Mating preferences of men and women: not so different after all

For more than three decades evolutionary psychologists have advanced a simple theory of human sexuality: because men invest less reproductive effort in sperm than women do in eggs, men’s and women’s brains have been shaped differently by evolution. As a result, men are eager for sex whereas women are relatively choosy. But a steady stream of recent evidence suggests this paradigm could be in need of a makeover….

The proportion of mating effort dedicated to short-term mating was the same for men and women. Similarly, both men and women showed an equivalent tendency to lower their standards for sex partners, and men did not report feeling constrained to have far fewer sexual partners than they truly desired….

Beyond simply poking holes in the standard evolutionary psychology narrative, researchers have another paradigm ready to put in its place: U.S.C.’s Wood and Alice Eagly of Northwestern University propose that men and women adapt their outlooks to fit their society’s division of labor between the sexes, which results from physical differences in size, strength and mobility (during pregnancy)….

“In more equal actual roles, men and women have more similar mate preferences,” Eagly says. “In very different marital roles that confine women to a domestic role, men and women choose differently.”

…In Wood’s view the traditional evolutionary psychology paradigm was attractive because it explained the pattern of sex differences people saw around them in a way that made those differences seem natural. It assumed that men and women have always interacted in the way they do now. “We would say that men and women have evolved to act in a lot of different ways,” Wood says. “We’re the ultimate flexible species.”

For more, go here.

(Thanks, elp and Frog!)

Professor Sarah B. Hrdy

We’ve mentioned Profession Hrdy a few times on the blog – I know JJ has quoted her in some posts. But I’m just rereading Mother Nature in preparation for a class I’m teaching on evolutionary psychology, and I just thought I’d recommend it most highly to anyone who’s interested in biology and gender. Professor Hrdy is an anthropologist and primatologist who has made several major contributions in evolutionary psychology and sociobiology. A common theme in her work is the behaviour of female primates, particularly mothers. Her personal webpage can be accessed here. There is also a Wikipedia entry.

Sexuality on the savannah

We all know what sexual relations between men and women were like in prehistory on the African savannah, right?  OK, it’s prehistory, but that’s just a detail. 

What happened was this:  Males rushed around spreading their seed, while females tried desparately to get the nuclear family to work.  Lesson for today:  men benefit from having as many mates as possible, while women need a faithful male to work for the benefit of them and their children.

Right?  No!  No!  No!

Or at least that isn’t at all necessarily what we see in societies that approximate to the prehistorical ones in their lack of influence from the present developed  world.  This is according to a report published in the summer issue of the journal Human Nature, by Monique Borgerhoff Mulder of the University of California, Davis

In fact, ladies, if you want to maximize your reproductive fitness, forget about the nuclear family.  Successive monogramy (with more than two serial husbands) is the way to go. 

So the next time you think, “Funny thing, I could swear I wouldn’t mind the extra partner,” don’t blame evolution for the difficulties you face on that score (as it were).

And Kudos to Sarah Blaffer Hrdy for yet another wise observation:

The women are lining up more protection, more investment, more social relationships for their children to exploit…. A lot of what some people would call promiscuous I would call being assiduously maternal.

And a deep pink ribbon  to Geoffrey F. Miller, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of New Mexico, for this observation:

Evolutionary psychology and anthropology really need to take women’s perspective seriously in all its dimensions…the capacity of women across cultures to dissolve relationships that aren’t working has been much underestimated.

FEAST CFP: Deadline approaching…

So quick, get your submissions in!

FEAST

The Association for Feminist Ethics And Social Theory
invites submissions for the Fall 2009 conference
September 24 – 27, 2009

Clearwater Beach, Florida

Keynote speakers: Ofelia Schutte and Joan Tronto
Submission deadline: February 27, 2009

Submissions, for either paper or panel sessions, should consist of papers no longer than 3,000 words and abstracts of 100-250 words.

Presenters are encouraged to submit revised, expanded versions of their papers for a FEAST special issue of Hypatia that will appear in 2011—submission details to be announced in Spring 2009.

FEAST 2009 will also include two invited panels:

Environmental Feminism, with Chris Cuomo, Trish Glazebrook, and Chaone Mallory

Evolutionary Psychology, with Carla Fehr, Letitia Meynell, and Anya Plutynski

Theoretical papers on all topics within the areas of feminist ethics and social theory are welcome. The program committee aims to create a conference with a diverse group of presenters and a diversity of philosophical topics and styles. Proposals for presentations other than papers (e.g. workshops, discussions, etc.) should include detailed descriptions demonstrating that the ideas are as developed as they would be in a paper.

We especially invite submissions for the “Difficult Conversations” workshop, which is held as a lunchtime event at each FEAST conference. Previous workshops have included a discussion of how racism has affected participants’ lives, a conversation between women with disabilities and women who care for persons with disabilities, and a dialogue about feminist sexualities and identities.

FEAST strongly encourages members of groups that are underrepresented in both the discipline of philosophy and at feminist philosophy conferences to send submissions. The Steering Committee apologizes for the oversight of scheduling the conference to end on the day that begins Yom Kippur (Sept 27th, 2009), and we will do our best to accommodate scheduling requests relating to religious and cultural practices.

Please send your submission, in one document (a Word or pdf file), to lhschwar@msu.edu by February 27, 2009. Your document should include the paper title, abstract, and paper, but no identifying information. The word count (max. 3,000) should appear on the top of the first page of your paper. Panel organizers, please send the panel title and all three abstracts and papers in one document, along with the word counts (3,000 for each paper). In the body of the e-mail message, please include: your paper or panel title, name, institutional affiliation, e-mail address, surface mail address, and phone number. All submissions will be anonymously reviewed.

For more information on FEAST or to see the programs from past conferences, go to: .

Questions may be directed to Lisa Schwartzman: lhschwar@msu.edu

Pretty Thin Men

thinmen3.jpg 

Apparently the models above represent the new ideal male model.  And what do they say?  Incipient annorexia.

Should mothers start worrying about their sons?  Sisters about the brothers?  Lovers about their beloveds?

The question “Why not” might lead us to consider whether it is elements in our culture that link fashion models to women’s desirability, but not men’s.  Largely disregarding cultural influence, evolutionary psychology tends to connect men’s desirability to signs of power and women’s to signs of fertility.  On such a view, annorexia is presumably fertile youthfulness badly misconstrued, which for men would create the clearly unattractive appearance of powerlessness.    

So perhaps the new look in male models will give us a test of the origins of annorexia; can culture lead men to starve themselves?

For my self, having found supermarkets sometimes problematized by the recent presence of male agression in the aisles, I am not looking forward to battling men over fashion magazines at the hair dressers’.   Somehow I don’t think that’s where this is going.

What’s more, I noted on accidently looking in at the new “aesthetics center” when I visited my doctor at the Women’s Health Care Center (!) that there was not a man in sight.  (Do prostate specialists partner with aesthetic clinics?)  I can report depressingly that just glancing through the list of what they could do rattled my self image.

Feminism Fizzles !?!

It’s the CHE again. The author, Rachel Shteir, maintains that Friedan’s book was wonderful, energizing, liberating, etc, but few people read it today, and contemporary stuff is uninspired and narcissistic.

A taste of now and then:

Friedan wades into women’s lives, painting a picture of how myriad forces created the feminine mystique. It is as though she is reworking one of the great reform classics of the early 20th century, like The Pit or The Jungle. You believe completely in the vortex sucking women under: In the first few pages, the reader is swept into birthrates, education, India, kitchen design, and diets.

Compared with Friedan’s 1963 book, the new W(orks)onW(women) also fall short as works of writing. They seem to either chirp or thunder rather than evoke, as Friedan does. They do not offer her sweeping take on women and society, and not only do they reject psychology, but they seem not to understand it. Slaughter is outraged when some female assistant professors asked her to stop talking about her children in public, telling her that it detracted from her “gravitas.” She reflects: “It is interesting that parenthood and gravitas don’t go together.” She goes on to insist that her colleagues add her children to her bio when they introduce her.

The article seems to me to be a mishmash of ideas. She writes as though a revolutionary book must be followed by revolutionary books, and does not seeem to realize that the next step will likly be the details, with lots of mistakes, etc. And there is no mention of vibrant feminism outside the US borders.

I think the article is available to all.

Consciousness and Moral Cognition

Mark Phelan writes:

I wanted to let readers of Feminist Philosophers know that the slate of invited authors for the special issue of the Review of Philosophy and Psychology on Consciousness and Moral Cognition has expanded. Here is the current list of invited authors:

Kurt Gray (Maryland) and Chelsea Schein (Maryland)
Anthony I. Jack (Case Western Reserve) and Philip Robbins (Missouri)
Edouard Machery (Pittsburgh) and Justin Sytsma (East Tennessee State)
Liane Young (Boston College).

I invite readers of this blog to submit papers to the issue. Submissions are due March 31, 2012.

The full CFP, including relevant dates and submission details, is available on RPP’s website:http://www.springer.com/philosophy/journal/13164

Here is an abbreviated CFP: When people regard other entities as objects of ethical concern whose interests must be taken into account in moral deliberations, does the attribution of consciousness to these entities play an essential role in the process? In recent years, philosophers and psychologists have begun to sketch limited answers to this general question. However, much progress remains to be made. We invite contributions to a special issue of The Review of Philosophy and Psychology on the role of consciousness attribution in moral cognition from researchers working in fields including developmental, evolutionary, perceptual, and social psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and philosophy.

Prinz responds to critics

An earlier blog post praised Jesse Prinz for showing how evolutionary explanations for male violence fall short and for offering alternatives. Prinz now continues the discussion responding to some of his critics.

Jesse Prinz: “A recent scientific paper advances the Male Warrior hypothesis, according to which men are evolved to seek out violent conflicts in order to get women. In a blog here on Psychology Today, I challenged this rape-and-pillage model of human evolution. I think the evidence given for the male warrior hypothesis can be better explained by appealing to some widely accepted assumptions about human history. In a spirited and thoughtful reply, fellow bloggers Mark van Vugt and Anjana Ahuja have come to the defense of the Male Warrior hypothesis. Professor van Vugt was an author on the study that I challenged, and his reply provides a welcome opportunity for further discussion. I am grateful for that, and I will here attempt to clarify why I resist the evolutionary explanation of male violence.”

Read more at Psychology Today.

Men discuss consciousness and Moral Cognition

Well, here we go again:

from Mark Phelan on Experimental Philosophy

CFP: Consciousness and Moral Cognition
Adam Waytz and I are guest editing a special issue of the Review of Philosophy and Psychology on consciousness attribution in moral cognition. As a recent post on this blog notes, “two favorite topics of X-Phi are morality and how we perceive the minds of others,” so I hope readers of this blog (and experimental philosophers in general) will consider submitting. Guest authors include: Kurt Gray (Maryland), Edouard Machery (Pittsburgh) and Justin Sytsma (East Tennessee State), and Anthony I. Jack (Case Western Reserve) and Philip Robbins (Missouri).

Submissions are due March 31, 2011.

The full CFP, including relevant dates and submission details, is available here.

Here is an abbreviated CFP: When people regard other entities as objects of ethical concern whose interests must be taken into account in moral deliberations, does the attribution of consciousness to these entities play an essential role in the process? In recent years, philosophers and psychologists have begun to sketch limited answers to this general question. However, much progress remains to be made. We invite contributions to a special issue of The Review of Philosophy and Psychology on the role of consciousness attribution in moral cognition from researchers working in fields including developmental, evolutionary, perceptual, and social psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and philosophy.

The cfp is from the Experimental Philosophy Site

Does having daughters make parents more liberal?

So research done in England suggests:

Having daughters rather than sons, or vice versa, can change a father’s politics.

That is the conclusion of British researchers Andrew Oswald, of the University of Warwick and Cornell University, and Nattavudh Pawdthavee, of the University of York.

… Oswald told the Telegraph newspaper this past weekend that the research “provides evidence that daughters make people more left-wing, while having sons, by contrast, makes them more right-wing.”

It sounds good to me, but why would that happen?  Here’s what Oswald told the Telegraph:

Professor Oswald said that having daughters made men “gradually shift their political stance and become more sympathetic to the ‘female’ desire for a … larger amount for the public good”.

“They become more Left-wing. Similarly, a mother with sons becomes sympathetic to the ‘male’ case for lower taxes and a smaller supply of public goods,” he said.

Hmmmmmmm.  Makes it sound as thought we’ve got sex-related characterisitic dispositions that easily become political.   Should this just go along with the research showing that women have a preference for pink?