Men are competing for us even after they have cum and gone (sperm competition in bats and people)

It’s true – even after a man manages to woo us, fend of the competitors and get us into the sack, the job still aint done. At this point he basically just relays the responsibility onto his sperm who continue to compete in what reproductive biologists call a “sperm competition”. For sexually monogamous couples there are no sperm competitions but when a woman cheats on her partner or if she goes on some kind of unprotected Girls Gone Wild SOCal spring break, there can be stiff competition (pun sadly intended) for sperm.

I have just begun research into sperm competition for my master’s degree. I’m studying it in regards to bats. Bats have always been of fascination to me but it wasn’t until I started learning about their sexcapades that I decided to go into major student debt over it!

You see, because many species of bat live in gigantic social groups (sometimes numbering in the hundreds of thousands) there are near unlimited opportunities for them to sleep around (or “hang out” as we Gen-Y’ers call it ..hey maybe we get this term from the bats!). Most bats also don’t believe in monogamy. Only 12 of the over 1,200 species of bat are believed to be monogamous – and with a little genetic testing, I’m convinced it’s even less than that. They tend to live either polygamously or, more commonly, like baboons where any male can mate with any female with the exception of some direct family members. For bats, every day is a SOCal spring break! At least in the breeding season, anyway.

Even more ridiculous, female bats can distend their reproductive tracts to hold huge quantities of semen which they can keep alive in their bodies for up to 200 days!! All of this adds up to a situation where sperm are competing with each other like gang busters.

What happens, then, when the sperm have to compete so much is that natural selection favours males with larger balls (that produce more sperm) in the way that if you want to win a raffle you buy more tickets. Over time, then, bat balls have evolved to absolutely vulgar proportions! In one species, the Rafinesque’s big-eared bat, the combined testes weight is 8.4% of total body weight. That’s the equivalent of a 180lb man walking around with 20lb balls! IT’S INSANITY!!

The craziest part of it, too, is that because bats have to maintain low body weights in order to fly they can’t just carry around these gigantic balls without having to pay for it somewhere else and so not surprisingly – the brains take the hit. They have actually found that the larger the balls of a bat, the smaller the brain*.

I was just thinking about all of this in the shower (as you do) and realised how ridiculous it all is. I mean in an effort to be the winner of the sperm competition, testicles only think to do one thing: produce more sperm. Even if the end result makes them dumber. Does it never occur to them to produce quicker, faster, more efficient sperm and not have to sacrifice grey matter? Nope. Well, sometimes. Occassionally, rather than producing more sperm to win the sperm competition they’ll produce bigger sperm but this really isn’t much better.

And doesn’t this just sum up men perfectly?? I mean the male agenda is always about bigger, better, more. Women on the other hand, understand value. That’s why we produce one perfect, valuable, egg rather than a million crappy ones. Not to mention why we fantasize about one perfect partner instead of a threesome …

*This doesn’t apply to flying foxes

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You don’t need a Prius – you need a fucking bike!

I was totally inspired this evening by an article my friend Stacey sent me about eco-homes.

The article talks about how in a lot of ways “sustainable” homes are not that at all because despite the fact that they might have grey water recycling toilets, all the materials and labour has to be trucked in. Buying a simple, modest home where you open a window instead of running AC, plant a veggie garden instead of going to the super market, and use good old fashioned cow poop on the garden instead of chemical fertiliser is likely to be just as sustainable of a lifestyle as what any snobbish “eco-home” can offer.

It reminded me of the line in the flick “Baby Mama” where Tina Fey asks Amy Poehler why she doesn’t eat organic food and she says “that stuff is just for rich people who hate themselves”. That line always cracks me up because in a lot of ways, she’s right. Organic foods and “green” products have become elitist and pretentious!

For the record I believe that the philosophy behind the green movement is awesome and I’m all for it. I buy as much organic stuff as possible (including all my cleaning products and makeup) BUT I really believe that the “green” homes, the “green” cars, and the fucking $7 “green” carrots just make the average person feel like living life in a sustainable way is out of reach for them.

And when the whole Green movement isn’t elitist it is really hippy, right? Well I don’t know, anymore actually, because I always have associated hippies with being broke and there’s no way you can be broke and afford the crap these eco-pushers are selling.

Have you ever been to a “co-op”? You’d think they’d be cheap-as because everyone who goes there is either a uni student or a dread-locked, bare-footed 22 year old BUT A JAR OF PEANUT BUTTER COSTS LIKE ELEVEN DOLLARS!! Honestly, maybe these kids could afford shoes if they weren’t buying such expensive peanut butter!

Also, have you guys ever seen those “eco-clothing” stores? I’ve wandered into those on occasion to find FIFTY DOLLAR T-SHIRTS!!!! OMG!!!! Seriously, have you people never heard of the SALVATION ARMY? Second hand clothing does not require any extra resources to create, wearing it prevents it from being thrown into a land-fill, and usually it’s been sourced locally. PLUS IT COSTS LIKE THREE DOLLARS! Granted, a lot of people (myself included) have an aversion to second hand clothing because a lot of it is ugly but I’ll be the first to admit that we all need to give it a try. It’s just a matter of wading through the crap to find the kick-ass vintage treasures. I’m going to plan a thrift store adventure soon. I’ll post some pictures here for you guys when I do.

OK this post is getting a lot more ranty than I had planned but honestly, this whole subject makes me angry because I really think that we should be promoting the cheap stuff that people can do to live more sustainably instead of raising the “green standard” to a level where it is unrealistic for the average household.

Here are some of my ideas for alternatives to elitist, green snobbery:

You don’t need an “eco-home” – you need a fucking small house that you don’t pollute with nasty chemicals (or a yurt if you can stand to be that awesome).

You don’t need a Prius – you need a fucking bike! (click here for an awesome set of baskets for carrying your groceries on your bike)

You don’t need $7 carrots – you need a fucking veggie garden!

You don’t need organic free-range beef – you need to become a fucking vegetarian! (or at least cut out as much meat from your diet as you possibly can and then buy the free range, ethical stuff.)

You don’t need $10 free range eggs – you need a fucking chicken! (haha)

OK I better stop before I get too carried away but honestly, if you want to live sustainably just go visit your grandma and ask her what life was like when she was growing up .. and then just go do that. It’s really that simple.

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Want to help the environment? Be a little cheap!

To decrease my spending and wasteful ways I have come to appreciate SO MUCH all the free things in life like the radio, the library, free podcasts, and hand holding (aww).

Another thing that I’m learning to love is thrift stores! I still have a slight aversion to buying clothes at thrift stores although I’m starting to get over that. I’ve always, though, been really into them when it comes to furniture (not couches – yuck – but old wooden hutches, book cases, etc). Every single piece of hard furniture that I own was either given to me or purchased at a thrift store – and I have some killer pieces! I’m also really into buying old kitchen stuff from thrift stores – casserole dishes, teapots, china, wine glasses, etc.

I really like the look of sexy, modern pieces mixed with really old, interesting pieces. There is something sort of sterile about a house (or wardrobe) made up completely of brand new stuff. And similarly, someone who hasn’t bought a new item since 1974 is just weird. I think you need a mix.

Also, I have been gifted some unwanted cosmetics/bath goods and clothes, lately (thanks Shaz and Lesh!) and that has been just awesome. If I didn’t constantly throw stuff out (and therefore had stuff I didn’t want) I would throw a clothes swap with my friends. It’d be fun to put on a chick flick, order a pizza, and have everyone throw their old frocks and purses and things in a pile for people to try on.

It all got me thinking – the environmental impact of keeping up with the Jonses’ .. or Kardashians, for that matter – is just huge!

All the new stuff we buy costs energy and resources to make and then has to be packaged in disposable plastic crap, and shipped in big, dirty trucks around the country or world to get to us. Actually, there are so many more costly, energy-zapping, resource-squelching steps than just that. Most things are manufactured in one area (with all the supplies similarly manufactured and trucked into that area) and then shipped somewhere else for labeling, then shipped somewhere else for packaging, then shipped to a storage warehouse, then eventually shipped to a store where you will buy it and then throw it away five minutes later.

OMG we are wasteful!

Imagine what the environmental impact would be if we all acquired 20% of our possessions from “second hand” sources. It’d be massive! I know, I know .. the word “second hand” sucks! I cringe at it myself at but hey, “vintage” is second hand, right! “Antique” is second hand! It can be cool.

So .. my point, what is my point? Ah yes. Free community resources and cheap, used stuff is awesome! It not only helps you get your finances under control but it makes a huge positive environmental impact, too. This probably seems obvious to most of you but I think we could all do with bringing less new crap into our homes.

The Cave Bear Archetype

My dad asked me a little while ago what animal archetype I thought he was. I told him I really couldn’t answer that because I obviously don’t know him in a romantic sense but that I suspected he was a cave bear. My dad is the type that requires a lot of alone time or “me time” as he has always called it. He really can’t function without at least a few hours of solitude each and every day. He and my mum have also been forced to spend a lot of time apart over the years because of his work that often has him traveling out of state or country for many months on end. I know he struggles with the separations but his cave bear tendency, I’m sure, is what allows him to cope.

Bears are solitary creatures. In the springtime females put out a pheromone that attracts the males and after a few days of flirting, sniffing, neck biting, and wrestling – coitus eventually occurs. After this, the males unceremoniously return to their caves and the females go on to raise their children as single mums.

In my dating adventures I have come across a cave bear or two, myself. They can be really confusing animals because for as much as they love their space, they also love affection. Like teddy bears, cave bears really do love to be loved – but they are also a creature that must retreat. It’s just not in them to be glued to the hip of a mate. They can’t do it. Eventually they need to take some time out.

There are a few cave bears around, like my father, who can successfully commit to a long term relationship but in my experience this is the exception to the rule and the fact that my mum has been able to put up with my dad for all these (over thirty) years has to do with the fact that she is very easy going about his needing cave time.

In contrast to my dad, I find that most cave bears are the types that will have a lot of short term relationships or long term casual relationships over the course of their lives. Committed, long-term relationships are a struggle for them because they often feel smothered. Their alone time is like oxygen to them and if they feel they aren’t getting enough of it, they’ll ditch you – but not before giving you a taste of why bears are so feared by so many.

The iconic book “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” is based on the theory that all men require this kind of alone time and that as women, it is important to respect them this. For cave bears, this is much more than a theory. It’s an absolute truth (x about a million).

If you try to follow a cave bear into his cave or if you sit at the edge of the cave waiting – hoping – for him to come out, he will only stay in there longer. You will only be creating an endless winter for yourself and you will probably freeze to death before you see him retreat from his hibernation and welcome you back with open arms.

If, though, you can allow your cave bear the freedom to hibernate for as long as he needs and in the meantime busy yourself with your own fabulous life, then there’s a good chance you’ll come to see more and more of his sweet teddy bear side and less of his aloof, retreating side – or worse, his vicious predator-side.

The important thing to remember is that there really isn’t a whole lot of interesting stuff happening in the cave, anyway. You might start to go on one of those thought chains that spiral out of control and have you convinced that the cave is full of all-night parties and beautiful women but in actuality it’s much more likely to be filled with Mountain Dew, Doritos, Play Station, the History Channel, cheap beer, lotion, tissues, etc. etc. etc. It’s really not any place you would want to be…

So cheer up, girlies! Don’t worry about your bears when they disappear into their caves. It’s all good and you’re way too amazing to be worrying about all of THAT!

Bye for now!!

Carly xxoxx

ps – after writing this, I’m totally craving Doritos!

pps – I can’t beleive this crazy coincidence .. my mum just told me she sent my dad (who is away on a work assignment) ….. CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR!! How crazy is that!
More like this:
The Tape Worm Archetype
The Flying Fox Archetype
The Bower Bird Archetype

The Bowerbird Archetype

The (Satin) Bowerbird Archetype

The Belief
“I want a man who is kind and understanding. Is that too much to ask of a millionaire?” ~ Zsa Zsa Gabor

The Biology
The Satin Bowerbird is a rainforest dwelling species common to Eastern Australia. It is named after the elaborate “bowers” that the males of the species build as a way to lure in and attract potential mates. The bower is made up of a thatched structure with an arch-like opening. Surrounding the structure is a collection of blue items that the male carefully collects (and in some cases, steals) and arranges thoughtfully. Common decorations include clothes pegs, blue bottle caps, and feathers. His decorating ability improves with age.

The male Bowerbird is not mature until 7 years of age (which is quite ancient for a bird) and prior to that appears much like the females with a greenish body and striped chest and legs. Upon maturity he develops a shiny dark blue plumage. Interestingly, the males with duller plumage tend to build bigger and more impressive bowers than those of bright plumage (a form of primal compensation, perhaps?)

The female Bowerbird is inherently picky. Before choosing a partner she will first snoop around the bowers of all the males in the area (but only when they are away, of course) and have a look at who has the best possessions. From there she will return to the most interesting display to meet the male. In her youth she has little interest in the personality of her mates and choses a partner based solely on his material wealth. As she matures, however, she takes more interest in the personality and charms of her potential suitors and takes particular notice of his dancing abilities. The male has no role in parenting. Both sexes have blue eyes.

The Bowerbird Man
The Bowerbird man has a reputation for being a bit of a ladies man but he means no disrespect. He simply has a love of beautiful things and women are chief among them. In his youth he isn’t what you would call a “man’s man” (or in Australia, a “blokey bloke”). In fact, he is often quite androgynous-looking in his younger years and it is generally not until midlife that he comes fully into his sense of self. As he matures further and transitions into old age he seems to defy the traditional laws of attraction and becomes increasingly appealing to his intended mates. This is often, though, the result of his status moreso than his looks. It is no wonder that Viagra is coloured blue – the most favourite colour of the Bowerbird.

He avoids commitment like the plague. It is not that he doesn’t think his mates are worthy of his undivided attention or that he feels there is something wrong with them – quite the contrary. He just doesn’t understand the point of settling down with one person when there are so many others to explore. Indeed, he is forever meeting new women as he is a regular at the local night club (or whatever local watering hole is most hip) and is never afraid to invite a beautiful woman for a dance.

The Bowerbird’s financial status also tends to improve as he matures but he must be careful not to lose it with his habit of extreme over spending. His home is large and an obvious display of his wealth (or perceived wealth). He regularly drops large sums of money on status items such as cars, electronics, designer clothing, and of course satin sheets! If he is generally unattractive he is even more prone to excess. If unable to pay for this lifestyle through traditional means he will stop at nothing short of lying, cheating, and stealing to maintain his reputation and hold onto his assets. Indeed, many a Bowerbird has been done for insider trading!

The greatest fear of the male Bowerbird is that one day he might lose all the pomp and circumstance he has built up around him. If there is one lesson he would be wise to learn, it is that “there is no use trying to keep up with the Jones’. They’re broke!

The Bower Bird Woman
The Bowerbird woman only wants the best – and why wouldn’t she? She knows that when it comes to love and romance it’s a seller’s market – and she is the hot commodity. She’s known as the “party girl” and the “single and fabulous” girl but her friends worry sometimes that she is too picky when it comes to relationships. They wish that she would give a good, honest guy a chance and not just be constantly rushing home with whoever has the flashiest car. And perhaps they are right but you see it is not the Bowerbird’s nature to be monogamous – or to settle for second rate. She is a chaser of excitement and rich men are often the gateway to an exciting life.

She loves a man who will take her to fancy restaurants, society parties, theatre openings, and who (of course) has an incredible home to use as a kind of adults only theme park. This does not mean, though, that she is shallow and only concerned with material possessions. She isn’t. In fact, the female Bowerbird usually lives in a very modest home. You see, it is not in the owning of items that she is satisfied. She is, instead, looking for the experience of being in the presence of beauty and excitement. Having said that, though, a Bowerbird woman is never going to turn down a gift. She is particularly fond of Sapphires but only if they are quality stones. She knows junk jewellery when she sees it and will not take well to being given something that belongs in a gum ball machine.

An amazing transformation takes place for the Bowerbird woman as she begins to reach the far end of mid-life. Suddenly the thrill of luxury living lessons a bit and she starts to yearn for an emotional or even spiritual connection with a mate. Instead of craving the rush of a packed trendy night club she finds herself looking forward to living room slow dances with a special man that she can have an honest conversation with. If when she arrives at this point in life she finds herself in a rich but loveless marriage she will likely end the relationship and begin looking (probably for the first time) for love. She still, though, would never be caught dead with a postal worker or man of similarly limited means. She is still a Bowerbird, after all!

The Bower Bird / Bower Bird Couple
It is rare for two Bower Birds to pair up as they are both hesitant to limit themselves to a single person and prefer to flutter around amongst a collection of lovers. If they do get together they will likely maintain separate homes for many years into the relationship and it will take a long time for them to become “exclusive”. They might even prefer to be in a long distance relationship, coming together for only short periods periodically throughout the year. In this instance she will either fly to him or the two of them will jet off together to enjoy high end, luxury vacations. They will likely enjoy boating and beach holidays where there is nothing to see but the sparkling blue hues of the ocean and sky – and very often, each other’s eyes.

If they do eventually come to share a home it will be the epitome of style and taste. Theirs will be the nicest home on the block in the nicest block in town. Their flare for style may even attract the attention of home and lifestyle magazines. They must be very careful, though, not to let their love of luxury catapult them into bankruptcy court!

The Bower Bird / Other Archetype Couple
It is important to remember that rarely do either male or female Bower Birds feel that monogamy is natural. Trying to force it upon them will likely ruffle their feathers. This isn’t to say that they won’t want to become monogamous to you at some stage buy most assuredly, nagging and pleading will not get you there any faster. Their distain of monogamy is not personal and it is desperately important for you to not take offence. It is simply their nature to remain free an unattached. If you are dating a Bower Bird you would be wise to keep your options open and not put too much heed on the potential that you see. Keep in mind, though, that most humans do tend to evolve through many archetypes over the course of their life so don’t be surprised if by treating your Bower Bird well he/she suddenly turns into a swan.

Famous Bowerbirds
Zsa Zsa Gabor, Hugh Hefner, The Great Gatsby (although he was a Bower Bird/Swan hybrid)

More like this:
Intro to Animal Archetypes
The Tape Worm Archetype
The Flying Fox Archetype