A new study claims that women are HARD WIRED regret casual sex whereas men are HARD WIRED to think random sex is great. This isn't because civilizations place high value on controlling female sexuality and humans are social creatures with an aversion to ostracization; this is because of SCIENCE. HARD WIRED SCIENCE.
The research, published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior does uncover some interesting stats about who says they regret sex (note the difference between people who say they regret sex and people who actually regret sex, since relying on people to self-report feelings in a way that completely isolates the feelings a person actually feels versus a the feelings a person feels like they're supposed isn't necessarily, you know, reliable). According to the research, which surveyed over 24,000 people, when it comes to sex, hetero women most often regret losing their virginity to the wrong partner (ugh), infidelity, and having sex with a new partner too fast. In contrast, hetero men regretted not having sex enough; their top three self-reported sexual regrets were being too shy to make a move, not having enough sex when they were young, and not having enough sex before they were married. Researchers found that even gay and lesbian respondents followed similar patterns of regret.
From this, they concluded that there must be something hard wired into the human brain that causes men to want to bone everything and women to feel bad about acting on a desire to bone anything. Yeah. Science. Not society. From ScienceDaily,
"For men throughout evolutionary history, every missed opportunity to have sex with a new partner is potentially a missed reproduce opportunity — a costly loss from an evolutionary perspective." Haselton says. "But for women, reproduction required much more investment in each offspring, including nine months of pregnancy and potentially two additional years of breastfeeding. The consequences of casual sex were so much higher for women than for men, and this is likely to have shaped emotional reactions to sexual liaisons even today."
Pregnancy is a much bigger bum-out than just being a guy all like ugh I ejaculated in a woman and she was like not pretty, sure. But, uh, there's also additional penalties leveled against women who dare deviate from sexual mores from society at large that I'd imagine play a much larger role in the immediate regret of a sexual encounter than being like "oh shit I might get pregnant." Besides, with the advent of birth control and waning, but fairly wide availability of abortion services in many Western societies, saying "women have leftover science-regret from the cave man days" doesn't make sense, and attributing enduring attitudes toward women, men, and sex to "science" absolves society of blame for the degree to which it is fucked up about sexuality and shame. It endorses, rather than criticizes, the status quo.
That's not what researchers thought, though. One argued that because women still feel shame after casual sex, that must be indicative of some kind of hard-wired slut aversion that women just have naturally engrained in their ladybrains and men must have some set-in-genes set of feelings around putting their dicks in every hole in the world. Doesn't it seem more likely that society — and not genetics — is responsible for attitudes about social interactions? Isn't this just another way to say "YEAH BUT SCIENCE" as a way to dismiss the possibility of cultural change?
I guess I wouldn't be the best person to ask, due to the fact that as a woman my brain is naturally more inclined for berry-hunting.