Regina – Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality

Regina – Sex at Dawn - Part II

Sept 4
It was a lazy one today.  Most of it was spent most of it reading.  This blog entry is a little different as I have taken some very interesting parts out a book called, ‘Sex at Dawn – The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality.’  These are just some fascinating things that I read that should be shared!

Sex at Dawn – The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality
Christopher Ryan, PhD, and Cacilda Jethá, MD.
Published by ‘free-eBooks.net’

 

The Spanish word esposas means both “wives” and “handcuffs.” In English, some men ruefully joke about the ball and chain. There’s good reason marriage is often depicted and mourned as the beginning of the end of a man’s sexual life. And women fare no better. Who wants to share her life with a man who feels trapped and diminished by his love for her, whose honor marks the limits of his freedom? Who wants to spend her life apologizing for being just one woman? (p.17)

Several types of evidence suggest our pre-agricultural (prehistoric) ancestors lived in groups where most mature individuals would have had several ongoing sexual relationships at any given time. Though often casual, these relationships were not random or meaningless. Quite the opposite: they reinforced crucial social ties holding these highly interdependent communities together. (p.26) [7]

Romantic love is reduced to a chemical reaction luring us into reproductive entanglements parental love keeps us from escaping. (p. 59)  [20]

Researchers reference it to establish that women aren’t interested in casual sex, which is important if your theory posits that women instinctively barter sex to get things from men. After all, if they’re giving it away for free, the bottom falls out of the market, and other women are going to have a harder time exchanging sex for anything of value.  (77)

 

 

“Mixed Strategies” in the War Between the Sexes

It’s no accident that the man who famously observed that power is the greatest aphrodisiac was not, by a long shot, good-looking.[15] Often (in what we might call the Kissinger effect), the men with the greatest access to resources and status lack the genetic wealth signified by physical attractiveness. What’s a girl to do?

Conventional theory suggests she’ll marry a nice, rich, predictable, sincere guy likely to pay the mortgage, change the diapers, and take out the trash—but then cheat on him with wild, sexy, dangerous dudes, especially around the time she’s ovulating, so she’s more likely to have lover-boy’s baby. Known as the mixed strategy in the scientific literature, both males and females are said to employ their own version of the dark strategy in keeping with their opposed objectives in mating (females maximizing quality of mates and males maximizing quantity of mating opportunities). It’s a jungle out there.

The best-known studies purporting to demonstrate the nature of these two differing strategies are those done by David Buss and his colleagues. Their hypothesis holds that if males and females have conflicting agendas concerning mating behavior, the differences should appear in the ways males and females experience sexual jealousy. These researchers found that women were consistently more upset by thoughts of their mates’ emotional infidelity, while men showed more anxiety concerning their mates’ sexual infidelity, as the hypothesis predicts.

These results are often cited as confirmation of the male parental investment–based model. They appear to reflect the differing interests the model predicts. A woman, according to the theory, would be more upset about her partner’s emotional involvement with another woman, as that would threaten her vital interests more. According to the standard model, the worst-case scenario for a prehistoric woman in this evolutionary game would be to lose access to her man’s resources and support. If he limits himself to a meaningless sexual dalliance with another woman (in modern terms, preferably a woman of a lower social class or a prostitute—whom he would be unlikely to marry), this would be far less threatening to her standard of living and that of her children. However, if he were to fall in love with another woman and leave, the woman’s prospects (and those of her children) would plummet.

From the man’s perspective, as noted above, the worst-case scenario would be to spend his time and resources raising another man’s children (and propelling someone else’s genes into the future at the expense of his own). If his partner were to have an emotional connection with another man, but no sex, this genetic catastrophe couldn’t happen. But if she were to have sex with another man, even if no emotional intimacy were involved, he could find himself unknowingly losing his evolutionary “investment.” Hence, the narrative predicts—and the research seems to confirm—that his jealousy should have evolved to control her sexual behavior (thus assuring paternity of the children), while her jealousy should be oriented toward controlling his emotional behavior (thus protecting her exclusive access to his resources).

Although the survival odds of any children resulting from his casual encounters would presumably be lower than those of the children he helps raise, this investment would still be wise for him, given the low costs he incurs (a few drinks and a room at the Shady Grove Motor Lodge—at the hourly rate). The woman’s mixed strategy would be to extract a long-term commitment from the man who offers her the best access to resources, status, and protection, while still seeking the occasional fling with rugged dudes in leather jackets who offer genetic advantages her loving, but domesticated, mate lacks. It’s hard to decide who comes out looking worse.

Various studies have demonstrated that women are more likely to cheat on their husbands (to have extra-pair copulations, or EPCs) when they are ovulating and less likely to use birth control than they are when not fertile.Furthermore, women are likely to wear more perfume and jewelry when ovulating than at other points in their menstrual cycle and to be attracted to more macho-looking men (those with physical markers of more vigorous genes). These conflicting agendas and the eternal struggle they appear to fuel—this “war between the sexes”—is central to the dismal vision of human sexual life featured in today’s scientific and therapeutic narratives.

As Wright summarizes, “Even with high MPI [male parental investment], and in some ways because of it, a basic underlying dynamic between men and women is mutual exploitation. They seem, at times, designed to make each other miserable [emphasis added].”[16] Symons voices the same resignation in the first lines of The Evolution of Human Sexuality: 

A central theme of this book is that, with respect to sexuality, there is a female human nature and a male human nature, and that these natures are extraordinarily different, though the differences are to some extent masked by the compromises heterosexual relations entail and by moral injunctions. Men and women differ in their sexual natures because throughout the immensely long hunting and gathering phase of human evolutionary history the sexual desires and dispositions that were adaptive for either sex were for the other tickets to reproductive oblivion.[17]

Bleak, no? Conventional evolutionary theory assures us that all you scheming, gold-digging women reading this are evolved to trick a trusting yet boring guy into marrying you, only to then spray on a bunch of perfume and run down to the local singles club to try to get pregnant by some unshaven Neanderthal as soon as hubby falls asleep on the couch. How could you? But before male readers start feeling superior, remember that according to the same narrative, you evolved to woo and marry some innocent young beauty with empty promises of undying love, fake Rolex prominent on your wrist, get her pregnant ASAP, then start “working late” with as many secretaries as you can manage. Nothing to be proud of, mister.  (82-86)

 

Notes:
7. Such relationships would have been among many group-identity-boosting techniques, including participation in group bonding rituals still common to shamanistic religions characteristic of foraging people. Interestingly, such collective-identity-affirming rituals are often accompanied by music (which—like orgasm—releases oxytocin, the hormone most associated with forming emotional bonds). See Levitin (2009) for more on music and social identity.
15. Henry Kissinger—just our opinion. Nothing personal.
16. Wright (1994), pp. 57–58.
17. Symons (1979), p. v.
20. See, for example, Thornhill and Palmer (2000).

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