Re: how many bastards are there, anyway?

sgf (
25 Aug 1996 19:49:57 GMT

In article <4viteb$>,
Matt Beckwith <> wrote:
> (sgf) wrote:
>>In article <4v7im5$>, Bryant <> wrote:

[delete random speculations by several people about sexual skill and
mate selection and reproductive fitness...]
>>>However, better looking guys (that is, at least in part, men with high
>>>developmental stability) do not induce more orgasms during foreplay,
>>>etc. They only boast a higher mate orgasm rate during copulation!
>>The research suggests that higher conception rates occur when the woman
>>climaxes *after* the man does -- before doesn't do anything. So sexually
>>successful (in the reproductive fitness sense) are the ones who, as it
>>were, don't fall asleep immediately afterward.
>Somehow this doesn't sound right to me. Higher conception rates may
>occur, all other things being equal, when the woman climaxes second. But
>if the man climaxes first, the woman isn't likely to climax period.
>(This isn't true for me, but I'm 43 years old. When I was younger, it
>certainly was true.) So we might say that the greatest reproductive
>success occurs when the woman is not motivated by orgasm, but by pleasing
>her man; and when the man is not motivated by pleasing his woman, but
>simply by having an orgasm as quickly as possible.

Well, is WAS meant as a joke... But besides that, you yourself seem to
illustrate the current theory that men have developed two strategies for
reproductive success. One is the "scattershot" method in which the
object is to impregnate as many women as possible, without sticking
around to take care of any possible offspring. Yes, many might die due
to lack of adequate care from two parents, but some will survive. This
tends to be seen in younger men (although others display it over a while
lifetime). The other strategy is to invest in care of the mother and
child, to give that child a very good chance to grow up. You might end
up with fewer kids, but they have better chances of surviving to
reproductive age. Giving each other physical pleasure *seems* to be one of
the ways that promotes bonding between couples (I know, there's *lots* of
other ways too, but we're just talking sexual here), which ensures that
both parents stick together and raise that child, so a man who pays
attention to his partner has a better chance of being able to keep his
partner with him, rather than her running back to her family (who also
have a genetic interest in that child growing up, don't forget).

And a man who is known for giving his partners pleasure has a better
chance of getting a partner in the first place, even if it's only for one
night (more on the unfaithfulness thing in a moment). Women *tend* to
look for long-term partners on the basis of resources and
sticking-around, but short-term partners are chosen for a variety of
reasons, including pleasure.

>But all things are not equal. And reproductive success is simply
>reproducing. The genes of those men who impregnate survive, the genes of
>those men who don't, don't. The genes of those women who are impregnated
>survive, the genes of those women who aren't, don't.

Nonono! The genes of those who impregnate/are impregnated, *and* who
successfully raise those children to reproductive age (or have the kids
raised for them) are the ones who survive. Doesn't matter how many times
you impregnate a woman, if she (or anybody else in her social group) uses
abortifacents or passive or active infanticide to ensure that child does
not survive. In times of stress, you have an investment in sticking
around and making sure that kid grows up, otherwise your genes die out.
Child care is a very important human strategy, and reproductive success
is not just *you* reproducing, it means how many offspring survive to
*their* reproductive age.

>One interesting thing about this thread (aside from the fact that it's
>gotten off-topic) is that, in spite of the fact that with modern medicine
>we have somewhat usurped the process of natural selection, where sexual
>activity is concerned natural selection is alive and well. After all,
>the genes of anyone who does not reproduce are being de-selected.

Honestly, how many people do you think use those methods? Just a few
poeple (compared to six billion) in just a few modern countries. Somehow
I don't think we're going to be overrun by a horde of
not-quite-fit-enough-due-to-modern-child-producing-methods babies. And
*most* of those procedures don't work either, we only hear in the media
about the successful ones. Not to mention the cost -- those kid who *do*
get born due to these methods are usually at an economic advatage to
start with, but only a select few (again, compared to six billion) can
eve afford the procedure to start with.

>So what qualities in a man determine whether he will impregnate a woman?
> Attractiveness, success (which is attractive to women), lack of
>discrimination in his sexual partners, unfaithfulness (since then he will
>impregnate more women), and sexual skill (after all, if he's a dud, he'll
>have less sex).

And how many of those qualities ensure his kid will be raised?
Attractiveness, lack of discrimination, unfaithfulness all work best when
he can trick someone else into raising his kid. Success ensures he'll
have the resouces necessary, which attracts women whether or not he
sticks around afterward, but sticking around makes sure the woman doesn't
abandond the kid somewhere or "forget" to feed it (women do a *lot* of
active selection in this sort of thing. We don't all raise whatever kid
happens to pop out, you know. [smiley deleted due to crosspost to a.f.u])

>Qualities in a woman include attractiveness, submissiveness (attractive
>to men's fragile egos), lack of discrimination in sexual partners,
>unfaithfulness, and sexual skill. (Unfaithfulness used to be de-selected
>because a woman's offspring were less likely to survive without a father;
>but these days the state takes responsibility for fatherless children.)

The female strategy seems to be finding a partner with the resources to
help her raise the child. Doesn't matter how attractive or how little
discrimination she has if the kid starves to death because she can't
gather enough food.

And as for unfaithfulness? The sheer amount of physical and cultural
stuff we've developed to ensure that marital infidelity does not cause
conception (see elsewhere in thread) would argue that unfaithfulness is
*both* partners is a major force to be reckoned with. Women (I'm
thinking of specifically Nisa from ?Marjorie Shostak?'s book, who
explains *exactly* why she has a lover in every camp she visits, like
most of her fellow !Kung women) sneak around just as much as men - and
except for the few men who rape their partners, for every man being
unfaithful with a married woman, there is a willing woman being
unfaithful to her husband.

Women play active roles in passing genes on to the next generation -- we
don't just sit around and wait to be impregnated, then passively raise
the kid hoping someone will stick around long enough to help us. Women
choose who they will be impregnated by (unless raped, but if the orgasm
theory is true, there is a small amount of control there too -- not
feeling sexy and avoiding partner sex and masturbation will lessen the
chance of the rapist's sperm reaching the egg), they actively choose
which kids will survive to adulthood (hunter/gatherer women deliberately
space their kids using long-term nursing and infanticide to ensure they
can give enough resources to the kids they choose to keep), and they
actively seek out partners they like.

Men are just as active. They try to impregnante as many women as
possible, they also invest time and paternal care in one woman and her
children, they actively kill kids either because there's not enough
resources to give them or because those kids don't carry their genes
(just chance that stepchildren in the US are more likely to be killed by
parental [often paternal] abuse than are "natural" kids? I think not.
[cite from, I beleive, _Discover's_ latest issue; the article on
infanticide. My copy disappeard in my recent move, so I can't be totally

The name of the game is *not* just to impregnate or be impregnated, and
there are a *lot* of factors that go into it. Human sexuality and
reproductive behavior is one of the most complicated systems existing in
animals, and is impossible to reduce very far.

--Stephanie "including inter-name comment in another nod to a.f.u." Folse

-- <*>
"Assiduous and frequent questioning is indeed the first key to wisdom ...for
by doubting we come to inquiry; through inquiring we perceive the truth..."
--Peter Abelard (..........I claim this .sig for Queen Elizabeth)