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Female Lizards: Superbly Manipulative 43

Posted by timothy
from the incredibly-promiscuous dept.
sireenmalik writes "CNN is running a story, Battle of the sexes winner is a lizard. Now how many of you are being Lizarded like that? Guys take a break from your computers ... find out which 'fancy rocks' your girlfriend is thinking about?!?!? Now you know who really is the boss? ;)"
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Female Lizards: Superbly Manipulative

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  • by sideshow (99249) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @06:52PM (#4603099)
    Because in the four years I've been reading slashdot this writeup is the hardest to comprehend.
  • by Alethes (533985) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @07:11PM (#4603279)
    WASHINGTON (AP) -- In the eternal war between the sexes, the lady side-blotched lizard wins it all: she selects her many mates, decides where they'll live and even determines if they will have sons or daughters.

    I know women like that.
  • From the article: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bobulusman (467474) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @07:28PM (#4603449)
    "This is the ultimate example of a female having her cake and eating it too...It would be like a human female who marries a short, dumpy rich guy and then has an affair with a muscular 20-year-old to have a handsome son who grows up in a mansion and goes to the best schools."
    A cool article, but that author spent entirely too much time thinging about that analogy.

    I find the fact that the females seem to be able to decide which male to produce a certain gender with very fascinating. Either the article is over simplified, or these lizards can do some really neat stuff.
    • Re:From the article: (Score:4, Informative)

      by nellardo (68657) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @07:44PM (#4603586) Homepage Journal
      This is the ultimate example of a female having her cake and eating it too...It would be like a human female who marries a short, dumpy rich guy and then has an affair with a muscular 20-year-old to have a handsome son who grows up in a mansion and goes to the best schools."

      A cool article, but that author spent entirely too much time thinging about that analogy.
      Watch the quote marks - the scientist spent too much time thinking up the analogy. The CNN science reporter had the good sense to pull the sound-bite and put it nice and early in the article.

      Me, I'd point out that the incredulous tone of the scientist is just a bit too pandering to believe. It feeds right into multiple contradictory stereotypes - the gold-digging slut trophy wife is one, as is the equally ridiculuous and inaccurate (but more socially acceptable) stereotype of marriage as life-long romance for Happily Ever After.

      Lots of animals have exhibited comparable behavior, on both sides of the gender divide. You don't have to go down to obscure lizard species and you don't have to write it off to human perversion/idiocy/unnaturalness. Chimps and bonobos do this. Gorillas do this. Wolves and lions do this. Both genders in a variety of species try to gather exclusive groups of mates under their own control, and both genders "sneak around" outside these ostensibly socially sanctioned constructions.

      • the equally ridiculuous and inaccurate (but more socially acceptable) stereotype of marriage as life-long romance for Happily Ever After

        So you believe life-long romance and living happily every after are ridiculous? Or just that the stereotype is ridiculous?

        Personally, I see enough examples of the former that it seems like a fairly reasonable stereotype to me. The terrible thing about cynicism like yours is that it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you don't believe that a long-term, loving, stable and happy relationship is possible, you'll never do what it takes to have one.

        • Careful of what you speak.....
          So you believe life-long romance and living happily every after are ridiculous?
          Not ridiculous - just unlikely. And more and more unlikely as life expectancies continue to increase. Requiring something unlikely as the only acceptable solution seems, at best, poorly thought out.
          Or just that the stereotype is ridiculous?
          Oh, the stereotype is certainly ridiculous. Anybody that thinks that once marriage is reached everyone lives Happily Ever After has not actully tried to make a committed long term relationship really work. As they say, BTDT.
          Personally, I see enough examples of the former that it seems like a fairly reasonable stereotype to me.
          To which "former" do you refer? It sounds like you mean "life-long romance and happily ever after are ridiculous" but judging by your categorization of me as a cynic, that isn't quite what you meant....
          The terrible thing about cynicism like yours
          I'd be a bit more careful about judging someone a cynic based on one /. post. Or did you actually go to my website and learn about me and my life to know the data from which I'm drawing conclusions? Or (more likely, from your unclear antecedents in referring to "former" statements) did you just leap to an ill-informed conclusion?
          is that it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you don't believe that a long-term, loving, stable and happy relationship is possible, you'll never do what it takes to have one.
          I didn't say that I thought a "long-term, loving, stable and happy relationship" was not possible. I do think it is possible, but I also think it is difficult to acheive in practice and not necessarily the right goal for every human being.

          Now, putting aside what I think, let's look again at what I said (which is not in fact what you seem to think it is). I said that the stereotype of "marriage as life-long romance for Happily Ever After" was "ridiculous and inaccurate." Statistically, approximately 50% of (American) marriages end in divorce. From personal experience, a non-trivial percent of the 50% that don't end up in divorce end up in loveless inertia. That doesn't sound like "life-long romance" to me.

          My point, though, was that the original scientist who produced the quote was simultaneously agog at behavior in this lizard species that is well-documented in a variety of other species and apparently offended that this lizard species wasn't living up to the ideals of monogamous marriage. That's what the scientist seemed to be implying with his analogy of a "woman who has her cake and eats it too."

          Now on this stereotype of marriage as the end goal of romance, I think it's a particularly damaging expectation to place on people. It burdens them with unrealistic expectations. Expecting young couples to meet an ideal that most people never manage, and telling them that there is no other acceptable solution is hurtful and sets these couples up for a lifetime of suppressed emotions, deceitfulness with the person to whom they ostensibly are most committed, and never-ending feelings of inadequacy. You found someone besides your spouse attractive? Burn in HELL!

          Does that really sound like a way to promote love and happiness?

          • Careful of what you speak.....

            I know very well whereof I speak.

            Not ridiculous - just unlikely

            Only if you expect it to just happen by itself.

            Oh, the stereotype is certainly ridiculous. Anybody that thinks that once marriage is reached everyone lives Happily Ever After has not actully tried to make a committed long term relationship really work. As they say, BTDT.

            As I surmised (quite accurately, it appears), you tried, failed, and became cynical in self-defense. I agree that the stereotype would be ridiculous if people assumed that everyone achieves it, but no one with a brain believes any stereotype is universal.

            I'd be a bit more careful about judging someone a cynic based on one /. post.

            Is two posts enough, then?

            Or did you actually go to my website and learn about me and my life to know the data from which I'm drawing conclusions?

            Nope, but apparently I didn't need to, since you were kind enough to confirm my suppositions.

            Or (more likely, from your unclear antecedents in referring to "former" statements) did you just leap to an ill-informed conclusion?

            Sorry about the vagueness of my reference to "former". You figured it out, though, so apparently it wasn't too unclear (though I'll grant that asking two questions and then using "former" to refer to just part of the first was unclear). Regarding leaping to conclusions, there was no leaping required. I didn't make any assumptions about your history at all, I simply responded to the text of your comment. The fact that you respond so aggressively obviously shows that I struck a nerve.

            I didn't say that I thought a "long-term, loving, stable and happy relationship" was not possible. I do think it is possible, but I also think it is difficult to acheive in practice and not necessarily the right goal for every human being.

            I absolutely agree that it's possible, and absolutely agree that it's difficult. I wouldn't presume to say whether it's the right goal for everyone or not, but I think it's a good goal for everyone.

            Statistically, approximately 50% of (American) marriages end in divorce.

            Keep in mind that (a) this is a relatively recent phenomenon and (b) it is another self-fulfilling statement. If most people get divorced then marriage is expected to end in divorce. If you go into it expecting that your marriage may end in divorce, there's a good chance that it will.

            From personal experience, a non-trivial percent of the 50% that don't end up in divorce end up in loveless inertia.

            Only if you allow it to. Tell me: what did you do, in your failed marriage, to keep the romance alive? Did you make a point of taking your spouse on a date weekly? Did you write love letters? Did you take occasional trips together to spend time with each other? Did you make a point of talking daily, even when you didn't feel like it? Did you do small things to surprise your spouse? Did you invent other ways to make your spouse feel loved and important?

            Maintaining a strong relationship over time requires time, effort, dedication and self-sacrifice. It does not require luck. It does not depend on your relative personalities. It does require that there was something to the relationship besides physical attraction to begin with (which is, by the way, a good reason to avoid sex until after marriage, otherwise sex can hide the fact that two people really just don't get along outside of bed).

            My point, though, was that the original scientist who produced the quote was simultaneously agog at behavior in this lizard species that is well-documented in a variety of other species and apparently offended that this lizard species wasn't living up to the ideals of monogamous marriage.

            Yes, the scientist in question clearly has his own issues and difficulties with sex and marriage, and they must be on his mind quite a bit to evoke this transference from the behavior of a lizard. I understood your point just fine, but it wasn't what interested me enough to post. What interested me was the subtext behind your point. I detected a note of bitterness that I felt was worth countering to the general /. population, most of whom are young enough that they haven't BTDT.

            Now on this stereotype of marriage as the end goal of romance, I think it's a particularly damaging expectation to place on people. It burdens them with unrealistic expectations.

            I disagree completely. I do agree that as a society we don't do a very good job of teaching them how to meet those expectations. I have theories about why that is, and about why it wasn't, but I don't think they really matter.

            Some segments of society do a good job of both setting high expectations and teaching people how to achieve those expectations. For example, studies show that only 6% of Mormon marriages (which are for "eternity", setting a very high expectation that marriage does not even end at death) end in divorce. You're likely to assume that just means there are that many more drifting in "loveless inertia". I have no statistics about that, but it's contrary to my observations.

            Expecting young couples to meet an ideal that most people never manage, and telling them that there is no other acceptable solution is hurtful and sets these couples up for a lifetime of suppressed emotions, deceitfulness with the person to whom they ostensibly are most committed, and never-ending feelings of inadequacy.

            No, that's what happened to *you*. Don't assume that it's the same for everyone else.

            Your phrasing is very interesting, however. What is the source of the "suppressed emotions" and, especially, the deceitfulness?

            You found someone besides your spouse attractive? Burn in HELL!

            Not at all. I find many women attractive. In fact, I know many women who I find more physically attractive than my wife. My wife likewise finds many men attractive. We both know this, and we both know that neither of us will ever *act* on that attraction. It's pretty easy, actually: just recognize that a fling with another woman will do a great deal of damage and have very little benefit; remember that your primary goal is to maintain and enhance your marriage; and then exercise some self-control. It's worked pretty well for us for 12 years now. I see no reason why it won't continue to work for another 50, as long as we don't get complacent.

            Does that really sound like a way to promote love and happiness?

            High expectations, coupled with dedication, hard work and self-control sound like a very good way to promote love and happiness. Further, the LDS example would seem to indicate that what's needed is to *raise* expectations, not lower them. On the other hand, setting an expectation for divorce and infidelity seems like a perfect way to create divorce, infidelity and all the accompanying heartache, anger and bitterness.

            • I could tear this reply apart point by point, but it's clear we're arguing from a different set of axioms.

              You're assuming that a traditional monogamous marriage is the right thing - by your lights, no matter how much work you put into, it's worth it, because it is the right thing. (Now who's got a self-fulfilling prophesy?)

              I'm not saying it's wrong. I'm only saying that there are other possibilities. You yourself cite the LDS - famous for supporting non-monogamous marriages until Utah was admitted as a state.

              You keep saying that for me, it's just personal. You admit you know jack about my personal life and situation. Take the blinders off and accept the possibility that what works for you may not work for everyone else. That doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you or with anyone else. It just means that different individuals have different needs.

              • I could tear this reply apart point by point, but it's clear we're arguing from a different set of axioms.

                Not as different as you think, I'll bet. For example, I have no real objections to polygamy (or polyandry). Promiscuity and ephemeral relationships, however, cause all sorts of pain for everyone involved. And it *really* sucks when kids are involved; kids need stability.

                You're assuming that a traditional monogamous marriage is the right thing - by your lights, no matter how much work you put into, it's worth it, because it is the right thing. (Now who's got a self-fulfilling prophesy?)

                First, I'm not talking about "right" or "wrong" (I could, and I have definite views on that, but I haven't mentioned them and I'm not going there now). I'm just talking about what creates a good life. There's no question that the work in question is worth it because the work itself is enjoyable and fulfilling.

                It's well-documented that monogamous, married people tend to live longer and be happier and more sexually satisfied than single people. Sounds like a situation to be recommended, doesn't it? Yet you seem to think it should be deprecated, that it's cruel to suggest it as a goal.

                I'm in no way saying that people are bad or wrong if they choose to do something else -- I'm saying that your bitterness is leading you to trash an institution that is very valuable for the majority of people, and I'm not one to allow that to go unremarked.

                You yourself cite the LDS - famous for supporting non-monogamous marriages until Utah was admitted as a state.

                True, but irrelevant. You were saying that most people are doomed to fail at monogamous marriage and thus that it's cruel to set that expectation. I pointed out that at least one group of significant size has a roughly 94% success rate at monogamous marriage, and that group sets the expectation even higher.

                You keep saying that for me, it's just personal. You admit you know jack about my personal life and situation.

                ... as does everyone else to whom you're pushing your cynical view, and many of them haven't been around long enough to realize that glib statements like the one you started this conversation with are nearly always rooted in personal failure. Note that I said "nearly" always. You may be the exception that proves the rule.

                I'm not judging, criticizing or condemning you or your lifestyle, so cool down. I'm criticizing your decision to push your view (that monogamy sucks) on other people. Monogamy is an excellent choice for the majority of people (keep in mind that although half of marriages end in divorce, only about 25% of people get divorced in their lifetimes -- divorcees tend to go through the cycle more than once), and it's known to produce good results. As such, it's inaccurate in the extreme to say that the stereotype of monogamous marriage producing happy lives is ridiculous.

                That inaccurate statement, unfortunately, is repeated far and wide by embittered people, most of whom don't have any belief that another approach is better, but are just pissed off because it didn't work out for them. In particular, look up the divorce rate among journalists, and then think about the fact that they write the "objective truths" seen by (non-religious) young people who are getting ready to make this most important of decisions.

                Take the blinders off and accept the possibility that what works for you may not work for everyone else.

                I'm fully aware of that. I sugggest you remove the blinders and accept the possibility that your miserable marriage doesn't mean that everyone else, or even most others, are doomed to misery as well.

                • ObLizard: For anyone that's forgotten, this whole rant back and forth between me and "swillden" got started on the basis of one scientist's characterization of a female lizard as "having her cake and eating it too." A scientist getting good press with a sound bite that played up to stereotypes of sexual and marital behavior. I criticized the stereotypes as exactly that - stereotypes.
                  First, I'm not talking about "right" or "wrong" (I could, and I have definite views on that, but I haven't mentioned them and I'm not going there now). I'm just talking about what creates a good life.
                  Do you realize how disingenuous you're being here?

                  You claim you're not talking about "right" and "wrong", and in the next sentence you claim to only be "talking about what creates a good life."

                  It's well-documented that monogamous, married people tend to live longer and be happier and more sexually satisfied than single people. Sounds like a situation to be recommended, doesn't it? Yet you seem to think it should be deprecated, that it's cruel to suggest it as a goal.
                  Do you actually read what I write?

                  I started this sub-thread by criticising stereotypes - I called them stereotypes from the beginning. Stereotypes are, by definition, overbroad - a stereotype may be accurate for a particular example but does not hold for all examples that the stereotype claims to describe. That's what makes it a stereotype.

                  The particular stereotype you claim marks me as a bitter cynic hopelessly scarred by a (presumed) failed marriage was that getting married necessarily led to life-long romance fairy-tale style: "Happily Ever After". As if a one-day event solved all problems for the rest of your life.

                  It doesn't - you know it doesn't, and have said as much yourself by talking about how much effort it is to actually make a marriage work. I agreed that it takes effort to make a marriage work.

                  You assumed that I was condemning all marriages on the basis of my own (again, assumed by you) ostensibly failed marriage. I'm not.

                  I'm criticising the fairy-tale expectation that marriage makes everything better - quoting life expectancy statistics supports the expectation that marriage makes your life better. I don't deny that marriage can make life better for some people. But, as you pointed out yourself, it takes work - it is hardly the magic panacea that fairy tales make it out to be.

                  I'm not judging, criticizing or condemning you or your lifestyle, so cool down.
                  You're being disingenuous. Again.

                  If you aren't criticizing me or my supposed lifestyle (even though you admitted you know nothing about it), why do you keep bringing up my supposedly failed marriage as the supposed source for my (according to you) bitter, harmful, and dangerous attitudes destined to scar all the poor little tender ears of younger /.ers, forever turning them from the ideals of marriage as you conceive it?

                  Have the courage of your convictions. If you frown on me or my life, say so. Don't feed me a placating line about how you aren't, smack in the middle of a diatribe aimed squarely at what you assume about my life.

                  it's inaccurate in the extreme to say that the stereotype of monogamous marriage producing happy lives is ridiculous.
                  You're misquoting and misconstruing to serve your own (quite evident) agenda in support of traditional monogamous marriage as the best and only solution available. I said marriage wasn't a "poof-Happy-Ever-After" kind of affair - it takes work. You agreed. But you went on and implied, repeatedly, that anybody that didn't make a marriage work out simply didn't work hard enough or didn't expect it to work.

                  That's the attitude I see as more harmful.

                  I prefer a more open-minded and tolerant approach that recognizes that monogamous, til-death marriage may not be right for everyone. Don't tell kids "Our way or the highway!" Give them the information to make their own choice.

                  Or do you really prefer to NewSpeak people into being unable to even conceive of anything besides what you think is best?

                  Really, if we stay on-topic for the original post, what this boils down to is a matter of the scientist who made the original quote. I think he was cold-bloodedly playing off of stereotypes to make a good sound bite for a press release. That's not good science. That's good marketing.

                  If that wasn't what the scientist was doing, please, tell me, what was he doing?

        • When you say you "see" plenty of examples just how closely are you looking, or even allowed to look? Do you know all the details of these marriages? Do you know if and when and with who these people may have had or did have affairs with? Unless you're living with all of these couples 24/7 I wouldn't put much stock in what "seems" to be alirght. I grew up next door in an apt building to a perfect couple, well perfect until one day the wife met some new guy at church one day and ran off with him.
  • by tedDancin (579948) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @07:34PM (#4603495)
    "It appears to be ... an incredibly refined ability of the female to manipulate the investment of her partners"

    I knew women these days were reptile-like, but god damn..
    *hears whip crack and yelling.. "get back in the kitchen and make me some pie!"*
  • by arcadum (528303)
    Evolutionary Anthropology which drilled into our heads that *Women* are the most important sex because they determin the fecundity (1.) and are ultimately responsible for the children. 1: Barring things like rape and coersion...
  • by Violet Null (452694) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @08:07PM (#4603784)
    Come on? No fair running the submission through the questionizer filter?!?!?!? Next thing you now, they'll do it to comments, too?

    Oh well? At least everything's spelled correctly?
  • that the women is always the boss in the Marriage. There are a few sayings that the husband should know and use often.
    • "I Love you" - Goes good with chocolate and roses
    • "I'm sorry"
    • "Your right"
    I have found that the best way explaination is given with a Real Life Comic [reallifecomics.com] where they say the woman is always right. (sorry couldn't find it,but I know its there somewhere)
    • by logophage (160591)
      i'm sure you meant "you're right" but maybe you left out the beginning "arrgghh!! look out to your right." i'm sure that's an oft-heard declaimation.
    • I have found that the best way explaination is given with a Real Life Comic where they say the woman is always right.

      Here [reallifecomics.com].

  • nothing new here (Score:3, Informative)

    by rizzo420 (136707) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @08:29PM (#4604014) Homepage Journal
    it's commonly known in most of the natural world (natural world being that world not including human beings), that the female is usually the primary individual in most animal relationships. the males always have to compete for the female, but ultimately she decides which one to mate with based on which one "seems" to be the most "fit". that's usually determined by mating rituals and displays. most of these rituals actually prove to the female that they are very fit. so this isn't some completely new discovery, although it seems that this lizard takes it to a new extreme.

  • What is the evolutionary payoff in making females out of the sperm of the scrawny males?

    Selecting the best males to make males seems to make sense. But why not make females from these males as well, instead of the scrawny ones?

    Is there some reason to believe that males with the best real estate make better females than the males with the best biceps?

    Any theories?


  • I'm a small male on a large rock in a good neighborhood.

    Er....
    • You're in good shape, then, as long as you don't mind your trophy wife having flings with guys who are half your age and twice your size.
  • First time around I read this as

    ...the lady side-blotched lizard wins it all: she selects her many mates, decides whether they'll live...
  • How do the sperm get sorted by sex and father? That is some major chemistry to fit in the stomach of a 1 1/2 inch long animal. Generally males get an advantage by getting in first(squirrels) or having the most sperm (chimpanzees.) Neither of these strategies affect sex or suggest sperm manipulation by the female. In utero sex changes occur in some frogs but these are caused by the chemical balance of the uterus and not genetics. If this really is an inch and a half long genetics lab it would be really cool. (Even better than the human genome project on a Beowulf cluster because it manipulates real dna.) Sorry had to get it in there.
  • and this is different from people in what way?

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