Science may be unraveling the most perplexing conundrum of 30 years of sexual revolt and rewrite: to wit, why do many women, upon entering into relationships they intend to be short on seriousness and strings and long on sex and freedom, immediately begin acting childish and demanding?
Everywhere men gather, they share tales of unmerited and unexpected criticisms from new lovers. These men struggle to understand why such “liberated” women become enamored — seemingly overnight — with phrases like ” lack of commitment,” ” You never call,” and — drum roll please — “We need to talk.”
Scientists at the University of Edinburgh have found that during sexual intimacy, a woman’s brain releases a chemical “love potion” that alters the brain’s hormones and reactions. The chemical, oxytocin, creates a bond between a woman and her mate. And, it appears, the more sex a couple has,
the deeper a woman’s sense of commitment and love will become. Men’s brains — no surprise here — do not work the same way.
Meanwhile, research in Austria and Germany offers more evidence why “men are from Mars, and women are from Venus.” According to Lionel Tiger, a Rutger’s University anthropologist (and author of “The Decline of Males” in the current issue of Women’s Quarterly), these studies indicate that women can, through smell, identify men who are healthy and likely to be robust providers. Interestingly, women tend to choose good providers when they are in ovulation — or most fertile — but are more likely to choose less stable men when they are not ovulating. Men, the study finds, tend to choose women they perceive as “fertile,” or attractive and young. Such evidence suggests that a woman’s instinct is to look for a man who will provide for and protect her and her children, a common-sense notion thought passe by modern feminists.
It also suggests that nature is not swayed by passing ideological fads. In the Fall, 2001, issue of The Intercollegiate Review, Robert P. Kraynak,
Professor of Political Science at Colgate University, posits that to gain an idea of what civilization might look like in the future, we must stop thinking in terms of historical progress in a rational or linear direction. Instead, he says, we must think in terms of cycles of civilization, in which narrow trends play themselves out over
finite periods. Beneath these ups and downs, the full range of human possibilities — or “order,” wich Kraynack defines as a set of laws, patterns and
forms that give human nature and the natural universe an enduring structure — remains permanently viable. In other words, what looks inevitable today may be but transient phases in the rise and fall of civilization.
Kraynak highlights the troublesome fact that women’s gains in freedom and equality have been offset by corresponding losses in higher, less tangible realms — in romantic love (through a coarsening of women as they strive to imitate men), in marriage as a permanent commitment, in the responsibilities of motherhood, in respect for authority as a result of feminizing authority, and in manly honor as men succumb to the new androgyny.
But fissures are already appearing in modern feminism’s brave new world devoid of sexual differences. These problems are manifested in the double standard in training women for military combat, hard hat construction jobs, and contact sports; in middle class women who rebel against pressures to be little more than imperfect imitations of men; in female eating disorders; and in career women who ruefully conclude that a career offers none of the satisfactions of family, church and community. The inevitability of women’s liberation may not be as inevitable as once thought.
What men perceive as a maddening disconnect between what ” liberated ” women say and how they act may not be the sexual hypocrisy or insecurity that men believe it to be. Rather, it may be evidence of human nature re-asserting its preeminence over ideological fashion, a powerful force that will eventually sweep away modern norms, allowing men and women to reassume their historical roles.
As Professor Kraynack suggests, trends come and go, but human nature and ageless wisdom endure. There is a scene in Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenin, set in 19th century Czarist Russia, in which one man counsels another, “women are all more materialistic than men. We make something immense out of love, but they are always terre-a-terre.” Or as a friend of mine once opined, “To women, love is always a business proposition.” This may be not be a bad thing to admit, for women, for men, or for the world in which we live.