Why women still can’t enjoy sex

Why women still can’t enjoy sex

I think feminists need to have some biological and evolutionary studies included in their education, to balance their outrage, and help focus on strategies that will actually make changes instead of assuming it is all a matter of ignorant (or malicious) male “sexism” that has produced the reproductive imbalance that exists in every human society.

This article online is a classic example of rant and rage. No reasonable person (male or female) questions that there is injustice. But where does it come from?

The article is well written and passionate, but fundamentally fails to grasp or even ask, “what is the point of sex?” Contrary to the writer’s assertion it is not “love” - it is babies. In the scheme of evolution it is pure coincidence that sex is pleasurable for humans - it certainly has been a happy coincidence and it definitely gets the main job done, which is to propagate genes.

Male praying mantises still can’t enjoy sex either, and never will.

Nature isn’t fair. Women of our species bear the reproductive burden, and contribute a vastly unbalanced amount to the biological outcome (9 months of pregnancy, up to 2 years of lactation, and up to 18 years of care). A male only needs to donate a teaspoon of sperm to have “succeeded” genetically. The whole game of “love and marriage” is the way women get to even the score somewhat. They can get males to contribute to the upbringing of those offspring by binding them in long term commitments called marriage, in which, (in a reductive analysis) males receive sex and affection and contribute resources to “their” family.

But this system depends on a woman being able to keep that man bound to the family, and “easy” sex outside that dramatically undermines that bond. In my experience, “slut” is more often applied by women to other women, because it is actually a defensive term used to “punish” other women who are perceived as threats to their own reproductive project.

This is a much more complex issue to resolve, therefore, than simply labelling men as sexist, and “embracing” the term slut. We are dealing with deep pressures in evolutionary terms, and political slogans are not going to change anything. It will require a deeper understanding of the “why” in reproductive terms, and then seeing if we can work as a society to create concrete structures and alternative arrangements to even the biological bias against women, if we really want all to have “free sex” for fun, not just babies.

Valentine Roses

Naturally, today being Valentine’s Day lots of commentators are being asked to churn out an article about love, romance and sex.

Yesterday’s effort by reconstructed sex-therapist Bettina Arndt was predictable. Anecdotes about women exerting their sexual powers through dress, and the confusion that some men feel in dealing with what appears to be deliberate sexual provocation.

As an interested amateur in the field of Evolutionary Psychology, I was particularly interested and much more impressed by this article by Rob Brooks in the paper today.

The course of true love was never about profit

"People only manage to get together and raise children courtesy of a most remarkable evolutionary adaptation: romantic love."

"People only manage to get together and raise children courtesy of a most remarkable evolutionary adaptation: romantic love."

Valentine’s Day. What’s not to love about overpriced roses, overbooked restaurants and overstuffed soft toys? Today is the day we render the most multifaceted and untameable of human passions as flat and commercialised as a Kardashian marriage.

Perhaps my attitude’s not surprising for a scientist who studies sexual conflict, the intriguing but somewhat depressing idea that male and female evolutionary interests can never, exactly, coincide.

Human coupling and relationships seethe with conflict. We disagree over when to start having sex, how often to have it, and how quickly to fall asleep afterwards. Couples differ on when to have children, how many to have, and who is going to get up at night when the screaming starts. Economists model the simmering tensions about who does what household jobs, how much money is needed and how to spend it.

If all of this is too dark and unfamiliar to you, that is because only a small fraction of these ever-present conflicts breach the surface of our conscious awareness; most relationships feel happy most of the time. But the conflict between our interests, even within the most loving couples, means that people only manage to get together and raise children courtesy of a most remarkable evolutionary adaptation: romantic love. (Read entire article here or read a longer version as well as other articles on his website here)

There is a line there which is the nux of the entire “problem” of relations between the sexes:

"male and female evolutionary interests can never, exactly, coincide"

Human behaviour is strongly influenced by biological and psychological strategies that are encoded in genes, which have provided reproductive advantage in the past. Most people “get it” that if seeing in colour provides a survival advantage to an animal - say by distinguishing between a poisonous and non-poisonous plant - that animal is more likely to survive to reproduce, and pass the gene for colour vision to its offspring.

Even more complex systems have evolved in higher animals including not just physical capabilities, but behavioural traits which similarly can be a survival advantage. The study of these behaviours and how they might have evolved is the relatively new field called “Evolutionary Psychology”.

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