Basic Instincts of the Human Animal: Male and Female

…it does appear that in normal development the testis of male embryos becomes active for a brief period around birth. The testosterone secreted is sufficient to set the young rodent on a masculine course of development. By contrast, the embryonic ovary does not secrete, the female hypothalamus is not stimulated and development is feminine. If a single, minute injection of testosterone is given to a female rat or mouse within three days of birth, it becomes acyclic, sterile and masculinized in its behaviour. Such females show a raised frequency of male sexual responses, mounting and thrusting, and they are also much more aggressive than normal. —Aubrey Manning, from An Introduction to Animal Behavior

When I have one foot in the grave I shall tell the truth about women. I shall tell it, jump into my coffin, pull the lid over me and say, "Do what you like now." —Leo Tolstoy

     The previous installment of this little miniseries on human animal instincts discussed innate psychological and behavioral patterns common to pretty much the entire human race; this installment will discuss innate, genetically conditioned psychological and behavioral differences between males and females of our species, plus instincts relating to sex in general. The girl/boy, yin/yang symbiosis is basic to humanity, despite postmodern fashion trends which deny its very existence as anything other than a mere cultural construct. The pseudointellectual blockheadedness and lack of self-awareness required to maintain this “blank slate” position in the 21st century are discussed in the introductory first part of this 3-part essay.

     I may as well begin by repeating my theory, or hypothesis, or whatever, that two kinds of animal differ psychologically and behaviorally to approximately the same degree that they differ physically. This applies not only to species and races/ethnicities, but also to the two sexes of our species. Although this is politically incorrect heresy, from an evolutionary perspective it does make perfect sense, as form and function (anatomy and ethology) are profoundly interrelated, and as our male and female ancestors developed differently in the first place because of different evolutionary pressures. Men and women are evolved to be different from each other, and to behave different from each other.

     As with the previous installment of this discussion, I will start the list of instincts with babyhood—or in this case even before babyhood, since the differences begin even while the young human organism is still in its mother’s womb. It happens that sex hormones, the best known in males being testosterone, not only determine one’s sexual anatomy during embryonic development, but later during gestation, and also shortly after birth, they influence male psychological functions. This is true in other species of animal as well as in humans. Baby boys reportedly go through a kind of pre-puberty during their first few weeks of life, in which testosterone levels are similar to those during puberty years later, before dropping back down to trace levels by a few months of age. Research is rather skimpy on this, but it appears that baby boys with higher neonatal and postnatal testosterone levels tend to have more stereotypically masculine psychological traits later in life. Some of those traits will be discussed in the list which follows, although I may as well toss in here a quote from the Wikipedia article on Testosterone:

In adults and adolescents, heightened testosterone has been shown to reduce fear, lower sensitivity to punishment, increase risk-taking, and enhance attention to threat. These effects interact substantially with context to affect social behavior.

the testosterone molecule

~One difference between males and females that is evident even at one day of age, and is found in chimpanzees and monkeys also, is that male babies are more likely to rest their gaze on mechanical objects, like toy trucks for example, whereas female babies prefer faces and other representations of human beings like dolls. Considering that this is found even in one-day-old infants, it is very likely not just a cultural construct, and is indicative of the effects of prenatal testosterone (or androgens in general) on conditioning stereotypically masculine objectivity. The timeless truism that men are more objective (object-oriented) and women are more subjective (subject- and people- oriented), on average, is evidently built right into us from before birth; and any efforts to negate this tendency require a radical reprogramming of inherent human nature. The political left have tried this sort of reprogramming of society before, and they have failed.

     Although males are more inclined to take an interest in predominantly objective pursuits, females can be just as proficient at, say, engineering or computer logic—just as they can also be just as courageous on a battlefield or in some other emergency. But again, the tendency is for them to be oriented otherwise. Women’s general interests and motivations tend to differ from those of men, in general, and this is influenced by male and female hormones, and really there is nothing wrong with this, except in the opinions of the “everybody is the same” cult of so-called social justice. This acknowledgement of empirical fact goes a very long way in accounting for the tech gap as well as the by-now repeatedly debunked wage gap between men and women. Acknowledging this state of affairs would also have prevented people like James Damore from being persecuted and fired from his job for objectively pointing it out.

~As I mentioned in the previous post, babies tend to prefer high-pitched voices to low-pitched ones, which appears to be an evolved bias in favor of females, considering that throughout human history care for the young has been a predominantly feminine occupation. Also, apparently, men intuitively or instinctively know to adopt a higher-pitched voice when talking to a baby or small child.

~Another instinct I read about is found in one-year-old baby boys: Even at that young age they prefer pretty caretakers to ugly ones. (In order to avoid insulting ugly women, the experimenters used masks or cosmetics to render the pretty ones less attractive.) Because it is found in babies I mention it here, although instinctive standards of beauty will be discussed after we get to the adult part of the list. It is noteworthy, though, that even baby boys tend already to be equipped with heterosexual inclinations, and sexual ones in general—by one year some babies have already learned to masturbate.

~A psychological experiment was conducted way back in the 1970s, I think, in which boys and girls were raised from babyhood exactly the same, in what would now be called a gender-neutral environment. The main differences between boys and girls raised in this environment were that boys were much more prone to wrestling and other rough play, and they were also more inclined to play with mechanical toys like cars or building blocks, whereas girls were far more likely than boys to play with dolls. The doll part makes perfect evolutionary sense considering that, as was already observed, females have always been the ones to devote themselves to child-rearing, and it should be no surprise that little girls already display maternal instincts.

~Not only are little boys prone to have a fascination for pretty girls, and girls for handsome or clever or popular boys, but boys also have a kind of instinctual fascination for breasts. To some degree it could be a holdover from a baby’s fascination for Mama’s titty; although other, more adult urges are presumably at work also. I remember as a young boy sneaking looks at my father’s “girlie magazines,” and I was mainly stimulated by breasts, and considered female genitalia to be completely unattractive, if not grotesque. It wasn’t until puberty that I started seeing the beauty of a woman’s vulva. I would assume that this is common in boys, although it’s just a guess.

~Moving on to more adult behavior, testosterone is known to increase aggressiveness, which helps to explain boys’ greater tendency toward rough play. This tendency is common to pretty much any species of animal that has testosterone, and of course adult male humans retain this increased aggression throughout life. It makes sense evolutionarily, of course, considering that our distant ancestors lived in a violent world, in which fighting and killing was often a way of life. The men went out and hunted, and occasionally defended the family or tribe against dangerous predators, both human and non-human. Meanwhile, the females mostly stayed around the camp and tended the young, and foraged for vegetable food and small animals demanding less strength, daring, and testosterone.

~Human females, probably due to some degree to hormonal differences again, tend to be more emotionally insecure than men, and also more prone to anxiety and less resistant to stress. They are more easily traumatized; and are approximately six times more likely than men to have dissociative identity disorder—that is, multiple personalities—which has been determined in most cases to be a result of childhood emotional trauma. Chronic insecurity and desire for safety is one of nature’s ways of making sure that a woman pairs up with a man, just as chronic horniness is a major reason why men seek a mate.

~One stereotypically feminine behavioral trait is what is vulgarly known as nagging. In other words, whereas men who disagree with each other are likely to just leave each other alone (or, if that is not an option, to settle the disagreement in a dramatically more aggressive manner), women are less inclined just to let matters drop. Even since before the stone age, females have been weaker and less aggressive than males, so they have had to get their way via persistent attempts at persuasion. In optimal circumstances the persuasion can be of a pleasant, affectionate sort; but very often it assumes the form of shrill complaint, or just continual pressing of a subject until the male involved lets her have her way out of a heartfelt desire for some peace and quiet; or, if she is his mate, possibly in the hopes that letting her have her way will inspire her to be more sexually receptive. The idea that this sort of behavior is instinctive is supported by the fact that it is universal in the human race, and is found in rudimentary form even in baboons and other monkeys.

~Naturally, the most basic of all sexual instincts is lust; and this phenomenon also is conditioned by sex hormones, and to some degree even by adrenaline. There is evidently some difference between male and female sexual desire, as male lust tends to be more indiscriminate and all-inclusive; female lust is more likely to be directed toward someone with whom a woman is already emotionally bonded…although there are many exceptions to this tendency, with plenty of modern western women serving as obvious counterexamples. Nevertheless, rampant orgiastic sex drives are still more common in males. This makes perfect sense, as one man can father, potentially, well over a hundred children if he has enough receptive females at hand, whereas a woman can bear only a fraction of that, regardless of how many men she sleeps with. So men instinctively are more open-minded towards polygamy, whereas women tend to be more monogamous, with any extramarital dalliance being with a man perceived as superior to their husband, and thus capable of providing better DNA for her offspring. Of course a woman probably doesn’t think of the situation in this way, but animal instincts evolve with successful reproduction as a top priority. That ideological daredevil Charles Murray has pointed out that the women who are most likely to pass on their genes are the women who attract and keep a man and who are good mothers. He has also stated, “the evolutionary pressures on males and females are so radically different because of the fact that women are left holding the baby—then of course there are profound psychological differences….The idea that these would not exist is to me nonsensical.”

~Which of course leads us to instinctive parental behavior. It should not be too surprising that we humans have strong parental instincts, considering that human infants are more reliant on their parents, and for a longer time, than any other species of animal. Little girls preferring dolls to toy trucks is an early manifestation of this. The doped-up hormone high of new parents is a later manifestation of the parental urge, causing them to essentially fall in love with the screaming little bundle of joy and willingly sacrifice much of their time, effort, and peace of mind to the care of their progeny.

~One rather peculiar parental instinct in humans is that we consider baby-like beings and images of beings to be “cute” and adorable. A high, rounded forehead, big eyes, small nose, diminutive jaw, etc., are all factors that contribute to a face that is considered to be cute, and are all attributes of a young human. The higher-pitched voice of babies and small children also has a kind of attractive effect on adults, with males liking it in adult females as well. Cartoonists have learned this fact, at least subliminally, and have made cartoon characters intended to be likable to have the high forehead, big eyes, and so forth, with villains being portrayed otherwise. I would guess that this transference of infantile cuteness to other animals as well as our own young, like considering puppies, kittens, lambs, baby chickens, etc. to be adorable, possibly to have had some survival value in our semi-distant past: It may have made us more likely to keep and raise domesticated animals, which would have had significant survival value some 15,000 years ago. If so, that would be a relatively recently acquired instinct in our species, or rather a recent variation on one. Or, it could just be coincidental misapplication of our parental instincts; but in either case the instinct is there in our species.

~One parental instinct which is also a general protective instinct in the social animal Homo sapiens is our reaction to high-pitched alarm calls, especially those coming from women and children. The sound of a scream has a powerful, visceral effect on a man and can send him running immediately towards the sound. Related to this is the equally visceral effect that the sound of a woman crying can have on a man. As was discussed in the previous installment, crying is used, especially in women, as an appeasement display, which to some degree defuses male aggression. It doesn’t always work, but it works well enough that women and children learn quickly enough to fake it, and even to use it as a weapon; and it no doubt has had survival value for the species. Other social animals have their own instinctive appeasement behavior, and we have ours.

~I may have gotten ahead of myself by discussing parental instincts before discussing the instinctive behavior that gets women pregnant in the first place. We are loaded with such important instincts, and some have already been discussed, like the male fascination for the female breast, or human lustfulness in general. One of the basic purposes of our mating instincts is to maximize the odds that we will mate with the best possible partner—that is, one that will combine the best possible DNA with our own to produce offspring most likely to survive to maturity and reproduce in turn. Thus, although there are many culturally conditioned variations with regard to standards of attractiveness, a universal feature of human sexual attraction is that men are attracted to youth, health, and beauty in women, and women are attracted to power and high social status in men—as well as to apparent health and physical beauty. A young, healthy woman is more likely to bear several strong, healthy babies, with beauty usually having something to do with youth and health; and a strong, high-status man is more likely to protect his family from harm, as well as sharing with his offspring his strong DNA and possibly his social status also. As far as I know, there has never been a human culture that considered sickly old women attractive, or weak, low-status men either.

     One of the most prevalent standards of beauty throughout the world is a smooth, unblemished skin, especially in females, which is indicative of youth and health under natural conditions, and faked under more civilized ones. Men also tend to be attracted to women with long, full, glossy hair, which also is indicative of health—studies have shown that men consider long-haired women to be more attractive. I’ve written fairly extensively elsewhere on how the female body especially has evolved, through Darwinian sexual selection, into, among many other things, a sex object. A woman’s hair, eyelashes, smooth, soft, hairless skin, perennially protruding breasts, armpit and pubic hair, and much else are all evolved to entice at least one man into mating with her. Unlike most animals with sexual dimorphism, in us humans it is the female that is more evolved for beauty; in most other animals, especially fishes and birds, it is the male of the species which has evolved gaudy coloration and other ornaments to attract a mate.

     Research has demonstrated that men find women more attractive, for example they are inclined to rate their appearance higher on a numerical scale, when the men’s testosterone levels are higher, and also shortly after performing some relatively dangerous and adrenalin-eliciting feat such as walking across a narrow bridge or a balance beam. Somewhat similarly, women tend to become more exhibitionistic, and to dress more provocatively, when they are close to ovulation and thus have the potential to be impregnated. Thus for men and for women, sexually oriented behavior is shown to be influenced by hormones, indicating instinctive behavior, not just cultural conditioning.

~Darwin observed that one emotional display that sets us humans apart from all other animals is that we are the only ones to blush with shame. Blushing is elicited by other emotions than shame of course, and females are much more prone to it than males. In the case of shame or embarrassment it can be an appeasement display, and in the case of a demure female being courted by an attractive male it can serve as an attractant; and in either case it has a more or less automatic effect on the viewer because it is mimicking sexual arousal. A person is less likely to be angry with a blushing person largely because that person has just become more attractive. Blushing in women also is attractive to men because it implies some degree of modesty and innocence, thereby indicating that the female in question is not “used goods”; but of course immodest women fake the effect by painting their cheeks with rouge.

~Humans display many other signs of sexual arousal, either mimicked or in earnest, as instinctive emotional responses. Much of it is partly instinctive/emotional and partly reflexive/physiological, like pupil dilation when we see someone we like. At any rate, men find dilated pupils in women attractive—a fact known to ancient Roman women who took the drug belladonna (in Latin, “beautiful lady”) for the express purpose of dilating their pupils. During sexual arousal the lips, nose, and earlobes all become engorged with blood, swollen, and flushed; and some of this at least is displayed by women wanting to be attractive, for example by biting their lips or simply applying lipstick. The very evolution of many of our facial features, like lips and earlobes, was brought about by Darwinian sexual selection, as discussed in a previous post on the subject, so I won’t go into great detail on that particular topic, but will point out again that it is largely animal instinct which guided our evolution in these odd directions.

~One stereotypically human behavior pattern is spontaneous grooming behavior when one sees an attractive prospective mate—this often takes the form of nervously passing one’s fingers through one’s hair or needlessly fidgeting with one’s clothes in an attempt to straighten what is usually already straight. It may have arisen out of a sincere desire to look more attractive, although it has also come to be a spontaneous sexual display to the other signifying “I find you attractive.”

~Although, as I’ve already mentioned, the human female body is more evolved as a sexual object than that of the male, certain male body parts also are seen as sexual “releasers” by women. Desmond Morris observed that in many cultures around the world the one part of a man’s body that women consider to be most sexy is his buttocks. Men find female buttocks attractive also; and we humans are the only species with soft, rounded, fleshy ones evolved that way specifically as a sexual attractant. The reason why men would acquire an attraction for healthy young female buttocks is fairly obvious, considering that “doggy style” is the preferred position for almost all mammals, including our not-so-distant ancestors; but Morris attempted in The Naked Ape to come up with a plausible reason why women would be attracted to the male behind. His hypothesis was that, in our proto-human and early human past, a family unit would walk in single file along a path, with the male in front; so the female would be watching the behind of her mate quite a lot. Thus the male buttock eventually became, according to Dr. Morris, an indicator of a man’s health and virility, much like the rack of antlers on a male deer, or the gaudy plumage of male pheasant-like birds.

~The behavior of people when they are falling in love—or in more biological lingo, forming a pair bond—is stereotyped and more or less universal in our species, although some cultures produce some very artificial restrictions on this. The couple look at each other more and more, speak more slowly and softly to each other, sigh more often and more loudly, seek out solitude from others, and gradually adopt more and more horizontal postures. Also they may regress into some mock infantile behaviors, behaving like small children by playing, adopting silly tones of voice, and also feeding and grooming each other. The human sex act itself, if one reads Morris’s description in The Naked Ape, is humiliatingly similar among human beings as a species—it can bruise a man’s pride to realize that his smooth moves are actually stereotyped instinctive behavior shared by most other men on the planet for the past million or more years. The attention given to specially evolved erogenous zones (like lips, earlobes, and breasts) and the universal behavior patterns with regard to them, are quite predictable and animalistic, regardless of how spontaneous and inspired it all may seem in the moment.

~One peculiarly human sexual instinct in our species is the common wet-rag-like lassitude in females after orgasm—in fact orgasm itself is an oddity in female mammals, with the human species being one of the rare exceptions. Women often become very lazy after orgasm due to the fact that they are bipeds that walk upright: evolution has produced a kind of instinctive reaction that keeps the woman horizontal long enough that the male’s spermatozoa get a chance to fertilize any ovum that might be available. If she were to stand up immediately after sex much of the semen inside her would flow down and out of her, and the chances of successful impregnation, and thus the reproduction and survival of the species, would be reduced.

~Most people are followers, with relatively few natural “alpha” leaders, which is pretty much necessary for any social animal, including Homo sapiens. The sort of passive conformity favored by the masses is rather more likely to be pronounced in the female of our species. I’ve discussed elsewhere my evolutionary theory on why women can be such slaves to fashion—namely the fact that throughout most of our history and prehistory women were frequently bartered or stolen from other tribes, and could easily find themselves in societies in which a different language was spoken, different customs were followed, and different gods were worshipped. Consequently women, more than men, have had to be more flexible and inclined to follow along with whatever happens to be the preferred social system. Also, naturally, women have usually been required to be the followers of more dominant men—this has been the status quo since our ancestors were monkeys—and to this day women, and men too, generally prefer to have a man as their boss, or commanding officer, or leader. Even “liberated,” “empowered” western women who give lip service to the postmodern idea that all men should be culturally emasculated usually prefer to be the subordinate of a man than of another woman.

~This leads to another stereotypical, universal behavior pattern in human females: a high incidence of chronic feelings of rivalry and cattiness towards each other. Men are more likely to form long-lasting friendships among themselves than women are; which Desmond Morris attributes to the fact that during most of our genus’s existence men have been required to hunt and fight as a stable, cooperating team, whereas women were often rivals for the males’ attention, and, as already mentioned, might find themselves displaced and living in another tribe with different social bonds to make. As with many other stereotyped behaviors of men and women, it is not difficult to find very plausible evolutionary reasons why people all over the world act in essentially the same ways, without any need for positing Freudian daddy issues logically derived from a presumed blank slate.

~One difference between men and women that also appears to be universal can be illustrated by a statistic: Men speak approximately 25,000 words per day, while women speak around 30,000. Women are more language-oriented than men on average, and although they tend to score lower with regard to spatial skills on intelligence tests, they tend to score higher than men with regard to linguistic abilities. Talking on and on about nothing important in particular is more common among women as a means of social bonding than it is among men—although men certainly do it to, usually focusing on different subjects than children, clothing, food, and general gossip. Women, on the other hand, are less likely than men to sit around discussing politics, history, or metaphysics, let alone cars, sports, or carpentry projects.

     There are many, many more instinctive behavioral patterns in us humans, and the lists I have compiled contain just some of the more noteworthy examples that came to mind. The deniers of innate human nature (alias human animal instinct), alias the “culture-only school,” are up against a more and more formidable bogeyman considering that cognitive science, genetics, and neurophysiology continue to find new genetically-conditioned inherent psychological traits in us all the time. The more science progresses in its understanding of the human species, the more our behavior is seen to be conditioned by our genes, and thus also by our evolution as animals. The whole notion of the human blank slate and “it’s all a cultural construct” is simply doomed. It’s only a matter of time.

     So I have played around mentioning common human instincts and also instinctive differences between men and women. Next I suppose I could list evolutionarily conditioned behavioral and cognitive differences between ethnicities, which could be interesting and delightfully politically incorrect, but I’m inclined to save that for some other time.



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