Friday, June 27, 2008

Faye Flam

Faye Flam has been covering science for The Philadelphia Inquirer since 1995. In June 2005, she started writing “Carnal Knowledge,” a weekly column about the science of sex. Her new book is The Score: How The Quest For Sex Has Shaped The Modern Man.

Tracy Clark-Flory interviewed Flam for Salon. The beginning of the Q & A:

In your book, you mention the idea that everybody -- including animals -- wants to be the male when it comes to sex. Why is that?

It has to do with a couple of common male traits that run through the whole biological world. One of them is that the sperm are smaller than the egg and for most male animals that translates into not having to invest as much energy or work into the babies. Everybody wants to do less work. It's a universal laziness.

You really only have a chance to see that sexual choice play out in these crazy sea worms that can be either male or female. Before they have sex, they fight it out, and the winner always plays the male role. Most other animals don't get the chance to fight for the right to be the male during reproduction.

There are a few animals that turn the tables and the female sticks the male with all the work. More often than not, though, the females not only have to either incubate the babies or create the eggs, but they also end up stuck with more of the work. The males can pass on their genes without investing quite as much.

What about the question of pleasure. Does that play into the male sexual advantage? [read on]
Read an excerpt from The Score, and learn more about the book and author at Faye Flam's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Score.

--Marshal Zeringue