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Human Sexual Behavioral Ecology and Social Norms Essay


Human Behavioral Ecology

Human society is sometimes seen as the most sophisticated system where social factors are more influential than biological, genetic, or environmental. Nevertheless, a deep analysis of the sexual behavior of humans shows that social norms are often based on certain biological and environmental peculiarities. It is possible to state that there are certain universal differences between females’ and males’ needs across cultures.

One of the major traits is males’ focus on mating and females’ focus on parenting although the opposite distribution of roles is not rare (Low 46). In the vast majority of cultures, females are regarded as major caregivers for their offspring while males may invest less time in the parental effort and spend more time searching for mates. This behavior pattern is determined by the biological peculiarities of sexes as females have the necessary features enabling them to feed and care for their children.

Males are more fit to engage in reproduction rather than parenting. For instance, males are more easily aroused sexually when they see a new mate as compared to females (Mattison “Lecture 13 – Mate Preferences”). These roles can vary across cultures, but they are universal for the vast majority of societies.

Another peculiarity found across cultures is associated with multiple mating. In the vast majority of cultures, both sexes may have multiple partners (Scelza 267). In many mammals, monogamy is not rare, but polygamy increases the effectiveness of the reproductive effort. In simple terms, having multiple partners increases the fitness of offspring. In human society, one marriage is often regarded as a norm or even an idea.

Interestingly, males can have several wives in some cultures while females are expected to have only one mate during their life. Historically, this cultural peculiarity has been determined by the environment as scarce resources have made females dependent on males (Low 36). However, remarriage, premarital sex, and divorce are often accepted in the vast majority of cultures. Even in the Middle East where females tend to marry once there are different cases when women can divorce and remarry.

Finally, the traits different sexes emphasize in potential partners are also quite universal across cultures. Both sexes seek the fittest to increase the effectiveness of their reproductive effort. Thus, in mammals, females often seek bigger males as they are physically stronger and, hence, more competitive and capable of surviving (Mattison “Lecture 12 – Sexual Selection”). In human society, this trait is also important in many societies.

At that, the ability to provide for the family (having enough resources) is more important for females in the vast majority of societies. The availability of food, proper dwelling, and other resources is emphasized by women. As for males, they tend to choose females who have the physical traits necessary for giving birth and parenting. In simple words, both sexes try to find partners capable of providing for children.

In conclusion, it is necessary to note that human sexual behavior can be regarded as a product of the interaction of genetic, environmental, and social factors. Sexes tend to emphasize quite different traits in potential partners as males seek for females who can give birth to and parent children while females look for those who can produce healthy and fit offspring as well as provide resources. Females are still regarded as major caregivers although the changing environment has started shaping sex roles in many societies.

Works Cited

Low, Bobbi S. Why Sex Matters: A Darwinian Look at Human Behavior. Princeton University Press, 2015.

Mattison, Siobhán. “Lecture 12 – Sexual Selection.” Anthropology 360. UNM, Albuquerque. 2017. Web.

—. “Lecture 13 – Mate Preferences.” Anthropology 360. UNM, Albuquerque. 2017. Web.

Scelza, Brooke A. “Choosy but not Chaste: Multiple Mating in Human Females.” Evolutionary Anthropology, vol. 22, no. 1, 2013, pp. 259-269.

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IvyPanda. (2020, November 10). Human Sexual Behavioral Ecology and Social Norms. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/human-sexual-behavioral-ecology-and-social-norms/

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1. IvyPanda. "Human Sexual Behavioral Ecology and Social Norms." November 10, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/human-sexual-behavioral-ecology-and-social-norms/.


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IvyPanda. 2020. "Human Sexual Behavioral Ecology and Social Norms." November 10, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/human-sexual-behavioral-ecology-and-social-norms/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Human Sexual Behavioral Ecology and Social Norms'. 10 November.

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