Youth, beauty or handsomeness with physique and social skills, and access to resources, sends the message: “I’m a good catch to make you happy and reproduce your genes successfully. I have a nice smile, too– and I’m tall, and can dance and tell a good story to keep you entertained between climaxes.”
Geoffrey Miller in The Mating Mind argues that the complex game of sexual selection in humans in-sourced our larger brains and their unique capacities. The complicated dynamic of courtship leading to children also birthed our mental skills that separate us from other primates. These are the heritable traits that we generally find valuable and attractive. Although arranged marriages have played major roles in mate selection in certain parts of the world, for example, in India, the mating selection is still based on characteristics and traits that the parents and grandparents and siblings find desirable. They all want fit kids to nurture and brag about.
In the upcoming ebook entitled The Survival of the Sexiest due out November 4, 2014, “sexy” is generalized beyond physical appearance and sexual talents to include any and all desirable traits: kindness, courage, risk-taking, intelligence, ability to secure resources, sense of humor or wit, and child-rearing and teaching abilities. Imaginative abilities, and artistic abilities such as painting, dancing, or playing an instrument, and social skills such as communicating ideas, negotiating or solving disputes add to potential asset list. Whatever was attractive and also adaptive stayed with us, and is generally what we all like to focus on as fitness indicators.
Evolutionary principles not only account for the origins and natural progression of life, but also human behavior through the applications of natural selection and social selection. Social selection involving mating choice and child-rearing are two of the most important modern human evolutionary forces. In modern, technotimes, the physical environmental pressure is gaining quickly on mating choice and kid skills. Human “Entertainment and Satisfaction Potential” packages” still influence the selection of the “sexiest” which is arguably the most powerful modern evolutionary force of all–so far. Sexual selection, and what arises from it, is at the center of the MultiCore models for human behavior. But what if we go with genetic engineering, or at least favorable genome selection, and artificial insemination, instead?
We can explain sexual, economic, political, social and religious systems as evolving networks of thought and behavioral patterns mirroring a chaotic mix of currents, exchange, turbulence, and waves in our gene pools. Our beloved gene pools, constantly reordering themselves through sex, and survival, and more sex, themselves bob and blob about the much larger genetic ocean that includes all life forms. Genes influence behavior, and behavior influences genes, and ideologies influence both through mate selection.
“Sexy” was– and is– in the eye of the beholder.
Looking around us a bit, what most of us would consider sexy is obviously sometimes ignored by minds connected to selfish genes, which, because of chance circumstance, rape, or irrationality, or mental disease, naiveté, psychosis or just good old plain ignorance, make what looks to be poor Darwinian choices.
Good genes in terms of disease resistance are good enough without any fancy frills in times of epidemics. An ugly, stupid, minimally skilled, mean man that is alive employs an obvious advantage over a man who is handsome, intelligent, highly skilled, and kind but is diseased, dying or dead. If the ugly man is the last man standing, he is, by definition from the genes, “sexy.” Let’s not forget the behavioral habits of a Genghis Khan, who forced himself upon the sexiest of young women of his conquered lands, and whose genes are in a surprisingly high portion of humanity. A bit of a ruthless, murdering conqueror is a ghost that some would rather not have inside of us and responsible for portions of our instinctual neural circuitry, but some males are proud to show it off with genetic testing.
In summary, our theories of evolutionary psychology such as those proposed by Charles Darwin, E.O. Wilson, and modern authors Geoffrey Miller, John Tooby, Leda Cosmides, and Marlene Zuk suggest that much of the essence of humanity arose from our ancestors selection of each other for mating. Men competed with each other, displayed their various forms of fitness, and women chose which men to have sex with from those displays. Women competed with each other, displayed their fitness, and men chose which women they wanted to have sex with,and proceeded to compete for them and woo them.
Men and women tend to choose each other by simple, elegant tried-and-true rules and strategies, but are also influenced by friends and family preferences. The sexiest usually go with the sexiest, the second most sexiest tend to go with the second most sexiest, and so on down the spectrum until the least sexy go with the also-least-sexy. Mating is better than no mating at all. Evolution is indifferent, just make those babies to survive and repeat the processes–but try to have some fun along the way.
Mating often involved a mother that already had a child from a previous encounter. Courting males who were kind and mentoring to some other man’s children, and could protect and provide for them all, got the goodies to give the woman yet another baby. Women, by permitting chosen males intercourse, have exercised more influence over the nature of our species and its destiny than men. Thus what a woman found attractive would tend to be passed down to her children from the father. We could say that women, through granting or denying access to their bodies, or by influencing the sexually available through advice, scorn, or gossip have determined our history, and it was especially the females of the time of the bottleneck in Eastern Aftrica when our numbers dwindled some 50,000 years ago, and perhaps at some other crucial times, that gave our species a chance to evolve to what it is. Women and their influence continue to dominate the nature and nurture of our offspring today. It is a woman’s world, after all. Or is it?
Going beyond natural selection and mere survival, mating choice theory stands out from all other psychological models to explain our most human of human characteristics: such as vivid imagination, artistic ability, creativity in general, and “Mommy and Daddy love you,” skills that were also adaptive in other ways. These traits permeated populations, and it may have happened quickly in evolutionary time to lead to our big brain growth spurt. These heritable traits helped survival in rough, competitive, climatic shifting times– sound all too familiar?– and promoted genetic proliferation and a host of competitive edges. It also helped attract mates from other tribes.
Homo erectus, which became our direct ancestor, dominated other hominids by the ability to adapt to rapidly changing environments and many of those abilities, we are surmising, initially arose from individual mate selection that became faddish. Thus the ability to learn new skills for survival, to be intelligent and creative as well as physically fit, and a good parent, and probably laugh and communicate well, and do a dance here or there, were traits that our ancestors found attractive in each other in relatively few generations mating frenzies.
After millions of years of reciprocal mate choice, and at least 1.6 million years of a homo erectus popularity contest ending over a hundred thousand years ago, larger, modern Homo sapiens sedentary populations built around agriculture, organized societies from predominantly male authorship. Starting some 10,000 years ago, ideologies arose that would start to deny women choice and control. We would expect that traits and behaviors, and their corresponding ideologies, that supported more children reaching puberty would prevail, and they have. If an ideology produced more selfish genes, it became a selection preference, and with more advanced forms of culture, enforced behavior. Many of women’s individual E-Rights through modern history were sacrificed for focus on child-bearing and child-rearing to compete against other populations doing the same, yet the value of that role seems not to be fully appreciated in many parts of the world. “Here is your designated husband, have lots of babies, raise them to give us whatever we need as a tribe, or we will be wiped out by a bigger tribe that did it right,” became the edict. Added to “adapt or die,” was “adapt, have babies or die.”
Although our genes don’t care, even our female genes, to deny women choice in mating is blatant and contemptuous violation of personal E-Rights here in the Third Millennium. Barbarianism must end, it is simply not right to violate women’s rights to deny the choice for mates, own property, have freedom to work or go to school, and to participate as equals in society.
For reproduction. let’s not forget who bears the baby and who also bears the health risks of pregnancy and childbirth, and who does most of the child-rearing. What more important choice can there be for a given individual, than that which determines the nature and adaptive capacities of your children, who share your genes? What is more important than the E-Right to reproduce yourself through choice? Although the gene pool tsunami pushes for children by any means possible, to deny women choice, is to deny them their evolutionary rights, the very heart of humanity. Without the strong love and devotion to children we see from human mothers for extended terms compared to other primates, we humans may have remained but “the third chimpanzee.”