Friday, August 15, 2008

Are Women Hardwired to Cheat?

So often when the discussion is had about who is hardwired to cheat, the consensus is always men are cheaters by nature and women are more monogamous by nature. That we just aren't wired to cheat in the way men are. These conversations always 'cause me to shake my head because it confuses basic biology with socialization.

Women are socialized not to cheat. Historically women have payed a extremely high price for infidelity. Not so much men (generally speaking). The main reason for the difference in attitudes toward promiscuous/adulterous behavior among the sexes is the issue of paternity. In patriarchal societies a father's paternity is always in question, unless you can guarantee that your woman is only sexing you.

In matrilineal lines this obsession on paternity isn't an issues because succession is determined by the mother (which actually makes more sense) and there is no doubt that it is her child, hence the old saying, "Mama's baby, Daddy's maybe."

But...But...women need seek out a provider to help her care for her kids. True. But she also needs to seek out the best genes possible for her kids as well. And in many higher primate societies a females promiscuity ensures that her child lives:

In some primates, the promiscuous female mates obsessively with just about every male she comes across. She is, in other words, polyandrous.

This promiscuous behavior serves a vital function in primate social life — it ensures, for the female, that the paternity of her inevitable children can never be accurately determined, and all the males of the troop are equally likely to share food with her (and not kill her children).

And before anyone argues that that's just in primates...the number one cause of death for children 3 and under is being killed by men who aren't their father. It is pretty understood that (many) men don't deal well with other people's children, particularly male children.

And recently with the advent of the "at home DNA test" it's been discovered that as many as 10% of males are caring for children who aren't theirs, throwing that women are the more faithful sex out the window.

Women have a lot of social pressures to be monogamous and not promiscuous. Women get a lot of screwy messages regarding sex growing up. From good girls keep their legs closed ('till they find the one) to only bad girls perform certain sexual acts. Our desire for sex is often shrouded in shame. We regularly police each others sexual behavior, ready to unleash the "ho" label at the least sign of any transgression of established sexual mores.

On the other hand, our male counterparts are told to "sow their wild oats," and "not to settle down to fast." Men's sexuality is rarely shamed, unless it falls outside of sexual norms (i.e. homo/bi-sexuality) and in many cases is unashamedly encouraged. In this environment who is surprised that women are the more monogamous sex?

As many (but not all) of the traditional restrictions against female sexual behavior fall away, what you get is women who are as sexually promiscuous as their male counterparts. Women don't stand to lose it all (marriage, family, standing in the community) for their adulterous/promiscuous behavior. Often this "behavior" is labeled as "trying to be like a man" by those who believe women just aren't as sexual as men.

While either sex can choose to be faithful and non-promiscuous, both sexes are hardwired to do otherwise, strictly from a biological perspective. And the sooner that fact is accepted perhaps women can get away from the very restrictive sexual ideals many of us have been raised under and lead more honest, fulfilling sex lives that aren't shrouded in confusion and shame.

6 comments:

Angry African said...

Mmm. Interesting one. I agree with your premise. That people are wired the same. But I also believe that people are wired to love - like many other species. What I like about what you wrote is that people are the same - women and men - and that it is our own bigotry that give men a pass. And in some cases give women a pass. Thought provoking piece. Excellent!

Bryan Wilhite said...

It is quite limiting to handle this subject under the assumption that the effects of recessive-gene patriarchy are natural and universal.

Women took care of themselves with networks of women within various matriarchal systems. What we think of these days as "support" and "fidelity" are relics of conquest and are not legitimate to me. You can tell just how many fair-weather friends I have for making such a statement.

Ebony Intuition said...

Great post as always very informative and very true.

The point that stood out a lot to me
was "But she also needs to seek out the best genes possible for her kids as well."

And this reminds me of your other post on your other blog about choosing to date your own kind and not dating white men.

This is exactly why I would NOT mate outside of my race. My genes are progressive and mating with someone who has regressive genes wouldn't make any sense.

But yea I totally agree with post.

Kim C. said...

"perhaps women can get from other the very restrictive sexual ideals many of us have been raised under and lead more honest, fulfilling sex lives that aren't shrouded in confusion and shame." what?!

im sorry i do disagree. i had to take this opportunity to offer a christian perspective being that while sexual chemistry is normal in every way and sexual stimulation is extremely enjoyable to every human body, god has already created a system in which we are to enjoy and utilize those feelings and acts. though it may feel restricting to the common worldly man, it continues to make sense and work for his people.

unleash those feelings and just be free, huh? what about feelings to steal and rob a bank? what about feelings of rage to kill? we are not animals and we don't have an excuse to act like them. you can't go around humping people b/c it feels good at that moment. that is why god has given us a manual/instruction book for life

JJ said...

Did you just compare sexual desires to robbing bank and killing someone?

Seriously?

To each his own I suppose.

chris said...

Although I do not agree with her, I think she is just saying that humans have many impulses, many of which we can, but choose not to act on. A better is example would be wanting to eat a piece of chocolate fudge cake but knowing you have to fit in a dress in two days.

Good post