Comprehensive coverage

Sex and the savannah - the third and last part of chapter 3 in the book "The Human Instinct"

A female of reproductive age is looking for a mature male, high income, altruistic, risk-loving, but reliable and faithful. A straight and symmetrical jaw is desirable, but not necessary. Unfaithful men and those with mustaches are asked not to reply to this ad.

Robert Winston


What women want

A female of reproductive age is looking for a mature male, high income, altruistic, risk-loving, but reliable and faithful. A straight and symmetrical jaw is desirable, but not necessary. Unfaithful men and those with mustaches are asked not to reply to this ad.

Before the readers lose their patience in the face of men's evolutionary preference in regards to waist-hip ratios and symmetrical faces, it is advisable to take into account an interesting study regarding personal ads - published by men - which resulted in the largest number of responses from women. These are the most important factors in creating interest in women: age, education level and income. The three things indicate financial stability. Time and again it became clear that these factors and not, for example, a "nice personality", defined what women wanted in a man.
It goes without saying that women are certainly not completely indifferent to a man's appearance. The traditional visual stereotype of the healthy, testosterone-rich, tall, square-jawed, muscular male is still in high demand. It is enough to look at the cover of any common romance novel. Over time, men's clothing tended to emphasize these features: the straight shoulders of a suit, the muscular lines of Roman armor flatter and accentuate the wearer's physique. Size and shape are certainly considerations, but women seem to have developed a more sophisticated and long-term view of a successful partner. They concentrate on the long term - mainly, according to the studies, on the financial future - more than on the size of the man's biceps. Again, it seems as if we have uncovered another sexual stereotype, this time that of the status-hungry and greedy woman (who will often prefer a man older than her).
David Bass's research on mating preferences, which spanned thirty-three countries and during which over ten thousand people were interviewed, shows that women generally attributed twice as much importance to the financial future of their partner than men did. Some cultures gave it more weight than others. For Nigerian and Japanese women, for example, the financial future was more important than for Finnish and South African women. But the interest of women in the financial status of the potential partner was always higher than that of men in the same country. Also, women preferred older men (which fortunately corresponds to men's desire for younger women), but to a large extent this preference can also be seen as related to financial security. Older men earn more, they are more careful with money, and therefore they are more secure and stable.
But women are not only interested in marrying a rich accountant or, of course, a tenured university lecturer. According to research by Robin Dunbar from the University of Liverpool, women like men who take risks, especially those who take risks for other people. Dr. Ross from the series "AR", played by the actor George Clooney, is an excellent example of this: he was heroic and regularly performed acts of heroism for others. Furthermore, he was a pediatrician (the screenwriters went all the way). In the Dunbar study, women were given the option of choosing between hypothetical men, from a firefighter who won a medal for bravery to a supermarket manager who plays golf. The firefighters, who demonstrate altruism and heroism on a daily basis, won big.
The typical protagonists of the romance novels in the Mills & Boon series were also endowed with similar traits. They are always strong, take risks, brave. Weak and sensitive cowards exist only for the desired hero to defeat them. According to Dunbar, women interpret heroism as the ability to protect themselves and their children. In a world where danger lurked around every corner, cave and crevice in the form of saber-toothed tigers and murderous males from rival gangs of ancient hominids, bravery was a most essential quality in a mate. But Dunbar found that women's long-standing strategy for finding mates excludes those who take selfish or unnecessary risks. Scammers and adulterers are considered suitable for a one-time fling (which perhaps indicates the woman's tendency to dip secretly in the garden pool), but not as candidates for a long-term relationship or marriage.
Erotic and pornographic literature also provides an enlightening window into what women want from a man. In recent years, pornography aimed at women has expanded greatly, and the number of erotic novels written by women for women has increased. Men sometimes appear solely for the purpose of sexual pleasure, but this is very different eroticism from male eroticism. The men appearing in the stories show an interest in the sexual pleasure of the woman, and more importantly, they are interested in taking part in relationships filled with love and emotion, even if it is a short-term relationship. The physical descriptions are not as blatant as in male pornography. The emphasis is on sexual relations between loving couples - stormy emotional encounters, not one-time flings devoid of any emotion.
But this is exactly the norm in pornography intended for men. Men, as is well known, are more easily provoked by a visual image, even if it is a poor copy of a painting of a naked woman or even a blurry image on a computer monitor. When it comes to a story, men like a completely different kind of narrative. They are usually attracted to stories that do not end in a loving and long-term relationship. They prefer descriptions of sex between strangers, who won't stay together for breakfast. Their "pornutopia" is dominated by the figure of the accessible, available nymphomaniac, who does not obligate them to anything.
The gap between male and female sexual psychology is wide. Women are interested in character, commitment and confidence; Men are interested in a woman's physical features and anonymous sex. Does this mismatch mean that neither species is truly satisfied with what it gets? The situation is not entirely hopeless. These instincts are incredibly powerful, but they can play a greater or lesser role in our sexual identity. For some people, choosing a spouse does not depend on facial symmetry, a bank account or the ability to perform open heart surgery without getting stressed. There are women who show no interest in commitment and are looking for random sex. There are men who do not attach any importance to the waist-hip ratio and smoothness of the skin and are actually looking for a Capricorn woman with an addiction to water sports. But they are the exception.

Eggs vs sperm

How are these preferences of boys or girls of the opposite sex manifested in the real world? Ideally, our genetic blueprint will effectively guide us toward the best evolutionary strategy. We will have an uncomplicated, pleasant and happy sex life. But everywhere in the world human beings struggle with conflicting passions, with unconscious impulses and with a psychological agenda that involves the war of the sexes. For modern homo sapiens, mating is a bit like a game of chess where the opponent puts a gun to your temple. And all over the world, psychoanalysts are willing to bet their BMWs that sex isn't going to get any easier.
The egg is one of the largest cells in the human body. At the rate of one per month, during the course of about thirty years of fertility, from puberty to puberty, a woman releases four hundred mature eggs alone. It is true that her ovary has many more eggs (about three thousand during puberty) than these, but most of these eggs simply die in the ovary one by one, with age. At the age of menopause, no eggs will actually remain there. If we assume that one of the four hundred eggs that she ovulates is fertilized, the baby will be born nine months later, which represents a huge biological investment. If we take into account the time needed to raise the child, breastfeed him and care for him until he can take care of himself, it is clear why women must be extremely careful about identifying the provider of the other half of the genetic package for the child. If she is wrong, and gave birth to an unsuitable partner and father, who does not protect his family, she is in trouble. It will become clear to her that she wasted very precious resources. Such wastage could have been much more critical in the Savannah, where the high mortality rate of children limited the chances of genetic continuity.
Let's compare it to the father's investment. An adult man can produce about XNUMX million sperm cells a day. If he had been allowed, he could have fathered hundreds, if not thousands of children. A sperm cell is the smallest cell in the human body, and its production involves a very small expenditure of energy. His role in every pregnancy is a few minutes between the sheets, an emission and maybe a cigarette later.
According to the Guinness Book of Records, the bloodthirsty King of Morocco, Moulay Ismail (1672-1727), fathered the largest number of children fathered by one man - an amazing number: 888 (but who exactly counted them?). The most fertile woman in recorded history is a Russian peasant woman named Vasileva, who gave birth twenty-seven times, and a total of sixty-nine children: sixteen sets of twins, seven triplets and four quadruplets, between the years 1725 - 1765. This impressive number is less than ten percent of the impressive number of children who gave birth to the king of Morocco. It is therefore possible that the nature of the sperm or egg directs our sexual behavior to a certain extent, when we are looking for a partner. From a male point of view, it is obviously desirable, from an evolutionary point of view, to impregnate as many women as possible. From a female point of view, it is better to be careful and choose a partner very carefully.
Think of the rather unpleasant female of the black spider. The high value of the female's egg is particularly evident in her daily sexual behavior (and perhaps we should say in her promiscuity). One species of black spider, the Australian red-backed spider, is especially romantic. The male and the female, much larger than him, begin a courtship ceremony that lasts four hours. But it's not exactly wine and roses. Once they start mating, the male uses one of his reproductive organs to do a flip-flop into the female's mouth. They continue to mate, while the female begins to bite off pieces of him. The male is able to continue mating and transfer sperm in the process. In most cases he survives the first attempt, but if he does survive, he immediately returns to court the female. This time she finishes him off, as they say, devouring him to the last bone.
Sexual cannibalism is unknown in other animals, but black spiders have developed this unusual behavior for a very good reason. They live in an environment where there is usually a shortage of their usual food - beetles and cockroaches. Females live for eighteen months, and during this time they have only one breeding season. They should make the most of it (carpe diem, seize the day, should be their motto). Mating without food for the mother and babies would be considered futile negligence from the point of view of both parents. The solution they found is that the male sacrifices himself in order to provide the necessary food for the mother and babies. It is better to mate successfully once and die, than to never have a successful mating.
Tactics vary, but the main consideration is to protect the female's investment in the egg, even if it involves eating the mate. Our long-term goals are the same, but men and women have different ways of achieving them. Men crave to flutter, and will by all means do so if given the chance. In one entertaining experiment, the researchers sent college students to approach members of the opposite sex on campus and ask if they were interested in having sex. Three quarters of the men agreed to immediate intercourse; No woman agreed to this (although there were some who agreed to the dinner invitation).
In a long-term relationship, the man's feelings of loyalty to his partner, the unwritten laws of the institution of marriage, the rules of morality and cultural conventions discourage the man from trying to sleep with other women. But if he rejects an opportunity for extramarital sex, he has to overcome physical temptation out of a moral choice to do so. Women, on the other hand, usually show a much more limited interest in sex with a complete stranger. Despite modern contraceptives, which provide a hundred percent guarantee of preventing pregnancy (at least compared to dangerous methods that were used in the past), women are not built to seek sex with a large number of men, strangers or not. They are more interested in quality than quantity. The number of their eggs is relatively limited, so they have to be picky about who improved them.


About the book Human Instinct - Robert Winston

The book "The Human Instinct" was published by Tel Aviv University in June 2005.

Why are babies sweet in our eyes? What do women look for in a man? Why are men willing to risk their name and status for casual sex? Is rape genetically rewarding?
In a book based on a successful and acclaimed BBC television series, the renowned British scientist Lord Robert Winston offers a series of answers to these and other equally intriguing questions. In a captivating and humorous style, Winston introduces his readers to the latest innovations in the fields of brain research, psychology and genetics. He shatters myths and legends that appear in popular literature and shows that scientific discoveries can be more surprising than any myth.
Professor Robert Winston from Imperial College, University of London deals in the fields of gynecology and obstetrics. The name of Winston, one of the top fertility researchers in the world, is known to every professional. He is best known to the general public for his highly successful popular science series on the BBC. Among these series: "Making Children", "The Human Mind", and "The Human Instinct", the series on which this book is based. In 1995, the Queen of Great Britain awarded him a title of nobility.

To the first part of the chapter "Sex and the Savannah" from the book Human Instinct

To the second part of the chapter Sex and the Savannah from the book Human Instinct

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