Evolutionary Psych’s Double Standard
Evolutionary psychology says the sexual double standard dwells within our genes: men are naturally polygamous and women are naturally monogamous.
It can’t be helped.
Unfortunately, the theory harms women’s sexuality. And unnecessarily, because the theory has some problems.
The math doesn’t work
According to the theory, men are polygamous because — with millions of sperm — they will best reproduce themselves by “spreading their seed” far and wide.
But since a woman will bear only a small number of children, she can best pass on her genes by putting a lot of time and resources into the few children she bears. And by finding a guy who will stick around to help provide for them.
But the math doesn’t work. Men can’t be having sex with lots of different women if each woman will only have sex with one man.
Mathematicians have wondered: Are men having more sex outside the country than women are? Are they seeing more prostitutes, who don’t answer surveys? Yes. But not enough to make sense of the numbers.
And as it turns out, if you tell men and women that you are using a lie detector when you ask about partner numbers, male and female answers turn out the same.
Will kids abandoned by their dads grow up to reproduce themselves?
And the theory contradicts itself. If children need the support of their parents, how many kids abandoned by their dads will grow up to reproduce themselves — and their fathers genes?
As it turns out, humans began living mostly monogamously soon after they started living in large groups. With more support and resources, children grew bigger brains and were more likely to survive.
Even today kids are more likely to reach adulthood, and be physically and mentally healthier, when BOTH biological parents stick around. Even compared to having stepparents, says anthropologist Robert Quinlan. This is true whether the cultures are modern, agrarian, or hunter-gatherer.
Maybe that’s why 75% of men say they prefer relationship sex, versus the 25% who don’t. Sticking around to care for your kids may be evolutionarily advantageous.
But about 25% of young men and women say they don’t prefer monogamy. In fact, a few of my friends choose open marriage or polyamory. They make sure to put family first, so that regardless of their sexual adventures, they are always there for their kids.
Are women naturally more monogamous?
So why are women less likely than men to say they’ve had a lot of partners?
The obvious answer is that patriarchal cultures (most of the world these days) punish women for behaving any other way. So they conveniently forget a few of their partners. (And since “players” are celebrated, men are more likely to pad their numbers.)
But in places where women’s sexuality is valued and not shamed, men and women both readily admit to having had a number of partners. For instance, in the sex-positive societies of the South Pacific — particularly before (and right after) contact with whites.
Evolutionary psychology harms women’s sexuality
Evolutionary psychology is inherently conservative. If our behavior is grounded in our genes, we can’t change. So don’t even try. And if it’s evolutionarily advantageous, all is as it should be.
Next, we punish women and reward men for non-monogamy.
And then the double standard becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, dampening women’s desire as they suppress it — and even lose it to some degree — which isn’t good for anyone.
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Posted on April 27, 2015, in feminism, men, psychology, relationships, sex and sexuality, sexism, women and tagged double standard, Evolutionary Psychology, feminism, men, psychology, relationships, sex, sexism, sexuality, women. Bookmark the permalink. 34 Comments.