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There is a lot of research citing that men are more physically primed for sex than women. Graziottin (2004) discusses this difference and other differences of strength and vulnerabilities between the sexes:

The clinical correlate of the neurobiological condition is that men have a stronger, more biologically and genitally focused sexual drive, expressed more as lust (7). Women tend to have a romantically driven sexual drive with a more relational expression and emphasis on intimacy (6,7). Women have a stronger oestrogen priming of two other basic emotions command systems, the fear- anxiety and the panic with separation-distress, which contribute to and modulate their parenting abilities and social bonding skills (2,19). The gender-based different biological modulation of seeking pathways in men and women may be an important contributor to different desire vulnerability in the sexes, both in the early phases of a relationship and later stages of a long-term relationship (34,35).

Is it really fair to say that men are more inclined to benefit by casual sexual encounters than women, or is this a presumption stemming from social-stereotyping?

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    $\begingroup$ I seem to remember that the situation for women has changed in recent years: in the wake of equal rights and financial independence, more women have begun to indulge in casual sex, from one night stands to sex tourism to paying gigolos. Besides that, there have always been a multitude of female nude models, porn stars, and prostitutes. A local website for amateur escorts lists around 20 locally resident female escorts in a town with a population of 50.000 women. And since these are extreme cases of sexual non-romanticism, I would assume that a large part of the rest of the women are [contd.] $\endgroup$ – user3116 Oct 31 '13 at 16:12
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    $\begingroup$ [contd.] equally "cool" and unromantic about sex or situated somewhere along a continuum from romantic to unromantic. $\endgroup$ – user3116 Oct 31 '13 at 16:14
  • $\begingroup$ @what I am citing what the researchers tell me, so it must be true! lol Care to refute in an answer??? Would love to hear.. the more diverse ideas the better... btw I am studying a double degree, one major in programming, one in philosophy :) $\endgroup$ – user10932 Oct 31 '13 at 16:38
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One factor that should be considered is the culture surrounding casual sex and the social judgments that men and women may experience as a result of casual sex. Conley, Ziegler, and Moors (2012) report a series of experiments conducted on an American university campus that show that women who accept offers of casual sex are perceived more negatively on a variety of dimensions than men. In their experiments:

  • Subjects judged women who accepted offers of casual sex as being "less intelligent, less mentally healthy, more promiscuous, less competent, and more risky" than men who accepted offers of casual sex.
  • When subjects imagined a hypothetical offer of casual sex, men were more likely to accept than women. Subjects were given a series of questionnaires to examine their attitudes towards offers of casual sex. A mediation analysis indicated that "part of the reason that women are less likely to accept casual offers than men is that women perceive that they will be evaluated more negatively for accepting the offer (or more positively for rejecting the offer) than men do."
  • Similar results were found when subjects recalled a recent offer of casual sex, and imagined the reactions of people had they accepted the offer.

Thus, social stigma seems to play a significant role in how men and women perceive casual sex, which may explain the relative willingness of men and women to engage in casual sex. This particular set of social stigmas will certainly not be universal across cultures, and the point of this answer is not to suggest that the experiences of American college students are universal. What is likely to be universal is the idea that the culture surrounding casual sex will have a direct impact on how men and women choose to engage in casual sex.

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My point I find that it is fair to say men benefit from casual sex encounters more than women.


Evidence In the Penguin publication the "Red Queen" by Matt Ridley, he writes:

Throughout our evolutionary history, men and women have faced different sexual opportunities and constraints. For a man casual sex with a stranger carried only a small risk - infection, discovery by the wife - and a potentially enormous reward: a cheap addition of an extra child to his genetic legacy. Men who seized such opportunities certainly left behind more descendants than men who did not. Therefore, since we are by definition descended from prolific ancestors rather than barren ones, it is a fair bet that men possess a streak of sexual opportunism. Virtually all male mammals and birds do, even those that are mainly monogamous... men are more likely to be tempted by an opportunity for casual sex than women.

So, Ridley states that because men who were more promiscuous left more offspring. Modern men too posses a streak of sexual opportunism inherited from their ancestors. On the other hand, he writes of women:

Women are likely to be different. Having sex with a stranger not only encumbered a Pleistocene woman with a possible pregnancy before she had won the man's commitment to help rear her child, but it also exposed her to probable revenge from her husband if she had one, and to possible spinsterhood if she did not. These enormous risk were offset by no great reward. Her chances of conceiving were just as great if she remained faithful to one partner and her chance's of losing the child without a husband's help were greater. Therefore women who accepted casual sex left fewer rather than more descendants, and modern women are likely to be equipped with a suspicion of casual sex.

This provides an evolutionary explanation as to why the two sexes behave differently. However, Ridley does account for social pressures writing:

A modern women is exposed to pressure from men to be sexually uninhibited, but she is also exposed to the same pressure from other women. Likewise, men are under constant pressure to be more 'responsible', sensitive and faithful - from other men as well as well as from other women.

So he also acknowledges that this could be skewed by people pressuring women to be more promiscuous and men to be less so. However, I found conflicting evidence to one of Ridley's assertions: that men are not as pressured by other men to avoid casual sex. Personally, I agree with the conflicting evidence, which can be found here under the title: "Social Psychology and Human Sexuality: Essential Readings", page 156. I quote:

Of particular interest was the fact that the male peer groups agreed to support each other in their efforts to obtain sexual experiences during the vacation, whereas the female peer groups were more likely to agree to support each other in refraining from sex.


Discussion of above evidence Taking the arguments and research above into account, I would say that in terms of genetic legacy men benefit more in that they are able to have more offspring from casual sex, without having to raise them. Socially it is difficult to say, for example, women, who are caught having casual sex, may be rejected by their partners, who don't want to raise a child that isn't there own, and thus have no support in raising the potential offspring. Also, looking at the evidence above, it seems that their friends don't support casual sex and thus they may be scolded or even rejected by them. However, I have inferred this from the evidence and cannot say with certainty. There could also be repercussions for males, for example, would a prospective female partner want to reproduce with a male whom she knows has had casual sex with multiple women? What's to say they won't do it again? So, it is possible that social repercussions also would happen for men.

Conclusion As a final concluding argument, I will say: casual sex has more genetic benefits for men, as it is an easy opportunity to extend their genetic legacy. The full social repercussions are unclear for both sexes, however, it is likely both sexes face negative repercussions, if found out. Both sexes can potentially face negative consequences but the male will always earn the greatest potential benefit from casual sex: new offspring, with no parental investment on his part.

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    $\begingroup$ I think this answer depends way too much on one particular source that is mostly theoretical; that's not always a problem, but in this case I think it could be. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause May 23 at 1:25
  • $\begingroup$ "Therefore women who accepted casual sex left fewer rather than more descendants" - that's a great insight here. Thanks. $\endgroup$ – Kai Noack May 26 at 8:36
  • $\begingroup$ @KaiNoack No worries. $\endgroup$ – user32575 Jun 2 at 9:29
  • $\begingroup$ @BryanKrause I was thinking the same thing towards the end. However, the book itself relies upon multiple articles and papers published in journals so I trust it. I also included one other source. It's not comprehensive, just a suggestion. $\endgroup$ – user32575 Jun 2 at 9:30

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