What Women Want-What Men Want: Why the Sexes Still See Love and Commitment So Differently / Edition 1

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Following the work of E. O. Wilson, Desmond Morris, and David Buss, What Women Want—What Men Want offers compelling new evidence about the real reasons behind men's and women's differing sexual psychologies and sheds new light on what men and women look for in a mate, the predicament of marriage in the modern world, the relation between sex and emotion, and many other hotly debated questions.
Drawing upon 2000 questionnaires and 200 intimate interviews that show how our sexual psychologies affect everyday decisions, John Townsend argues against the prevailing ideologically correct belief that differences in sexual behavior are "culturally constructed." Townsend shows there are deep-seated desires inherited from our evolutionary past that guide our actions. In a fascinating series of experiments, men and women were asked to indicate preferences for potential mates based on their attractiveness and apparent economic status. Women overwhelmingly preferred expensively dressed men to more attractive but apparently less successful men, and men were clearly inclined to choose more attractive women regardless of their professional status. Townsend's studies also indicate that men are predisposed to value casual sex, whereas women cannot easily separate sexual relations from the need for emotional attachment and economic security. Indeed, wherever men possess sexual alternatives to marriage, and women possess economic alternatives, divorce rates will be high. In the concluding chapter, Townsend draws upon the advice of couples who have maintained their marriages over the years to suggest ways to survive our evolutionary predicament.
Lucidly and accessibly written, What Women Want—What Men Want shows us why we are the way we are and brings new clarity to one of the most intractable debates of our time.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A well-written, well-researched, and fascinating read."—Library Journal

"Townsend has focused on some very interesting test cases—in particular, women medical students who anticipate having high status and high incomes, and extremely sexually active women. These seemingly exceptional cases are exceedingly interesting, because they prove (test) the rules. Townsend's basic message is that the sexes are not more similar than they appear, they're less similar; they are not becoming more similar now, and they are unlikely to become more similar any time soon."—Donald Symons, Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara

"John Townsend's interviews constitute a useful addition to the rapidly growing literature on the evolutionary psychology of dating and mating, laying bare just how different the goals of women and men remain."—Marin Daly, Psychology Department, McMasters University, Ontario

Library Journal
In this book, Townsend makes years of scholarly research accessible to the general public. The research, including 2000 questionnaires, 200 interviews, and an extensive bibliography, indicates that men and women across many cultures have evolved a psychobiological response to sexual relationships. Men want young, beautiful women and casual sexual relationships; women look for committed relationships with men of wealth and status. Even among "liberated" individuals, these statements hold true. Townsend, a professor of anthropology who has published many scholarly articles, explores why this hasn't changed despite the changing sex roles and economies of modern American society. A well-written, well-researched, and fascinating read; recommended.Elizabeth Caulfield Felt, Holland Lib., Washington State Univ., Pullman
Kirkus Reviews
Forget the sexual and feminist revolutions, says Townsend; men and women want what they have always wanted over the decadesþand centuries and millennia, for that matter. In a nutshell, posits Townsend (Anthropology/Syracuse Univ.), men who engage in þdating and matingþ are looking primarily for physical attractiveness in women; women seek men who have þstatus and earnings powerþ and who will emotionally and materially þinvestþ in them. Such proclivities, he argues, are largely hard-wired into us by evolutionary psychology. Thus, for example, studies show that men are far more easily aroused by visual stimuli, while womenþs fantasies deal more with men who will provide security and caring (thus, pornography is overwhelmingly purchased by males, romance novels by females). Such proclivities are little affected by some womenþs newfound economic status; even economically self-sufficient or otherwise high- achieving women, such as medical students, often resist dating lower-status men, even if theyþre perceived as handsome. Nor does marital status or gender orientation play much of a role (Townsend cites studies that reveal that the differences between what gays and lesbians seek in lovers are even more pronounced than between male and female heterosexuals). But his book suffers from methodological (not to mention stylistic) problems. Townsendþs sample of interviewees is somewhat skewed (a quarter of these 200 were medical students, while another quarter were Mexican-Americans); some of his statistics are meaningless (þBlumstein and Schwartz found that women in their twenties with three children have a 72 percent chanceof remarrying, while women in their thirties with no children have a 60 percent chanceþ); and he also is too focused on the þmacroþ picture; there is almost nothing here about how individual psychology or cultural conditioning affects the search for, and selection of a partner. An interesting but flawed sociobiological analysis what men and women want from each other.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195131031
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 4/1/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 7.90 (w) x 5.30 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

John Townsend is Associate Professor of Anthropology, The Maxwell School, Syracuse University. He is the author of Cultural Conceptions and Mental Illness and lives in Syracuse, New York, with his family.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Attractiveness, Sexuality, and Choosing Mates 1
1 Women's and Men's Sexualities: Differences in Arousal, Goals, and Selectivity 11
2 Emotional Alarms: The Link Between Sex and Love 37
3 What Do Women Want? Women's Perceptions of Sexual Attractiveness 61
4 Choosing Partners for Marriage: Male Status and Female Competition 83
5 What Do Men Want?: Men's Criteria for Choosing Partners 103
6 The Dating-Mating Market: The Man Shortage and Marriage Squeeze 121
7 Romance, Male Dominance, and the Quest for Investment 145
8 What Men and Women Want in Marriage 165
9 Who Does the Diapers and the Dishes? The Domestic Division of Labor 187
10 Are Men and Women Alike Around the Globe?: Sex in China and Somoa 209
Conclusion: Coping with Sex Differences and Cultural Change 233
Notes 251
References 271
Index 283
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2007

    Excellent Book on Dating and Relationships

    The most comprehensive book on human sexual behavior. It is written at a level that can be easily understood by most people. It should be required reading for everyone -- from high school and college students who are entering into the dating realm, to happily married couples who want a deeper understanding of their partners sexual psychology. This book provides individuals with a better understanding of the dynamics behind dating and why their partners act and desire the things they do. The people who have written negative reviews about this book are merely in denial about the realities of the human experience. This book provides valuable, validated information that is critical to understanding human behavior in both sexes. It allows the reader to understand and leverage information to make better informed decisions regarding lifestyle choice, mate selection, and relationship expectations.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2000

    retitle it - what the patriarchy wants

    As with many 'gender difference' books,the writers proceeds to explain their theory by applying once again that we are 'hard wired' to behave differently when it comes to sex and relationships. The writers is walking on thin ice when he makes several references to women and men as a group and overlooks the individual differences and cultural influences on behavior. Women want status and men want beauty,yet isn't this part of a social structure rather than a biological fixed order.Women are viewed as lower on the scale,always looking for a surviver of the fittest male to support and protect them,hence keeping women in a sort of legitimized bonage to male superiority supposedly in survival tactics and agression. The male arises to the top,women are merely there to be attractive and to snare the most wealthy and strong man.Women aren't interested in beauty because it doesn't offer them protection and support - might I have missed the gene pool somewhere along the way .

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