Feminine Foundations

Women think about relationships more than men.

From playing with dolls, pondering who is flirting with whom, personal hygiene, dress and makeup and adornments, in all areas women outperform men.


There are two main reasons.

First, we are all genetically programmed to want to be in a relationship (see yesterday’s post).  This is hard to fight, and it could be argued that the need for companionship is greater in a woman than a typical man, but I’m not going to do that here.

Second, women are smarter than men, for the most part.  As a result, they know that being in a relationship is better for them, and for the man (or other woman as the case may be, but for now we’ll stick with men).

Women, being smarter, recognize that they will bear the brunt of a long term relationship in terms of making children, managing a home, and foregoing earnings from not working.  As a result, we consider them “unemployed” while they know they are performing the most important job on the planet – creating the next generation.

Typically, men don’t get this.  Which means women have to work even harder to get men to realize the importance of being in a long term relationship.  So they invest heavily in clothes, makeup, jewelry, and emotions.

The flip side is that a woman also needs to know that the man is invested.  Which is why successful courtship SHOULD see the man making an equivalent investment on his part.

He should be the one traveling to see the woman, not the other way around.

He should be the one planning the dates and paying her way.  Why?  Because she has already paid in long term investment, such as dress and makeup.  He is only paying cash for the immediate expense.

And once she is in that relationship, what is she willing to do?  She is willing to bend more than he.  My husband wants me to cut all my hair so I’m not attractive to other men?  So be it.  My husband wants me to cover my entire body with a black cloth and nothing but a slit for my eyes?  So be it.  My husband wants me to stay at home and make babies?  So be it.

If a relationship fails, what are some women willing to do?  They take the blame.  They become outcasts, or worse, they make the ultimate sacrifice.  Women still set themselves alight in some places.

The romantic in me would like to see men step up their game, and learn to appreciate both the work and investment women make to create relationships.  I wish men would also be better taught to appreciate the value of relationships, after all it helps them live longer.

Finally, society needs to work on creating some of those old-fashioned rules we all used to abide, rules like treating people with respect, opening doors, and understanding the meaning of “no.”


Imaginary Loneliness

Hello Gentle Reader,

Have you ever felt lonely?

As babies we hug our parents, and we crave that.

If we have siblings they may hug us.  Sometimes they also hit.  Ouch.  Then we go back to hugging our parents.

Some of us grow up with dolls that we hug a lot.  The doll may be nothing more than a stuffed sock (my wife’s grandmother) or even a doll made of grass.

The point is that there is something within us making us want to be with someone else.  Finding someone is difficult.  Many times it doesn’t work out, ending badly.  If it’s bad enough, it makes the headlines.

This need for coupling is built into our biology, our deep biology.  As an intellectually liberated being, it would be nice to rise above that biology.  Let’s face it, rising above anything is tough, and fighting a billion years of biology is tougher yet.

At the very least we can better understand it by acknowledging its deep roots.  And if we accept those roots, then we can have fun with some of the following questions:

  • Why isn’t everyone multi-sexual?
    • After all, it increases your chances of finding someone.
  • Why aren’t there more homosexual relationships?
    • It makes sense, because someone of your gender is far more likely to share many of your same problems.
  • Why do women invest so much more into forming relationships than men?
    • Clothing, makeup, accessories, emotional and mental investment, all of these are many times greater than what men invest.  What’s going on there?

I’m going to try and tackle the last one for now.  Stay tuned!




Little birds and Love

I took a break from twitter the other day and looked around.  A baby robin was flapping and sliding down the hood of my car, trying its best to climb and flap up to a stable position.  I stopped, not wanting to frighten it, and it took a look at me, stopped flapping, and slid down to the ground.  At that point Biddy (yes, I named it) took a look at me and tweeted.  I shrugged my shoulders because I don’t speak robin.  I speak cockatiel.

So Biddy cheeps at me loudly, then waddles off towards a big tree.  I figure that’s home, but Biddy jumps up on a log and starts cheeping up at the tree.  I sit on the steps to watch, waiting for Mom or Dad to show up.  Nothing.

Biddy is really cute.  Huge legs and feet compared to the body.  Light downy red breast and downy head, with spotted baby feathers here and there.  And a good set of lungs!

Biddy chirps and cheeps some more, then takes a long look at me and my wife.  Hopping off the log, Biddy starts zigzagging towards us, cheeping at every turn.  Now we’re worried.  If Biddy doesn’t find home, we know there’s a gang of black cats that will make sure there’s no tomorrow.  What do we do?

Biddy hops up on a planter fairly close and starts chirping loudly directly at us.  “Hey! Help me!  Feed me!  Where’s my mom and dad?”  We know from past experience that Biddy has to do this alone – we can’t help.  At the very least, we can watch and protect the perimeter, but this is nature, and it’s all on you, Biddy.

Then came the cavalry.  A parent robin showed up, mom or dad, couldn’t tell, but let’s call it Robin.  Robin had a worm in its beak, and landed close to Biddy.  Biddy perked up and jumped down to the ground, and tried to peck at the worm.  Robin jumped back, telling Biddy to follow.  And Biddy got the message.

A few more jumps and Robin flew to the fence.  Biddy hopped all the way over and then flew up next to Robin!  Robin then flew around the corner of the house, and Biddy followed.  At that point we knew all would be well, at least for today.

And what does this tell us about love?  It tells us that the behavior of caring, of looking out for your baby, and the desire to have them home where they are safe is a very old desire, shared by many animals.  A biologist can argue that what we saw wasn’t really love, it was a bird following its genetic code.  Does that really matter?  As a student of behavior, I only care about results, what you do.  And if you worry about your kids, work to take care of them, and bring them home when they stray, will you object if I call it love?  I hope not.

Who knows, maybe we are all just obeying our genes.

Or maybe it’s love.

That’s what a little bird told me.

Ultimate Fighting, Round 4

Welcome to the future!  Spring is early this year, here in Washington DC, and the cherry blossoms are beautiful.  And the ocean is only on the middle steps of the Capitol today.  Should we panic?  Or is climate change small change?

It’s up to you.  As crises go, climate change is pretty serious.  Cities will have to move, disasters will increase, and many people will panic.  I like to choose my panics, and of all the things to panic about, climate change is fairly minor.  Why?

Climate change represents accepting the idea that mankind has behaved in such a way to make the Earth warmer.  We have pushed Mother Nature (Mom to those of us who love her and know her well), and she is pushing back.

However, upsetting her with respect to climate is only one of many things people do to push Mom.  We pollute our air, land, water, and eventually our own bodies.  We destroy species and upset ecosystems.  We devour land for mining, farming, and living.  These are just the easy ones off the top of my head.  I’m sure there’s many more.

But there is one huge aspect in which we are pushing Mom that the newspapers never mention.  You might see it in an occasional biology article, but the potential impact is underestimated.  In biology, this force of Mom is called “selection.”

For the past few billions of years, Mom has selected animals for certain abilities; the greatest one of which is to reproduce.  Make babies, and helping them live long enough to have babies of their own.

For the past few centuries, humans have learned to work together as a group, so that large families are no longer critical to survival.  We have medicine and hospitals for maternity.  We have schools and other support systems for toddlers.  We have social security for seniors, even seniors who are so strongly against welfare.  And we have oodles of technology available to replace a great deal of labor that was once relegated to child labor; things like washing dishes, cutting grass, and delivering newspapers.

Most recently, we now have an understanding of inheritance.  We have diagnostic tests to determine embryonic health and fitness.  We also have the ability to perform surgery on an embryo.  We can even terminate an embryo for various reasons, with much less effort than ever before.  But what does all this have to do with Mom?

We have upset the process of natural selection.  Mom is no longer “in control.”  We are.  Or at least, we think we are.  And that’s the real problem.  For whenever mankind has the arrogance to think he has outsmarted Mom, she teaches him an extremely expensive lesson.  The builders of the Titanic ocean liner thought they’d conquered Mom, and she proved them wrong.  That was only a little boat.  Now we’re betting our entire species against her.

Who would YOU bet on?


Comfortable positions

What makes you comfortable?  What makes you uncomfortable?

Last week we talked about how birds fly in a “V” formation.  They don’t have to think about it.  Something in their genetic code has resulted in their being most comfortable flying in a “V.”  Flying in any other formation would use too much energy and result in fewer offspring.

What does this have to do with us?  Think about what you like, and what you don’t like.  As a student of behavior, we must have the courage to investigate everything.  And it starts with ourselves.

What do you like?  The color blue?  Bluegrass music?  Picasso’s blue period paintings?  Perhaps the movie, Blue Velvet?  Now think.  Why?  Why do you like these things?  What about a genre?  Do you prefer one style of architecture to another?

Here’s the really tough part.  Try and tease out how much of this is due to being your choice, part of the way you were raised.  Maybe it’s due to your parents, or a loving aunt and uncle.  So, take away all the influences you can attribute to your environment, the way you were nurtured.

What’s left?  We call it nature.  It’s built into your DNA.  It’s your program.

Now, think about everything you like.  Your foods, clothes, cars, even friends.  How much of each of these is part of your DNA?  Can you figure out the amount?

Does it bother you to know that part of your choices in life may be out of your control?  Don’t be.  It took thousands of your ancestor’s generations to help make those choices.  It’s nice to think they made good choices.  But maybe they didn’t.  Whether you like it or not, you are the result of their choices.

Are you comfortable with that?