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Women’s Mating Strategies

The Google guys made billions out of a search engine. Why is that? Back before the Internet, the problem for intelligent people was having access to information. The solution to that was libraries, and an intellectual community of people one could ask about what is important to read.

But then came massive schooling, universal literacy, industrial printing, and eventually the Internet. Access to information is (Elsevier notwithstanding) is not a problem anymore. The problem now is the sheer amount of utterly worthless filth information out there. Access to information is no good if 99.99% of that information is pure crap. In fact it’s worse than not reading at all; as the brain’s capacity has limits, and filling your memory with crap is likely to prevent the absorption of better knowledge.

And that’s why Google is so valuable, it helps tell the wheat from the chaff. But only to a point, though. The fact is that even the Internet is so full of crap these days, you still need to spend hours yourself in order to find some good looking grains of wisdom.

Which is of course why the blogosphere exists; besides our priceless commentary, most of what we do is finding good stuff online and sharing it.

Anyway, I was lurking in some dark and hellish corner of the blogosphere, and I found a link to a very neat paper on sex relations.

Women’s Mating Strategies
Evolutionary Anthropology 5:134–143, 1996
Elizabeth Cashdan
Department of Anthropology, University of Utah
Salt Lake City, UT 84112

First thing I noticed was University of Utah. Isn’t there where Cochran and Harpending work? This gotta be good. And it is. And look at the date. 1996! This pearl, no this full oyster farm of wisdom has been hiding in the internet for almost 20 years and nobody told me. Fuck Google, we need the Antiversity running up, fast.

Anyway, my blogging has been slow lately, so I’m going to pull an Isegoria and silently quote some pieces of the paper over several posts. No commentary is needed; the paper is clear as crystal.

What does a woman want? The traditional evolutionist’s answer to Freud’s famous query is that a woman’s extensive investment in each child implies that she can maximize her fitness by restricting her sexual activity to one or at most a few high-quality males. Because acquiring resources for her offspring is of paramount importance, a woman will try to attract wealthy, high-status men who are willing and able to help her. She must be coy and choosy, limiting her attentions to men worthy of her and emphasizing her chastity so as not to threaten the paternity confidence of her mate.

The lady has been getting more complicated of late, however. As Sarah Hrdy1 predicted, we now have evidence that women, like other female pri- mates, are also competitive, randy creatures. Women have been seen com- peting with their rivals using both physical aggression2,3 and more subtle derogation of competitors.4 While they are still sometimes coy and chaste, women have also been described recently as sexy and sometimes promis- cuous creatures, manipulating fatherhood by the timing of orgasm, and using their sexuality to garner resources from men.

The real answer to Freud’s query, of course, is that a woman wants it all: a man with the resources and inclination to invest, and with genes that make him attractive to other women so that her sons will inherit his success. Her strategies for attaining these somewhat conflicting aims, and her success in doing so, are shaped by her own resources and options and by conflicts of interest with men and other women.  

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8 responses to “Women’s Mating Strategies

  1. Pingback: Women’s Mating Strategies | Reaction Times

  2. James A. Donald July 12, 2014 at 10:45

    I am pretty sure I knew that when I was nine.

    All is fair in love and war

    Love is a battlefield

    Love is war.

    Implies that men and woman’s sexual strategies are imperfectly aligned, and each seeks to take advantage of the other, resulting in prisoner’s dilemma problems that substantially reduce reproductive success.

  3. disenchantedscholar July 14, 2014 at 16:04

    Reblogged this on Philosophies of a Disenchanted Scholar and commented:
    *slow clap* Good find.

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