I think Khethil plainly states a good point that was somewhat implied in VideCorSpoon and my previous posts; namely that this issue is a complex one. Behaviors in social animals can get very complicated.
Task allocation and partitioning of social insects - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Eusociality - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Almost Human, and Sometimes Smarter - The New York Times
Since humans have culture (and chimps could probably be said to as well) behaviors that may have originally been adaptations of some sort can change over time into something more complex, with a life of their own. So far I've basically attempted to explain the behaviors that are the topic of this thread from an Evolutionary Psychology
perspective. The issues of why females go to greater lengths to enhance their appearance than males aren't initially easily explicable though. But I think this is because of culture. Evolutionary processes set the foundations for behaviors, and culture morphs them into something at least slightly (and sometimes probably greatly) different.
In nature we often find that it is the MALES that have enhanced their appearance instead of the females. The males of other species don't wear makeup obviously, but they have resource-draining physiological structures that may serve as nothing more that to make them hot stuff to the femles.
That would be the male peafowl displaying his extravagent tail as the relatively plain looking peahen checks him out.
In sheep the large horns of the male have utility other than making them attractive to females, but that utility is only to make them able to fight with other males for... you guessed it, the right to mate with females.
Bighorn Sheep are named for the large, curved horns
borne by the males
, or rams. Females
, or ewes, also have horns, but they are short with only a slight curvature.
Bighorn Sheep - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Prior to the mating season or "rut
", the rams attempt to establish a dominance hierarchy that determines access to ewes for mating. It is during the prerut period that most of the characteristic horn clashing occurs between rams, although this behavior may occur to a limited extent throughout the year.
We find that in nature it is usually the males who demonstrate appearance enhancement because of the concept of parental investment
. In most species it is the female that makes the greater investment, and thus they must be picky in their choice of which males to mate with. Hence the males must compete, often in behaviors and appearance, to be chosen by the females. This concept is explained well in the following passage:
The Great Debate: Sexual Selection
...why female as opposed to male choice? In order to explore this, it is worth introducing the term parental investment. Parental investment (PI), an idea first introduced by R. L. Trivers, is defined as any investment by a parent in one of her (his) offspring that increases the chance that the offspring will survive at the expense of that parent's ability to invest in any other offspring (alive or yet to be born). PI then includes the provision of a wide range of resources such as food, energy and time expended obtaining food and maintaining the home or nest; time spent teaching children and risks taken to protect young. In terms of PI, there is a fundamental asymmetry between the sexes - females have an initial investment in their offspring far greater than that of males because female gametes (eggs) are much more costly to produce than those of males (sperm). This means that a female can have only a limited number of offspring, whereas a male can have a virtually unlimited number, provided that he can find females willing to mate with him. Thus females generally need to be much choosier about who they mate with. The criteria for what constitutes a good choice of male will vary considerably from species to species, but the basic point about female choice remains.
Eggs are more costly to the female to produce than sperm is to the male, and there's also the issue of the gestation period where the female's resources are physically tied up in the offspring. She's also unable to mate during pregnancy, while the male can, in theory, impregnate many other females during the orginal female's gestation period.
Now that's all very interesting (well, to me anyway!) but it doesn't explain human women's
obsession with makeup and their appearance in general. If we think about it, I think we realize that men are also concerned with how they are viewed by women, it just maifests iteself in different ways. Males want to look strong and muscular, and make it a point to act tough and macho to the point of sometimes getting in fist fights just to prove how tough they are. But if women are the gender that is picky about their mates, then why the excessive amounts of time spent on their appearances? I think it is the result of a confluence of factors involving the complexity of both human psychology and culture. I don't claim to be positively certain of which factors are most relevant, and in what proportions, but I do have some ideas.
1. Monogamy - Monogamy could balance out the parental investment between males and females. Since humans are generally monogamous the parental investment of the male becomes nearly as significant as that of the female. The male agrees not to go off impregnating other females and to help support the children thus greatly increasing his PI. If humans were generally polygamous this could theoretically reduce males' PI relative to the females' and the females could go back to being almost exclusively choosey about mates and not being the ones to worry excessively about their looks. I'm not well educated on tribal cultures, but I believe it's true that many of them are polygamous. I believe it's also true that tribal males are the gender that has the obsession with appearance. They wear makeup and extravagent headpieces and regalia if I'm not mistaken. This would seem to support my hypothesis.
2. Factors that make women more social than men, and thus more dependent on social affirmation - These factors likely have biological roots, and have been affected by culture over time.
Women also speak more quickly, devote more brainpower to chit-chat - and actually get a buzz out of hearing their own voices, a new book suggests.
The book - written by a female psychiatrist - says that inherent differences between the male and female brain explain why women are naturally more talkative than men.
Women talk three times as much as men, says study | Mail Online
And, if that wasn't enough, the simple act of talking triggers a flood of brain chemicals which give women a rush similar to that felt by heroin addicts when they get a high.
Sorry, but women are dependent on men | Mail Online
Quite simply, women are preprogrammed to feel dependent on men. Even today women may be richer and enjoy all the trappings of success but, deep down in their psyche, they fear they can't survive alone.
These factors could contribute to a greater need of social affirmation in women and serve to counteract the force typically observed in nature involving PI and the ability of females to be picky about their mates and thus be less concerned with appearance.