We all know that competition for sex in nature is ferocious. Males compete with other males, and females make their selection. “Sorry, your nest’s not good enough”—“I prefer more colorful feathers”—“learn better dance steps”—“there’s not enough money in your bank account.” See what I mean? Of course, there’s forced copulation, but by and large, females choose the father of their children, and males go to great lengths to woo them.
What's the human story?
In human terms, the source
of our sexual conflicts lies in the ancestral program that was developed over
millions of years—women needed men to invest in them and their children in
order to survive. Women already made enormous investments in children by
carrying the babies in their bodies.
Nature makes it obvious who the mother of a child is, but it took social
rules, laws, and cultural pressures to secure paternity. Women needed food and
protection. Men needed to know they were making the investment in their own
offspring. Jealousy was a strategy that allowed each gender to be alert to the
threat of a sexual rival. If a rival succeeded, women and their children risked
being abandoned and men risked being uncertain of whether the child was
theirs. As described by Buss,
because of modern birth control, “in today’s industrial nations, women can have
short-term dalliances with less fear of pregnancy.” But human sexual psychology
evolved to cope with the adaptations of our ancestors. “We still possess this
underlying sexual psychology, even though our environment has changed.” In
other words, our biology hasn’t caught up with our modern culture and
Every one who is alive today
is a success story. We exist because of the successful mating strategies of our
ancestors and we are one link in an unbroken chain that stretches back to the
beginning of humankind. The people who were not successful in securing mates or
couldn’t provide for the survival of their young—all died.
In nature, the goal is to
continue the species, and strategies that work are rewarded by survival. Over the
millennia, those effective behaviors are passed along in our genes. But,
there remains the push and pull,
the tension between the sexes that reflects
our different biological agendas, even though we share the
same goal—just like
all the other species on the planet. But resolving that tension, figuring it
all out and
making it work, is an essential part of what makes us human. Not only that, it’s also fun!
By Sally Schloss for WebVet