high-powered careers – all of them apparently have the same need for affection and inti­macy in sexual rela­tion­ships.[3]

One will notice that the statistics mentioned above are related to somewhat casual relation­ships. As elaborated in the previous chapter, this aspect alone may explain the large discre­pancy in responses between the genders. With regard to more committed romances, the differences do not have to be that large anymore, not even when lechery is involved. So the common representation of women as chaste or as having little interest in sexuality can and should be discarded. Many men, frustrated ones, in particular, believe (or make them­selves believe) that sex plays a lesser role for women or that they are less keen on bed sports. The opposite is closer to reality: For thousands of years, and this remains true as of today, it has been a basic instinct for every woman to find the man with the best genes and to have sex with him. Only when the right conditions are met will a woman unleash the dragon (or tigress, volcano, tsunami, etc.) in her and unfold enormous amounts of sexual energy. It never fails to fascinate when discovering or experiencing how wild, unin­­hibited and stupendous female concupiscence can be. For unpracticed men, this can come as a terrible shock.


Notes

[1]    All studies cited in: Buss (2003), pp. 77-78

[2]    Cited in: Buss (2003), pp. 257

[3]    Cited in: Townsend (1998), p. 28

Chapter 6: A honeyed mouth hides a daggered heart – Part 3

The plan of action that only the most ruthless cads use (and that requires the highest level of sophistication) involves the exaggeration of their good faith. In their endeavour to beguile women, they appear to be civilised and genteel than they are in reality, display more consi­deration and thoughtfulness than they usually do, and pretend to be more soft or com­pro­mising than they actually. The reason why this ruse works so well on women is because such demonstration of candour, openness, and forthrightness carries the message that the man is not looking for an ephemeral love story, but is rather seeking to settle down with a permanent mate. The willingness to act himself and to communicate his feelings to her in a direct and outspoken fashion – these are just the signals a woman needs in order to appraise a prospective partner’s characteristics so that she can feel confident about his intentions.[1]

Another standard manoeuvre playboys like to utilise is the amplification of their emotional commitment towards the woman they desire. The modus operandi is quite simple: By expres­sing feelings of involvement and intimacy or by uttering formulae like “I love you”, “I miss you”, “I want to spend the rest of my life with you”, etc. they intend to excite their prey’s sensations, thereby boosting the probability of sexual intercourse. Although men do not necessarily have to go so far in their choice of words, the calculation is likely to pay off, because the illusion is totally in line with both women’s expectation to gain access to his assets (exclusively, if possible) and their ideal of the integration of sex, romance and love. It is therefore not surprising to see that many people have tried this twist. In a survey among college students, 71 percent of the male admitted that had “exaggerated the depth of their feelings for a woman in order to have sex with her” (versus only 39 percent of the women asked). But even this number seems to be low compared to the 97 percent of women who declared to have been the object of that same tactic (i.e., that “a man had ever deceived them by his exaggeration of the depth of his feelings in order to have sex with her”) at the hands of men.[2]

Inversely, women’s knowledge of a man’s prior commitment is commonly recognised as being a main impediment in the seduction process. Any indication that his resources may already be allocated elsewhere (i.e., to another female or to her children) interferes with his capability to attract partners, even free-and-easy ones. With women having a clear prefe­rence for long-term engagements, marital obligations, in particular, become liabilities in the hunt for casual sex and obviously weaken his charm and desirability as a mate. Most men are fully aware of this detail, so married regulars of single bars normally ensure, as a matter of precaution, to remove their wedding rings before entering the premises. In the same spirit, it was established that the single most effective technique among men to deni­grate competitors and to make these less attractive to women, was to tell everyone that a rival already had a serious girlfriend.[3]

Given the pressures and built-in urges to procreate, it appears, from an evolutionary per­spective, that men have no choice but to falsely inflate their resources and amplify other requi­red traits. This has lead anthropologists to think that natural selection provided an advantage to men who were particularly skilled at misleading women and tempting them into sexual intercourse. In the face of so much knavery and perfidy, females developed their own protective devices designed for detecting deception. And so they adapted to this task and became very good at spotting male lies and overstatements, which now enables them to discover insincerity and penetrate any disguise. It has indeed been established that women have evolved a great sensitivity to lies. They do that by sensing subtle behavioural irregu­la­rities, noticing the fastest dart of an eye, or spotting contradictions when the spoken mes­sage of their interlocutor does not match the expression in his glance. Therefore, male rea­ders out there should make no mistake: Thanks to the millennia-long training of their brain, women are true experts in reading faces, interpreting the tone of voice, decoding non-verbal gestures, assessing emotional nuance, and so on.[4] Today it is no exaggeration to say that the probability for a man of being caught lying when he is just trying to score with a girl is fairly high – even if she does not want to admit it (to) herself. But this is another story.

And as things happen in the game of evolution, the match between men and women does not end here. While females brought forth advanced deception detection skills, they exerted strong pressure on men to become slicker and better pretenders. And thus keeps going the co-evolutionary upgrade, with each incremental enhancement in one sex bringing about a reciprocal mutation (in psychological terms) in the other. Adaptation after adaptation, men and women mutually assist each other in sharpening their deceptive faculty on the one hand and their counter-deceptive senses and intelligence on the other.[5] The very existence of the present book offers the best proof that the biological arms build-up between men and women still persists. As long as the collision of both genders’ sexual strategies is not resol­ved, there are excellent reasons to believe that this arms race will continue to be fought out at full strength for the sake of human progress.

 

Related proverbs and citations:

狗嘴里吐不出象牙

gǒu zuǐ lǐ tǔ bù chū xiàng yá

A dog’s mouth emits no ivory.

Look not for musk in dog’s kennel. An enemy’s mouth seldom speaks well. A filthy mouth cannot utter decent language.

黄鼠狼给鸡拜年没安好心

huáng shŭ láng gĕi jī bài nián méi ān hăo xīn

Not for nothing does a weasel pay a New Year visit to a chick.

Not with the best intentions.

过河拆桥

guò hé chāi qiáo

Dismantle the bridge after crossing it. Remove the bridge after crossing the river.

Be ungrateful and leave one’s benefactor in the lurch. Cast somebody aside when he has served one’s purpose. Discard one’s helpers after their help is made use of.

醉翁之意不在酒

zuì wēng zhī yì bú zài jiǔ

The drunken gentleman’s desire is not about the wine.

Kissing the baby for the nurse.

To have ulterior motives.

麻杆打狼—两头怕

má gǎn dǎ láng—liǎng tóu pà

Fight a wolf with a flex stalk.

Refers to situations where each party is fearful of the other.

男人靠得住, 母猪会上树

nán rén kào de zhù, mŭ zhū huì shàng shù

Reliable men are as rare as flying pigs.

用人不疑,疑人不用

yòng rén bù yí, yí rén bù yòng

Don’t suspect someone you employ, but if one is suspicious, don’t employ him.

I trust those who are of use to me.

上梁不正下梁歪

shàng liáng bú zhèng xià liáng wāi

If the upper beam is not straight, the lower ones will go aslant.

A crooked stick will have a crooked shadow. A fish rots from the head down.

If a leader sets a bad example, it will be followed by his subordinates.



Notes

[1]    Buss (2003), pp. 103-105

[2]    Cited in: Buss (2003), p. 154

[3]    Cited in: Buss (2003), p. 106

[4]    Brizendine (2006), pp. 65, 119

[5]    Buss (2000), pp. 44-46

Chapter 6: A honeyed mouth hides a daggered heart

口蜜腹剑
kǒu mì fù jiàn

Two of the previous chapters highlighted and elucidated the differences between human male and female sex drives. Given the profound discrepancies in natural states of arousal, triggers, fantasies, motivations, etc. it appears only natural that collisions would emerge, especially when the two protagonists, for example, a husband and his wife, are not aware of these. Women blame men for being “like animals”, for wanting “only one thing”, or for treating them as “sex objects”, while men will accuse women “never to take the initiative” or to “offer sex only in exchange for other favours”. For some, such words constitute an alibi for various sexist jokes or books, but one has to recognise that these can also lead to some more serious symptoms of indisposition between the sexes, involving general feelings of hypocrisy, double-dealing, or outright manipulation. This section takes a closer look at such deceitful behaviours from males and discusses how females are coping with these. The proverb chosen is commonly invoked in a context of personal subterfuge, business fraud, or diplomatic bluff,[1] but it can certainly also be applied in the case of gender conflicts. Depen­ding on the nature or intensity of the contention and on how vicious the scoundrel(s) need to be portrayed, one can also use the following translations: A honey tongue; a heart of gall; a cruel heart under the cover of sugar-coated words; a mouth that praises and a hand that kills; give somebody sweet talk when there’s hatred in the heart; have honey on one’s lips and murder in one’s heart; with peace on one’s tongue and guns in one’s pocket; beware of the kiss of death…

As exemplified above, there are several aspects of sexuality in which men and women differ significantly. First of all, men generally have a much higher sex drive than most women. Not only do they think about sex much more often (according to a study at the Kinsey Institute 37 percent of them do so every 30 minutes, compared to only 11 percent of women[2]), they are also much quicker in getting aroused and in making the decision to have intercourse with someone. In this regard, a study from 1996 determined that women found it acceptable to become intimate with a new partner after about 15 to 18 dates, while men were less patient to close up with the second sex after 9 to 11 encounters.[3] Furthermore, men expect more bodily interaction in casual meetings with women as a general rule and are more or less always ready to have a go at it. This impulse is no more than the psycho­logical answer to the inherent requirement to diversify one’s chances and maximise the num­ber of mates, and therefore of potential children. In the race for genetic survival, time is noo­kie. The fewer time males allow to elapse before the next coitus, the more females they can tread. Therefore, men have the best incentive in the world to hurry up and not to waste time before consummating a new relationship.

Another major point of distinctness is related to how males and females are stimulated: Through their eyes for the former (explaining the universal popularity of pornography) and through their ears for the latter (hence the proverbial premonition against “honeyed words”). This phenomenon is also partly connected to the fact that men display a stronger desire for sexual diversity, whereas women attach great importance to feelings, spiritual connection, emotional involvement, or, ideally, love.


Notes

[1] This locution can be retraced to Sīmǎ Guāng (司马光), historian, scholar, and high chancellor of the Song dynasty (AD 960–1279). The sovereign of that time, Emperor Yīngzōng of Sòng (宋英宗), commissioned him with the compilation of a universal history of China, now known as the Zīzhì Tōngjiàn (资治通鉴, literally: “Comprehensive Mirror in Aid of Governance”. The reference work makes mention of an official of the Tang dynasty (618–690 and 705–907 AD), Lǐ Línfǔ (李林甫), who served as a chancellor for 18 years (734–752) – one of the longest terms around that time. Infamous for his flattery of the emperor and his skill in the political scene, his name became a synonym of treachery and perfidy. His jealousy of any potential political challengers was as notorious as his schemes to cut off routes for his rivals (which included, among others, the circulation of false accusations against other officials). Owing to this reputation, Lǐ Línfǔ exemplifies the hypocrisy that was common practice in the imperial court, where scholars were stabbing one another in the back, while keeping a smile on their faces: “尤忌文学之士,或阳与之善,啖以甘言而阴陷之。世谓李林 甫’口有蜜,腹有剑’。” (yóu jì wén xué zhī shì, huò yáng yǔ zhī shàn, dàn yǐ gān yán ér yīn xiàn zhī. shì wèi lǐ lín fǔ ‘kǒu yǒu mì, fù yǒu jiàn’).

[2]    Cited in: Pease / Pease (1999), p. 223

[3]    Cited in: Pines (2005), p. 97

Chapter 3: Men like, women love – Part 3

One direct consequence of men’s susceptibility to visual materials and faculty to diffe­rentiate love and sex is their inclination or hope to have as many sexual partners as pos­sible. While women prefer sex within an emotional, stable, monogamous relationships, men effectively have the disposition to seek a variety of mates, just for the sake of variety. In a survey conducted among unmarried American men and women between the ages of eighteen and thirty, for instance, it was established that males wanted to have eighteen part­ners over their entire lifetime, while women were satisfied with only four partners, i.e., more than four times less. Within the next three years, men stated that ten would be good, ver­sus two for women. And for the next year, men wanted six partners – that’s one every two months – whereas women only desired one.[1] Other researchers found out that men fan­tasise not less than twice as often as women during sex, and that 88 percent of men admitted mentally switching partners or imagining multiple partners during the course of a single fan­tasy session (compared to 57 percent for women)[2].

Yet evolutionary psychology and the natural urge to procreate justifies much more than intrinsic promiscuity of males[3]. They both play an eminent role and provide particularly persuasive arguments in the explanation of mating behaviour and of gender differences in human sexuality. For a man, sex usually carries an extremely high priority, as it represents his only alternative for reproduction. In order to achieve this innate goal of passing down his chromosomes to the next generation, he chooses to have sex with a large number of women. Although he might not carry through on this instinct, he certainly has the drive to attempt to inseminate legions of females. For him, having twenty partners means that he can poten­tially yield at least as many babies per year. Therefore, he has a lot to gain by being easily aroused and by attempting to procreate. For a woman, on the other hand, it makes no evo­lutionary sense to have 20 lovers, as she can only bear one child every nine months. For her, more sex does not necessarily mean a higher fertility.

Powerful sex drive, easy arousal, quick on the draw, visual stimulation, ability to separate love from sex, preference for partner diversity, capacity to breed at practically any time, any place, and under almost any circumstances, etc. – all these facets of apparent male promiscuity often lead women to think and openly deplore that men are “dick driven”. The late comedian Robin Williams (a man) recognised and circumscribed this problem in a rather humorous way, declaring that God gave men a brain and a penis, but only enough blood to run one at a time… And that’s not too far from the truth. In many occasions, sex does actually supersede male brain activity. This explains why sometimes a man can find his rational thought overwhelmed instantly when he is strongly attracted to a woman. This phenomenon does not occur by accident but can be proven scientifically. According to neuropsychiatrist Louann Brizendine, the space allo­cated to sexual drive in male brains is two and a half times larger than in female brains.[4]

Considering that a man’s body produces about ten times more testosterone than a woman’s body on average, it should not come as a surprise that the male sex drive is so powerful and urgent, at least from a female perspective. This hormone does not only make men hairier (yet paradoxically provoking baldness), bigger, stronger, and more aggressive than women but also much hornier. In this regard, it may be interesting to notice that testosterone levels in single males (who have not yet succeeded in passing on their genes and are therefore still on the chase) are significantly higher than in married men and fathers (who have moved onto a more nurturing, less aggressive, role).[5] Similarly, human ethnicities with males showing relatively lower testosterone readings (e.g., Asians) have less sex than others (Cau­casians, black men), but are also less prone to violent crimes and rape. Reciprocally, the only women who have sex drives resembling men’s – i.e., frequent sexual arousal; sparked off by visual stimuli like pictures or the sight of strangers; in certain cases leading to a pres­sing need to masturbate; recurring desire; to have casual intercourse; with random people; for bodily gratification – are those with abnormally high blood levels of male sex hormones. This phenomenon, however, applies to less than 20 percent of all women.[6]

What is more, men also have a larger hypothalamus, the portion of the brain that controls functions like blood pressure or heart rate, as well as primordial drives such as thirst and hunger. Together with the amygdala, which is in charge of processing and memory of emotional reactions, they constitute the lust centres in our brain. During arousal, both parts become active, initiating the secretion of dopamine, a neurotransmitter[7] responsible for the feeling of well-being. This, in turn, triggers the release of a cocktail of hormones[8], including oestrogen and testosterone. The latter is the chemical fuel that sets the brain’s sexual engine in motion, and as such is a key catalyst in the induction of sex drive. When there is enough juice, the hypothalamus gives the signal to fire up the rocket, igniting red-hot feelings, physical excitement and sensual friction fantasies. At that very moment, the whole system is just a few moments away from lift off, and the thruster ready to be drained.

 

Related proverbs and citations:

谁动心谁先死

shuí dòng xīn shuí xiān sĭ

He who is touched dies first.

In love, there is no equal. The person who loves more will always be the one to suffer.



Notes

[1]    Buss (2003), p. 77

[2]    Ellis / Symons (1990)

[3]    See chapter 35 “No cat can resist snatching fish”.

[4]    Brizendine (2006), p. 5

[5]    Pease / Pease (2009), p. 14

[6]    Ibid.

[7]    A neurotransmitter is a chemical that is released from a nerve cell which thereby transmits an impulse from a nerve cell to another nerve, muscle, organ, or other tissue. A neurotransmitter is a messenger of neurologic information from one cell to another. (Source: http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=9973)

[8]    A hormone is a chemical messenger that carries a signal from one cell (or group of cells) to another. Hormones are essential for every activity of daily living, including the processes of digestion, metabolism, growth, reproduction, and mood control. (Source: http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=3783)

Chapter 3: Men like, women love

男欢女爱
nán huān nǚ ài

This tetrasyllabic phrase is generally employed to describe the love or passion between men and women.[1] In the context of this blog, however, it shall be used as all-purpose sentence recapitulating how human males think and how they are programmed when it comes to sexuality. Another chapter is dedicated to the same topic but viewed from a female stand­point.[2] Understanding the differences between both genders on this very issue is criti­cal if one wishes to figure out what creates sexual desire and what drives us to sleep with another.

When describing male sex drive, many people will tend to sketch it in rather simple fashion – for example like an on/off switch. Female sex drive, on the contrary, will be described as a complex ma­chine, involving several buttons, controllers, commutators, which all need to be monitored and co­ordinated in order to carefully ramp up and later on to maintain the mood.

Similarly, in their seminal book Why Men Don’t Listen And Women Can’t Read Maps, Allen and Barbara Pease liken men to microwaves and women to electric ovens. Indeed, males can be ignited immediately and may reach peak capacity within a matter of a few seconds, but are just as quickly and easily turned off once the meal is cooked. With females, conversely, one has to wait until top temperature has been reached, which can be quite a lengthy process, while it may also take a while for them to cool down as well.,[3],[4]

The difference in speed between men and women cannot only be observed in terms of how quickly both genders can get aroused sexually, but also how fast they decide to sleep with each other. In general, men have much lower thresholds for seeking sex, many of them expressing the desire and willingness to engage in intercourse with a total stranger. Accor­ding to a study carried out on an American college campus[5], 75 percent of men would res­pond positively when confronted with the following offer from an attractive female: “Hi, I’ve been noticing you around town lately, and I find you very attractive. Would you go to bed with me?” On the other hand, 0 percent of the women answered “yes” to the same question uttered by an attractive man. While the vast majority of women are likely to feel baf­fled, displeased or downrightly insulted by such an odd request coming out of the blue, many men would be flattered by it. Thus, time or familiarity do not seem to make any dif­ference to men when it comes to the question of whether or not to have casual sex with a woman – they are always ready to go, no matter if they have known the woman for ten minutes or ten years.

This “easiness” of males is also reflected in the frequency of thinking about carnal plea­sures. In a seemingly rather cautious study, the Kinsey Institute at the Indiana Univer­sity found that more than half (54 percent) of men think about sex at least every day, while 43 percent have it on their mind a few times a week or month, and only 4 percent said once a month or less.[6] Other reports depict an even hornier image of men. In her book The Female Brain, for example, Louann Brizendine mentions that for 85 percent of twenty- to thirty-year-old males, sexual thoughts wander through their brains several times every day. Females, by contrast, “only” think about it once a day, or up to three or four times on their hottest (i.e., most fertile) days. Yet another study goes one step further, calculating that men think about sex about six times per hour on average (not including dreams), or about 750 times per week![7] Bearing in mind a regular couple copulates one and a half times per week, it is not difficult to understand the frustrations of men complaining about not getting enough sex. Unfortunately, the problem of quick arousal is not limited to fantasies and wishful thin­king about the quantity of nookie they can get. Legions of men, especially younger ones, feel the urge to let their “member of congress” ejaculate many times a week or even several times a day. Whoever has heard that call knows that it can be quite an uncomfortable and dis­turbing sensation. In that case, the best way out is not to debate or deliberate, but to inten­sify the proceedings, reach a climax, and to finish it. Notice at this point that there is nothing corporal forcing men to come in(to) a vagina. As pointed out in The Hite Report, even if a male has a strong physical desire for orgasm (for instance, undergone through an erection) the excitement he feels is not linked to any craving for intercourse as such, but only for the need of sexual release. Thus, the animal “itch” a man feels is not a desire to penetrate a woman’s genital organ but a yearning for further stimulation of the penis, and ultimately for orgasm.[8]


Notes

[1]   Although the origins of this proverb remain unclear, it may be attributed to Féng Mènglóng (冯梦龙), a Chinese poet and vernacular writer of the late Ming dynasty (which itself lasted from 1368 to 1644 AD). In his short story Prefect Kuang Solves the Case of the Dead Baby (况太守断死孩儿, kuàng tài shǒu duàn sǐ hái ér, published in the 1624 compilation Stories to Caution the World, 警世通言, jǐng shì tōng yán), he refers to a particular “kind of rendezvous, where a woman loves and a man (only) likes” as “a great mistake made in a moment of weakness” (这般会合,那些个男欢女爱,是偶然一念之差”, zhè bān huì hé, nà xiē gè nán huān nǚ ài, shì ǒu rán yī niàn zhī chā).

[2]    See chapter 9 “The path to a woman’s heart passes through her vagina”.

[3]    Pease / Pease (1999), pp. 221-223

[4]    See chapter 30 “You can’t help shoots grow by pulling them up higher”.

[5]    Cited in: Pines (2005), p. 91

[6]    Ellis / Symons (1990)

[7]    Cited in: Kramer / Dunaway (1990), p. 19

[8]    Hite (1981), p. 256

Chapter 1: Men are like mud, women are like water – Part 3

Interestingly, research shows that economic independence of women has a direct impact on pre-marital sex, as measured by the defloration age and the frequency of sexual activities before marriage. In societies where females are not so emancipated, i.e., necessitate rela­ti­vely high investment from men, women gain a lot from being married. This condition renders promiscuity much riskier, simultaneously intensifying the competition for a do­mes­­­tic partner. Consequently, rivals have a much stronger incentive to keep their virtue, which, in turn, lowers the incidence of fornication. Conversely, luxuria is no luxury for young ladies in control of their own economic fate. As the pressure to fulfil potential mates’ prerequisites is not so heavy for them, they enjoy much more freedom, and can there­fore indulge in carnal pleasure earlier in their lives.[1]

On the other hand, it is quite understandable for men to expect female passivity and mora­lity – if they can afford it. The natural disposition of males to systematically attach a certain value to virginity can be observed around the world, even though differences across cultures can be observed. Not every society displays the same level of attention to this matter. In coun­tries such as China (including Taiwan), Japan, India, Indonesia, or Iran, for instance, people lay great emphasis on pureness when it comes to choosing a partner for life. At the other end of the spectrum, the French, Dutch, Scandinavians, or Germans tend to think that chastity is prac­tically meaningless in a prospective mate. Similarly, in the United States, this prere­quisite is more important to college students in Texas than to their counterparts in Califor­nia. Furthermore, the insistence on sexual morality in this country seems to have eroded over the last fifty years, an evolution apparently linked to the advent of artificial contra­ception. While men viewed this factor as virtually essential in the 1930s, ranking it as the 10th most valued quality in a damsel, it only came in 17th place in the late 1980s.[2]

Such puritanism or sexual favouritism toward maidens may look archaic to some readers, but in order to understand where we are coming from, one needs to look back no further than the Victorian era, i.e., from 1837 to 1901. At that time, society was governed by a strict code of moral values that repressed sexuality and its pleasant derivatives. Male homo­sexua­lity was prohibited, while the law downrightly negated the existence of lesbianism. As sheer nudity could provoke arousal, it was equally frowned upon. Women who wanted to take a swim at the beach were invited to do so in bathing machines near the premises. People in mixed or polite society would prefer to employ the term “limb” rather than “leg”, simply because the latter was deemed out-of-line. So was chicken “breast”, which ought to be cal­led a “bosom”. According to some historians, prudery was taken so far as to cover tables and pianos with embroidery or crinolines in order to conceal the furni­ture’s “legs” and thus to avert any kind of frenzy of lust and shame. Casual contact between boys and girls at unsu­pervised social events was not supposed to happen. Once a young man had chosen a demoiselle to court, he had to request an audience with her family and seek their approval. If permission was granted and the encounter took place, a chaperon would escort them for the whole duration of the rendezvous. One possible next stage in the suit consisted in a cus­tom called “bundling”, which allowed an unmarried couple to occupy the same bed without undressing. Wrapped in separate blankets, or sometimes segregated by a board (meant to obstruct inappropriate contact), they were asked to converse through the night with the mis­sion to better know one another before a probable marriage.

Although rules are much laxer nowadays, one should still bear in mind another reason why the loss of virginity remains a highly sensitive topic to girls. Let us not forget that their first act of sexual intercourse usually goes along with at least some degree of physical discom­fort. The tearing of the hymen itself (which can be compared to a layer of skin ripping inside the body), as well as the resulting vaginal bleeding, may have traumatising effects on some of them. A woman’s uncertainty about having chosen the right partner for this life-chan­ging occasion can contribute to a further exacerbating her irritation. As this happening marks the sexualisation of her entire being and thus end of innocence, integrity, or purity, she knows that nothing will be the same again. While virginity has been associated with the notions of virtue, honour and worth, losing it is still considered by many to be an important personal milestone. Hence, a young lady certainly has the right to treat her virginity as her own private holy grail, and to warn every admirer, every suitor, every Prince Charming that “none shall pass” and that she is ready to defend her reputation by all means. If she has saved herself for someone special to her, it is a gift that no one should take lightly. In order to protect her from emotional pain, or at least confusion, her first man would be well advised to be very careful with his rosebud, and to take to heart the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Little Prince: “You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.”[3] So if he is gentle, respects her, takes his time, makes sure that she is ready, she will know that she made the right decision and will remember him all her life.

Related proverbs and citations:

男人不是好东西

nán rén bù shì hăo dōng xī

Men are not a good thing.

All men are creeps.

生米已成熟饭

shēng mĭ yĭ chéng shóu fàn

The raw rice has been cooked to meal.

All has been made and could not be reversed.



Notes

[1]    Cited in: Buss (2003), p. 69

[2]    Ibid., p. 68

[3]    Original: “Tu deviens responsable pour toujours de ce que tu as apprivoisé.” (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry)

Chapter 1: Men are like mud, women are like water

男泥女水
nán ní nǚ shuǐ

Incidentally, the first expression in the series is not a proverb in the truest sense of the term but a quote from Dream of the Red Chamber (红楼梦, hóng lóu mèng) by Cáo Xuěqín[1] (曹雪芹), arguably one of the greatest masterpieces of Chinese literature.[2] The words are uttered by the male protagonist, Jiǎ Bǎoyù (贾宝玉). A tactful, compassionate and sensi­tive young man, Bǎoyù asserts that women are made of water, or, at the very least, remain as pure as water, whereas men are mere chunks of clay or mud, unformed and soiled. He shuns the latter for their moral and spiritual inferiority, quite in the image of his own cousin, a disso­lute rake known for his amorous exploits with both men and women. Indeed, Xuē Pán (薛蟠) embo­dies all the possible deplorable and disgusting charac­teristics of a male, inclu­ding indolence, uncouthness, inconsideration, and so on. A local bully, he even kills some­one over a slave girl and has his case covered up with money, demonstrat­ing how far cor­ruption can go. Although not all men reach this level of tastelessness or de­pravity, they undoubtedly repre­sent the gender with the lesser grace, mildness and vir­tue. Men’s pilosity, deeper voices, crime statistics, the volume of body noises emitted, or their greater incli­nation to con­sume sti­­mu­lants (alcohol, tobacco, etc.) are but a few examples to under­line this state­ment.

Yet, if men’s physiques are rough and angular, their temperaments pugnacious and impul­sive, and their manners vulgar and selfish, it is only because it has been made possible by evolution. Their bodies and minds were originally fashioned for strength, agility and speed, as their pur­pose was to run, to seek, to capture, and to kill in order to provide for their community. Testosterone gushing through their blood vessels plays an instrumental role in the process. Not only does it drive the fabrication of male reproductive tissues (in parti­cular the testis and the prostate) and the maturation of sex organs; it also fosters the growth of body hair, the building up of muscle mass and strength, the increase of bone density, etc., giving men their muscular and robust, i.e., virile, shape. Since men have about ten times more testosterone in their blood than women, it is impossible that the human anatomy stays unaffected by this sexual differentiation. The brain itself constitutes no exception and is heavily influenced by the amount and magnitude of hormonal fluxes. Consequently, testo­sterone levels play a major role in the explanation of gender discre­pancies in the develop­ment of essential cognitive and sensorial functions, such as attention, memory, spa­tial abi­lity, attachment, caring, risk tolerance, aggressiveness, the tendency toward vio­lence or sui­cide, and so forth.[3],[4],[5],[6],[7]

Inversely, the female body is much curvier, fuller, and softer. Just by looking at it, one understands immediately that it has been designed for protection, cosiness and nourishment. The key biological ingredients in the formation of that source (others may also worship it as a temple) of comfort and well-being are oestrogens. While they are part of both males’ and females’ blood chemistries, they are usually present at significantly higher levels in women of reproductive age, dominating their hormonal balance. Oestrogens are involved in the shaping of female secondary sexual chara­cteristics (for example, breasts, larger fat stores, redu­ced muscle mass), are partly respon­sible for regulating the menstrual cycle, and contri­bute to other cardinal functions of the repro­duction system (e.g., the increase of uterine growth, acceleration of vaginal lubri­cation, thickening of the vaginal wall). Finally, they are also connected to mental health, as a fluctuation, persisting low levels, or a sudden with­drawal of oestrogen may cause a woman’s mood to decline.[8],[9],[10],[11],[12]


Notes

[1]    Following the local convention, all Chinese names throughout the text are written with the family name first (in cap­ital letters) and the given name next. In the present example, Cáo is the family name, while Xuěqín is the given name.

[2]   Dream of the Red Chamber (also known as The Story of the Stone) is arguably the most famous of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese (四大名著, sì dà míng zhù, literally “Four Great Masterpieces”), the other three being Water Margin (水浒传, shuǐ hǔ zhuàn), Romance of the Three Kingdoms (三国演义, sān guó yǎn yì), and Journey to the West (西游记, xī yóu jì).

[3]    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Testosterone

[4]    Ridley (1993), pp. 254-258

[5]    Pease / Pease (1999), pp. 187-189

[6]    Campbell (2002), pp. 35, 290

[7]    Pease / Pease (2009), p. 15

[8]    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estrogen

[9]    Pease / Pease (1999), p. 182

[10]  Brizendine (2006), pp. 33-35

[11]  Pease / Pease (2009), p. 188

[12]  See chapter 8 “A woman’s heart is as deep as the ocean”.