Re: Breast Size (Was: Re: Homosexuality and genetic determinism)

James G. Acker (
2 Jun 1995 14:24:47 GMT

I left this in all newsgroups, but I'm not sure they're all
relevant anymore. Sorry.

Elena Mills ( wrote:
: From: (Michael Andrew Turton)
: >
: > Bryant:
: > >I suspect that in the majority of cultures, female attractiveness is an
: > >important variable in men's extramarital & premarital sexual choices.
: >
: > No doubt -- but do such women have more surviving children? Or
: > do they just have more sex?
: A woman who has sex and is then with child will be a woman who
: elicits the protection of the man who has loved her. Probably
: more often than not, he will become her mate, where otherwise
: he might flit off to the next flower. It happens still today.
: > Sure, attractiveness counts, but so what? My point is that
: > the "individual selectionist" accounts of reproduction need differential
: > success. In other words, groups of women who signal one way or another
: > that they are more fertile also *REPRODUCE* more -- not just have more
: > sex or with more partners, and so forth, but have more surviving children
: > in the long run. High social status or attractiveness or the other
: > attributes that men and women favor do not ipso facto lead to the
: > production of more surviving children per female.
: > But logically, a women's reproductive success in a human community
: > at least partially depends on her mate. And therein lies the rub -- why
: > should a man stick around a women who is attractive to (and mates with)
: > other men?
: You really get so funny. "Why would a man stick around a woman who
: is attractive to other men?" Really. Why indeed? I can't imagine
: a man doing such a thing. Sorry, but it's absurd. A man wants a
: beautiful woman even more as a symbol of his own status than
: as a sexual partner.
: I suspect this is an ancient behavioral trait.

You trivialize the question a bit. The best strategy for
a female to foster the greatest genetic fitness in her offspring is
for her to have several fathers of her offspring, but she needs at
least one who thinks that all of her offspring are his to aid in
child-rearing and aid their survival. Now this strategy doesn't
help the genetic fitness of the offspring of the male (he should
have offsping by several females) so once the kids are mature, he
may take off for a new partner. Thus, one of the commonest
patterns in humans is "serial monogamy" -- a series of one-partner
relationships that last long enough to raise a child to age of
independence (nominally 4 years old).
I'm not advocating this as a social practice, but the
average length of marriages (mean time to divorce is approximately
4 years) shows this to be a social pattern. (Cited in _Discover_,
and there are books about this topic.)

: > Why would it be useful for the woman to confuse paternity?

See above.

: You know, this highlights what is probably most wrong with the
: general line of attack on this question: Why do we assume that
: the family structure was the same as our post-agrarian, paternal
: model.
: Even now, surviving tribal societies often present different family
: models. Especially viable is the structure that places the woman's
: brothers as the prime male role-models and caretakers for her
: children. In this way, siblings generally tend to live together,
: and mating occurs with people in other family groups.
: After all, it doesn't look as though our paternal family structure
: stands up very well. Men seem to be little interested in caring
: for and supporting their offspring.

A male who has no indication that the offspring are
his is unlikely to invest much energy in taking care of those
offspring, when his best strategy is to get out there and produce
more offspring that might be his.
If a female is capable of rearing offspring totally
without the aid of a male, again, the best genetic strategy is for
him is to impregnate the female and then go find another willing
partner. ONLY if the reproductive success of his offspring is
influenced by male juvenile-care activities is it in the best _genetic_
interest of a male to care for his offspring at all.

A recent _Natural History_ (1-3 issues back) had an article
about the scandalous and lewd sex lives of dunnocks (a particular
kind of English sparrow). I recommend it. (The article, not the
sex lives of dunnocks.)

| James G. Acker |

"Science moves, but slowly slowly,
Creeping on from point to point." -- Alfred Lord Tennyson,
"Locksley Hall"

All comments are the personal opinion of the writer
and do not constitute policy and/or opinion of government
or corporate entities.