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Saturday, January 15, 2005

He's Just Not That Into You and The One

Through Bitch Magazine, here's a good criticism by Tobin Levy of He's Just Not That Into You at Nerve. Her point is a good one--embrace it, deny it, coddle it, ignore it, whatever but getting rejected is never fun and no book is going to change that. Levy doesn't talk much about what to me seems the biggest inanity of the book, which is that it furthers the bizarre notion that men do the selecting and rejecting, and women mostly stand around hoping to be good enough for some man to condescend to marry. She does touch on it, though:

I had previously refused to read the book, partly because Rick Marin, author of Cad: Confessions of a Toxic Bachelor, wrote the review in the New York Times, and partly because, as Marin not-so-insightfully put it, "There's something wildly condescending about the image of women as helpless creatures, standing around minding their own business until men come into their lives and break their hearts."

Of course, it wasn't a deep insight, but Marin is right on the money there. Anyway, Levy's point is that she read the book after getting dumped by a guy who used one of the lamest break-up lines I've ever heard, one that is truly just a sentimental variation on "he's just not that into you".

Four months after I got the line no one wants to hear, I'm still wondering when "you are not the one" became acceptable breakup vernacular. The last time I got dumped, "it's over" worked just fine.

Levy counts off a number of girl friends who have heard this line, which is both really heart-breaking to the person it's delivered to and gives me eyestrain from rolling my eyes so hard. I can tell you right now why the guys who used this line did--self-flattery. Much like "he's just not that into you", the point of it is to emphasize that these men demand far more perfection from a lifelong partner than mere mortal women who age and have grumpy moments can offer.

Fact of the matter is that plenty of women are extremely picky and waiting around for "the one" and dumping plenty of perfectly nice guys along the way. The difference is that society tends to pick on these women--relatives cajoling you not to be picky, jokes about biological clocks all over TV, David Brooks telling women to get married and start pushing out pups on the day they graduate without wondering why women might not want to be married so young. With men, we run the gamut from indulging it as a simple male entitlement (HJNTIY) to actually applauding it, as the young man in this story did for himself when he dumped Levy.

But I thought it over and realized that guys who indulge in social sanction to deride perfectly nice women for their imperfections when they dump them are at least a step up from this form of male entitlement that Katha Pollitt talks about in the comments at Feministing:

I've said this before, but I think first marriages of college-educated people are often of equals -- more so than pre-feminism. But once people get up into their 40s and 50s, I have to say I think the men disproportionately want younger women. Not necessarily "service" women, in fact sometimes quite accomplished and ambitious women -- but younger, which gives the man a permanent advantage. It doesn't work the other way around very often. Not too many 60 year old women with 40 year old men, not too many female professors leaving their husbands for their grad students etc.

For what it's worth, I hope that men who have egotistical ideas about what they deserve in a mate--always young and compliant, for instance--do the women they date a favor and dump them before they get married and have kids and then decide to run off with younger women.

As for myself, I've always hated the phrase "the one", coming from men or women, because while I think it's fine only to consent to living with another person if they knock you off your feet, I also think that it's ridiculous to believe that there is the one perfect person out there for everyone. There's no such thing as a relationship without a little compromise, even between people who have envious amounts of chemistry.

106 Comments:

Blogger Trish said...

Maybe it's my age, but I never heard the phrase "you're not the one." Usually the guy simply wouldn't call me back or he'd make excuses if I called him. In every case where I got the brush-off from a guy, I wasn't entirely happy with the relationship anyway so the "I'll call you" line was a relief to me. Saved me the trouble of breaking up myself. However, I was the one who usually broke off the relationship. I was pretty specific, too. I broke off with one guy because he didn't want to see a play I was in. He asked my friends what it was about so he could talk to me about it without revealing that he didn't see it. My friends told me, and I let him have it. I figured if he'd pull a stunt like that on me, there was no telling what other kind of lying and cajoling he would do. He hemmed and hawed with excuses but I told him I wasn't interested in seeing him anymore.

Interestingly, I used the "you aren't the one for me" line on a guy who had the characteristics of the women described in the article - he wanted a much more serious relationship than I wanted. I could tell he was looking for a wife and he put pressure on me. He came across as desperate. I was not interested in a relationship that serious. He came on much too strong and drove me away. I told him as much. It turned out I was right. He married another woman about a year later.

1/15/2005

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

[quote]
It doesn't work the other way around very often. Not too many 60 year old women with 40 year old men, not too many female professors leaving their husbands for their grad students etc.
[/quote]

At the risk of getting flamed out of existence, here is the perspecitve of a sociobiologist:

Sociobiology tells us that most (if not all) human behavior is dictated by genetics. These genetically determined behaviors come from millions of years of evolution, of which only the last couple of hundred thousand represent thinking humans (i.e. humans that seek to understand the world, and themselves). Evolution is controlled by the forces of natural selection -- those that are most 'fit' and have the most offspring pass on their genes (thus, their behavior).

What makes males and females 'fit' (in an evolutionary sense) is different. Men do not get pregnant, and are capable of creating vast numbers of children. Women create children one or two at a time, and there must be at least nine months between each child (generally, more than a year). A 'fit' male, then, is one that can reproduce many times. The quality of the children is not of great importance, because only a small number have to be able to reproduce themselves. A female, on the other hand, must invest in quality, as each child requires a great deal of investment.

The stereotypical, advice-column-reading woman is looking for 'fit' men -- i.e. men that will produce offspring that will survive, flourish, and reproduce. There are many ways of judging 'fitness'. An older man should have long lived children, giving them a greater span of time to reproduce; rich and powerful men can provide for children, ensuring that they survive long enough to reproduce; attractive men are more likely to have attractive children; &c.

Men, on the other hand, are just looking to have as many children as possible.

This explains why men may not be attracted to older women. These women are not capable of having many more (if any) children, and are not worth the resource investment (again, from an evolutionary standpoint). Older men, on the other hand, are still capable of reproducing, thus it should not seem strange if an older man is attracted to a younger woman.

I do not mean to justify this behavior or these stereotypes. I am just trying to shed light on one possible explaination of where they come from. The human animal has evolved over many hundreds of thousands of years, and has had very little time to adapt to modern society. Much human behavior is tied to adaptive traits of apes and other primates, and is no longer truely adaptive in the world today. However, like the appendix, these behaviors persist long after they serve any real evolutionary function.

xander
ahenders [at] unr [dot] nevada [dot] edu

1/15/2005

 
Blogger La Lubu said...

uhhmmm, yeah, xander. Many moons ago, when I was in community college, I took a biology class with a sociobiologist who patiently tried to explain to the class that rape was just the function of men trying to get their genes out into the world. At first, I thought "this guy is just trying to wake people up and stimulate some conversation"; after I started arguing with him, it was apparent that he actually believed that...so I let him have it with both barrels, verbally. I think the 'sociobiology' explanation for men looking for younger women is bullshit too.

Why? Because most of those men clearly do not want children, and have the vasectomies to prove it. What they want is someone less experienced, more naive, and more likely to tolerate (or not recognize) bullshit when they see it. When these men chat up a woman who looks much younger (say 10-15 years younger than her actual age), they go running in the opposite direction, fast, when she cheerfully says, "why sure you can ask my age! I'm forty!!". They also break Olympic records when they meet up with a younger woman who is experienced and calls them on their horseshit.

1/16/2005

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1) Sociobiology cannot explain rape. In fact, it can explain why rape would be an 'unfit' behavior. First, let us look at what must happen in order for a man to pass on his genes through rape.

There are costs and benefits associated with reproduction through rape, as outlined in Smith et. al (2001)[1]:

[quote]
A– Reproductive value of an average (nonraping) 25-year-old male =2.4
B– Proportion surviving owing to retaliation by the victim =0.995
C– Proportion surviving owing to retribution by victim’s husband or kin =0.99
D– Proportion surviving owing to loss of alliances =0.995
E– Proportional fertility owing to status loss =0.99
F– Inclusive fitness cost from impact of rapist’s behavior on close kin =0.005
Total cost to rapist, per rape is measured by: A−ABCDE+F=0.0762

H– Probability that a reproductive-aged woman is having ovulatory cycles (given rates of pregnancy and lactational amenorrhea in traditional populations) = 0.15
I– Probability that an ovulating woman will conceive, per rape =0.07 (2/28)
J– Proportion of fetuses surviving owing to rape-related abortion =0.9
K– Proportion of infants surviving owing to rape-related infanticide =0.9
L– Proportion of children surviving owing to rape-related parental neglect =0.95
M– Proportional adult mating success of child given rape-related status =0.95
Total expected increment in the rapist’s reproductive value, per rape is measured by HIJKLM=0.0078
[/quote]

As you can see, from an evolutionary standpoint, the cost the the rapist far outweighs the benefit. I would say that your community college professor did not entirely understand the sociobiological argument, or that he ascribed to a much older form of the theory.


2) You do not seem to be understanding that much of this behavior is not conscious. The behavior of a man is still going to be governed by genes, even if he has had a vasectomy. Does a vasectomy prevent hormones from being produced in the testicles? Are these hormones not the thing that governs a mans sex drive? Even if he has had a vasectomy, his behavior is governed by a genetic drive to reproduce. It is sub-conscious.

3) I agree that "[w]hat they want is someone less experienced, more naive, and more likely to tolerate (or not recognize) bullshit when they see it." It is much easier to have sex with (and thus have children by) someone who is more likely to be taken in by 'bullshit'.

Men and women, given nearly identical situations, will behave differently. Thousands of emperical studies have shown that. Sociobiology (and its newer incarnations) is one explaination for these differences in behavior. It may not be right, but it seems to fit the data better than any other explaination that I have seen. Furthermore, it does more than simply assert that men and women are different, and it does more than simply assert that men are scum (which is the vibe I get from your post, La Lubu).

There is nothing in your response that contradicts the sociobiological theory in any way -- you are describing behavior that can be explained in the framework of a sociobiological model.

I find that looking for explainations to behavior is far more productive and ultimately helpful name calling and finger pointing. If you do not like this explaination of human behavior, that is fine -- but please do not call it 'horseshit' until you can come up with some other explaination, rather than simply asserting that this is how men are.

xander
ahenders [at] nevada [dot] unr [dot] edu


[1] Smith, Eric A., Monique Borgerhoff Mulder, and Kim Hill
2001 "Controversies in the Evolutionary Social Sciences: a guide for the perplexed" in Trends in Ecology and Evolution. Vol. 16, No. 3.

1/16/2005

 
Blogger mythago said...

If the sociobiology argument were true, then men would *always* seek women in a certain age range--not women who were merely 'younger' or less powerful. Sociobiology would lead a man to reject a 30-year-old supermodel in favor of a plain-looking 18-year-old who is getting her B.S. in Nuclear Physics at M.I.T. That, I think we could probably all agree, is unlikely.

And if men only want younger women, why doesn't *every* man ditch his over-30 wife and woo teenagers? An awful lot of them seem uninterested in doing so--are they just, you know, maladaptive?

1/16/2005

 
Blogger La Lubu said...

xander, I do not believe that all, or even most, men are scum. I do take a dim view of those who consciously reject women their own age, independent of any other factor, and specifically seek out women young enough to be their daughters. This isn't to say that every May/December relationship is a baldly exploitative one, but yeah, it makes me go, Hmmmmm.

I don't think (or, at least where/when I live, haven't observed) that when men and women have identical situations that they behave differently. From what I've seen, they tend to behave the same. It's just that men and women don't always have identical situations. I'm with mythago---this is a learned behavior. Not everyone exhibits this behavior because not everyone learns it, or wants to...y'know, like racism.

And I've had enough of "you are a women, therefore you will behave in x manner; he is a man, therefore he will behave in y manner" to last me ten-thousand lifetimes. I subscribe to the view that we do not come from different planets, nor are we so different. Maybe it' 'cuz I don't fit the perfect "feminine" mold...you know cooking/cleaning are feminine, changing the oil and building a deck onto your house are masculine? I think of all four of those activities as gender-neutral, because where/when I live, men and women are equally likely to do those things. Capisce?

1/16/2005

 
Blogger La Lubu said...

and xander? For your theory to pan out, one would probably expect to see, say at least half of all marriages exhibit a large age gap (at least ten years), no? I mean, if all men were hard-wired to seek out younger women. That isn't the case. The vast majority of marriages here in the U.S. are between couples pretty much around the same age.

And I would say that's because most people (men and women) do not want a partner who is significantly younger or older. It's easier to pursue and maintain a relationship with someone from one's own age group. People of the same age will have far more in common socially and intellectually, and will be far likelier to be at the same "life stages".

In countries where it is more common for there to be a large age gap (older men/younger women), you will also see trends of: coerced marriage (for the woman), lack of education for women, lack of emancipation for women..., y'know?

1/16/2005

 
Blogger Trish said...

How many of the women in the older man/younger woman relationships actually bear children? A younger woman who bears children with an older man will likely end up caring for her husband as he ages (and becomes infirm), caring for her children, and possibly caring for her elderly parents - all at the same time. That's a heavy load to bear.

1/16/2005

 
Blogger mythago said...

As you can see, from an evolutionary standpoint, the cost the the rapist far outweighs the benefit.Nice math, bad starting assumptions. You're considering the evolutionary advantage of a one-time act of rape, which is evolutionarily the same as a one-time act of consensual sex, as far as reproduction goes.

Rape is very advantageous when it removes a barrier (the female's cooperation) to sex taking place, when it permits multiple sexual acts with the same woman, and when it gives a male access to otherwise unavailable females (that is, any reproductive odds are better than zero).

Sorry, but sociobiology doesn't track morality. You can tart up the "fucking teenagers good, rape bad" argument with numbers if you like, but you're essentially bending science to defend a social structure that's to your liking.

1/16/2005

 
Blogger Amanda said...

Men who whip out the "men are animals" argument amuse me. They must be very confident that women will not be gaining power in the future, or else they would refrain from trying to get us to believe that they'd be better off in cages.

1/16/2005

 
Blogger FoolishOwl said...

Humans are animals. We're animals that are part of the order of mammals, which are characterized by large brains, and the predominance of learned behavior over instinctive behavior, which enhances their adaptability. We're part of the primate family, which features generalized body structures except for yet larger brains, for even greater adaptability than is common among other mammals. Humans trade off that generalized body structure for an upright stance, and an even greater brain mass -- one so large that humans are extraordinarily helpless at birth because of the need to protect that brain.

Humans are the apparent product of a runaway evolutionary process that maximized the capacity for learned behavior over most other considerations. About the only instinct I'm convinced we actually have is the instinct to acquire language in infancy. Describing humans as creatures of instinct seems founded on an ignorance of not just how humans differ from other animals, but how the animals we're most closely related to differ from other living things.

My mother is a horse breeder. Recently, she was complaining about an email she'd gotten from someone warning not to let stallions go near foals they hadn't sired, or they'd kill them -- out of their instinctive desire to assure the survival of only their own genes. This was utter nonsense -- that's very extraordinary behavior for a horse. Apparently, this was used as an explanation for why a stallion who'd been kept isolated from other horses for most of his life got violent when placed with a herd of other horses. Horses are pretty intelligent as compared to living things in general, and they have to learn social behavior.

It was classic sociobiological reasoning, only applied to horses -- and still wrong.

I think there's something to psychoanalytic theories, though I don't know enough on the subject to sort through the difficulties. But I accept the general idea that there's much more to our minds than our conscious minds. It is, nevertheless, the case that our conscious minds are tremendously important. Humans consciously reflect on their own behavior, and decide to change it. We can even identify emotions, and the sources of those emotions, and decide to circumvent or change our own feelings.

So, no, I'm not buying the theory that men instinctively prefer younger women to older women because of reproductive instincts.

Hell, if we have reproductive instincts, how come I had such a hard time figuring out how to have sex the first times I tried it? It sure didn't come naturally.

1/16/2005

 
Blogger emjaybee said...

I think poor xander has pretty much been fully debated, but I just had to add two things:

1. "Sociobiology tells us that most (if not all) human behavior is dictated by genetics."

"Sociobiology" as a whole, doesn't "tell us" anything. It is a field of study, and a young one at that, with many differences of opinion among its practitioners. It is not a monolithic entity. Please don't make innocent sociobiologists your unwitting accomplices in carrying out your personal assumptions about something as notoriously hard to pin down as gender-driven behavior.

2. Purely anecdotal, but my husband, after dating many younger women, ended up with me, who is three years older than him. I have three women of my acquaintance who also married younger men, so much so that I'm starting to wonder if it's a trend.

1/16/2005

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, a few points:

What he is talking about is a scientific explanation for behavior. He is not saying that older men *should* be expected to go for younger women, that it is a good thing, or that everyone will do it.

What he is saying is that, from a sociobiological standpoint, older men can find younger women attractive and part of that may be because they have a genetic drive to reproduce. How many older men in the world subscribe to Playboy? Are there any common sex magazines devoted to older women?

Whether or not these men consciously want children (“and have the vasectomies to prove it”) does not affect the drive towards younger women – these drives that are being talked about are not conscious. They have a genetic inclination.

Yes, there are a lot of guys out there who want trophy wives, malleable pretty little twits, because they need power or whatever. There is no argument against that. What I don’t think you are hearing, though, is that sociobiology is not an *excuse* for behaviour but an *explanation* of why certain patterns come up.

Sociobiology may be a fairly new science, but it explains a lot of behaviours better than anything else we have out there right now.

“If the sociobiology argument were true, then men would *always* seek women in a certain age range--not women who were merely 'younger' or less powerful. Sociobiology would lead a man to reject a 30-year-old supermodel in favor of a plain-looking 18-year-old who is getting her B.S. in Nuclear Physics at M.I.T.”

No, actually, but we’re back to what people are drawn to on an unconscious level. It is possible, even likely, that other things might overcome these unconscious drives. If a man is involved with a 30-year-old supermodel and is happy in the relationship, he won’t be generally out looking for someone new. If he’s unattached, though, and out looking for someone, he might be more drawn to a 20 year old than a 30 year old and not really know why. He might, however, have much more in common with the 30 year old. It doesn’t mean that he will automatically go for the younger woman, just that it heightens the probability that he will be attracted to her on a subconscious level.

La Lubu, it is very difficult outside of a scientific setting to set up identical situations for men and women. If you would like to object to this assertion, I would suggest you do a little bit of studying rather than blasting something because of what you have observed. Certain differing reactions seem to hold true, even across ethnic and societal lines, when men and women are placed in similar situations; considering the differences in the societies we have to look at, I don’t think you can explain it as learned behaviour.

This is not a hardwired question; it is a subconscious inclination. Stop assuming that because sociobiology says this is part of us that it takes choice, love, commonalities, or anything else out of the picture. That’s not the point; the point is that it explains some otherwise very confusing behaviours.

“Rape is very advantageous when it removes a barrier (the female's cooperation) to sex taking place, when it permits multiple sexual acts with the same woman, and when it gives a male access to otherwise unavailable females (that is, any reproductive odds are better than zero).”

Erm…since when did rape give you the option of multiple sexual acts with the same woman? It’s usually a one-shot deal.

He’s not saying “men are animals” and that makes everything fine. He’s saying that this is an explanation for a behaviour and that it is on a subconscious level.

Listen, y’all, while I understand where you are coming from, you clearly weren’t paying enough attention. This is not saying men are allowed to be animals because they have a genetic bent that way. This is saying that sociobiology, as a science, has an explanation (note - *NOT* an excuse) for certain behaviours that, when studied, show up in humans. This is a science which is learning where certain impulses come from. Women often will be interested in more settled men rather than guys who are still in their sowing wild oats phase – if the guy is their age, so much the better. Look at the questions advice columnists get from both men and women. Look at some of the studies. Quit quoting anecdotal “evidence” because it does not help your case.

--Wendryn
www.wendryn.com

1/16/2005

 
Blogger Amanda said...

I'm confused. Why are a bunch of pictures of women with fake hair, fake tits, fake skin and fake smiles are supposed to be evidence of men's natural desires?

1/16/2005

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sells.

--Wendryn

1/16/2005

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From what I can see, there has been very few alternate proposals, and a lot of blasting me for being pig-headed, chauvinistic, immoral, oppressive, misguided, etc. I posted from the perspective of a model that comes out of the social sciences (and biology), and has a great deal of academic backing. It is not the only model, and I am not the greatest advocate of it. There are people that could do a much better job of explaining it than I. I take some small offense at being belittled by anecdotal evidence. I also think that people are trying to hard to assert that humans are somehow separate from the rest of the animal kingdom. While I understand that the ideas that I brought up are a bit controversial in a forum such as this, my reading of past posts had led me to believe that the conversation would be more of an enlightened discussion than flame-flest.

However, I would like to address a few things point-by-point.


MYTHAGO:

The argument is not that men will *always* seek the younger woman over an older woman, only that he will be more inclined to seek out younger women. Furthermore, the way that a male human can best reproduce is to have exclusive sexual rights to one female, starting at the age of 14 (we call that marriage), and participate in as many extra-marrital pairings as possible. This ensures that the male has some offspring (from his wife, over her 25 or 30 years of fertility), and maximizes the possibility of other children. This explains, to some extent, the great number of polygamus societies, and the general paucity of polyandrous societies.

Also, age is only one factor in a number of things that may influence male mate choice. While compared to females, males have less incentive to maximize the fitness of their partners, there is some incentive. It does not good to get a woman pregnant if she is incapable of bearing children because her hips are to small. Many of the traits that men generally find attractive are indicators of such fitness:

wide hips == child bearing capacity
large breasts == the ability to care for children until they are old enough to fend for themselves
generally symmetry == good health

Again, these are not deterministic statements, just statements of what the 'average' male would probably find attractive. And think about it for a minute -- what do men generally find to be physically attractive? 80 year-old women or 20 year-old women? Women with wide hips or women with narrow hips?

The question is not what you or your boyfriend (or your partner or whatever) finds attractive, but what (on average) a man will find attractive. This is something that can be measured empirically.


LA LUBU:

I will reinforce this point again: the model is not "you are a woman, therefor you will behave in x manner; he is a man, therefore he will behave in y manner." The argument is that, over many trials, men will generally act in one way, and women in another. It is like heights. Men, in general, are taller than women. If you were to measure 1,000 men and a 1,000 women, then average the results, the male average would be higher. This does not mean that there would not be short men and no tall women -- it would mean that if you were to pick any man and any woman at random, it is likely that the man would be taller.

In response to the comment that in countries where a great age gap is common, oppression is greater &c.: have I said anything that might contradict this point? I am not making value judgment (or at least I am trying not to). Yes, these things occur. In the United States, we are lucky. We have created a social system that allows for greater equality (still not perfect, but improving, and better than most of the rest of the world). This system punishes many of the behaviors that everyone on this forum considers to be bad, like societies punishing rapists in other parts of the world (more on that in a minute).

I am not saying that "this is the way it is, accept it!" I am trying to make the point that much of behavior is determined by genetics, and that it takes conscious effort to educate people and break these genetic programs. Understanding the cause of a problem is the first step in solving it.



TRISH:

The question is not only how many older men bear children with younger women. Also consider: how many older men bear children with older women? how many younger men bear children with older women? how many younger women bear children with younger women? And keep in mind, these people don't have to be married. Marriage is an institution that has existed for only a few tens of thousands of years (max), compared to millions of years of non-permanent bondings. From an evolutionary standpoint, it makes much more sense for men to go after women that are capable of bearing children, as the drive to have sex (with any woman) derives from the drive to reproduce. Humans are just about the only animal that have sex for pleasure, rather than for reproduction.



MYTHAGO:

Please look at the rape numbers again. They are per incident. The cost of rape is nearly an order of magnitude greater than the benefit PER RAPE. So, no, it is not "evolutionary the same as a one-time act." Each and every rape act carries that penalty.

Furthermore, I never said "fucking teenagers good, rape bad." I do not believe that I made any value judgments, one way or the other. And I never claimed that the social structure was to my liking (or that it was not). You are projecting.



AMANDA:

Men are animals. So are women. We are all animals. I do not think that either belongs in a cage (y'know, unless that is your thing).



BRIAN:

You begin by stating that humans are animals, then spend the rest of your post denying it. As to the horse example, it is nonsense. This is sociobiological reasoning done wrong. Horses are very social animals -- that is what made them so easy for humans to domesticate. There is greater advantage in allowing the foals to live, then mating with the mare. Killing the foals could have repercussions: a more senior stallion might drive the junior out of the herd, or the mare may refuse to allow the junior to mate with her (yes, they have that choice). If the junior allows the foals to live, and defends them, the mare may perceive this as a demonstration of fitness, and allow the junior greater sexual access. Lastly, horses (and many other animals) are not monogamus. Who knows who the father is? Killing of foals could be killing one's own children.

Psychoanalytic models are interesting, but are either falling into disrepute, or asymtotically approaching biological models (you might be interested by evolutionary psychology).



EMJAYBEE:

1) Right... I was playing a bit loose with the language. I would have been better to say that sociobiology makes several assumptions, primarily that much of behavior is determined by genetics. Beyond that, I stand by my statements as MY STATEMENTS. As I said above, I may not be the best person in the world to debate sociobiology, and others could probably be more eloquent. Nor have I claimed that sociobiology is monolithic -- in fact, there are many debates, the rape example being one of them. I am up on several of them, and not so much on others. I simply felt that many of the intricacies were far to involved for this forum, as this did not seem like the place to publish a doctoral dissertation.



AMANDA:

_Playboy_ may not be an example of men's natural desires. However, if it is not, could you please explain to me why it sells so well? If it is not representing the desires of a significant number of people, why do so many people buy it? Why is pornography the most commonly searched for items on the internet? Why is most of that pornography directed at men? And why is so much of it teenage girls?

____

Finally, because folk have relied so much on anecdotal evidence:

I am 23. I live with my girlfriend. She is 30. She makes more money than I do, is better educated (she is working on her masters degree, while I am struggling to finish my bachelors), has better credit, and is generally more 'powerful' than I am. We are very happy together. Does that mean that I don't find young women and *gasp* even teenagers attractive? No. I think that many young women are very sexually attractive (and a few older women as well). Does this mean I have to act upon that? No.

Okay. That is all I am going to say on the subject. I am sure that this will make many of you very happy. You may proceed to flame me into oblivion.

xander
ahenders [at] unr [dot] nevada [dot] edu

1/17/2005

 
Blogger mythago said...

Again, your math is pretty but wrong. Looking at the average reproductive success of a 25-year-old rapist (in a particular, modern population) tells us nothing about whether rape, period, is a good reproductive strategy overall. Especially since we need a definition of rape here, yes? When you exclude marital rape, as has been the norm up until very recently, the picture looks quite a bit different.

This explains, to some extent, the great number of polygamus societies, and the general paucity of polyandrous societies.Er, if a man marries one woman and screws around with others, it is not a "polygamous society." What you're thinking of is one man, multiple wives, which is far better than the one-wife-plus-mistresses method. Marrying a woman is a better guarantee of *exclusive* access, thus guaranteeing that her offspring will also be yours, than furtive sex with non-wives.

It's not a matter of sexism on your part as much as piss-poor understanding of what sociobiology really tells us. I recommend The Mismeasure of Woman and Why Men Won't Ask For Directions.

1/17/2005

 
Blogger La Lubu said...

xander, men in the United States have a distinct preference for narrow hips. It's a learned behavior. Depending on the era, different shapes are "fashionable" in womens' bodies. Now, it's narrow hips and large breasts. In other times and places, it was small breasts and large hips. Sometimes it's straight-up-and-down. Sometimes we're supposed to be skinny. Other times, fat. It's not just clothes that are expected to be fashionable, but the bodies that fit into the clothes.

Let's define some terms, so we know what we're talking about when it comes to "older". As it has been used in this thread, "older man" is referring to men in the "prime" of life---forties and fifties. "Older women" can refer to women as young as twenty-five, but tends to refer to every woman over thirty. Women over thirty are still plenty capable of having children (I'll be Exhibit "A", and most of the women in my family can take up the rest of the alphabet; my grandmothers had their last children in their late forties). Many women over thirty are indistinguishable from women in their twenties as far as appearance, so yeah, I tend to think that older males pursuing younger females isn't about childbearing or physical attractiveness, but about getting the upper hand. I find your insistence that older men with vasectomies are subconsciously looking for a woman to reproduce with completely laughable!

Now, you are perfectly able to call my assertion that most couples in the United States are close in age "anecdotal evidence", but I prefer to call it "statistics". Look it up yourself.

Without the artificial conditions to back it up (like lack of education and emancipation for women), the institution of older men/younger women falls apart. That variable of agency for women causes it to be so. You can call that anecdotal too; feel free to take a scientific poll on any college campus in the U.S., asking the female students there if they would prefer to be with a man around their age, or if they would prefer a man much older.

And like I said earlier, I don't believe that every May/December romance is exploitative. It just has a strong potential to be.

And P.S.: I seriously doubt women subscribing to Playgirl are in their twenties. Hey, maybe you can try your hand at the sociobiological explanation for shopping in the next thread!

1/17/2005

 
Blogger La Lubu said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/17/2005

 
Blogger Steve Pick said...

A couple of questions/points on this thread pop to my mind:

1) If life expectancy was dramatically lower during the early days of humanity, wouldn't the distinction between young and old be smaller? I mean, if 40 was the equivalent of 80, then it's unlikely that anybody would be attracted to an older person.

2) Following up on this, isn't it likely that all people, men and women, are attracted to youth, since a) we are capable of creating children at an early age and in the prehistoric era, there were no social conventions against it yet and b) we didn't have enough of a lifespan to learn to be attracted to older people?

3) Since all social behavior is likely a combination of genetic impulses and contemporary mores, I think we can explain the tendency for men to seek out younger women as a combination of the human impulse towards youth and the social conventions of women to seek a powerful protecter. I mean, nobody is arguing that the younger women who marry the older men are doing so from any genetic impulse, right?

4) An interesting development in pornography over the last few years is the increasing amount of older women. Try a google search for milf and you'll see what I'm talking about. There is a major, major market for fantasies of younger men having sex with older women. This doesn't negate any sociobiology, but does at least point to something new in our culture.

1/17/2005

 
Blogger Steve Pick said...

A couple of questions/points on this thread pop to my mind:

1) If life expectancy was dramatically lower during the early days of humanity, wouldn't the distinction between young and old be smaller? I mean, if 40 was the equivalent of 80, then it's unlikely that anybody would be attracted to an older person.

2) Following up on this, isn't it likely that all people, men and women, are attracted to youth, since a) we are capable of creating children at an early age and in the prehistoric era, there were no social conventions against it yet and b) we didn't have enough of a lifespan to learn to be attracted to older people?

3) Since all social behavior is likely a combination of genetic impulses and contemporary mores, I think we can explain the tendency for men to seek out younger women as a combination of the human impulse towards youth and the social conventions of women to seek a powerful protecter. I mean, nobody is arguing that the younger women who marry the older men are doing so from any genetic impulse, right?

4) An interesting development in pornography over the last few years is the increasing amount of older women. Try a google search for milf and you'll see what I'm talking about. There is a major, major market for fantasies of younger men having sex with older women. This doesn't negate any sociobiology, but does at least point to something new in our culture.

1/17/2005

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These sociobiology threads make my head explode. But here's a thought: why is it that "popular sociobiology" never seems to address why women cheat on spouses? The discussion always seems to be "women want security and therefore are faithful, men want variety and want to sire as many children as possible, and therefore are unfaithful, resist marriage, have serial marriages to younger women". Well, genetics studies have shown fairly high rates of children born to married couples to be sired by someone other than the husband.

One other thing not often addressed is the increased likelihood of stepchildren to be abused and murdered by stepfathers. Sociobiologist men somehow don't fancy being compared to canines, felines, rodents, and some herbivores where the new male who has killed or driven off the pre-existing male of that female then kills the suckling offspring of the old male.

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1/17/2005

 
Blogger Amanda said...

I just can't wait until they start measuring heads again and "proving" that women have smaller heads and are therefore dumber.

1/17/2005

 
Blogger FoolishOwl said...

First, my main argument was about understanding that human adaptability and the dominance of learned behavior in humans is a result of our biology. We have big brains, compared to other animals. We have bigger brains than animals that have big brains compared to animals other than humans. The fact that we are not controlled by instincts is a biological fact.

If I said that bats differed from other mammals in that they had poor vision, excellent hearing, and the ability to fly, would you assume I was arguing that bats aren't mammals?

My point with the horses was two-fold. First, even in an animal with smaller brain mass than humans, learned behavior is dominant over instinct. Second, sociobiology was used, as it is always used, as a magical explanation for bad behavior. It's wrong. The horse was badly trained and unsocialized -- that's why it was violent, not because of a non-existent instinct.

The only things that sociobiology ever claims to explain are violent behavior, sexism, and racism, each of which is explained as the inevitable result of our biology. Every sociobiological argument I've ever seen takes as its starting point the existence of some reactionary attitude among contemporary white middle class men in the US, and goes looking for evidence why this is an innate characteristic of all human life regardless of time or place. Sociobiology is characterized by complete myopia regarding culture, history, and even evolution and biology.

1/17/2005

 
Blogger U.T. Raptor Red said...

"These sociobiology threads make my head explode. But here's a thought: why is it that "popular sociobiology" never seems to address why women cheat on spouses? The discussion always seems to be "women want security and therefore are faithful, men want variety and want to sire as many children as possible, and therefore are unfaithful, resist marriage, have serial marriages to younger women". Well, genetics studies have shown fairly high rates of children born to married couples to be sired by someone other than the husband."
I've seen at least two programs on this very subject on the Discovery Channel in the past... and I'm sure there are numerous books on the subject.

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Dinner by the Fire : Order in some of your favorite food, open a bottle of fine wine, light some candles.

A Day at the Spa : Show your appreciation for the hard work that takes.

Keep in Touch : It is important that you keep in touch with each other often.

Motivate Each Other : Find a mutual incentive that will motivate both of you.

Adore your Mate : Appreciate and love them for the person they are.

Make Eye Contact : Think back to the first time you saw your now mate.

Respect Privacy : When two people come together in a relationship, each person has their own set of history.

Be Flexible : There will be times when your mate is right and times when you are right.

Encourage Friendships : Men, unlike women, have a more difficult time in developing close friendships with other men.

relationship problem

4/07/2006

 
Anonymous relationship advice guide said...


relationship problem 101 Ways to Build Happy, Lasting Relationships.

Multilingual : English - Chinese Simplified - Chinese Traditional - Dutch - French - German - Greek - Italian - Japanese - Korean - Portuguese - Russian - Spanish

Start Over : When couples first get together, everything is new and exciting.

Lighten Up : Often when couples have gone through or are going through some bumpy spots in their relationship, things tend to get serious.

Night of Passion : Intimacy and passion in relationships is not only important but also healthy.

Cuddle Time : When couples first start dating, cuddling is usually a part of their everyday existence.

Make the Women Feel Good : Just like men, woman love feeling good about themselves.

Showing Love : Although hearing the words, I love you is special and important.

Realistic Expectations : No matter how wonderful and flawless your mate seems, no one is perfect.

Go on a Date : Especially for married couples, but even for some dating couples, start dating.

Control Your Anger : Every relationship has difficulties, and sometimes, there can be some intense arguments.

I Forgive You : If something has happened in your relationship causing the trust to waiver, you will have many things to work through.

Day at the Movies : Have a movie marathon some rainy or cold Saturday.

Dinner by the Fire : Order in some of your favorite food, open a bottle of fine wine, light some candles.

A Day at the Spa : Show your appreciation for the hard work that takes.

Keep in Touch : It is important that you keep in touch with each other often.

Motivate Each Other : Find a mutual incentive that will motivate both of you.

Adore your Mate : Appreciate and love them for the person they are.

Make Eye Contact : Think back to the first time you saw your now mate.

Respect Privacy : When two people come together in a relationship, each person has their own set of history.

Be Flexible : There will be times when your mate is right and times when you are right.

Encourage Friendships : Men, unlike women, have a more difficult time in developing close friendships with other men.

relationship problem

4/09/2006

 
Anonymous relationship advice guide said...


people relationship dating 101 Ways to Build Happy, Lasting Relationships.

Multilingual : English - Chinese Simplified - Chinese Traditional - Dutch - French - German - Greek - Italian - Japanese - Korean - Portuguese - Russian - Spanish

Start Over : When couples first get together, everything is new and exciting.

Lighten Up : Often when couples have gone through or are going through some bumpy spots in their relationship, things tend to get serious.

Night of Passion : Intimacy and passion in relationships is not only important but also healthy.

Cuddle Time : When couples first start dating, cuddling is usually a part of their everyday existence.

Make the Women Feel Good : Just like men, woman love feeling good about themselves.

Showing Love : Although hearing the words, I love you is special and important.

Realistic Expectations : No matter how wonderful and flawless your mate seems, no one is perfect.

Go on a Date : Especially for married couples, but even for some dating couples, start dating.

Control Your Anger : Every relationship has difficulties, and sometimes, there can be some intense arguments.

I Forgive You : If something has happened in your relationship causing the trust to waiver, you will have many things to work through.

Day at the Movies : Have a movie marathon some rainy or cold Saturday.

Dinner by the Fire : Order in some of your favorite food, open a bottle of fine wine, light some candles.

A Day at the Spa : Show your appreciation for the hard work that takes.

Keep in Touch : It is important that you keep in touch with each other often.

Motivate Each Other : Find a mutual incentive that will motivate both of you.

Adore your Mate : Appreciate and love them for the person they are.

Make Eye Contact : Think back to the first time you saw your now mate.

Respect Privacy : When two people come together in a relationship, each person has their own set of history.

Be Flexible : There will be times when your mate is right and times when you are right.

Encourage Friendships : Men, unlike women, have a more difficult time in developing close friendships with other men.

people relationship dating

4/10/2006

 
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4/15/2006

 
Anonymous relationship advice guide said...


relationship 101 Ways to Build Happy, Lasting Relationships.

Start Over : When couples first get together, everything is new and exciting.

Lighten Up : Often when couples have gone through or are going through some bumpy spots in their relationship, things tend to get serious.

Night of Passion : Intimacy and passion in relationships is not only important but also healthy.

Cuddle Time : When couples first start dating, cuddling is usually a part of their everyday existence.

Make the Women Feel Good : Just like men, woman love feeling good about themselves.

Showing Love : Although hearing the words, I love you is special and important.

Realistic Expectations : No matter how wonderful and flawless your mate seems, no one is perfect.

Go on a Date : Especially for married couples, but even for some dating couples, start dating.

Control Your Anger : Every relationship has difficulties, and sometimes, there can be some intense arguments.

I Forgive You : If something has happened in your relationship causing the trust to waiver, you will have many things to work through.

Day at the Movies : Have a movie marathon some rainy or cold Saturday.

Dinner by the Fire : Order in some of your favorite food, open a bottle of fine wine, light some candles.

A Day at the Spa : Show your appreciation for the hard work that takes.

Keep in Touch : It is important that you keep in touch with each other often.

Motivate Each Other : Find a mutual incentive that will motivate both of you.

Adore your Mate : Appreciate and love them for the person they are.

Make Eye Contact : Think back to the first time you saw your now mate.

Respect Privacy : When two people come together in a relationship, each person has their own set of history.

Be Flexible : There will be times when your mate is right and times when you are right.

Encourage Friendships : Men, unlike women, have a more difficult time in developing close friendships with other men.

relationship

4/16/2006

 
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2/20/2007

 
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3/01/2007

 
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3/31/2007

 
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