Monday, July 09, 2007

Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters. Part 4.

This post covers the last three politically incorrect points about humans, from the Psychology Today article by Alan S. Miller and Satoshi Kanazawa. Here are the first, second and third parts.

The next point is one which I Googled extensively, but never found the study that would support it. Such a study might exist, but it's not very easy to find:

8. The midlife crisis is a myth—sort of

Many believe that men go through a midlife crisis when they are in middle age. Not quite. Many middle-aged men do go through midlife crises, but it's not because they are middle-aged. It's because their wives are. From the evolutionary psychological perspective, a man's midlife crisis is precipitated by his wife's imminent menopause and end of her reproductive career, and thus his renewed need to attract younger women. Accordingly, a 50-year-old man married to a 25-year-old woman would not go through a midlife crisis, while a 25-year-old man married to a 50-year-old woman would, just like a more typical 50-year-old man married to a 50-year-old woman. It's not his midlife that matters; it's hers. When he buys a shiny-red sports car, he's not trying to regain his youth; he's trying to attract young women to replace his menopausal wife by trumpeting his flash and cash.

In my research I found several articles which argued that the midlife crisis is a myth for both men and women, and some that looked at men only and found the crisis mostly a myth. But I found no mention about the wife's menopause in those studies.

But note that in the previous point the authors argued that men settle down into lives of dull mediocrity after that youthful competitiveness ebbs. Why, then would they suddenly get all riled up by their wife's menopause? Can you hold both theories at the same time? And how does all of this reflect the new findings that male fertility rates drop with age, too? Should younger women dump their older husbands and go look for someone more likely to have boisterous sperm?

9. It's natural for politicians to risk everything for an affair (but only if they're male)

On the morning of January 21, 1998, as Americans woke up to the stunning allegation that President Bill Clinton had had an affair with a 24-year-old White House intern, Darwinian historian Laura L. Betzig thought, "I told you so." Betzig points out that while powerful men throughout Western history have married monogamously (only one legal wife at a time), they have always mated polygynously (they had lovers, concubines, and female slaves). With their wives, they produced legitimate heirs; with the others, they produced bastards. Genes make no distinction between the two categories of children.

As a result, powerful men of high status throughout human history attained very high reproductive success, leaving a large number of offspring (legitimate and otherwise), while countless poor men died mateless and childless. Moulay Ismail the Bloodthirsty, the last Sharifian emperor of Morocco, stands out quantitatively, having left more offspring—1,042—than anyone else on record, but he was by no means qualitatively different from other powerful men, like Bill Clinton.

The question many asked in 1998—"Why on earth would the most powerful man in the world jeopardize his job for an affair with a young woman?"—is, from a Darwinian perspective, a silly one. Betzig's answer would be: "Why not?" Men strive to attain political power, consciously or unconsciously, in order to have reproductive access to a larger number of women. Reproductive access to women is the goal, political office but one means. To ask why the President of the United States would have a sexual encounter with a young woman is like asking why someone who worked very hard to earn a large sum of money would then spend it.

What distinguishes Bill Clinton is not that he had extramarital affairs while in office—others have, more will; it would be a Darwinian puzzle if they did not—what distinguishes him is the fact that he got caught.

So any man with power who does not have affairs while in office would be a Darwinian puzzle? This is another example of the kinds of exaggerations that irritate me when it comes to Evolutionary Psychologists. Note how one example is selected and that one example is used to prove some general underlying theory. Here the theory seems to be that all men are by nature polygynous and if they are powerful enough they will satisfy their urge to have many women. On the other hand, women are not supposed to be polygynous and would therefore not act in a similar manner. Except, perhaps, for Catherine the Great, although the horse was certainly invented.

Finally, to the last point. My fingers ache and my writing has most likely gone to shit. But this is so beautiful:

10. Men sexually harass women because they are not sexist

An unfortunate consequence of the ever-growing number of women joining the labor force and working side by side with men is the increasing number of sexual harassment cases. Why must sexual harassment be a necessary consequence of the sexual integration of the workplace?

Psychologist Kingsley R. Browne identifies two types of sexual harassment cases: the quid pro quo ("You must sleep with me if you want to keep your job or be promoted") and the "hostile environment" (the workplace is deemed too sexualized for workers to feel safe and comfortable). While feminists and social scientists tend to explain sexual harassment in terms of "patriarchy" and other ideologies, Browne locates the ultimate cause of both types of sexual harassment in sex differences in mating strategies.

Studies demonstrate unequivocally that men are far more interested in short-term casual sex than women. In one now-classic study, 75 percent of undergraduate men approached by an attractive female stranger agreed to have sex with her; none of the women approached by an attractive male stranger did. Many men who would not date the stranger nonetheless agreed to have sex with her.

The quid pro quo types of harassment are manifestations of men's greater desire for short-term casual sex and their willingness to use any available means to achieve that goal. Feminists often claim that sexual harassment is "not about sex but about power;" Browne contends it is both—men using power to get sex. "To say that it is only about power makes no more sense than saying that bank robbery is only about guns, not about money."

Sexual harassment cases of the hostile-environment variety result from sex differences in what men and women perceive as "overly sexual" or "hostile" behavior. Many women legitimately complain that they have been subjected to abusive, intimidating, and degrading treatment by their male coworkers. Browne points out that long before women entered the labor force, men subjected each other to such abusive, intimidating, and degrading treatment.

Abuse, intimidation, and degradation are all part of men's repertoire of tactics employed in competitive situations. In other words, men are not treating women differently from men—the definition of discrimination, under which sexual harassment legally falls—but the opposite: Men harass women precisely because they are not discriminating between men and women.

"Men sexually harass women because they are not discriminating between men and women!" Thank Goddess for that. And what evidence does Browne have on men treating women and men exactly the same, except when they are harassing women for sex? Perhaps the evidence exists, but I have not found it.

Then there is the "now-classic study" which shows that:

Studies demonstrate unequivocally that men are far more interested in short-term casual sex than women. In one now-classic study, 75 percent of undergraduate men approached by an attractive female stranger agreed to have sex with her; none of the women approached by an attractive male stranger did. Many men who would not date the stranger nonetheless agreed to have sex with her.

I know about this study! It consisted of supposedly attractive undergraduates going around, in plain daylight, offering a quickie to various students they presumably did not know personally. Would I have said "yes" to such an offer, whatever my desires might have been?

Of course not. I'm not crazy, and going away with an unknown man who propositions to you without any of the usual context would be crazy. A woman doing that might not only get pregnant if she's not on the pill; she might get tortured, mutilated and killed. The odds are not the same for men and women in casual sex, and the study did not take that into account. The results say very little about women's desires if somehow those other factors could be equalized.

The end of this series. I'm sure that I could have made more trenchant criticisms if I had worked on all this a bit longer but I don't want to. It doesn't really deserve even this amount of work.

But on the title of all these posts: Why do beautiful people have more daughters? The answer is that Kanazawa has not shown they do. Hence asking "why" makes no sense at all.