Promiscuity refers to mating with many different partners, possibly strangers, which is often accompanied by low mate choice standards and a high sexual drive. The opposite mating pattern is monogamy which refers to sexual exclusivity (pair boding) and often involves high mate choice standards. Promiscuity is often accompanied by a desire for sexual variety. In behavioral science, the effect of becoming bored of the current mate in order to increase sexual variety is called Coolidge effect.
In humans, there are large differences in promiscuity in terms of sex outside committed relationships. Female promiscuity, but not male promiscuity, is often driven by access to resources. Further, female promiscuity still involves much higher mate standards compared to males. Female promiscuity also rather occurs more within a pre-selected group of males and backup partners, compared to males who would much more readily copulate with a stranger.
Evolutionary explanation[edit | edit source]
The advantage of promiscuity (from the point of view of the genes) is that it creates lots of offspring that one does not invest into, some of which may make it. More r-selected species are more promiscuous as they invest less in their offspring. In welfare states men can maximize reproductive success by pumping and dumping many females and leaving the raising of the offspring to single mothers supported by the state and/or betabux.
The advantage of sexual variety is also that it increases genetic variety. Combining one's own genes with the genes of many different sex partners increases the chance that one combination is particularly successful, as it increases the genotypic and hence phenotypic diversity of the offspring (with increased variance, both good and bad extreme outcomes become more likely). With a low investment strategy, the bad offspring poses no cost.
Coolidge effect[edit | edit source]
The effect of becoming bored with the current mate is especially present in males of many animals. Modern pornography constitutes a superstimulus in this regard, allowing men to constantly being confronted with a sexually willing female, albeit on a screen.
Sex differences in promiscuity[edit | edit source]
As females often have much higher parental investment, the males are usually much more promiscuous, because females have to lock down a provider male as they are too invested in raising the offspring to gather resources themselves.
Both males and females, benefit from sexual variety (though females only if a source of resources is secured). The threat of extra-marital sex on the part of females means that men need to engage mate guarding in order to ensure paternity and avoid wasting their resources on another man's offspring. This motivates males to heavily constrain female sexuality, which is a near universal feature of human monogamous/polygynous mating systems, which sometimes even involved infanticide of offspring that were suspect or the homicide of the wife and/or lover. This constitutes a sexual conflict, with males opposing female whoring, engagement in pump and dump and infidelity.
Female promiscuity gives rise to sperm competition as it means the sperm needs to compete inside the vagina and possibly also affecting shape of the penis so as to be able to scoop out competing sperm. There is some (limited) evidence of female promiscuity in humans, which may have been more prevalent in close ancestor species with faster life history speed, but is still vestigial in certain human behaviors observable today.
Female promiscuity is also referred to as cock carousel.
Human female promiscuity[edit | edit source]
Evidence against it:
- Sperm volume and testes size much smaller than pan with promiscuous females
- Cross-culturally high prevalence of monogamy, very low incidence rate of polyamory
- Despite sexual liberation, no evidence of widespread promiscuity and still very low non-paternity rates
- The simple shape shape of the Human Penis in comparison to promiscuous mating systems
- We've evolved out of a polygynous mating system like the Gorilla; promiscuous mating systems mating systems in Chimpanzees only evolved after they split from our lineage as evidenced by genes on the Y chromosome involved in sperm production.
- The Oviduct in Human Females is much shorter and does not coil as much as more promiscuous primates (longer and more complex oviducts and selected for as a means to 'test' the sperm of the males so as to select the best sperm; a shorter oviduct would thus suggest little need for selecting superior sperm in males and thus implies sperm competition is minimal/non-existent)
- The relatively small midpiece of human sperm required (comparable to the Gorilla) which indicates a monogamous mating system as larger midpieces are found in promiscuous mating systems; specifically the human sperm midpiece has 15 mitochondria, much less than what can be found in the chimpanzee.
- The Vas Deferens is long and thin in humans (something that is typical of species with low levels of sperm competition)
Evidence for it (with counter-arguments):
- Cross-cultural concerns about female promiscuity, giving rise to slut-shaming gossip among females
- However, we hardly find slut shaming in Chimpanzees and other promiscuous mating systems; thus, this slut-shaming would rather be a feature of a species with a strong female-male resource dependence and a monogamous mating system were women stand to lose much if their pair bonded male leaves them, or not marry and settle down with her, because there are other females whom will more readily give him sex.
- Women display a kind of Coolidge Effect in marriages sooner than men
- However, considering that women need to be more invested in parenting, it seems certainly plausible that women get sexually bored quicker than men (if you're getting pregnant too often, then who takes care of the kids).
- High incidence of mate poaching, mate switching, back-burners and relationship instability and a massive decline in long-term monogamous mating in contemporary "liberated" society.
- This point is less about female promiscuity and is more evidence of female hypergamy, now that alpha males are more readily available and casual sex is more acceptable, the hypergamous instinct in females intensifies. Back up partners and mate switching is evidence that, when possible, a woman will trade her current partner out for a better mate. To argue for a promiscuous mating system, we need to show that a woman will still exhibit this behaviour even when paired with Alpha males; even chimpanzees will mate with lower status males from time to time in their promiscuous mating system despite the availability of Chads to have sex with females. As it doesn't seem plausible that most females will exhibit mate switching/poaching whilst with Alpha men, this cannot be used as evidence of female promiscuity in Humans.
In summary, due to high female resource dependence and parental investment, and other factors mentioned, female promiscuity appears to be limited to a minority of women with a fast life history disposition or women who temporarily fall for feminist dating advice, and assertions about high female promiscuity may rather stem from an innate male sensitivity about paternity assurance and about losing status getting cucked or mogged, rather than actually high promiscuity observed in modern human females.
References[edit | edit source]
- Mogielnicki C, Pearl K. 2020. Hominid sexual nature. [Article]