In the 80s it was Madonna's 'Material Girl.' In the 00s it is Kanye West and Jamie Fox's 'Gold Digger.' It is the media perpetuation of the perception of women as nothing more than money and status hungry fiends. In Jane Austen's 'Pride & Prejudice,' one of Mrs. Bennett's opening remarks to her husband concerning Mr. Bingley's arrival in the neighborhood is, "A single man of large fortune; four or five thousand a year. What a fine thing for our girls!" only helped perpetuate this stance for almost two hundred years now. Women across the world want to marry up. Men are quite aware of this notion, although today's endearing term for these women is 'gold digger,' but have you ever stopped to reflect upon why so many women want a man with status, power and wealth?
Surely it has crossed your mind that a woman's desire to have status and money stems form an inherent mooching and chocolate gene whereby she can thus spend her days on the couch watching an endless stream of soap operas while devouring box upon box of bon-bons while on rare occasions providing her husband with some sort of sexual gratification to keep him complacent. Hopefully by now, you have discovered this notion to be completely rooted in myth. If not, try the following on for size.
Let's go back to the beginning. To the most basic fact of sex – reproduction. Men are quite efficient limitless sperm producing factories that roughly produce sperm at the rate of 12 million per hour. Women, on the other hand, always prone to quality, produce a limited number of approximately 400 ova in their lifetime. Before the rise of condoms and birth control, one act of sexual intercourse for a male required, and to this day requires, minimal investment but for a woman can result in an obligatory and energy consuming minimum investment of 9 months. It is this greater initial investment by a woman that makes her a valuable, but limited resource, and also a highly selective mate. Since women of the past risked enormous investment as a consequence of sexual intercourse, evolution favored women who were highly selective. So how did this risk of pregnancy impact our evolutionary desires?
Men differ in thousands of ways and yet only a handful of traits became necessary in a woman's selection criteria. Over hundreds of thousands of years, women's selections focused laser-like on the most adaptively valuable characteristics. Evolution favors men who possess attributes that confer benefits rather than those that impose costs. Why? For hundreds, if not thousands of years, a woman's sole financial resources and security was solely dependent upon a man. It is for this reason that preferences for outie belly buttons and blonde hair and blue eyes did not evolve as our selection criteria. Only traits that insured the survival of a woman and her children became our preferences. While each woman assesses needs individually based upon her unique circumstances, there are a few prevalent universal traits and there is always the assessment on a man's value by looking beyond his current position to his evaluated potential.
Go ahead, continue thinking all women are merely shallow gold diggers but also know that the most ancient and pervasive basis for female choice in the animal kingdom regarding mate selection is his economic capacity. Consider the female Grey Shine bird who chooses her mate based upon his cache. Each male builds a cache comprised of prey animals to use to attract female mates and the males with the largest cache win. Scientists proved this point by decreasing some of the males caches and then noting the lack of female response to those males; thereby clearly demonstrating the females desire to have a mate who can provide for her and her offspring. In humans, a man's power, status and wealth are equitable to the Grey Shine's cache of prey.
Why the need for commitment and monogamy? Throughout evolutionary history, women could garner more resources for children through a single spouse than through several temporary sex partners. In times when women were expected to run the household, care for the children and not enter the business world, how else were they expected to secure their and their children's survival if not through finding a mate who could adequately provide for them? In a world where men made all the rules and kept women behind closed doors, how else was our race to survive aside from women developing preferences for the men who could sufficiently provide food, shelter, defend their territory, protect the children, tutor kids in hunting and the art of war, in the strategy of forming alliances, and transfer status. Items certainly not securable through temporary sex partners.
In 1939 a study was conducted on 18 desirable mate characteristics. The study concluded that women rank financial prospects as two times as important as men. The same study was replicated in 1956 and 1967 and the results were the same. Unfortunately for power challenged men, the sexual revolution of the 60s and 70s failed to change this. Thinking of venturing elsewhere in the world? Think again, the international studies produced very similar results. Women across all continents, all political systems, all racial groups, all religious groups, all systems of mating place more importance than men on good financial prospects.
Face it, women desire men who command a high position in society because social status is a universal cue to the control of resources. In the US, high social status positions are indications of good financial prospects as well as stable providers. In ancestral times, a man's social status was a clear indicator of resources and his ability to provide for a woman and her children as well. It is only natural that this desire has passed on through the ages. While women can earn as much income and achieve the same social status as men now, we can't expect thousands of years of evolutionary imprinting to transform overnight. Besides as Kissinger so eloquently stated, "power is the most potent aphrodisiac." Don't believe him? Look at Donald Trump's wife.
As hierarchies are universal features among human groups and resources tend to accumulate to those who rise in the hierarchy, women solved this adaptive problem by acquiring resources by preferring mates who are high in status. That's right boys, we all want to marry up, despite our own ability to achieve power and monetary success. While modern birth control has eliminated our need to be as selective in choosing sexual partners, our psychology and preferences have evolved over millions of years and will not be changing any time soon. So, how do modern men get women? Easily. Take lessons from Donald Trump.
Considering a woman's evolutionary preferences but her own ability to obtain that which used to be solely obtained through a man, do you think it will be problematic in the realm of dating and relationships?