Do women prefer multiple partners?
Biologist: "Many men will no longer find a partner"
Our civilization was created by men and has excluded women for thousands of years, says biologist Meike Stoverock. In this way, the gender ratio runs counter to evolution, so to speak. Because in the animal kingdom mostly women’s choice applies. This means that the females choose the mate and determine which males can mate. Stoverock is convinced that mankind will return to this principle in the future. Women will have more power over the choice of partner and some men will probably no longer find a partner at all. How does this change our relationships?
DEFAULT: The choice of women applies especially to animals. What does this have to do with us humans?
Stoverock: A whole lot. Overall, there is a multitude of indications that choosing women is in our genes as well. For example, one or two egg cells in a woman meet millions of sperm cells in a man. The female egg cell is only fertile to a limited extent, whereas male sperm are continuously fertile. A man can father children around the clock every day. A woman, on the other hand, only has a very narrow time window of a few hours a month. She has to be more selective and careful when choosing a partner.
DEFAULT: In your book you write that choosing women was once decisive for us humans too. It wasn't until ten thousand years ago that people settled down that things changed. In what way?
Stoverock: Sexuality is a primal instinct, a basic need, an innate drive. The choice of women, however, means that a large proportion of men cannot have sex because women deny them it. With the invention of agriculture, men secured property and resources. Suddenly you had leverage against the picky women. The woman was made dependent so that she had to commit to a man.
DEFAULT: They also see marriage as a form of oppression. But can't it also be mutual and bring benefits and fulfillment to both partners?
Stoverock: Looking at history, I would say very clearly: No. Marriage has always been a tool to make women dependent and to keep them in narrow sexual channels. It is no surprise that when the pill was first invented, it was only prescribed to married women. Male civilization feels that marriage is important in keeping women under control. Of course, especially in Western societies today, more and more people marry out of affection rather than out of pure economic dependency. But for many thousands of years marriage has also been on an involuntary basis. You can't say that the woman also benefits from it.
DEFAULT: When and how has something changed in this inequality?
Stoverock: The pill was a real game changer. It has resulted in women really gaining control over reproduction. Of course there were condoms, but they weren't used regularly in a steady relationship. The moment women were able to free themselves from the evolutionary automatism of becoming pregnant, they began to postpone having children. They began to travel, study and gain experience. This development has greatly liberated women.
DEFAULT: Men and women are more than their instincts. They don't just bind to each other to reproduce. Don't many people also find fulfillment in long-term relationships?
Stoverock: Of course, it's also about social processes. Behind the lifelong relationship there is often much more social expectation than personal drive and love. We all grow up more or less with the ideal of the nuclear family. This creates longings in childhood that we later project onto our relationships. One can also free oneself from these longings. That doesn't mean you live a life without love. But you can have relationships without the wish that this has to last until the end of your life. People are slowly realizing that shorter relationships, whether with just one partner or several, are much closer to our natural instincts and our pursuit of happiness.
DEFAULT: In your book you dare to look far into the future and speak of the "end of male civilization". What do you mean by that?
Stoverock: At some point we will end up in a civilization in which women regain sole control over their own sexuality, which has been taken from her by men. The point is not that the woman should have dominion over the man. But men are automatically placed in a more humble position. I don't mean that they should be humiliated or supplicants. But a lot of men walk around with the self-image that the whole world is just waiting for them to illuminate their counterparts with their opinion and their knowledge. This self-image, which in some cases really lacks any humility, could use a little damper.
DEFAULT: What does this development mean for our relationships?
Stoverock: With the recovery of female sexuality, many men will no longer find a partner. There will be more incels, i.e. men who involuntarily live celibacy and can sometimes become violent. We have to intercept these men, have to meet them with more compassion. In addition, the sex doll and sex robot industry will also boom. There are already sex dolls that look very much like living women. With artificial intelligence and pressure and language sensors, amazing things will be possible in the future to give lonely men at least the illusion of a partnership.
DEFAULT: Can these robots really replace real relationships one day?
Stoverock: There is already a solid community of lovers who don't just use these dolls and robots to reduce their urges, but live with them. You sit down with them at the dining table or in front of the television and talk to them. I doubt whether men will be as happy in the end as they are in a relationship with a living woman. Nevertheless, these men are better off living with the doll than without. It is already a positive development that these men can find someone for themselves in this way.
DEFAULT: If I may put it a bit provocatively: Doesn't your vision then mean that we should already convey to the boys in schools that it is completely normal not to have sex?
Stoverock: Definitely! The more choosy women become when choosing a partner, the less true the narrative of "every pot has a lid" becomes. It is important to prepare boys for the actual realities of partner choice: that no matter what they do, it can always be that they will not be chosen. That would be better than always teaching the boys that a woman, whom they give enough presents, will at some point open her legs.
DEFAULT: Would a world where women have more power be a better one?
Stoverock: A world made by women is definitely more equitable. Just filling positions with women is unlikely to offset inequality. Because the male civilization is a network of positions that interlock and benefit from one another. Nevertheless, it is good to have various positions filled. We will certainly not be able to do without hierarchies in the future either. But there can no longer be any monopoly of power just because you were born with a penis. (Jakob Pallinger, March 5, 2021)
Meike Stoverock (46) studied biology with a focus on evolutionary ecology and received his doctorate in epidemiology. Her book "Female Choice: From the Beginning and End of Male Civilization" was recently published by Klett-Cotta-Verlag.
Update 9/3/2021: In an earlier version of the article, Ms. Stoverock was introduced as an evolutionary biologist. At her own request, however, she would only like to be called a biologist. We made this point more precise afterwards.
You can hear a longer version of the conversation on our podcast
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