Men, we know, are from Mars, and women are from Venus.Mars, in this metaphor, is a place of carnal obsession and emotional autism; a planet whose inhabitants think about sex every seven seconds and get in fights all the time. “Sex comes into every evaluation of a woman, there’s no doubt about it,” he said in an interview last week.
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But the Mars-and-Venus stereotype, the sexually voracious man and the demure woman, has a strong hold. There are obvious evolutionary reasons why men and women would have different approaches when it comes to sex; why a man who behaved in a certain way might expect to have lots of descendants, but a woman who behaved the same way would not.
Men and women are similar in many ways, but they are usually different in one: their sexual organs.
We should not be surprised if they also have different psychological systems to determine how they use those organs.
Dr Diana Fleischman, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Portsmouth, puts it simply: “If a man has sex with 100 women in a year, he might have 100 babies.
If a woman has sex with 100 men in a year, she might have one baby and a very sore bottom.” This is due to what is called the “obligate parental investment”: a man’s minimum investment towards a child might be a couple of minutes’ work and a teaspoonful of sperm; a woman’s minimum investment is nine months of pregnancy and a painful and potentially dangerous labour – and that’s before the question of who raises the child is addressed.
This imbalance means that we should expect men to be more motivated to have sex, says Dr Fleischman, and women to be choosy about their partner.
It’s something we find elsewhere in the animal kingdom – and, intriguingly, when the parental roles are reversed, so are sexual habits. And they tend to be choosy, because they bear the higher cost.” And it’s not a Just So story, which evolutionary psychology is sometimes accused of.
In one review of the literature, “not one study found that women think about sex more than men,” says Dr Fleischman.
One trial, published in the Journal of Sex Research, found that men think about sex – on average – 34 times a day, compared with women’s 19.