Back when I was a young biochemistry student, the thinking was that women entering menopause was a good thing. As childbirth was hazardous, older women could stay healthy enough to raise the children they had and pass on hard-won knowledge and experience to the tribe.
Now that I am actually entering this fun new phase in life, and many have mastered women-as-victim-oriented thinking, the reasons for menopause are being given an entirely new spin:
Menopause, with its dreaded hot flashes, sleep problems and more, now comes with at least one conciliation for women: It’s all men’s fault, according to new research.
Human male preference for younger women has actually stacked the Darwinian deck against continued fertility in older women, concludes the study, published in the latest issue of PLoS Computational Biology.
“I think male-driven sexual selection, the male sex drive, has been a major factor driving sexual selection in humans,” co-author Rama Singh told Discovery News, adding that if “there were no preference against older women, women would be reproducing like men are for their whole lives.”
Singh, an evolutionary geneticist at McMaster University, conducted the research with colleagues Richard Morton and Jonathan Stone. They used computer simulation to mathematically model how genes change over time among mating pairs and others in a given population.
“Mating preference in males for younger females relaxed selection on older females,” co-author J.R. Stone, associate director of McMaster’s Origins Institute, told Discovery News.
In short, these older gals tend to be dumped or ignored in favor of younger women, who in theory have better genes and can, because of their age and energy, possibly reproduce more, keeping the male’s lineage going.