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Body Combat - Reflections on Evolution and Aging

How the sexes age and how they deal with it

And so to some reflections on evolution and the question of how the sexes age and how they deal with it…..

We start with the usual disclaimer, there are always exceptions to the best understood pattern. We all know of the ancient Aunty who lived to be over 110 despite smoking 60 unfiltered cigarettes a day and brushing her teeth with gin. All good, whether generally an urban myth or not, but not the norm. The medical statistics tell us that one or other, or worse both in combination will almost certainly result in an outcome which profits the undertaker sooner than later.

So are there any general observations which may ring true about the way the different sexes age. Or maybe that should be not only how we age but how we look at the process and deal with it. Let’s start with the generally more aesthetically pleasing sex. Since the dawn of time men have been under the illusion that they are the ones making the running in the mating dance. At first they were inclined to the club and hair- pulling approach to a mate. This however they gradually realised could lead to an unwelcome return to the cave after a day foraging and a spear in an uncomfortable place. They were also driven by the ‘any port in a genetic storm’ approach to mating. Spread it around and hope for the best.

Women on the other hand were programmed to be somewhat more selective. At first this probably meant a finely tuned ability to apply the knee to the crotch of unwelcome suitors. After a while they rationalised this as being costly in energy, and strategy two emerged. They spotted the fact that enhancing their natural differences generally resulted in attracting a much wider selection of potential mates. Some of these even maintained reasonable levels of personal hygiene and were acceptably disease and infestation free. Emphasising the face or body through the judicious use of coloured paints drew the attention of the more observant men to the fact that not all the women had full growths of facial hair. Likewise the strategic deployment of ornaments could emphasis the delicacy of a neck or ears and in a further refinement a hint of exposure of certain parts of the body could generate a surprisingly dramatic increase in male enthusiasm.

There almost certainly followed a period of reflection while both sexes tried to make head or tail of the fact that if they had been introduced to each other from another planet they would probably have fought to the death. Even at this early stage in pre- history however they had learnt through experience and folk law passed down from elders, that no mating meant no children meant no tribe, and also that mating could be a pleasurable distraction from the day to day routine of eating and dying.

As the human race evolved there came a revelation to women. What was held up, mainly by the rich elite, as the perfect woman or man was actually a myth. The sexes for whatever reason had personal preferences. Fatter, thinner, more body hair less body hair, muscular, wiry and so on. This had less impact on men as they were still working on the ‘any port in a storm’ principle. Women spotted this subtlety much more quickly,  but unfortunately then developed a widespread susceptibility to believing the ‘perfect shape theory’, a problem they have wrestled with ever since. All of this was further complicated by the fact that in the early days of evolution the small brain and large muscle species were dominant. As the species developed the possessors of the large brain and natural cunning seemed to be gaining the ascendancy, a fact noted by the women in the process of selecting the lucky mate.

So we come to the differences in the way that we generally respond to age. Men having been accepted as a mate were happy to say ‘job done’ and revert to their natural preference for sitting in groups eating large volumes of fats and carbohydrates and playing games such as ‘spot the mammoth’. Baldness and the signs of aging were mostly accepted as just a fact of life. Women on the other hand having often devoted considerably more energy to maintaining their appearance developed a deep routed genetic fear of the sagging Hush Puppy look. This has had different pros and cons for the sexes. Men in particular and occasionally women were sometimes slow in this period of evolution to realise that they had choices and each might go for a trade-in, unless they kept up with the features which made their mate choose them in the first place. This wasn’t all about physical appearance but about growth and adaptation. The sexes handled the physical changes in different ways. Men having had the benefit of women generally choosing them for a range of reasons could make lighter of physical changes. Women often found this harder. Try telling the next man you meet that his bum looks big in that and then using the same line on a woman. Extend the survey and you might find that your time in Accident and Emergency could be directly correlated with the sex of the person you were addressing.

So we try to accept genetic differences and we adapt the way we make the most of what we have. Keeping up appearances and making the best of our gifts will be seen differently emotionally and intellectually by each sex. I’m back off to Mars on the bus having failed to find Venus……..

Jeff Cant