We were dining at El Hefe’s with a few attractive couples—boozing and musing about the sorry state of man, and the dwindling pool of women hoping for anything better.
Mrs. Shepherd shared a casual observation that I had never heard before—one that had the ring of self-evidence to it.
“Guys, what you are missing is the effect the Pill has on female partner choice.”
“Let me explain it to you in guy-speak.” (I love it when the missus is pedantic.) “The Pill affects a woman’s natural factory settings on choosing a man. The Pill pharmacologically induces women to favor the Mangina as a date and as a mate.”
I should add, Mrs. Shepherd is a doctor. Not an MD—which on this subject would have been more authoritative—but she does have a Ph.D. in developmental psychology. It is worth noting that Mrs. Shepherd is a “Dr. Ruth” of sorts, having taught human sexuality at the university level.
She continued, “A woman naturally looks for two things from a mate when not on the Pill. First, does he have good genes? Will he make good, healthy babies? Attractiveness, strength, symmetry, and odor are nature’s scouts for fitness. Simply put, good genes look good in jeans. Second, is the guy dependable? Can you trust him to fulfill a parental function? Will he provide for his family—and then some? A good mating choice looks for a partner that checks all the boxes. Fit, fatherly—and flush.
“But that’s not what happens to women on the Pill. Instead, here is what’s been happening: The Pill takes a concern for good genes out of the mating equation. The body of a woman on the Pill thinks it’s already pregnant. Her biology is flooding the zone with safe-nesting signals. As a result, women on the pill favor a Mangina in dating and mating and they have been doing so for 60 years.”
“Before the Pill women had to fight their natural inclination for an Alpha. Ovulation favors choosing short-term fitness over long-term interests—Mr. Wrong over Mr. Right. But once she’s on the Pill, the reverse is true. A woman’s mate preferences are feminized. No longer is she attracted to good genes. Her ideal man’s features get softer and she loses her nose for fitness.”
It turns out that women are naturally endowed with a nose for the genetic dissimilarity she needs to mate well. Nature favors a Gerard Butler—a Spartan King.
In direct contrast, the Pill inclines women to favor men who are genetically similar. The Pill favors Hugh Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral.
My road-to-Damascus response to this was to realize that what we have been doing for the past 60 years is a Darwinian no-no—pharmacology was used to change the evolutionary direction of man.
The other ladies at the table were as surprised as the men were.
The next day, I asked the star of the previous evening’s conversation for some literature to back up her mic-drop of an insight. She provided the marked up copies that she used for teaching and it was all there.
Reading the scientific literature was like going to the optometrist and getting new specs—the ones that bring perfect pellucidity.
This changes everything. We need a better plan for men and women.
Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared at Planned Man.