Chapter 12: Love my house, love the crow on it – Part 3

A common reaction to such yak, however, is to discredit it as immature babbling and to brand its originator as irrational or insecure. A similar consequence looms when women exag­gerate or dramatise things, for example by generalising situations (“You never help me with the dishes”, “You always leave clothes in the washing machine”, “Nobody else would ever do such a thing”, “Can’t you listen to me for once?”), distorting facts (“You are acting like a three-year-old”, “I have already asked you ten thousand times”, “You haven’t taken me out for years”, “You do that all the time”), or presenting her feelings in an overly specta­cular manner (“You don’t understand me at all”, “Her new hairstyle looks terrible”, “My col­lea­gue bought the same dress as me, I hate her”, “I can’t stand his mannerism any longer”). Men are allergic to such formulations because they are confusing (did she really mean it when she said that she would never want to talk to me ever again?) and make it difficult to enter into a reasonable debate. With a little bit of distance, though, most women employing such figures of speech will admit that their words should not be taken literally. Instead, the magnification is meant to reinforce the emotional character of their declarations, which is so important for the representation of her inner state of mind. Like in a film, her hyperboles are there to amplify the effect of her story so that external listeners understand her better and sympathise with her. What counts is not only the information to be conveyed, but also the feelings she wishes to share with others.[1]

Herein lies a major difference between male and female communication. No matter the con­ver­sational partner (relatives, close friends, lovers, etc.), the first priority for a man is almost always to bring across a specific message. Emotions only play a minor role here. This is pre­cisely what women object to, namely that men are not there with their hearts when con­versing with other people. To females, it always seems that guys are not talking enough, or when they are, the communication takes place in a narrow-band mode where the recep­tion and transmission of feelings are weak or inaudible. Some men even find the all-important word combination “I love you” very hard to speak out.[2] Another common com­plaint related to this one is that men can be rather crude in their diction. Some insensitive males let slip questions such as “Have you gained weight lately?”, “Are you pregnant?”, “Are you PMSing?” or inadvertently diminish the feelings of their loved ones (“Why do we have to go over this again and again?”, “Don’t be such a drama queen”, “Don’t worry so much”, “Get to the point!”, etc.). Other faux pas in this regard include not answering the phone after she tried to call several times, giving a short or cold reply (e.g., “Okay”) to long (written or oral) mono­logues, answering in the affirmative any question like “Do I look fat in this outfit?”, or replying “Just fine” to the inquiry “How do I look?” at which he does not even bother looking at her. If she senses a distance in his words, she may interpret it as a personal derogation or as an invalidation of her emotions. Likewise, feedback such as “Up to you”, “Do whatever you want”, or “Why can’t you just let it go?” reveals that he does not care about what she wants, which can let her feel ignored or neglected.[3]

The poor listening skills of males represent another source of frustration for women. As mentioned above, the latter sometimes need to talk just for the sake of talking. In that case, however, some men will not limit themselves to hearing out the problem, but also want to fix it. For them, discussing is not enough; they have to not only talk but also do something about it. Yet this not what women expect in a conversation. Instead of suggestions and solu­tions, they hope to hear listening sounds or phrases (e.g., “Hmmm”, “Oooh”, “I see”, “Really?”, “That’s terrible”, “Tell me more”, etc.). These are enough to reassure them that the interlocutor is attentive, and there­fore a good, empathetic “listener”.[4],[5]


Notes

[1]    Pease / Pease (2002), pp. 168-169

[2]    Pease / Pease (2009), p. 196

[3]    Gray (2012), pp. 144-145

[4]    Pease / Pease (1999), pp. 115, 165

[5]    Gray (2012), p. 121

Chapter 12: Love my house, love the crow on it – Part 2

As a little teaser, let’s start with two quotes:

Women speak until they have something to say.[1]

Sacha Guitry

 

We women talk too much,

nevertheless we only say half of what we know.

Nancy Astor, Viscountess Astor

Both citations are emblematic for what arguably constitutes the number one infliction that men blame women for, namely that they talk a lot, or even “too much”. According to some sta­tistics, females express about 20,000 communication signals (words, vocal sounds, ges­tures, etc.) per day on average, whereas males get by with only 7,000 – that is almost three times as many.[2],[3] From a man’s perspective, however, the irritation does not necessarily originate in the quantity of words uttered or in the length of the conversations, but rather stem from the object or the content of the exchange. Sometimes, it seems, women say things that have no real meaning, either because men do not know how to respond (e.g., “I am going to have an ice cream now”) or because they are uninteresting (e.g., discussions about cha­racters out of soap operas or reality TV shows). Another familiar reproach in this context is that a woman is naturally inclined to think aloud. If she has a decision to make or tasks to carry out, she will give tongue to the various items, alternatives or possible out­comes, lis­ting them in random order. Here an example: “Let’s see, I’ve got to write an email to Tho­mas, pick up the dry cleaning and recharge my mobile phone – oh yes, Sandy texted me this morning so I need to text her back, no why don’t I post something on her Facebook instead? And don’t forget to send the contract to legal, oh my God, I hope they will accept it this time… Then I need to pick up Sophie from her piano class and go to the bathroom. Wait, I still have to decide which shoes to buy – wedges or heels? I suppose I could also call Sandy…”).[4] A similar manifestation of that desire to say something out of the blue is the tendency to ask what men consider as superfluous questions. Classic examples include: “What are you thinking about?”, “What’s wrong?”, “Are you mad at me?”, “Exactly when do you think you will be ready for fatherhood?”, “Do you think I am getting old?”, “Does this outfit make me look fat?”, “Do you still love me?”, and so forth. Such statements are point­less in the sense that they seldom lead to constructive dialogues. Moreover, men do not know how to reply to them or are afraid to say something wrong that will cause disappoint­ment or anger in their beloved.

One of the reasons why females like to speak out things is that talking aloud allows them to release internal pressure or to vent their feelings. If a woman is stressed, gabbing and telling her worries to anyone who will listen is a welcome way for her to get all the emotional gar­bage out of her system. After chattering for a while and providing a detailed report about all her current and future problems (as related to her health, family, job, etc.), she will already feel much better[5] – even if the people at the other end have no opinion about these pro­blems. Like in the previous example, her sentences may appear totally unstructured, with seve­­ral subjects thrown into one discussion, and no hope to ever find a solution or reach a conclusion. Such absence of formal closure is perfectly acceptable for her, as answers or advice is not what she is after. The comfort and relief she needs emerge from the process of verbalising, not from any specific response.[6] Sometimes, she may (volun­tarily or uncons­ciously) start an argument, drop a complaint, or summon someone with the much-drea­ded for­mula “we need to talk”, simply with the purpose of triggering a conversation or facilitating the procedure.


Notes

[1]    Original: “Les femmes parlent jusqu’à ce qu’elles aient quelque chose à dire.”

[2]    Cited in: Pease / Pease (1999), pp. 97-98

[3]    Although other studies brought forth different amounts (22,000 language units per day for women compared to 10,000 for men, cited in: Fischer (2008), p. 33), they confirmed the fundamental conclusion that females utter many more words per day than males.

[4]    Pease / Pease (1999), pp. 96-97

[5]    Notice that the motivation here can be likened to that of masturbating men. The intention is simply to seek ejaculation as a means to release tension and evacuate unwanted ballast.

[6]    Pease / Pease (1999), p. 165

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 – Part 2

What makes female sexuality even more complex is that it is influenced by hormonal fluctu­ations in a much stronger fashion than it is for men. As elucidated in other chapters[1], the mens­trual cycle is regulated by the intricate interaction of hormones. This merry- (actually, not-so-merry-) go-round of physiological changes occurring in fertile women sends them onto an emotional roller-coaster affecting several aspects of their well-being, including their body temperature, stress levels, mood, but also their lust. While men have a rather constant level of testosterone in their blood, women sexual hormones ebb and flow throughout the cycle, modulating their sexual interest accordingly. Desire will steadily increase during the second week, culminating right before ovulation occurs, usually on the 14th day of the cycle. At the same time, the simultaneous rise of testosterone (the “sex hormone”) and oestrogen (which also has the property to make females more receptive to lovemaking and is essential for vaginal lubrication) will also contribute to the acceleration of her sex drive. In this regard, studies have shown that the phase of the menstrual cycle affected outfit decisions: For example, the closer a woman is to ovulation, the shorter the skirts and the tighter the blouse she (unconsciously) chooses to wear[2] As this time also corresponds to her peak of fecundity, it demonstrates that Mother Nature did a fine optimisation job when program­ming the connection between these two factors (fertility and libido) with the objective of mul­ti­­pli­cation and species-survival.

In the second half of the menstrual cycle, however, a woman’s hunger for sex then fades away as she approaches the infertile period of menstruation. This is mainly due to her ovaries’ production of progesterone during and after ovulation, which partially reverses the effect of testoste­rone in her system, thus curbing her desire. As the name reveals, this hormone’s role is to precede and to favour gestation by preparing the lining of the womb that will receive and sustain the egg if it becomes fertilised by a sperm (which would result in pregnancy). It is only after the body has detected that the egg is not fertilised that progesterone levels drop again and menstrual bleeding sets in. The emergence of progesterone, therefore, indicates to the female body that the fun is over and that it is now possibly time to take care of the embryo (or imbroglio – depending on how it happened).

As pointed out above, the primary purpose of sex since the origins of times has been to trade genes with someone else in order to create stronger chromosomes in the next generation of babies. Some readers will think that this has not so much to do with emotions either. Why, then, all the fuss about affection, caring, devotion, commitment, many men will ask. Given that men and women now have access to a variety of contraceptive methods, why can’t we stick to the cock and ass and tits and butthole pleasures? Shouldn’t sex be about this rusty trombone, dirty Sanchez, Cincinnati bowtie, and pussy-juice cocktail, and shit-stained balls after all? Do love and connection really have to be part of the sex equation in the 21st century? The answer here could not be clearer: As a general rule, women are still unable to separate emotion from conjugation. For them, love and sex are the two sides of the same coin, one is the consequence of the other, one actually equals the other – at least this is what a vast majority of females claim.
Seldom will a woman admit that an affair “was only about sex” or view intercourse “just as sex”. Instead, what one usually hears are classical formulas like “as an individual I feel I could not have sex except with someone I loved”, or “I have to be feeling very intensely, or in love, or overwhelmed by sexual feelings in order to enter a deep sexual encounter.”[3] These two declarations highlight one very important point: For women, a sexual relation­ship is not merely a physical activity (as it may be the case for many men), but rather a phy­sical or emotional exchange with a person with whom they have a connection. There­fore, they will always prefer to have a personally close relationship to a casual one. But even girls with a comparatively promiscuous lifestyle tend to insist on a minimum of feelings when fooling around. In a survey among students specifically picked out for their vivid sexual activity, no more than 32 percent of the female respondents disagreed to the state­ment, “I feel I should be emotionally involved with a woman/man before having sex with him/her”, compared to 72 percent of the men asked.[4]

 


Notes

[1]    See chapters 8 “A woman’s heart is as deep as the ocean” and 28 “Pluck flowers as they bloom; wait and you’ll have only the twigs”.

[2]    Buss (2003), p. 247

[3]    Cited in: Hite (1981), p. 479

[4]    Cited in: Buss (2000), p. 55

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 8: A woman’s heart is as deep as the ocean – Part 2

The previous examples illustrate how complex, contradictory, impenetrable women sometimes appear to men. Then, women’s recurrent complaints about men in these and other respects add to the confusion and tend to further complicate matters. Unfortunately, this incom­pre­hension has also given rise to a certain male condescension towards femininity, implying that women are overly emotional, unstable, hard to please, never satisfied, needy (or “high main­­tenance”), clingy, whimsical, prone to over-dramatisation in order to gain attention from others in relationships, and so on:

A woman is always changeable and capricious.[1]

Virgil, Æneid

Woman is always fickle

Foolish is he who trusts her.[2]

Francis I of France (scratched with his ring on a window of Chambord Castle)

Frailty, thy name is woman!

William Shakespeare, Hamlet

Woman’s at best a contradiction still.

Alexander Pope, Moral Essays

 

Whether or not these accusations are legitimate or fair shall not be the object of the follo­wing elaboration. Rather, the purpose is to build on such sexist fault-finding and to establish – just for the fun of it – a list of those typical reproaches men utter against their girlfriends, wives, colleagues, etc. and to explicate these female shortcomings with hormonal fluc­tu­ations. Tact and political correctness will be put aside and scientific explanations kept to a mini­mum, as each reader is invited to think for himself or herself how much truth (or, on the contrary, untruth or misrepresentation) lies in these assertions.

One common criticism men regularly utter about women concerns their indirect way of talking and expressing themselves. Many men, at least in many so-called low context cul­tu­res (such as, for example, in Germany, North America, Scandinavia) are confused by indi­rect communication. They have trouble recognising implicit meanings, picking up on nuan­ces in words, reading between the lines or deciphering body language. Accordingly, they blame women for conveying vague or ambiguous messages and for leaving their interlo­cutors to guess what they really want to say (e.g., “What do you think about this dress in the shop window” instead of “I want you to buy me this dress”; “The children’s school is quite far from our home” instead of “I would like to move closer to their school”; or “Go ahead, do whatever you want,” instead of “I don’t want you to, but if you do, I will make you regret it”). For them, women always beat around the bush, never getting to the point.

Then, men like to see themselves as rational and goal-oriented creatures, while women’s unrea­son and lack of logic would even make Mr. Spock’s hair stand on end. Wary of muddle hazard, they sneer at the females’ inclination to “indulge themselves in feelings and impres­sions” and to base their judgements on emotions rather than on (common) sense. Likewise, they sometimes say one thing and then finally do the opposite, or engage in two or more direc­­tions at once, so that “nothing ever gets done”[3]. Such irrationality and logical incon­sistency make women look wild, moody, chaotic, impulsive, irresponsible, and therefore untrust­­worthy from a masculine perspective.


Notes

[1]    Original: “Varium et mutabile semper, Femina.”

[2]    Original: “Toute femme varie / Bien fol est qui s’y fie.”

[3]    Fitzgerald (2012)

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 – Part 2

Such preferences, choices and behaviours represent age-old instincts, and, as such, have not been installed in us accidentally. They are in effect the result of the human brain’s wiring, a process that started much earlier than our civilisation as we know it today. It is precisely this neurological set-up that coerces us to have the same aspirations and predilections as our ancestors. In other words, males and females of the 21st century are conditioned to seek exactly what their forefathers and foremothers sought – at least when it comes to mating strategies, and related issues such as relationships, love, sex, etc. Although this may sound outrageous and instigate the most ardent indignation among many people, the fact of the matter is that men continue to want as much sex as possible with as many different women as possible, at any time, in any place, under almost any circumstance. The origins and purpose of such impulses are rather straightforward: Since the dawn of man, males have been programmed to perpetuate our species, which they need to (be able to) do that without regard to drawbacks and dangers. They had to be ready to go whenever and wherever a coupling opportunity came up, even in the presence of potential enemies. By the same token, they could not afford to be easily distracted but had to keep their eye on the ball. Under such conditions, the whole contest did not leave much room for courting, foreplay or gentle stroking – much to the defeat of their partners.

Indeed, this markedly physical and brute conception of sex is in complete dissonance with women’s needs. Unlike men, their role was not only to procreate but also to nurture the off­spring, protect and raise them. Accordingly, their primary drive was to be guardians and care­takers, which also reflected on their own desires. In view of all the love and devo­tion they provide to their progeny, and given the physical sacrifices and hardships they have to undergo during pregnancy, delivery and mothering, it is only normal that they would expect similar compassion and attention from the man partly responsible for all this trouble. As their lust is closely linked to their emotions in general, their willingness to sleep with a man will depend not least on his skills and promises in this respect. At this junction, it is noteworthy to mention that all the new freedoms women now enjoy may have altered many aspects of sexual behaviour, but did certainly not obliterate the differences in how men and women express, explore, and live their own sexualities. Neither the increasing of their eco­nomic independence, the equality they obtained in many areas, nor the partial legalisation of abortion, the availability of effective and convenient contraceptives, etc. – none of these deve­lopments managed to let women re-define their criteria for evaluating good sex. Admit­tedly, more and more women pursue promiscuous lifestyles, whilst eroticism and sexuality are omnipresent and openly discussed in the media. But such motivations usually stem from curiosity and the wish to experiment with different partners in different situations in order to find out what they really like and dislike. However, the exposure to images of fornication and lures of free love have not deterred them from their deep primary dream to recombine sex with emotions. What was true for troglodytes 100,000 years ago is still true for 21st century housewives (desperate or not), successful businesswomen, female celebrities, etc. In other words, the common idea that a woman’s sex drive is stronger than that of her mother, grandmother or any of ancestors thousands of years ago could not be further from the truth.[1],[2]

Under such an omen, clashes are bound to occur. But while it seems reasonable to accept our mutual incompatibility yet trying our best to reconcile differences, problems are not infrequently exacerbated by the misleading behaviour of some men. The number of famous philanderers is countless, but a man does don’t have to be as productive as Casanova, Don Juan, or the 2nd Earl of Rochester, nor as unscrupulous as Lothario, the Vicomte de Valmont, or an incubus to fall into that category. The objective of such bounders are just as stark as clear: Seduction and abandonment. By feigning honourable values such as passion, courtesy and generosity, they entice women into thinking that they are interested in starting a relationship when they are absolutely not. They mimic what women look for in a husband, for instance, benevolence, concern and long-term devotion, but in fact what they are after are brief sexual liaisons solely.

Their seduction tricks are quite elementary. The simplest one is to overemphasise ones wealth, respectively the ability to generate it. A typical Corinthian will spend money very easily, inviting his target to posh restaurants, greasing her palm with expensive gifts, or otherwise channelling resources to her. In principle, this is an absolutely legitimate and accep­table tactic. In many species, males do show off their potential for investment in order to draw mates’ attention. They will provide food and the female can foresee what she is getting. Problems emerge when the males first inseminate the female but are then unwilling to deliver what they promised or advertised. Or worse, when they take back the food after the copulation is complete, as it happens with some male insects, who employ the same resource to court several females. This sounds like an extreme case of sexual chicanery, but how many women have been dumped by a rascal after they jazzed for the first time, which, incidentally, happened after he took her to a nice bistro or cooked for her at home? And what about those wolves who use designer clothes or flashy sports cars to lure round-eyed ladies into their lair?


Notes

[1]    Pease / Pease (2009), pp. 47-49

[2]    Townsend (1998), p. 16

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