Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Girls and Boys

Bilbo linked to a damn interesting damninteresting article today, about mate-choice in guppies and what it can tell us about the "wedding ring effect" - the commonly noticed phenomenon that women seem to slightly prefer men who are already spoken for. (I've actually noticed this phenomenon myself - when I first got engaged to Mamiko I suddenly saw an increase in flirtation from female friends; then again maybe that's just because I started wearing decent underarm deoderant around then.)

The 'guppy syndrome' shows that females of the species will often mate with males simply on the basis that those males are mating with other females, even going so far as to mate with unattractive males simply on that basis. Obviously, the fact that other females have deemed a fish 'spongeworthy' is indicative to a lady guppy that there must be more to him than meets the eye, and she starts to see him in a different light. This then becomes a self-perpetuating cycle, as the guppies with all the girls become more and more popular while the loners become even more alone - and probably go off on their own and form under-water support groups.

A Guppy.

The psychology of human sexuality is endlessly fascinating for me. I'm not sure that guppies have all the answers, but I am sure that biology works behind the scenes in all sorts of weird and wonderful ways when it comes to who people want to have sex with.

What is undoubtedly true, I think, is that women are much cleverer than men when it comes to sex-war propaganda. The other day I caught the end of a Jeremy Kyle show (think a British version of Jerry Springer, with even uglier and stupider people if that's possible), and the main gist of it seemed to be that a married woman had had an affair, and she was justifying it on the basis that her husband no longer gave her the love, affection and romance that she needed. Most of the female members of the audience seemed to sympathise; while they didn't necessarily excuse her behaviour, they generally accepted that excuse - the consensus being that, while men have affairs to boost their ego and because they're habitually promiscuous, women have affairs for love.

And I thought, "Bullshit!" But the argument is kind of persuasive, because women are such good manipulators, and because they naturally bond together over the percieved injustices men perpetrate against them. In sexual politics, men are generally always the villains - whether it's because they have affairs or because they force their wives into affairs through lack of love - and it's all because we just don't play the system as well as women do. Men are competitive, see, so while one man is being castigated for having an affair, other men are mostly thinking "well, it just goes to show what a good husband I am" - or, more likely, "well, if she's dumped him, maybe it's my turn to move in."

Anyway, guppies. Is there anything they can't do?


zero_zero_one said...

Tell the truth now, you've never bought decent underarm deodorant.

Interesting theories/ideas you're throwing around in this one: I'll have to think about how much I agree with you and get back to you on it...

Amanda said...

I'm not sure I agree with you either....but it is definitely an interesting train of thought.

I think it takes much more for a woman to cheat. As in, she would spend a lot more time trying to talk herself out of it.....

Bilbo said...

My view on this whole thing is slanted by the fact that my ex-wife was having an affair while I was trying very hard to rescue a crumbling marriage. I have no sympathy for anyone who cheats on a partner...if you are tired of each other, either work it out or break it off, but don't cheat. And let me know if the underarm deodorant works, in case I ever need any~