#METOO has caused a great fuss on the press and in social news. But its profile has been overtaken by new issues. It will come back with the next scandal. But in the brief break we may allow ourselves to look at the question at more leisure. Today I want to take a peep at the contribution of evolution.
We can sometimes see evolution in action. A simple example is the peppered moth. Before the Industrial Revolution the moths with light-coloured wings flourished because they were camouflaged against the light tree trunks — while their darker kin were gobbled up by the birds. But after the Industrial Revolution the tree trunks became darker. The light coloured moths got eaten and the dark coloured, now safely camouflaged, flourished. So the purpose of evolution is to preserve the species in their, sometimes changing, environment.
This development could of course be studied directly through careful observation over time. But how about the human race? We can only make intelligent guesses based on the little evidence we have. We know for instance that until quite recently women tended to spend most of their adult life producing children, many of whom did not survive to breed in turn. Menstruation, for instance, was rare because of the frequency of pregnancy. It wasn’t thought of as the ‘curse’ but as a blessing. The great apes menstruate but, for the same reason, this rarely occurs.
So we may speculate about what effect evolution had on the human mating game. What I am writing here is a brief list of the possible evolutionary outcomes. Look at it, see if you agree, see what you might add. I am not a woman but I am a Catholic who was married for 6 decades, with five children – so perhaps I know a little more about female reproduction than the next guy.
A woman must continuously keep an eye open for potential breeding mates, but she must not be too proactive to avoid being seen as a flighty, and so unreliable, woman. She will often dismiss a pass because she needs time to assess qualities. Personal attraction expands the range of male possibilities. She looks for: health (seen in symmetry, particularly the face), reliability. general competence, authority, resources. The instincts remain even if she is satisfactorily married. She notes men as attractive on the same criteria.
A fundamental tendency to spread his seed widely, encouraging him to be proactive. This is tempered by the need for a fertile woman capable of bringing up a family. He will not expect to be chosen immediately and accepts that he must persist, even against a negative response. He will look for good health (symmetry again) and maternal proportions such as breasts, hips/waist. Attractiveness in his mate will boost his standing amongst his peers. The instinct remains after marriage since mistakes have a low biological price for him.
So what do you think?