The Science of Sex
Basic Sex Differences (2)
Essential Sex Differences
Excerpts from Section 14 of
The Tyranny of Ambiguity
As far as the characteristics of males and females are concerned, we are not really talking about individuals at all, but only about male and female strategies. This is the basis on which the following analysis is made. Indubitably however, most males are male and most females are female.
ESD 1. NATURAL DOMAINS: THINGS VERSUS RELATIONSHIPS. An essential component of the male character is his capacity to react at the level of the thing. A male may become excited or even obsessed by a clever piece of computer code or a tiny part or modification of an engine. These things can be utterly fascinating to a male but they mean nothing whatever to a female, because the female’s basic level of interaction is the relationship. Things are absolutely meaningless to most females save for the functionality they provide. Indeed to some males this functionality is only an end-product, at which point the item becomes so mundane that it is no longer of challenging interest.
This may be partly the reason for a certain female ruthlessness in manipulating relationships. Not only are their instinctive drives directed to a very great degree towards finding a mate, and most particularly an ideal or optimal one, but essentially they have no thing else. They are far less able to redirect their sexual energies, to sublimate them in other productive directions, as males can.
The basic relational transaction between the sexes is that the female gives the male physical sex and the male gives the female a relationship.
PROPOSITION 6. The primary sexual activity of the female is relationships.
DISCUSSION. If I go to a male and talk to him about computers it is not sex, or if I go to a female and talk about computers it is not sex, but if I go to a female and talk to her because she is female it is sexual activity. For the purpose of this analysis, and fundamentally, all relationships which are not business are sexual. Relationships may be very pleasant but ultimately the only thing they produce is babies. The primary sexual activity of the female is personal relationships, particularly and especially with children. The male instinct is to have sex, the female instinct is to have babies. The male who is not interested in physical sex and the female who does not want babies became extinct long ago.
There are feminist books which purport to be about sex but which say little or nothing about the sex act, the male perspective, but which talk almost exclusively about children. A large proportion of female art is concerned with childbirth and children. By nature females are very good at having and nurturing babies, and doing so can give them considerable pleasure. Reproduction is fundamental to the female ‘reason for being,’ and relationships and sex are an inseparable part of that, as we shall see from the nature and paucity of female sex substitutes.
Females cannot give up sex in pursuit of an objective to the extent that males do. A male will surrender sex to achieve some goal but a female will never give up relationships, which is her expression of sex, because it is totally essential to her being. The question to a male “Why is sex so important to you?” is utterly ridiculous, coming from a female.
For a male to make a major achievement or breakthrough he must often be obsessive to the point of craziness. To succeed he must be prepared to be hated while, I maintain, a female longs and desires above all else to be loved. For a male to succeed he must be prepared to be hated because his success will inevitably be to the envy and discomfort of others. Maybe he will be loved afterwards, too late or not at all, but he must shed his care to be loved to succeed.
The natural domain of the female is relationships, the natural domain of the male is things. I concluded that females are something like 6-8 times better at reading signals and manipulation than males. Correspondingly males are 6-8 times better at manipulating things.
SEXUAL-POLITICAL ANALOGIES. Some parallels can be drawn in male-female relationships between an expert chess player and a beginner. The female is expert while the male is severely handicapped. The male always loses, or is allowed to win once in a while just to maintain his interest. The female makes the male do as much work as possible as he attempts to get what he wants, but he always has to overcome his natural handicap. It is in the female’s interest to make the male do as much work as possible, because by this tactic she learns the male’s strategies even as he is learning them. Then if she sees what she wants she can immediately fall back on her natural skill and win immediately.
A rather more forceful analogy is a man being trapped in a cage with a member of the cat family which is about the same weight as him, such as a jaguar or tiger. The cat is many times more aggressive and much better equipped; the man is at a severe disadvantage.
Both of these analogies can be applied to the situation in which males attempt to compete in females’ natural domain of relationships, although both fall down when applied more generally. In the first case the male ultimately refuses to play the game altogether and the female appears to become incompetent through laziness and lack of practice. In the second the man must not only fight and win the battle with the cat but also live with it.
ESD 2. BONDING. I spent a considerable time at one point struggling to find the significance of a comment made by F25J about someone from her home town. He was presently living in Amsterdam and calling on her. F25J said “He didn’t make any particular attempt to get to know me when we were in Tel Aviv.” I had a strong sense that this somehow encapsulated the female perspective but could not pin it down precisely.
The crux of it however is that males bond on shared experience, while females do so solely on the basis of who they like.
The classical male grouping is the gang. Males will admit a member to the gang solely because he is useful, but females are only interested in who they like.
ESD 3. POLYGAMY VERSUS MONOGAMY. The most successful male strategy for the furtherance of his genes is to impregnate as many reproductive females as possible. This is the pure masculine perspective, to finish one and go on to the next. This polygamous drive is also the most effective business and evolutionary strategy. The male instinct is to bring things to a head, finish and get on to the next. We can think of business, which is a masculine activity. The optimum strategy is to clinch a deal, make a profit and go on to the next transaction. In pursuit of this drive the male seeks resolvement.
The male instinct is to act, because even if he makes a mistake he can finish, learn from his mistake and do it better next time. Contrarily, because of the high cost of sex and her desire for an optimum partner, the female instinct is to prevaricate and delay if it is at all possible. The female instinct is to drag things out and stall, so that she can gather information and obtain maximum advantage before committing herself to bearing a child.
Certainly the results of Experiment 1 and subsequently were that females never initiate action. The female instinct is normally not to act: not to resolve matters, not to take risks, not to have sex, or at least until the conditions are perceived as ideal and if so, apparently often without taking precautions against pregnancy.3
REFLECTION OF NEUROSIS. A direct proposal (‘Come with me for a beer’) may be a direct reflection of neurosis. Such a proposal certainly attempts to set the cost of sex low. In one circumstance, a female may really want to agree but is forced by the proposal to confront her inability to do so. Females cannot help but reject approaches. Then she is likely to wish at a later date ‘If only I’d said yes.’ As a very wide generalization, nonetheless carrying some truth, it seems that males usually say yes and regret it later, while females generally say no and regret it later.
3. An important component which is omitted at this stage is that for a female often a male’s preparedness to act, alone, is sufficient.