Friday, July 18, 2008

Regret: The Nature of Women and Men

I was browsing Neuroanthropology: Yes, as nerdy as it sounds. But interesting. Very interesting.

Most current article: Girls gone guilty: Evolutionary psych on sex #2 A recent journal publication argued:
that women are ‘ill adapted’ for promiscuity, that the ’sexual and feminist revolutions’ didn’t work because women couldn’t shake their inherent nature, which is to long for committed relationships and loathe themselves if they act like cheap floozies.
To which, gregdowney, whose paraphrase is above, repudiates:
That is, if you went in with a different framework for explanation — like, ‘too many guys in one-night stands don’t know how to satisfy women’ or ‘women are better at sex than men’ — you could construct another story around this data that was equally plausible — no, more plausible — than women are programmed to want long-term relationships.

I think I disagree with large portions of both viewpoints.

1. The feminist movement was not merely an attempt to allow women to have casual sex with ease. This seemed to be some sort of motive that got super-imposed upon the feminist revolution to make it seem more sinister and well, ridicule-able. I do believe it had more to do with equality and fairness.

2. I think that both men and women are programmed, as we shall call it, to desire stable long-term relationships.

3. However, the additional "programming" that influences women more so than men is the social conditioning of society rather than one's nature. Society tells women that they ought to be married and popping out babies (among other messages) in order to be successful. Also, a woman who is sexually promiscuous may be labelled a whore, whereas a man with similar habits is a stud.

My conclusion: Neither men nor women are naturally inclined to embrace the phenomenon of a one-night-stand as a self-fulfilling, emotionally satisfying way of life. Temporary physical relationships lead to loneliness and emptiness regardless whether there is bragging or hiding occurring the morning after.

Good or bad moral decisions, if you will, are always either punished with *eventual* remorse or rewarded with *underlying* self-affirmation. Depending on which path was taken, the notion of right or wrong always lingers and always catches up. Man or woman.


  1. I do agree that the feminist movement was not really about allowing women to have casual sex--though it has been one result. However, I think the reason that women are less satisfied being promiscuous (assuming this is in fact true) is more related to biology than social conditioning. A woman has to wait 9+ months between each birth and can only pass on her genes at a certain rate. Plus, she requires special care during this time--it is in her best interest to have a male that will provide. However, men can produce any number of offspring within a very short period of time--spreading their genes all over the place. The more promiscuous men will spread more genes, theoretically producing more promiscuous men.

    It is those damn women who are having casual sex and getting pregnant who are keeping those men around =P Haha. Seriously though, there is a social stigma that follows a promiscuous woman. It is definitely a double standard and there is definitely social conditioning involved. But I think that it follows from biology.

  2. Interesting. So you would agree with the original article that claimed "nature" was responsible for these feelings of regret. I actually think I agree. It makes sense that social conditioning would follow from biology, reinforcing the way people already tended to feel anyway. Although, if true, I would say that societal attitude has ballooned out from original instincts to have a larger affect on the populace today.

    Also note, the "ethics of care" which suggest that the male and female ethical models vary based on biological tendencies. It basically states that women base their decisions more on the relationships they have with others verses men who have a more linear way of determining an ethical code. This entire concept supports the assertion that biology and society precedes feelings like regret, especially for women.

  3. I think the feminist movement was really more political. The increase in promiscuity for both men and women was more a strike against "institutions" and seeking after what felt good. Sex became about recreating versus procreation. The feminist movement was more about equality and being treated fairly but even then there was a lot of other agendas going on striking against the societal norms. I think what you see happening to this day in relationships to men and women is playing out part of the Genesis curse. Genesis 3:16b "Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you."

    Now as to differences between men and women. There are some that are biological and natural in orgin. There is a distinct different way men and women of any culture approach relationships that goes beyond simple societal conditioning.

    Now in terms of felt regrets of the engagement in recreational sex, I think it is a deeper issue. Women given there nurturing and relational nature or going to be more prone to show regret. Men will and do experience regret as well but internalize and minimize it. It is also true that the consequences are more real for women when it comes to sex and are certainly going to be prone to be more careful. Men have done a lot of damage in a lot of lives by not being there for children and engaging in careless sex.

    I could dervivate off to many other tangents but probably better end comments for now. This is an interesting article.