The Need for Sociology of Sex and not Just Science to Explain (Female) Infidelity

Earlier this month TIME Magazine came out with an article about “cougar sex” and why women in their “middle years” age 27 – 45 reported having more sex than any other age group.  The story started out addressing one of my pet-frustrations justifying infidelity among men.

Men who cheat on their spouses have always enjoyed an expedient explanation: Evolution made me do it. Many articles (here is one, and here is another), especially in recent years, have explored the theory that men sleep around because evolution has programmed them to seek fertile (and, conveniently, younger) wombs.

The article then segues into a study about female sexuality using evolution to explain higher sexual gusto among women in between the ages of 27 through 45.  The article was interesting but like other “science of sex” type explanations for sexual behaviors, I was disappointed in its lack of social contextualization.

I’m sure the author only had limited word space but starting the article in the context of infidelity increased my expectation that the story would drive home the argument that women cheat too and here are the scientific reasons why.

The article’s analysis of the study is still interesting but I’m not sure what to make of how the author presented the study’s theory.

Our female ancestors would have grown accustomed to watching many of their children — perhaps as many as half — die of various diseases, starvation, warfare and so on before being able to have kids of their own. This trauma left a psychological imprint to bear as many children as possible. Becoming pregnant is much easier for women and girls in their teens and early 20s — so much easier that they need not spend much time having sex. (Read about cougar cruises.)

However, after the mid-20s, the lizard-brain impulse to have more kids faces a stark reality: it’s harder and harder to get pregnant as a woman’s remaining eggs age. And so women in their middle years respond by seeking more and more sex.

I’m probably disappointed because I wanted more discussion on the sociology of sex and infidelity within this article.  Here are some pressing questions and discussion points on my mind about the topic.  Please chime in on your thoughts.

  • Men who cheat don’t always cheat with young women.
  • Today’s woman has more autonomy, power, and travel opportunities.  How does that affect the cheating trend?
  • Unfortunately, women cheat too but there’s still more stigma attached to a woman cheating than a man.
  • In the monkey world, the alpha male goes around spreading his seed. This theory is sometimes used to explain male infidelity. But little is discussed about the female monkeys getting cozy with all the available beta monkeys.  Also, monkeys pick bugs out of each others’ hair and eat them.  I’ll leave it at that.
  • Depending on who you talk to, isn’t infidelity about more than sex?  Isn’t sex just the end product of cheating or a symptom of some larger personal issue?
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One thought on “The Need for Sociology of Sex and not Just Science to Explain (Female) Infidelity

  1. Rigoleto says:

    , She Said Should He Leave?He Said:Should I leave my wife?We’ve been married for 34 years. I haven’t loved her for seearvl years and haven’t had sex for nearly that long. It hurts her back. There isn’t even any affection which I seem to thrive on. I also feel there is a big communication problem because when I say something, she responds with something entirely different. She seems to have selective memory and forgets almost everything I tell her.I haven’t been looking for someone else, but when I met someone that I connect with it seems so right. Recently my wife found out about my 3rd affair. Although she was mad and hurt, she has gotten to a point where she will not deal with it. I obviously had affairs for a reason. I don’t really want to leave my marriage, but I can’t stand to remain unhappy and unfulfulled like this. We have gone to marriage couseling in the past and it lasted for awhile, but then she would forget what we learned. I haven’t had fun with her in quite some time. Most of the time I think she has her head in the sand and thinks that everything will be ok. My children are grown and one supports me that I should go where I’m the happiest. My daughter wants to give it one more try and if it doesn’t work out, then leave. The thought of ended my affair is very difficult to accept. She and I seem like we’re made for each other. But I know if I divorce my wife, it will be so final.Before you respond to this question, I want to point something out that I have noticed about women men’s response to infidelity. If its a guy cheating they jump all over him and condem him. If its a girl that cheats, they somehow seem to look at it much more rationally ..WTH? Please try to put yourself in my shoes and tell me what you think I should do.•19 hours ago•- 1 week left to answer.Additional Details8 hours agoSome of you have ask about my contribution to this marriage over the years. Since I am a Cancer, I naturally nurture, love, protect and take care of her. Since she is on fixed income and cannot work, my job as the sole provider has been stressful at times. But I want to point out that if/when I leave I will be taking all of the bills with me. During this entire time, I have taken care of her when she has shoulder aches or migraines ..she’s not confined, she just can’t sit for very long. I would do the dishes, get her something to eat, go to the store for her .stuff like that. I’m always looked out for her best interest and tried to make her comfortable. Basically sacrificing my needs for hers. Sounds similar to what women do for men doesn’t it. She in turn, has been right there for me during my illnesses. I’ve had 6 major surgeries since 2004 and she has been right by my side the entire time.You guys are awesome and your answers really help me out. thanks, steveShe Said:Should Steve Leave His Wife?Steve posted the question, should he leave his wife?I’m the other woman in this scenario and would like to add my perspective:While he was in the hospital this last time, I could not be with him as I’m an interstate driver and was out of state. I was in anguish about not being there and only survived by staying in phone contact with him and the hospital. When he called me one day, I was horrified to learn that he was sick from medications and complications, and his wife would not question the staff on his behalf, for fear of causing trouble, believing they knew what they were doing. In truth, it turned out, things were going on that caused him to have to receive two more surgeries after the initial one. When he told me she would not intervene, I got on the phone with the hospital staff and would not relent until answers were given and solutions were being sought. I made many phone calls during that time, from the nurse, to the head nurse, to the director of nursing, to the surgeon, in order to get things done. So, while she was there everyday, as Steve said, she would not stand up for him or behind him when he needed her. When I did get within travelling distance and had a weekend to spare, I rented a car and drove 500 miles each way to visit him.Steve did not say in his posting that he has moral convictions that are making this very difficult for him; I understand that and we’re dealing with that together. I don’t want to be a home-wrecker and never sought out a married man. He is not in love with his wife. We have an uncommon bond that’s being built day by day on friendship and mutual respect. I would uproot my life to be with this man, but not until and if he’s ever ready to make the life change. I’m not pushing him because I want him to be sure and have no regrets. He’s soul-searching and so am I. If he decides he cannot be with me, I’ll accept it and disappear. But he’s not happy now and we’re both very, very happy when we’re together. I want, more than anything, for him to be happy, even if that happiness is not with me. Ellie what a thoughtful, insightful message. Thank you for that.In fact, we have discussed at length what we would need to do if he did decide to leave, these matters concerning his wife. I do sympathize with her, believe it or not, and would be more than willing to help. Steve knows this.

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