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

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

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

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

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

 

Related proverbs and citations:

找个爱我的做老公,找个我爱的做情人

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

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

 


Notes

[1]    Campbell (2002), p. 175

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

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

[4]    Buss (2003), p. 236

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

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

[7]    Buss (2000), p. 163

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

[9]    Ryan / Jetha (2010), p. 266

Chapter 26: A sly rabbit has three burrows – Part 2

The notion of human sperm competition provides another reason why promiscuity makes sense from a reproductive standpoint. Defined as the “competition between sperm of two or more males for the fertilisation of an ova”[1], sperm competition results from the choice of a woman to have sex with several men. The “sperm war”[2] she sets in motion helps her ensure that the most successful sperm cell will prevail and that she will conceive a baby with the contestant with the strongest army (made of millions of eager spermatozoa) fighting on his behalf.[3] Since human seed can stay alive within the woman’s reproductive system for up to a week, the race can easily take several days. So if she has unprotected sex with more than one man within that time frame, she sets the stage for a battle of their gametes.[4] The victor (there can be only one) gets to fertilise her egg (the Prize), thus initiating her maternity (the Quickening). Given that the winner has to beat not only the spermatozoa of its own kind but also those of one or more external rivals, the genetic material it carries must be of supreme quality. In line with the slogan “competition is good for business”, a promiscuous woman does nothing else than creating more choice for her valuable ovum, thereby improving the chances to produce more viable offspring. In this context, notice that the concept of “sperm competition” is different from the “sperm retention” theory, which states that women have more “high sperm retention” orgasms with their affair partners than with their primary mate (as measured by the amount of semen churned out immediately after inter­course).[5] In addition, it appears that unfaithful women tend to time their sexual escapades with their lovers (that is, their orgasms) around ovulation, i.e., at that point of their menstrual cycle when they are the most fecund.[6] Whether or not the decision is deli­berate, these findings show that the wish for procreation can play an important role in adul­tery, and may also explain why ladies place particular importance on sexual gratification when electing their paramour.[7]

As previously observed, women are essentially attracted to men who can provide two types of benefits: Plenty of resources and good genes. Alas, one single man is not always able to fulfil both requirements at the same time, which are often regarded as contradictory (think about the hard working nerd who neglects his personal appearance, or about the beefcake who prefers to spend his time in the gym rather than studying). Even if such a prospective mate does exist, he could be a philanderer or a “bad boy” himself,[8] not willing to commit to the woman in question. Worse still, he might be so popular that he ignores her, or is not interested in her at all. In such a situation, she faces a classical Dads vs. Cads[9] trade-off: Should she try to get an average-looking, but responsible provider husband who will offer her food, shelter, care, and invest in her progeny? Although he is likely to be a good father and a loyal partner, it is possible that he will score lower on the “health” or “gene quality” scale. Or is she better off with the handsome, masculine-looking hunk that will pass his first-class genes to her babies? The risk here is that he could channel some of his assets and sexual energy toward other females and their children. One way to deal with this dilemma is by opting for a so-called dual mating strategy and try to enjoy the best of both worlds.[10] Under this scheme, a woman simply hooks up with several men: One who delivers the vital resources and with whom she is in an (officially) monogamous relation­ship; and a few other ones on the side who are in charge of impregnating her with healthy, fit and robust off­spring, while at the same time delighting her with orgasmic pleasures. By spreading her luck between various mates, she not only garners genes from someone she considers as geneti­cally superior but also makes sure that her successors will be safe, have enough to eat, as well as have a good education.[11] Such a plan can only work out if her cuckold husband does not find out, in which case he could withhold his support and even banish her and her bastards. In other words, the dual strategy always comes with a number of risks. Never­theless, if she is smart and cautious, she can probably get away with it.

Theoretical constructs such as the sexy son hypothesis[12] also support the proposition that women are by nature interested in sexual variety. Due to the relatively long gestation period of human babies, it is not as easy for females to disseminate their genes as it is for males, at least not immediately. However, they can achieve this goal indirectly, through their sons. In order to increase the viability and reproductive success of their future generations, they need to select one or more casual sex partners who can help them bear sons who themselves will have a high value on the mating market. For that purpose, what else could be more effective than a casual fling with a well-favoured bad boy?[13] According to the sexy son hypothesis, women who pick potential fathers for their genetic merits rather than their qualities as caregivers reap an evolutionary advantage.[14] While this logic runs against the assumption that women nominate partners based on their ability to gather resources and on their wil­lingness to make a long-term commit­ment,[15] let us clarify once more that what is being said here only applies to the selection of a lover (not of a husband).

 


Notes

[1]    Parker (1970)

[2]    Baker (1996)

[3]    Campbell (2002), p. 48

[4]    Buss (2000), pp. 171-172

[5]    See chapter 32 “Hearing something one hundred times is not as good as seeing it once”.

[6]    Ridley (1993), p. 225

[7]    Buss (2000), p. 173

[8]    See chapter 22 “Man not bad, woman won’t bed”.

[9]    Campbell (2002), p. 185

[10]  Meston / Buss (2009), p. 14

[11]  Titus / Fadal (2009), p. 64

[12]  See chapters 14 “Fair lady is what gentleman seeks” and 19 “If you plant melons, you get melons; if you plant beans, you get beans”.

[13]  Quirk (2006), p. 129

[14]  Cited in: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_attractiveness#Possible_gender_differences_for_preferences

[15]  See chapters 17 “Finding a good job is nothing compared to finding a good husband” and 21 “You can’t lead the life of a whore and expect a chastity monument”.

Chapter 26: A sly rabbit has three burrows

Don't put all your eggs in one basket

狡兔三窟
jiǎo tù sān kū

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

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

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


Notes

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

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

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

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

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

[6]    Buss (2003), pp. 215-216

[7]    Buss (2000), p. 19

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

[9]    Pease / Pease (2009), p. 111

Chapter 24: You can’t catch a cub without entering the tiger’s den – Part 3

Discretion and style are also expected when it comes to sexuality. What was said just about self-confidence just above also holds for sexual assertiveness. Women like it. In fact, they require it. Not all of them may have the desire (or the heart) to go for a bad boy as des­cribed previously.[1] Nonetheless, sensual confidence is considered as a major turn-on by females, because it tells them that the guy knows what to do in order to please them and that they can, therefore, expect a good time with him.[2] Since a healthy attitude towards ero­ticism contri­butes to positioning a man as a promising boyfriend or husband, it is better for him not to hide his amorousness. No matter the topic – the weather, business, politics, lite­rature, nipple clamps, pap smears, etc. – a perfectly poised gent discusses each of these topics with the same composure and level of interest. This does not mean that he should start the conversation with explicit demands or statements about his state of arousal. Instead, his job is to simply hint that he is a sexual creature. He accepts his raciness as a part of life, she should do the same. There should be no room left for doubt about his virility and potency. He is a man. Like many of his fellows, he is crazy about sex. So what? There is no reason whatsoever to be ashamed of or to apologise for his lustfulness, given that it is in his animal nature to pursue bodily gratification.[3],[4]

By prudently announcing to women that they should get ready for some naughty action, the flirter states his intentions and his determination to consummate the passion for his dulcinea in the future: “I love my woman and I am willing to prove it to her”. This allows him, by the same token, to differentiate himself from other, more restrained, rivals who might prefer to conceal their lecherousness or feel guilty about it. All he needs to make sure is not to go too far in violating the social norms applicable. Notice also that devil-may-care irreverence towards prudish values (as advocated here) is not to be equated to miso­gynistic dis­respect­fulness, which, by all mean, remains unacceptable and should be avoided at all cost.

So far, the argumentation followed the scenario of a man soliciting a woman, which also corresponds to the traditional way of the world, namely that males seduce and females are seduced.[5] The predetermination of the man’s position in the human seduction process seems to be directly translated from his ancestors’ role in the past. As nature assigned him the duty of the family hunter, his drive to pursue is merely a reflection of the instinct he inhe­­rited from his forefathers. It certainly sounds rather unfair, sexist and degrading to systematically see women as the prey, but looking at the issue from a different angle, one could also say that they are the ones who finally get to make the decision. This privilege of the “chooser”, in turn, grants a lot of power to females, an idea that some men may not like or resist.[6] On any account, this division of labour is consistent with Darwin’s observation that in all species, males are made for chasing females, whereas the latter typically pick the winner among all their admirers.[7]

In these terms, evolution theory provides a realistic explanation why women still savour the moment when a suitor assumes the risk to move on her. Instead of waiting for her to gamble and do something to impress him, he should be the one to call the shots. Nowadays, many modern women are independent, self-confident, successful at work, enjoying a high socio-economic status. Nevertheless, even and perhaps especially these ladies want a partner who takes the reins, not only in courtship but also in everyday life. With such a man by their side, they can sit back and enjoy their womanhood. Such ladies are often forced to empha­sise their “male” sides (in particular in the context of business) and long for times in which they can relax and unfold their female side again. For the suitor (or husband, or boy­friend), it does not take too much to help her in this endeavour. Just be a man, that’s enough. Some­one who has ideas, plans, and who is willing to execute them. Someone to whom she can hand over part of her burdens and responsibilities, and who has the ability to make good choi­ces for both of them.[8]

The ideas put forward here should not prevent women from taking the initiative if they wish to. In fact, dating manuals and female magazines educate their readers that it is perfectly acceptable to ask men out. For good reasons, they claim that there are enough chaps who are delighted when a woman steps forward and get in touch with them by her. The reasons for their entrancement in such situations are straightforward: By being the first one to become active, she fools men into thinking that she is sexually available. With the expectation to have a much better chance of scoring, they become more confident and opti­mistic, and thus willing to enter into a proper conversation.[9] In that case, it also does not matter whether or not both of them finish the day in bed together. As long as they talk with each other, the exercise can already be considered a success. What happens next is writ­ten in another story.

Based on these premises, it is highly advisable for women to actively contribute to the exchange. They can do so by smoothly enticing male attention and prudently expressing their interest through a series of signals, which, for the rest, should not stay too elusive. After that, it is fine to wait for the man to take a leap of faith and to ask the lady for a date. The key advantage of this “soft leading” approach is that it allows to incite selected male targets only, while making them believe that they are the ones occupying the driver’s seat[10] – which, in the end, complies with the rules of tradition and at the same time reminds us of the unshakeable truth that “men control the world, but women control the men.”[11]

 

Related proverbs and citations:

万事起头难

wàn shì qǐ tóu nán

The first step in a thousand different matters is always difficult. The first step is always the hardest.

Starting a new endeavour is the hardest part of it.

 

因噎废食

yīn yè fèi shí

One cannot refuse to eat just because of the risk of choking.

You cannot avoid doing what is necessary just because there is a chance you could fail.

 

一年遭蛇咬,十年怕井绳

yī nián zāo shé yǎo, shí nián pà jǐng shéng

Once bitten by a snake, one is scared all his life at the mere sight of a rope.

Once bitten, twice shy. Decries those who are discouraged by their first failure and are afraid of trying again.

 

一朝被蛇咬,十年怕井绳

yī cháo bèi shé yăo, shí nián pà jǐng shéng

Once bitten by a snake, one is scared all his life at the mere sight of a rope (alternative version of the previous proverb).

 

男追女隔座山, 女追男隔层纱

nán zhuī nǚ gé zuò shān, nǚ zhuī nán gé céng shā

A man chasing after a woman is like overcoming a mountain; a woman chasing after a man is like cutting through gauze.

This proverb encourages women to be proactive and to take the initiative in flirting as it is much easier for them to catch a man than vice versa.

 

守株待兔

shǒu zhū dài tù

Guarding the tree awaiting a rabbit. Waiting for the rabbit to die in order to catch it.

Don’t live on hope. One must act instead of waiting to get things done.

 

眼泪救不了火

yǎn lèi jiù bù liǎo huǒ

Tears cannot put out a fire.

Weakness will lead to nowhere.

 

千里之行始于足下

qiān lǐ zhī xíng shǐ yú zú xià

A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.

The highest eminence is to be gained step by step. Success does not come from nothing; instead, it comes from concrete hard work.

 

空谈烧不好饭菜

kōng tán shāo bù hǎo fàn cài

Talk does not cook rice.

All talk and no action. All bark and no bite. All foam, no beer. All icing, no cake.

Speaking, promising, or boasting much, but doing little.

 



Notes

[1]    See chapter 22 “Man not bad, woman won’t bed”.

[2]    Gray (1995), p. 46

[3]    See chapters 3 “Men like, women love” and 4 “Beauty is the troubled water that brings disasters”.

[4]    Satana (2007), pp. 19-21

[5]    Ridley (1993), p. 135

[6]    Buss (2003), p. 3

[7]    Brizendine (2006), p. 59

[8]    Fischer (2008), pp. 85-86

[9]    Fox (2014)

[10]  Fox (2004), p. 10

[11]  Argov (2002), p. 88