the question is why is it that we’re asking the question just now? it was probably always more important to land on the moon than to ask why women have sex… oh and this is nothing, i just got my hands on a book called why have children? published in … 2012 (!?) (seriously, that’s how long it took for someone to write a book on one of the quintessential questions of mankind?) but on this later; now just on sex:
The Guardian, Monday 28 September 2009
We are, apparently, scrabbling around for what biologists call “genetic benefits” and “resource benefits”. Genetic benefits are the genes that produce healthy children. Resource benefits are the things that help us protect our healthy children, which is why women sometimes like men with big houses. Jane Eyre, I think, can be read as a love letter to a big house.
“When a woman is sexually attracted to a man because he smells good, she doesn’t know why she is sexually attracted to that man,” says Buss. “She doesn’t know that he might have a MHC gene complex complimentary to hers, or that he smells good because he has symmetrical features.”
So Why Women Have Sex is partly a primer for decoding personal ads. Tall, symmetrical face, cartoonish V-shaped body? I have good genes for your brats. Affluent, GSOH – if too fond of acronyms – and kind? I have resource benefits for your brats. I knew this already; that is how Bill Clinton got sex, despite his astonishing resemblance to a moving potato. It also explains why Vladimir Putin has become a sex god and poses topless with his fishing rod.
And what is love? Love is apparently a form of “long-term commitment insurance” that ensures your mate is less likely to leave you, should your legs fall off or your ovaries fall out. Take that, Danielle Steele – you may think you live in 2009 but your genes are still in the stone age, with only chest hair between you and a bloody death. We also get data which confirms that, due to the chemicals your brain produces – dopamine, norepinephrine and phenylethylamine – you are, when you are in love, technically what I have always suspected you to be – mad as Stalin.
And is the world mad? According to surveys, which Meston and Buss helpfully whip out from their inexhaustible box of every survey ever surveyed, 73% of Russian women are in love, and 63% of Japanese women are in love. What percentage of women in north London are in love, they know not. But not as many men are in love. Only 61% of Russian men are in love and only 41% of Japanese men are in love. Which means that 12% of Russian women and 22% of Japanese women are totally wasting their time.
I am not sure if I feel empowered or dismayed. I thought that my lover adored me. No – it is because I have a symmetrical face. “I love you so much,” he would say, if he could read his evolutionary impulses, “because you have a symmetrical face!” “Oh, how I love the smell of your compatible genes!” I would say back. “Symmetrical face!” “Compatible genes!” “Symmetrical face!” “Compatible genes!” And so we would osculate (kiss). I am really just a monkey trying to survive. I close the book.
I think I knew that.