Are women less sexual than men

Sex: the big difference

Scientists explain why men and women so often love to walk past each other.

In the good old prehistoric times, communication between the sexes was still very easy - it didn't even exist, man and woman were one. Exclusively unisexual organisms populated the earth, lived self-happily and had everything in them that they needed for reproduction. What sounds so pleasantly straightforward, but it was extremely risky. Because apart from a few spontaneous mutations, such unisex people are doomed to stay the same forever. If something changes in the environment (climate, nutrition, space), they get into survival stress. So at some point evolution came up with a more flexible model: male and female forms that have to come together in order to reproduce. This ensures a new gene mix in every generation, and therefore more adaptability. Thus began one of the greatest changes the world has ever seen. The sex was born, the lust, the erotic tension - and the misunderstandings. Til today.

Example: a man and a woman on a deserted beach. The love of the two is young - a "quickie" on a beach lounger and a night together in a hotel bed. The next day: sunset, reddish sea, gentle breeze - the signs point to love again. But then one of those stupid little tangles happens. "Fancy a beach chair again?" He asks, means it's funny, but suddenly she's tired of it. Typical man! Much too direct and technical this question. His sudden coolness, on the other hand, is incomprehensible to him. Yesterday everything was still clear. What does she have? No, nobody did anything wrong. What clashes in such moments are two differently running hormonal mechanisms, two differently networked software in the brain, two different genetic programs. "We are increasingly discovering that men and women are controlled by primeval patterns," explains American genetic researcher Professor Dean Hamer. "What evolution has written in our genes remains alive under the cloak of culture and civilization." Refined love teachings and psychological insights or not, when it comes to sex, men and women are in most cases an anatomically good fit together, but otherwise, especially when it comes to love, it shows that they work differently.

His genes, their genes - two different programs. But why, when they should come together naturally? What are the differences? And how can they be bridged? Typical relationship situation: The man returns from a two-day business trip. Even in the plane he thinks about the coming night. Imagine his wife in a shirt with spaghetti straps (40 percent of all men think of sex at least once a day, according to a study by the Austrian Gallup Institute in 1999, compared to only 20 percent for women). He is secretly convinced that she, too, is looking forward to him. Mistake. The woman greets him insultingly "normally". Why not? He was only gone for a short time, the last sex was only three days ago. And she is not in an erotic mood either, because she is currently in the monthly low estrogen for pleasure, has just changed diapers or has just come home from work. Total flop. Classic allegations on both sides. He: She never wants when I want to. You: Again and again he erotically falls into the house with the door.

What is really evident here is not a bilateral uncompromising nature, but a genetic program. If men and women knew about it, there would be fewer feelings of personal hurt in relationships. In 1994, English researchers discovered: After a brief separation of a few days, men in permanent relationships produce up to three times as much sperm as husbands who also do not have sex during the same period of time, but are at home with their partner. The mysterious result has since been confirmed in several follow-up investigations. According to the scientists, a genetic precautionary program is at work here. Even Stone Age hunters were often on "business trips" for a few days, e. B. on the heels of a mammoth. Time enough for potential competitors to impregnate the partner they left behind. With the sperm surplus, »the sperm cells of possible lovers are literally washed away from the woman's body«, writes the English researcher Desmond Morris (in »Das Tier Mensch«, vgs Verlagsgesellschaft, 1995).

What happens at the cellular level does not leave the man indifferent psychologically, as a new study shows. 692 men and women were interviewed in 1999 by a team of psychologists led by Ted Shackelford from Atlantic University, Florida, on the subject of lust and separation. Result: With women, a brief separation has no influence on desire. In the case of men, they do: From a distance, they describe their partner more often than average as "sexy", "hot" and "attractive". The pressure of sexual competition in men (and animal males) runs deep in their genes. Leads to nasty maneuvers, manipulations, heart attacks, acts of revenge, but is also responsible for beauty, richness of color and variety of forms in nature. It produced the oversized peacock tails (the peacock with the most "eyes" on its tail is easiest to get a female), the luxurious antlers that top dogs show off, and in the human world it should not be indifferent to the sales of expensive sports cars. In parallel to their permanent feelings of competition, evolution also gave men their sexual performance thinking ("Was I good? Better than my predecessor?") Written in their genes.

And the feminine counterpart to the genetic “macho” program? This includes all these "typically feminine" behaviors that are so often puzzling, and sometimes offensive, for men. A Stuttgart study on the flirting behavior of women has only just been published, but it could also be a few thousand years old: Who do women jump at first spontaneously? To men of status. Chiefs. Is it all just calculation? Not at all. They simply subconsciously, rightly or wrongly, assume that the winner has the better genes.
Once women have found their husbands, they are usually tormented by the primal fear, which is so annoying for both sides, of being abandoned by him with their children. Not without reason, by the way. Sexual fidelity is not genetically designed by evolution in most mammals.

In this point, men and women are actually quite similar: Not only men, as previously assumed, but both sexes are urged to spread their own genes as widely as possible. The fact that women (and many animal females) are also programmed to "cheat" has typically only been recognized since there have been more women in research, says the American anthropologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy (pronounced: Hördy) in her recently published book " Mother Nature «(Siedler Verlag, 2000). Rather coincidentally, for example, a large-scale American blood group study discovered that ten percent of babies did not come from their supposed biological fathers. It is unclear whether the "infidelity gene" has a stronger effect on men than women or whether it is the different upbringing that directs it - in any case in western industrialized countries a man has an average of 6.8 sexual partners in his life, the woman 2.7 Cora Romance Report published in 1999 (»Das neue Männerbuch«, Bertelsmann Verlag, 1999). The way out of the dilemma? Spontaneous genetic changes in the direction of greater gender compatibility are hardly to be expected in humans. And forcing them through gene manipulation (if that were even possible) is not a good idea. Better: understand why the partner is different. Then it is easier not to take everything so personally in love!

Man and woman need to know: sometimes one heart and one soul - but always two brains! And that has consequences for love. Scientists have discovered that the brain is the most important human pleasure organ. This is where desire arises, (pleasure) sensations are processed and (un) satisfactory experiences with the opposite sex are stored here. The exciting thing about it: Here, too, there is anything but a seamless match between men and women. It has been known for about thirty years that the rational left hemisphere of the brain in women has up to 30 percent more neural connections to the intuitive right hemisphere than in men. Recent studies show that the cerebral differences go much further: In her latest book, the famous American anthropologist Helen Fisher ("The first Sex", 1999) speaks of women as holistic web-thinkers, men against it describes them as logical step-thinkers.

Explanation: The male brain works clearly defined in one hemisphere to solve tasks, in the female brain several areas in both hemispheres become active during the same thinking process. Both are a result of millennia-old coinage. The man favors quick, targeted decisions (favorable for hunters, warriors and chiefs), the woman builds on communication, spontaneity and understanding (advantageous when dealing with small children). The man remembers important events selectively, the woman has a better memory overall, and also remembers details and feelings. These differences in the brain not only create different ways of thinking in men and women, they also determine sexual experience and desire.

Which can explain many of the small and large discrepancies on which the sexes are often perplexed. Above all, men want to be good lovers (their credo: sophisticated technology guarantees success), women dream of spontaneous empathy (their hope: feelings are the gateway to fusion). The female path to orgasm approaches the summit like a serpentine, the shorter ascent of the male shoots straight at it as an arrow. Women are more changeable in their sexual needs (sometimes it’s only romantic, sometimes they want it sharper), male desire reliably jumps to certain stimuli (a well-proportioned female body can be enough). Women can also remember the color of the bed linen after a nice night of love, men often even forget the color of the eyes of their bed companion.

The way out of the dilemma? The human brain is plastic and is still a long way from learning. One can assume that when it comes to sex, too, it will be rewired if a man and woman can meet openly enough and love each other without prejudice. Because new experiences and skills bring new neural connections. How adaptable the brain is has just been demonstrated with regard to the sense of direction: in London taxi drivers who are particularly familiar with the maze of streets in the British metropolis, the corresponding brain region (the hippocampus) is much more pronounced than in the "normal brain" (study by Elea -nor Maguire, University College of London, 2000).

We also have to talk about two hormones - oxytocin and testosterone - two strangers under the same blanket. Typical love situation: the orgasm is just ebbing away, the woman feels inundated with tenderness as if by a mighty storm surge, wants to be hugged and "shake after it". The partner has already become disillusioned. He would like to be in front of the TV quickly to catch the rest of the show. (Of course he doesn't do that, he doesn't want to appear as a loveless, cold-feeling macho.) This scene is so universally true that it has become a cliché. And it will probably also be part of love in the future, like hot kisses or orgasm difficulties. Because the direction here is a powerful hormonal difference. The man really needs rest after the orgasm, his hormone production is temporarily on the downturn. So it is not a lack of love if he has anything but tenderness on his mind after sex. The woman, on the other hand, is now, of all times, when it's over for him, heavily influenced by the sex hormone oxytocin.

It creates overwhelming feelings of love, the urge to hold, squeeze and "mother" the partner. (Incidentally, women experience their absolute high oxytocin right after the birth of a baby.) Oxytocin is also found in the hormone balance of men, but its effect is - as a study by Shelley Taylor at the University of Los Angeles has now shown - largely from testosterone suppressed. (Testosterone, the most important masculinity hormone, creates sexual bravado, fortunately controls muscle building, but unfortunately also lets the hair fall out earlier). Shelley Taylor's conclusion: This lack of oxytocin explains why men in stressful situations (including sex and relationship crises) are more likely to react with the "fight or flight" reflex than women who are influenced by oxytocin. Especially in problematic situations she uses the tactic "make contact".

Another of the many gender differences is the feel-good hormone serotonin. With women, its production gets off to a much slower pace than with men. Serotonin is not a sex hormone, but it does play an important indirect role in love. It protects against depression and self-doubt, makes you brave or cocky. What this means for erotic life, among other things, was demonstrated by Alan Feingold and Ronald Mazzella in a study just published in Psychological Science. All 222 examinations carried out over the past fifty years on the subject of “body image” came to the same conclusion: unlike women who tickle their bodies forever, men feel thanks to serotonin - no matter how beautiful or less beautiful they are look - sexually attractive. Male satisfaction with his own appearance increases sexual self-esteem and is one of the reasons why men, at least from the woman's point of view, erotically easily fall into the house with the door (see beach chair episode!).

The way out of the dilemma? Thirty years ago, at the height of emancipation and sexual liberation from centuries-old morals, it was fashionable to speak of the "small difference" between men and women. Everything a matter of upbringing, the different socialization of the sexes, was the creed of the time. Science also attached more weight to environmental influences than to genetic requirements. This had a huge advantage: for the first time in the history of Western consciousness, the meaning as well as the boundaries of cultural and social influences on the sexes became clear. Today research is penetrating deeper and deeper into the secrets of the genome. This increases respect for the enormous consequences of even the tiniest differences in the chromosome picture, such as the little tip that distinguishes the female sex chromosomes XX from the male XY chromosomes. And respect for the other person's being different - that is probably the solution in practice as well. After all, it is precisely these differences between the sexes that bring not only the misunderstandings, but also the spice to the erotic encounter.

Stefanie Schwethen

This text is a large quotation according to § 51 No. 1 UrhG