In the land of theory, if one male has sufficient energy and willing women, he could impregnate several females per day. This means, at an average of three daily inseminations over nine months, roughly 821 children will share the same father. Even if he only fertilizes one female a week, that’s still 52 children a year. Over 20 years, 1,040 offspring. Assuming that humans seek the survival of our genes, it makes sense for the male to impregnate as many females as possible. It’s quantity over quality (here, ‘quality’ means to actively provide for one’s own children). On the other hand, the female has to go for quality over quantity because, even as the incubus, her ability to pass on her genes is comparatively limited. One child a year for, say, 20 years.

Given this disparity, the mother-to-be has to choose her potential children’s father with care. It is easier for two people to care for children than for one. On the other hand, the male doesn’t have to be picky. To quote a line from the movie Patch Adams: ‘Let’s go to the maternity ward: you know those chicks put out.’ Anything about a woman can entice or repel a male’s carnal interest.

Having inseminated the female, the male can carry on his merry way: there is nothing to keep him with the mother, apart from legal action. But when a female becomes pregnant, she becomes responsible for someone else other than herself for anytime between nine months – if she has the child adopted – to (say) 18 years, when the child legally becomes an adult and can fend for himself.

A second reason for the male to avoid monogamy is the danger of being cuckolded. The cuckoo bird drops its eggs into the nest of another bird. The unwitting adoptive parents bring up the impostor, leaving the biological parents literally as free as birds. So also by being monogamous, the human male might find himself providing for children who aren’t his own. In this situation he will probably consider the female more of a succubus than an incubus.

The ultimate solution for any individual male is to go freelance farming: sowing his seed in as many fertile fields as he can, while his spouse and every male apart from himself limit themselves to the crop within their own boundaries. It would be encouraging for those who do so limit themselves to use such philanderers as scarecrows. I believe the first scarecrows were actually crows: the carcasses of those who didn’t escape the farmer’s slingshot were hung around the crop as a warning to others who might seek to slake their appetites there.

When the male says that he isn’t meant to be monogamous, he’s not talking about polygamy but about sex. He’s saying that when he gets hungry he wants to eat: not only at home, but also to be able to go out for a feed.

Excursus
The existence of prostitution, by whatever name, is evidence for the power of human sexuality; particularly that of the male. Advocates for prostitution say that prostitutes provide a valuable service for society: males aren’t getting what they need at home, so they turn to prostitutes. If so, I hope that prostitutes don’t expect their partners to be faithful. Prostitution, fyi, means to use something precious unworthily; for a vulgar, common or profane way; which essentially means to treat it with contempt.

In any case, what can a prostitute provide that a wife can’t? It isn’t just sex. If a man’s partner is often busy with the kids and the housework and possibly also an outside career, she doesn’t have the energy to take care of his sexual needs as well. So he’s missing out on sex as well as feeling unimportant.

But having sex with another partner won’t resolve the problem. The male feels unloved and/ or unimportant, and using a prostitute or taking a mistress is only a band-aid solution. The home situation won’t change unless he does something about it. Males joke about the following scene: husband sees his wife unhappy or angry. He asks her, “What’s wrong?” She grumps, “Nothing!” Obviously something is wrong, but she won’t say straight out, thinking (rightly or wrongly) that he should know.

The situation we’re talking about is one where the boot is on the other foot: the male’s. If he is feeling neglected by his wife, he should speak up. He feels lonely and unappreciated; he knows why – she’s busy with the new baby or the work that goes with her promotion. But the lady in the case doesn’t know how her man is feeling; her antennae don’t pick up on it. This sounds odd, given that women generally are more sensitive to issues of relationship than are men. However, she’s busy and they’ve been a couple so long that, even in small ways, they’ve started to take each other for granted.

Relationships involve both privilege and responsibility. Both partners have needs and desires that the other is meant to complement. Each should help the other as far as they can. If one partner is so overworked that they have no time to take care of the other, something has to change: either they reassess their priorities or the relationship breaks down. There will always be different pressures in a relationship. To give way because your needs aren’t being met is weakness and unfaithfulness. An easy solution isn’t always the best.

Of course the optimal solution for both relationships and bringing up children is that both partners are monogamous and faithful. (Monogamy implies faithfulness but given the divorce rate, at least part of which is due to infidelity, this isn’t how it always happens. So I’ve highlighted faithfulness.)

Neither the male’s copulative capability nor his will-o’-the-wisp interest support the claim that a male is unable to commit indefinitely to one partner. They only reveal the reason that a man names his penis: he doesn’t want a stranger making 90% of his decisions.

copyright 2007 Troy Grisgonelle.

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