Indoor Competition

As we emerge from the dark age of human self-knowledge, namely the Fifties to the Seventies, when it was holy writ that we came into the world as blank slates for parents, teachers and self-appointed social engineers to write on, we have discovered more and more about natural mammalian abilities to govern reproduction. We all know about competition between human males for intimate access to the female; less well-known, and not yet the subject of songs, novels, rom-coms and musicals, is the post-copulatory competition that goes on within the body of the female herself.

Throughout the animal world, testicle size and the concomitant sperm volume correlates perfectly with the number of mates a female takes at more or less the same time. For example, in truly monogamous species the male ejaculates little sperm; humans emit a lot more, and chimps more still. Among both rats and humans, the amount of sperm ejaculated is correlated with how long a male’s partner has been out of his sight. This suggests very strongly that mammalian reproductive biology is based on the assumption that the female may have just mated with a rival male or may shortly do so, and so the name of the game is literally to swamp the competition.

In addition, all sorts of strange biochemistry goes on inside the vagina, involving inter-spermal warfare, which we are only just beginning to understand. In consequence, when females engage in multiple matings, it is not the male that first takes her who gets to be the father, it is generally the one who goes last. The females of some species can also sequester sperm inside them, so as to choose between various donors; we do not know whether or not humans could once do this trick too, and have lost the art, or whether we never could. All this is precisely why our species instituted the honeymoon: to assure paternity, you need to sequester the woman after her defloration. If that seems like hard work, consider the insect Johannseniella nitida, whose male plugs the female’s vagina with his genitals, letting the rest of him get eaten. Unpleasant for him, but effective for his posterity.

Teenagers used to tell one another – and for all I know some of them still do – that a girl can only get pregnant if she comes. The consequent endeavour to have intercourse without coming had a destructive effect on sexual pleasure, and of course the method doesn’t even work. Or at least, it does not work reliably as a contraceptive method. Recent research, however, has shown that there is nevertheless a certain relationship between female orgasm and conception. Not only does female marital cheating peak around the time of ovulation, but certain kinds of orgasm also make pregnancy twice as likely per copulation; these special orgasms are those a woman has only with an exciting new lover, never with her boring old husband. A survey of 5,000 Chinese women finds orgasmic contentment to be highly correlated with spousal income, suggesting an evolved reward for skill in detecting and investing in male quality. Other studies find the lover-caused and child-producing super-orgasm to be correlated with neither age, social origins, perceived future earnings, potency nor commitment, but solely with facial symmetry; that is, with genetic superiority. It now becomes even clearer just what Mother Nature is up to.

Contemplation of our sexual dimorphism, the dynamics of our closest relatives and the physiology of mammalian reproduction all suggest that our mating system is premised on at least a moderate female promiscuity, or on moderately shared females, depending on how we look at it. This is quite a long way from the “women are programmed by evolution to be choosy, faithful and domestic” meme, which may be nothing more than an attempt by social conservatives to hijack the new biology for their own purposes.

A woman from a long, narrow and until recently very isolated valley told me about a nineteenth-century tinker who came over the mountains to the highest farm and worked his way down the valley – in more senses than one – so that his blood now runs in the veins of everyone now living there. As an animal breeder, she was well aware that this was genetically rational behaviour on the part of all those farmwives, and it was probably no coincidence that she showed no inclination to go along with the veneration of women as superior beings imposed by the country’s political-correctness establishment.

It has been said that the greater recruitment of female scientists has led to less attention being paid to the cliché of a man maximising the quantity of his offspring (by sowing his seed far and wide), and more to the question of how a woman can maximise the quality of her offspring. And the answer is not in doubt: “get a husband who will be kind, faithful and useful about the house. And then cheat on him.”

Posted on October 13, 2012 at 09:18 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: WHAT WOMEN WANT, The Cult Of St. Joseph

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