In my biology lab this week, two-and-a-half riveting hours were spent watching wasps “copulate.” The goal was to determine whether or not there was a difference in mating habits between virgin and non-virgin female wasps. This involved getting a virgin female to mate with a male (easy), then getting the same female to mate with a second male (not even kind of easy).
Surprising or not, once the female had lost her virginity, it was almost impossible to coax her into giving it up again. While the process wasn’t half as interesting as the results, it gave me ample time to mull over similar questions about a much more relevant species: humans.
While watching an experienced female wasp reject the second male time and time again, I considered how this scenario would play out with my peers. Are virginal college girls quicker to bed than those who are more experienced? I’m fairly sure the opposite is true.
From what I’ve observed, the more a chick sleeps around, the more likely she is to continue that behavior. It’s sort of circular logic, and I suppose it’s not entirely surprising that this doesn’t occur in nature the same way it occurs on college campuses.
The idea with the wasps is that once a female has ensured that she has at least one way to pass her genes on, she can be more choosy about who she mates with next— she’s no longer desperate. Obviously, college women aren’t exactly concerned with the longevity of their genetic material. More important to them seems to be indulging in any and all sexual endeavors while their looks still allow it. If you don’t like that explanation, there’s always the alcohol theory- they’re simply going where the liquor takes them, whomever’s bedroom that may be.
I’ll be honest, if I sound like I have no idea what I’m talking about, it’s because I don’t. I really only have one friend who sleeps around a lot, and she’s opted to forgo the college experience altogether. She’s living it up in New York City, being promiscuous for exactly the reasons I mentioned. The rest of the basis for my theorizing comes from what I know about friends of friends, and what I overhear.
On the flip side, the girls who are still virgins at this point are likely virgins by choice. It’s not like they don’t have a multitude of opportunities to change that, what with the hoards of easy-to-please men running around (and conveniently all living on one quad). Plus, it’s been my personal experience that the girls I know who aren’t having sex are the ones who don’t want to.
Why do we behave so differently from wasps and essentially every other species? Simply put, it’s because we’re smarter than our genes. We’re not driven by the need to be immortalized by ensuring our DNA lives on for the next seventeen generations. More or less, we’re driven by what we want or what we think we should want.
That’s right, boys, no more excuses about sex being a biological necessity or about your uncontrollable horniness somehow falling out of the realm of your control. Even if you actually believed that, the truth is: it’s bullshit. You can whine about the fact that I’m not citing any sources here, but you can also open Google or a textbook and look this up: our sexual behavior has evolved far beyond being dictated by biology. If the fact that the way we act is the exact opposite of the way other species act isn’t proof enough, there are plenty of journal articles out there for you.
Yes, there is the occasional study that shows we choose mates based on traits that indicate biological fitness. For those of you who aren’t natural science majors, an example of this is our alleged preference for facial symmetry, which is an indicator of a relatively low frequency of genetic mutations. Whether or not there’s much merit to this is debatable and, anyway, doesn’t disprove my point. Though, it’s worth mentioning that further studies have shown that women’s preferences for male appearance are much harder to pin down than males’ preferences for women’s appearance it’s all over the place. If nothing else, this blows the biological theory to bits.
If, however, you prefer to ignore the inevitable truth, go ahead. Pretend you’re not having sex solely because you want to, pretend your boyfriend actually needs to do it 20 times a week and pretend that alcohol isn’t way more influential to your sexual behavior than your DNA. Whatever helps you sleep at night.
Bazarian is a member of the class of 2013.