Book Summaries health History

Chapter 7: Monogamy and the Nature of Women (The Red Queen)

Consistent monogamy, not polygamy sets humans apart from mammals (including apes). Of the four apes (gibbons, orangutans, gorillas, and chimpanzees) only gibbons are monogamous.

Although men are polygamous opportunists at heart, afraid of commitment, they are interested in finding wives whom to rear families with.

Sperm competition theory emerged after it was discovered that some females, instead of being monogamous, were initiators of promiscuity.

Male gibbons are useless as fathers. Their only role is to protect their children from other male gibbons.

A female gorilla will mate about ten times for every baby that is born. A female chimpanzee will mate 500-1000 times. A bonobo up to 3000 times.

It is hard to be precise with the human mating system. There are some universals, however. Women seek monogamous relationships, even in polygamous cultures. Women do not seek sexual variety per se. But women are sometimes unfaithful, although this may be a cultural flaw that forces women to go against their instincts, or it may the fault of the seducer.

Cuckoldry paranoia is deep seated in men. Veils, chaperones, female circumcision, and chastity belts are all proof. Jealousy exists in all cultures. Sexual jealousy is an unavoidable part of being human.

Love is thought of as a positive emotion while jealousy a negative one. Yet they are two sides of the same coin. A couple that does not feel jealous or threatened by others are likely not invested enough in the relationship. Psychologists have discovered that couples that do not have moments of jealousy are less likely to stay together than jealous ones.

Deep in the mind of a modern woman is the same basic hunter-gatherer calculation as men. Strive to find a provider husband who will invest food and care in your children, a lover who will give those children first-class genes. Only if she is very lucky will they be the same man.

Matt Ridley, The Red Queen

"Silence is the best expression of scorn" - G.B. Shaw

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