Chapter 10: A melon forced off its vine is not sweet – Part 4

While understandable, the inclination of women to wait until they have found an eligible part­ner within their own occupational and income bracket comes with the non-negligible peril to be left with no man at all. Therefore, hypergyny is always a bit of a gamble where the bachelorette expects (or hopes) to get a better mate than the ones she had met before. For her, the biggest risk is that of becoming so picky that she wastes time that she could other­wise be spending in procreation. She will probably prefer to date a wealthy man, even if the possibility of marriage is fairly dim. She wants that Prince Charming “who is gene­rous and sweet and faithful but who also drives a Maserati”[1], and might wait for him for quite a while. She expects the perfect partner to come along, but all she gets is older. Assu­ming that men seek fertility more than anything else, her chance of finding what she wants is getting slimmer and slimmer with every day passing, the availability of cosmetics and plastic surgery notwithstanding. Many males nowadays still follow their instincts of setting youth and beauty as their top criteria for partner selection. This may not be politi­cally cor­rect, but it is more often than not the only right thing to do in the survival game. Thus, for every man she lets slip, she loses a valuable reproductive opportunity. This is a choice that may not affect her while she is young, but it could haunt again her later, potentially at a time when her health and physical capabilities have passed their zenith.

So what happens if she turns thirtysomething, is financially independent, but has no child? Is she going to stay single or rather drop her standards and go for a poor, possibly ugly man who is a sure thing? Since males themselves are relatively unconcerned about their target’s socio-economic condition when choosing mates, high-status men can make their pick from a large pool of candidates consisting of both low and high-status women. This spurs an intense rivalry among the members of both groups.[2] Setbacks or disappointments, such as a series of rejections or an insufficient number of opportunities, may prompt fears of being squeezed out of the marriage market, triggering thoughts and reactions similar to those described in the Kübler-Ross’ model of Five Stages of Grief:[3],[4]

  • Denial: “This cannot be happening, not to me”; “There is no way that a high-quality woman like me cannot find her Mr. Right”;
  • Anger: “That pizza face will get married next month, and I am still single? Something is wrong here!”; “How could this ever happen to me?”;
  • Bargaining: “I look so old now; if I only could just do something to turn back the hands of time…”; “Ok, it was I who dumped him, but I’ll do anything to get him back”; “Mark was a jerk at that time, but I really should have accepted when he proposed to me”;
  • Depression: “I’m already old, why bother with anything?”; “Nobody wants me anyway so what’s the point… What’s the point?”; “I miss my ex, and now he is happily married to another woman… Why did I not fight more for our love? Why?”;
  • Acceptance: “Even if I have to stay single for my whole life, everything is going to be okay.”; “I can’t force any guy to like me anyway it, so why bother”; “I don’t need a man, I am independent, have a great job, lots of friends, a fantastic niece, two cute puppies… And now I am going to have some ice cream to compensate!”

While choosiness undeniably has positive effects, it also has the power to set off a vicious cycle of endless frustration, to which not even the prettiest and most achieving woman remains unaffected. While the first defeats are easily swallowed, the second and third ones may lead to doubt about her own worth. Angst kicks in, while her self-esteem takes the next blow. At that moment, she may face the temptation to lower her baseline. If she does and chooses a suboptimal can­didate, she confronts the risk to be unhappily married. If inversely, she prefers to persist on her quest, the spiral may go on and on, ending in what some parents consider the worst scenario of all for their children (at least for some women): Eternal singledom.

 

Related proverbs and citations:

宁可高傲地发霉,不去卑微地恋爱

níng kĕ gāo ào dì fă méi, bù qù bēi wēi dì liàn ài

It’s better to rot with dignity than to love in shame.

 

花有重开日,人无再少年

huā yŏu chóng kāi rì, rén wú zài shào nián

Flowers may bloom again, but a person never has the chance to be young again.

 

歲月不留人

suì yuè bù liú rén

Time and tide wait for no man.

No one is so powerful that they can stop the march of time.

 

岁月不饶人

suì yuè bù ráo rén

Age and time have mercy on no man.

Equivalent to “Time and tide wait for no man”.

 

饥不择食

jī bù zé shí

The starving can’t choose their meals.

Beggars can’t be choosers.

If you request something to be given you should not question what you are given.

 

皇帝不急太监急没用

huáng dì bù jí tài jiān jí méi yòng

The Emperor taking his time is just as useless as a eunuch rushing things.

The onlooker is more anxious than the player.

 

女人20多岁像足球,30多岁像蓝球,40多岁像乒乓球,50多岁像高尔夫球

nǚ rén èr shí duō suì xiàng zú qiú, sān shí duō suì xiàng lán qiú, sì shí duō suì xiàng pīng pāng qiú, wŭ shí duō suì xiàng gāo ĕr fū qiú

A popular joke in which women in their 20s are compared to a football (because more than a dozen guys are running after it), in their 30s to a basketball (still chased after but by a reduced number of players), in their 40s to a ping-pong ball (only two men are left), and in their 50s to a golf ball (the further you hit it, the better).

 


Notes

[1]    Cited in: Townsend (1998), p. 124

[2]    Townsend (1998), p. 84

[3]    Kübler-Ross (1969)

[4]    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%BCbler-Ross_model

Chapter 10: A melon forced off its vine is not sweet – Part 3

Social sneering and peer pressure notwithstanding, many females fail to muster enough moti­vation to pursue a relationship. Stuck between Scylla and Charybdis, they simply refuse to opt for matrimony as a necessary evil. In the poll about “leftovers”, around 41 percent clai­med that they still believed in love, but at the same time, nearly 20 percent declared that they are not confident in finding an ideal and stable relationship at all.[1] How can that be? The problem lies in their own fussiness. On the one hand, women have a good sense of the longevity of their reproductive career ahead and about the optimal timing for their preg­nancy. On the other hand, they have to be fastidious, because they need to be extremely cau­tious in the selection of their spouse, taking into consideration various aspects such as gene quality, the ability to protect herself and provide resources, commitment, the likelihood that the man will make a good long-term partner and parent, etc. The opportunity costs are tre­mendous. A small mistake here, and their lives and that of their offspring could be in danger or wasted. Thus, over the last millennia, the drive and aptitude to identify the best possible mate have become an inherent reflex and an important device in every female’s survival instinct. Those ancestors who picked wisely acquired major reproductive advantages, thus setting the path for an evolutionary development of choosiness.[2] As their descendants, today’s women cannot be expected to do anything except than following the same, inherited, strategy.

One of the main factors that may slow down a woman in her decision making is the tendency to seek a husband of higher socio-economic status than herself, that is, a husband who is greater than her in terms of educational degree, occupation, financial and social capi­tal, perhaps even physical attractiveness. This phenomenon is called, hypergyny, a spe­cial case of hypergamy where a female “marries above her station”.[3] Under this scheme, she is inclined to be attracted to men comparatively older, wealthier or otherwise more pri­vi­leged than herself.[4] This explains why doctors, lawyers, and business executives are par­ti­cularly popular among single ladies, but also the existence of statements such as “second-year women don’t go out with first-year guys, but second-year guys go out with first-year women, or with chirps or undergrads” in a university context.[5] A study involving medical students revealed that most of the females interviewed liked men who were above them pro­fes­sionally and financially, while none of them opted for a spouse with lower income or occupational status. Then, one-third of the respondents declared that they were looking for someone “who made them feel protected”, and over half of them needed a man “who was a challenge, one they could admire and respect”, i.e., who make them more secure.[6] Appa­rently, only males with superior wealth, income, educational level, career success, social stan­ding, etc. can fulfil this demand – even in the 21st century.

Since most women resist “marrying down”, high-status individuals are at a disadvantage in the mating game. The pool of single men who meet their standards is relatively small, so their chance to find someone fulfilling the requirements is accordingly lower. If a woman has enough means to support herself, why would she settle for less? Why would she need male assistance? Statistics in the Chinese study mentioned above illustrate this trend: The higher the education and income, the higher the chance to be, or at least to feel “leftover”.[7] Thus, it appears that women’s increasing economic independence and success fail to miti­gate the incidence of hypergyny. On the contrary, it exacerbates the phenomenon by making women more confident about them­selves and clearer about who (or what) is acceptable, and who (or what) is not. In view of the dilution of men’s relative economic strength, their value is significantly depreciated, and their function as providers in jeopardy. Under such condi­tions, marriage naturally becomes less and less appealing and divorce more and more likely. For the same reasons, older female singles and divorcees who are financially indepen­dent display lower fertility rates, as they remain childless, or have fewer children on average. For example, evidence from the 1980s shows that Singaporean educated women’s reluctance to marry down was so strong that members of this socio-demographic group were producing only 1.4 babies on average, compared to 4.5 babies for uneducated women.[8]


Notes

[1]    Cited in: Lu (2012).

[2]    It is not by accident that the term “old maid” (originally “a woman who has remained single beyond the conventional age for marrying”) is also used to refer to “a person regarded as being primly fastidious”. (Source: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/old+maid)

[3]    Similarly, hyperandry refers to instances where men date or marry up. In contrast to that, hypogamy (hypogyny, hypoandry) stands for the disposition to date or marry a person of lower social status.

[4]    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypergamy

[5]    Cited in: Townsend (1998), p. 85

[6]    Townsend (1998), p. 65

[7]    Lu (2012)

[8]    Townsend (1998), p. 134, 242

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 5: Old cows like tender grass – Part 3

The exceptional value of virginity notwithstanding, it is also fair to mention that (future) copulation itself is often used as a medium of exchange. While the object of bartering was a piece of meat or physical protection against wild animals ten thousand years ago, it could be a film role, a job, a sales deal, or better final grades today. Although not too many people will easily admit it, it is an unwritten law (in Chinese: 潜规则, qián guī zé) that men lure women with the offer of resources, and women lure men with the offer of sex. As long as there are enough supply and demand to regulate the market, this kind of commerce will remain common practice in most societies. Yet it shall be noticed that the actual transaction does not always take place. Rather, the mere promise of such a favour is often enough to entice one’s vis-à-vis into a desired state or action. As part of the courting process, some men will boast that they are rich and willing to share their wealth with their target if only the latter accepts to go to bed with them. But once she has succumbed to his advances, a rake will just drop her like a hot potato and soon look for greener pastures.[1] Most women are easy prey and will quickly fall into the trap because the blackmail “if you do not want to have sex with me, someone else will” is so compelling, even in today’s world of security and affluence.

But this does not mean that females have no leverage against this form of emotional or sexual coercion. On the contrary, those who understand the “equation of sex for money”[2] and are able to solve it by themselves can also deliberately employ it for their own pur­poses. Given males’ noticeable interest in uncommitted sex, many girls quickly get the hang of the ruse that all it takes to suck a man in is to suck that man. In many cases, the simple promise of pleasure (without the actual delivery) is enough for women to be presented with resources and other benefits, for example, a drink at a bar, a dinner, a promotion, and so on. Indeed, womankind is equally capable of deceit and manipulation, specifically by using sexual wiles, such as their youth, resplendence, or charm – just as the lyric goes:

If ladies be but young and fair,

They have the gift to know it.

William Shakespeare, As You Like It

What is remarkable here, and quite a contraction to the traditional image of female demu­reness is that some of these ladies will go so far as to provide sexual access to (particularly sought after) males with the only purpose to affirm themselves and boost their own confi­dence. The more attention and time they get from these otherwise unreachable high-flyers (rock stars, professional athletes, famous actors, etc.), the more worthwhile they will see them­selves. This time, it is not their heart or feelings that matter, nor that of their playmate’s towards them[3], but the challenge to successfully seduce a man highly in demand (and who therefore has a lot of choice in poten­tial sex partners) and the thrill to beat the rest of the women in the field. To them, inter­course is nothing else but an exercise to test their attrac­tiveness in competition with other coquettes.[4]

Unfortunately, all these aspects contribute to perpetuating the problem of the sexual objec­tification of women.[5] Under these premises, it is very difficult for them to get rid of the image of being an instrument of men’s carnal pleasure. Such practice is particularly tragic because it reduces a real person to the status of a commodity with purely utilitarian functions. These can be sexual productivity (e.g., women as breeding machines), physical grati­fication (prostitutes used as playthings or sex toys), the display of a certain standing (trophy wives). Instead of a partner, these men only seek a status symbol, an object of admi­ration. For them, only appearance or desirability matter, just like for a luxury apart­ment, a yacht, or a sports car. Prominence is given to her orna­mental value (in terms of gene­­rally per­cei­ved beauty, attractiveness) or freshness (age, virginity) whereas aspects such as perso­nality, senti­ments or fondness are completely neglected. Therein lies the ignominy of such objectification of females: It simply ignores the fundamental axiom that a woman is always more than the sum of her parts.

Related proverbs and citations:

千金买笑

qiān jīn mǎi xiào

A smile is worth a thousand ounces of gold.

To spend endless money for temporary pleasures.

老骥伏枥,志在千里

lǎo jì fú lì, zhì zài qiān lǐ

An old war-horse may be stabled…Yet still it longs to gallop a thousand miles.

Ambition survives even in senior age.

荆棘是玫瑰的卫士,只会刺伤摘花的人

jīng jí shì méi guī de wèi shì, zhī huì cì shāng zhāi huā de rén

A thorn defends the rose, harming only those who would steal the blossom.

男人有钱就变坏,女人变坏就有钱

nán rén yŏu qián jiù biàn huài, nǚ rén biàn huài jiù yŏu qián

Men with money just turn bad, women turned bad just have money.


Notes

[1]    For other techniques and the rationale behind such behaviour, see chapters 6 “A honeyed mouth hides a daggered heart” and 35 “No cat can resist snatching fish”.

[2]    Campbell (2002), p. 193

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

[4]    See Townsend (1998), p. 159

[5]    See chapter 4 “Beauty is the troubled water that brings disasters”.

Chapter 5: Old cows like tender grass – Part 2

Although widely romanticised in film (see Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation) and litera­ture (The Lover by Marguerite Duras) the acceptance of such older male/younger female rela­tion­ships is generally quite low. The man may face ridicule for failing to cope with his age, while outsiders could question the woman’s integrity and the sincerity of her feelings. The level of (dis)appro­val depends on how significant the age gap is, which in turn, is a value that varies over time and cultures, and may also be influenced by the law or ethical systems. Economic disparities between age, social or ethnic groups also play a role in how such partnerships are perceived. In China, for example, the contempt and criticism are much higher if the couple consists of a local girl with a foreign guy (老外, lăo wài). A common insult she will hear is that she is a gold digger (傍大款, bàng dà kuăn), i.e., someone who likes or takes interest in someone only because he is rich. The perks they can get from their relation­ships are well worth the price. Common gifts include dinners, smartphones, hand­bags, jewel­­lery, trips, apartment rentals, etc. For the luckiest ones, it can even lead to a nice wed­ding party with a subsequent divorce settlement. This might not apply to all women falling in love with much older fellows, but those who do should be aware that this is the impres­sion that they give to others, whether they like it or not. Moreover, ladies who decide to go after the quick buck by choosing loaded partners should not be surprised by the epheme­rality of their relationships. After all, tricks like the immediate display of abundance and hol­dings (including the lavish spending of cash, the invitation to a high-end restaurant on the first date, the generous tipping of waiters, the ordering of mixed drinks in bars, the joy­ride in a new sports car, the buying of expensive gifts, etc.) are generally recognised to be effec­tive for attracting casual sexual partners rather than long-term mates.[1]

Anyhow, some females do not mind being labelled as “gold diggers” and deem it as accep­table to maintain an affair with a “sugar daddy” who offers them money and/or gifts in return for their company or sexual favours. In Japan, the practice of compensated dating, or enjo-kōsai, is already well established, yet heavily contested within the society. One impor­tant aspect that needs to be highlighted here, however, is that the female participants, ranging from school-aged girls to housewives, do not necessarily sell their bodies or engage in physical acts. In this regard, they can be compared to modern day courtesans, as defined in the traditional sense, i.e., “a well-educated and independent woman of free morals, […] a trained artisan of dance and singing, especially one associated with wealthy, powerful, or upper-class men who provided luxuries and status in exchange for companionship.”[2],[3] This form of entertainment has a long history in many cultures and regions of the world, where the representatives of very similar trades are known under different denomi­nations, such as hetaerae (in Ancient Greece), tawaif (South Asia), yiji (艺妓, yì jì, in Ancient China), sing-song or flower girls (19th century China), or kisaeng (Korea), oiran or geisha (Japan). As performing artists, they were carefully trained and frequently accomplished in the fine arts, poetry, music or dance. They also offered primarily spiritual interaction to their clients, and some of them were able to deny engagements, respectively to choose who they wished to spend time with. Sexual activity between them and their patrons was not always expected, and in fact was fairly rare. If it happened, it would not be based on monetary affairs, but as the result or the side-effect of an affectionate affair.[4] For all the other clients hoping to play patty-cake with their doxy, they had no other option but to wait for whoredom come.

Nonetheless, in the case of geisha (芸者, literally: art doer), the meaning of the present pro­verb is particularly poignant. Under the Edo era, geisha apprentices, or maiko (舞子, dan­cing girl), had to undergo a special ceremony, mizuage (水揚げ, hoisting from water), mar­king her coming of age. The observances also included the deflowering of the girl by a patron who had previously acquired this right of first access. Although the sum paid by the “sponsor” was significant, geisha would not consider mizuage as an act of prostitution. In other countries as well, even today, virginity is regarded as a valuable possession or mer­chan­dise that can yield significant return, either by selling it for a certain amount or other­wise trading it against rights or privileges. By the same token, the so-called “droit du seigneur”[5], or lord’s right, which entitled the feudal overlord of a medieval estate to deprive his serfs’ maiden daughters of their virginity, illustrates the preciousness and the coveted nature of youth and pureness.


Notes

[1]    Buss (2003), p. 100

[2]    Notice that it is only recently that the term “courtesan”, which originally comes from the Italian word “cortigiana”, i.e., the (courtly) ruler’s mistress, acquired its pejorative meaning as a prostitute with wealthy, or upper-class clientele.

[3]    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enjo_k%C5%8Dsai

[4]    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yiji

[5]    Similar French terms include “droit de jambage” (from jambe, i.e., leg) or “droit de cuissage” (from cuisse, i.e., thigh), which are used as synonyms for “jus primae noctis” (Latin for “law of the first night”). For more information, see also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Droit_du_seigneur

Chapter 5: Old cows like tender grass

老牛吃嫩草
lăo niú chī nèn căo

Whoever strolls in a major city’s hip locations at night will notice the number of May-December couples, i.e., pairs where one mate (usually the male) is significantly older than the other. This proverb fiddles with this phenomenon and is based on the observation that older men seek younger women (as wives, but also as mistresses, girlfriends, one-night stands, etc.), and that older women sometimes like to date younger men (most pro­bably as toy boys only) – if, of course, the financial situation and physical attractiveness of each part­ner respec­tively, allow for such a match. Yet this apposition is not highlighted for any rea­son. As shall be seen in the following, economical or material considerations indeed often play a major role in such relationships.[1]

According to statistics available for Europe, most men marry women who are about three years younger than them on average.[2] This fact can easily be explained by biological and social consi­derations: From a survival perspective, it makes sense for women to choose a better half that can protect them and their offspring. Given that people’s wealth normally increases with age, an old man is likely to have a higher status, greater resources, a larger network, and therefore a better ability to provide for her. The reason why the age difference is not much higher than three years is equally perspicuous: If a man is too old, he is expected to die earlier, mea­ning that his (or the couple’s common) resources will dry out or will be reduced in the wake of the inheritance division. In this regard, the genuine love story bet­ween Anna Nicole Smith and J. Howard Marshall, an oil business mogul 62 years her senior, should certainly be remembered as a historical exception.

Furthermore, mature men display comparatively lower testosterone level, which makes them more stable emotionally, more reliable, and thus more credible with regard to long-term commitment. They are also recognised as being more generous in bed, more under control of their own desires, and more understanding, respectively knowledgeable about what women want – all qualities that should not be underestimated when it comes to (short and long term) heterosexual relationships. On a similar note, studies show that the sex drive of a man in his forties, for example, is more compatible with a woman in her early twenties (that is, in terms of interest and need, not physical performance).

Likewise, the existence of “cougars” (a slang term referring to a women who date and sleep with much younger men) can be justified with analogous arguments: While human males’ libido peaks at age 19, the sexual functioning of females tends to reach its highest point when they are around 36 to 38.[3],[4] Hence, from a purely biological and lust-technical stand­point, it is apparently this combina­tion, a Mrs. Robinson in her late thirties with a 19-year-old Benjamin Braddock, that pro­mises the most action in bedrooms worldwide. This has not only to do with the fact that only younger men have the appetite, potency and the physical ability an older woman yearn for. Other aspects, such as hormonal changes within a woman’s system, life experience, self-confidence, comfort with one’s own body, play an equally crucial role in explaining such unions that make no sense from an evolutionary perspective, as women have virtually lost their reproductive value at that age. Other than true romance or momentary lecherousness, the only plausible reasons a stripling would go for this kind of arrangement are power, connections, reputation, celebrity, or money. That being said, the key insight here is not that “coupling between an older woman and a younger man can’t last”, but as Alan and Barbara Pease point out in their 2009 book Why Men Want Sex and Women Need Love: “[S]ome do – but most don’t.”[5]


Notes

[1]    A deeper discussion about the importance of age in mate selection is held in chapter 14 “Fair lady is what gentleman seeks”.

[2]    Cited in: Wardrop (2009)

[3]    Pease / Pease (1999), p. 222

[4]    Pines (2005), p. 101

[5]    Pease / Pease (2009), p. 62

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 – Part 2

One of the reasons men get turned on so frequently as compared to women is that they are more readily excited by a broader variety of stimuli, in particular, visual ones. For many males, the mere sight of a prospective sexual partner (including explicit depictions of nudity, genitalia, and sexual intercourse) is enough to make them want sex. Both written materials and pictorial media such as films or photographs, but also memories or the anti­cipation of new types of experiences may prompt their arousal up to the point of erection. In other words, men are largely visual and susceptible to psychological stimulation when assessing the potential of women, at any rate for short-term relationships. Like it or not, this is also why good looks very often rank top of the list of men’s most desired attributes of women as casual mates (for example, as friends with benefits, sex buddies, or in the context of a one-night stand). What men notice first when they see a woman is their face and body, focusing on various elements of the female anatomy features such as breasts, thighs, but­tocks, hips, pubic area (crotch), lips, etc. and fantasising about making love to these body parts. As men are easily captivated by visual cues such as curves, shapes or leg length, any woman with the right overall appearance, structure, proportions will catch their eye and therefore raise their attention. However, this does not mean that males are generally unable to consider a woman as a true person, i.e., with a mind, a personality, and a history of her own. It is just that a man’s sexual desire does not depend on these characteristics and that his lust can be triggered by the sheer fact that someone in the room, on his mind, on the street or on television has one particular anatomical feature that he desires at that very moment – nothing more, nothing less.

Another aspect where human males and females differ significantly concerns their ability to keep love and sex apart. Some women reading this will be disappointed or scared to have their deepest fear confirmed, but it is true: Men are able to have uncommitted sex, or to want “only” sex (i.e., without sharing of emotions, conversation, foreplay, cuddling, or the hope for a long-term relationship). Readers may believe whatever they want, but here is the crux: Men are literally programmed to find a bunny’s hole and to see how deep it goes – the blue pill only making things worse… Men, some of them without any hesitation, will have it off just for the fun of it, or for the purpose of corporeal release. Adding insult to injury, they can even do it with a person who is neither their girlfriend nor their wife, or with a girl they feel no affection for, something completely inconceivable for most women. All it takes for a man to want to roll in the hay is a physically attractive woman (to him) – and a convenient location. A deeper meaning or factors such as fondness, commitment, devotion (which are important for most females when they decide to sleep with someone) are not nece­ssarily part of the equation. On the contrary, men find it extremely easy to make out, take a shower and then go home, just as they would do after a tennis match. For many, sex is nothing more than a strictly physical act, in which love, romance or passion are not involved.

The reason for this aptitude can be found in the compartmentalisation of the male brain. Lust and love are located in different parts of the central nervous system, which are appa­rently not so well connected with one another. So in man’s brain, sex will occupy one section, a trivial activity such as washing hands a different one, and love yet another one. When a man’s beard has grown too long, he will just shave it. And when he feels a sexual desire, he will seek release (alone or with a partner). It’s as simple as that. Moreover, men are usually not as good at multitasking as women are. They are at their best when taking a one-thing-at-a-time approach, which allows them to concentrate much more intensively on one specific task – in this case, either sex or love. Even so, readers should not misinterpret my words: Men are definitely not unable to combine love and sex. Now and then, they do happen together. But they don’t have to, that’s all.[1],[2]


Notes

[1]    Pease / Pease (1999), pp. 264-265

[2]    Pease / Pease (2009), p. 181