sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

September 25, 2012

Bad Girls on Oxytocin

Filed under: feminism, relationships — Tags: , , — edge of the sandbox @ 11:18 am

In a series of Freudian slips President Obama let us know that in his view our allies are “noise” and the murdered American ambassador is “bump in the road”.  Elizabeth Warren looks more and more like a compulsive liar.  And I’m going to write about relationships.

“Why didn’t we tell them?” asks Leslie Loftis.  A young woman who had the brains to be admitted into Princeton confesses:

During the second semester of my freshman year, two of my closest female friends and I created an “Accomplishment Chart,” complete with a star for each “accomplishment” we had achieved. One of those friends had been dating a freshman boy since September and she had only one star. My other friend and I would taunt her ruthlessly for her lack of “accomplishments.” We, on the other hand, were plenty accomplished. Whenever I looked at the star stickers adorning my section of the chart, I would always laugh out loud, remembering the awful, drunken hookup that each star symbolized. There were many nights, though, when I couldn’t sleep from cringing at those memories. But I wouldn’t take those experiences back. Without them, I would have never realized how much I hate the hookup culture here.

It wasn’t until the end of my sophomore year that I finally started regarding my freshman hookups as mistakes. This was partially because I had a hard time admitting that I had messed up. For me, to regret a decision was on par with saying “I screwed up big time,” which I could barely admit to myself, let alone a peer. And the desire to seem like I already knew it all, despite never having lived on my own before, kept me from asking questions when I first got to Princeton. But even if I had, there were elements of the hookup culture I would have never been able to anticipate, let alone seek advice about.

I have to say, if after a year of bad sex this young lady figured that hook up culture sicks, she got out easy.  She could have picked up a disease or seriously screwed up her life.  But here is Temple of Mut with an excellent essay on why women are casualties of casual sex.  It has nothing to do with culture or feminism, it’s hormonal:

During millions of years of human evolution, the female system has been designed to begin a cascade of oxytocin production during two specific events: 1) When being intimate with a male; 2) When breast-feeding an infant. On the other hand, human males have very limited oxytocin levels (and actually release some of the little oxytocin they produce when “involved” with the woman of the moment).

Now, oxytocin is a wonderful thing. It energizes people, and makes them feel good about life. It enhances the immune system, as well as boosts other biochemical processes in the human body. Personally, after strawberry margaritas, oxytocin is my favorite chemical (and I have a graduate degree in chemistry, so I know chemicals).

However, as with everything else pleasurable in life, there can be a bit of a downside. Once a woman generates oxytocin, she will usually want to do everything in her power to keep up the production levels. For example, there are tales of women who nurse their babies past toddler-hood (until 3, 4 or 5 years in age). This is related to the fact these women want to continue releasing oxytocin (even though they will have other rationalizations).

The same thing is true following intimate relations. Oxytocin production can be stimulated in a woman through her lover’s voice, scent, sight and touch. This fact explains a wide range of female behaviors that follow intimacy. For example, women will call up their new partner frequently. They will steal their lover’s shirts to enjoy the scent. They will invent excuses to see the man-of-the moment. And the more oxytocin these women generate when with their lovers (or by talking to them), the more emotionally attached they get.

As they say, read the whole thing.  As a pop number from decades ago had it, you might like him better if you sleep together.  What Romeo Void didn’t warn us about is that you might like him too much:

Many feminists egg on young women to engage in no-strings-attached sex like certain men, but historically that’s not how women are “bad”.  As Mut explained, women don’t have much to gain from sleeping around.  The way women “have” men is by not sleeping with them, by making men lust after themselves, but not giving up sex.  A not-so-secret admirer is a fabulous ego-booster, and in certain circles one-sided friendships of this nature are quite common.

Granted, having a page is not an “accomplishment” that a young lady will decorate with a star on a chart — that would be gosh.  She has to be content with gossip that recognizes her as the girl who broke somebody’s little heart.  Even then, being a tease is rather dead-endinsh — but so is being a Cosanova.  However, getting a man interested and keeping him interested through decades of relationship does require some female talents.

I’ll be back shortly with a post about identity.

UPDATE: Linked by Legal Insurrection — many thanks to Professor Jacobson.

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