pktechgirlbackup: (pktechgirl)
[personal profile] pktechgirlbackup
Another interesting point for Perv is that individual men tend to have much narrower sexualities than individual women. This fits with my personal observations: women are more like to be bisexual, more like to switch in a BDSM sense, less likely to have a true paraphilia (something they cannot become aroused or orgasm without. As opposed to a kink, which is a non-standard sexual interest that someone enjoys but does not require for every sexual encounter). Of course, it's impossible to determine the extent of cultural influence from observation alone, but Perv introduces some animal evidence that males fixate to a narrower range of targets.

You might think that supports the idea that it's genetic, but it doesn't. The experiment in question swapped baby goats and sheep with each other, and observed the sexual behavior of the adoptees. Males of both species pursued females of their adoptive species, females remained receptive to both (book didn't mention the behavior of females adopted by the same biological species and I can't find the cite). Male goats do not have a sheep-fucking gene. What this actually shows is not that courtship targets are inborn, but learned from the environment, and that males narrow down their target in the time between birth and puberty in a way females do not.

This offers a really satisfying explanation for the range of human male sexual behavior. Most obviously, the wide range in beauty standards between cultures but narrow range within cultures, and in what an individual man finds attractive. Young male brains have the capacity to learn from the culture what is most advantageous to impregnate, and work with that, but have a hard time shifting targets later in life. It works for non-reproductive sex too: Pederasty will never result in a pregnancy, but if sex with young boys is correlated with gaining resources that will aid in reproduction (e.g. status in Ancient Greece), and the relevant section of the brain is taught that while young, it will find the idea exciting.

So once again, the answer to the question "what are humans programmed to do?" is "be astoundingly adaptive to local conditions."

Date: 2013-12-20 02:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
What do you mean by narrow range in what an individual man finds attractive?

Date: 2013-12-20 07:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Individual men likely to have a "type" that most or all of the women they date fall in to, relative to women, and within a culture more men have the same type than women do. Women do have types, and they are correlated with each other within a culture, but my observation is that there is more variation among the men an individual woman dates, and among the preferred type of women in a culture.

Date: 2013-12-21 05:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That seems strange to me and doesn't fit with my experience.

Date: 2013-12-24 08:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
If you haven't read it, you *need* to read "The Evolution of Human Sexuality" by Donald Symons. It's 34 years old and out of print, but it is by far the most intelligent and sound book I've read on the subject. He basically lays out how to think about the field, and as he does, I realized that everything else I'd ever read had made so, so many mistakes. The main downside is that it's missing the last 30 years of research, including most of the bonobo stuff. I really hope that he gets around to doing a second edition, but it sounds like he may have other interests now...

(What brought it to mind is a bit about ducks. Apparently, male ducks, when raised by a different species of duck, will prefer females of the adoptive species, but female ducks, when raised by a different species of duck, will still prefer males of their own species. The theory is that male plumage is very distinctive, and so it was evolutionarily cheaper to hardcode the preference for males of one's species, but female plumage is much more subtle, and so it was evolutionarily cheaper to leverage the brain's pattern matching to do the work, even if that risked sometimes making mistakes. But that is, still, just a theory, as he goes to pains to remind us.)

Date: 2013-12-25 01:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You could just as easily argue the females of different species innately preferred different things (for any reason at all), and the males evolved their plumage to match their targets.

Date: 2013-12-25 07:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Not actually! Which is one of the reasons why I like that book so much!

(So, it's both yes and no. Yes, if you restrict yourself to only certain types of analysis, there's no difference between the two arguments. But I believe the overall conclusion is that no, it is much more likely to be the other way around.)


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