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Friday, October 21, 2011

The Sweet Spot: Monogamy as "Biological Imperative"? Think Again

Posted By on Fri, Oct 21, 2011 at 7:30 AM


  • "I'm Glad I'm a Boy. I'm Glad I'm a Girl" by Whitney Darrow. Published 1970.

"Boys fix things. Girls need things fixed." So wrote New Yorker satirist Whitney Darrow in a children's book in 1970. Many would scoff at that statement, but the idea that supports it is still alive and well in the form of an argument known as biological determinism. I wouldn't advise stating things like Africans are genetically predisposed to be better dancers, or the shape of a person's skull can be evidence of inherited criminal tendencies. Yet even the most progressive of people will insist that men and women are fundamentally different, especially when it comes to horniness. The theory goes that evolution demands that men spread their seed far and wide, so that is why they have trouble with commitment. We chicks, on the other hand, naturally prefer monogamy because we are constantly on the hunt for that hunky hunter who will protect our offspring.

It seems to be a reasonable conclusion, right? Bullshit.

For a brief time in ancient Rome, women of a certain class had quite a bit of freedom. Freedom to pursue an education or a divorce. With not much to do all day but go to the baths, dress in finery, and attend parties, these women also spent a significant amount of their time pursuing amorous delights. In fact, the Romans were firm believers in the idea that one could and should have sex with anyone who aroused lust as long as no one was offended.

But love? Love caused problems and those Roman matrons were not a fan of it.

  • The Vampire by Philip Burne-Jones, 1897
They vastly preferred their freedom, so much so that Rome began to have a problem with population decline. (Lest we blame the ladies too much, regular hot baths, daily drunkenness, and too much lead in the pottery also contributed to the problem.)

So here, it seems, take us women out of the wilderness and put us in the middle of civilization, and we prove ourselves to be just as randy as the fellas. We are however, just maybe a tad more discreet.

Ralph T. Castle says, "I've known more sexually obsessed women than sexually obsessed men. But they were much less obvious about it." In a moment of full disclosure, I will admit that I have had more sex partners than most of the men I know. I will also admit that I have a very difficult time staying in a relationship.
click to enlarge THE VAMPIRE BY PHILIP BURNE-JONES, 1897
  • The Vampire by Philip Burne-Jones, 1897
Of course, I could just be one of those females who has more testosterone than the rest, as it is that pesky hormone that is often blamed for pushing males towards promiscuity, porn, and prostitutes. According to Nina Kristlin Vraa men, "have naturally more testosterone than women and so that could explain some of the discrepancy." But she also says that when women turn 40 and their chemical-mix diminishes, "they get full of energy and sexuality and eat men for breakfast."

What about men and monogamy? Jon Siegel is more interested in love than in the conquest.

"I do think about sex all the time. I fall in love on the street 14 times a day but when it comes to actually being physical with someone, I like to feel connected," he says. "I want it to be with someone I know and trust and care for."

Just in case this is not enough proof to sway people from biological determinism, that same theory was used by proponents of eugenics (See: the Nazis) who believed that compulsory sterilization of criminals and misfits would improve the human race. But I say defy biologism and go get down with your misfit self.

The Sweet Spot is a blog column about alternative sexuality by Ginger Murray, who is also the editor of Whore! magazine. Check back next week for more.

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Ginger Murray


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