Male & Female

CobraBoy! (
Wed, 27 Aug 1997 04:32:32 -0800

Wednesday, August 27


IN HER LATEST BOOK, Sex on the Brain (Viking, $24.95), Pulitzer

Prize-winning journalist Deborah Blum dives into one of the

controversial and fascinating questions in human biology:
Besides the

obvious, what makes men and women different? An investigative

science writer best known for her book on animal testing (The

Monkey Wars, Oxford University Press, $25.00), Blum bases her

assertions in Sex on the Brain -- which range from why we even

have two sexes to what men and women find attractive in each

other -- on interviews with experts and research into fields as

diverse as evolutionary science, anthropology, animal behavior,

neuroscience, psychology and endocrinology. The author recently

spoke with Swoon about killer testosterone, French kisses and

elusive thing called attraction.

<bold> Swoon: To begin with, why must there be two sexes?

</bold> Blum: Of course, there are animals who are
hermaphroditic, but

they're rare, and many of them disappear. What nature

decided is that one limited, self-reproducing gene pool would

be enough. The ideal is that you and your partner have very

genes and that you minimize the risk of duplicating bad genes.

<bold> What's the news on sexual attraction between men and


</bold> We are just starting to realize that there are all these

that affect choices -- like mate selection -- that we thought

conscious. As it turns out, men send signals. One of these
signals is

smell. The immune system sends out smells, carried in sweat,

women seem very attracted to. In one study on sweat, men wore

same T-shirt for a number of days and women rated the smells in

terms of sexiness. Very consistently, the women picked men with

immune systems most different from their own. Some people think

the same immune-system information is found in saliva. So,

kissing may be another way of discerning this biology.

<bold> Is it true that men are innately more aggressive than


</bold> There is a lot of politics with that; many want to say
that men and

women are born equal and that differences are created by

However, the difference in aggression is there right from the

beginning. Even prenatally, male fetuses are more active. Why

this? Early on, we were a polygamous species. In polygamous

species, males tend to operate in a "live fast and die" pattern.

males] must be on that aggressive edge at all times.

<bold> Certain studies show that male animals, including humans,

evince a noticeable drop in testosterone after being paired

off in committed sexual relationships. Can you explain


</bold> It's really interesting that the body does this. It's
like your body is

naturally preparing to soften you. Perhaps women have used

monogamy and partnership to control male behavior.

<bold> In your book, you describe people as being "ambiguously

monogamous." What do you mean by this?

</bold> Only monogamous species have long-lasting partnerships,

equally in the tasks of life and exhibit long-lasting affection.
We have

monogamous traits but retain many polygamous habits, such as

aggression. We're in a really interesting, complex and confused

in terms of what we are looking for [in a mate].


Care about people's approval and you will be their prisoner.

-Toa Te Ching

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