Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Women, Explained: Part One

Part OnePart TwoPart ThreePart FourPart FivePart 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11

A few days ago, I wrote a post about the changing landscape men have been facing since the latter half of the 20th Century. In this post, I'm going to take a look at women, but from a slightly different perspective. This topic interests me because the vast majority of the questions I receive about sex and gender tend to be of the "Can you tell me why my husband/ wife does blah blah blah", or "How can I get my husband/ wife to do blah blah blah." 

I don't have special insight to either gender other than my personal experiences as a male and observations I've made of females. Other than studying the topic academically, No Bone Zone, and this blog, I don't have any special qualifications. I DO, however, have an active imagination and a willingness to suspend what I know I know to entertain new ideas and concepts. I'll use all that voodoo to take a shot at giving my male readers a little insight to the women around them.

Warning - this article is written with a male audience in mind. Ladies, I know you can't resist continuing, so just keep the intended audience in mind before commenting. ;-)

How These Thoughts Came To Be

When I was growing up in rural Northern Michigan, I did a lot of deer hunting. Many of the lessons I shared in my ultrarunning book Never Wipe Your Ass with a Squirrel were learned in those woodlands from my youth. One of the most important lessons I learned was the importance in accurately analyzing your environment, your prey's behaviors, and the effects said environment has on said prey's behaviors. I'd make a "roadmap" of sorts to deer behavior.

For example, my father and I would spend the spring and summer months walking through thousands of acres of land searching for signs of deer movements. We'd meticulously note when, where, and what type of behaviors the deer engaged in depending on conditions. Knowing deer are driven by predictable drives at different times, it was easy to extrapolate future behavior. We'd know which ridge the deer would travel when we got the first dusting of snow late in the fall. When deer season came around, we knew where to place our blinds and when to occupy which blinds. Needless to say, we were never shut out. We enjoyed far more success with our approach versus our friends that would haphazardly wander into the nearest patch of trees opening morning. The lesson - preparation pays off.

I've always taken the same approach with women. While the hunter/ prey analogy is a bit harsh, it serves the purpose. Since puberty, I've done all I can to attempt to understand women. I kinda like sex, they're a prerequisite, therefore I've always been highly motivated. My problem - the hunting has never been all that great... or at least as good as I would expect it to be. 

I started by just observing women's behaviors. That was okay, but they seemed to do a lot of illogical things. To help explain this, I'd strike up conversations to try to find the deeper hidden drives behind the behaviors I couldn't explain. The explanations were even more confounding. It was then that I realized men and women, on a decidedly fundamental level, are far different than our mere plumbing differences would suggest. 

And I needed better information.

Enter psychology. Yes, I started studying the field to make it easier to get laid. In college, I started taking classes like human sexuality, psychology of sex and gender, and relationship theory. Those specific classes, when coupled with the more general psych classes like evolutionary psych, learning, and social psychology gave me a great deal of theory behind human behavior, especially female behavior. One theory in particular, sociobiology, really struck a chord. I'll discuss this in more detail a little later. Toss in a few sociology, anthropology, and philosophy classes, mix it with a history major, and I had a solid academic backing for understanding the human female.

Until I started researching No Bone Zone, I thought I had a fairly complete picture of female behavior. I thought I knew my prey. Then I started collecting stories. I kept hearing different variations of the same story being repeated again and again and again. People's lives seemed to follow a fairly distinct pattern. Specifically, women's lives seemed to follow a distinct pattern. The problem - that pattern was not predicted by any of the prevailing theories I had previously studied.

My hunter instinct kicked in. I quickly realized the "roadmap" to women I had been making my entire life was wrong. Not only was it wrong, but it felt a little bit like the map I had been following was designed to cover up the fact that it wrong. In other words, it started to feel like I had been deer hunting based on a map made by the deer. This REALLY piqued my curiosity to dig deeper.

Everything You've Been Led to Believe is Wrong

When researching No Bone Zone, one theory really stood out. Esther Perel proposed the idea that our socially-accepted belief that intimacy (closeness between two people) in relationships is a prerequisite to passion (desire to have sex with our mate) is wrong. In fact, not only is it wrong, but passion and intimacy are actually mutually-exclusive. You can have one or the other, but not both. The entire premise of No Bone Zone became exploring methods to do just that. The relevant point - our pop psychology idea that's the cornerstone of couples counseling and nearly every other source of relationship advice is wrong. I applied her concept to my own relationship and it worked beautifully. I recommended it to others and it worked just as well for them. For someone trained to be a social science researcher, that abject failure of the entire field to explain such a fundamental element of every relationship in the history of forever rocked me.

A lot.

It also made me question everything I knew about sex, gender, and relationships. I went back to my roadmap for women. The NBZ research definitely proved my map was wrong, which was far easier to accept after the Perel discovery. Now what do I do? 

Before I could begin poring through the published literature, I had a conversation with a former coworker I discussed in NBZ named Joe. Joe was a pickup artist that spent his recreational time seducing and fucking married women. I was explaining Perel's theory to him when he chuckled and said "Of course passion and intimacy are opposites! That's why it's so easy to seduce married women; they desperately crave the passion that's been missing for years and years." His next line was the epiphany that caused me to start connecting the dots. He said "These women partied through most of their twenties, felt the biological clock ticking in their late twenties, married some schlub with cash, had kids, got bored, and started craving excitement. That excitement is my cock."

Enter Science

Remember when I mentioned sociobiology earlier? It's a theory that was developed in the mid-1970's by researchers that attempted to explain modern human behavior in terms of our biologically-determined evolutionary heritage. In other words, we're motivated to do what we do because we're driven to make sure the species survives. More precisely, we're driven to combine our genes with the best mate we can attract then assure those combined genes get to the next generation.

The sociobiologists hypothesized men and women, because having children comes at different costs, have evolved different mating strategies. Since men can produce literally billions of sperm cells and reproduction takes a matter of minutes, we tend to take a shotgun approach. We'll basically fuck anything and everything as long as there's a decent shot at producing a child. Since fertility is paramount, men developed the ability to judge clues like waist-to-hip ratio, facial symmetry, or complexion as signals that a woman will likely be able to carry a baby to term. This is where we get many of our cross-cultural signs of "beauty."

The sociobiologists also hypothesized women use a much different strategy. Since child-rearing involves 40 weeks of limited physical capacity, a few weeks of recovery after dangerous child birth (death of mom during birth used to be very common), and at least a few years of raising the child until they're independent enough to go their own way, women have a far greater investment in sex. As such, women evolved to be the sexual selectors; their biological imperative drove them to pick the best possible mate to get their limited number of children to the next generation.

That "best possible mate" part was the epiphany I had in the conversation with Joe. The sociobiologists noted women have a duality to their mate selection, and it has to do with a weird male tendency. Some males display very masculine characteristics which we usually identify as "alpha" traits. Others display more feminine characteristics which we identify as "beta" traits. Alphas are usually physically gifted, great leaders, healthy, and serve as strong protectors. They'd be considered "hot" guys because women have a strong physical attraction to them. Betas are less physically gifted, but tend to be better at bonding, compassion, and most importantly, commitment. Alphas produce strong, healthy kids but tend to be shitty at commitment. Betas produce weaker, less healthy kids but dad is far more likely to stick around. 

According to the sociobiologists, that duality creates a paradox. In a perfect world, women are going to want the best of both worlds - an alpha that's also going to stick around. It's a paradox because this rarely if ever exists. Being both alpha and beta is incredibly difficult to maintain, at least for our ancestors. Those that could were true unicorns among males; they were the most highly-prized mates. 

Simple supply and demand dictates only the best women had access to these best men, so the rest of the women had to make a tradeoff - alpha genes or beta security. Evolution, being what it is, developed a weird work-around. THIS is what Joe the pickup artist was exploiting. As it turns out, women that are not ovulating have a sexual preference for beta males. Betas turn them on more than alphas for a few weeks. This is how she utilized his capacity to provide. When they're ovulating, women have a strong sexual preference for alphas for a few days. This is how she acquired his superior genetic material. The husbands of Joe's conquests were the beta male providers blissfully unaware that their wives were seeking out exciting "Joe the alpha" a few days every month

Indeed, the sociobiologists said this concept explained most of our courting and relationship behavior. A theory I had mostly forgotten years earlier suddenly moved to the forefront. The problem - there wasn't much research beyond the development of the theory. Sensing Joe was on to something, I started rooting around in the pickup artist (PUA as they're sometimes called.) As it turns out, there are a sizable group of men that have been doing this for at least fifteen years and sharing all their successes and failures. In my hunting analogy, they represent thousands of hunters all making their own roadmaps to understanding the prey's behaviors. They're not burdened by the shackles of academia and the peer review process; they're doing actual field research. The theories they are developing are based on the same evolutionary principles as the sociobiologists, only theirs are designed for results not the development of more theories. As such, their ideas have far more validity than the less detailed theories of the sociobiologists. 

In other words, they know what they're talking about.


In this part, I briefly explained the history of my experience with studying sex and gender. It took decades, but I finally realized the maps I had made were incomplete at best and totally wrong at worst. Some unorthodox experiences led me to some weird sources for better theories, but so far, they've proven to be spot-on. 

In the next post in the series, I'll talk about the specifics of female behavior. I'll go into detail on the duality of the female sexual strategy, talk about a concept known as hypergamy, talk about our value to others sexually and how that changes over time, and how men and women have fundamentally (and misunderstood) expectations about love. I'll also talk about how all of these ideas come together to explain and predict female behavior. I'll give you a better foundation to make your own roadmap.


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