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Research - Fatherhood

Fatherhood as a Deterrent against Female Promiscuity

Fatherhood as a Deterrent against Female Promiscuity:
A Time to Refurbish the Electra Complex

Nancy S. Coney
Western Illinois University

Wade C. Mackey
Bryan, Texas

It is argued that the presence of a father, during the daughter's
formative years, acts as a deterrent against his daughter-grown-to- maturity becoming promiscuous. Given that multiple sexual partners is the best predictor for contracting a sexually transmitted disease, rates of sexually transmitted diseases in the U.S. were compared to rates of out-of-wedlock births across the U.S. The results were significant. As rates of out-of-wedlock births increased, rates of sexually transmitted
diseases also increased. The association occurred (1) if rates of
out-of-wedlock births and rates of sexually transmitted diseases were surveyed from the same time frame as well as (2) if the rates of out-of-wedlock births were surveyed from a prior generation and the rates of sexually transmitted diseases were surveyed from a subsequent generation. Neither pattern held for rates of divorce and rates of sexually transmitted diseases. It is further suggested that no extant theory on the female psyche or motivation hierarchy would predict that early father presence with his daughter would deter later promiscuity on her part, but that such a theory or model would be desirable.

Geneticists in the last decade have formulated a view of the animal kingdom that describes what they call “altruism” an inverse function of the genetic distance between the interacting individuals or species. That is to say, individuals are indifferent or hostile to others in proportion to their genetic unlikeness.
KEY WORDS: Father-child relations, out-of-wedlock births, divorce, sexually transmitted diseases, psychology of women.
Rule #1: All politics are local. Rep. Tip O'Neill
Rule #2: All long term politics are reproduction strategies
Rule #3: Effective long term politics camouflage Rule #2. Ipsoc Macquire

Homo sapiens is a separate species and thus, by definition, is unique. In addition to their singularity by achieving the rank of species, humans possess an oddity which is rare in the biota and virtually idiosyncratic in large, terrestrial primates. Humans have social fathers. Across the world's community of cultures, men marry. Once married, the overwhelming majority of the husbands become fathers. Once fatherhood is achieved, the
fathers willingly share their treasure – their time, their emotions, and their food and resources – with their young (Hewlett 1992, HRAF 1949, Lamb 1987, Mackey 1985, 1996). Any rare exception to this trend receives much publicity and analysis. For example, when the Ik of Kenya were experiencing severe famine and deprivation, children were nurtured only until the age of three and were then expected to fend for themselves
(Turnbull 1972). Turnbull's ethnography of the Ik regularly focused on the lack of normative parenting (from mothers and fathers). The adult males of the (large) terrestrial primates, viz. chimpanzees, gorillas, baboons, essentially leave parenting to the mothers. The adult males will certainly challenge predators that would threaten the troop's young. Nonetheless the day-to-day care of the troop's young is left to the mothers (Fossey 1983, Goodall 1986, 1988, Jolly 1985, Schaller 1964, Smuts
1985, Smuts et al. 1986, cf Hrdy 1977, Hausfater & Hrdy 1984). As a matter of contrast, canid adult males are highly solicitous of their young and – not unlike men – uniquely provision as well as protect their young, as with wolves (Mech 1966, 1970; Mowat 1963, Murie, 1944), coyotes (Dobie 1949, McMahan 1976, Ryden 1974, Young & Jackson 1951), jackals (Lawick &
Lawick-Goodall 1971, Moehiman 1980), hunting dogs (Kuhme 1965), and foxes (Alderton 1994). That is, adult male canids (1) leave the perimeter of their group, (2) procure food, (3) return the food to the group, and (4) feed their young (and their mates). No adult male primate, other than men, does this. Virtually all adult male canids do. Convergent evolution seems
like an appropriate concept to apply to this particular consonance between men and adult male canids.
Because neither adult male chimpanzees nor adult male gorillas
systematically provision their young, but men do, the tendency probably occurred after the Hominid/Pongid split. Thus, there are several million years of evolution available during which the psychologies of fathers and the psychologies of daughters have had the opportunity to adapt to each other. This exercise explores one such putative adaptation.

Intensive "mothering" is as old as mammals themselves. Intensive "fathering", as seen above, is more erratic and for large terrestrial primates non-existent. The question can be asked: "What psychological adjustments may have occurred between the father and the daughter as the
daughter grew to maturity under the aegis and the provisioning of the father?" One dynamic seems clear: the father-daughter relationship was not and is not sexual. Although father-daughter incest does occur, and does seem to occur more than mother-son incest, father-daughter incest is rare (de Young 1987, Kluft 1990, Shepher 1983 Kinsey, Pomeroy and Martin 1953,
Finkelhor 1979, Finkelhor and Dziuba-Leatherman 1994). The young daughter is much more at risk of sexual abuse if her social and biological father is not proximate. Adjunct boyfriends of the mother and step-fathers are several orders of magnitude more likely to abuse the immature girl than is the social and biological father (Gordon and Creighton 1988, Russell 1986, Tyler 1986; see Immerman and Mackey [1997] for sequelae to sexual abuse of a pre-pubescent girl). Such a father acts as an insurance policy against his daughter's sexual exploitation. It is argued below that an affiliative bond is constructed between the father and his daughter and that one of the consequences of that affiliative bond is a more coherent mating template of the young-daughter-grown-to-maturity.

Three assumptions/premises are germane to this argument. First, it is accepted here that women have not adopted a chimpanzee mating strategy of multiple sexual partners per breeding season (Goodall 1986,1988, Waal, 1982, 1984, 1990, Turke 1984). Whatever the mix between nature and nurture, the end result is that cultures effectively discourage married
women from having multiple partners (adultery) (Broude 1980, Schlegel 1972, Van den Berghe 1979, Stephens 1963, Divale and Harris 1976, Fisher 1972, 1992, cf Kurland 1979 and Immerman and Mackey in press). To the extent that the Sex in America survey is valid and generalizable, for any given year the large majority of married women in the U.S. mate only with
their husbands (Michaels, et al., 1994. See Kost and Forrest, 1992, for a similar conclusion). While the incidence of cuckoldry cum issue, which is unknown to husbands, is not zero, it appears to be close to error variance (1 % - 3% of births). (Ellis and Walsh 1997, Brock and Schrimpton 1991). Thus, when a girl is born, she is normally born into and raised within a
biocultural mosaic wherein her mother has a very restricted range of mating partners. For any given year – rather than for a life-time or ever – the mean, median, and mode of the mother's sexual partners is probably close to one. Accordingly, the daughter's maternal role model would reflect a tendency to have restricted numbers of mating partners. Second, it is argued that for most females the first and most intensive interaction with an adult male is with her father. Because the father is, at base, a constant, she would have a consistent, perhaps a constant,
image of a trusted and loved adult male figure. A lack of a father would seem to create a more amorphous and nebulous imagery of "adult masculinity". Accordingly, a constant image of a father, i.e. of a man, would more crystallize for the daughter-grown-to-adulthood an "adult male masculine image". Conversely, a lack of a constant image of a man – i.e.
the absence of a father – would create a more diffuse image or template for evaluating the mating partners for the daughter-grown-to-adulthood.

Framed differently, the notion of "imprinting" seems appropriate. A generalized definition of "Imprinting" would include the organization of a system which is time-specific, permanent, and relatively resistant to extinction (see Freedman and Gorman 1993, Hess 1973, Lorenz 1935, Tinbergen 1951, 1965, cf Rossi and Rossi 1990 and Perusse et al. 1994; see Bornstein [1989] and Leland [1994] for overviews). In this instance, the
young girl's experiences with her father would be expected to have lasting effects upon her development and organization of an effective psycho-sexual template: her reproductive tactics.
Third, several countries, e.g. the U.S., Sweden, Denmark, (i) have created a de facto social experiment in which a set of expectations has been generated that treat social fathers as either optional or supernumerary and (ii) tend to collect fairly clean demographic data. (In 1993, 47% of all live births in Denmark were to unmarried mothers. The analogous figures in Sweden and the U.S. were 50% and 31% respectively (U.S. Bureau of the Census 1996). Divorces, of course, would add to the number of fatherless minor children to the extent that mothers [rather than fathers] received custody). The U.S. collects demographic data by state plus the District of Columbia. Hence, if data are analyzed across states (plus
D.C.), an "n" of 51 becomes potential.

Using the above three constructs, the hypothesis can be generated that girls raised without fathers (i.e. born-out-of-wedlock or involved in a divorce) would have a less-well-developed or coherent or organized mating-template when compared to girls raised with their biological and social fathers. Thus, it would be expected that girls who are raised without a father would be less discerning, i.e. have more sexual partners,
than girls who are raised with a co-residing father.

The dependent variable
In the U.S., as elsewhere, sexual activity is a secreted activity.
Accordingly, compiling data via naturalistic observation would be
difficult, highly illegal, and unwelcomed by all. Thus, a proxy for
"multiple sexual partners" becomes necessary. It has been noted by several authors (Aral, Mosher, and Cates 1990, Brunham and Plummer 1990, Hunter et al. 1994, Laumann et al. 1997, Moore and Cates 1990, Westrom and Mardh 1990) that multiple sexual partners is the best marker for acquiring a sexually transmitted disease: an STD. Because the Division for STD Prevention compiles data by state (plus D.C.), rates of STDs were used as
markers for multiple sexual partners. The two STDs to be analyzed were rates of gonorrhea (in females) per 100,000 population and congenital syphilis per 100,000 live births.

It should be noted that if an individual contracts an STD, the infection does not necessitate that the individual has had multiple sexual partners. However, if someone is infected with an STD, then that someone either has had multiple partners or has chosen a mating partner who has had multiple partners (see Robinson 1950 for an early discussion of the problem, and
see Borgatta and Jackson 1980, Goodman 1959, Hanushek, Jackson and Kain 1974, King 1997, Langbein and Lichtman 1978, Pedhazur 1982 for subsequent discussions plus partial solutions to the problem of relating aggregate data to individual behavior). Suffice it to say that the analysis below is not construed to specify how any one individual would or would not behave. The analysis below is content to attempt to discover what – if any – behavior patterns are aligned with other behavior patterns.

Out-of-wedlock births and gonorrhea: 1991-1993
For all three years, 1991-1993, the percentage of all births which were out-of-wedlock births and rates of gonorrhea were significantly and positively related. See Table 1. As would be expected, the mean correlation for the three year interval was also significant and positive (rp =.804, p < .001, df = 49). Accordingly, nearly two-thirds (.8042 = .646 = 64.6%) of the variance in gonorrhea can be explained by knowledge
of the level of out-of-wedlock births.
Out-of-wedlock births and congenital syphilis:1991 -1993
For all three years 1991-1993, the percentage of all births which were out-of-wedlock births and rates of congenital syphilis were significantly and positively related. See Table 1. The mean correlation for the three year interval was significant and positive (rp = .752, p < .001; df = 49).
Over half (.7522 = .566 = 56.6%) of the variance in congenital syphilis could be attributed to changes in percentages of out-of-wedlock births.
Thus, for father preclusion – as indexed by out-of-wedlock births – the hypothesis is substantiatial.
Divorce and STDs (gonorrhea and congenital syphilis) 1991-1993
For all six combinations of years and STDs (3 x 2 = 6), there was no significant relationship between rates of divorce and rates of either gonorrhea or congenital syphilis. See Table 1. Thus, for father separation – as indexed by divorce – the hypothesis is not supported.
Out-of-wedlock births and gonorrhea (1971-1973 to 1991-1993)
For all three years, the percentage of all births which were
out-of-wedlock births from the prior interval (1971-1973) was
significantly and positively correlated to the rates of gonorrhea in the subsequent interval (1991-1993). The mean correlation was also significant and positive (rp = .933; p < .001; df = 37). In fact, the mean correlation between the prior interval (1971 -1973) and the subsequent interval (1991
-1993) of (rp) .933 was higher (t = 5.803; p < .001; df = 36) than the mean correlation between the out-of-wedlock births and gonorrhea from the same interval (1991-1993): (rp) .804. See Table 2.
Out-of-wedlock births and congenital syphilis (1971-1991 to 1991-1993) For all three years, the percentage of all births which were out-of-wedlock births from the prior interval (1971-1973) was significantly and positively correlated to the rates of congenital syphilis in the subsequent interval (1991-1993). The mean correlation was also significant (rp = .871; p < 001; df = 37). Once again, the relationship (rp = .871) between out-of-wedlock births and congenital syphilis from the prior interval (1971 -1973) was higher (t = 3.701; p < .001; df = 36) than the relationship between out-of-wedlock births and
congenital syphilis from the same time interval (1991-1993): rp =.752. See Table 2.
Divorce and STDs: (1971-1973 to 1991-1993)
For the six combinations of years and STDs (3 x 2 = 6), there was no significant relationship between rates of divorce and the rates of gonorrhea or of congenital syphilis. See Table 2.

Three salient points are available from the data. First, levels of
out-of-wedlock births are very strongly related to levels of STDs. Second, levels of divorce are not related to levels of STDs at all. Third, indices of out-of-wedlock births from a pr or generation are more strongly related to levels of STDs in a subsequent generation than are levels of out-of-wedlock births from the same time frame as the STDs. These three
points are examined below.
(1) Out-of-wedlock births and STDs
This exercise has utilized STDs has a marker for multiple sexual partners. To the extent that this equation is valid, out-of-wedlock births are a strong predictor of multiple sexual partners. The basal hypothesis in this exercise is that the presence of an on-going social and biological father affects his developing daughter's psycho-sexual template. She "imprints" upon her father and creates a thematic, masculinized image for herself
which she would utilize years later in her post-pubescent reproductive tactics. She shares with the father an affiliative-bond by which she receives nurturing behavior from a trusted adult male. The absence of such a father would result in a more disorganized, less coherent template or image and a more disorganized, less coherent set of post-pubescent
reproductive tactics. Her expectations of nurturing behaviors or
affiliation from an adult male would be more diffuse. Said more concisely, she would be less likely to achieve an effective pair-bond and more likely to bias toward promiscuity.
(2) Divorce and STDs
There was no found relationship between rates of divorce and rates of STDs, i.e. multiple sexual partners. This finding seems odd, given that levels of out-of-wedlock births are so strongly associated with the STDs, and that both out-of-wedlock births and divorce define an absence of the father. An attempt at a partial explanation of the difference between the effect of out-of-wedlock births and lack of effect by divorce is given below.

Out-of-wedlock births versus divorce
In the U.S., an out-of-wedlock birth, with few exceptions, precludes the father from residing with his biological child. As a matter of contrast, a divorce, again with a few exceptions, indicates that the child – the daughter – has resided with her father for some time period and then was separated from her father. Although there are certainly potential variables of personality-types and SES and local traditions inter alia
which would suggest that the sample of people who divorce could be distinct from people who never marry, but have children, one particular variable is of interest for this exercise. To wit: the presence of fatherhood. Fathers are absent in out-of-wedlock births, but fathers are temporarily present prior to a divorce.

Survey data in the U.S. which address "divorce" rarely include age of the child at the time of divorce. One serendipitous exception is the work of Morgan, Lye, and Condran (1988). Using data from the Current Population Survey, they coded age of the first born child at the time of divorce. They coded over 90,000 children. Of interest here is the age of daughters
at the time of divorce.

For daughters who were singletons, 42.4% of the daughters resided with their fathers for at least their first three years of existence prior to the divorce. For the first-born of two daughters (only), 90.6% resided with their fathers for at least their first three years prior to the divorce. For two children (only) – one of each gender – 92.1 % of the first born were with their father for at least their first three years.

Using the assumption that approximately half of these children were females, then 46% (92.1% x .5 = 46.05%) of these children were daughters. Thereby, a large number of the daughters resided with their fathers for several years in their early development before the father and the child
were separated by divorce. See Table 3. It is important to note that U. S. mothers, by over a 2 to 1 ratio, are the petitioners in a divorce situation involving a minor child. The ratio is approximately 1.6 to 1 if no minor children are involved in the divorce proceedings. (National Center for Health Statistics 1996). (See Buckle et al [1996] and Sullivan and Allen [1996] for similar trends in countries other than the U.S.). Thus, the man is typically abraded from his child – his daughter – not by his own volition, but by the choices made by the mother and by the laws of the states.

Because all states plus D.C. have some version of "no-fault" divorce, if a spouse (usually the wife) petitions for a divorce, the divorce will occur. The respondent (usually the father) cannot contest the divorce. Custody of the child can be contested, but, in spite of de jure pronouncements of gender neutrality (Mcintyre and Sussman, 1995, Westfall 1994, Weyrauch and Katz 1983), the mother de facto receives custody in a large majority of the cases (Sitarz 1990, Sack 1987). In 1994, more children were living with neither parent (4%) than with the father-only (3%) (69% were living
with both parents and 24% were living with mother-only) (U.S. Bureau of the Census 1996). Once the father is separated from his daughter, contact between the two is generally low and is consistently lessened over time (Dudley 1991, Furstenberg et al. 1983, Furstenberg et al. 1987, Kruk 1994, and Seltzer 1991, c.f. Braver et al.1991).

Thus, it is suggested that the early and consistent contact between a daughter and her biological and social father serves to "set" her psycho-sexual template, which – years later – influences her reproductive tactics. In this instance, it is the number of partners which is the focus. An out-of-wedlock birth effectively precludes such contact. A large proportion of divorces do not preclude such contact and thereby allows the
dynamics to occur. (3) A generational lag: out-of-wedlock births and STDs Even though the levels of out-of-wedlock births were significantly and strongly related to STDs (again, a marker for multiple sexual partners) during the 1991-1993 interval, knowledge of out-of-wedlock births in the 1970s was the superior predictor of STDs in the 1990s. This enhanced
predictability proffers inferential evidence that once fatherlessness is instituted in a community, it may be difficult to re-instate social fatherhood. In other words, mothers who were without social fathers would tend to have daughters who would be less likely to achieve a functioning pair-bond (Morrison and Cherlin 1995). In addition, mothers who give birth out-of-wedlock have a comparatively lessened chance of marrying (while their children are minor) (Aqullino 1996; Bennett, Bloom, and Miller 1995). The daughters would not remain chaste, but would turn the cycle one more rotation by having daughters of their own who, too, would grow up without a co-residential, biological and social father.

This exercise argues for two points. First, the presence of a social father with his daughter, during her formative years, affects the developing psycho-sexuality of his daughter. The suggestion is that this early influence lends itself to an easier achievement of a successful pair-bond by his daughter-grown-to-maturity. Second, there seems to be no model or theory (at least easily findable) which gives a synthesis to a/any unique father-daughter affiliation. In what is probably fairly rare
in the behavioral sciences, the above exercise has led to statistically significant results – empirical realities – in search of a synthesizing theory. Bowlby's (1973, 1982, 1988) theories really are based on monotropy and not easily transferable to the father-daughter dyad. Freud's (1925, 1931, 1933) theory on the Electra Complex, despite Freud's own discomfort with his own formulations, at least begins the analysis, but such an analysis
is probably in need of a hefty refurbishing. Much of the dynamics of extant/traditional theories is based on a mother paradigm or a gender-neutral paradigm (Craik et al. 1993, Maddi 1980, Ross 1992, Schultz and Schultz 1994), neither of which would be able to explore the putative and evolutionarily based uniqueness of the father-daughter affiliative bond. Similarly, neither Barkow, Cosmides and Tooby (1992) nor Crawford,
Smith and Krebs (1987) addresses father-daughter affiliation. Nonetheless, it seems that there would be much to be gained if such a developmental theory or model on the father-daughter relationship could be assembled in the near future.
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