In today’s New England Journal of Medicine, there appears an
article that describes the differences between boys and girls, for those physicians who skipped that lecture. Allow me to quote:
1. Fertility differs considerably between men and women. Men are
fertile from puberty through at least the 9th decade of life, and
some men are fertile into the 10th decade. Although there is some
decrease in fecundity, spermatogenesis is active throughout these years.
2. Women are fertile only for the 12 hours after the monthly
discharge of an egg from the dominant follicle in the ovary.
3. The other main difference between male and female fertility is the
rapacious apoptosis that occurs in ovarian follicles. Of the 3
million to 4 million follicles present at the time of fetal ovarian
differentiation, only a million or so persist at birth; 400,000 to
500,000 at menarche; and none beyond the sixth decade.
Men are fertile almost every minute of the time they spend on earth,
women are fertile 12 hours a month for 35 years, amounting to a grand
total of 30 weeks’ fertility over their entire lives. This fact
explains much of how men and women relate.
My sister Rachel has recently entered single adulthood and often
seeks my counsel on matters dating. I have discovered, while trying
to use my expertise in this area to optimize her love life, that
today’s woman is fucked.
I know this when I hear her describe her latest date, she’s so into
this guy she says, and he seems into her, but she’s not sure. She
describes him to me. Bright, successful, attractive, socially
intuitive, jewish. How much interest should she show? How much
cleavage should she show? How long does she have to wait to have sex
with him? Trying to answer these questions, I sense a sort of
futility to all the attention they’re paid, and it is the feeling of
futility that brings it into focus: Men and women want different
things, everyone knows that, but their discrepant goals are not
fairly distributed. The evolutionary expression of our biology sets
men and women in a Darwinian rivalry that women can not win.
A woman, if she becomes pregnant at every opportunity between
menarche and menopause, can have at most thirty or forty children. A
man can repopulate the world in a week. Is it therefore any wonder–
given that our instinctual purpose is to produce as many offspring
that survive to reproductive age as possible–that men seek variety
and women seek security?
Since women can have so few children, a woman maximizes her
evolutionary potential by assuring that each of her children is
offered the best individual chance of survival; it is thus in her
best interests to find a partner likely to effect an environment
where each child will survive to reproductive age. This instinct
manifests itself in modern society as the desire for a protector and
provider: a big strong rich man.
That man maximizes his evolutionary potential by impregnating as many
women as possible. Since there is essentially no limit to the number
of children physiology permits him to father, it is in his best
interest not to maximize survival of any one of his children but to
maximize his number of children. This instinct manifests itself in
modern society as the desire to fuck every woman on the planet.
These goals intersect at every encounter between a man and a woman.
While women channel their energies into finding and retaining a big
strong rich man, men are busy disseminating inseminating. The result
is that once a couple has sex, the man becomes more and more
valuable to the woman, while the woman becomes less and less valuable
to the man.
That sense of dread I have when Rachel describes this guy–I now know
exactly why she’s headed for a broken heart.