Divorce rates, Jennifer Lopez, Hollywood couples and contestantsin “The Jerry Springer Show” are a constant reminderthat monogamy is sometimes an oxymoron. And yet, we all want it towork.
We flirt, we mate, we get tattoos, we marry and we sign mortgages;all in a conscious effort to form a paired bond. We hope to beatthe odds and find ourselves together 50 years later, looking at ourwrinkled and faded tattoos, discovering that they still match thename of the person at the other end of the table. Yet, those arethe exception rather than the rule.
It all has to do with our biological evolution and the rules ofcourting. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best when he said,”Love is strongest in pursuit, friendship inpossession.”
My father would have liked this column.
The man was either the embodiment of the “LatinLover” or of the “Chauvinist Pig,” depending onyour perspective. He fathered five children by three differentwomen. I mention this not as an exercise of psychologicalintrospection but simply to illustrate a point that came to mindwhile watching television: regardless of our civilization andtechnology we are still subjects to the same evolutionary rules asCro-Magnon couples. Case in point is a “Rolling Rock”commercial.
A sweet blonde is sitting with some guy at a bar; coyly she asksthat question that always comes up early in all relationships:”How many girls have you been with?” The guy’spredicament is laid bare for us to see, his eyes lock into animaginary scoreboard that keeps rising and rising … in hisnadir he gestures with two fingers –a request for two more”Rolling Rocks” to a passing waitress- and he is savedwhen the foolish girl assumes that is his honest response.
Yes, I am talking about the dreaded double standard. It is ahated thing, yet one that remains rooted deep inside ourpsyche.
In order for monogamy to become prevalent something crucial hadto happen: the subjugation of one gender’s mating practiceover the other. I will propose an unpopular, and scientificallyunsupported hypothesis: men are subordinate to women’sevolutionary strategy.
Let me make something clear, I am not advocating polygamy norsetting an excuse for men like my dear old Dad. I am simply amazedby the resiliency of human beings to engage in altruistic behavior.Why is it that we put ourselves through this pain? How do we staytogether in light of our oppossing evolutionary tendencies?
The answer lies in literature, poetry and love songs.
I will call it the “Quixotic Syndrome” in humans.That level of madness that is seen in no other species in nature, adevotion to your own private “Dulcinea.” Deep insideeach of us lives a crazy, hairy being that is not subject to therules of Darwin. This hairy man is prone to attacking imaginarygiants in order to save his paramour, just like Don Quixote. Thatwild man also sees beauty in inanimate objects, RubénDarío’s poetry shows such anthropomorphism of nature,”Margarita, está linda la Mar…” a beautifulsea? How many Chimpanzees, our closest kin in the animal kingdom,see nature this way? Not many I would bet.
The moment that we began to write literature, poems and sillylove songs we were done for. The forces that dictate evolution gaveus a brain large enough, and powerful enough, to begin to weaveconnections between our actions and that other organ, theheart.
Combined with cultural and social mores that support monogamythey have managed to stem the tide of evolution to the benefit ofchocolate companies and organized religious monogamous marriages–Utah notwithstanding.
The point that I am trying to make is that, while it is a nicething to go out and buy roses and dinners and chocolates andHallmark cards and lingerie and tattoos and mortages, the mostromantic thing one can do, the really, really most romantic thingis to look into your partner’s eyes and say to her:”Woman, I am a man, and as a man I am subject to evolutionaryforces that go back into prehistoric times. Even so, I have made aconscious choice and effort to bind myself to you and you alone,because I love you, and there is no other that compares toyou.”
P.S. Feel free to substitute “men” for”women” in that last statement, we all know that womencan be just as promiscuous as men … just look at JenniferLopez.
And lest my fellow men begin to feel oppressed let us not forgetthat, even if women’s mating practices became predominant, assoon as patriarchal societies became the norm we began to seethings like the “chastity belt,” obsession with”virginity, primma notte,” the marketing of BritneySpears and so many other things that perpetuate women’sundeserved status as second-class citizens in most of ourcultures.