The dude who runs the Evo and Proud blog has an interesting post about earlier male maturation rates indicating that females may be favoring cads over dads as mates.
There is thus plenty of genetic variation for selection to act on. No need to wait for new mutations. But why would there be natural selection for earlier male puberty?
One reason is that early puberty is genetically linked to other sexual characteristics. In particular, a class of X-linked androgen receptor alleles is linked in males to aggression, impulsivity, sexual compulsivity, and lifetime number of sex partners and in females to paternal divorce, father absence, and early menarche (Comings et al., 2002). It is likely that these alleles also influence male pubertal timing, but research on this point is lacking—apparently because it is difficult to find a marker for pubertal maturation among boys that is as salient as age at menarche among girls (Ge et al., 2007). Early male puberty thus seems to be part of a “package,” or more precisely a reproductive strategy, that affects the way men go about finding a mate. Natural selection may favor one strategy or another, depending on the current cultural environment.
Is natural selection now favoring the “cads” over the “dads”? That might be what’s happening. As sexual relationships become less stable and shorter-term, women will ignore men who are oriented towards stable, long-term relationships.
I am on record as hypothesizing that two major sexual market shifts are pushing boys to earlier puberty: 1. Diversity and 2. Unrestrained female hypergamy.
Diversity of different groups of boys who mature at different rates would tend to favor the selection of boys with alleles for earlier maturity rates, given a sexual market that benefits sexually aggressive cads. Or, late-maturing k-selected boys will conform to the norm for r-selected early-maturing boys instead of the other way around, given a lack of cultural or circumstantial constraints on female sexual choice.
Female hypergamy — women’s desire to mate with the highest status men they can get, given what their looks and willingness to put out can afford them — is the complementary force that pushes evolution to select for earlier maturing, and thus more caddish, boys.
If earlier puberty among boys is real, no matter the cause, and is indicative of women favoring cads over dad, then core philosophical underpinnings and cultural analysis of the dating market found at Le Chateau Heartiste are validated in some measure.
You’ll notice I titled this post “Are the cads outbanging the dads?” That was deliberate, because there remain questions about whether cads are actually breeding more or less than dads. Outbanging is different than outbreeding. A woman could casually ignore potential beta dads throughout her teens and 20s (her prime years) for a sterile ride on the cock carousel with alpha males, only to settle down later with a beta male and bear him 1.8 children. Cheap and easy contraceptives thwart the natural procreation advantage that alpha males would normally have over beta males in the state of nature, so it is very possible that alpha males could be winning the Banging Sweepstakes while losing the Breeding Sweepstakes.
Evidence that cad outbanging and supercharged female hypergamy is occurring resides in the later age of first marriage rates, and the lower overall marriage rate, as well as the higher STD rates among women.
And there is evidence for cad outbreeding as well. Serial monogamy — which is a form of soft polygyny — is on the rise, and men who have had more than one partner have more children than men married to one woman.
On the other side of the debate are the GSS (General Social Survey) gurus who marshal self-reported evidence that dads are winning the breeding wars over cads.
I remain skeptical of the GSS data, but give it its due. My contention has never been that cads are having more children, but rather that cads are having more premarital sex than dads with higher quality (read: better looking) women when those women are in their sexual primes. This, not the discrepancy in fertility rates between alpha and beta males, is the contraceptively-aided shock wave that is roiling the sexual market and upending organic rules thousands, perhaps millions, of years old.
A society of both cad ascendence and civilization is unsustainable and incompatible. One or the other will go, and the pendulum with either swing back to dads or civilization will regress to accommodate the rise of women choosing cads. All social and economic indicators (particularly the debt overhang), and my personal experience in the bowels of the dating market, lead me to be pessimistic about a happy resolution to this building tension. Hopefully, I’m wrong, but in the meantime I’ll do what is necessary to secure my pleasure.