The Economics Of The Black Widow

Being by definition the party who is nutritionally and energetically exploited in gestation, the female may be forgiven for redressing the balance by making the male pay a high price for his inseminations. This redress takes a number of different forms in the animal kingdom. In some species the male acquires prey, summons a female and copulates with her as she is feeding on it. In other species he himself becomes her post-coital snack. In the former case one might say that the male is paying the female for sex, which we have conditioned ourselves to believe is the acme of male oppression; and yet in that “punting” species the males get disproportionately caught by higher-order predators. So we could alternatively say that the females get to loaf around without having to hunt for their living – or be eaten. In the latter case, it is even harder to see the male as being in charge of the transaction. It is true that these are arthropods rather than humans, but men have nevertheless been known to feel their own fates reflected therein.

Leave a Reply