Monday, November 13, 2006

Moo-sical Monday

If someone had asked me a year ago why I thought it was that men leave women and never come back, I would have said this:

New Cow.

New-Cow is short for New-Cow theory, which is short for Old-Cow-New-Cow theory, which, of course, is short for the sad, sorry truth that men leave women and never come back because all they really want is New Cow.

Animal Husbandry - Laura Zigman

A few years ago I read one of those chick-lit books that struck a chord. At first I laughed it off as typical paranoid woman's business, but then the thought that though it might not be true it certainly sounded true, and felt true, and wait - men all around me kept reaffirming that it was true with the things they kept doing and saying to me, in just a 'wink wink nudge nudge - don't tell the girls this but I'm going to let you in on a little secret' type of way..and I thought. Oh Jesus, maybe it *is* true:

Are men always on the look out for the "new cow"?

The book Animal Husbandry is fiction but it does reference a man called Glen Wilson (whose ideas I don't necessarily promote as my own) who wrote The Great Sex Divide: A Study of Male-Female Differences. The book looks at how basic biological differences between males and females have had important evolutionary and social impact on the genders. And according to Glen, it all comes down to this:

The males of most mammalian species have a definite urge towards seeking variety in their sexual partners. If a male rat is introduced to a female rat in a cage, a remarkably high copulation rate will be observed at first. Then, progressively, the male will tire of that particular female and, even though there is no apparent change in her receptivity, he eventually reaches a point where he has little apparent libido. However, if the original female is then removed and a fresh one supplied, the male is immediately restored to his former vigor and enthusiasm.

And that's that.

And that is also the starting point of the New Cow Theory in Laura Zigman's book. Here, the main character reads an article in the science section of the newspaper about The Coolidge Effect which "describes the re-arousal of a male animal by the introduction of a new female" (click that link and take note of the male ejaculate graph). She generalises this to explain the curious and infuriating behaviour of all men who leave women for seemingly no good reason like: "it's just not going to work" or "I have commitment issues".

I think the premise of the theory was that men say they 'fall out of love' citing incompatibilities or just a general feeling that it's not right. Which they do believe to be true. It's not a lie. BUT really it all comes down to this subconscious biological imperative for 'new cow'

The book goes blahblahblah until at the end something nice happens and all is resolved and explains that perhaps the New Cow Theory is just about women being paranoid: Men really do love us and want to stay with us forever even when we don't shave our legs everyday and get a bit pudgy and wrinkly and grumpy and ...they realise we are just human, just like them. Love trumps biology.

...or does it?

But even after all that I was left still thinking about The New Cow Theory. Why did I think about it? Well, I guess it's because I keep hearing over and over and OVER again from men themselves that men are polyamorous creatures - not suited to monogamy at all (honey) - it's nothing personal, it's just biology, so stop trying to pretend we're monogamous and let's just fuck already! I keep reading it on blogs written by men. I read about it in scientific studies and it keeps being reaffirmed in the actions of men around me both in the public eye and not.

I know there are theories that dispute the The Coolidge Effect and some animals find a mate for life and indeed - if we're thinking that women don't leave then we're really wrong. Women leave plenty. They also cheat. But do we cheat for different reasons? Maybe the men who find one mate for life are like the male species that mate for life - rare. And so I am left with one burning question;

In 50 years time, are we going to see any 50 year marriages? Or have all the bulls found new cows by then?

What do you think? New Cow Theory - truth or bullshit?*

Here's some thinking music - which is from the movie Someone Like You, starring Hugh Jackman and Ashley Judd - and is the film adaptation of the book Animal Husbandry.

The song is Absolutely Cuckoo by The Magnetic Fields - and it has been the reason for my secret smile this week. It's one of those quirky, lovable, whimsical melodies with lyrics that I've fallen in love with and have decided to print out and wear as a sandwich board. It's only fair.

Absolutely Cuckoo - The Magnetic Fields

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* Or is this one of those questions that
-people in love say "bullshit"
-people not in love say "maybe"
-people who have been jilted say "send 'em all to the Big Mac factory"?

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