Men are hard-wired to respond to visual cues of female child-bearing health?

I disagree with this hypotheses.

“A very brief synopsis of evolution is that, since women needed to put in 9-20 months of their life into raising a child to pass on their genes, a time when they were vulnerable and unable to fend for themselves, they looked for commitment in their male partners – partners who would protect and provide for them.

Males on the other hand, benefited from being as promiscuous as possible – searching for willing females and sleeping around as much as possible, thus spreading the chances of survival of their genes over multiple partners. It was beneficial for a man to be quickly attracted to a female so as to be able to impregnate her.

While women had to look for emotional investment and means to provide for her and the child (which is translated today to looking for men with stable incomes and households), men only needed to make sure that the female partner was young & healthy enough to be able to procreate. This could be seen through visual cues like good hair, good skin, a good child-bearing figure – what we now know as beauty.

Thus, men are hard-wired to respond to visual cues of female child-bearing health.”

From here: Link

I agree with Archismita [http://twitter.com/Archsmta] who says:

Well, a good looking man is attractive to me (het female) too so how is it that men = MORE visual? I think men as a whole think *more* about sex because male sexuality has always been celebrated and encouraged and in severely sexually-restricted environments tolerated – unlike female sexuality which is regarded as dirty/unwanted etc etc.
Over-sexualisation of women in popular media also contribute (along with male sexuality being celebrated etc), I think. If men were sexualised to the extent women are and women were given importance due to their talents mostly, I think people would say women = more visual.

Related Posts:

Biology vs. Culture DEATHMATCH!  – Nandini

86 thoughts on “Men are hard-wired to respond to visual cues of female child-bearing health?

  1. Ahem. I’ve heard/read the contrary. That prehistoric women slept with as many men as possible, so the paternity would remain in question, and ALL the men would “protect” the woman and child. Monogamy is a more recent development. Or so I’ve heard.

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    • Evolutionary Psychology, in the right hands, is a great tool to understanding why humans are the way they are. In the wrong hands, though, it turns into a free flight of fanciful speculation, all calculated to validate and rationalize a preconceived (usually biased) viewpoint.

      ‘Use with caution’ would be about right, I think.

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      • I agree with you. Evolutionary psychology does contribute a lot to our understanding of human behaviour, though ‘use with caution’ is right since it’s very easy to co-opt and use in sexist agendas. Still, it makes me cringe when people dismiss its conclusions outright and deny that ‘hard-wiring’ and inherent gender differences exist — that’s just uneducated as anyone with any understanding of science will tell you. However, just because we are predisposed to behave in certain ways does not mean that it’s impossible to change skewed gender roles and perceptions.

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        • Correct.

          I am not a scientist in any way, but as a non-scientific person, I think it is more accurate to say that our genes and our environments can produce influences of varying strengths. However, since we are conscious animals, we do not behave purely on either biological or environmental impulses. Instead, our capacity for volition comes into play, a capacity which allows us to weigh alternatives and respond in the best way we know. The aforementioned influences may play a role in shaping our response, but they certainly do not define that response in its entirety.

          An adaptationist explanation certainly seems implausible when applied to many situations – for example, it is often claimed that sex is pleasurable to us, because it is a trait which provides a survival advantage. After all, people who find pleasure in sex are likely to have more of it, and thus produce more offspring. But the same logic does not work when we ask consuming narcotic substances can often result in great pleasure as well. Surely, it is not being suggested that cocaine abuse adds survival value!

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      • @ Praveen.. I want to reply to your comment about adaptationist explanation being implausible when applied to some situations.

        I think your comment is looking at things only at a very superficial level. For example, there is absolutely a plausible adaptationist explanation for drug abuse. It is a direct corollary with food abuse that we are witnessing in large parts of the world now. Drugs feel good because they act to provide pain relief (physical or emotional pain) by chemically interacting with our neurological systems. If we take morphine’s example, it is one of the best pain relief agents we know.. even today. Hence people who ‘liked’ these drugs would have had a survival advantage in pre-medicine days. The things is, we don’t just rely on nature for the availability of these drugs anymore.. we can make them and buy them in abundance if we like. That’s what causes a problem. We don’t have very good internal control mechanisms for drug intake as these preferences survived through an age when these drugs weren’t abundant enough in nature and hence the control came from environmental restrictions on supply.

        Compare this to food. Again, we grew to like starchy and fatty foods because they provided us an evolutionary advantage. Back in the pre-agriculture or early agriculture days, humans who liked fatty foods would have certainly out-survived humans that didn’t. This is because they would eat more fatty food and have higher reserves in times of low food supply. We still have those preferences, but now that we have an abundance of easily available fatty food all around us, the advantage turns into a disadvantage and is killing us now. In today’s times, humans that prefer non-fatty foods have a better chance at survival.

        Humans originally relied on the limitations of the environment to be regulate our intake of drugs and fatty/starchy food. We maintain those traits in that aspect and have no internal control mechanisms developed for these. Evolution is an ever-ongoing process. If our preference for drugs or fatty food turns into a disadvantage for survival, a few or many generations later the population will have a higher number of people that don’t have a preference for these as they will out-survive that druggies and the fatties.

        Obviously social and cultural simuli have a huge effect on our behaviour as well as our genetics. That is called epigenetics and it deals with factors that can turn off/ turn on or regulate our genes.. as we are now learning that most diseases do not have a yes or no gene but a ‘probably’ gene(s) which is then controlled by epigenetic factors. I won’t go into that though as I’m trying to focus only on your points about evolution.

        A good paper on the evolutionary perspective behind drug abuse: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1174878/

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        • Carvaka,

          Let me rephrase my example as a question.

          Your paper does indeed provide a perfectly plausible explanation for the fact that drug abuse exists despite having unfavorable long-term consequences for the individuals who indulge in it. I, however, am asking a somewhat more fundamental question than what your paper answers. You said ( and the paper is based on this fact) that drugs can quell emotional pain, which is why people started to consume them in limited amounts (as controlled by the environmental constraints of the period).

          What the paper does not answer is WHY these chemicals have the capability of providing intense pleasure and quelling emotional pain despite causing severe damage to a person’s health.
          There is a context to this question, and the context is the following statement made by Fuck Awesome:

          Why is sex enjoyable? Because if it wouldn’t be, people wouldn’t have it, hence they wouldn’t have children and hence the species would eventually die off. Always ask a why to everything. And no, god did not make sex enjoyable. What we find enjoyable is just a reward mechanism in the brain. It is like a switch that goes on or off. Like when you feel good after eating food when you are very hungry? That is the switch that has gone on. Same with sex.

          An adaptationist explanation. Fair enough. We’ve evolved so that things that help us/our species survive are enjoyable and satisfying to us.

          So, what unique advantages does a substance like Methamphetamine – which has no pain relieving properties whatsoever, and can in fact severely aggravate both physical and emotional distress – provide to us, that has made us evolve to take pleasure in consuming it?

          Again, I am a lawyer, not a biologist, and my question may be a silly one, but to me, it is puzzling and makes me feel that evolutionary rewards do not constitute the whole story.

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        • Replying to Praveen, about “WHY these chemicals have the capability of providing intense pleasure and quelling emotional pain despite causing severe damage to a person’s health”. I will reply from the perspective of a pharmacologist.
          These chemicals are similar (chemically) to substances which are naturally present in our body. When the chemicals in our body (like endorphins) bind to their receptors (like opioid receptors), we experience pleasure/ relief from pain. The release of these chemicals in our body is controlled and limited to situations which are beneficial, like exercise, eating, sex etc. When people consume the man made chemicals which also bind to the same receptors, it also gives them pleasure or pain relief, but there is no internal control on how much is taken. Since we are programmed to continue doing the things that gives us pleasure (evolution comes in here), people tend to get addicted. Additionally, the man made compounds could bind to other receptors also and lead to more harmful effects too. Things are a lot more complicated than this explanation, so I hope other pharmacologists will not get upset at my simplification!

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        • Praveen,
          Each and every behaviour is not ‘evolved’ out of a specific need. What alcohol and drugs do is stimulate the brain in a way that it feels enjoyable. Our brain responds to electricity and chemicals. That is how it functions. All pain, distress, positive emotions are a collective of electric and chemical stimulation.
          We did not ‘evolve’ to like drugs. Drugs simply act like other things that make our brain feel good, in the same way that something related to survival would make it feel.

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      • @Praveen,
        I am a bioinformatician and I will try to answer your question to the best of my knowledge. I understand biology using evolution, not just adaptation, because adaptation and natural selection both play a role.

        “WHY these chemicals have the capability of providing intense pleasure”

        Methamphetamine provides relief/pleasure by acting on the dopamine receptors in the brain. The dopamine receptors have not evolved primarily for methamphetamine, but for dopamine which is produced within our bodies. Dopamine is the chemical that neurons in the brain use to talk to each other. One of it’s main functions is regulating activity-reward mechanisms.. such as pleasure if you eat something high in fat which your body loves. It is a matter of chance that Methamphetamine also chemically binds to our dopamine receptors and stimulates the pleasure pathways. This action is commonly understood as an abuse of the dopamine system and prolonged use causes damage. (you can read about dopamine on wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dopamine.. nice simple summary)

        Similarly, there is a line or research that is looking into the possibility that cocaine addiction abuses pathways meant for salt craving in our body. The body has various functions that involve sodium ions that we get from salt. Not hard to imagine why, as we are supposed to have started out in sea water. So this pathway exists for ensuring consumption and digestion of salt. If it is proven that cocaine manages to sneak in and act as salt, it will be a matter of chance that cocaine fits in there. Some info about this research here.. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/07/110719-salt-cocaine-cravings-addiction-genes-brains-science/. More similar examples in the answer in this yahoo link I found http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20110618223917AAHFJNc.

        So this begs the question, why are there so many chemical structures that are similar? Since all organisms (including plants and animals) have evolved from exactly the same initial source, we have a huge number of common genes leading to common or similar pathways and common or similar proteins/chemicals produced in different organisms. In a lot of cases, these remain similar but have evolved into slightly different functions. So it is very likely that a chemical can act on a pathway primarily evolved for something different.

        Biology is propagated through chance. We have gone from being a mass of cells (or not even that, to be precise) in the pre-historic oceans to being a vast number of different organisms purely by evolution. Every mutation is essentially a matter of chance, but some prove to be beneficial for survival and hence get passed on to the next generation.

        In my personal experience, saying that anything in biology does not have a plausible explanation in evolution is flawed. Evolution is the basis for any change in biology as we know it.

        I will reiterate again, evolution has nothing to do with morals and the two are essentially divorced. We should live our lives as we see fit given our natural/social environment and evolution will take care of itself. I will refrain from posting more comments about evolution as my existing comments are quite detailed and I don’t want to hijack the post. I have also explained the sex=pleasure trait in one of my comments. I leave you with all this info.

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    • Yes, primatologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy has written an amazing book called “Mother Nature” which explores various mating and child-rearing strategies in numerous human societies.

      Amongst other things, it explains why female infanticide is more prevalent in human societies than is male infanticide.

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  2. Evo-psych (evolutionary psychology) is the equivalent of phrenology in the 20th-21st centuries. It’s a pseudo science that’s used to justify almost anything, based on no hard data, and is used to confirm the world-views of the person practicing it….usually someone Western, young, affluent, privileged, and of course, male. Basically the evo-pscyh argument boils down to “things are like we see them today, therefore they must’ve always been like this, and therefore that’s the natural state of being. And political correctness is for morons who can’t swallow the bitter truth”….it’s neither bold nor radical but claims to be both.

    Check out the evo-psych bingo card here: http://boingboing.net/2010/04/07/evolutionary-psychol-1.html

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  3. I too disagree with this hypothesis.

    First because I’m not too sure, if early man even wanted children. I for one think that people those days would have considered children a liability and just a by product of having sex. It must’ve been hard enough hunting and trying to not get eaten by wild animals.

    Having a child who is dependent on other members of the group for food, shelter and safety was likely seen as making the group or individual weaker. But I do think that way of thinking changed when they realized that the young ones could end up replacing the members of the group who were lost thus keeping the group size steady. So even if the early man wanted to have children the reason could have been to increase group size which not only meant they had more hunters/gatherers, but also for reasons of safety and security.

    Secondly, I don’t think many people survived beyond the reproductive age at that time. So any female excluding children would have had to be capable of reproduction. Also without the intermixing of genes happening in the early days and all of them having the same genetic makeup, they would have all had more of less the same features and physical characteristics.

    Third, while the mother may have been the primary caregiver, protector of the child, I think the child was probably seen as belonging to the group, rather than belonging to a couple, and rules out the necessity of the woman looking for an individual who will commit to her and provide for her children, Also, I don’t think there is any way to prove whether children born to the same woman had the same father as well, so there is no way to say if women had multiple partners of not.

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    • #1 – So why do dogs have pups and why do tigers have cubs and why do fruits have seeds and why was the first human ever born? Children are TODAY an option to which a thought is given. Contraception made the choice of children possible. And while contraception in various forms was always available, as a mass product, it is a post-industrial phenomenon, which means about 200 years old.
      #2 – Child as a bi-product of sex? Ok, then why were people having sex in the first place? Because sex is enjoyable? Why is sex enjoyable? Because if it wouldn’t be, people wouldn’t have it, hence they wouldn’t have children and hence the species would eventually die off. Always ask a why to everything. And no, god did not make sex enjoyable. What we find enjoyable is just a reward mechanism in the brain. It is like a switch that goes on or off. Like when you feel good after eating food when you are very hungry? That is the switch that has gone on. Same with sex.
      #3 – True that a lot of people did not live long. In fact, the average natural life span of a human is 35-40 years. Hence, puberty is around 13-14. Which gives about 20 years for reproduction. Hence, most lifestyle diseases are beyond the age of 40 and most congenital diseases start occurring when the parent’s ages are beyond 30-35 at the time of conception.
      #4 – Intermixing of genes always happened. It is now that societies have stopped intermixing of genes through inbreeding through same caste marriages. Intermixing of genes happened because the female always left the group to mate. With a lot of primates even now, the females leave the group to mate with males in other groups. Which we see now in the form of the female leaving the house to go to the husband’s after marriage.
      #5 – Absolutely true that there is not always a way to know who the father is. Read my main comment below yours to see what I wrote to Thumbelina.

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      • Primate behavior is quite varied. Bonobos are bisexual and have a non-hierarchical, cooperative social structure. Gorillas at the other end, have an alpha male who mates with the female in the group and protects his turf from interlopers.

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      • Umm, in some human societies, the husband moves in with the wife’s family. Some societies have no concept of marriage and monogamy. The Mosuos are one instance.

        There are very few universals about human mating behavior. In ancient Greece, heterosexual, romantic love was looked down upon.
        Marriage was only for procreation. Love between an older man and a younger pubescent boy was considered the romantic ideal.

        This was a far cry from the ascendancy of the hetero-romantic ideal in contemporary Western societies.

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        • True. Hence I say “with a lot of primates” and not “all primates. As to the husband moving in with the wife vs the wife moving in with the husband, which is the exception and which is the rule? Btw, I think on this forum, biwo has the most neutral and objective standpoint. Kudos!

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        • “Btw, I think on this forum, biwo has the most neutral and objective standpoint.”
          Excellent, so now we’ve reached troll bingo point. Biwo is being awesome as always of course, but ‘fuck awesome’ is looking for ways in which to divide and conquer. Who decides who is most ‘objective’? What is ‘neutral’ here – agreeing with evo psych is a neutral stance? Or is it by NOT calling you out on your illogical, unsubstantiated hand-waving arguments that we get the supreme honor of being crowned ‘most objective’ by you?

          This is the logic used by the US Republican party when they have all-male hearings on contraception in the Senate. This was also the logic used to argue against Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court – that if there was any challenge to Roe v Wade, she wouldn’t be ‘objective’. Feminists have long been told they’re biased about women’s issues – are *men* unbiased then? Really? And is there even value in having an ‘unbiased’ point of view?

          This is all because a white male (or for that matter, black male) point of view is considered default and everyone else is coming from their ‘biases’ or ‘prejudices’ or ‘special interests’ – which is just as facetious as….well, as evo-psych itself.

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  4. Thumbelina – There is a hypothesis that menstruation, as opposed to estruation (being in heat of a female – restricted period of sexual receptivity) is also a ploy by nature to give the choice of the father exclusively to the female. You might want to read about it here – http://fuckawesome.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/top-5-ways-in-which-cheating-has-influenced-human-evolution-and-culture/ The one thing that wouldn’t work out in your hypotheses would be all men caring for the baby. There wasn’t going to be one baby because there wasn’t going to be one woman.

    Praveen – 100% agreed.

    Chevalier & Radha – Understand evolution first. 1 – evolution is not progress. It is just adapting for the best chances of survival. 2 – Evolution does not start with primates and humans. It starts with the gelatinous soup that was the basis of all life. What is the whole hoopla about passing on genes? Genes are ‘programme codes’ of life. Their secondary function is to give things like eye colour and height and curly hair or straight hair, etc. Their primary function is to survive. Why survive? Because if they wouldn’t want to survive, they wouldn’t. And hence they would die off. And hence, they wouldn’t be passed on. And hence those genes that decided not to survive, we do not see them anymore. Life makes live.
    In this will to survive, genes kept on creating new forms of life, which were basically mutations of old forms of life. Over time, enough mutations resulted in the inability to breed with the original life form and a new species was formed. Incidentally, life started with asexual reproduction. Which meant that an organism grew physically big (we are talking microscopic level) then split into two. And this process continued. Understand something very basic here. No sexual reproduction, no death. Soon, when organisms started predating on each other, some organisms started sexually reproducing, which meant that two of them came together and gave birth to a third one. This third one benefited from getting the best qualities from the earlier two organisms. Qualities given out in the form of genes. And the earlier two organisms died off. Now, a race started between the genes as to see which of them would be passed on and which would be discarded with the earlier vessels that carried them. These genes started creating newer organisms that were better suited to survival over others. In survival, three things play a very important role – Predators, physical environment and reproduction.
    Genes always kept creating vessels for their survival. They formed fishes, reptiles, birds, mammals, us. We are a means to pass on genes. Our societies, culture, lives, emotions, likes, dislikes come from them. Because they see a need for it. They are not sentient beings like us. But our sentience comes because it fulfilled a condition for survival somewhen. When the need for it goes away, it will go away too. Nature takes care of its own-self. If we become too dangerous to nature, by creating too much population, pollution, nature will one day not be able to support us and we will die off. That is evolution. Evolution is not progress.
    A very important part of evolution is mate selection. Mostly through the animal kingdom, the female selects the mate. The males fight for the female. This is because the female has to invest more. Understand that two genders given to most animals are also a result of evolution. There are species with more than two genders. Some fungi have more than 10,000 genders. Our being is not the only way of being. Yet, to us, it is the most important way of being. And trying to understand where we come from, is the first step to start deciding where we want to go. Looking at societies is one way of doing it. Understanding what we actually are, is another. And all of them have to be looked at simultaneously.

    PS – This is as brief as I could keep myself. Please do not argue in terms of semantics of the comment. There are a lot of nuances I could not explain. One comment cannot change anyone’s opinion and I am not here to change opinions. A lot of things are not proper in the society we live in. Our gender roles are being tested, somethings discarded, new things sought and there is a general renovation happening. The article that IHM quotes from for the hypothesis she does not agree with is in fact an article that is trying to teach men to behave better with women.
    As for the answer to not agreeing with the hypothesis that men are more visual creatures than women or is it the other way round, that would require a whole new blog post altogether. Maybe a sort of a discussion that could be finally put up on all of our blogs? I am ready to take the men are visual creatures stand🙂

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    • “understand this first”? nice to know your ignorance is equally matched by your condescension.

      Evolution is a scientific theory with merit and proof and has been substantiated, but evolutionary *psychology* is specious and unproven – we have NO evidence whatsoever that gender variations in human behavior in current-day, modern Western or Westernized society are driven by innate biological differences. It’s just a convenient hook used by bigots to hang their arguments “so it is now, therefore so has always been”. It’s used to explain silly differences like ‘women spend hours shopping but men just pick up exactly what they want in a department store because in pre-agrarian societies they were the gatherers and the men were hunters’ – whereas in most of the hunter-gatherer societies that we have direct evidence of, the women were also hunters when they weren’t child-bearing or child-rearing. Gathering duty was given to children and to the very old/infirm. Women spend hours shopping in modern day, capitalist societies because women do most of the buying for the family and because for the last couple hundred years since the Industrial Revolution they’ve lost access to money-making and are relegated to non-financially remunerative creation activities or to financial consumption activities.

      Arguments like “men are more visual” hold no water: there are endless examples of human cultures – even relatively modern ones – in which the men dress more colorfully (e.g. Andrean cultures, such as the Tinku), even wearing tighter, more sexualized clothes (e.g. 13th-14th centuries England) and bigger jewelry (e.g. Chola kingdom). The male body has often been equally, if not more fetishize-d and sexualized (ancient Greece – see the sculptures?) than the female body. In fact, most of us who grew up in pre-liberalization India saw that women’s clothes, except for the saree, were very subdued in colors and loose-fitting – the men wore equally bright colors, it wasn’t considered unmanly for someone to wear a bright orange or bright pink turban, for instance. The idea that women could – or should – wear shorter skirts/flash *more* skin than our male peers was something that we never were exposed to except on TV. So, was our version of late 20th century Indian culture “evolutionarily incorrect” in some way?

      If men are more “visual”, and for purposes of mate selection, they would also signal to each other and size up other men based on visual parameters, like other mammals do. Which means men’s dress and skin would be on display as well. The statement itself holds the lie. And the fact that men’s clothes and skin are not on display in modern society has zilch to do with their visual-ness (and the supposed lack of women’s visual-ness) and everything to do with their relative power and privilege to be noticed and judged by their merits and skills and not be objectified for their bodies.

      Oh, and also, if men were more visual, they would be more concerned about dirt in the house. Most married men in heterosexual, conservative relationships would readily declare that they just don’t SEE the dirt/the mess around them that drive their spouses crazy. Again, that has to do with who has what gender expectations/household duties/economic power/bargaining weight/intent to please/and motive to keep the marriage conflict free and less to do with biological differences of who’s more visual.

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    • Wow. This is the weirdest description of evolution I have ever heard.

      Can you please elaborate, what does you mean by “if they [genes] wouldn’t want to survive, they wouldn’t. And hence they would die off. ” What does it mean for the gene to want to survive?

      There is only one purpose for the gene, to impart physical characteristics to the organism (secondary purpose in your explanation). These physical characteristics make an organism more or less suitable to inhabit its environment. Due to competition for resources and predators, only the organisms that are most ‘fit’ survive, and are able to pass on their genetic code. What follows from this is – the gene’s that make the organism most suitable to inhabit its surroundings are the ones that are most likely to be passed on to the offspring. The gene’s that make an organism less fit, are likely to be discarded by evolution because the organism possessing them is likely to die a premature death (before the opportunity of passing on its genetic code). Survival of fittest, and of the genetic makeup that leads to that fitness.

      No – genes do not ‘want’ to survive. They survive because having them provides leverage to the organism in an hostile environment.

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  5. I wouldn’t pay much attention to an article written by anyone to forward their agenda using evolution, unless they are a scientist. So many people don’t fully understand the basics and misuse and mis-assume (I know that’s not a word).

    @radha, desiwoman: “children a liability and just a by product of having sex” The whole point of life in nature is procreation, it does not matter how you feel about it. The way evolution works: let’s say some people had genes that made sex pleasurable by releasing related hormones and some people missed that gene. The people that find sex pleasurable are more likely to have sex and hence have babies. The other group has no babies. So their genes don’t get passed on. In the next generation, the entire population has the gene that makes sex pleasurable. That is how survival determines the genes that get passed on. The reason people have babies is not accidental because sex is fun. The reason sex is still fun is because it led to babies and hence ‘fun sex’ gene kept getting carried forward.

    So let’s say you don’t care about carrying your genes forward/ having kids and I do. In that case, your kids and would be less likely to survive than mine. So over a couple of generations, none of your progeny will have survived and the entire population will have my ‘i-want-baby’ gene. You see? Only survival survives.

    If the entire species only has i-dont-want-baby genes, the entree species will probably die out in competition with another species with i-want-babies. So again, only survival survives.

    The whole point of evolution is survival, not progress. We don’t evolve to get better.. there is no definition of better.. we only evolve to adapt to the environment because if you are not fit for the environment, your genes are not carried on. I recommend Richard Dawkin’s ‘The selfish gene’ to understand evolution and procreational instincts better.

    Men could very well be more visual because perhaps the most important requirement is fertility in women and that can be gauged visually. We might not like it but it will still persist if it provides their gene some kind of survival advantage. Similarly you could say women’s monogamy helps men make sure that their children really are theirs and men’s own monogamy helps avoid extreme competition for mating with women. So, if our society has moved towards monogamy, I could easily argue how it is because it provided an advantage for men too. It’s meaningless to argue one or the other unless we actually know scientific evidence to back up the trait we are talking about.. and I do not count a blog as evidence.

    It might actually be irrelevant for the layperson to understand how we evolved certain behaviour. It does not mean we will maintain said behaviour.. that depends on what helps our survival in our current environment. So a man saying ‘allow cheating, it’s in my evolution’ is senseless because what’s acceptable now depends on the current environment, not on what worked in the past.

    I essentially want to ask for separation between evolution and morals. Just because a certain trait survived does not make it ‘better’ or ‘moral’. It simply means it suited the environment it was in. Disagreeing with that is pointless. If the environment changes so that gene becomes disadvantageous, the gene will die out. For example, if society/ women refuse to have babies with chauvinists, chauvinism will die out and only egalitarian men’s genes will survive. So there you go.🙂

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    • @Carvaka

      // For example, if society/ women refuse to have babies with chauvinists, chauvinism will die out and only egalitarian men’s genes will survive.//

      I knew you were out to get me. But wait, some of us are very very sneaky.

      Observe that the statement is true only if the symptoms of chauvinism are noticeable before the said genes are passed on. See how I am already the proud father of the cutest three year old girl in town?

      On a related note, some diseases that affect people later in their lives (diabetes, parkinsons) have not been eliminated by evolution.

      On another related note, I am now convinced that male chauvinism must have had some evolutionary advantage. So, all my vehement detractors, don’t down thumb my comment, down thumb evolution!

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  6. Please educate yourselves about evolution. Assertions like why propogate genes, or women didn’t want to pro-create etc etc. just show you don’t know the first thing about evolution. While the assertions in the statement may or may not be true, in either case, evolution does not care about feminist or any other philosophy. No morality can be derived from evolution, but morals can be, for a better morality. I do completely agree with what Praveen said though. Evo. Psych. has to be handled with care. Also, it is not like we do not have any data for early human-like societies. So the care can be taken in a scientific way. What we need to understand though is that the results may or may not conform to our ideal of a perfect world.

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    • We don’t know what kind of men women would have chosen if they were the ones making the choice. In most of history women were not allowed to choose. Natural evolution stopped (sort of) when every man was assured atleast one wife. Even if women found him unattractive, if a man fitted the tribe or community or culture’s idea of ‘suitable’, a wife was ‘given’ to him.

      Also, women were disallowed sex and children unless they agreed to marry (someone they were not allowed to choose), so women had no opportunity to help men evolve by rejecting attributes that they found unattractive.

      Also consider, we do not know if women would have chosen to have sex and children with only one man, and he would also have been the man they would have chosen to live with. If one goes by the above theory it would make ‘evolutionary sense’ for women to choose to have sex with young, healthy men ‘with right visual cues’, who could provide the best sperms. They did not have to choose the same men to protect and provide for them.

      We don’t seem to hear as much about how,

      “…promiscuity can have benefits to women, such as fertility insurance, trading up to better genes, reducing risk of inbreeding, and insurance protection of her offspring… being selective is biologically less advantageous than being promiscuous.” [Link]

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      • Humans, men or women are not exactly one-life-one-mate. In this article – http://fuckawesome.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/top-5-ways-in-which-cheating-has-influenced-human-evolution-and-culture/ the same point is made. There are instances in nature when a female will choose the best nest-maker as a mate, yet, try and have offspring of males that have the best plumage or voice (in terms of birds). And in modern society, it is often found that women who are stable in terms of finance, do choose more attractive males. We do not really know why you quoted our article as a point of view where we are comparing men and women and their visual basis of attraction. Nowhere do we say men are MORE visual than females. Neither are we trying to ‘justify’ the behaviour on the basis of evolution.

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      • Just as an aside, while what you say of history might be true, the evolutionary hangover is from prehistory, which is millions of years more than that of history which is a maximum of 50,000 years old and having started with agriculture. Evolution has not STOPPED. Now that our societies have changed, we are changing too. We are STILL evolving and are not at the end of it. Things that were useful then are harmful or redundant now. Like our fear of the dark. We cannot deny ourselves our past. What we are now is very recent. We cannot look at our situation today in isolation from our past.

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      • I am not evolutionary psychologist but I am a scientist.

        @ IHM: Exactly. Biology and survival do not have morality. It is a human invention. Biologically speaking, mostly females had the choice of the mate. So, that puts males at an disadvantage. They had to stick around to ensure, their sperms were not replaced after mating (either by removal, like sparrows – male sparrows take out sperms using their beaks from the females before mating or say by losing out to faster sperms of another male), they had to do the fighting, impressing and females could accept or reject.

        Patriarchy and societies twisted this entire facet of biology by taking away the choice from women and making them dependent (socially, culturaly, morally, financially) on males. This ensures a mate for all the males where they may not have got any in fact.Technically speaking, how many men from our society would get wives with their current behavior if we allowed them to behave the way thy do with women of our society and demanded dowry to western women?

        Promiscuity may have benefits for women or not. I cannot give certainty for that. But who decides monogamy is better or more moral. Humans again. We can only infer what happened millions of years ago but we cannot be certain.

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      • Hmmnn.. I don’t think natural evolution stops just because women don’t get to choose mates. It carries on anyway, women not choosing mates becomes part of the environment that it operates in.

        I guess the fact that patriarchy can be observed in the majority of the world populations (by far) means that it provided some survival benefit to the species. In the beginning we probably had all kinds of different family systems but patriarchy has become the most prevalent now. It probably means populations with other family systems didn’t survive as well as the patriarchal ones at some point in history. However, what I am trying to say is that this does NOT mean patriarchy is better or correct for us today.. it doesn’t mean it’s ‘right’ and should be protected.. simply means it provided a survival advantage at some point in history.

        Now why could this be and what do I mean by we don’t need to protect it?
        Maybe it was economics, perhaps back in the day men had an advantage in the job market because all jobs were more physical in nature. Maybe it was the lack of medical options, lots of kids died early and women had to spend most of their lives pregnant to produce enough kids so that some would survive. So women had to be dependent on men maybe and that favoured patriarchy. I’m only speculating but whatever the reason were, they have no bearing on us today. We should see what works for us today and live accordingly.. if the jobs have changed and the medical facilities have improved then the environment that favours patriarchy has also changed and it does not need to be protected and propagated by us. If we live our lives as we want to, according to what works for us now, evolution will take care of itself.

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        • Agree with you. Like evolution chose patriarchy during some point of time, evolution can replace it with some better options today also. But evolution works in its on sweet time and is not at all in any hurry.

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      • @ IHM
        I think most rational people, who are in tune with the real world, are well aware that the the madonna/whore dichotomy is a fantasy. Delinking selectiveness from promiscuity is not reasonable however. Women who are promiscuous are NOT less selective than women who are not, they are actually more choosy, i.e. they are experienced enough to know what kind of guys to avoid.
         
        In spite of the reputation that North East Indian women have, of being ‘easy’ (as main Indian men think), it is very rare for a mainland Indian male to actually get laid with an Ahom, Naga, Khasi or Mizo woman. The exceptions are women who charge money in exchange for sex.

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      • “In most of history women were not allowed to choose.”
        I don’t know how I missed that. In most of WHAT history? In the history that I know, the majority of the world’s humans lived outside the purview of feudalism – in tribal AND/OR hunter-gatherer societies where women had a lot of leeway in choosing their mate.
         
        In contrasts, cultures where arranged marriages prevalied, men who weren’t kings, nobility or aristrocracy didn’t have a lot of choice in choosing their mates either. In middle or lower class India, men didn’t have much of a say in choosing women since it is parents who did the choosing and they usually had no special interest to choose the best or most sexually appealing brides for their sons. In fact, a lot of desi cultures consider it a matter of shame for a son (or daughter) to have a looks preference in a mate. “You will marry who I say, I never argued against my father, how dare you!” and its variations seem to be the default argument a lot of Indian parents would throw at their sons and daughters, if they opposed a parent’s favourite.
         
        It is only with the economic boom of the last couple of decades, that enabled the youth to find employment without depending on their parents, that the arranged marriage system eased a bit to include the choices of the potential brides and grooms. Financial independance meant, parents simply couldn’t impose their will on their progenies like they did in the past.
         
        So really, its not all that black-and-white.

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      • women chose men with looks and muscles when physical security was needed, its not the case in today’s time. women needs financial security so all the facilities could be provided to its offspiring, thats why women are more attracted to rich or talented men, as talent mostly translates into money or success in the long run.

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  7. On a light note, how does natural selection or ‘visual clues of selection’ by the male apply in our society where parents go hunting for a bride for the son for all the wrong reasons, like a hefty dowry for example? What commitment does a woman get from a man in marriage when her parents’ choice was based solely on “getting her married somehow to someone so that society wouldn’t point fingers at them’?! Aren’t the parents who are doing the UN-natural selection here?

    But yeah, I agree with Carvaka, ‘Only survival survives’ or so I have read and understood.
    I have also read that such hypotheses are for understanding human race as a whole, not to be used to explain or justify present human behavior. It is not like, “Men are hard wired to behave this way, that’s why I am a Casanove. Tada! I gotta spread my genes you know!!” The answer to THAT should naturally be what the other person feels at that particular time, may be a solid punch on the nose if that’s what one feels? The problem arises coz society and many of the male species who gleefully quote this expect women to quietly accept all this with a, “Oh I understand, I can’t fight evolution, sniff sniff. You are hard wired to do the gene spreading. How silly of me to stop you!” Oh no siree. Evolution does not stop us from being ourselves or doing things that we feel ought to be the way. Maybe some of us will die out (our genes I mean) eventually if we choose to behave in a way that is not conducive to the survival of our genes. So what? Nothing you can do is going to stop that btw. That is not our immediate concern or concern at all. It is not for us to decide individually. Nature knows what to do and will take care of itself AND its genes. We just go on living according to what we feel is the right way at any particular point of time. So if the punch is what we feel is the need of the hour to using such hypotheses being used to justify certain actions, a punch it should be😉

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    • There are people who understand evolution and there are people who use it as justification. Just because something does not relate to our ideas of right and wrong or our ideas of what is wrong with the world does not make the other opinion invalid.

      Your example of men being Casanovas and how women are expected to accept it is a little weird. Just because a man or anyone is quoting something, why is anyone supposed to accept or deny it? One can simply ignore it. And where in the world can a man be a Casanova without the explicit partnership of women? Or are you saying that society has made women so lacking in free will that they are absolutely nothing but puppets of men?

      Everybody has free will. A salesman may try to sell you anything. If you get sold to it, do not blame the salesman. Why is a man quoting something supposed to degrade a woman’s free will? Will a woman sleep with a man if the man wears red and comes to her and says, “I read a book on evo psy that says women cannot resist red!”

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      • Oh no no! Women do not lack free will of course, they can do what they please provided parents. in-laws and society approve of it first. But if there seems something lacking here, that’s only your sense of humor gene. Lol.😉

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        • Agree with the sense of humour part. Too early in the day for it to have woken up yet! But mostly, this topic is something I intimately relate to. It is not just a woman’s stand that there are too many external factors affecting her. It is a general stand now-a-days where people ‘choose’ certain things and then blame certain things. Why do most women choose to listen to society, parents and inlaws? Is it because people’s opinion of what they do is important to them? Is there anything wrong in that? What would have happened if for most women, what other people thought of what they did wasn’t important at all? Is people’s opinion even actually important? If it is, why is it so? If it is not, why isn’t it? Society cannot provide the only answer. Look beyond what we are at this moment to a greater understanding of ours in a continuum, a flow of being from the past to now, to later. Our current society is not even exactly what it was before the British came here. Most of Indian historic art before the British depicts women topless. Victorian sensibilities changed a lot of what was originally known as Indian. It brought both good and bad. What exact period of society are we talking about when we say society. We are in a flux. We aren’t a solid point in time which is bereft of influence from the past. Who we are cannot be understood just by looking at the present. We have to look at what we were and what we were before that and what we were before that and what are the so many different possibilities of what we can be. Then again, it is much easier blaming everything else. Common complaints also leads to camaraderie. So yeah. Whatever you want.

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        • @Fuck Awesome!
          I really fail to understand the point of your this lecture to me, based on my comments above. But yeah, whatever…!

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      • Fuckawesome. First off, thanks for the compliment upthread. Although, I think Carvaka and Sos are much more neutral than I am. I’m a card-carrying feminist so I carry ideological baggage.🙂

        Casanova’s numerous female lovers are not celebrated the way he is. I think that says a lot about how differently we judge the same sexual behavior when its exhibited by women.

        Don Juan and Casanova’s female sexual partners were called “conquests” were they not? Casanova was celebrated because he taught men the “art of seduction”.

        What’s a woman who seduces men called?

        The sexual double standard clouds our judgement whether we like it or not.

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        • But were they celebrated with equal glee when they were alive? Sure, there would have been admirers. But definitely, there would have been detractors as well, no? And who are the ones reading about Casanova and Don Juan? I suspect more ladies are reading them than the men. That is a conjecture though and easily refuted. And we do have a Madonna to bridge the gap in modern times. Were men in pre-industrial society allowed to be more promiscuous than women because for a woman, the consequence of conception (assuming that the access to contraception was lesser before mass producing industries) was more apparent than for a man? The consequence is not just societal, but also individual and emotional, even physical. Are we considering such things as well or are we simply playing the victim card? If you say nature has given short shrift to women in a lot of ways, I would agree whole-heartedly. For one, whoever god is, should be sued for the travails of recurrent PMS.

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        • Replying to FuckAwesom @ 4.23 pm: Actually, I think nature has been fairly even handed about sexual dimorphism.

          It’s burdened women with pregnancy and lactation, but also evolved concealed ovulation to keep men guessing.

          More to the point, the writings of 17th and 18-century writers like Dr Johnson and AlexanderPope and Daniel Defoe are a good indicator of contemporary attitudes towards male and femae sexuality. For instance, in his diaries, Dr Johnson uses the word “took my wife” to mean that he had sex with her.

          So it appears that the association of power with penetration was well-established and accepted in Casanova’s time. Also, his memoirs have a distinctly self-laudatory tone when describing his amorous activities.
          That’s why I said that in Casanova’s time, the sexual act meant male conquest and female submission.

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        • Women as conquest is hardly a middle ages attitude. I think it has been a center point of all mating rituals. In fact, most of sexual selection is based on the premise that males have to compete against each other to win the female. Whether it is a direct fight or indirectly through ‘convincing’ the female to choose them. As such, in most of the animal kingdom (that includes us), acquiring a mate becomes a point of achievement for the male who gets a female. In nature, a male does not always get a mate. A female almost always does, because even if the alpha male rejects her, there is the beta male, the gamma male and so on. Hence, it becomes more of an achievement for a man to have gotten a woman rather than a woman to have gotten a man. This is because it is the female who chooses. In a non arranged marriage scenario, even in human societies, this holds true. Nuances are many. The general premise remains.

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      • Everybody has free will. A salesman may try to sell you anything. If you get sold to it, do not blame the salesman. Why is a man quoting something supposed to degrade a woman’s free will? Will a woman sleep with a man if the man wears red and comes to her and says, “I read a book on evo psy that says women cannot resist red!”

        Everyone has free will in theory, but because actions entail consequences, the extent to which you have actual control over the events in your own life in practice depend on the extant circumstances around you. Moreover, these circumstances can change with astonishing rapidity.

        To take my own example, I personally have a fair degree of freedom over what I want to do with my life. However, if a man (or woman, for that matter) with a gun apprehends me on the street tonight, threatens to shoot me and tells me to hand over my money, my briefcase, my phone and my wedding band to him/her, I’d have very little choice but to do as s/he says. Theoretically, I have the option to tell her to bugger off, but since she’s carrying a loaded gun pointed at me, it’s hardly an option that is likely to accomplish anything beneficial.

        Sometimes, the consequences of resisting are far worse than the consequences of going along with an unpleasant task. In such a situation, one has choices that are really just illusions, since it would be all but impossible to follow anything other than a single specific course of actions without the risk of facing unacceptable consequences, created either by one’s environment, or by personal imperatives. There is a limit to one’s ability to act for the sake of goals, motivations, and purposes.

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    • Agree! What I was trying to say but much more simply put.🙂

      The traits that survived through our evolution are not ‘better’, they were just better suited for the environment they were in. They are also not ‘laws of nature’ that we must follow. Similarly if an unpleasant trait has survived, we cannot say we disagree with it.. that’s irrelevant too. Evolution is divorced from morality. We should go about living our lives as we see fit and let our genes take care of themselves. You cannot use evolution as a justification of behaviour unacceptable to someone else.. even if a trait worked in the past, that does not mean we need to protect it! There’s a lot of complex environmental factors at play and we shouldn’t let evolutionary biology/ psychology interfere with our daily lives.

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  8. Well, I read the article and followed the discussion:

    The main premise of the article is good – respect women for her wishes, which is good although I do not agree with the simplistic & not so correct arguments which have been used to support the points. Is the author using this forum to promote themselves?

    Regarding are men more visual? – Well, many biology studies seem to give me the idea that it may be true but it is not something I will fight for. Who is doing this biology study? Again a creature influenced by environment and their own ideas. Why do peacocks have such beautiful feathers? Not pea hens? Who needs visual cues here? So, one cannot argue that only men need visual cues and need it more than women. They may need different visual cues but this is a open field.

    Simplifying sexuality in few simple statements would be incorrect. HUman sexuality has been repressed and projected very differently due to religion and society for decades. So, making blanket statements about sexuality of men or women is a fallacy.

    Let us not forget that the current human biology and mental make up for attraction between mates is a complex mix of biology, chemistry, social , cultural influences. So using evolutionary biology to simplistically explain current human behavior or to prove a point would be wrong. Every organism is a sum of nature (genes) and nurture (environment).

    Humans have worked on suppressing/modifying nature and nurture quite a lot. Also, this is biology, you cannot make a set of rules which all organisms follow, you cannot even guarantee that all humans will have 2 eyes all the time, for everything, there are a wide range of allelic variations and even range of expression levels depending on environment.

    So, you exist, it is great but no one can ensure with certainty that your genes are better because you feel this way or anything. We have messed too much with biology and evolution to give a conclusive answer as to what is a evolutionary favorable trait or what is a socially/culturally/favorable trait.

    The premise of religion/morality/ culture is claiming that human is superior and ability to go beyond biological impulses. Genetic propagation is the fundamental of biological impulses. Religions of the book (mainly) have worked on making humans asexual and as a compromise of that failure, invented it into marriage and monogamy.

    I agree with Carvaka. One cannot mix evolution, biology with morality. Shail too. We cannot use biology to explain human behaviour currently. I say live and let live. You want polygamy, go have it with people who also want ti and are okay with it. No forcing, no harming anyone else (physically mainly) but often we have to look back and question, what we want and what we are conditioned to believe we are supposed to want or do.

    In the end, Whatever makes you happy, propagating your genes or not.

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    • In patriarchal societies, women cannot advestise their sexual interest flagrantly like men can but somehow, this has been taken to mean that women do not respond to sexual attractiveness the way men do.

      If women are not visual, then why are Surya and Salman Khan pumping iron like their life depended on it? If its for male viewers, then we’re in the golden age of homo-eroticism aren’t we?🙂

      I often wish Indian culture celebrated the male body as did classical Greece. I often wish women were allowed to appreciate male beauty in very obvious ways instead of the standard “discrete glance”.

      It would make everyone happy — men would understand the power of being desired; women would understand the power of desiring.

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    • It is true that the original evolutionary biology and genes contribute not much in the present culture/society. But there is also a similar concept called memes (from selfish gene by Richard dawkins). A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme) .
      So what we call as patriarchy, and all other practices which are seen in the society are because of the fact that they provided an evolutionary advantage for the people following it. There by carrying forward the particular meme.

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  9. Pick up a non-exact science like evolutionary psychology and one comes to realise how narrow minded people can be, especially people who complain about the narrow mindedness of other people. FuckAwesome actually has a lot of valid, rational arguments, even though they are weakened by the core weaknesses of evolutionary psychology. Unlike natural sciences, Evo Psych is largely speculative and hypothetical, because we can neither account for all human behaviour nor are we really all that cued in to the history of human civilisation. However, his points are still far more logically sound than a lot of counter-points.
     
    Coming to the twitter statement made by Archismita: this is a poor play with rhetoric rather than a real argument.The argument that men are more cued into women’s visual attractiveness rather than vice versa is a sound argument. That Archismita, like most other women, do find physically attractive men attractive does in no way invalidate the argument, since LESS =/= ZERO. Women in general have far more room and a lower priority for physical attractiveness, compared to men.
     
    Sexual shaming and social taboos doesn’t really cover it. Even among gay and bi-sexuals, physical attractiveness holds far more premium in male-male relationships than female-female relationships. (The porn industry projection of super-attractive lesbians, is for all purposes and intents, a male fantasy fodder). In societies and family dynamics, like the family I grew up in, where male sexuality is shamed and monster-ised, men are still heavily oriented towards visual cues of attractiveness. In the ‘Girls Gone Wild’ and Ophrah culture of United States, where male sexuality is shamed, pervert-ised and demonised, men are still far more cued in to women’s looks than otherwise.
     
    And from what I have observed, mainland Indian men are far less cued in to women’s physical attributes than men of my culture or western cultures. I find Indian men far more prone to overlooking bloated bellies, thunder thighs and hygiene issues; so long as the woman has an okay face, the basic parts and (preferably) fair skin. Perhaps it is some kind of evolutionary adaptation to the arranged marriage system, to live with what parents decide is attractive in a future mate. *sarcasm intended*

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  10. Having said that, I think at times, pop-psychologists use Evo Psych is used to justify what are actually socio-cultural conditioning, one that starts at birth to the time in our late teens when our socio-sexual schema is pretty much solidified. Take the attraction to big breasts, blonde hair and light skin for instance, which in my experience and observation, have more to do with exposure than any intrinsic evolutionary make-up.

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  11. Whoa, this post sure got some essay-style-comments. I wish people’d be more succinct when expressing their views and opinions. Many of these comments fit into the TLDR category. (that’s Too Long, Didn’t Read).

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  12. Nish, we agree. For all practical purposes, this entire debate was because of taking two disconnected posts/view points and trying to tie them together with comparison by IHM. It was a little unfair.

    Here are my last two bits before my fingers die because of over-use.

    #1 – This id is used by a man and a woman both. It is not just a man writing the articles and it is not just a man commenting🙂 We hold this gender neutral as well as gender preference neutral position even in our blog posts. Please do not assume that the man holds more sway because of societal conditions and is probably strong-arming the woman into promoting HIS point of view even now.

    #2 – NOWHERE in either the original article quoted or in any of the comments did we talk about men being MORE visual than women. The context of both quoted articles was absolutely disparate. There was NO COMPARISON between men and women in our original article WHATSOEVER. Please do not attribute the comparison stand to us.

    #3 – OMG some people do not understand evolution and survival AT ALL!😐

    #4 – NOWHERE have we used Evolutionary Psychology to JUSTIFY any behaviour of a MAN or a woman. Fundamentally, each person is different. There are men who want to be promiscuous, there are women who want to be promiscuous, there are men who want to be asexual, there are women who want to be asexual, there are men who want to have only one mate, there are women who want to have only one mate and the actual permutation and combination of what people want in their lives is simply too great. We respect that and have NOT contested it anywhere.

    #5 – Some of you have very nice blogs🙂

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    • Well, if your data and general conclusions on human sexual dimorphism are are all good, then I guess I’m a statistical outlier and am therefore married to another statistical outlier.

      I’m okay with that.🙂

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        • It was a general concluding statement. It was not made in reply to this particular comment, and I’m not sure how it got here.

          I wasn’t going for anything particularly profound anyway. It’s just that I’ve observed that the sort of gender egalitarianism and the sort of worldview I tend to advocate isn’t something commonly to be found in society.

          If what you say about male mating behavior is correct, if the generalization is indeed true, then I evidently lie on the tail end of some frequency distribution bell curve in that regard, and that is a fact I accept.

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  13. We are the product of this environment. That is why there is no life in Mars or Venus where environment is different. When environment change we change in  physical mental and emotional aspects.  We as a civilisation changed our environment, and that change changed us. (by environment I mean not only nature but Socio cultural factors as well) Thus we evolved from a hunter gatherer society to 21st century humans. Everything about us is changing.
    So I think there is no point in saying our behaviour now is because of our environment 10000 yrs ago. Our behaviour now is because of our current environment. There are no Hard wires in us. Only soft ones which change. 

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  14. Oh, hey, you know the NUMBER ONE most reliable indicator of fertility in a woman? It’s not breast size. It’s not hip size. It’s not waist-hip ratio. It’s not lusterous hair or glowing skin.

    No, the absolute most reliable and best indicator of fertility in a woman is her already having borne a child. This is why, for instance, the main qualification for someone to be a surrogate is not her waist-hip ratio but proof of already being a mother to a healthy child.

    If men had really evolved to be attracted to natural signs of fertility in a woman, we would see them lusting after adult women with sagging breasts and stretch-marked bellies.

    Proof that evo psych is complete bullshit.

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    • Even though I am totally off the idea of having a kid, I find a lot of women with kids, attractive. Mothers of a single kid or two radiate a kind of sensuality that women without kids don’t. It is less physical and more an primeval thing, something I believe a lot of men are drawn to.
       
      The only reason men are averse to relationships with single mothers is the prospect of dealing with a child thats not theirs. Or perhaps, the trend of a lot of mainland Indian women of letting go after marriage, and blaming it on the kid.

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  15. Whew! Entirely too much 2m2r. However, skimming through this, one fact seems to have been overlooked. Only in our relatively recent history has the correlation between sexual intercourse and procreation been recognised. I am a student of Celtic history and one important fact of the evolution of that and many other cultured is they start out as matriarchies. Imagine! Only the female can call forth life into existence. This makes her godlike and many early cultures do, indeed, worship the Great Mother as their principal deity. In these societies, the female generally selects her mate, her partner according to her own preferences. It is only after the role of the male in procreation has been discovered that patriarchy is established and her social status falls from deity to subject/slave.

    In view of this, it makes perfect sense, at least to me, that both sexes evolved a set of visual cues to choose a mate. The reasons might be unknown to the person, but they make perfect sense evolutionarily.

    (I could produce references for the cited facts, but I will spare IHM from having to read them; she has enough to do just moderating these 2L2R comments. I’m keeping mine as short as possible.)

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  16. I think evolution has mostly been chance, its just that we tend to give it meaning and reason. If evolution really worked to our betterment, i think everyone would have turned equally beautiful by now, there wouldnt be any ugly people. A sperm that eventually reaches the egg is not essentially the one carrying the best property or the strongest swimmer, it got an early start maybe.. everything that has ever happened in evolution has been by chance. The peacock not necessarily got his beautiful wings to attract the peahen, it just uses it because it has got one.
    Did the earliest single cell being had an intention to better itself or to turn itself into creature like humans, no it didnt. It had all been a matter of chance, same way creation of this planet. Pure chance. There are millions of creatures who had faced extinction, not because they were bad at adaptation or were not competent, just chance

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    • Actually mutation is just a blind chance. But natural selection and survival of fittest ensures that only the best mutations are carried forward and it is there by called as evolution. So evolution is not just a chance.
      And about why ugly people are still there. If looks was the only factory for sexual selection, then definitely there wont be any ugly people by now. But obviously other factors like physical strength, intelligence etc had more evolutionary advantages.

      Like

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