Maybe We’re Not Created for Procreation

I believe my political views on issues like birth control, abortion, and feminism are pretty clear. But at last, I think I’m getting some scientific back-up.

I am in the midst of reading Jared Diamond’s The Third Chimpanzee. Which is us, by the way. And he says that actually, the female reproductive cycle of humans gives every evidence that we are not built to use sex exclusivel as a procreative tool, because, unlike some other primates, we do not know when we are ovulating, and we can have and want sex even when we’re not.

See, other species make it easy. Their butt turns bright red, or they go into heat, or something, and that’s when they’re fertile, and that’s when they want sex, and that’s when they’re at their most attractive to members of the opposite sex. But we hide our ovulation well. Even with our current scientific knowledge about it, we’re wrong a great deal of the time. That’s why the rhythm method works so shoddily; we just can’t predict when we’re going to get pregnant. Furthermore, we’re capable of wanting sex even when it won’t produce children (since we have no idea when it will), and men are capable of wanting it from us. Plus, we have a clitoris, which not many species have. (I think it’s just us and Bonobo chimps, but I could be wrong.) So clearly, we’re supposed to be using sex for recreation and bonding, possibly even more than we’re supposed to be using it for making the babies.

In a weird way, this also accounts evolutionarily for homosexuality, which is supposed to be “unnatural” because it’s not procreative. Because if you’re supposed to be having sex for fun and bonding, why shouldn’t you have it with members of the same sex?

And I can hear the objections already. Aren’t we supposed to have kids? Isn’t passing on genetic material the most important thing, evolutionarily? Well, yes. But we’re humans, not fruit flies. It’s not a numbers game. It’s getting the kids you have to reproductive adulthood, which takes at least twelve years. So you’re really better off having a few to whom you can devote your resources. So it’d be good if you didn’t get pregnant every time you had sex. And it would be good to form a bond with the person you had sex with, so that they devote their resources to your kid, too.

See, it all works!

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PLEASE JUST SHUT IT!

This is a blurb that recently appeared at Slate.com. (Scroll down to the bit about Utah.)

OH, MY FRICKIN’ GOD, PEOPLE! Humans started being distinguishable from other primates 6-8 MILLION YEARS AGO. No one is accusing your GREAT-GRANDFATHER of being an ape. But pretty soon, I’m going to start accusing YOU.

What kills me about this in particular is that, in all other respects, we (and I’m not sure who I mean by we but I’m pretty sure I mean contemporary people in general) seem to have absolutely no long-term memory otherwise. I was talking to a friend of mine, for instance, whose parents will not buy anything from a German-based company ever, because of the Holocaust. She and I have both thought this was a little silly. I think it is especially silly now because companies are multinational most of the time; what does it even mean to say you bought a German car? The parts are made in Taiwan, assembled in Michigan, and owned by stockholders from Japan. But she was also telling me that on one of her many worldly adventures, she made friends with a German girl our age who was bitterly resentful that people acted like she had something to do with the Holocaust. And while I understand that she didn’t exactly do anything, I also think World War II ended 61 years ago. That’s not even a lifetime in a modern industrial nation. It’s not exactly time to start pretending the whole thing never happened.

Americans are very similar on the subject of slavery. It’s gone now, like a puff of vapor. It has no relevance any more. It’s this wicked, wicked thing that some other, wickeder group did that has no effect on anything that’s going on now, and Godforbid you bring it up in connection to current racial tensions. It only ended 141 years ago. That’s, okay, two reasonable but not terribly long lifetimes.

It’s like the entire human race (or maybe just Americans, or Westerners, or something) is a psychiatric patient with severe repressed memory problems. We have all of these problems, and if we just looked into the past, we’d be able to piece together why we have them, which is the first step to healing them. But we won’t. We either can’t un-repress the memory, or we don’t want to.

And even the language these people are using reflects that nano-second memory problem. You don’t want your great-grandfather to be an ape. That’s close enough to you to care. So never mind that no one is saying he was. Because no one would care if we were just saying that our ancestors 6-8 million years ago were the same as the ancestors of other modern apes. It has to be your actual great-grandfather for you to get upset about it.

I can’t believe this is even a conversation in 2006. I think I wrote in my former blog about how this shouldn’t even be a thing for religious people, because according to Paul, faith should be stronger than reason, and how better to prove that your faith is stronger than reason than to have a science class that teaches things antithetical to your faith, and managing to believe your faith rather than the science? Making science accountable to faith, and in fact caring about science at all, is very anti-Pauline, really, and if it’s anti-Pauline, it’s anti-Bible, and so why are these evangelical the-Bible-is-always-right people INSISTING SO LOUDLY THAT THEIR GREAT-GRANDFATHER IS NOT AN APE? GET OVER YOURSELVES!