- Manual for the helicopter mom
April 20, 2013
What to do when the kids have grown and flown the nest. . . and then flown back?
- How Buenos aires children go to bed late
April 6, 2013
Most at-home events - birthday parties, barbecues, and so on - welcome kids; it's rare to get a no-children-allowed request...
- Princeton charming
April 6, 2013
A letter advising Princeton's female grads to find a husband on campus has been dubbed regressive.
- In This Section
- Entire Website
From the Times Of India
- MOST POPULAR
The casanova complex
Why men are such womanisers.
The cost is prohibitive, the position ridiculous and the pleasure transitory. Lord Chesterfield's summary pronouncement on sex could be an apt postcoital-script on the expose of Tiger Woods's compulsive promiscuity, which created a sensation in the global media and raised the eternal question: Why are men impelled to promiscuity? Why was this sports icon of millions, married to a beautiful woman, so sexually promiscuous? Why do men do it?
In Norman Jewison's film Moonstruck, a woman character answers that age-old question by observing that men are frightened of dying, far more so than women. Sociobiology, an offshoot of Darwinism pioneered in 1975 by Edward O Wilson, provides a less poetic but more precise answer.
According to sociobiology - the study of human behaviour as determined by genetic programming - in evolution, success literally breeds success. The hidden ghost in the biological machine, the selfperpetuating gene, has dictated this message through evolutionary history. Reproductive success is the compulsion that shapes our ends, rough-hew them or gloss them over how we will. This, according to sociobiologists, is the root cause of the schism between the sexes. In The Evolution of Human Sexuality, David Symons writes "Men and women differ in their sexual natures because throughout the immensely long hunting and gathering phase of human evolutionary history, the sexual desires and dispositions that were adaptive for either sex were for the other tickets to reproductive oblivion."
Sexual desire, Bernard Shaw remarked, was a biological gambit devised to keep the species alive. Sociobiologists go further and say that sex is the individual gene's way of making more genes in its own image. Or, since it takes two to mate, half in its image. Multiplication is the name of the game for both sexes, but the arithmetic of genetic investment is very different. Since the female ovum is much rarer (and hence more "costly" ) than super-abundant (and therefore "cheap" ) male sperm cells, and also because the female and not the male has to carry and nourish the child, a female's "parental investment" is much greater that that of the male. The average female can reproduce only about 6 to 12 times during her lifetime, whereas a male can sow literally thousands of wild oats, be he a sultan with a harem or the leader of a monkey pack. So it makes good genetic sense for a female to be a "careful shopper" in selecting her sexual partner and to concentrate on quality rather than quantity. All she really needs to ensure her genetic continuum is one child, male or female, who in turn will be the most likely to succeed in the reproductive rat race.
For males, on the other hand, genetic success lies in covering as many bets as possible, especially since there is always the nagging anxiety that a male can never have the biological certitude a female does that a particular child is really his. Each mother is a Madonna, though without the attribute of immaculate conception;each father is at best a presumptive father, doomed Don Juan in futile quest for the assurance of genetic immortality.
In order to mate extensively, a male has to enter into competition with other males to display that he is more powerful and more capable of looking after his sexual partner and their common genetic investment than others of his sex. This is why, say sociobiologists, females are - supposedly - more demure, faithful and home-oriented than males, and less liable to indiscriminate sexual stimulation. And why males are aggressive, outgoing and sexually promiscuous. David Symons has observed that in homosexual relationships, male homosexuals tend to have a more rapid change in partners than lesbians, though both are in a genetic cul de sac.
Sociobiologists claim that the genetic investment hypothesis explains why women keep the home fires burning while men go out to war, why adultery in a woman is considered far more "sinful" than in a man, why rape is almost exclusively a male crime, and why mother love is a deeper, more common concept than father love.
Like its once ancestor, classical Darwinism, sociobiology has come under attack for presenting a reductionist, brutish image of human relationships. It has been rebutted by feminists who argue, justifiably, that it reinforces gender stereotypes. The most serious problem sociobiology faces, however, is that its central thesis is overtly incompatible with a world threatened with the shock waves of the population explosion. In an overcrowded, increasingly unstable environment, the instinctual programming for genetic success is dangerously outmoded.
Sociobiology argues that the gene in the machine is oblivious to such extraneous consequences, seeking to replicate itself all the more prolifically in the face of threatened extinction. From the gene's point of view, so-called carnal knowledge is beyond questions of good or ill, being no more and no less than a robotic groping in the dark of carnal ignorance.
Why do men do it? The answer - according to sociobiology - is that they don't : their genes do it for them.
Register for Full Access to the Crest Edition
Don't have a Facebook Account? Sign up for Times Crest here.
Subscribe to The Times of India Crest Edition and stay connected with our unequalled network of correspondents, analysts, writers and editors to figure the changes bubbling below the surface of society.