The biology of why guys are obsessed with lesbians

From gay to straight and everything in between, there is an enormous amount of sexual inclinations out there and every last scintillating one of them is natural. There is not one mating system that humans have thought of that an animal did not think of first. Sex is, after all, an animal act.

The obsession so many men have with lesbians, though, has always perplexed me. Lesbian porn, in particularly, is baffling. It’s not really made for lesbians; it’s made for straight men. They love it so much that they regularly destroy their monthly internet download limits in their pursuit of it, and for what? As Susan from “Coupling” pointed out, “it’s a whole area of sex with nothing for them to do”.

Women don’t seem to share this obsession with homosexual behaviour in the opposite sex. Sure, we love our gay boys but you don’t see us crawling under the covers with a rabbit, an iPad, and some gay male porn. It just doesn’t do for us what it does for them. Why is that? Well, once again I suspect it has to do with our evolution.

Female koalas will mount one another when there is a hunky male around

Homosexual behaviour has been documented in over 1500 species and well-studied in about 500. More often than not this “homosexual” behaviour has to do with female/female interactions rather than male/male interactions (although there are plenty of documented accounts of those as well). The most common female/female sexual interactions that you see don’t seem to be inspired by a genuine attraction of a female to another female as much as its a way to for the females to signal to the males that they are ready to be mated. Females are not fertile all the time so homosexual behaviour is one way that they can signal to males when they are. Its comparable to girls making out with each other in night clubs as a way to get the attention of men. Males don’t need to use this same technique to signal to us when they are ready to mate because they are always ready to mate. They don’t have cycles of fertility like we girls do.

Cows are one of these species famous for lesbian behaviour. The girls will regularly mount one another when they are in heat which researchers think is partly to do with their peaking oestrogen levels (which make them feel uncontrollably sexual) and partly to do with their needing a way to signal to the males that they are fertile. My research advisor at the University of Queensland is studying this same behaviour in koalas. Captive female koalas will mount one another when there is a male koala around but, interestingly, not if they are left alone. Sometimes they will reject the advances of the male, though, and continue on with the lesbian escapade. Why this happens is a biological mystery.

Because of this way that many female animals will display homosexual behaviour when they are in heat or otherwise ready to mate, male animals seem to be forever on the lookout for signs of girl-on-girl action. With this in mind, it makes perfect sense that a man would get a rise out of watching lesbians in action. There must be some ancient, primal, instinctual thing happening in men (most of them, anyway) that recognises female homosexual behaviour as a sign of female fertility and mating-readiness.

Let it be known, though, that while it appears that many female animals act homosexual as a way to attract males, there are plenty of truly homosexual female animals who don’t seem to be, in any way, seeking male attention by way of their behaviour. The classic example is the swan family. Swans are known for being exceptionally loyal in terms of mate choice. Swan couples generally stay together for life and it is not uncommon for them to choose a mate of the same sex. Probably the most famous lesbian swan couple lives in Boston Public Garden but there have been many others documented elsewhere.

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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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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

The Flying Fox Archetype

Part two of my exploration into animal archetypes.

The Belief
“Who needs great love when you have great lovers”

The Biology
The flying fox is a large species of fruit bat with a head that resembles a fox. They are believed to be descended from primates and of Australian animals, are the species most closely related to humans. Their loves lives centre around a local dominant male whose role in the community is to breed with every female (over the age of two). Sometimes females will also seek out the services of additional lovers as they are not the shy, submissive types and if “in the mood” will not simply wait around for the dominant male to be free.

Sexual selection (ie female insistence) has favoured in this species males who are extremely good lovers. They are particularly adept at felacia and during the mating season become true sex machines, maintaining a full or partial erection round the clock and forsaking sleep in favour of sex. Males also have genitalia of porn star proportions but because they rely on being light-weight to fly, do not have the option of carrying around both large genitalia and large brains (unlike humans- although this is yet to be determined). As a result, male Flying Foxes do not have much for grey matter. Females are likely the thinkers in Flying Fox society and are also exceptionally good mothers. They depend on the support of the community’s large female population for help in raising offspring.

The Flying Fox Man
Few archetypes have the sex drive of the male Flying Fox. He is bold, he is persistent, and he knows what he is doing. The Flying Fox man understands the art of lovemaking and will go out of his way to make sure you never walk away unsatisfied. He will happily lavish hours of attention on you, forsaking sleep if necessary, to bring you to a point of such ecstasy you pass out in sheer delight. Indeed, his tongue is as adept as his manhood which is unsurprising considering it gets a daily workout sucking the nectar out of flowers and indulging in fleshy, summer fruits.

You must be warned, however, that the flying fox man sees it his duty in life to share his gifts with the world – or at least, with the other females in his range. If you have been entertaining visions of white dresses and babies, you might be wise to look elsewhere. It is possible that he may succumb to social pressure and attempt to become a faithful partner but at the end of the day, this is simply not his true nature. The Flying Fox man is also, as much as we love him, not the brightest crayon in the box. He converses well in bedroom banter but should the topic move to politics or psychology he will likely go mute. Let’s face it, though, girls – with a man like this there isn’t much need for conversation!

Interesting Sidenote – In humans, just as in Flying Foxes, there is a correlation between intelligence and promiscuity. Dr Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist from the London School of Economics and Political Science, has discovered that the higher a man’s IQ, the less likely he is to cheat on his partner.

The Flying Fox Woman
The female Flying Fox is not merely interested in a male who can bring her children (as is common in the animal kingdom). This lady requires a confident lover who is well practiced in the art of love making. She has no patience for a man who doesn’t know what he is doing nor does she have the time for a needy man. She also has difficulty stomaching “romance” and post coitus, expects her lovers to go back to wherever it is they came from. Do not, however, think that this woman is cold hearted. If she has children she holds then at the forefront of her life but instead of relying on a man for support in raising them, looks instead to the her vast community of female friends and family. In many ways she has it all – great sex, an active social life, and more than likely a highly successful career.

It should be noted, though, that the Female Flying Fox is actually a very rare archetype. Many women believe themselves to be Flying Foxes when in actuality they desire a loyal and loving mate but have put walls around this desire after having been burned in a past relationship. They fear what pain may arise should they allow themselves to be vulnerable and so they take on Flying Fox form as a way to feel in control. For these women, taking on this archetype might bring temporary excitement but will be ultimately unfulfilling. Any woman who believes herself to be a Flying Fox should consider researching other archetypes to see if, in fact, her true nature lies elsewhere.

The Flying Fox / Flying Fox Couple
It is rare that two flying foxes will ever pair up as these both male and female of this archetype are extremely self-sufficient, preferring to come together only at times of breeding. On the rare event that two flying foxes do settle down together, they will likely label themselves as being in an “open relationship” and will both enjoy the company of other lovers in addition to each other. This couple will also likely separate for large periods of time to partake in their own individual interests and to enjoy the company of their friends. When reunited, however, they have the best sex life in town!

The Flying Fox / Other Archetype Couple
If you are not a flying fox but are dating a flying fox, you must be a very tolerant person, indeed! Flying foxes are best enjoyed while on vacation or in situations where you only expect them to “hang around” on a casual basis as monogamy is not the natural state for those of this archetype. Flying foxes enjoy the freedom of the night’s sky and do not take well to being caged, often sneaking away to spend time on their own or to find excitement via the way of secret lovers. If you are dating a male Flying Fox you will likely tire eventually of his inability to maintain his end of a conversation. If you are dating a female Flying Fox you will likely tire of her fierce independence and tendency to resent any action which she may perceive as “suffocating”. If you find yourself struggling with these inherent archetypal traits, it is usually best to simply enjoy what it is your Flying Fox can offer you and then set them free to fly off into the night.

Famous Flying Foxes
Katharine Hepburn, Samantha Jones from Sex and the City, Tiger Woods

More on this:
Intro to Animal Archetypes
The Bowerbird Archetype
The Tape Worm Archetype