Evolutionary history shows us that men are more likely than women to be tempted by casual sex.
(...) Throughout our evolutionary history, men and women have faced different sexual opportunities and constraints. For a man casual sex with a stranger carried only a small risk – infection, discovery by the wife – and a potentially enormous reward: a cheap addition of an extra child to his genetic legacy. Men who seized such opportunities certainly left behind more descendants than men who did not. Therefore, since we are by definition descended from prolific ancestors rather than barren ones, it is a fair bet that modern men possess a streak of sexual opportunism (...)
Women are likely to be different. Having sex with a stranger not only encumbered a Pleistocene [ed. geological epoch that lasted from about 2,580,000 to 11,700 years ago] woman with a possible pregnancy before she had won the man’s commitment to help rear the child, but it also exposed her to probable revenge from her husband if she had one, and to possible spinsterhood if she did not. These enormous risks were offset by no great reward. Her chances of conceiving were just as great if she remained faithful to one partner and her chances of losing the child without a husband’s help were greater. Therefore women who accepted casual sex left fewer rather than more descendants, and modern women are likely to be equipped with suspicion of casual sex.
Without this evolutionary history in mind, it is impossible to explain the different sexual mentalities of men and women. It is fashionable to deny such differences and to maintain that only social repression prevents women from buying explicit pornography about men, or that only socially paranoid machismo drives men to promiscuity. Yet this is to ignore the enormous social pressures now placed on men and women to forget or minimize differences between them. A modern woman is exposed to pressure from men to be sexually uninihibited, but she is also exposed to the same pressure from other women. Likewise, men are under constant pressure to be more ‘responsible’, sensitive and faithful – from other men as well as from women. Perhaps more out of envy than morality, men are just as censorious of philanderers as women are; often more so. If men are sexual predators it is despite centuries of social pressure not to be. In the words of one psychologist, "Our repressed impulses are every bit as human as the forces that repress them."
It was the quietness of life in a medieval English village that would most strike a visitor from today—no planes overhead, no swish or rumble from traffic. Stop reading this book a minute. Can you hear something? Some machine turning? A waterpipe running? A distant radio or a pneumatic drill digging up the road? Of all the varieties of modern pollution, noise is the most insidious.
Yet in the year 1000 the hedgerows actually had a sound. You could hear baby birds chirping in their nests, and the only mechanical noise you would hear came from the wheezing of the blacksmith’s bellows. In some villages you might have heard the bell in the church tower, or the creaking and clunking of the wooden cogs in one of the water-mills that had been constructed in the last 200 years, and if you lived near one of England’s dozen or so cathedrals, you would have heard the heavy metal cascadings of sound from the copper windpipes of one of the recently imported church organs. But that was all. As bees buzzed and wood pigeons cooed, you could listen to God’s creation and take pleasure in its subtle variety.
The Queen went on to acknowledge the nature and pace of developments throughout the world:
"That it is possible for some of you to see me today is just another example of the speed at which things are changing all around us. Because of these changes I am not surprised that many people feel lost and unable to decide what to hold on to and what to discard. How to take advantage of the new life without losing the best of the old. But it is not the new inventions which are the difficulty. The trouble is caused by unthinking people who carelessly throw away ageless ideals as if they were old and outworn machinery."
What happened in the great age of Greece happened again in Renaissance Italy: traditional moral restraints disappeared, because they were seen to be associated with superstition; the liberation from fetters made individuals energetic and creative, producing a rare florescence of genius; but the anarchy and treachery which inevitably resulted from the decay of morals made Italians collectively impotent, and they fell, like the Greeks, under domination of nations less civilized than themselves but not so destitute of social cohesion. The result, however, was less disastrous than in the case of Greece, because the newly powerful nations, with the exception of Spain, showed themselves as capable of great achievements as the Italians had been.
Aware that we are living in the midst of a technological revolution, we are becoming increasingly concerned with its meaning ...