Re: Sperm Wars

Date: Tue Nov 18 1997 - 08:35:22 GMT

Sperm Wars

Baker is suggesting that the driving force behind human sexual
behaviour is the need to reproduce, this basic urge is responsible for
the range of behaviours in both men and women, who express it in
different ways. The relationships between the sexes is an asymmetric
one, this is wholly due to a discrepancy in investment and applies to
the majority of species, and all mammals. Female mammals have a much
greater investment in their offspring, beginning with egg production,
which is larger and hence requires more energy expenditure in relative
terms to sperm production. They bear the full brunt of carrying a
pregnancy to term, and giving birth, and then feeding the infant until
it is old enough to be weaned. Pregnancy and delivery are particularly
time and energy consuming, not to mention hazardous. The male, by
contrast, has ensured his genes are passed on to his offspring with the
minimum cost or risk to himself, he does not even have to take any part
in the proceedings after conception. This accounts for the differences
in mate preference between male and female. Females look for a strong,
healthy, attractive and committed male who will not only pass on his
strength and physical attractiveness to his offspring, but will also
help in their upbringing, by providing food and shelter. Males are
solely interested in providing themselves with as many heirs as
possible, there is no limit on their capacity to reproduce and they are
not restricted by a biological mechanism in the way females are. For
this reason, they seek young attractive mates who can produce the
maximum number of children. Where possible, they will leave the wider
"fathering" role to someone else, or to the mother.

Baker uses different sexual scenarios to illustrate the evolutionary or
biological basis of our sexual practices, so oral sex becomes a test of
fidelity and good health and adultery a means of furthering our chances
of reproduction. Masturbation is a chance for females to enhance their
ability fight infection and to manipulate sperm warfare. Baker gives
some startling insights into the production and action of sperm; that
the amount of ejaculate is controlled by time elapsed since last
ejaculation; that ejaculate differs when produced by masturbation
rather than intercourse; that three sorts of sperm are present -
blockers, killers and egg-getters.

Bakers accounts of our sexual behaviour are provocative and in many
ways unattractive, but the essential point is that although we have
ultimate control over our behaviour, it is hugely influenced by our
biology (especially hormonal control) and by our evolutionary
inheritance. Much of what Baker describes occurs at a subconscious
level, he is not giving us the go-ahead to act upon our basest
instincts, but he is suggesting that when we do, we are merely obeying

PS Why is it that we are tuned to look for novelty and find it
preferable as a stimulus, but hate change?

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