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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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225 Responses

  1. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth April 7, 2011 at 12:54 pm |

    You know, even if (IF) there are numbers to support the idea that women’s infidelity is more likely to end a relationship, it doesn’t mean that a woman’s choice to cheat is necessarily worse than a man’s. Could it be possible (statistically speaking, of course, with his made up numbers) that men in general are less likely to forgive infidelity than women?

    Not that I subscribe to any of this, but I’d just like to point out the bad science.

    causation != correlation, people.

  2. Megan
    Megan April 7, 2011 at 12:57 pm |

    “And as an actual woman myself, I can tell you that there’s, like, a really cute and romantic cobblestone pathway between the heart and the vagina, and it’s basically physically impossible for a woman to let you try to make a baby with her unless her heart engorges her clitoris with love. ”

    I want this on a t-shirt, and possibly on business cards to hand out to assholes like him.

  3. Renee
    Renee April 7, 2011 at 1:02 pm |

    You know, I agree in principle with what Jill is saying, but it’s hard for me to participate when I have to wade through a bunch of cisnormative privilege. Is there a way for popular feminist bloggers to be outraged without essentializing genitals and gender?

    I know this is a bit of a derail, but I don’t know how else to address the problem.

  4. ACG
    ACG April 7, 2011 at 1:02 pm |

    Um, they’re in the right office at the right time when the right associate walks by and she’s hot and only got where she is because she dresses like a hooooobag and is totally up for it and I’ve been drinking since 10:00 anyway so WHATEVER. I’m not in love with her or whatever, so it’s okay.

    If she hadn’t been a woman in the workplace, she wouldn’t have been around for me to randomly nail because I’m a dude and can’t be held responsible for the actions of my penis anyway, so there.

  5. Jeanne
    Jeanne April 7, 2011 at 1:04 pm |

    I love you.

  6. sophonisba
    sophonisba April 7, 2011 at 1:07 pm |

    Notwithstanding that fact that what he’s describing isn’t real, can we look for a moment at his misogynistic language:

    men can more easily compartmentalize sex and emotion, while women typically need

    Men can; women need. If men and women do this differently (we don’t) it must be described as a capability on the part of men and an incapacity on the part of women.

    You could adhere to the same stereotypes and say that while women can feel affection for those they sleep with, men typically need to decouple physical from emotional pleasures to function sexually.

    But obviously defining female stereotypes as the healthy norm — which in this case they are, even! — and male stereotypes as the deviant is beyond his imagination.

  7. Azalea
    Azalea April 7, 2011 at 1:21 pm |

    Oh please, men are FAR less likely to forgive a woman’s infidelity because men WILL cheat dont cha know? It’s like waaaaayyyy too hard to bang the same woman forever and ever amen but women dont even really like sex so her cheating is an assault on his very masculinity, its downright disrespectful to his manhood and that heffa has got to GO. See how that works? Men cant be faithful, its just a matter fo time and opportunity, women ARE faithful unless they are disrespectful manhaters.

    Ok, sarcasm aside. I do think , in heterosexual relationships, men are far less likely to forgive infidelity than women are or at least anecdotally I know of lots of instances where men cheated and were forgiven, women were even THOUGHT to have cheated and were dumped QUICKLY. I don’t know why that is, but its what *I* have witnessed.

  8. Mizz Alice
    Mizz Alice April 7, 2011 at 1:26 pm |

    Those poor floozies must be heartbroken!

  9. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub April 7, 2011 at 1:31 pm |

    He also overlooks the fact that women are often told that men just tend to cheat (being hostage to their precious hormones) and that it is up to them to Stand By Their Man and Work It Out since really, it’s All Your Fault for being too much of a nag, growing older, being tired, not wanting enough sex, wanting too much sex, not being independent enough and being too damn independent.

    So you know, you’ll see more women try to work things out.

    Shorter me: In this culture, men are entitled to a faithful spouse so it’s totally understandable if they can’t forgive infidelity, however, if a man strays, the woman should try to work it out because that’s just the way men are and it’s probably somehow her fault anyway.

  10. Thomas
    Thomas April 7, 2011 at 1:33 pm |

    So if we assume hetero hook-ups, the workplace numbers should be 50/50.
    We are then left with 3 possibilities:
    1) Misreporting by either self-agrandizing men and/or sex-shamed women.
    2) Women are having more workplace partners (which *eyeroll* must mean they fall in love with more men).
    3) There are a lot of employed gay men.

  11. Personal Failure
    Personal Failure April 7, 2011 at 1:35 pm |

    It might actually be true that a woman cheating is more likely to kill a relationship than a man cheating, but the patriarchy causes that.

    a. The patriarchy tells us that women have sex for love (except for BIGGIANTSLUTS) while men just have sex. Therefore, a woman cheating means that she is in love with another man or is a BIGGIANTSLUT, and that would certainly be a (monogamous) relationship killer.

    b. Women are encourage in the patriarchy to put up with virtually any behavior from men because we need men and if we don’t, they’ll just find someone else and we’ll be ZOMG! manless. And that’s a fate worse than death, especially if you’re over 29. So of course women would be more likely to forgive cheating from their male partner than men would be from their female partners.

    Assuming, of course that the claim that women are cheating more is true, and that the claim that women cheating is more likely to end a relationship is true, neither of which he proves.

  12. Thomas
    Thomas April 7, 2011 at 1:37 pm |

    CRAP! I was assuming both people at work were in a relationship!

  13. lovesickrobot
    lovesickrobot April 7, 2011 at 1:38 pm |

    The “How many? So many!” got narrated in my mind in the Teen Girl Squad voice. “You girls in the work place are lookin’ sooooooo many!”

  14. Jadey
    Jadey April 7, 2011 at 1:46 pm |

    He also contradicts himself when he says first that women only cheat once their primary relationship is already over for them in all but the technicalities, but then later says that happily-partnered women tend to get suckered into cheating relationships by accident because they’re so emotionally susceptible!

    P.S., Personal Failure, I can’t help but read that as BIG ANT SLUTS because my brain is funny that way. Those damn slutty, slutty ants.

  15. preying mantis
    preying mantis April 7, 2011 at 1:47 pm |

    “It might actually be true that a woman cheating is more likely to kill a relationship than a man cheating, but the patriarchy causes that.”

    Pretty much my take on it. Women are under heavy social pressure to forgive shit from men that men aren’t socialized to forgive from women. Women are more likely to be the more financially dependent partner in a heterosexual relationship. Women still do a disproportionate amount of the emotional work in a heterosexual relationship, so if the female partner is checking out mentally or dividing her resources, as it were, the relationship is likely to suffer more than if the male partner doesn’t have his head in the game.

  16. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar April 7, 2011 at 1:48 pm |

    I’d prefer to get relationship advice from someone whose frame of reference has expanded since middleschool.

  17. RealityMonster
    RealityMonster April 7, 2011 at 1:49 pm |

    The only reason why male infidelity is less likely to break up a marriage (assuming that’s even true; I’m unconvinced that it is) is the low standards that we’ve now decided to hold men to. The ones that don’t cheat are somehow exceptional as opposed to ordinary. It’s ridiculous.

    Both men and women are excited by variety in their sex lives. That’s certainly more of a biological ‘fact’ than anything in the original article.

    I dodge the whole issue somewhat by being poly, but again, my being honest about the situation makes me an outlier.

  18. Cat
    Cat April 7, 2011 at 2:01 pm |

    I’m actually in an committed, open relationship myself. This was a decision that my significant other and I came to because we concluded that a) neither of us equates sex with love and b) the majority of the hurt from infidelity comes from the dishonesty – not the emotional context of the affair. At least that’s how it works for us. I’m sure it’s different for everyone. I’ve certainly yet to meet a person two whom I’ve explained my relationship who’s been completely “Wow! I totally want one of those too!” so I think it’s safe to say what is or isn’t a deal breaker in a relationship might evade statistical analysis.

    One of many reasons I’ve decided to completely opt out of socially normative relationship theories. At least for now.

  19. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable April 7, 2011 at 2:02 pm |

    Personal Failure: And that’s a fate worse than death, especially if you’re over 29.

    Whattt, didn’t you read the other thread? Women expire at 30!

  20. pea
    pea April 7, 2011 at 2:03 pm |

    Uh, who are these women cheating WITH? oh! Men! Does that mean that these women are all floozies, or is there some mystery man-sex-demographic that is of the non-floozy-cheating variety? And where does this fit into this dingdong’s chart? Or is this guy implying that women are cheating with other women?

  21. K
    K April 7, 2011 at 2:03 pm |

    After twenty years of marriage and three sons, my grandmother was divorced by her husband in favor of the next door neighbor’s wife (this was in the 70’s.) She demanded a mink coat and a life time of alimony from him, and that was that.

    When her oldest granddaughter got married a few years ago, she had a private chat with the bride about “expectations in a healthy marriage” and mentioned, as an aside, that there was no reason that getting married meant the end of said granddaughter’s romantic life, if she were so inclined. In an amazing conversation that all the rest of us which sincerely had been recorded, my grandmother then proceeded to recount all of her extra-marital affairs (usually with married men).

    “It’s fine to do it if you get bored dear, just make sure they don’t fall in love with you!” was her conclusion. Apparently at least one of these men had threatened to leave his wife for her, and she’d been horrified. “Don’t do that, you’ll ruin everything!” was her reaction.

    I can only imagine how irritated and insulted she must have been when her husband, my grandfather, couldn’t keep his affair the nice, genteel, private business that hers had been. I have to assume the lifelong alimony was more to make up for her humiliation than any sense of emotional betrayal.

  22. Shoshie
    Shoshie April 7, 2011 at 2:26 pm |

    K, that is amazing! And hilarious!

  23. Eric
    Eric April 7, 2011 at 2:29 pm |

    Here is a much-too-long comment that I posted on Jill’s facebook page:

    I’m going to get in trouble for saying this, but I don’t think Kerner was totally nuts here. Although he didn’t cite it in the article, I know that there is research to back up most of the claims that he made. I have seen studies indicating that committed men are more willing to have one-night stands with someone for whom they have no feelings, and there is also research indicating that women are much more likely to forgive infidelity than men. (I can try to dig up the studies if you’re interested.)

    And this makes perfect sense from the perspective of evolutionary biology. If you’re male, the evolutionary cost of having a one-night stand is negligible, but the benefits are potentially enormous. You might father a child and pass your genes to the next generation and all it cost you was a little bit of time and a negligible amount of sperm. You can try to father another child the next day (or even later that night) with your wife, and you don’t necessarily have to expend and time or resources raising the other child once it’s born. Thus, if you’re male, choosing a specified “wife” and investing resources in your children with her while having an occasional fling on the side is a winning evolutionary strategy, since you increase your chances of passing your genes to the next generation with minimal evolutionary cost.

    If you’re female, on the other hand, the benefit of having a one-night stand when you’re in a relationship is much smaller. Unless your husband is infertile, having a fling with another guy will not increase the number of babies that you can have over the course of your lifetime. Thus, it isn’t advantageous to cheat on your husband unless you cheat on him with a man with clearly superior genes. Thus, women tend to me much more selective than men when choosing partners for adultery.

    Also, the potential costs of having an unfaithful spouse are very different for the different genders. If you’re female and your husband has a one-night stand with a woman that he’ll never see again, it’s really no skin off your back in evolutionary terms. Granted, women are still programmed not to like this, because they can never be sure that an unfaithful spouse won’t try it again and/or give resources to the other women or their children. But the evolutionary cost of leaving your husband (and potentially having to raise your children on your own) may still be greater than the evolutionary cost of having a cheating husband. On the other hand, if you’re male, a cheating spouse is much worse, because if the other guy got her pregnant, you might end up raising some other guy’s baby and thereby waste countless resources helping someone else pass their genes to the next generation. That is a major fail from an evolutionary standpoint, which makes men less likely to forgive a cheating spouse.

    Granted, these hypotheses based on evolutionary biology are difficult to test directly. But you can see similar behavior in animals. Males of almost all species tend to be more promiscuous than females (the so-called “Bateman’s Principle), presumably because they can fertilize the eggs of all the females that they mate with (thereby siring more offspring) whereas one male can fertilize all a female’s eggs, so there is much less advantage to female promiscuity. It’s also interesting to note that while males of virtually all mammalian (and many non-mammalian) species exhibit sexual jealousy, humans (to my knowledge) are the only mammal where females exhibit sexual jealousy. If other males try to mate with the same female, that reduces the chance that any one male will succeed in passing his genes, so males try to prevent other males from mating with a given female. However, for most non-human mammals, once the male provides sperm, his job is done, so the female could care less if he mates with other females afterward. Humans are one of the rare exceptions, presumably because human males are also involved in raising their children.

    Okay, I wrote much more than I intended. :) I guess my concern is that I feel like a lot of feminist writers are too quick to dismiss all gender differences as more evidence of patriarchy without considering the fact that there may be biological reasons that we behave the way we do sometimes. This isn’t to suggest that biology requires us to look the other way when men cheat or to say that women should just stay at home and raise babies so that they aren’t tempted to stray. We’re not just animals. We have frontal lobes. If I followed every one one of my biological urges, I would eat nothing except sugar and I would murder the guy who cut me off on the freeway the other day. But I think the best way to combat gender inequality is to have a good understanding of why it exists in the first place, and I think biology is sometimes as much to blame as culture. And I could say more about on this subject, but I have wasted too much time on this post anyway. :)

  24. Female infidelity: “It’s different” — Feministe | Whats going on!

    […] http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2011/04/07/female-infidelity-its-different/ This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged cheat-for, feelings-, female, for-sex, love, love-obvs-, men-cheat, totally-different. Bookmark the permalink. ← Fox Renews ‘Bob’s Burgers’ – Hollywood Reporter […]

  25. CJ Anton
    CJ Anton April 7, 2011 at 2:40 pm |

    Female infidelity IS different, from a guy’s point of view. And no other point of view actually matters, so what’s your problem, anyway?

    Seriously, I don’t get this sex/love dichotomy. Wouldn’t cheating for love involve doing someone else’s laundry or something?

  26. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin April 7, 2011 at 2:43 pm |

    I think that regardless if a man cheated on me or a woman cheated on me I’d be just as hurt. In my own life, a girlfriend left me for another woman, for reasons I’ve never been told.

    Some of his conclusions have a grain of truth to them, but they are most often as insulting to men as they are to women.

  27. Verity Khat
    Verity Khat April 7, 2011 at 2:52 pm |

    Okay, it was worth fuming through the original piece to giggle at Jill’s takedown…and then K’s comment popped up and I really thought I was going to crack a rib!

    It definitely all comes down to the double standard of forgiveness.

  28. justanother
    justanother April 7, 2011 at 3:05 pm |

    I have to agree with the ones who are saying that women are more likely to forgive an infidelity, and like many who are saying this, I don’t think it’s because we are less hurt, or because “men cheating is not as bad as women cheating” or any of that bullshit in the linked article–it is because we have been socialized to “stand by our man”, and we have ALSO been socialized to think that men are controlled by their sexual desire and not their brains–so if they cheat it was an “accident” and they can’t be blamed because they “couldn’t help themselves” or were “caught up in the moment” or any of that shit.

    If someone wants to have sex with more than one person at a time, then be open about it and have an open relationship. Don’t cheat on someone who expects monogamy. There is nothing wrong or shameful about fucking whoever the hell you want, but if you make a promise to be monogamous–you make a promise and you should stick to it.

    I personally would not forgive my partner cheating on me, and they know that it is something I feel strongly about. I have been abandoned in my life before, and for me, cheating is major betrayal, and basically another abandonment…while I’m in counseling I still don’t know how I’d handle it…probably very badly. I also watched my dad lie to my mom my whole childhood, and while it wasn’t about sex, but finances, I still do not want to be hurt like she was. Honesty is very important for me.

  29. Sara
    Sara April 7, 2011 at 3:26 pm |

    Thomas:
    So if we assume hetero hook-ups, the workplace numbers should be 50/50.

    Not so – and not even just because not everyone is in a relationship. If, in one hypothetical workplace, one man hooks up with two separate women, then twice as many women as men in that workplace have hooked up.

    The original article makes me gag; Jill’s commentary makes me laugh.
    I don’t really know what to say about Renee’s (legitimate, I think) accusation of cissexism. I thought the bit about the cobblestone pathway was hilarious, and an excellent parody of the social phenomenon in question, which is itself cisnormative. However, being trans, I had a little “hahaha but wait a minute” moment – and maybe that would have been less palpable if she’d left out the clause “And as an actual woman myself” or popped the word “cis” in there somewhere.

  30. Azalea
    Azalea April 7, 2011 at 3:27 pm |

    Oh but for the record, I don’t think cheating is ok. You promise ot be faithful, you be faithful or leave and have your fun. The other option is to be upfront about wanting to have sex with other people (for any reason) and make sure your partner ha the option to make an informed decision about staying in THAT kind of relationship. Anything less is purely selfish.

  31. oldlady
    oldlady April 7, 2011 at 3:37 pm |

    I want go go back to “Women cheat for True Love. Obvs.”

    Women also have sex outside marriage for sex.

  32. oldlady
    oldlady April 7, 2011 at 3:39 pm |

    outside OF marriage…

  33. JetGirl
    JetGirl April 7, 2011 at 3:49 pm |

    So, to sum up, when men cheat, it means nothing. When women cheat, it means everything. Therefore, women should be punished for cheating and men should be encouraged to cheat. Gee, double standards are fun!

  34. Mr Hill
    Mr Hill April 7, 2011 at 3:55 pm |

    I don’t agree or disagree with what’s written in this article, but it reads as though it was written by a fifteen-year-old.

  35. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub April 7, 2011 at 4:00 pm |

    Eric, did you miss the comments that didn’t deny that women tend to forgive infidelity more, but posited that it was due to sexist double-standards and social pressures? We can also explain gender inequality with the prevalence of sexism and misogyny, not to mention a grand sense of male entitlement. Shocking, I know.

    Also, there are species where the females kill their mates when they’re done with them. Or where they eat their young. Yet I doubt that we’d see the evo-psychs lecture us about the hard realities of biology if a woman was to do something like this.

  36. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth April 7, 2011 at 4:06 pm |

    I’m so sick of hearing “But teh biologies!” in cases like this.

  37. RealityMonster
    RealityMonster April 7, 2011 at 4:16 pm |

    @Eric: Sounds like you need to read ‘Sex at Dawn’, a book that attempts (and succeeds rather well, I think) to show that promiscuity in humans is actually genderless. The problem with using ‘most animals’ as a basis is that the females ‘most animals’ have an ovulation period that’s on display; that is, they go into heat. Human ovulation is hidden (even from the female; do not confuse this with menstruation, which is significantly post-ovulation). This is similar to bonobos, humans’ closest primate relative, who also have exceptionally promiscuous sex.

    In studies of the few remaining hunter-gatherer type societies, and historical accounts of societies that once were but are no longer of that type, promiscuity and parentage are actually largely non-issues. There are communities where it’s extremely rude to turn down sex and communities where men have no sense of paternity (in that they don’t know if they’re the father or not) but are relieved to know that potential offspring will be cared for if they die.

    There’s a certain myth behind the whole thing where it makes sense for men to be promiscuous and it makes sense for women not to be. This is too little space to explain the full thing, but the gist is this: it makes evolutionary sense for a woman to sleep with as many men as possible to ENSURE the strongest genes propagate; both the shape and size of the penis as well as the evidence for sperm competition support that theory. In any case, I really recommend that you just read the book. It’s well written and fascinating, and the research and references are top-notch. Even if you don’t come away convinced that our modern society’s fixation on monogamy and controlling women’s sexuality is an historical aberration and travesty, you’ll learn a lot of really neat stuff.

    That was a long winded way to get to this point: women enjoy sexual variation as much as men do. I’ve yet to see evidence otherwise.

    So no, the things that Kerner said don’t really make sense. There’s enough evidence to the contrary to make it just another sexist, female-sexuality hating diatribe.

  38. Eric
    Eric April 7, 2011 at 4:28 pm |

    Sheelzebub:
    Eric, did you miss the comments that didn’t deny that women tend to forgive infidelity more, but posited that it was due to sexist double-standards and social pressures?We can also explain gender inequality with the prevalence of sexism and misogyny, not to mention a grand sense of male entitlement.Shocking, I know.

    Also, there are species where the females kill their mates when they’re done with them.Or where they eat their young.Yet I doubt that we’d see the evo-psychs lecture us about the hard realities of biology if a woman was to do something like this.

    Oh, sexist double standards and social pressure are probably part of the story. And I’m guessing economic pressures also play a role. Men still earn significantly more than women on average, and women tend to fare much worse after a divorce than men do, which might make men more willing than women to divorce a cheating partner. I just wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss evolutionary biology, either. Males of virtually all species will go to extreme measures to prevent cuckoldry, but humans are the only mammalian species where females exhibit sexual jealousy at all (as far as I know). I don’t think it’s totally crazy to think that human males might also be less likely to forgive a cheating spouse due to the enormous potential evolutionary cost of cuckoldry.

    I know there is some other empirical research that supports this hypothesis. Apparently men exhibit the greatest jealousy when they think about their wife having sex with another man whereas women exhibit the greatest jealousy when they think about their husband falling in love with another woman. The idea is that for men, the biggest danger of cheating is cuckoldry, whereas for women, the biggest danger of cheating is being abandoned. Thus, it seems plausible to think that women are more willing to forgive cheating if there is no emotional attachment and the man expresses willingness to be faithful in the future.

    And while I have heard of insect species that eat their mates or young, I have never heard of mammals doing it (except possibly in extreme situations where the alternative is starvation). The arguments from evolutionary psychology are less persuasive when they involve species that are distantly related to us rather than our closest cousins.

  39. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers April 7, 2011 at 4:37 pm |

    I’d like to address Eric’s evo-psych based objections.

    Eric, evolutionary psychology actually doesn’t say what people often think it does. There’s a step that people are assuming, because of their life experience, that is built in by culture. And that is: “women need a single, faithful man to give them sufficient resources for their child.”

    It’s simply not true. Look at chimps. Yes, chimp males may be somewhat more promiscuous than chimp females, but chimp males also don’t shun females on the basis of “she’s having sex with another chimp guy!” Nor do chimp females depend on males to provide for their children. The way it works is, if a chimp female actually needs assistance with her young, she’ll get it from another female chimp. Meanwhile, when male chimps like females and want sex with them, they give them goodies. Females then pass the goodies on to their children. It doesn’t matter how many male chimps want to sex her up, or actually are; male chimps give their girlfriends presents regardless of how many boyfriends the females have.

    Among humans, many, many cultures simply don’t allow adult men much of any contact with babies. You get your assistance with your kids from your mom, your sisters, your female neighbors. In tribal societies, women work together for the good of the whole tribe, and so do the men. So what the men provide, is provided to the *tribe*, including all the children; and what the women provide is provided to all the tribe as well. Matrilineal societies (where people inherit property and status from their mothers) don’t put much emphasis on female fidelity, because men aren’t “raising” a kid that isn’t their own. They’re providing for the kids of the tribe, whether those are theirs or not.

    So from an evolutionary perspective, it could make just as much sense for women to sleep with as many men as possible, because having lots of men who like you and enjoy sex with you and have a warm, friendly relationship with your kids because any kid of my fuckbuddy is kind of like my niece or nephew, would be an evolutionary advantage. Men who want sex from women are hardwired to *like* those women; the whole “I want sex without any emotional attachment” thing belongs to men and not women specifically because patriarchy requires misogyny and therefore tries very, very hard to train heteroromantic men to hate the people they are wired to love. So if you like a woman, and you have sex with her, and she likes you, you will probably bring her presents, and watch out for the well being of her kids, which gives her an advantage over a woman who doesn’t have a male friend. And many male friends looking out for your kids and giving you nifty things are better than one.

    The reason it doesn’t work that way in our society is that men have been trained by society to believe they should have sole sexual access to the woman they love, that a woman who has sex with many men is less human than a monogamous woman and inherently less worthy of love, and that if a woman loves *you*, she won’t have sex with another man, so if she does, it’s a repudiation of your love and a betrayal that makes you hate her. Otherwise, it would totally be to a woman’s advantage to have a lot of male fuckbuddies bound to her by mutual affection and lust.

    Yes, it’s probably true that from an evolutionary perspective, a man can spread his seed more widely and therefore a women has *less* of an advantage from fucking around than men do. But humans DON’T HAVE SEX JUST TO REPRODUCE. It’s, like, one of the most glaringly obvious things about human beings. The fact that human women can enjoy sex when they are TOTALLY INFERTILE, don’t show any external signs of fertility, and get their greatest sexual pleasure from an organ that actually isn’t directly involved in reproduction at all, should have been a giant glaring clue to evolutionary psychologists that humans don’t have sex just to reproduce. And one of the reasons we do have sex is to demonstrate close affection and bond emotionally to other humans. And, in general, bonding emotionally to multiple humans is better than bonding to just one. I mean, everyone recognizes that a person with just one friend is in a worse place than a person with multiple friends, assuming the friends are of equal quality and closeness. So, a person with multiple sex-friends would have an advantage *if* we didn’t specifically stigmatize non-monogamous sex, especially in women.

    I actually have a bachelors (and half of a masters) in “psychobiology”, which is what they were calling evolutionary psychology 20 years ago, and the quality of the so-called “science” that’s widely popularized is just laughable. I mean, I don’t want to sound like a cranky old lady, but *I* was taught to look at primate models as the primary animal model to use for humans, that mice and rats are nearly useless and should never be generalized to humans, and that it’s even more important to look at a wide, wide cross-section of historical and current societies, especially isolated societies that were not directly descended from our ancestors.

  40. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub April 7, 2011 at 4:44 pm |

    “The idea is that for men, the biggest danger of cheating is cuckoldry, whereas for women, the biggest danger of cheating is being abandoned.”

    That’s the problem. The idea is. . .not based on reality. It is an idea that “proves” itself. For women, the biggest danger of cheating is being lied to, getting an STD, and generally dealing with an entitled, dishonest douchebag.

    There are other empirical studies that didn’t show much of a difference between men and women’s emotional reactions to this sort of thing. The thing about evo-psych is that it takes a behavior and places the theorists’ (culturally-influenced) assumption upon it to “prove” that such assumptions are based on biology. Yet as Reality Monster pointed out, there are societies where biological paternity is not a concern.

  41. Eric
    Eric April 7, 2011 at 4:47 pm |

    RealityMonster:
    @Eric: Sounds like you need to read ‘Sex at Dawn’, a book that attempts (and succeeds rather well, I think) to show that promiscuity in humans is actually genderless. The problem with using ‘most animals’ as a basis is that the females ‘most animals’ have an ovulation period that’s on display; that is, they go into heat. Human ovulation is hidden (even from the female; do not confuse this with menstruation, which is significantly post-ovulation). This is similar to bonobos, humans’ closest primate relative, who also have exceptionally promiscuous sex.

    In studies of the few remaining hunter-gatherer type societies, and historical accounts of societies that once were but are no longer of that type, promiscuity and parentage are actually largely non-issues. There are communities where it’s extremely rude to turn down sex and communities where men have no sense of paternity (in that they don’t know if they’re the father or not) but are relieved to know that potential offspring will be cared for if they die.

    There’s a certain myth behind the whole thing where it makes sense for men to be promiscuous and it makes sense for women not to be. This is too little space to explain the full thing, but the gist is this: it makes evolutionary sense for a woman to sleep with as many men as possible to ENSURE the strongest genes propagate; both the shape and size of the penis as well as the evidence for sperm competition support that theory. In any case, I really recommend that you just read the book. It’s well written and fascinating, and the research and references are top-notch. Even if you don’t come away convinced that our modern society’s fixation on monogamy and controlling women’s sexuality is an historical aberration and travesty, you’ll learn a lot of really neat stuff.

    That was a long winded way to get to this point: women enjoy sexual variation as much as men do. I’ve yet to see evidence otherwise.

    So no, the things that Kerner said don’t really make sense. There’s enough evidence to the contrary to make it just another sexist, female-sexuality hating diatribe.

    I haven’t read the book, but I have read similar arguments elsewhere. I never found those claims to be persuasive. Yes, you can find cultures where monogamy is not the norm, but they are the rare exceptions. The vast majority of cultures, both primitive and post-agricultural and both ancient and modern have been monogamous, with polygyny occasionally tolerated. (I think the fact that polygyny is tolerated in so many cultures is more evidence of my hypothesis… It is virtually always high-status males that are in polygynous relationships, suggesting that women are more willing to tolerate adultery as long as they don’t lose access to resources that their partners provide. Sure, this could also be due to patriarchy, but it’s interesting nevertheless.)

    The size of human testicles also argues against the hypothesis advocated in “Sex at Dawn.” There is a very strong correlation between testicle size and the amount of female promiscuity in a species. For example, gorilla males collect a harem of females and drive away all other males. Thus, gorilla females generally only mate with one male, so gorilla testicles are very small. In contrast, sometimes chimp females will let several different males mount her in quick succession. Thus, chimp testicles are enormous compared to human testicles, since there is a major advantage to produce large amounts of sperm. Gorillas don’t waste the energy because they don’t allow other males to copulate with the women in their harems. And there are some species of monkeys that have even larger testicles compared to their body size. In these species, the females just mate with all the males in the tribe one at a time, so if you are male, your evolutionary survival depends on producing copious amounts of sperm.

    Human testicles are of intermediate size compared to other primates. This suggests that we’re not gorillas, where females always mate with the same male, but we’re also not chimps, where females will mate with multiple males in succession. I think it’s consistent with what we say in daily life: Humans are mostly monogamous, but we’re not averse to screwing around if the opportunity arises. Thus, human males don’t produce enormous amounts of sperm, but they produce more than gorillas as a defense against cuckoldry.

    Having said all that, I am certainly not claiming that human women don’t enjoy sexual variety. They most certainly do. My only claim is that they tend to be choosier about their sexual partners. Most uncommitted men (and many committed men) are very happy to have sex with just about any fertile woman who is willing to have sex with them. That simply isn’t true for the majority of women. Women love sexual variety, sure, but it’s not like they go to the bar and then go home with the first guy who buys them a drink.

  42. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers April 7, 2011 at 4:49 pm |

    Sorry, spamming, but Eric’s new comment came through after I hit post.

    The thing about cuckoldry is that, in most species, males fight only with other *males* for access to females; they do *not* harm females for having sex with different males, and they don’t refuse females simply for having been with other males. The other thing to note there is that in most non-primate species, females are only interested in sex when they are fertile, so the male who doesn’t get sex with that female, right now, loses out until her next cycle. And the way it works is not that the male has any knowledge of, or desire of, *children* — he’s evolved to want *sex.*

    Human females are continuously receptive to sex; the woman who slept with a different guy last night could very well have sex with you now, so there’s a lot less powerful a motive, biologically, to fight off other males. And there is *never* a motive to turn down a woman who is not currently pregnant just because she has had sex with other men in the past, yet human cultures fetishize virginity and many consider non-virginal women to be “damaged goods.” There is also never a motive to kill a woman for having sex with a different man; you can’t impregnate her if she’s dead. Yet human men kill their wives for infidelity, or the suspicion of it, all the time.

    So I tend to think that you can’t really compare animal models of cuckoldry to human models particularly easily, because human females are continuously receptive and conceal fertility, and human males behave in ways to control access to females that other species’ males generally do not.

  43. Eric
    Eric April 7, 2011 at 4:54 pm |

    Sheelzebub:
    “The idea is that for men, the biggest danger of cheating is cuckoldry, whereas for women, the biggest danger of cheating is being abandoned.”

    That’s the problem.The idea is. . .not based on reality.It is an idea that “proves” itself.For women, the biggest danger of cheating is being lied to, getting an STD, and generally dealing with an entitled, dishonest douchebag.

    There are other empirical studies that didn’t show much of a difference between men and women’s emotional reactions to this sort of thing.The thing about evo-psych is that it takes a behavior and places the theorists’ (culturally-influenced) assumption upon it to “prove” that such assumptions are based on biology. Yet as Reality Monster pointed out, there are societies where biological paternity is not a concern.

    Well, what you say is true for modern women in industrialized societies where starvation is no longer a real concern. If you were trying to raise a child by yourself as a hunter-gatherer in the African savannah, the prospect of abandonment is much scarier.

    If you can link me to these studies showing no differences in male/female reactions to adultery, I would be interested to see that. I’ll be the first to acknowledge that it is very difficult to do empirical research in this area, and there is a very strong temptation to read the evidence in such a way as to prove one’s culturally influenced assumptions. But I’m also not ready to simply dismiss any study that doesn’t agree with my feminist ideology unless I can find equally compelling evidence to the contrary. Hence, I would be interested to see these other studies. :)

  44. Eric
    Eric April 7, 2011 at 5:01 pm |

    Sheelzebub:
    “The idea is that for men, the biggest danger of cheating is cuckoldry, whereas for women, the biggest danger of cheating is being abandoned.”

    That’s the problem.The idea is. . .not based on reality.It is an idea that “proves” itself.For women, the biggest danger of cheating is being lied to, getting an STD, and generally dealing with an entitled, dishonest douchebag.

    There are other empirical studies that didn’t show much of a difference between men and women’s emotional reactions to this sort of thing.The thing about evo-psych is that it takes a behavior and places the theorists’ (culturally-influenced) assumption upon it to “prove” that such assumptions are based on biology. Yet as Reality Monster pointed out, there are societies where biological paternity is not a concern.

    Bleh. I tried to respond to this a second ago, but it looks like it ate my post. If this results in a double post, then I apologize.

    To the modern woman, sure, STD’s and dealing with entitled douchebags is the biggest danger associated with cheating. But starvation is not a big concern in modern society, but that was not the case throughout most of human evolutionary history. If you lived as a hunter-gatherer on the savannah in primordial times, the thought of being abandoned by one’s spouse was much scarier.

    Having said that, if you have other studies showing different reactions to cheating than what I posted earlier, I would be interested to see them. I will be the first to acknowledge that it is very difficult to do empirical research in this area, and there is a very strong temptation to read the data in such a way that it supports one’s culturally imposed world views. That said, I’m not willing to dismiss the results of empirical research without an equally compelling interpretation or contradictory data. Thus, I would be very interested to see these studies. :) If you have a link or something, I would love to read them.

  45. Lori
    Lori April 7, 2011 at 5:05 pm |

    The guy’s a dolt, obviously, and the stereotypes in his article are so common that they are no longer surprising to me. Here’s my two cents as a married woman with sexual interest in people other than my husband: women can be and are attracted to others *just* for the sex. No love involved. In fact, as mentioned by another responder, I think open relationships can be a great solution, though when I say that to people, they almost always look at me as if I have 2 heads. My husband isn’t (yet) game for it, either, and you know why? Because for him, yes, an actual man, sex should be related to love at this point in his life, and he can’t get comfortable with the idea that I’d let him have sex outside the marriage “just for the sex” so long as I can do the same. Imagine that: the woman in the relationship wanting extra-marital sex, just for sex, and the man in the relationship not wanting extra-marital sex because, well, for him, sex should be related to love. What do you make of us, Kerner?

  46. RealityMonster
    RealityMonster April 7, 2011 at 5:11 pm |

    @Eric: They cover the human testicle size/penis size/etc. thing in the book, too. To wit:

    The ratio of testicular volume to overall body mass can be used to read the degree of sperm competition in any given species. … Like most great ideas, the theory of testis size is simple: species that copulate more often need larger testes, and species in which several males routinely copulate with one ovulating female need even bigger testes. … Those who argue that our species has been sexually monogamous for millions of years point out that human testicles are smaller than those of chips and bonobos. Those who challenge the standard narrative … note that human testicular ratios are far beyond those of the polygynous gorilla or the monogamous gibbon.

    (It’s worth noting at this point that gibbons are the only primates that form small nuclear families and in general, they live very, very far apart from one another. Gibbon society really isn’t.)

    So they acknowledge your claim in that section. They then go on to note that some biologists have predicted (and confirmed) that, “Testis size might be expected to respond rapidly to selection pressures,” meaning that our relatively small testis size at this point might be an evolutionary adaptation, and not indicative of our pre-agrarian past.

    They then go on to talk about the mechanics of sperm competition (where the sperm themselves actually compete inside the female body), and lay out some numbers regarding penis size, ejaculate volume, etc.

    This is starting to get pretty far afield, so I’ll end it there. Suffice to say, there’s a lot of compelling evidence in the book, and stacks and stacks of references; the authors aren’t just making this stuff up.

    As for women being more choosy, I just don’t think that’s true. The only reason you don’t see more women in bars picking guys up is because everyone looks down on them. Slut-shaming is distressingly prevalent. There are lots of women that do exactly what you say, and I think that if public opinion weren’t so stacked against them, there’d be many more women cruising for a good time. But I guess that just brings us back to the societal double standard that puts women in an awkward position in the first place. Whether you believe there’s an evolutionary basis for female promiscuity or not, it’s certainly true that our current society would like women to be a little less promiscuous. :/

  47. Jura
    Jura April 7, 2011 at 5:11 pm |

    How about this:

    Since women can only produce so many babies in their lifetime, it simply makes sense for us to cheat. If it’s the paleolithic times, and you, the cavewoman, have, say, five children – isn’t it best, that they are fathered by three different guys? After all, gene variety ensures survival: Maybe one father had a hereditary illness, maybe another had bad eyesight. So, more fathers means that more of your offspring will survive.

    Hey, it’s logical. ;) Better not put all your eggs in one basket.

  48. RealityMonster
    RealityMonster April 7, 2011 at 5:13 pm |

    (Curses, forgot to close a block quote. Could someone delete the last post?)

    @Eric: They cover the human testicle size/penis size/etc. thing in the book, too. To wit:

    The ratio of testicular volume to overall body mass can be used to read the degree of sperm competition in any given species. … Like most great ideas, the theory of testis size is simple: species that copulate more often need larger testes, and species in which several males routinely copulate with one ovulating female need even bigger testes. … Those who argue that our species has been sexually monogamous for millions of years point out that human testicles are smaller than those of chips and bonobos. Those who challenge the standard narrative … note that human testicular ratios are far beyond those of the polygynous gorilla or the monogamous gibbon.

    (It’s worth noting at this point that gibbons are the only primates that form small nuclear families and in general, they live very, very far apart from one another. Gibbon society really isn’t.)

    So they acknowledge your claim in that section. They then go on to note that some biologists have predicted (and confirmed) that, “Testis size might be expected to respond rapidly to selection pressures,” meaning that our relatively small testis size at this point might be an evolutionary adaptation, and not indicative of our pre-agrarian past.

    They then go on to talk about the mechanics of sperm competition (where the sperm themselves actually compete inside the female body), and lay out some numbers regarding penis size, ejaculate volume, etc.

    This is starting to get pretty far afield, so I’ll end it there. Suffice to say, there’s a lot of compelling evidence in the book, and stacks and stacks of references; the authors aren’t just making this stuff up.

    As for women being more choosy, I just don’t think that’s true. The only reason you don’t see more women in bars picking guys up is because everyone looks down on them. Slut-shaming is distressingly prevalent. There are lots of women that do exactly what you say, and I think that if public opinion weren’t so stacked against them, there’d be many more women cruising for a good time. But I guess that just brings us back to the societal double standard that puts women in an awkward position in the first place. Whether you believe there’s an evolutionary basis for female promiscuity or not, it’s certainly true that our current society would like women to be a little less promiscuous. :/

  49. Lis
    Lis April 7, 2011 at 5:16 pm |

    Most uncommitted men (and many committed men) are very happy to have sex with just about any fertile woman who is willing to have sex with them.

    I really question that. Even fat women? Even ugly women? When they re-ran the study of who would agree to an unsolicited offer of sex with some better controls, it was found that if the woman doing the offering wasn’t conventionally attractive, men were very unlikely to accept her offer of sex.

  50. Eric
    Eric April 7, 2011 at 5:17 pm |

    @Alara: I won’t quote all of that to avoid making this thread even spammier. :) But in response to your first post, once again, the whole “free love” hypothesis can’t account for the fact that human males have relatively small testicles compared to the males of species where female promiscuity is more common. The relationship between testicle size and female promiscuity is one of the best-studied relationships in this entire field. As I understand it, this effect has been documented in dozens of mammalian species now. If the norm in human evolutionary history were for women to have sex indiscriminately with lots of men, then there should be enormous selective pressure for males to evolve larger testicles. The fact that our testicles are much closer in size to gorilla testicles than chimp testicles suggests that humans tend to be pretty monogamous for the most part.

    As for the fact that human males show more obsessive jealousy than males of other species, I think that has to do with our monogamous tendencies as well. Males of other species generally provide very little or no parental care for their young, so the fact that a woman might be carrying another male’s baby doesn’t really hurt them. On the other hand, human males generally do care for their young, so cuckoldry is a much more serious business. Particularly when you consider the fact that humans tend to monogamous and the fertility of human females declines rapidly with age. Thus, human males have a much stronger need to ensure that their sexual partners are faithful than other species. (Indeed, the idea of being “faithful” doesn’t even make sense in other mammalian species, since to my knowledge gibbons are the only non-human mammal that is generally monogamous.) Sure, there is still no incentive not to have sex with a woman who had sex with another man, but you wouldn’t want to form a monogamous relationship with her if she might be carrying someone else’s baby.

  51. Kaija
    Kaija April 7, 2011 at 5:40 pm |

    Eric: I I Yes, you can find cultures where monogamy is not the norm, but they are the rare exceptions. The vast majority of cultures, both primitive and post-agricultural and both ancient and modern have been monogamous, with polygyny occasionally tolerated. (I think the fact that polygyny is tolerated in so many cultures is more evidence of my hypothesis… It is virtually always high-status males that are in polygynous relationships, suggesting that women are more willing to tolerate adultery as long as they don’t lose access to resources that their partners provide. Sure, this could also be due to patriarchy, but it’s interesting nevertheless.)

    I think you are biased towards relatively recent Western cultures. Read some scholarly work in anthropology and you’ll see that true monogamy is rare in all primates, including humans. There is “social monogamy” in that what we think of as the higher animals that pair-bond for life (swans, wolves, etc) do stay in and fuck within their primary relationship but also “fuck around” on the side (as the advent of DNA testing of offspring has proven). Sounds a lot like what most human cultures do as well :)

    Eric:T
    Human testicles are of intermediate size compared to other primates. This suggests that we’re not gorillas, where females always mate with the same male, but we’re also not chimps, where females will mate with multiple males in succession. I think it’s consistent with what we say in daily life: Humans are mostly monogamous, but we’re not averse to screwing around if the opportunity arises. Thus, human males don’t produce enormous amounts of sperm, but they produce more than gorillas as a defense against cuckoldry.

    Almost right until the end, but you extrapolated to and conflated your biological observation with a cultural and social value. Humans produce enough sperm for “sperm competition”, which is a biological and evolutionary concept. “Cuckoldry” is a social concept based on the idea that “this woman is MINE”.

    This is the main problem with trying to interpret primate behavior in terms of human behavior. None of the evopsych posulation is really persuasive in dealing with post-agricultural humans for whom culture shares the stage with biology to such an extent that it is very hard to separate the two, but the biology of humans strongly suggests that we developed somewhere between chimp and bonobo, as multimale, multifemale copulators, and that we are very unlike gibbons (single male/single female pair bond) or like gorillas (single male/multiple female pattern), and that monogamy in humans is a reaction to stationary agriculture and the rise of property.

    Eric:
    Most uncommitted men (and many committed men) are very happy to have sex with just about any fertile woman who is willing to have sex with them. That simply isn’t true for the majority of women. Women love sexual variety, sure, but it’s not like they go to the bar and then go home with the first guy who buys them a drink.

    Mostly due to social and cultural factors around personal safety and also social shaming. A very well done and highly praised study came out on this recently: http://www.miller-mccune.com/culture-society/casual-sex-men-women-not-so-different-after-all-28451/ debunking the Sexual Strategies Theory, to which much of your information refers to. The study results support the Pleasure Theory, the idea that *pleasure* is evolutionarily selected and pursuit of pleasure is what drives people of either gender in their exual choices. Women’s perceived reluctance to engage is casual isn’t a reluctance to have sex, but rather a rational concern for their physical safety with a stranger who might be a predator (at worst) or a crappy lover (less worse but still a risk). The study also debunks the “women go for status” and “men go for childbearing ability” trope. In general, human culture is complex, nuanced, variable, and inseparable from biology and genetics. Much as we would like to oversimplify, it doesn’t work, either in science or in practice.

  52. Kaija
    Kaija April 7, 2011 at 5:48 pm |

    BTW, if monogamy in humans is a reaction to stationary agriculture and the rise of property, as much of the anthro research support, that is way too short of a time span for the kind of evolutionary adaptation of testicle size you postulate to have occurred. The time scale one which that kind of phenotypical change occurs in a higher organism like a primate (yes, bacterial can can evolve “quicker”) is way longer than that of the development of human culture (the part for which we have any archeological evidence, and even pottery shards and bones don’t tell you about anyone’s emotional life or decision-making strategies).

  53. Kaija
    Kaija April 7, 2011 at 5:56 pm |

    (my apologies for the typos in my posts…I’m at work, in the lab, running experiments {with cell cultures, not people or primates}…it’s SCIENCE!).

  54. NYC Thinker
    NYC Thinker April 7, 2011 at 5:56 pm |

    @Eric: Read that book again. It is called “Sex at Dawn” and the theory is called the theory of sperm competition. The length of the male member and the shape of the head dislodge previously deposited sperm. Human males have the longest penises, the most copious sperm count in ejaculations, and the longest intercourse endurance of any of the great apes. Length of the penis ensures that it reaches the cervix area where the other sperm has been deposited and length of time spent in intercourse ensures that all the previous sperm is gotten out before the new deposit is made. The shape of the head creates a vacuum which aids in sucking out previous deposits. Human males have the biggest testicles of the great apes Most importantly, human females are fertile every month of every year for usually three decades. Yeah, dude, we have a sex drive, and our fore-mothers were “hoochies” with roving eyes and bodies. Deal with it.

    Also, many mammals: apes, lions, elephants live in matrilinear groups. These related females do assist with child rearing. Female chimpanzees have been known to pester their female relatives about holding their babies. The matriarch of an elephant clan may live to be 75 and is genetically related to all the females in the herd. Grandmother lions stay with their pride even after they are no longer fertile.

    Human males provided protection and protein from hunting, and I’m sorry, it is extremely likely that most early/ proto-human groups were comprised of genetically related males and females. The children of the tribe were probably cared for in common by genetically close female relatives, and provided for and protected by whichever males the mother preferred mating with at any given time. Some of these multiple connections may have lasted a lifetime, but some may have been very short-termed. However, since they were all one tribe, you would still see the person. Also, all members of the group would share a tribal identity that is closely related to the feeling of kinship that we share with relatives, and didn’t resemble the looser national or ethnic identity that we share with millions.

  55. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable April 7, 2011 at 5:59 pm |

    Eric: Well, what you say is true for modern women in industrialized societies where starvation is no longer a real concern.

    1 in 6 folks in the US struggles with hunger, FYI. It’s not on the same scale as in many other countries, but I would argue that 1 in 6 is a very significant minority.

  56. Eric
    Eric April 7, 2011 at 6:01 pm |

    RealityMonster:
    So they acknowledge your claim in that section. They then go on to note that some biologists have predicted (and confirmed) that, “Testis size might be expected to respond rapidly to selection pressures,” meaning that our relatively small testis size at this point might be an evolutionary adaptation, and not indicative of our pre-agrarian past.

    They then go on to talk about the mechanics of sperm competition (where the sperm themselves actually compete inside the female body), and lay out some numbers regarding penis size, ejaculate volume, etc.

    This is starting to get pretty far afield, so I’ll end it there. Suffice to say, there’s a lot of compelling evidence in the book, and stacks and stacks of references; the authors aren’t just making this stuff up.

    As for women being more choosy, I just don’t think that’s true. The only reason you don’t see more women in bars picking guys up is because everyone looks down on them. Slut-shaming is distressingly prevalent. There are lots of women that do exactly what you say, and I think that if public opinion weren’t so stacked against them, there’d be many more women cruising for a good time. But I guess that just brings us back to the societal double standard that puts women in an awkward position in the first place. Whether you believe there’s an evolutionary basis for female promiscuity or not, it’s certainly true that our current society would like women to be a little less promiscuous. :/

    I dunno… I’d have to read the book, but I am extremely skeptical of this hypothesis. Agriculture has only existed for a few tens of thousands of years, which is an eyeblink in evolutionary history. I have a very difficult time believing that human testicles could shrink that rapidly. (Particularly since starvation was much less of a danger in the post-agricultural world. If people weren’t starving on a regular basis, then there would be only weak selection against large testicles. It certainly wouldn’t cause human testicles to shrink that much that quickly.)

    And you really do believe that there are large numbers of women who would go around and sleep with the first guy who bought them a drink? I mean, I certainly don’t dispute that sometimes women will go “looking for a good time,” but that doesn’t mean that they will sleep with just anyone. I have several female friends who are quite open about the fact that they enjoy sex and enjoy sex with multiple partners, but they are still pretty choosy about how they sleep with.

    And to answer Lis’ question, maybe I went too far in my earlier claim, but in general I don’t think men are particularly choosy when it comes to picking a casual sex partner. (And I think most women greatly underestimate men’s attraction to women who are not conventionally “sexy.” Just because she’s a few pounds overweight or has stretch marks doesn’t mean that she’s not sexually desirable.) At the bare minimum, I would say that on average, they are less picky than women are.

  57. auditorydamage
    auditorydamage April 7, 2011 at 6:10 pm |

    You folks read that garbage so I don’t have to. They tend to reveal more about the writer than the subject.

  58. Mandolin
    Mandolin April 7, 2011 at 6:20 pm |

    IMO, the interesting thing about SEX AT DAWN isn’t necessarily that it’s convincing per se–pharyngula broke down some of the science at one point and it doesn’t all hold up–but that it’s at least as convincing as the traditional evo-psych story (perhaps moreso since they actually make an attempt to compensate for varying cultural patterns and sooo much evopsych doesn’t even bother that if you know any cultural anthropology at all, it tends to be WTF.)

  59. Lyn
    Lyn April 7, 2011 at 6:29 pm |

    @Renee – I think part of the problem is that discourses like Kerner’s have absolutely no awareness that they are solely dealing with cisgender and heterosexual relationships. And, to a degree, when criticising something the terms of the article tend to control what is possible to say. Hell, this has been a huge problem for feminism for ages, because so many of the terms/structures we have to work with are patriarchal and messed up – so occassionaly they slip in. And I agree that this is a problem which really harms feminist goals of inclusiveness etc. I also think it’s difficult to be sarcastic/humourous about this kind of article without playing off stereotypes – which are invariably limiting.

    That said, most of the commenters here have ensured they use the word ‘heterosexual’ when discussing the article to acknowledge that they’re not dealing with the whole range of possible sexual partnerships out there – seems like the occasional ‘cis’ would have similarly acknowledged that we’re talking about a particular (limited) version of women and men.

    As for evolutionary psychology (and Eric’s latent construction of ‘unbiased’ scientific method: “and there is a very strong temptation to read the evidence in such a way as to prove one’s culturally influenced assumptions.”) – yawn. As other commenters have stated, you are merrily mixing scientific method and social discourse – that cismen feel more jealousy is not an argument for the evolutionary principle. Their jealousy and hurt when their partners sleep around is inextricable from social pressures (about sluttiness, virginity, manly manly men should be able to sexually satisfy anyone and everyone etc.).

    I would also like to note that there is a long and proud history of calling anything feminists say biased, and anything male and anti-feminist scientists say unbiased. Just sayin’.

  60. Sofia
    Sofia April 7, 2011 at 6:34 pm |

    Men are less likely to forgive cheating because a woman’s sexual value, in accordance with the dominant perception, is determined by her relative chastity in conjunction with attractiveness. Women are more likely to forgive cheating because they’re guided primarily by emotional, not sexual, jealousy.

    I don’t see what was so egregiously mistaken about the article. The only commentary provided was sarcastic and irrational.

  61. TeriSaw
    TeriSaw April 7, 2011 at 6:48 pm |

    I’m surprised that the arguments about EP have gone on as long as they have. I didn’t read everything but I’ll just add that EP claims to be empirical but suffers from a horrible case of confirmation bias.

    And because I enjoy a good bingo card I’ll share this too:
    http://www.boingboing.net/2010/04/07/evolutionary-psychol-1.html

  62. Claire N
    Claire N April 7, 2011 at 6:58 pm |

    Please get this evo-psych nonsense OFF FEMINISTE!!!!!!!

  63. Claire N
    Claire N April 7, 2011 at 7:00 pm |

    TeriSaw–thank you so much for that bingocard.

  64. Chai
    Chai April 7, 2011 at 7:17 pm |

    The commentary and discussions on this are so quality I can’t even decide if I like the article or the comments section better.
    Either way, this has been a wonderful distraction from an urgent presentation I had to make, but it was well worth it and I won’t even be sorry that I have a loooong night ahead of me.
    I just really enjoy civilised discussions. I get all tingly and it’s all fuzzy and soft around :)

  65. Renee
    Renee April 7, 2011 at 7:21 pm |

    @ Lyn

    I understand that when criticizing an essay that, whether spoken or unspoken, focuses on cisgender experience, oftentimes the critique is going to also focus on cisgender priorities. My problem is really twofold:

    1. Whether Kerner realizes it or not, and whether Jill or any of the commenters here realize it or not, many trans people actually have conventional hetero relationships too. Cheating is a women’s issues, not a cisgender issue. And while my expectations for Kerner are pretty low, I have somewhat higher hopes for the likes of Feministe (though why, I have no idea…it’s not like I’m a new reader here, nor have I ever found a feminist space online that was truly safe for trans people…and I write for one). Point being, the substance of Jill’s post was fine until she started getting snarky; the basics of the argument are as true for trans women as for cis women…just talking about “women” is this context is inclusive enough…no need to specify “trans” or “cis”. But then need to be clever and snarky pulled her away from that.

    2. I love sarcasm as much as the next woman…I think it’s a great way of making a point. But I can’t support its use when it hurts other marginalized people. I don’t care how funny or snarky or clever a particular turn of phrase is, it’s contrary to good activism when it hurts those you have privilege and power over.

    Bottom line, cheating has affected my life too. I believe trans narratives have something to add to these conversations. But yeesh, it’s hard to want to share when you’re being erased into the ground.

  66. FemLogic | Sofiastry
    FemLogic | Sofiastry April 7, 2011 at 7:27 pm |

    […] came across this “Evo-Pscyh Bingo” Card via a link from a commenter on […]

  67. Macha
    Macha April 7, 2011 at 7:41 pm |

    “while there’s an overall consensus among professionals that female infidelity is on the rise, the trend doesn’t garner nearly as much attention as male infidelity”

    Yeah, it’s not because there’s a cultural double standard that says a woman is a man’s property and men are free spirits. Not at all.

    “While there aren’t any hard statistics on female infidelity, most experts agree that it’s on the rise, especially among women who have their own careers and a degree of financial independence.”

    It’s so funny how having a sense of self-worth that’s independent of your marital/relationship status makes you feel like you deserve to make your own choices.

  68. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub April 7, 2011 at 7:41 pm |

    If you were trying to raise a child by yourself as a hunter-gatherer in the African savannah, the prospect of abandonment is much scarier.

    Except in most of those societies, the nuclear family is not the norm. And frankly, the prospect of abandonment is scary for anyone–contrary to popular belief, men are not magical creatures that will survive well on their own. It’s not being abandoned by a partner that will imperil someone’s survival, it’s being abandoned or cast out of their community or group.

    Archeological evidence shows that men didn’t do all the hunting while women tended the home fires (contrary to a popular evo-psych claim); back in prehistoric times, men, women and children participated in group hunts.

    Finally–you sniff that you just don’t believe the other research presented to you; apparently it doesn’t jibe with your worldview or your personal, anecdotal evidence. Yet you think we should accept your evo-psych arguments and logical fallicies and claim that we’re just clinging to our worldview. You may want to check your own biases, and your own double-standards. :)

  69. Lyn
    Lyn April 7, 2011 at 7:50 pm |

    Ah, thanks for the clarification. And I realise now that I totally implied that trans people DON’T have conventional het relationships (badness – I’m sorry) which I know to be untrue and silly. And I guess what’s particulalry irritating about Kerner’s article is that it is about arguing that cheating means one thing for one group and another for another group, that this is natural and not socially constructed, and further implies that women should be more willing to put up with the dishonesty, hurt and threat of stds involved in cheating (bleurg). And this also denies the existence of happy open relationships where it’s not about dishonesty, and partners act in a responsible manner (safe sex or regular checks etc.).

    Of course, the discussion of evolutionary psychology going on has a tendency to further deny the experience of trans people because it often makes sex all about reproduction, testicle sizes etc., and is really invested in a binary understanding of sex/gender, men/women.

    And I totally agree with the second point – anger and sarcasm in feminist discourse is lots of fun…until it’s about marginalising people. I guess there’s just a lot of learning that needs to go on before these things are incorporated into (instead of silenced in) feminist spaces. Which is tragic because, hello, shared understandings of the constructedness of gender, anyone?

  70. Reuben
    Reuben April 7, 2011 at 8:16 pm |

    Sheelzebub: If you were trying to raise a child by yourself as a hunter-gatherer in the African savannah, the prospect of abandonment is much scarier.Except in most of those societies, the nuclear family is not the norm. And frankly, the prospect of abandonment is scary for anyone–contrary to popular belief, men are not magical creatures that will survive well on their own. It’s not being abandoned by a partner that will imperil someone’s survival, it’s being abandoned or cast out of their community or group. Archeological evidence shows that men didn’t do all the hunting while women tended the home fires (contrary to a popular evo-psych claim); back in prehistoric times, men, women and children participated in group hunts.Finally–you sniff that you just don’t believe the other research presented to you; apparently it doesn’t jibe with your worldview or your personal, anecdotal evidence. Yet you think we should accept your evo-psych arguments and logical fallicies and claim that we’re just clinging to our worldview. You may want to check your own biases, and your own double-standards. :)

    May I just say I am glad that the Evo-psych argument came up, just so I could hear all these stellar refutations of it. I’m learning!

  71. Miguel Bloomfontosis
    Miguel Bloomfontosis April 7, 2011 at 8:33 pm |

    One idea that pops up often, mentioned here by Eric, is that being cuckolded is absolutely horrible for a man because he might end up “wasting” his resources “passing on someone else’s genes.” But really, it’s only so horrible if you buy into the notion that a man’s highest purpose in life is to propagate his DNA. And it really isn’t, if you think about it. A man who helps to raise a child who doesn’t share his DNA isn’t “wasting” his resources at all. And, interestingly enough, neither the cuckold nor the homosexual have become extinct, even though neither directly pass on their genes.

  72. Eric
    Eric April 7, 2011 at 8:46 pm |

    Sheelzebub:
    If you were trying to raise a child by yourself as a hunter-gatherer in the African savannah, the prospect of abandonment is much scarier.

    Except in most of those societies, the nuclear family is not the norm.And frankly, the prospect of abandonment is scary for anyone–contrary to popular belief, men are not magical creatures that will survive well on their own. It’s not being abandoned by a partner that will imperil someone’s survival, it’s being abandoned or cast out of their community or group.

    Archeological evidence shows that men didn’t do all the hunting while women tended the home fires (contrary to a popular evo-psych claim); back in prehistoric times,men, women and children participated in group hunts.

    Finally–you sniff that you just don’t believe the other research presented to you; apparently it doesn’t jibe with your worldview or your personal, anecdotal evidence.Yet you think we should accept your evo-psych arguments and logical fallicies and claim that we’re just clinging to our worldview.You may want to check your own biases, and your own double-standards.:)

    Ummm… When did I ever say that the nuclear family was the norm? I said that human males are involved in child rearing and that it reduces a child’s chances of survival if his father runs off with another woman. Nor did I ever claim that men can survive on their own outside of a community but women cannot. It’s definitely bad for men to be abandoned by their spouses as well. Hence the reason that men can be jealous of emotional affairs even if there is no sex involved. But if a man is abandoned by his partner, he can find a new partner and make new babies if necessary, but that strategy doesn’t work for a woman who is past reproductive age. Thus, both men and women get jealous if their partner has sex or gets emotionally involved with another person. But men experience greater jealousy over sex and women experience greater jealousy over emotional attachment. (Or at least that’s what I have read. Like I said, if you have evidence to the contrary, I’d love to see it.)

    And I agree 100% that the claim that men did all the hunting in prehistoric times is pure nonsense. Well, maybe that’s going too far… My bigger objection to the claim is that modern hunter-gatherers get very little food from hunting. Most of their food comes from gathering, and men and women seem to participate more or less equally in that. But that’s irrelevant. I have acknowledged previously that evolutionary psych is difficult to test empirically and that there is a serious danger of letting one’s personal biases color one’s interpretation of the evidence. But I don’t think that it follows that the entire field is garbage. Some of the claims can be tested empirically, and if the evidence fits the hypothesis, I will tentatively support the hypothesis unless someone can offer an equally compelling competing hypothesis.

    And I didn’t dismiss the other evidence because it didn’t agree with my preconceived ideas. I dismissed the other evidence because if the hypothesis that human females are highly promiscuous were true, abundant empirical evidence suggests that human males should have enormous testicles. But we don’t. Since the hypothesis doesn’t fit the evidence, I reject the hypothesis.

    Could some of my conclusions be influenced by my personal biases? Certainly. But you are going to have to convince me with empirical evidence. The argument “all evolutionary psychology is bunk” is not very persuasive. If all evolutionary psychology is bunk, then why do men exhibit greater jealousy at the thought of their wife having sex with another man but women exhibit greater jealousy at the thought of their husband falling in love with another woman? Or, as you implied, are there other studies that contradict this claim? If there are, I’d love to see the studies. Otherwise I’d like to know how you explain that data point. If this is a cultural artifact of patriarchy, wouldn’t you expect men to demand both sexual and emotional fidelity from women? I can certainly be persuaded that I’m wrong, but I need to be persuaded with facts and evidence, not with blanket statements that evolutionary psychology is invalid.

  73. Renee
    Renee April 7, 2011 at 8:59 pm |

    Lyn:

    Of course, the discussion of evolutionary psychology going on has a tendency to further deny the experience of trans people because it often makes sex all about reproduction, testicle sizes etc., and is really invested in a binary understanding of sex/gender, men/women.

    Agreed. And it’s that failure to acknowledge the natural diversity present in gender that, imo, discredits the evo psych argument before it even gets going. To be clear, I don’t believe gender is entirely social…things like performance theory fail just as often to take into account trans narratives, ignoring the fact that many of us describe an internal understanding of gender before we’re even old enough to recognize a social division of the sexes. There is a psychological component to gender that we are born with, of that I’m convinced.

    But at the same time, my existence demonstrates that mind and body are not inextricably connected. And in switching roles mid-life, I’ve observed first-hand how my own behavior, values, and opinions have shifted and changed in accordance my experience in that new role (and especially as it pertains to how I’m seen and treated by other people). That is to say, although my internal sense of gender probably serves as some kind of filter (and always has), I can literally feel the powerful cultural pressures trying to bend and shape me…some of which I’m receptive to, some of which I’m not. And the power dynamics of relationships is definitely one of those things.

  74. Lyn
    Lyn April 7, 2011 at 9:03 pm |

    “If all evolutionary psychology is bunk, then why do men exhibit greater jealousy at the thought of their wife having sex with another man but women exhibit greater jealousy at the thought of their husband falling in love with another woman?”

    “If this is a cultural artifact of patriarchy, wouldn’t you expect men to demand both sexual and emotional fidelity from women?”

    In a word, no. Patriarchy is invested in encouraging men to eschew their emotions and to be ignorant (or uncaring) of people’s emotions. It is also invested in characterising women as emotional, and particularly that the only ethical way for a woman to engage in sex is when they are in love with the other person (ever see a rom com? Read advice to teenage girls about sex?) otherwise they are a slut (have had this accusation levelled at me before from an ex: “When I cheated on you I CARED about the person, now that we’re broken up you’re having sex with people you don’t care about which is slutty and I can’t look at you” It took me a surprisingly long time to figure out that guy was a douche). Therefore, the claim that men exhibit more jealousy about their partners having sex where women exhibit more jealousy about emotional affairs makes a LOT of sense in a patriarchal framework. It is impossible to extricate biological impulses from social pressures.

    Note also, that for women being a slut is bad – it is enough to simply have sex to betray your partner. For men, there is a not-so-latent assumption that they are going to have sex with anything that moves (which is unfair) – so it’s not enough to simply accuse them of sex, the added info about their emotional connection is needed to convey the hurt involved.

  75. Sofia
    Sofia April 7, 2011 at 9:04 pm |

    I’d like to personally congratulate Eric for impartially defending the truth and being a trooper throughout this whole thread.

  76. Eric
    Eric April 7, 2011 at 9:04 pm |

    NYC Thinker:
    @Eric: Read that book again. It is called “Sex at Dawn” and the theory is called the theory of sperm competition. The length of the male member and the shape of the head dislodge previously deposited sperm. Human males have the longest penises, the most copious sperm count in ejaculations, and the longest intercourse endurance of any of the great apes. Length of the penis ensures that it reaches the cervix area where the other sperm has been deposited and length of time spent in intercourse ensures that all the previous sperm is gotten out before the new deposit is made. The shape of the head creates a vacuum which aids in sucking out previous deposits. Human males have the biggest testicles of the great apes Most importantly, human females are fertile every month of every year for usually three decades.Yeah, dude, we have a sex drive, and our fore-mothers were “hoochies” with roving eyes and bodies. Deal with it.

    Say what? Chimp testicles are about four times as large as human testicles compared to each species’ respective body size. And no one has ever found a meaningful correlation between penis size/shape and sexual behavior across species. I’m highly confused as to how these claims that the length/shape of the human penis could influence the probability of fertilization could ever be tested empirically. But there is an extremely strong correlation between testicle size and female promiscuity across dozens of mammalian species. The existing evidence seems pretty clear that if human females were programmed to sleep with anyone and everyone, then human males would have much bigger testicles than they do. Hence I’m not buying this theory. Again, I could be persuaded otherwise with sufficient evidence, but I have read enough primatology texts to know that these claims are extremely problematic.

    Once again, I’m not trying to claim that women don’t like sex or that they have lower sex drives than men. All I’m saying is that women are more selective about who they have sex with. I’m frankly shocked that this is at all controversial for anyone who has spent more than 10 minutes at a bar.

  77. Lyn
    Lyn April 7, 2011 at 9:12 pm |

    “Once again, I’m not trying to claim that women don’t like sex or that they have lower sex drives than men. All I’m saying is that women are more selective about who they have sex with. I’m frankly shocked that this is at all controversial for anyone who has spent more than 10 minutes at a bar.”

    Ok, but the argument that this is not because of social imperatives but rather because of evolutionary psychology IS controversial because, as we’ve been saying, of the construction of virginity and sluttiness. Of course women are more discerning about the men they sleep with – they are more likely to be JUDGED for their choices.

  78. Eric
    Eric April 7, 2011 at 9:13 pm |

    Miguel Bloomfontosis:
    One idea that pops up often, mentioned here by Eric, is that being cuckolded is absolutely horrible for a man because he might end up “wasting” his resources “passing on someone else’s genes.”But really, it’s only so horrible if you buy into the notion that a man’s highest purpose in life is to propagate his DNA.And it really isn’t, if you think about it.A man who helps to raise a child who doesn’t share his DNA isn’t “wasting” his resources at all.And, interestingly enough, neither the cuckold nor the homosexual have become extinct, even though neither directly pass on their genes.

    Sorry, but any evolutionary biologist would tell you that at the evolutionary level, passing one’s genes to the next generation is the only thing that matters. Why does the male praying mantis let the female bite its head off? Because that increases the chance that its offspring will survive, and its better to have one’s own head bitten off and reproduce than to stay alive and not reproduce, at least as far as Darwin is concerned. Now we humans have frontal lobes so we do funny things sometimes, but for the most part, there is still a very strong biological imperative to pass our genes to the next generation.

  79. Lyn
    Lyn April 7, 2011 at 9:18 pm |

    Do you really think the male praying mantis LETS the female bite its head off? I can’t believe you’ve attributed the male praying mantis with control in this situation…not the best way to support your argument.

  80. Sofia
    Sofia April 7, 2011 at 9:21 pm |

    Lyn:
    Ok, but the argument that this is not because of social imperatives but rather because of evolutionary psychology IS controversial because, as we’ve been saying, of the construction of virginity and sluttiness.Of course women are more discerning about the men they sleep with – they are more likely to be JUDGED for their choices.

    evolutionary psychology contributes to the construction of the virgin/slut paradigm, but it doesn’t nullify the validity that women are judged because of those very same hardwired biological imperatives. men are more likely to be attracted to relatively chaste women because of paternity certainty.

  81. Lyn
    Lyn April 7, 2011 at 9:24 pm |

    Renee: “And it’s that failure to acknowledge the natural diversity present in gender that, imo, discredits the evo psych argument before it even gets going.”

    Totes. The evolutionary psychology thing has many blind-spots – I’ve heard fascinating papers (sorry, no refs) about the various physical and psychological influences on gender – things like hormone levels, chromosomes (there are really too many to list) really lend themselves to an understanding of gender as a spectrum. But the evolutionary theories really only seem to acknowledge two – if anyone can contradict me I’d be happy to find out otherwise!

  82. Reuben
    Reuben April 7, 2011 at 9:37 pm |

    Sofia: evolutionary psychology contributes to the construction of the virgin/slut paradigm, but it doesn’t nullify the validity that women are judged because of those very same hardwired biological imperatives. men are more likely to be attracted to relatively chaste women because of paternity certainty.

    Where’s the evidence for that? What kind of asocial control group has been used to determine that men are in fact more likely to attracted to “chaste” women? Have they reared children in skinner boxes to determine this?

  83. Psychperson
    Psychperson April 7, 2011 at 9:40 pm |

    Ok I admit that I have not read all comments. But someone made a comment that sounds like a lot of evolutionary nonsense about why men need lots of partners and women don’t. See, the thing is, if men just want to spread their seed and get someone pregnant, then why would they not stick around with one woman to make sure the kid is his? And if all women want is men to take care of her and her babies, why not sleep with lots of men and try to get them all to take care of you?

  84. AtheistChick
    AtheistChick April 7, 2011 at 9:42 pm |

    And as far as gender differences go… Recently I attended a talk by a prominent neuroscientist who basically stated that we can’t know what’s innate/biological and what’s socialized because we simply cannot separate the two. However, research does suggest that most gender differences are socialized rather than biological. And the differences that are biological tend to be negligible in size and only appear later in life after being exaggerated by socialization. Sorry this is off-topic, but I felt I needed to respond to a comment upthread about how women and men are just different. They are in some ways, but I put my money on socialization.

  85. Sofia
    Sofia April 7, 2011 at 9:45 pm |

    Reuben: Where’s the evidence for that? What kind of asocial control group has been used to determine that men are in fact more likely to attracted to “chaste” women? Have they reared children in skinner boxes to determine this?

    The evidence is in the fact that high-status men inevitably choose partners that are much younger, relatively more fertile, and if offered the choice relatively virginal.

    Moreover, women with lots of partners have higher divorce rates, and thus less sexually desireable. also they’re more likely to cheat.

    http://socialpathology.blogspot.com/2010/09/sexual-partner-divorce-risk.html

    http://anepigone.blogspot.com/2010/07/profile-of-female-philanderer.html

  86. Reuben
    Reuben April 7, 2011 at 10:16 pm |

    Sofia: The evidence is in the fact that high-status men inevitably choose partners that are much younger, relatively more fertile, and if offered the choice relatively virginal. Moreover, women with lots of partners have higher divorce rates, and thus less sexually desireable. also they’re more likely to cheat. http://socialpathology.blogspot.com/2010/09/sexual-partner-divorce-risk.htmlhttp://anepigone.blogspot.com/2010/07/profile-of-female-philanderer.html

    That’s not evidence that this is a biological imperative. That can as easily be explained as a societal bias that informs us that those things are preferable.

  87. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable April 7, 2011 at 10:17 pm |

    Sofia, nothing you posted contradicts Reuben’s point: there’s no way to separate the genetic (or the evolutionary will or whatever) from socially constructed norms.

  88. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable April 7, 2011 at 10:17 pm |

    Oh fuck, sorry. Too slow!

  89. Sofia
    Sofia April 7, 2011 at 10:25 pm |

    it’s unsurprising if they’re mutually informed. social constructed norms can’t just materialize with no basis. the fact that there’s proof for women with higher numbers of sexual partners being more likely to cheat and also have higher divorce rates, avoiding women with a high number of sexual partners makes sense for most men. (and also, what accounts for those behaviours?) especially if on a biological level they are concerned with paternity certainty.

  90. Lyn
    Lyn April 7, 2011 at 10:36 pm |

    Sofia: “social constructed norms can’t just materialize with no basis.”

    Yes, but there’s no hard evidence that the basis is biological/evolutionary. Socially constructed norms can be based on economic pressures, history, the desire of some groups for power over other groups etc. (e.g. advertising has a history of inventing problems which they then fix – economic imperative for the creation of social norms).

  91. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers April 7, 2011 at 10:55 pm |

    Here’s part of my problem with this entire conversation.

    Eric, I acknowledge that there’s certainly a possibility that there is a biological reason influencing men to be more promiscuous than women. But in the face of such *enormous* cultural pressures, attempting to invoke a biological reason — with all the baggage that implies, including the idea that it’s an immutable aspect of human nature (which is *never* actually implied by “there’s a biological tendency”, but people always read it that way) — while ignoring the cultural reasons is like trying to swat a fly while the house is on fire.

    Let’s say that evolution has made men 5% more promiscuous than women. So, on average, a man is 5% more likely to seek sex with a random stranger than a woman is. This wouldn’t mean much. Couple it with enormous cultural pressures that say that women who have sex with multiple partners are “sluts”, which is a term that basically means “unworthy to be human” as most people use it, and you could end up with a situation where men are 500% more likely to seek random strangers for sex than women are. This wouldn’t mean the biological tendency doesn’t exist, but it would suggest that it’s not a large enough factor to be the most interesting part of the question.

    Now, there’s no way whatsoever to tell how much the difference in promiscuity is affected by culture versus biology — it’s an inherently unprovable premise because the experiments you’d need to run are unethical and possibly impossible. But we can *see* that cultures that do less slut shaming produce more promiscuous women. So we can see, clearly, that culture has a *profound* effect. Any biological effect can only be theorized, and analogized, but the cultural effects are real and immediately measurable.

    So yeah, maybe there is a biological difference, but it’s dwarfed by the cultural issues. It’s not really important to worry about the zit on your nose when you have malignant cancer. I think we need to focus on the fact that, regardless of whether or not there is a contribution from biology, it is obvious that when women are free to behave more promiscuously without social retribution, they do… thus indicating that the apparent level of female promiscuity we’re looking at is suppressed significantly below what’s biologically natural. It wouldn’t make sense to try to hypothesize about genetic differences in human intelligence in a population where half the kids have lead poisoning, and it doesn’t make sense to hypothesize about biological differences in natural human promiscuity in a culture where one sex, but not the other, is *heavily* punished for promiscuity.

  92. Christine
    Christine April 7, 2011 at 11:05 pm |

    Agh, stop arguing with Eric about a book he hasn’t even read and dismisses out of hand!

  93. rae
    rae April 7, 2011 at 11:16 pm |

    Alara’s right – and I’d like to add that even if there were a shred of evidence of an increased biological tendency towards promiscuity in human males, it manifestly would not constitute an ethical justification for society allowing men to cheat while punishing women for the same behavior. If anything, it would justify organizing society such that men are disproportionately punished for infidelity (since human beings are capable of deciding whether to give in to biological impulses and greater social disapproval could counteract a slightly higher biological tendency towards the behavior). Or to be less coercive, it would simply justify loosening the cultural demand of monogamy for those who do not feel that is a good fit for their sexual and emotional desires, so that the standards for sexual exclusivity for both partners in the relationship are less stringent and more honest, as in poly relationships. There is certainly no biological necessity that men LIE about the nature of their relationships.

  94. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers April 7, 2011 at 11:17 pm |

    Sofia, cultural norms can come into existence that make NO EVOLUTIONARY SENSE WHATSOEVER.

    Take the raising of human children. Humans are, evolutionarily, more or less programmed to love and care for children, right? And the end goal there, from an evolutionary perspective, is grandchildren. A child who dies without reproducing is wasting the resources invested in that child… and that might entail 16-18 years of resources!

    So we would expect that, where some aberrant humans might exist who would actively kill their own children that they had invested in out of rage or carelessness, you would *never* see a cultural norm develop in which young adults, 16-24, who have not yet reproduced would be routinely murdered by family members for any transgression short of attempting to kill other members of the family. And yet, in cultures that practice “honor killing” against women, so many people think it is not just acceptable but in fact necessary to murder daughters who have a. had sex when not married b. been raped c. been suspected of being raped d. seeking to marry someone the parents do not approve of… that it’s a cultural norm. Not a cultural norm that all people engage in; many of those cultures do have laws on the books against murdering daughters, but generally, the authorities look the other way when it happens.

    So what is the possible biological advantage, *ever*, to investing 16 (or 24) years in raising a girl to adulthood and then killing her before she produces grandchildren? There is none. You can’t even gain back those 16-24 years of your life. Even men have limited fertility, and limited lifespans; a 50 year old man with a 24 year old daughter does not necessarily have time in his life to raise another daughter to 24 years. Unlike female infanticide, where you’ve invested very, very few resources in the baby before killing her, you have ALREADY SPENT the resources on your daughter. You can’t get that investment back. If continuing to protect her and maintain her as a member of your family is too costly now that she will not produce a high-quality grandchild, and you want to reserve your resources for the higher-quality grandchildren or the children who might still produce high quality grandchildren, you can throw her out of your house; then if she happens to have kids without your resources, great, your genes continue! But if you kill her, she cannot have children. Your genes have been wasted. Your investment was wasted. There cannot be a biological, evolutionary advantage to this; it violates all concepts of evolutionary logic.

    But there’s a good cultural reason for it. (Well. Not a “good” reason. There can never be a good reason for murdering your adult child for trying to live her own life. But there’s an *understandable*, if horrifying, reason.) If women who have sex with the wrong men aren’t human, if the culture chooses to restrain female sexuality and natural female promiscuity to *such* an extent that women who have sex with the wrong men, or too many men, have to be declared disgusting vermin who should be murdered, then the existence of a slut in your family taints all the rest of you, reducing your social status and reducing the resources available for your other children. Only by murdering the slut can you demonstrate to the rest of your society that the rest of your family deserves to be considered human beings.

    So. Where does this cultural norm come from? It cannot be biological. It’s anti-biological. It violates all logic of human biology completely. But as a response to cultural pressure, it makes horrifying sense.

    Therefore the existence of a cultural norm DOES NOT MEAN that there’s a biological basis for that norm. Some norms exist that violate human biology completely.

  95. Li
    Li April 7, 2011 at 11:19 pm |

    “Sorry, but any evolutionary biologist would tell you that at the evolutionary level, passing one’s genes to the next generation is the only thing that matters.”

    And any competent evolutionary biologist would tell you that your genes are overwhelmingly the same as your relatives, and that you can successfully pass on your own genes by ensuring the survival of others in your kin group. This is, in fact, the entire evolutionary basis for sociality, and the procreation process employed by almost every single social animal.

    Humans are not individual genetic agents and basing your theory on the idea that our procreative drive requires us to personally pass on every tiny variation within our genetic code is frankly bunkum.

  96. Azalea
    Azalea April 7, 2011 at 11:53 pm |

    Unless I was intentionally seeking to adopt or parent a child that was not biologically mine, I wouldn’t want to be in a situation where I may be raising a child that wasn’t biologically my own. What is the rationale behind people getitng upset when babies are switched at birth if the children are being taken care of? On some level that biological connection matters, not just for women but men as well. So it would make sense that men would be more attracted to monogamous women for the purposes of long term relationships that lead to reproduction. I quite frankly can’t think of too many instances where someone takes an action in an effort to produce biological children and then not care if those efforts ended with them raising children they may or may not be the biological children they created. Like being implanted with the wrong egg or being told you’re the father of a child by someone who does not know the paternity of said child.

  97. Female infidelity: It’s different from the guys « hahayourefunny

    […] saw this article in response to this wanker’s sexist bs, and it’s awesome – per usual at feministe: And as an actual woman myself, I […]

  98. Eric
    Eric April 8, 2011 at 12:12 am |

    I will be the first to acknowledge that it is difficult to separate biological influences from cultural influences. But when you see the same behavior even across different species in the animal kingdom, then I think one has to conclude that biology is playing a substantial role. The fact that males tend to be more promiscuous than females has been observed in almost every species ever studied. In particular, this phenomena has been documented extensively among fruit flies. Is that supposed to be cultural? These poor female fruit flies would love to copulate with more male flies, but they are worried about being slut shamed, so they limit themselves to a lesser number of partners? This same phenomena is true in vertebrates, including our closest mammalian cousins. Males are more promiscuous and less choosy about their sexual partners, and females are less promiscuous and more choosy about their sexual partners. Why is it always male birds that have the bright colors? Because the females are choosier about mates. Females don’t need bright colors to attract males, because the males will mate with just about any willing female bird. It just seems crazy to suggest that a phenomena that is almost universal in the animal kingdom is somehow a product of culture when it occurs among humans. Sure, culture probably plays a role as well, but I think the overwhelming preponderance of the evidence suggests that it’s primarily biology.

  99. Eric
    Eric April 8, 2011 at 12:16 am |

    Christine:
    Agh, stop arguing with Eric about a book he hasn’t even read and dismisses out of hand!

    Actually, I thought I made some logical counterarguments against it. Once again, if human females were highly promiscuous, the biological evidence suggests that human males should have much larger testicles. We don’t. I have not read a convincing counterargument to that statement. Supposedly the book claims that human male penises are designed for sperm competition, but no one has ever found a consistent relationship between penis shape/size and female promiscuity, whereas the relationship between testicle size is overwhelming. If someone can explain that to me, I’ll consider the theory further, but otherwise I’ll remain skeptical.

  100. Li
    Li April 8, 2011 at 12:18 am |

    “In particular, this phenomena has been documented extensively among fruit flies.”

    Ok, just so you know: drawing conclusions about human behaviour based on studies of fruit flies means that you fail evolutionary biology forever.

  101. Eric
    Eric April 8, 2011 at 12:20 am |

    Lyn:
    Do you really think the male praying mantis LETS the female bite its head off?I can’t believe you’ve attributed the male praying mantis with control in this situation…not the best way to support your argument.

    Actually, in many cases, they don’t just let the female bite their head off, they put their head into the female’s mouth in order to make it very easy to bite their head off. Among the species that exhibit this behavior, most males never encounter a female during their lifetimes. Since it is extraordinarily unlikely that a male will encounter a receptive female twice in his lifetime, it is a winning evolutionary strategy to sacrifice himself to make sure his offspring survive.

  102. Eric
    Eric April 8, 2011 at 12:23 am |

    AtheistChick:
    And as far as gender differences go… Recently I attended a talk by a prominent neuroscientist who basically stated that we can’t know what’s innate/biological and what’s socialized because we simply cannot separate the two. However, research does suggest that most gender differences are socialized rather than biological. And the differences that are biological tend to be negligible in size and only appear later in life after being exaggerated by socialization. Sorry this is off-topic, but I felt I needed to respond to a comment upthread about how women and men are just different. They are in some ways, but I put my money on socialization.

    If you can point me to some links to support the claim that “research does suggest that most gender differences are socialized rather than biological,” I would be very interested to see that. If anything, most of the research I have read suggests the opposite is true. I’m not saying that you’re wrong; I’m just very curious to see the warrant for that claim.

  103. Internet Musikschule | Interfreebies
    Internet Musikschule | Interfreebies April 8, 2011 at 12:25 am |

    […] Female infidelity: “It's different” — Feministe […]

  104. Kristen J.'s Husband
    Kristen J.'s Husband April 8, 2011 at 1:20 am |

    All these years I thought was in control of where I voluntarily inserted my penis. I had no notion that it detaches from the rest of my body to have drunken sex with people I’m indifferent to as part of some strange biologically determined ritual.

  105. Li
    Li April 8, 2011 at 2:19 am |

    Kristen J.’s Husband:
    All these years I thought was in control of where I voluntarily inserted my penis.I had no notion that it detaches from the rest of my body to have drunken sex with people I’m indifferent to as part of some strange biologically determined ritual.

    Kinda like this?

  106. Natalia
    Natalia April 8, 2011 at 4:45 am |

    Funnily enough, evopsych is so selective, isn’t it? I mean, there’s evidence to suggest that the modern toilet is pretty bad for us when it comes to pooping. And yet most of the fiercest defenders of evopsych aren’t out there encouraging us all to go out and pop a squat in the woods, as nature intended. Funny how that works. Could it be because we’re all still socialized in certain ways?

    (And for the record – this whole pooping thing is the reason why those old public toilets in China and the former USSR are nothing to fear, ya’ll)

    I also don’t get the “abandonment” argument at all. Like, “a man can abandon a woman and go have kids with another woman if he’s being cheated on!” Yeah. So? In most of these pre-civilization societies that are being used as the blueprint here, the nuclear family was not the norm (Sheezlebub pointed it out, but it was glossed over). A woman past her child-bearing years who didn’t have a man beside her still had plenty to do (such as helping raise babies). And people certainly continued having sex even while infertile. Hell, my body can’t get any more pregnant than it already is – but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to have sex.

    As for cheating – plenty of reasons why people do it. The few times that I’ve done it, my main motivation was revenge for something the guy had done wrong. “Oh, you think you can treat me this way? Well, I’ll show you! And make sure to enjoy it!” I did enjoy myself, even though it I wasn’t being terribly mature at the time.

  107. David Shor
    David Shor April 8, 2011 at 5:05 am |

    I think it’s important to acknowledge what the current sexual network looks like: Men, on average, have more sexual partners than women do. But this masks something important: There is a lot more variance in the number of sexual partners for Men than there is for women. Simply put, there is a relatively small number of men who sleep with a large number of women, while most men don’t really get much at all. Consequentially, you have a situation where most women have not slept with many men, but the men they have slept with tend to have slept with a disproportionately high amount of women. [In a technical sense, sexual networks show a high degree of preferential attachment, nodes with more connections are more likely to get more connections]

    The same phenomena exists on the female side, but it’s of a much smaller magnitude. This says that women seem to be a lot more comfortable sleeping with guys they know are sleeping around than men are, and this is relatively consistent with spending any time in a freshman dorm. That could be because of patriarchy or slut-shaming or biology or whatever, but it’s there.

    Faced with that network, men have a lot of anxiety about these “alpha” men stealing their girls and leaving them fools. This is often the primary emotional reaction Men have to cheating.

    Obviously, women have to worry about prettier younger girls taking their men too. But if you hold age constant, this is simply a smaller problem then what Men face, and the asymmetry is there. So it’s perfectly natural for men to have stronger emotional reactions and be less forgiving of cheating than women.

  108. Nahida
    Nahida April 8, 2011 at 5:57 am |

    Privilege stops at nothing!

  109. heyjudi
    heyjudi April 8, 2011 at 7:23 am |

    Oh man, I am so glad you wrote about this as it harkens back to a blogpost I wrote a few years ago when S.C. Governor Sanford went AWOL so he could go to Argentina to spend time with his mistress. David Brooks and Gail Collins wrote a piece about it in the New York Times (Opinionator), describing the two types of adultery and which is worse: adultery for sex or adultery for love. Brooks’ reasoning made me sick.

    Anyway, I’m glad you wrote this piece because in my post I pointed out the hypocrisy of labeling one type of adultery as worse than the other and pointed out if/where women’s level of “sin” was ranked in either type. Now that I have “this guy’s” critical analysis (ha ha ha haaaa!) on the situation I understand everything much more clearly.

    Here’s my post about the “two types of adultery”, including a link to the NYT piece:
    http://beinglumina.blogspot.com/2009/08/choose-one-adulterer-1-or-adulterer-2.html

  110. norbizness
    norbizness April 8, 2011 at 7:46 am |

    (jingles keys)

  111. Rach
    Rach April 8, 2011 at 8:08 am |

    Personal Failure: It might actually be true that a woman cheating is more likely to kill a relationship than a man cheating, but the patriarchy causes that.a. The patriarchy tells us that women have sex for love (except for BIGGIANTSLUTS) while men just have sex. Therefore, a woman cheating means that she is in love with another man or is a BIGGIANTSLUT, and that would certainly be a (monogamous) relationship killer.

    This. Yes.

    If you’re female, on the other hand, the benefit of having a one-night stand when you’re in a relationship is much smaller. Unless your husband is infertile, having a fling with another guy will not increase the number of babies that you can have over the course of your lifetime. Thus, it isn’t advantageous to cheat on your husband unless you cheat on him with a man with clearly superior genes. Thus, women tend to me much more selective than men when choosing partners for adultery.

    This would make perfect sense if the only reason I ever wanted to have sex was because of my biological instinct to procreate. However, as a functioning, thinking interactive member of society, there are myriad social and cultural factors woven into my biological desires which means, SHOCKING!, there are myriad reasons I might want to have sex, including extramarital sex.

    Further the bit about forgiveness makes no sense in the present day and age when people make use of various birth control methods, so that no one is stealing resources from anyone. I think it all goes back to male ego and / or the double standard that “if my wife had sex with another man, it must mean she’s in love with him.”

  112. Kristen J.'s Husband
    Kristen J.'s Husband April 8, 2011 at 8:19 am |

    I wonder how many of my irritating behaviors I can blame on evo psych:

    -failure to place socks in hamper – check
    -desire to practice kendo in the house – check
    -disinclination to pick up dog poop in the backyard – check
    -love of bad puns – Woohoo. I smell a dissertation thesis!

  113. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable April 8, 2011 at 8:30 am |

    Rach: However, as a functioning, thinking interactive member of society, there are myriad social and cultural factors woven into my biological desires which means, SHOCKING!, there are myriad reasons I might want to have sex, including extramarital sex.

    This. True story: procreation? Not one of my goals.

    …I AM AN ABOMINATION OF NATURE!

    No seriously though, sometimes fucking is fun.

    @Natalia, I just learned that! Apparently people recommend you either squat over a toilet (I imagine there’s a splash), or you can get a foot stool for the potty and then angle your upper body down a bit to mimic squatting position. Given that these aren’t terribly common, I think you make a very valid point, haha.

  114. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable April 8, 2011 at 8:32 am |

    Jill, you’re missing the very important side conversation about pooping.

  115. Mandolin
    Mandolin April 8, 2011 at 8:37 am |

    Eh. Mostly it looked to me like just one or two people coming in to be like “but evopsych is awesome” and lots of rebuttals? Plus some worries about cisnormative language.

    The post was funny. Haha.

  116. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub April 8, 2011 at 8:49 am |

    @Sofia: The evidence is in the fact that high-status men inevitably choose partners that are much younger, relatively more fertile, and if offered the choice relatively virginal.

    Oy with the confirmation bias. That’s what’s valued in this society, men have the power in this society, and so they will go for that. Oddly enough, there are women who would choose younger partners as well if they could (and now, with the changing times, are doing so). Also, while many supposedly “high-status” men may prefer younger women, many of them are left single due to their pickiness. (Also–it flies in the face of evo-psych–you can’t decide that men look for physical signs of fertility and that women look for “high status” keeping men in the stone age and women in the 21st century. If we all are slaves to this evo-psych, then women will prefer young, virile, strong men who will be able to reproduce and protect her.)

    @Eric: But you are going to have to convince me with empirical evidence.

    Eric, the studies and book that was brought up to you did present empirical evidence, but you dismissed it out of hand. You dismissed the book without having even read it. It’s a bit rich–not to mention arrogant and hypocritical–of you to lecture us about our biases and then tell us we must prove to you that your biases are getting in the way. You’re doing a very long-winded version of sticking your fingers in your ears and yelling “LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU.”

    Back to the woman in the savannah example. In those societies, it is not just the woman’s partner who helps to raise and care for her children–it’s the entire group. You claim you never said they were based on the nuclear family, yet your assumption comes right through when you talk about her partner “abandoning” her and her child and going on about the man “taking care” of the child. That’s a nuclear family paradigm, but that’s not reality for many societies. Again, you’re showcasing your confirmation bias here. You may want to check that before you start lecturing us on logic, objectivity, or the scientific method. :)

    Why is it always male birds that have the bright colors? Because the females are choosier about mates.

    Why are human women under such pressure to be attractive, then? You claim that men aren’t choosy (YET other evo-psychs insist men are visually stimulated and women aren’t) yet women are judged quite harshly if we don’t fit the conventions of what is considered attractive.

    In particular, this phenomena has been documented extensively among fruit flies.

    Wait a second–didn’t you tell me that examples of preying mantis behavior and female insects eating their own young weren’t as compelling because they aren’t mammals and aren’t primates? Holy moving goalposts. Again, try to apply some consistency to your arguments–otherwise, your credibility will be further weakened. Just trying to be helpful, here. :)

    @Natalia–(And for the record – this whole pooping thing is the reason why those old public toilets in China and the former USSR are nothing to fear, ya’ll)

    They had those in many places in Japan, as well. The first place I lived in there had one, and I didn’t mind it all. Except if I had had a few drinks. Then it was, um, tricky because I was swaying.

  117. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub April 8, 2011 at 8:57 am |

    Ok, but the argument that this is not because of social imperatives but rather because of evolutionary psychology IS controversial because, as we’ve been saying, of the construction of virginity and sluttiness. Of course women are more discerning about the men they sleep with – they are more likely to be JUDGED for their choices.

    THIS. And let’s not forget the safety issues. Things can and have gotten very ugly very quickly–a guy can decide he wants to do something she isn’t comfortable with and force the issue, and then she’s blamed for being so careless and doing something so “dangerous” and “stupid.”

    It’s a bit like planting snipers outside to shoot at people who are under 5 feet, and then insist that people who are under 5 feet tall prefer not to go outside and it’s all magically because of teh biology.

  118. Tori
    Tori April 8, 2011 at 9:04 am |

    … you can get a foot stool for the potty and then angle your upper body down a bit to mimic squatting position.

    Poo stools (Kristen J.’s husband, what was that you were saying about puns?) are awesome. That is all.

  119. Kathleen
    Kathleen April 8, 2011 at 9:28 am |

    David Shor — “men, on average, have more sexual partners than women do”

    ha ha ha ha ha ha ah hah aha ha hahah ha ha ha ha

    math is hard.

  120. Quizzical mama
    Quizzical mama April 8, 2011 at 9:37 am |

    Thank you for your sharp post, debunking an article that rehashes gender stereotypes, somewhat along the lines of what I write about here: http://www.lovesexfamily.com/2011/03/how-sex-affects-womens-body-image.html

  121. AtheistChick
    AtheistChick April 8, 2011 at 10:03 am |

    @ Eric, I don’t remember the name of the study, but look up Lise Eliot. I believe that’s the correct spelling of her name. She’s a neuroscientist person who has spent much of her career studying so-called “innate” differences between the sexes. Most of her research focuses on cognitive and physiological brain differences, but I am betting searching for her work would lead to finding others’ whose work is similar.

  122. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers April 8, 2011 at 10:03 am |

    Eric:
    The fact that males tend to be more promiscuous than females has been observed in almost every species ever studied.

    Bonobo females are pretty damn slutty. Just sayin’.

    Again, while it’s *possible* that there’s a biological component to it — we do descend from a very, very long line of entities where it was more to male advantage to have multiple sexual partners — humans use sex for many reasons other than procreation, and we are obviously designed to do so. While mouse females simply will not engage in sexual activity unless they are in estrus, primate females (particularly chimps and bonobos) will display signs of estrus and be much more eager to have sex while in estrus, but are open to the possibility of sex much of the time. Human females take it a step further — we do *not* display fertility in any way a human man, or a different human female, or in fact the female herself, can reliably detect. There’s some evidence that we’re hornier when we’re ovulating, but we’re willing to have sex at *any* point in our cycle and also after we have become infertile. (Oh, and also, human women become infertile with age! Primates don’t go through menopause. Just us. But it doesn’t stop us from having and liking sex.) So analogizing us to *any* animal that has sex purely for procreation isn’t going to work. (Oh… and explain female multiple orgasms from clitoral stimulation. Women are capable of getting extreme sexual enjoyment out of *totally non-reproductive* activities and in fact most women seem to either prefer such activities, or at least need them in parallel with potentially reproductive activities… only 30% of women can orgasm from penile-vaginal sex alone.)

    Fact is, while animal models are great and human beings are definitely animals, we are really, really different animals. Quite aside from the confounds that our ability to predict our own death and remember the past with high accuracy give us, and the confounds of our ability to communicate our experiences to other humans, just our basic, animal, sexual nature is *different* from the vast majority of animals. Even other mammals. Even other primates!

    So sure, maybe there’s a biological reason why men tend to be more promiscuous. But there isn’t a biological reason why men kill women who cheat on them. Biologically that makes no sense. Killing the guy she’s cheating *with*, sure, but killing *her?* Can’t knock her up if she’s dead. Actually, there isn’t even a good biological reason for men to reject a woman because she has previously had sex with other males, because THERE IS NO BIOLOGICAL REASON a man has to be “providing” for the child of a woman he sleeps with. Female kin networks have traditionally been much more valuable to women in terms of the work of raising a baby, and in hunter/gatherer cultures, women traditionally bring in the bulk of the food, *and* the food brought in by men is shared by the entire tribe. Even if a woman needed the input of a man who’s related to her child, specifically, if the society is matrilocal (people live with their mother’s kin, not their father’s kin), she’ll have brothers, uncles and cousins to rely on.

    Also, humans don’t have strong taboos against doing stuff that humans don’t want to do. We don’t have to punish people horribly for eating feces. Most of us are revolted by the idea; we don’t feel the need to stone people to death if we discover they eat feces. We *mock* people who want to have sex with animals, but we don’t kill them, we don’t rape them, we don’t cut them off from normal society, we don’t force them into prostitution… in most cultures they won’t even be punished severely. The fact that we have to slut-shame women out of being promiscuous, and the fact that they start being more promiscuous as soon as the slut-shaming pressure lets up even slightly, *strongly* indicates that human women are very, very naturally inclined to promiscuity — maybe not *as* inclined as men, but damn, we show every sign of being biologically inclined to be total hos the moment society lets us get away with it.

    Azalea:
    So it would make sense that men would be more attracted to monogamous women for the purposes of long term relationships that lead to reproduction. I quite frankly can’t think of too many instances where someone takes an action in an effort to produce biological children and then not care if those efforts ended with them raising children they may or may not be the biological children they created.

    No, it doesn’t. Or rather, that’s one model that makes sense, but there are others.

    Model 1: Matrilineal, matrilocal tribes. Women fuck who they want. They live in their mother’s tribe. Men who like them and want sex with them come move in with them. Those men may develop affection for the women’s children regardless if the children are theirs or not for the same reason that my brother has great affection for the children of my husband, who are stepchildren I am raising but have no genetic relation to me or my brother. Or, they may not, but it doesn’t really matter because the role of the men is to provide protection and some food to the entire tribe, as a whole. Women gather food, or perform agriculture and grow it, and prepare it, for all; any given woman will have a preference for her own kid if there’s a conflict between her kid and another, but generally speaking, everyone is affectionate toward all the kids because they’re all closely related. Brothers who haven’t wandered off to be with a woman in another tribe remain with their mother’s tribe, protecting and assisting their sisters, and their stuff is inherited by nieces and nephews. Men don’t really care so much if the kids are *theirs* because there is nothing at stake; they provide for the tribe and they play with the kids of the women they love and they leave their possessions to their sister’s kids.

    Model 2: Polyandry. Two or three men who are either closely related, or who need to have a close emotional bond with each other (say, they are partners in battle, or they work a farm together), have one wife. The wife’s children are either yours, or they are your brother’s (and if he’s not genetically your brother, well, your survival kind of depends on treating him as if he *is* your brother). Either way, you feed, provide and protect those children because it’s your genes regardless (and if it’s not your genes, it’s still tapping into the part of your brain that developed to protect your genes.)

    Model 3: Polyamorous group marriage. A number of men are married to a number of women. As a group. All of the children of the group belong to women that the men love, so even if none of the children are actually genetically related to a specific man, his affection for their mother translates into affection for the child. All of the men and women work together to protect, provide and care for all of the children. Women have a preference for their own children but try not to demonstrate it too strongly because doing so will piss off their wives, and pissing off their fellow wives will end up breaking up the group marriage.

    As for men taking actions that result in children, without them caring if they raise their children or not: sperm banks. Men donate sperm *solely* for the purpose of impregnating total strangers they will never meet (ok, actually they do it for money, but I bet you’d get some men donating sperm if they couldn’t be paid for it.) The difference between masturbating at home in your comfortable bed and masturbating into a cup in a stall at a sperm bank is that the second is a hell of a lot more embarrassing and uncomfortable for most men, yet they do it anyway, knowing that the goal of it is for women they don’t know to end up pregnant with their kids.

    Or, from the other perspective: men who marry women who are custodial mothers of very young children. They are going to be the de facto father of a child who isn’t theirs, who they *know* isn’t theirs, who is the child of a woman they are sleeping with. And they’re okay with that.

    The truth is, men don’t have to be genetically related to a child to love the child. It is generally enough for the man to love the mother. (The same is true in reverse. I love all my kids, including the two I didn’t give birth to.) The male preference for monogamous women exists in inverse relationship to a. the status of women in the society and b. the ability of women in the society to economically contribute to their own survival. When women are forced to be financial parasites because they are not permitted to work outside the home, men do have a strong interest in not raising anyone else’s kid unless they know they’re doing it, but if women are pulling their own weight financially and live in a society where men are not taught that they own women an have the right to control them, men end up being a lot more comfortable with raising someone else’s kid.

    Of course, it is helpful for the man to *know* it is not his kid, psychologically. But given that men who know a certain child is not theirs can love that child anyway, I don’t see how it biologically follows that men would prefer monogamous virgins, unless the culture has told them to expect that.

  123. Erica
    Erica April 8, 2011 at 10:19 am |

    Dear Jill,

    I thought your post was funny and I like it when you post cat pictures. Here are some more cat pictures (memes, actually–very short, not several paragraphs long) if they will make you happy.

  124. Kristen J.'s Husband
    Kristen J.'s Husband April 8, 2011 at 10:31 am |

    Tori: Poo stools (Kristen J.’s husband, what was that you were saying about puns?) are awesome. That is all.

    Evolution!!!

  125. Athenia
    Athenia April 8, 2011 at 10:42 am |

    “That’s one of the reasons there’s often a better chance that a couple will stay together and try to work things out when it’s the man who’s doing the cheating, rather than the woman. ”

    Translation: The emotional work of a relationship solely depends on the woman and not the man.

  126. Athenia
    Athenia April 8, 2011 at 10:43 am |

    “That’s one of the reasons there’s often a better chance that a couple will stay together and try to work things out when it’s the man who’s doing the cheating, rather than the woman. ”

    Translation: The emotional work of a relationship solely depends on the woman and not the man.

    Geez, I wonder what happens when they’re both women?!?!

  127. David Shor
    David Shor April 8, 2011 at 11:55 am |

    “David Shor — “men, on average, have more sexual partners than women do”

    ha ha ha ha ha ha ah hah aha ha hahah ha ha ha ha

    math is hard.”

    Imagine you have a situation where you have 10 girls and 5 guys. 1 guy has sex with all 10 women, the others don’t have sex with anyone. The average number of partners among men is 5, the median is 0. The average number of partners among woman is 1, and the median is 1. Math is hard!

    There’s been a lot of research on sexual networks in the last decade, and a primary finding has been that there are a couple of guys who have a disproportionate amount of sex with large number of non-promiscuous women.

    This kind of thing is hard to estimate due to under and over-reporting, but the CDC has done some pretty good work, estimating that the median number of female sexual partners for men aged 25-44 is 6.7, while about 30% of men have had more then 15 female sexual partners. The median number for Women is 3.8, with 11% of women having had more then 15 male partners.

    To put it another way: Sexual inequality is a much bigger deal amongst guys, numerically, than it is amongst girls. And this produces a lot more anxiety amongst men then I think most women are aware of. It explains a lot of otherwise hard to parse male behavior.

  128. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable April 8, 2011 at 12:09 pm |

    David Shor: The average number of partners among men is 5, the median is 0.

    Um. (10 + 0 + 0 + 0 + 0)/5 = 2.

  129. Kathleen
    Kathleen April 8, 2011 at 12:52 pm |

    Pretty Amiable — now you made me laugh, too.

    David Shor — done! Now, you imagine a situation where you have 10 girls and, also, um, 10 guys.

    Or is there a field of sad-boy demography the existence of which I have hitherto been unaware, in which guys only count for one half of a person? Then, yeah, your math works. And explains some otherwise truly difficult “hard to parse” outcomes.

    If you want to read about actual demographic research: check eet out:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/12/weekinreview/12kolata.html

  130. Kathleen
    Kathleen April 8, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  131. Azeylea M.
    Azeylea M. April 8, 2011 at 12:59 pm |

    PrettyAmiable: median

    Wouldn’t that be the mean?

  132. Debbie
    Debbie April 8, 2011 at 1:01 pm |

    Jill your post was very funny! What kills me is how Evo Psych is used to justify bad behavior. Come on! Who cares how many primates are promiscuous, have harems, are patriarichal ect. Lets use the big brains that evolution gave us and, I don’t know, maybe take responsibilty for our behaviour instead of saying the virgin/whore meme is ok because it is based on teh Biology!
    And yes I actually have seen peoplew excuse male cheating and tarnish women who cheat based on evo psych

  133. Kathleen
    Kathleen April 8, 2011 at 1:08 pm |

    Sorry, I can’t get over David Shor’s “illustration”. Imagine a situation in which there are twice as many women as men, and most of the men have no sex at all, ever, with anyone but ONE GUY HAS SEX WITH ALL THE LADIES.

    This is offered in perfect po-faced seriousness as a miniature of how the world actually works, although it is on its face ridiculous. But it is a perfect mental snapshot of imaginary PUA demography and sociology.

  134. Lu
    Lu April 8, 2011 at 1:20 pm |

    I know, Kathleen. I was like, you’re making up numbers to illustrate how numbers work to prove a principle in real life? Whhaa? What if there are 5 women and 10 men, and one woman has sex with all the men? She has 10 partners and the others have none. The mean number of partners for the women is 2. The mean and median number of partners for the men is 1. What have you proved, except arithmetical properties? (Granted, I might be missing the point, but the whole endeavor seemed wacky to me.)

  135. Kathleen
    Kathleen April 8, 2011 at 1:24 pm |

    It is pretty awesome, Lu. Imagine the possibilities: a situation in which there are 11 sexy unicorns and 4 hermit crabs and one of the hermit crabs seduces 9 out of 11 unicorns, except the asexual one and the snobby one. ERGO 3 out of 4 hermit crabs act out in hard to parse ways for which only the heartless would blame them!

    It’s just math!

  136. Kate
    Kate April 8, 2011 at 1:30 pm |

    Kathleen: It is pretty awesome, Lu. Imagine the possibilities: a situation in which there are 11 sexy unicorns and 4 hermit crabs and one of the hermit crabs seduces 9 out of 11 unicorns, except the asexual one and the snobby one. ERGO 3 out of 4 hermit crabs act out in hard to parse ways for which only the heartless would blame them!It’s just math!

    I cackled in my office. True story.

  137. Florence
    Florence April 8, 2011 at 1:44 pm |

    Kathleen: It is pretty awesome, Lu. Imagine the possibilities: a situation in which there are 11 sexy unicorns and 4 hermit crabs and one of the hermit crabs seduces 9 out of 11 unicorns, except the asexual one and the snobby one. ERGO 3 out of 4 hermit crabs act out in hard to parse ways for which only the heartless would blame them!

    It’s just math!

    Just sprayed my cubicle with water, betraying my secret internet surfing habit. Thanks.

  138. Eric
    Eric April 8, 2011 at 2:07 pm |

    Sheelzebub:
    @Eric: But you are going to have to convince me with empirical evidence.

    Eric, the studies and book that was brought up to you did present empirical evidence, but you dismissed it out of hand.You dismissed the book without having even read it.It’s a bit rich–not to mention arrogant and hypocritical–of you to lecture us about our biases and then tell us we must prove to you that your biases are getting in the way.You’re doing a very long-winded version of sticking your fingers in your ears and yelling “LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU.”

    Back to the woman in the savannah example.In those societies, it is not just the woman’s partner who helps to raise and care for her children–it’s the entire group.You claim you never said they were based on the nuclear family, yet your assumption comes right through when you talk about her partner “abandoning” her and her child and going on about the man “taking care” of the child.That’s a nuclear family paradigm, but that’s not reality for many societies.Again, you’re showcasing your confirmation bias here. You may want to check that before you start lecturing us on logic, objectivity, or the scientific method. :)

    Why is it always male birds that have the bright colors? Because the females are choosier about mates.

    Why are human women under such pressure to be attractive, then?You claim that men aren’t choosy (YET other evo-psychs insist men are visually stimulated and women aren’t) yet women are judged quite harshly if we don’t fit the conventions of what is considered attractive.

    In particular, this phenomena has been documented extensively among fruit flies.

    Wait a second–didn’t you tell me that examples of preying mantis behavior and female insects eating their own young weren’t as compelling because they aren’t mammals and aren’t primates?Holy moving goalposts.Again, try to apply some consistency to your arguments–otherwise, your credibility will be further weakened.Just trying to be helpful, here. :)

    I’m getting a little sick of this thread, but I’ll bite:

    First, I pointed out that if the theory in Sex at Dawn were true, you would expect that human males would have much larger testicles than they do. Nobody has offered a convincing counterargument to that. Second, every single book review that I have been able to find in the scientific literature says that Christopher Ryan is an idiot who doesn’t understand even the basics about evolutionary biology or primatology. If that’s your idea of “dismissing it out of hand,” then I apologize, but I think those are some fairly compelling reasons to be unconvinced. I’m willing to listen to counterarguments, but just saying, “ZOMG! YOU DISMISSED SEX AT DAWN OUT OF HAND!” is not a compelling counterargument.

    And once again, you are the one who keeps talking about nuclear families. All I said was that while communal child rearing was (and still is) an important part of human society, children typically receive greater care and attention from their parents than from other members of the community. Is that really such a shocking and controversial claim to make?

    And thank you for taking my comment about fruit flies out of context. Here is the part that you didn’t quote: “The fact that males tend to be more promiscuous than females has been observed in almost every species ever studied… This same phenomena is true in vertebrates, including our closest mammalian cousins.” If this were only true in fruit flies, then I would not find it to be compelling evidence that the same is true in humans. But when you see the same behavior in fruit flies and monkeys and everything in between, that suggests that there is a biological basis.

    Admittedly, you raise a good point about the fact that among humans, there is typically more emphasis placed on women’s appearance than men’s appearance. To my knowledge, we are the only case where this is true in the entire animal kingdom. The standard explanation is that it is the result of monogamy (rare in the animal kingdom) and menopause (otherwise non-existent in the animal kingdom). If you are male and you mate for life with a post-menopausal woman, you are dead in terms of evolution. (Your genes will never be passed to the next generation, so you are effectively dead as far as natural selection is concerned.) And if you mate for life with a young, fertile woman, you have more opportunities to have babies than if you marry an older woman who is nearing menopause. Thus, men evolved a strong preference for “attractive” women (i.e. women who show signs of youth and fertility).

    But even among humans, you usually only see male selectivity when it comes to picking long-term partners. My experience is that most men are much less picky than women when it comes to choosing partners for a one-night stand, and there are studies to confirm this hypothesis.

    And while human males are definitely selective when choosing long-term partners, there is at least some evidence that they still tend to be less picky than females. It is interesting to note that men propose marriage in virtually every culture that has ever been studied. (I have only heard of one culture where that was not the case.) Some have taken this to be evidence of the idea that women are the ones who make the final decisions in long-term partnerships even among humans. In other words, we are just like other species where males have to woo and impress females until she agrees to mate with him. *Shrugs* I’m not completely persuaded by this, but it is an interesting idea.

    *Tries my hardest to avoid responding any further to this thread*

  139. Lara Emily Foley
    Lara Emily Foley April 8, 2011 at 2:19 pm |

    Kathleen:
    It is pretty awesome, Lu.Imagine the possibilities:a situation in which there are 11 sexy unicorns and 4 hermit crabs and one of the hermit crabs seduces 9 out of 11 unicorns, except the asexual one and the snobby one.ERGO 3 out of 4 hermit crabs act out in hard to parse ways for which only the heartless would blame them!

    It’s just math!

    Highlight of the thread right here!

    WTG! :D

  140. Lara Emily Foley
    Lara Emily Foley April 8, 2011 at 2:29 pm |

    Eric
    It is interesting to note that men propose marriage in virtually every culture that has ever been studied. (I have only heard of one culture where that was not the case.) Some have taken this to be evidence of the idea that women are the ones who make the final decisions in long-term partnerships even among humans. In other words, we are just like other species where males have to woo and impress females until she agrees to mate with him. *Shrugs* I’m not completely persuaded by this, but it is an interesting idea.

    *Tries my hardest to avoid responding any further to this thread*

    I’m sure marriage proposal is purely evolutionary and has nothing to do with patriarchal society that devalues women who have the “audacity” to propose to men (not to mention men who are the proposed instead of the proposer are also socially frowned upon). Hell for a long time the woman didn’t really get to say no, a suitor would ask her father and her father would give his blessing, the woman’s wishes be damned. Shit that still happens to this day.

  141. zuzu
    zuzu April 8, 2011 at 2:32 pm |

    You go to snark with the douchebags you have, not with the douchebags you wish you had.

    And then the douchebags you wish you didn’t have show up in comments!

    On a more serious note: Now that I’m in academia, I get to go to a lot of stuff I didn’t have time for in private practice. One was a presentation by the author of this paper, which is a study of adultery laws and how same-sex marriage fits in to the whole adultery picture. Back in the day, in England at least and at least in some American jurisdictions, “adultery” only happened when a married woman had an affair with a man not her husband.* Because it “adulterated” the bloodline, or risked “adulterating” the bloodline if she got pregnant.

    Which makes sense when you realize that marriage, at least as originally conceived, is really all about stuff, and who gets it, and the children of a married women are presumed to be those of her husband. A married man could fool around with anyone other than a married woman, and it wasn’t adultery. Might be fornication, but not adultery.

    So, yeah, there’s a pretty strong cultural/social component to the double standard. Which doesn’t mean it’s not bullshit.

    * IIRC, he said that at least one state — I think New Hampshire, where SSM is legal — has held that there can be no adultery in a same-sex marriage because there has to be danger of pregnancy, so you can’t sue for divorce on those grounds.

  142. zuzu
    zuzu April 8, 2011 at 2:34 pm |

    To clarify: no adultery if the people involved in the affair are of the same gender. Which may also mean that there’s no adultery if a person in a hetero married relationship has an affair with a same-sex partner.

  143. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub April 8, 2011 at 2:36 pm |

    Second, every single book review that I have been able to find in the scientific literature says that Christopher Ryan is an idiot who doesn’t understand even the basics about evolutionary biology or primatology.

    Eric, very well-regarded scientists, biologists, and psychologists have pointed out–and continue to point out–evo psych adherents tendency towards confirmation bias, just-so thinking, and woeful tendency to take a behavior that is socially enforced and decide it is biological. Yet we are supposed to take this circular thinking as logic and treat it with respect while you’re allowed to dismiss studies that point out that men are incredibly choosy even when it comes to casual sex partners because it doesn’t jibe with your thinking or your anecdotal experience.

    Again, you didn’t bring up the term nuclear family but your assumption was all over your assertion there. I mean, since we both agree that in most societies things such as child-rearing, food acquisition, and other necessary survival tasks are done by everyone for the benefit of everyone, it’s a bit silly to then assert that a hypothetical woman in the savannah would be in dire straits if her mate left her. As has been pointed out by others in this thread, this is more of a cultural construct that you’re adopting to interpret research findings. But those findings demonstrate a behavior (men’s rejection of unfaithful female partners) not the reasons why. You’re placing your own cultural biases onto this and deciding they are the reason why.

    Steven Cornell and Tom Tregenza pointed out that female promiscuity is also quite common throughout the animal kingdom (contrary to popular opinion). (Also, Eric, your fruit fly assertion doesn’t hold water–female fruit flies are actually quite promiscuous. As are females of most species.)

  144. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl April 8, 2011 at 2:39 pm |

    Why is it always male birds that have the bright colors? Because the females are choosier about mates. Females don’t need bright colors to attract males, because the males will mate with just about any willing female bird.

    Um, so, no. Female birds are more drab for about the same reasons that grown human males wear ghillie suits. And if grown human males are willing to wear ghillie suits, then it’s hard to argue biological selection for human mates, no?

  145. Rare Vos
    Rare Vos April 8, 2011 at 2:55 pm |

    “I’d like to personally congratulate Eric for impartially defending the truth and being a trooper throughout this whole thread.”

    I’d like to personally congratulate Eric for making his sockpuppet female. Very clever.

  146. Lu
    Lu April 8, 2011 at 3:08 pm |

    Kathleen:
    It is pretty awesome, Lu.Imagine the possibilities:a situation in which there are 11 sexy unicorns and 4 hermit crabs and one of the hermit crabs seduces 9 out of 11 unicorns, except the asexual one and the snobby one.ERGO 3 out of 4 hermit crabs act out in hard to parse ways for which only the heartless would blame them!

    It’s just math!

    Cutest hypothetical ever! Thanks, Kathleen! If only you’d been in my elementary school math class the word problems would have been much more fun.

  147. GallingGalla
    GallingGalla April 8, 2011 at 3:14 pm |

    Jill @ 109: Agreed.

    I mean, every time Eric and his ilk show up, we engage them in the same way, making the same arguments, and nothing changes.

    I’d really like to riff off the whole ridic “it works for fruit flies and birds, so it OBVS MUST work for humans [just ignore the bonobos over there, I know they’re our closest genetic relatives but I don’t want to spoil my just-so argument]” thing.

    Along with the whole “humans have large and malleable brains, which means WE NEVER CHANGE EVAR”.

    Not to mention the odd coincidence between evo-psych and right-wing religious morals. Nah, NO CONNECTION AT ALL.

    Along with (10+0+0+0+0)/5 = 5.

    Peeplez, snark on this stuff!

    [runs off to fuck unicorns and hermit crabs while sitting on poop stools]

  148. Natalia
    Natalia April 8, 2011 at 3:29 pm |

    I’m happy to look out for everyone’s pooping needs, since Eric already has the fruit flies (and their super-important mating rituals) covered.

  149. Past my expiration date
    Past my expiration date April 8, 2011 at 3:49 pm |

    Jill, I will de-lurk to say that I thought it was funny.

    But without the evo-psych discussion, I wouldn’t have gotten to see the evo-psych bingo card, which was also very funny. And I would have missed a chance to read about bonobos, which always cheers me up.

  150. Eric
    Eric April 8, 2011 at 5:07 pm |

    Sheelzebub:
    Second, every single book review that I have been able to find in the scientific literature says that Christopher Ryan is an idiot who doesn’t understand even the basics about evolutionary biology or primatology.

    Eric, very well-regarded scientists, biologists, and psychologists have pointed out–and continue to point out–evo psych adherents tendency towards confirmation bias, just-so thinking, and woeful tendency to take a behavior that is socially enforced and decide it is biological.Yet we are supposed to take this circular thinking as logic and treat it with respect while you’re allowed to dismiss studies that point out that men are incredibly choosy even when it comes to casual sex partners because it doesn’t jibe with your thinking or your anecdotal experience.

    Again, you didn’t bring up the term nuclear family but your assumption was all over your assertion there.I mean, since we both agree that in most societies things such as child-rearing, food acquisition, and other necessary survival tasks are done by everyone for the benefit of everyone, it’s a bit silly to then assert that a hypothetical woman in the savannah would be in dire straits if her mate left her.As has been pointed out by others in this thread, this is more of a cultural construct that you’re adopting to interpret research findings.But those findings demonstrate a behavior (men’s rejection of unfaithful female partners) not the reasons why.You’re placing your own cultural biases onto this and deciding they are the reason why.

    Steven Cornell and Tom Tregenza pointed out that female promiscuity is also quite common throughout the animal kingdom (contrary to popular opinion).(Also, Eric, your fruit fly assertion doesn’t hold water–female fruit flies are actually quite promiscuous.As are females of most species.)

    I am well aware of the fact that this evolutionary psychology theories are subject to confirmation bias. I have acknowledged that myself several times. But the fact that it is subject to confirmation bias does not mean that one can simply dismiss all the empirical evidence. I can be persuaded otherwise, but I need an alternative explanation for the data that makes more sense, and at this point I haven’t seen it.

    Where was the study that said that men are “incredibly choosy” when it comes to casual sex partners? I remember seeing one study posted at some point in the the thread, and I read that study. The study said that most men would not have casual sex with Roseanne Barr. I’m not sure how it follows that not wanting to have sex with Roseanne Barr implies that men are “incredibly choosy” with respect to casual sex partners. As I recall, I said earlier that most unattached men are willing to have casual sex with a fertile woman, and Roseanne Barr would not fall into that category. If there is additional evidence of your claim that men are “incredibly choosy,” I would be interested to see it, but if there was other evidence posted earlier, then I missed it.

    And I will readily admit that the claim that women might face greater risks from abandonment in primordial times cannot be tested empirically. It may very well reflect cultural biases. However, the claim that women become more jealous with regards to emotional infidelity and that men become more jealous with regards to physical infidelity can be tested empirically. If you think my claim reflects cultural bias, that’s fine, but I need an alternative explanation of the empirical data. You can’t simply scream “cultural bias” to dismiss any empirical data that you don’t like.

    And female fruit flies certainly are promiscuous, as are females of most other species if given the opportunity. I never claimed that they weren’t. I only claimed that they tend to be less promiscuous and more choosy about their partners than males.

  151. Eric
    Eric April 8, 2011 at 5:10 pm |

    Lara Emily Foley: I’m sure marriage proposal is purely evolutionary and has nothing to do with patriarchal society thatdevalues women who have the “audacity” to propose to men (not to mention men who are the proposed instead of the proposer are also socially frowned upon).Hell for a long time the woman didn’t really get to say no, a suitor would ask her father and her father would give his blessing, the woman’s wishes be damned. Shit that still happens to this day.

    And you very well may be right. If you read my original post, I said that I found the evidence unconvincing but interesting. Sometimes I feel like anyone who has the temerity to suggest that there is any biology in gender differences has to be immediately tarred and feathered…

  152. Eric
    Eric April 8, 2011 at 5:35 pm |

    GallingGalla:
    Jill @ 109: Agreed.

    I mean, every time Eric and his ilk show up, we engage them in the same way, making the same arguments, and nothing changes.

    I’d really like to riff off the whole ridic “it works for fruit flies and birds, so it OBVS MUST work for humans [just ignore the bonobos over there, I know they’re our closest genetic relatives but I don’t want to spoil my just-so argument]” thing.

    Along with the whole “humans have large and malleable brains, which means WE NEVER CHANGE EVAR”.

    Not to mention the odd coincidence between evo-psych and right-wing religious morals.Nah, NO CONNECTION AT ALL.

    So any time anyone challenges the orthodoxy from women’s studies class, the goal is to simply drive them away? I had to chuckle that you are accusing me of all people of imposing right-wing religious morals. You clearly know nothing about me. I am a semi-lapsed Mormon who is in danger of disfellowshipment because I keep challenging the church’s teachings on gender roles. As I said earlier, just because there may be a biological predisposition to behave a certain way doesn’t mean that society will always be that way and nobody can do anything about it. We have frontal lobes. We are capable of higher reasoning. I would say that there is a strong biological predisposition to dehumanize people who don’t look like we do, which can be used to justify enslaving them or killing them. If you told someone 200 years ago that you wanted to eliminate slavery, they might have told you that you were a naive utopian, because slavery was part of human nature and can never be changed. So the fact that there may be biological predispositions toward gender inequality does not mean that that’s the way things should be, nor does it mean that that’s the way things always will be.

    I just think that we need to fully understand the causes of gender inequality before we try to find solutions, and this is my big frustration with a lot of modern feminist writing. So many people want to take the postmodernists as gospel and assume that everything is culturally determined and that there are no biological gender differences and so forth. I simply don’t think that’s true. Moreover, I think that idea is extremely damaging to those of us who want gender equality. I am a professor at a research university, and many of my female students have said that they are afraid to tell their other professors that they are thinking of taking significant time away from school to have a baby. They are afraid that they will be accused of selling out to the patriarchy and dominant cultural norms or whatever. I prefer to tell them that they should have their baby whenever they want and that I will fight as hard as I can so that they can have as much time off as they want with no negative effects on their careers. And that seems to be a much more popular answer than telling these women that the desire to procreate somehow makes them a tool of the patriarchy. This isn’t to suggest that all or even most of the postmodernists would agree with this sort of things, but the fact that postmodern thought can lead to this type of thinking is troubling to me. I find it much less problematic to just acknowledge that women might be more likely than men to want to take extended time out of the workforce when they have a child and fight as hard as I can to accommodate those who want to take this path.

    Anyway, can we declare a truce and agree to disagree? I have wasted far too much time on this thread already. :)

  153. April
    April April 8, 2011 at 6:17 pm |

    I second, or third or whatever, the recommendation that Eric read Sex at Dawn. I’m nearly done with it and have already recommended it to nearly everyone I know. And as a result, I am no longer able to take any of this standard-narrative evo-psych bullshit seriously in the slightest.

    Also, this post was hilarious.

  154. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub April 8, 2011 at 6:43 pm |

    but I need an alternative explanation for the data that makes more sense,

    That makes sense to you, apparently. You keep scolding us about not accepting emprical evidence, but it’s evidence that researchers use to bolster and confirm their own biases.

    As for the rest of your screeds, well, you’ve pretty much destroyed whatever credibility you had here. I realize that it’s great fun for you to come and lecture to the womenfolk about how oppressive we are to students who want to have a baby because feminists are all so mean, and how it’s orthodoxy and tarring and feathering when we have the gall to disagree with you and more strawfeminist BS (oh, to be spared the hyperbole of affronted men).

    I mean, what, did you come here to somehow put feminists in our place because some imagined feminist (or a friend of a friend was told by her woman’s studies professor) told her that having children made her a tool of the patriarchy? What on earth does your strawfeminist scare stories have to do with the subject at hand?

    As far as staying away from this thread, certainly no one is forcing you to post. :) I did get a lovely dinner as I had a bet with a friend that someone would show up to use evo-psych to explain the article to us. I am never disappointed by these bets.

    Of course we can agree to disagree–though it does strike me that you asked this after you vented your spleen about post-modernists and feminists. Perhaps you should come back when you’re more rational. :)

  155. Kathleen
    Kathleen April 8, 2011 at 6:45 pm |

    thanks for all the unicorn/hermit crab love. truly it is what evolution intended.

    Eric — you are makin stuff up. First, in the vast majority of cultures men don’t “propose marriage”, families exchange young people. Second, these scads of doe-eyed lady students confessing their reproductive desires to you…. can you hear my spontaneous snarfing? Cause it’s LOUD. Third, name a postmodernist who holds the ideas you attribute to them. Fourth, feminists — the ones fighting for abortion rights, contraceptive access, family leave policies — are quite aware of the differential impact of biology on human social life.

    that is all for now.

  156. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers April 8, 2011 at 6:54 pm |

    Eric:
    However, the claim that women become more jealous with regards to emotional infidelity and that men become more jealous with regards to physical infidelity can be tested empirically. If you think my claim reflects cultural bias, that’s fine, but I need an alternative explanation of the empirical data. You can’t simply scream “cultural bias” to dismiss any empirical data that you don’t like.

    The cultural explanations (not cultural *bias*) for any human behavior tend to be more compelling than the potential biological explanations, because we can observe human beings functioning in different cultures, and therefore our studies are significantly more testable.

    The empirical data proves NOTHING WHATSOEVER about biology. Yes, it proves that under current cultural conditions, women are more concerned with emotional infidelity and men are more concerned with sexual infidelity. Also, under current cultural conditions, men who express too strong an emotional tie to a woman are mocked by men and by other women — “bros before hos” is a much more common sentiment than “chicks before dicks”, for example. At the same time, women who express too strong an interest in sex are shamed for it. So we can observe, right now, in our culture, forces that are likely acting to repress female sexual desire and male emotional capacity. There is no *need* to hypothesize that there is a biological basis to this behavior when we can *see* a cultural explanation right in front of our faces. Sure, there could be a biological basis of it, but we could only prove this if we could identify a culture where women are not slut-shamed and men are permitted to freely express love and respect for women, and yet see that men still worry about sexual infidelity and women still worry about emotional. Since that experiment’s not possible, due to that culture not existing, we have *no way* to separate out the cultural confound. Speculating that maybe something is biological is a Just So story, and kind of pointless when you can *see* cultural pressures.

    So many people want to take the postmodernists as gospel and assume that everything is culturally determined and that there are no biological gender differences and so forth. I simply don’t think that’s true.

    Well, obviously there are biological gender differences. Cismen cannot become pregnant. Huge difference there. But are there large biological gender differences in the way humans think? All evidence we have been able to collect says “probably not, in most cases”, because there are far too many instances of a culture saying “women do not do X” while at the same time another culture says “women do do X” and, sure enough, the rate at which women do or do not do X is commensurate with what their society thinks about it.

    I do believe there are some biological differences. I think men have a much stronger biological predisposition to violence (although not *as* much stronger as is believed in our culture, because female tendencies to violence are heavily suppressed). I think women are more likely to have an interest in children, but that our culture tries to suppress male interest in children (or demonize it, as with the attitude that any man who wants to work with kids must be a child molester), so the biological male interest in caring for kids is stronger than what we see expressed.

    But here’s the thing. When you say “There is a possibility that there’s a biological predisposition for men to be more violent,” others hear “Men will always be more violent than women and society just needs to accept that and deal with it.” When you say “It is likely that women on average have a stronger interest in caring for children than men,” what people hear is “Women who don’t want kids are unnatural creatures, some kind of weird un-woman, and it’s okay to pass laws that assume that all women will want kids because biology! Oh, and men who like kids are creepy freaks.” So you need to be REALLY DAMN CAREFUL that when you propose a possible biological explanation for something, you at least present some evidence that you tried to control for cultural confounds! I can say “men are more likely to be violent” because I have studied primates, and primate young demonstrate different levels of violence based on gender, and I have read cross-cultural studies of hundreds of human cultures, and in every single one of them, men were the primary warriors (with the one exception being a culture where women were made the warriors because women weren’t allowed political power, so female warriors couldn’t become warlords and overthrow the king.) But evo-psychologists have tried to argue a biological basis why women prefer the color pink (hint: ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO pink was a manly color and blue was preferred for women.)

    If there’s a cultural explanation for a behavior sitting in front of your face, you really need to work with that, and not try to invoke a biological basis, unless you can work up cross-cultural studies that show that 95% of all human societies studied have the same issue. (And if you’re invoking animal models, you gotta make sure you’re comparing apples to oranges. There are no animal models of males murdering females for copulating with a different male. Humans believe that “natural” male jealousy explains why men kill their wives for infidelity, but there’s no evidence of such behavior in nature.)

  157. GallingGalla
    GallingGalla April 8, 2011 at 7:05 pm |

    Eric: So any time anyone challenges the orthodoxy from women’s studies class, the goal is to simply drive them away?

    On this blog, I suppose so. (Though, I never took a women’s studies class, so I dunno what I’m supposed to say!)

    On my blog, I’d just drop you through the permaban trapdoor. No driving necessary.

  158. Feminism is a Crazy Girlfriend « Aaron J.

    […] start with this piece at Feministe which responds to an article arguing that female infidelity is different in nature to […]

  159. zuzu
    zuzu April 8, 2011 at 8:32 pm |

    Eric: So any time anyone challenges the orthodoxy from women’s studies class, the goal is to simply drive them away?

    Well, yeah. Otherwise we’d collapse from the sheer boredom of having heard all this before.

    What? You think you’ve made some original arguments?

  160. tomoe gozen
    tomoe gozen April 8, 2011 at 9:47 pm |

    i’m expecting to get in trouble for this, or even not see my comment posted, but here goes: having this exact sort of thread on feministe IS REALLY IMPORTANT. simply because what i’ll call ‘hardcore’ biological determinism and scientific racism have come back in a huge way on the far right and are widely disseminated on the internets in places that act as echo chambers. because such arguments tend to be accepted as/more readily than appeals to emotion or religious belief- “hey, it’s science !”

  161. Victoria
    Victoria April 8, 2011 at 11:06 pm |

    Eric:
    I just think that we need to fully understand the causes of gender inequality before we try to find solutions, and this is my big frustration with a lot of modern feminist writing.

    Because standing around with our fingers up our asses waiting for scientists to prove there are sexist pigs out there is better than grass roots activism to stop aforementioned sexism?

    Hurrf derrf that’s what feminists have been doing wrong all these years! We’ve been trying to fight gender inequality without knowing the EXACT EMPIRICAL CAUSE. Oh great evo psych man, please give us your white hot throbbing evo psychobabble as to why I make so much less than my male coworkers! Please!

    Sorry, but your students are taking aim at the wrong group. Feminists have been fighting for fair maternity leave (and paternity, and adoptive parental leave). It is the heteronormative standards of a working husband and stay at home wife/mother, coupled with the captialistic imperative to oppress employees, that drives the obscene standards of US parental leave policies. Not feminists.

  162. DouglasG
    DouglasG April 8, 2011 at 11:25 pm |

    I did like the original post enough to read through the comments, hoping that a good proportion would be similar. Oh, well, at least there were unicorns and cats.

  163. Vigée
    Vigée April 8, 2011 at 11:56 pm |

    Yea, wow. Eric really, really ruined the fun.

  164. tree
    tree April 9, 2011 at 12:22 am |

    okay, i feel compelled to stand up for the lady mantids here! there are over 2000 species of praying mantids and only one species requires the male’s head to be removed during mating. additionally, mantids who mate while observed in laboratories are much more likely to sexually cannibalise than those who mate in nature, possibly due to stress and/or hunger on the part of the female. so, the estimates of the instance of sexual cannibalising are highly inflated due to most research being done in laboratories.

  165. umami
    umami April 9, 2011 at 3:27 am |

    Alara, your responses to Eric were really interesting.
    Also, whoever posted the link to the casual-sex study, thank you! I groaned aloud when I saw Eric’s response to that (how can someone write SO MUCH TEXT while having so little reading comprehension?) but I loved reading it myself.

    Eric, you need to post less, and read more, and also, stop to think about what you’re reading, and try turning off your preconceived filters about what people are saying and read what they’re actually saying. Also, you’re frankly not very smart about science and it shows.

    But I’m actually glad that you started this because I’ve enjoyed the rebuttals.

    Sorry it all derailed your hoped-for funny thread though Jill! Maybe someone needs to start an Answers to Evo Pysch BS 101 Blog.

  166. April
    April April 9, 2011 at 3:49 am |

    Alara Rogers FTW, as usual.

  167. Kaz
    Kaz April 9, 2011 at 5:09 am |

    Alara Rogers how are you so awesome.

    A note on the “but fruit flies do it!” thing: species not closely related to us have sex in some profoundly weird ways. I read a book about it a while back (I think it was “How Animals Have Sex” by Gidean Defoe) and was boggled by some of the things that happen in nature. The male bees that exploded at the end of sex in order to leave their penis inside the queen especially stuck with me. I would sincerely rethink trying to figure out anything about promiscuity in humans from any animals other than closely related primates and to treat even those with caution, really.

    Also, I am still boggling at this quote:

    I just think that we need to fully understand the causes of gender inequality before we try to find solutions, and this is my big frustration with a lot of modern feminist writing.

    Seriously? SERIOUSLY?! The pay gap and increased poverty is just fine and dandy, the high rate of rape and sexual assault, the incidence of harassment, the incredibly restrictive cultural (omg I used the word) norms, the… and hey, even on the guy side it’s not all fine and dandy, ex. kyriarchal attitudes towards men and children or towards men and emotions other than anger in general. But no, let’s keep living in a world where my likelihood of being raped is such that I don’t want to think about it, I’ll probably need to fight twice as hard as any of the guys in order to be successful and endure harrassment in the very male-dominated career I want to enter, and my brother had people wondering why he was so upset when his ex-girlfriend and her family decided they wouldn’t ever let him see the daughter he loved and had helped raise from birth again – after all, he can just have another kid, right? After all, Eric hasn’t quite figured out why this happens yet and we have to put up with the status quo until then. JFC, that is one of the more disgusting things I have read and that is saying a lot.

    Also, to get away from the evopsych (although still not funny, sorry Jill) –

    while women typically need to experience an emotional connection to a person before feeling sexual desire

    I know this is slightly off-topic but AAAAAH I HATE THIS BULLSHIT. This and the “women don’t intrinsically want to have sex, they just have sex in exchange for romantic love” bullshit. Because guess what? There are words for that. The words are “demisexuality” and “[certain types of] asexuality” respectively. And a) most women are not ace or grey-a b) some MEN are ace or grey-a (as are some nonbinary/genderless/other “other” people *raises hand* but when’s the last time you heard about gender as something other than a fixed immutable biological characteristic in a discussion like that? :/) c) as someone who spends a lot of time thinking about things like workable models of sexual consent for the asexual community, the usual things people propose on the heels of this sort of assumption (ex “so the guy should be able to have sex with the woman whenever he wants as a trade for the affection he’s giving here”) are so horrifying viewed through a lens of asexuality that it makes me want to scream.

  168. Tori
    Tori April 9, 2011 at 9:33 am |

    …mantids who mate while observed in laboratories are much more likely to sexually cannibalise than those who mate in nature, possibly due to stress… on the part of the female.

    We should get the mantids poo stools. Leetle tiny poo stools.

    (Hi, it’s before coffee, so I think anything combining bugs plus poop is double fun gross cool.)

  169. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable April 9, 2011 at 10:12 am |

    Here’s a poop stool: http://www.rattanbiz.com/joomla/component/page,shop.product_details/flypage,shop.flypage/product_id,322/category_id,57/manufacturer_id,0/option,com_virtuemart/Itemid,27/

    It bothers me that there’s no listed price. I’m guessing it’s obscenely high. That makes me sad, since you can reach your evolutionary pooping potential by bringing a right sized block of wood into the bathroom.

  170. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable April 9, 2011 at 10:12 am |

    PrettyAmiable: fucking up webpage aesthetics since 2011.

  171. Natalia
    Natalia April 9, 2011 at 2:02 pm |

    I am a professor at a research university, and many of my female students have said that they are afraid to tell their other professors that they are thinking of taking significant time away from school to have a baby. They are afraid that they will be accused of selling out to the patriarchy and dominant cultural norms or whatever.

    You know – people who would accuse someone of “selling out” when they make the super-important, not-at-all-easy decision to have a baby, exist. I know, because I’ve met some. How the heck is that related to feminism, though? Bullying people like that is 100% antifeminist. Reproductive choice is a real issue for people – more often than not, it’s the social conservatives who’ll say stuff like, “well, you shouldn’t breed, because [insert ridiculous reason here]”.

  172. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers April 9, 2011 at 3:54 pm |

    Maybe someone needs to start an Answers to Evo Pysch BS 101 Blog.

    Thinking about it. Definitely.

  173. Kathleen
    Kathleen April 9, 2011 at 5:17 pm |

    Natalia — I’m sorry you’ve met such people anywhere at all. However, I can promise you that the mythical legions of feminist faculty employed at research universities making those kinds of pejorative personal remarks to women students occupy the same I class planet as postmodernists who don’t believe in biology or gravity, activists who want mandatory gay sex tutorials in elementary schools, physicians who lure women into abortions, and unicorns.

    (an I class planet is like an M class planet, except totally imaginary)

  174. zuzu
    zuzu April 9, 2011 at 7:43 pm |

    PrettyAmiable:
    Here’s a poop stool: http://www.rattanbiz.com/joomla/component/page,shop.product_details/flypage,shop.flypage/product_id,322/category_id,57/manufacturer_id,0/option,com_virtuemart/Itemid,27/

    It bothers me that there’s no listed price. I’m guessing it’s obscenely high. That makes me sad, since you can reach your evolutionary pooping potential by bringing a right sized block of wood into the bathroom.

    Wait, why does the poop stool have windows? And why doesn’t it have instructions? I must know!

  175. bekabot
    bekabot April 9, 2011 at 8:43 pm |

    Eric (translation):

    “My balls aren’t big enough!!… And it’s your fault!!”

  176. Tori
    Tori April 9, 2011 at 8:46 pm |

    PrettyAmiable: It bothers me that there’s no listed price. I’m guessing it’s obscenely high. That makes me sad, since you can reach your evolutionary pooping potential by bringing a right sized block of wood into the bathroom.

    This — plus an optional lid — on a regular toilet is what I use, and it also works. Reach your evolutionary pooping potential for under five bucks.

  177. Eric
    Eric April 9, 2011 at 10:10 pm |

    Wow… I have obviously touched a raw nerve… All I can say is that I apologize. My intention was honestly not to cause trouble… I don’t understand why everyone is so quick to demonize anyone who doesn’t agree with the party line. But whatever. This is obviously an emotional issue for some of you, so I won’t bother to debate this any further.

    I’ll just say this much: If you honestly don’t believe that there are male “feminist” professors who will look down on women who want to take time out of work and/or work part-time when they have kids, you obviously haven’t spent much time in many male-dominated fields. I agree that this is a gross distortion of feminist thought, but it happens all the time, unfortunately. If you don’t believe me, then I don’t know what to say. The mindset in a lot of academia is that if you’re not willing to work yourself to death for six years to get tenure, then you’re obviously not really committed to the field. Given the length of time that it takes to complete a PhD, this is a major problem for women who want to have children at some point in their lives. So yes, this is something I talk about with all of my female students. And I have been lobbying hard to create some part-time positions for some of our recent graduates so that they can spend time with their kids but also keep publishing and hopefully not permanently derail their careers. I’m certainly not suggesting that every female student that I have ever worked with wants this, but I have found that a very high percentage do. If this makes me a chauvinist bastard, then so be it. My students seem to appreciate what I have tried to do.

    Incidentally, based on the vitriolic reaction I have gotten on this thread, I doubt anyone is interested, but if you want to read more about the effect of evolution on human sexual behavior, check out Jared Diamond’s “Why Is Sex Fun.” Jared Diamond is a world-renowned physiologist and a MacArthur genius grant recipient (unlike Christopher Ryan, who seems to have no background in evolutionary biology). My big complaint with Diamond’s book is that it’s a little thin on references, but he quite clearly did his homework.

    Anyway, I think I am done here… I’m sorry for anyone that I may have upset or offended. Please believe me when I say that I consider myself a feminist and that we’re on the same team here. I really don’t think it’s necessary to get out the pitchforks for anyone who doesn’t accept all of the women’s studies orthodoxy…

  178. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. April 9, 2011 at 11:35 pm |

    Eric: I really don’t think it’s necessary to get out the pitchforks for anyone who doesn’t accept all of the women’s studies orthodoxy…

    lol…this is an example of the logic fail that got you into this kerfuffle in the first place.

  179. Aatish
    Aatish April 10, 2011 at 2:34 am |

    In response to Alara Rogers.

    I disagree with your analysis of your cross-cultural studies. If 95% of all human cultures had men as warriors, it simply establishes the higher potential for male physical prowess not their capacity for violence.

  180. April
    April April 10, 2011 at 2:45 am |

    Eric: Wow… I have obviously touched a raw nerve… All I can say is that I apologize. My intention was honestly not to cause trouble… I don’t understand why everyone is so quick to demonize anyone who doesn’t agree with the party line. But whatever. This is obviously an emotional issue for some of you, so I won’t bother to debate this any further.

    Well, as soon as you have to note that something involves emotion, you should reconsider your approach. Obviously the woman on this board (who are in the obvious majority, gender-wise) are going to feel emotions about things that are directly related to them, their sexuality, their bodies, their emotions and impulses, the experiences with men and their emotions and impulses… etc. To act like the fact that people are reacting to what you’re saying emotionally is somehow surprising or exceptional is to be deliberately ignorant. And your argument further perpetuates this notion that emotions are not only interfering, but altogether dangerous. And since it’s widely accepted that women are emotional and men are rational, period, that only further perpetuates misogyny.

    It seems like you aren’t trying to be an asshole. But that’s why you sound like one.

  181. Reuben
    Reuben April 10, 2011 at 3:28 am |

    Eric: “well, since you girls are so *emotional* about this subject, I’ll bow out with my manly reason instead of engaging with the many well reasoned, rational arguments”
    You stay classy Eric.

  182. Reuben
    Reuben April 10, 2011 at 3:29 am |

    Eric: “well, since you girls are so *emotional* about this subject, I’ll bow out with my manly reason instead of engaging with the many well reasoned, rational arguments”
    You stay classy Eric.

  183. Natalia
    Natalia April 10, 2011 at 7:14 am |

    No mandatory gay sex tutorials in elementary schools?! What’s the point of becoming a parent then?!

    Also, Eric, I truly fail to see any vitriol here. Honestly, this thread has been funny. Yes – MANY people are punished for having kids. The punishers hijack all sorts of ideologies – employers do this, “good Christians” do this, “nice feminist men who are just looking out for you” do this, hell, sometimes parents will do it to their own children, but WHAT this has to do with this discussion is honestly beyond me. The thing is, you’ve been moving goalposts all along, and now I guess your final move is – “Well, I’ve obviously touched a nerve!”, which is a familiar cop-out to most people on here. I honestly don’t wish you any ill – I doubt anyone on here does. But this overall evo psych argument is just far too familiar.

  184. AndiF
    AndiF April 10, 2011 at 7:49 am |

    Do you suppose that Eric recognizes that people’s responses to him seem to have touched a nerve and so emotionally affected him that he had to come back here over and over to defend (well more simply reiterate rather than defend) his points.

    I would guess not. Though I’m sure he would probably deny it (even as he has made the point over and over), Eric knows that as a man he is able to make arguments dispassionately and factually, unlike women who overly emotional nature undermines their ability to make logical arguments.

    In case you’re still hanging around, Eric, here are some books for you to read:
    Adapting Minds, David Buller
    Pink Brain, Blue Brain, Lise Eliot
    Delusions of Gender, Cordelia Fine
    Brain Storm, Rebecca Jordan-Young

  185. Helen
    Helen April 10, 2011 at 8:18 am |

    We have an Eric in Australia who’s been trolling a local tabloid news site so thoroughly they even wrote an article about him. Antifeminism is his speciality. I wonder whether it’s the same Eric!

  186. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub April 10, 2011 at 8:51 am |

    Eric, I’ll reiterate my advice to you. You seem far too emotional to be able to debate this subject logically. You didn’t take my advice to come back when you were more rational. Pity. :) Given your long screeds and injured innocence at women not accepting what you say as the absolute truth, I find it amusing that you lecture us about being emotional. Women debating you seems to hit some of your own nerves, and I sugggest you take a deep breath and calm down before you aspirate on your own spittle any further.

    You cannot resist coming back here in more attempts to prove that you know better than the ladies, and the minute you get any objections, you go into histrionics about pitchfork-weilding feminists. You complain about feminist orthodoxy (because the womenfolk didn’t swoon at your feet and presented objections to your confirmation bias) yet cling to your own orthodoxy and demand we accept it as gospel truth. I realize that debate can be uncomfortable, as well as any foray into questioning your long-held assumptions, but if you want to grow as a researcher and as a person, you really need to try it. :)

  187. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable April 10, 2011 at 9:28 am |

    Helen: We have an Eric in Australia who’s been trolling a local tabloid news site so thoroughly they even wrote an article about him.

    Do you have a link to the article? I feel like it would be fun to read!

    This thread reminded me of this quote from Parks and Rec:

    Leslie (defending why she shot Ron to a guy with essentialist gender views): I got that tunnel vision that girls get. I let my emotions get the best of me. I cared too much, I guess. I was thinking with my lady parts. I was walking and it felt icky. I thought there was gonna be chocolate. I don’t even remember! I’m wearing a new bra, and it closes in the front, so it popped open and it threw me off. All I wanna do is have babies! I’m just going through a thing right now. I guess when my life is incomplete, I wanna just shoot someone. This would not happen if I had a penis! Bitches be crazy. I’m good at tolerating pain; I’m bad at math, and… I’m stupid.

  188. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers April 10, 2011 at 11:11 am |

    You know, I think I really do need a Debunking Sexism In Evo-Psych blog.

    Here’s the thing. This is actually a field of tremendous interest to me. I *love* those crappy Just-So stories that make the whole human species make sense. Steven Pinker’s work (the parts of it that weren’t sexist, which I seem to have mentally filtered because I didn’t even notice them when I read it) freed me from the belief that there is an objective Good Art, which is generally incomprehensible to most people, and which I do not get (short form: Pinker’s thesis is that the biological basis of art is to signal intellect and status, which in humans usually translates to “I’ll make better babies”, and when art was democratized and you didn’t need to be rich to appreciate art, art had to get weirder and weirder to continue to function as a signal of how elite you are. Makes sense to me! The part that was bullshit was that he thought that men, specifically, evolved this signal, because women don’t ever need to signal to men that they’re smart and high status or anything, due to the fact that in a species where the children do better when the mom is smart it’s never relevant to the dad whether he’s depositing his genes with a smart woman who will improve the likelihood that his kids will live to adulthood or not. The only relevant fact is whether she is sexxay, because smart chicks do not give Steven Pinker boners. Or something.)

    But one of the reasons I love this shit is that, when you seriously look hard at human beings, and the possible evolutionary origins of what we do, and you are looking at primates (especially our close cousins) and you are looking at history and you are looking at a huge cross-section of hunter-gatherer tribes and early agriculturalists… you have to come to the conclusion that there is barely any difference between men and women. Because IT’S NOT SUPPORTED BY THE DATA. What is supported by the data is an indication that there are very, very strong cultural influences on human beings leading to gender individuation, and slight biological differences that made it possible for patriarchy to come into existence in the first place (not that make patriarchy a good thing, in fact the slight biological differences that exist make patriarchy a supremely bad idea, but it’s a supremely bad idea that keeps coming up because there are slight biological differences that permit it to happen.) And that, if you look for “how humans are supposed to live”, if you try to identify the “healthiest” way for humans to function as based on what appears to work best across hundreds of human cultures, you see that patriarchy is an aberration — an aberration we keep ending up in, yes, but it’s a bug of the human psyche, not a feature.

    Patriarchy is not the way humans were “designed” to live. It’s fucked up. It’s bad for women. It’s bad for children, because anything that’s bad for the people who bear and then care for the children is bad for children. And it’s not all that great for men, either, as it usually results in large numbers of them ending up dead (guys at the top can’t maintain a large pool of young women to impregnate for themselves if the population ratio of men to women is equal; young men need to be killed off to make extra young women available to old men.) And the evidence of patriarchy being totally fucked up and bad for everyone is *there* in evopsych, if people would do the fucking research instead of “rats do this! Therefore people must do it too!” or “I did a study on how human college students in America behave and therefore that’s totally generalizable to the evolution of humanity!”

    But when I’m on a feminist blog and some guy comes along to argue evopsych, the argument always turns into:

    Feminists: Evopsych is complete bullshit!
    Dude: You’re just saying that because you’re an emotional girlie who doesn’t get SCIENCE!
    Feminists: GTFO!
    Dude: Okay, but only because I’m wasting my time talking to emotional wimminz who don’t get science.

    Whereas I approach from the perspective that no, evopsych is *not* inherently complete bullshit, and I am quite willing to rationally entertain the notion that there are evolutionary differences between men and women, and when I entertain that notion with an open mind and sense of scientific inquiry and I study multiple cultures, I see that the science doesn’t support it. Not to the extent that current evopsychs try to claim that it does, anyway. And I just keep smashing my head against a wall any time someone does a biological study of humans (like an assay of hormones, say) and then tries to say that what it says about human beings, being biological and all, is hardwired into the human species at the evolutionary level. Shit, yo, if I recruited a pool of people to study from a foot fetish interest group and did galvanic skin responses to determine the biological basis of desire in humans, I would conclude that humans are hardwired to be really turned on by feet. Why is it so hard for so-called scientists to understand that they’re not proving what they think they’re proving? We already know that the brain and body are linked, and that humans’ physiological responses are heavily influenced by what they think, and what they think is heavily influenced by their culture, so doing a study that demonstrates, for example, that women show more galvanic skin response for distress if presented with emotional infidelity and men with sexual infidelity only proves what we already know, which is that in our culture women react worse to emotional and men to sexual infidelity. We didn’t *need* a study to tell us that. But it’s tautological, because it doesn’t even speak to the question of *why* that is. It just demonstrates that a thing we thought exists really does exist, but offers no explanation as to where that thing comes from. And then people say “This scientifically proves that this fact is always true about all humans everywhere! Because it’s SCIENCE!” when, scientifically, it doesn’t do any such thing.

    To me, it doesn’t help to tell guys with evopsych-based arguments that they are choads, and then banninate them from a blog, or make the argument that they’re wrong because evopsychology is bullshit; this only reinforces their belief that wimmenz just can’t handle the SCIENCE. What I want is to totally stomp all over their “science”, in a very scientific way, and shred it to pieces because it is crap masquerading as science and should be considered exactly equivalent to Dianetics and crystal therapy and homeopathic medicine (specifically, the kind where they believe that a microscopic amount of active ingredient turns a whole lot of water into a magic potion that will be as effective as an actually effective dose of active ingredient would have been.) There’s no emotion there, except the emotion of indignance that people are passing off utter shit as good science, in a field that I love.

    But I apologize to Jill if my fun in shredding up the fake science ruined her fun in writing a jokey blog post. I like to argue; other people here, maybe not so much. So I’m seriously thinking I do need to get my own blog for this stuff, and then I won’t argue with the evo guys on the feminist blogs and blow up the comment count with stuff most of the readers would rather not read. :-)

  189. Kathleen
    Kathleen April 10, 2011 at 12:05 pm |

    Eric — urging the creation of special part time positions for women academics is not innovative and it’s not helping. It partakes of the “flexibilization” of academic labor, in which the (shrinking) tenured streams of academic employment are predominantly male and the (growing) streams of untenured academic employment are disproportionately female. As an addendum to the reading list that has been offered you, I would suggest Marc Bousquet’s _How the University Works_.

    Also, if you think recommending Jared Diamond’s work in your last comment was a surprise move — oh, my stars. As many other commenters have said, it’s like we could write your comments for you they are so dispiritingly predictable.

  190. Eric
    Eric April 10, 2011 at 12:21 pm |

    You people are really bound and determined to make me out to be a monster, aren’t you? I most certainly wasn’t trying to suggest that anyone who disagrees with me is some sort of irrational woman who doesn’t accept facts and evidence. In fact, I think that the claim that men are somehow more “logical” than women is completely absurd, and I see no evidence whatsoever for that claim. Just because I believe that there may be some biological gender differences doesn’t mean that I believe every lame stereotype out there. I’m sorry if you think that believing that there might be a few biological differences in sexual behavior makes a person “antifeminist,” but I would disagree on that one.

    And for the record, I am very happy to continue discussing this if people are interested, but most of the recent comments have consisted almost entirely of personal attacks and name calling. So I don’t really see the point. To be fair, that hasn’t been true of everyone. Alara, I have really enjoyed reading your posts. Even if I haven’t been persuaded yet, you have backed up everything you said with evidence and you haven’t resorted to personal attacks, and I really appreciate that. If you create a separate blog for this, I would love to discuss it further with you. But many of the others seem to be more interested in telling me how stupid or illogical or chauvinist I am rather than responding to my arguments, and if this thread is just going to be a name calling contest, I don’t really see the point.

    To respond to your last comment, Alara, I think there is a lot of truth to everything you said. Many of the claims of evo psych are very difficult to test empirically, and there is a serious danger of confirmation bias (which I have stated repeatedly in this thread). But any responsible scientist will tell you that you can never prove any hypothesis to be true; there is always a danger that you overlooked some alternative explanation. Newtonian physics seemed to fit the data very well for centuries until Einstein and Bohr came along. The fact that there is a danger of confirmation bias doesn’t mean that you can simply dismiss the entire field. If you take that stance, then pretty much any science is impossible. So if you reject the claim that there is a biological basis for the finding that men show more jealousy in response to sexual infidelity whereas women show more jealousy in response to emotional infidelity, then how do you explain that finding? If it were purely a cultural artifact of patriarchy, why wouldn’t men demand both sexual and emotional fidelity from their wives? And why are there so many different cultures that obsess over the sexual “purity” of women far more than emotional fidelity? Sure, the hypothesis that it is due to culture cannot be definitively refuted, but biology seems like a much more parsimonious explanation from my point of view. But if you can offer evidence for the cultural explanation, I would love to see it.

    In any event, I would tend to second the motion to move this discussion elsewhere for those who want to continue it… I seem to be annoying a lot of people on here, and that really wasn’t my intention… Please accept my apologies for those who I might have upset.

  191. Martine Votvik
    Martine Votvik April 10, 2011 at 12:31 pm |

    wow, I can’t believe I read through the entire comment tread… …even when I saw clearly where it was going :p

    Despite all it’s pointlessness, there is a certain value in having these conversations. We hone our arguments and educate the readers.

    I think one of the difficulties for especially older academics is that the foundation for most of their education is western philosophy. By which I mean, they begin their education by being imprinted with the idea that the individual (stand alone) man is the basis for all social thesis, and by extension of the man > the nuclear family. This get pounded into them when they are too immature to question it and they almost never do.

    And so you have an otherwise intelligent and probably reflective person talking about the hunter gatherer society as if it functioned as a collection of competing individuals and not as a collaborating group.

    Further all social thesis must be funded on scientific research(testing subject groups), and all agree that there is much difficulties in proving behaviour = biology/society by these methods. Yet the way we educate (test and examinate) people in universities today breeds a kind of competitive mindset where people are thought to subconsciously regard what they agree with and disregard with what doesn’t fit in with the thesis they are representing.

    And so you have an otherwise inquisitive and curious man being more invested in stating a different set of facts and prooving his point than listening.

    How rude by the way.

  192. Eric
    Eric April 10, 2011 at 12:43 pm |

    By the way, I just ordered Lise Elliott’s book (cited by AndiF above) on Amazon, and I might order a couple of the other books she suggested. Just browsing through them on Amazon, though, I think I already agree with most of what these books have to say. I already agree 100% that most of the claims that men are better at math or logic or whatever are complete rubbish. As one who teaches introductory statistics at the university level, I would say that on average my female students tend to be much better than my male students. (Actual mathematical “ability” is difficult to quantify, but my female students tend to work harder and procrastinate less, and they are more likely to get help if they have questions. To be clear, I am making no claim that this is due to biological gender differences; it may be entirely cultural. And I also recognize that it is dangerous to extrapolate based on anecdotal evidence. I am just saying that I think the claim that men are better than women at math is idiotic.)

    Having said that, I am still not convinced that all gender differences are purely cultural. I see no compelling evidence that men are better than women at math, nor can I understand why natural selection would favor male mathematicians. However, I can definitely understand why natural selection might favor some gender differences in sexual/reproductive behavior, and this seems to be confirmed by studies in both animals and humans. Believing that men are less picky than women when deciding who to go home with at the bar does not require one to believe that women can’t do math or science or that they would never want to do anything other than raise babies.

    Anyway, I’ll read Elliott’s book, and I may pick up the others as well. And Alara, if you create your blog, please send me a link so that I can have a look. I’m inclined to let this thread die to avoid annoying everyone else…

  193. bekabot
    bekabot April 10, 2011 at 12:53 pm |

    No one’s trying to make you out to be a monster, Eric. No one cares that much. Get over yourself.

    Personally, I have no doubt that you are actually a nice guy, in the true and not in the cartoony sense of that term. The problem is, you’re a nice guy who’s all hung up on his own experiences and on his own reactions to things. (I can truthfully say that I’ve never heard chimpanzee testicles mentioned so frequently by anyone, anywhere, in any context.) Since I don’t think you are in fact a jerk, I have no doubt that your life is going to improve: once you realize, as you bound to realize, that everything on earth is not about you, you’re going to feel the immense relief that realization brings. You’re going to understand that you’ve been holding your breath for most of your life and that it’s okay to exhale once in a while.

    That’s a great moment, and I look forward to it on your behalf.

  194. z
    z April 10, 2011 at 1:00 pm |

    @Alara Rogers

    I want to second that it’d be absolutely wonderful if you did make a blog about this. Not only would it be really interesting and informative, it could also function as an outlet for arguments like this: by linking people who believe in various biological gender differences to your site, we could avoid having this discussion here over and over again without stomping out scientific debate (which I agree with you is a good and vital thing). Maybe it could be kind of like “Finally Feminism 101″ but specifically about claims of biological gender differences.

  195. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable April 10, 2011 at 1:07 pm |

    Alara Rogers: So I’m seriously thinking I do need to get my own blog for this stuff,

    YES. Not because we don’t want to read your writings here, but because I think most regular commenters enjoy your writing and would love to see you blog.

    Eric: *Tries my hardest to avoid responding any further to this thread*

    Eric: Anyway, can we declare a truce and agree to disagree? I have wasted far too much time on this thread already. :)

    Eric: This
    is obviously an emotional issue for some of you, so I won’t bother to debate this any further.

    Eric: And for the record, I am very happy to continue discussing this if people are interested, but most of the recent comments have consisted almost entirely of personal attacks and name calling. So I don’t really see the point.

    I’m excited to see how you rephrase this in your next comment.

  196. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable April 10, 2011 at 1:10 pm |

    bekabot: (I can truthfully say that I’ve never heard chimpanzee testicles mentioned so frequently by anyone, anywhere, in any context.)

    QFT

  197. P
    P April 10, 2011 at 3:38 pm |

    Alara Rogers: Alara Rogers 4.10.2011 at 11:11 am

    You know, I think I really do need a Debunking Sexism In Evo-Psych blog.

    Please, please do! The sooner the better. :)

  198. miSmiS
    miSmiS April 10, 2011 at 4:16 pm |

    No nature vs. nurture debate is complete without the required reading:

    Anne Fausto-Sterling – Sexing the Body (and be sure to read all the annotations [half of the book]).
    Afterwards, go to PUBMED and let the diggingfun begin. :-)

  199. j-bird
    j-bird April 10, 2011 at 5:01 pm |

    I only made it to comment #100 or so, but I want to thank Alara J. Rogers for being a shining beacon of reason, patience, and meaty commenty goodness.

  200. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub April 10, 2011 at 5:28 pm |

    Alara, I’ve really found your comments on this thread very thought provoking. And PA, your last comment was FTW.

    I’d answer Eric, but at this point he’ll cry that we’re coming out with the pitchforks, making him out to be a monster, etc. because any kind of negative response to him makes the baby Jeebus cry or something. I’m just counting down to Godwin. . .

  201. GallingGalla
    GallingGalla April 10, 2011 at 5:57 pm |

    Eric: You people…

    This, right here, is enough to tell me that Eric isn’t debating in good faith.

    I am amused, however, that Eric keeps claiming that we’re extracting our pound of flesh from him, yet keeps coming back for more. Dude, you obviously ain’t hurting.

    Eric: I really don’t think it’s necessary to get out the pitchforks…

    Dude, calm down. Why the histrionics and overwrought emotions?

  202. Reuben
    Reuben April 10, 2011 at 7:29 pm |

    GallingGalla:

    Dude, calm down. Why the histrionics and overwrought emotions?

    Us dudes are biologically predisposed to overly emotional feelings of martyrdom when our intellectual superiority is challenged. We know this by comparing our penis girth per size ratio to, ah, voles.
    The entire crux of these arguments seems to stem from some notion that there is some kind of native human Ur-state and the multiple and varied states of humankind can in a simple fashion be reduced to a single step from this state. I believe in cause and effect, so our societies have obviously developed for reasons, but taking the characteristics of near human species and trying to leverage them into some kind of blueprint for human societies is like trying to perform surgery with nothing but a detailed understanding of particle physics. You’re missing too many of the steps in between.
    By this stage in human history, the value in trying to strain the culture out of human character is a waste of time anyway – culture is so thoroughly worked into the basis of our thought that we cannot extricate ourselves from its influence. More importantly, why should we aim for such a state? Culture is a point of influence we can influence and change. The archaic roots of our culture are well beyond our ability to influence. The only value in establishing some “native” human state of psychology is to normalise one particular aspect of our consciousness, usually to the objection of someone who doesn’t find that “norm” as helpful as we do. It is a wilderness of untestable opinions, whose purposes are invariably more political than scientific.

  203. Eric
    Eric April 10, 2011 at 8:39 pm |

    I try, I really do. Every single thing I say is interpreted to mean that I’m just trolling. Look, I’m sorry for causing trouble. It wasn’t my intention. It’s just that when the vast majority of the comments involve snarky comments/personal attacks rather than debating facts and evidence, that usually implies that people are upset with me and that further discussion is likely to be fruitless. I don’t mind being flamed; it’s to be expected when you try to discuss things on the Internet. But if people are more interested in attacking me personally than discussing the subject at hand, then I don’t see much benefit to continuing the discussion. Especially when most people seem to be sick of the discussion anyway. So feel free to keep insulting me if it makes you happy, but I’m not sure what anyone hopes to gain from that.

  204. Reuben
    Reuben April 10, 2011 at 8:59 pm |

    People ridiculing your arguments is not “attacking you personally.” Most of the comment here has been directed at your arguments and your refusal to engage on the points that don’t match your thesis.

  205. Eric
    Eric April 11, 2011 at 12:01 am |

    Reuben:
    People ridiculing your arguments is not “attacking you personally.” Most of the comment here has been directed at your arguments and your refusal to engage on the points that don’t match your thesis.

    I would say that “ridiculing” an argument rather than responding with facts and evidence falls into a category of a personal attack. And I’m not sure what you mean when you say “my refusal to engage on the points that don’t match your thesis.” I explained why I didn’t buy the argument in “Sex at Dawn,” mainly because it is inconsistent with the size of human testicles. People made fun of me for my supposed obsession with testicles. I read the article that supposedly claimed that men were very selective when it comes to casual sex partners and explained why I wasn’t convinced. I got mocked for my poor reading comprehension skills. And I ordered one of the books that was suggested to me. I have tried my very hardest to see where the other side is coming from, but most of the commenters here seem more interested in insulting me than having a civil discussion. Such is life on the Internet, I suppose. Obviously you see it differently. Whatever. Who cares. How about we let this discussion die, since it seems to be annoying just about everyone by now?

  206. RoryBorealis
    RoryBorealis April 11, 2011 at 12:06 am |

    Eric: I would say that “ridiculing” an argument rather than responding with facts and evidence falls into a category of a personal attack.

    Pot, meet kettle.

  207. z
    z April 11, 2011 at 1:21 am |

    Eric,

    I sympathize with your bewilderment at meeting so much hostility as a result of honest skepticism and questioning (I believe that you are here in good faith). I think it would be helpful, however, to see where everyone’s frustration comes from: it’s because, although you personally may have just come here now to have this discussion, feeling you were making good points that people really needed to consider, these sorts of discussions have been happening rather frequently for a reeeeeally long time all over the feminist blogosphere – rather more often, I believe, than most of its regular residents would like. Not (as a rule) because they don’t want to see evidence, but because they have generally seen it *many* times before and are out of patience, and because having the same conversation over and over again is not fun. What looks from your end like incommensurate response is actually a response to a different situation than you think – to yet another person who comes here arguing points that, to them, are at 101-level and uninformed.

    I still dislike harshness unless it is in response to other harshness, so I wish this argument hadn’t gone the way it did. I just wanted to point out some likely causes of the kind of reactions you got.

  208. tomoe gozen
    tomoe gozen April 11, 2011 at 1:43 am |

    alara: the blog you’re proposing would be a very good idea indeed, especially if it were expanded to include biologism/human biodiversity/whatever scientific racism calls itself in the 21st century.

  209. Reuben
    Reuben April 11, 2011 at 2:34 am |

    @Eric: Ridiculing an argument that appears ridiculous is not a personal attack. It might not be the ideal form of discussion but developing a sense of martyrdom and implying some form of ideological feminist group think is probably not the best response. Stating that people’s responses are “emotional” especially in the light of the subject matter is pretty unlikely to garner a positive response either.
    In terms of what hasn’t been addressed, ruling a book out because it doesn’t reference testicle size when discussing an aspect of human social dynamics is pretty laughable. Failing to address the many comments that have been made on cultural institutions that serve a counter-reproductive role is one of things I noted, as well as important points made about how when cultural expectations are different behaviour changes accordingly. Addressing these rather than assuming people should accept your assertions about the relationship between other species testicle size and human social dynamics is another.
    You’re also making a lot of assumptions that fall into a fairly narrow view of human male behaviour – your assumptions on how unselective western men are seems to mirror stereotype rather than be based on any evidential analysis. Stating that men are “unconcerned with emotional fidelity” is another statement based off a stereotype. I would argue that most male jealousy makes little distinction between emotional fidelity and sexual jealously, the only difference is sexual jealousy can be determined on a discrete single activity whilst determining what might constitute an act of “emotional infidelity” is a lot more nebulous.

  210. thewhatfor
    thewhatfor April 11, 2011 at 3:45 am |

    I’d like to add my voice to the chorus of enthusiasm for Alara Roger’s proposed blog.

  211. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub April 11, 2011 at 7:45 am |

    How about we let this discussion die, since it seems to be annoying just about everyone by now?

    Eric, you’re the one who keeps coming back. No one is forcing you to continue to post here. If you want to opt out of the discussion that you started in a thread that was supposed to be somewhat lighthearted, you are free to not post. Please note that not posting is not the same as posting complaints that the thread is taking up too much of your time, you won’t be here again, let’s let it just die already.

    I mean, look, it’s a free internet, and if the mods are okay with you posting here then you are free to continue to post. But do please stop with these complaints about how the thread is sucking up your time and how it’s a waste of your time and how we should just let it die already. If you truly felt that way, you wouldn’t be coming back to post here to get the last damn word in.

    Also, I’m really fucking sick of your whining in response to people objecting to your assertions. You complain about personal attacks, but you are the one who went on about oppressive mean feminists who refuse to see biological differences and guilt-trip graduate students who wanted to have babies–among other things. FFS.

  212. Yonmei
    Yonmei April 11, 2011 at 8:05 am |

    I’m really kind of amazed that in this whole long thread no one’s brought up the blood types example.

    Doing research into inheritance of blood types in 1970 in the UK, a group of researchers found that there was a “paternal discrepancy” of about 20% in a single block of flats. They repeated the test in another location, and got similiar results. (An American research group got slightly lower results of paternal discrepancy, but apparently “forgot” to correct for the statistical likelihood that the father had the same blood group as the mother’s husband.) Similiar results have come up pretty much whenever this is tested for.

    Put simply, in terms even Eric can understand: the only way to really be sure a female has had sex with one and only one male, is genetic testing of large groups of females, males, and offspring. To claim that gorilla females are more faithful than chimp females because gorilla testes are smaller than chimp testes, is kind of like claiming that unicorns are more faithful than dragons because dragons are more purple.

  213. speedbudget
    speedbudget April 11, 2011 at 8:25 am |

    Eric, your flouncing needs work.

    I would think that a really good strategy for child care in a cohesive, collaborative social group would be to have sex with as many men as possible and to make it impossible for anyone to know when you are ovulating. That way, all the men in the group become invested in caring for offspring, since any one or all of them could be “theirs.” Sluts ftw.

  214. Aatish
    Aatish April 11, 2011 at 9:14 am |

    speedbudget: Eric, your flouncing needs work.I would think that a really good strategy for child care in a cohesive, collaborative social group would be to have sex with as many men as possible and to make it impossible for anyone to know when you are ovulating. That way, all the men in the group become invested in caring for offspring, since any one or all of them could be “theirs.” Sluts ftw.

    I have to disagree. I know that men would collaborate when it would come to sex because they would be banging multiple women (Studs FTW). As for child care, such a strategy would probably provide a solid excuse to not be involved with child care. For example, How do you know its mine?

  215. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth April 11, 2011 at 10:42 am |

    I’m having a hard time understanding why Eric’s argument is even relevant, regardless of whether it’s “correct” or not. That’s what probably annoys me the most out of all of this. Let’s say men have more evolutionary incentive to cheat than women do, or that men always cheat for different reasons than women do. Even if that’s true, are we excusing the behavior? Are we willing to give men a pass but hold women to different standards? I have lots of biological impulses I control every day, do I deserve an enormous cookie every time I refrain from humping a stranger on the bus?

  216. Broken heart
    Broken heart April 11, 2011 at 11:58 am |

    If you really want to get inside the minds of adulterers and the reason that they cheat, this is a must look. It’s actually a discussion forum for cheaters. Unbelievable.
    http://www.doccool.com/forum

  217. Iris
    Iris April 11, 2011 at 12:57 pm |

    Eric says:
    “The size of human testicles also argues against the hypothesis advocated in “Sex at Dawn.” There is a very strong correlation between testicle size and the amount of female promiscuity in a species.”
    Oh this is so rich – women are not naturally promiscuous because male testicles say so. So there. Don’t give me your logical arguments, your impassioned personal stories because see – right here – my testicles say so and because they say so – I am right.
    Not to mention the mindset of people who study and measure primate male testicles in order to define female sexuality. And then use that mindset to tell women what their promiscuity level should be – when women are telling you it is not true.
    Creepy beyond words.
    You, sir, give science a bad name.

  218. Clarisse Thorn
    Clarisse Thorn April 12, 2011 at 2:02 pm |

    For graphs and charts that totally disprove this guy, see:
    http://familyinequality.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/low-fidelity-sexology/

  219. Tornadoallie
    Tornadoallie April 14, 2011 at 4:38 pm |

    Just as an observer. When I first read Eric’s original comment, I was screaming “We are moral beings!!!!!!” as were others. I think although he made some bad moves when it comes to triggering feminist outcries, he really was trying to debate something using reason and evidence (even if it was a tired argument). And some people made valid arguments against him, which was great. However, I think many people in the thread need to learn the difference between attacking an argument and attacking the person presenting the argument.

    Even if you disagree with him or see flaws in his argument, this does not make him a choad, have small testicles, stupid, or have a need for things to be put in terms even he would understand. He keeps coming back because it wasn’t about the evo theory anymore, it’s about defending his own honor as a person.

    This is what I don’t like to see on feminist blogs and it hurts more than helps, even if you feel like you are rallying against “the problem with men in our society.” This is no better than him using the women are emotional argument.

  220. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. April 14, 2011 at 7:51 pm |

    Right, because he completely argued in good faith against the feminist orthodoxy…

  221. jennyb
    jennyb April 18, 2011 at 1:39 am |

    Well, I’ve been married for 15 years, and let me tell you, I absolutely love my husband…but don’t you get bored of the same person over and over, the same routine, the same position, the sex calendar, the waiting for the children to go to bed blah blah??? I do!!…and then this handsome, educated and fun european guy, whose wife traveled a lot, moved next to you and spent the evenings sitting down, sometimes shirtless, in his deck smoking cigars..and you, casually, of course, walked out to water the flowers on the deck at the same time he sat to smoke in a hot summer evening..you were not looking for anything, it just happened, your mind wondered and well, he flirted and filled you with compliments, you’re pretty but felt unappreciated, he listened to you, or at least that’s what you thought, the husband had weeks without even kiss you goodbye in the morning..the handsome guy implied that his wife didn’t like oral sex and you happen to love it…the rest is well…!! hey listen, I don’t feel an inch of guilt, I don’t think I am a slut, I’m just alive..a woman alive with a strong “gusto” for oral sex… and if nobody saw you sneaking to his back door…where is the harm? anyway..I had fun for months!! damn the company that hired him and relocated him in the other coast! but if you happen to know a similar guy please let me know.. I’m bored and looking, even my flowers died cause I don’t even want to look outside the deck…he left one morning leaving me with just hot, sweet and smoky memories..and with a smelly, loud and ugly tenant..aghh!!
    Men and women infidelity, I think, is the same thing as long as you don’t get caught..then the thing gets more complicated.(excuse my grammar, btw)

  222. GordianKnot
    GordianKnot April 28, 2011 at 6:47 pm |

    The pain is just oozing from every pore of this thread. Eric is making some good points, but he’s being overly logical and losing sight of the context: feminism.

    Eric: You people are really bound and determined to make me out to be a monster, aren’t you?

    Eric, I don’t think that’s really the case here. Your molehill of reason has reacted chemically into a mountain of snark, which is a function of the anger feminists feel at the injustice and oppression they experience under the fascist jackboot of patriarchy.

    GallingGalla: Dude, calm down. Why the histrionics and overwrought emotions?

    An amusing irony, as was this:

    bekabot: No one’s trying to make you out to be a monster, Eric.No one cares that much.Get over yourself.Personally, I have no doubt that you are actually…nice…The problem is, you’re…all hung up on [your] own experiences and on [your] own reactions to things…once you realize…that everything on earth is not about you, you’re going to feel…immense relief…you’ve been holding your breath for most of your life and that it’s okay to exhale once in a while.

    Eric, the thing to keep in mind is that commenters are using arguments commonly directed at women at you. This is because you’re giving them the opportunity to “get your goat”, as my mother used to say. It doesn’t feel good to be the target of such arguments, but the more you try to defend against them the more try-hard you become. Which makes you ever more vulnerable to counter-oppressive snark.

    Vigée: Yea, wow.Eric really, really ruined the fun.

    This is the core point commenters here are making. Patriarchy creates a bad situation for feminists, which causes endless anger. The only real way to deal with this online is to vent, and that includes sarcasm, humor, and quasi-personal attacks. To wit:

    Tornadoallie:
    Just as an observer.When I first read Eric’s original comment, I was screaming “We are moral beings!!!!!!” as were others. I think although he made some bad moves when it comes to triggering feminist outcries, he really was trying to debate something using reason and evidence (even if it was a tired argument). And some people made valid arguments against him, which was great. However, I think many people in the thread need to learn the difference between attacking an argument and attacking the person presenting the argument.

    Even if you disagree with him or see flaws in his argument, this does not make him a choad, have small testicles, stupid, or have a need for things to be put in terms even he would understand. He keeps coming back because it wasn’t about the evo theory anymore, it’s about defending his own honor as a person.

    This is what I don’t like to see on feminist blogs and it hurts more than helps, even if you feel like you are rallying against “the problem with men in our society.”This is no better than him using the women are emotional argument.

    ^^ This. Quoted in full because counterweights are such a precious resource around here.

    What I find especially annoying is that very few feminists seem willing to acknowledge how deeply threatening and painful the idea of cuckholdry is to a man. Men who post here, and aren’t trolls, are actually trying to have a dialoge with the feminist Other. But when they try to express something of deep meaning, which could become common ground, men like Eric are beaten down. Not because they are monsters (Eric, truly you are wrong on that) but because they and their issues become a proxy for every wrong and injustice ever suffered by a woman at the meaty hands of patriarchy.

    Even though this comment is late in the thread, I want to point out that very few of the commenters here seem to appreciate anything about the male point of view. As long as feminists believe the cuckholdry is a legitimate breeding tactic — i.e., where the man is allowed to believe the child is his — men will continue to have no choice but perpetuate the patriarchy as a hedge.

    Which means we must all ask ourselves, what is more “fun” and valuable: perpetuating anger, in order to provide a safety valve or/and sell ads, or actually try to work through and resolve issues? It seems to me that the more snarky a poster, the more angry and hurt that poster is deep down, be it because of patriarchy or some other reason.

  223. GordianKnot
    GordianKnot April 28, 2011 at 6:59 pm |

    K:
    After twenty years of marriage and three sons, my grandmother was divorced by her husband in favor of the next door neighbor’s wife (this was in the 70’s.) She demanded a mink coat and a life time of alimony from him, and that was that.

    When I read this paragraph, I immediately was disgusted at the thought of an old man like your grandfather abandoning your elderly grandmother. A mink coat and lifetime alimony was a mousefart in a hurricane of what she deserved.

    Or so I thought, until I read on…

    K:In an amazing conversation that all the rest of us which sincerely had been recorded, my grandmother then proceeded to recount all of her extra-marital affairs (usually with married men). “It’s fine to do it if you get bored dear, just make sure they don’t fall in love with you!” was her conclusion. Apparently at least one of these men had threatened to leave his wife for her, and she’d been horrified. “Don’t do that, you’ll ruin everything!” was her reaction. I can only imagine how irritated and insulted she must have been when her husband, my grandfather, couldn’t keep his affair the nice, genteel, private business that hers had been. I have to assume the lifelong alimony was more to make up for her humiliation than any sense of emotional betrayal.

    This disgusted me. “Just don’t get caught,” and now we all giggle to each other. How liberating! Breaking vows/laws, as long as you don’t get caught, is glorified far too much in our society. To be fair, though, I’d have felt a lot better about the whole situation if she had also advised, “And definitely do not get pregnant.”

    Cheating sucks, but cuckoldry is worse.

    jennyb:
    Well, I’ve been married for 15 years, and let me tell you, I absolutely love my husband…but don’t you get bored of the same person over and over, the same routine, the same position, the sex calendar, the waiting for the children to go to bed blah blah??? I do…hey listen, I don’t feel an inch of guilt, I don’t think I am a slut, I’m just alive..a woman alive with a strong “gusto” for oral sex… and if nobody saw you sneaking to his back door…where is the harm? anyway..I had fun for months!! damn the company that hired him and relocated him in the other coast! but if you happen to know a similar guy please let me know.. I’m bored and looking, even my flowers died cause I don’t even want to look outside the deck…he left one morning leaving me with just hot, sweet and smoky memories..and with a smelly, loud and ugly tenant..aghh!!
    Men and women infidelity, I think, is the same thing as long as you don’t get caught..then the thing gets more complicated.(excuse my grammar, btw)

    I can certainly excuse your grammar, Jenny, but it’s harder to understand why you stay married. Are you just using him for his financial or/and emotional resources? Why not just dump that “smelly, loud, and ugly tenant” in your home and instead get a BFF/roomate in there?

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