Sunday, March 06, 2005

Sex, Sex and Sex

  • Man, I'd love to give credit to the creator of this because it is too cool, but I found it while randomly surfing, saved it and never found out who did it. If it is yours, let me know and I'll take it down if it is violating copyright. I thought this was a good illustration for the post, how we often look past the obvious when it comes to sex.

  • Next week my sperm count is going skyrocket. The funny thing is, it will happen without any help from my wife or the kilt. In fact the kilt will not be worn for a week or so. So how do I know my sperm count is going up? Easy. I'm going out of town. I could achieve the exact same effect, a massive increase of sperm in my ejaculate, in another way. I could stay home, and my wife could go out of town. It won't make any difference whether or not I masturbate while I am out of town. As a matter of fact, if I have intercourse while I am out of town it will niether diminish nor increase the sperm count. When I return home, to my wife, my sperm count will rapidly drop to normal.

    This isn't a situation unique to me; in fact this happens to all men, straight or gay, married or dating, when they leave their mate for any significant legnth of time. Unfortunately the British scientists who conducted this study did not include single men in their sample, so we don't know if single men have an increased sperm count when they leave town.

    It's okay though. Since my wife is pregnant, I don't have to worry about her fertility while I am gone. Imagine for a second that she were not pregnant though. That clever little minx, like all human females, conceals her estrus from me so I am never quite certain when she is fertile and when she isn't except during her menstrual cycle. The upshot of this is that unlike baboons, chimps, gorillas, gazelles, elk and almost any other mammal on the planet, human females simply don't have the consideration to diplay a swollen (often flushed in color) vulva to us guys so that we know when they are sexually receptive to us. This puts us males in an awkward position: we're never quite 100% sure that we're doing the right thing to get the right response.

    Hell, why do you think we're always staring your breasts? A nice set of stiff nipples will at least tell us that either a) we're on the right track or b) we need to turn the airconditioning down. That is at least a 50/50 chance we're getting the response we want! So, to the women out there: on occasions when you wish men to know you are aroused, please wear thin shirts and bras, or skip the bra altogether. In fact, the hell with the shirt too.

    The fact that human females have concealed estrus also means that they are potentially sexually receptive any time, any place. There are some web sites specilizing in sex in public that graphically illustrate the point (work safe academic web site link). So it was a good idea to knock her up before I left, because now my wife is sequestered from the sperm of other males, at least in terms of reproduction.

    The biology of human sexuality is fascinating. At the same time, it is a huge waste of time. As a whole, the culture I live in is not comfortable with sexuality. We don't teach children or adolescents about it and as adults, we frequently have no clue. A great many of us feel threatened by the theory of evolution and as a result comparing our mating behavior to that of primates is not commonly done. The upshot of this is that we have all kinds of people with all sorts of incomplete and inaccurate understandings of their own instincs, body, and sex drive and an even less complete comprehension of the same facets of other people. Those who are educated in this respect tell us what is going on with us from a biological perspective and they are roundly ignored. Ignorance must be bliss to be so willfully embraced.

    Except that ignorance is not bliss. People are not happy in their relationships, the evidence for this can be found in the current divorce statistics showing that four in ten couples in the United States get divorced. Now, if I were a snarky, self-righteous liberal I would point out that red "republican" states have a much higher divorce rate than the blue "liberal" states. I'd also point out that the fundamentalist Baptists have a higher divorce rate than more "liberal" demoninations. I'd then speculate that ignorance of our nature as semievolved simians and the reprodructive drives that impact the mating behavior of humans might be behind such statistics. Fortunately, I'm far too mature to try and score cheap political points that way.

    Before I going further, let me add some caveats: It is very important to be informed by science about our sexuality. Science should not be the only source of information about this. Our own personalities and environment play huge roles in our sexual behavior. We should not overlook the spiritual aspect of sex either. Humans, like all animals, are spiritual beings and this also informs our mating behavior. So there is an important role for parents, church, society and self in all of this. My point is simply that these should not be emphasized to the detriment of science.

    It is understandable that people shy away from a scientific understanding of human sexuality. It points to some very uncomfortable truths about our nature.

    One of the most prevalent myths is that monogamy is a normal state for humans. In fact that is not true. We are not a monogamous species. That might explain why, as my friend Omni observed on Thursday, January 27, 2005 in the post called Sexual Confusion some polls find as many as 65-75% of people are cheating on their partner. I'm not sure where she heard that statistic, I keep finding a lower 24-38% of people admitting to infidelity.

    The case against human monogamy is remarkably complete. In her breathtakingly wonderful and readable book What's Love Got To Do With It? anthropologist Meredith Small makes a strong case that monogamy is not very prevalant amongst human societies. In fact only 16% of human cultures claim monogamy to be the standard of human behavior.

    It is my theory that monogamy becomes more important as property or inheritance becomes more important. Without property to protect and pass down, many of the reasons for monogamy disappear.

    I'll be revisiting this topic in the future, I find it endlessly fascinating and trying to match my biological self to my spiritual and mental self is always an intersting conundrum. But I believe that this integration of self is essential to achieving a real acceptance of self.