Attractiveness, Sexuality, and Choosing Mates
I am convinced that men and women are intrinsically so different that nothing we do will obliterate or even reduce the differences. I do not think men have to worry that women will become unsexed or women, that men will. In fact, the freer we become in allowing both sexes to be themselves, the more fundamental and ineradicable differences will show up.
-- Jessie Bernard, The Future of Marriage
WHEN I BEGAN the research for this book, I had studied mental disorders for fifteen years. The major mental disorders do appear cross-culturally, which suggests that they have some biological basis. Social factors, however, like income and family support, are often more important determinants of what happens to mental patients than their symptoms. So, although there is an underlying biological basis for mental disorders, to some extent they are also socially constructed roles. I assumed I would explain changes in sexuality, dating, and marriage in similar terms, and I initially assumed that cultural influences and socialization were by far the most important determinants of how we behave sexually. Certainly, the way we were raised and the environment we live in strongly influences how we act--in bed and out. But the more people I interviewed, and the more I read, convinced me that sexuality and choosing mates were of a different order than other social behavior. Sexual behavior and mate selection are at the root of how we as a species came into being and how we will continue to evolve. Any explanation of these phenomena that ignores biology and evolution is bound to be inadequate.
As a young man I experienced the consciousness of the 1960s and '70s. I truly believed then that the sexes were going to become more alike as we sloughed off our confining, outmoded sex roles and became freer, more self- actualized human beings. Masters' and Johnson's The Human Sexual Response showed that women were capable of having multiple orgasms, whereas men were not, and with the proper stimulation women could reach