by Dr. Janet Smith
There is an amazing study reported from a book by a man named Lionel Tiger. Lionel Tiger is an anthropologist who studies animal behavior to explain human behavior. Lionel Tiger works with a colleague named Robin Fox, who also is an anthropologist who studies animal behavior to explain human behavior. He works at Rutgers. In the 1960s, as he saw contraception becoming more and more popular, he speculated that male/female relationships would change radically. He did a study in the early 70s that involved a tribe of monkeys. The alpha monkey of this tribe, named Austin, chose three female monkeys to be his exclusive sexual partners. Austin had a grand time with these three female monkeys. Then the researchers injected Austin’s three females with the contraceptive Depo-Provera. Austin stopped having sex with them and chose other female monkeys to be his sexual partners. Then they contracepted all of the females in the tribe. The males stopped have sex with the females and started behaving in a turbulent and confused manner.
Male monkeys at least evidently prefer intercourse with fertile females. Studies also show that males – human males – produce more testosterone when they are around women who have fertile cycles. In fact, men are more attracted to women when they are fertile and women are more attracted to men when the women are fertile.
Once when I mentioned this at a talk in Kansas, a man came up to me and said, “In Kansas, we don’t need studies to show that males are more interested in females when they’re fertile.” He said everyone in Kansas grows up on a farm and we know that when a bull is in a pen with a cow who is not fertile, he is not at all interested. But if the bull is in a barn a mile a way with metal fences in between, the bull will get to the cow when she is fertile.
Tiger speculates that one of the reasons that women are dressing so immodestly is that they’re not attracting men because of their fertility. They have to do sort of bizarre things in order to attract a male. They aren’t attracting them simply by their fertility since they are not having fertile cycles.
Tiger also reports on a study involving tee shirts. The study included two groups of human females, one contracepting, one not contracepting. It also involved a group of males who had been rated for their evolutionary desirability. Men who are evolutionarily desirable are healthy and aggressive and responsible; the other group included those who can’t hold a job, etc. These men all wore a tee shirt for a day. At the end of the day the women smelled the tee shirts. Without meeting the males the non contracepting women chose the evolutionarily desirable males as potentially attractive mates; the contracepting women chose the losers.
Mothers have approached me after my talk and said: “That explains a lot. It explains why my daughter is stuck with that loser.” Other women say, “Now I understand why my son, who is such a marvelous young man, seems to be having trouble finding good young women.”
Janeth E. Smith, B.A., M.A., Ph.D., School of Theology, Fr. Michael J. McGivney Chair in Life Ethics, Professor of Moral Theology. B.A. (Classics), Grinnell College, 1972;M.A. (Classical Languages), University of North Carolina, 1975;(Classical Languages), University of Toronto, 1982. At SHMS 2001-present . This article is a portion of her article “Contraception, why not”