“I don’t know the question, but sex is definitely the answer.”
“In a perfect world, you could fuck people without giving them a piece of your heart. [But] every glittering kiss and every touch of flesh is another shard of heart you’ll never see again.”
“Sex without love is as hollow and ridiculous as love without sex.”
-Hunter S. Thompson
“The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live.”
I place blame for this piece squarely on the shoulders of the commentariat. Discussions that began with the absurdity of #metoo quickly went down the rabbit hole of analyses of the sexual marketplace, human mating strategy and unending (indeed, unendable) sexual conflict between men and women. This forced me to think about things, which forced me to want to record and share them, which further forced me to embarrass myself and torture you all once again by inflicting my writing upon you. You have no one to blame but yourselves.
Let me begin with a disclaimer: I am not a biologist nor an expert on evolution or human sexuality. There are likely droves of people in the commentariat that are infinitely more knowledgable about these things than I am. To them, I apologize and please throw rotten vegetables in the comment section. To everyone else that doesn’t know any better, I am a 100% super-knowledgable expert on everything, so take every single word I say as gospel.
Good, now that we’ve got that figured out, let’s start with a little story. You are Ug, an archaic male human, newly evolved to self-awareness and roaming the Savannah. You are 16, right in the prime of life, but rapidly approaching middle age. You are ruled by three overwhelming urges that dictate the terms of your existence; thirst, hunger and horniness. Fortunately for you, you have access to watering holes and you’re pretty handy with a spear so the first two are generally taken care of. One day, you come across Oog, an archaic female human with beautiful eyes and hairy pits just the way you like them. Because you are a human, you have no idea if she’s ovulating, all you know is that you need to get little Ug wet immediately. You show your best PUA skills, and 3 minutes later you have scratched that itch that has been bothering you for months. Nine months later, Oog has given birth to a beautiful baby girl Aag. You still have awkward encounters with Oog and see her about the Savannah, but when you see her with Aag you’re not really sure what to make of it. You don’t quite understand that your amorous activities 9 months ago could have caused this; you’re not really sure about anything. Oog could have had sex with 20 different guys and any one of them could be the father, but you don’t know that. Your knowledge of the situation is almost completely opaque. However, what you do know is that she has a baby with her now that needs nonstop attention and resources. Something inside you, another thing you don’t quite understand, is driving you to try and help her take care of this thing. So, against your better judgement, you start sharing your food and water with her and the baby and life goes on, a vision of domestic bliss, complete with a white picket fence around the cave.
The catch is that, Ug may not realize it, but he cannot possibly be sure that he is, in fact, the father of Aag. This is one of the two reasons that he doesn’t pull an alpha lion and kill Aag; the other one being “love” aka: a cascade of hormones (vasopressin, oxytocin, estradiol among others) that create a pair bond and make him want to take care of Oog and Aag and make more babies. So, rather than running back out on the Savannah and chasing some hot new strange, he embraces monogamy, otherwise known as making the best out of a bad situation.
Big Dicks and Horny Chicks
Our bodies and behaviors are museums dedicated to the millennia of evolution that have shaped the human race. Some adaptations are legacies from the larger course of mammalian evolution, internal fertilization, placental fetal nourishment and the eponymous mammary glands providing nourishment post-birth. There are, however, a number of adaptations that are unique (or nearly unique) to humans that must have evolved relatively quickly and can only be explained by sexual selection (physiologic changes brought about by mate preference pressure rather than environmental pressure). Human males have unusually large penises for primates, both as a percentage of body size and in absolute terms. They also lack an os penis or penis bone. The vast majority of mammals have a bone that will actually move into the penis during arousal to create an erection. Human males rely on hydraulic pressure from blood to get the job done. This also means that human penises are a bit more pliable during sex, getting to those hard to reach places. It’s an open question why these adaptations to the human penis happened, but it’s a safe bet that women chose men with these characteristics and had more babies with them. More pleasure? Consequence of bipedal locomotion? Not sure.
For the ladies there are two big ones. The first is my personal favorite; permanently engorged breasts. Biologists are reasonably certain that these are a consequence of humans’ preference for face-to-face sex and evolved as a visual stimulus analogous to the buttock that most male mammals would see while getting their freak on. Preference for large ones could be an indicator of age as bigguns tend to droop as a woman ages. The other adaptation is really important; concealed ovulation combined with year-round sexual availability. This means that humans have no mating season and women are DTF any time. It also means that a lack of being “in heat” ensures that neither partner knows if a particular copulation likely resulted in offspring being produced. This element of paternal uncertainty is essential to the way human relationships developed over time.
Whycome No Pics?
In case you need examples of how this all works (we’re all socially maladjusted failures around here, so it’s entirely possible), I have a pop-up book I can lend you. Before we completely lose the script here, I want to say that the previous story and examples of biological oddity that we humans have are simply to demonstrate that competing sexual strategy has always existed between men and women. This is expressed in our biology and it is certainly expressed in our behavior (what this tome will eventually come around to focusing on). Every animal has such an imbalance to some extent; it’s unavoidable.
Speaking strictly for humans, the cost of reproduction for women always has been higher. She is the one who is saddled with 9 months of pregnancy, followed by the necessity to care for an utterly helpless infant for years. This task, while not impossible to do alone, is light-years easier with Dad involved to procure resources and provide protection. Therefore, it’s in her best interest to be more restrictive when selecting a mate. Compounding her need to be choosy is the fact that she has a limited number of eggs and therefore a limited reproductive lifetime. She doesn’t want to waste scarce and precious resource on the wrong guy. Men, on the other hand, produce zillions of sperm from puberty until death and they’re all raring to be deposited in the nearest vagina, the more the better. Men, intrinsically, have a very low cost of reproduction. No pregnancy, an endless supply of sperm, why not go nuts? That is certainly one strategy that evolved (the “cad”). Fuck as many women as possible, banking on the fact that at least a few of the babies will survive after you love ‘em and leave ‘em. The other strategy (the “dad”), will stick around and help care for the baby, giving it a better chance of survival. The rub with this strategy is that dad only has an incentive to stick around if he’s reasonably certain that the baby carries his genetic material. Otherwise, he’s squandering his time, resources and opportunity cost taking care of someone else’s kid. On the flip side, mom is putting all her eggs (so to speak) in this guy’s basket, so she wants a guy with as many resources as possible. Resources often come along with strength and status, so women want those qualities.
From these few simple rules evolved basically all the pomp and circumstance surrounding human mating behavior. You see, the rules of the game are hardwired into us from thousands of generations. Despite progs’ desire to create the New Soviet Man, you can’t handwave away these realities and any changes to them will necessarily have to happen over a long period of time. Social engineering is a miserable failure when it comes to sex (and, well, pretty much everything else too, but that’s another article).
Modern Sex Pre-1960
Now we reach the crux of this piece, a survey of modern human sexual behavior as a consequence of these biological realities. Before people start throwing autistic fits, I’m fully aware that there are a multitude of other arrangements, lifestyles and aberrations to these rules (see: Sade, Marquis de); however, I’m working in averages here and looking at the most prevalent mating styles. I’m also not going to touch ancient societies with things like sacred prostitution, matriarchal societies (which, BTW, have never really been conclusively proven to have existed), “walking marriages” etc. Basically, I’m going to deal with post-Enlightenment, Western sexual relationships because that happens to be the world we inhabit.
Humans are often cited as being unusual in the mammalian world for our penchant for monogamy. Many social critics claim that this is an oppressive social norm forced on women (always specifically women) by the patriarchy to enslave them into becoming breeding cattle. I argue that this is utterly wrong and human monogamy is a direct consequence of concealed ovulation, paternal uncertainty and the complete uselessness of human children for the first 5 years (at least) of life. All of these factors put humans at the extreme end of the K-side in r/K selection (go look it up, I don’t have the energy to go down that rabbit hole). Yes, it doesn’t change the fact that men still have those zillions of sperm raring to be ejaculated in new and interesting places; it also doesn’t change the fact that women want a man with as much wealth, status and resources as possible, but as I said before, monogamy is a compromise on the part of both parties making the best out of a bad situation. Many men still would occasionally satisfy their deep-seated biological urges with low-risk third parties (like prostitutes) in which the chances of yet another woman making demands on his scant resources were minimal. Likewise, women tolerated this because it was a low probability of him leaving her holding the bag. For their part, women would encourage (read: nag) men to improve themselves and their social station to try and make more money or gain more influence. The perfect picture of domestic bliss.
Monogamy is an odd institution because it’s simultaneously natural and unnatural. As I’ve said in previous essays, humans are like onions; we have layers of conflicting desires built one on top of another from the various parts of our ancient evolutionary brains. Our reptilian, mammalian, neo-cortical and spiritual sides are all locked in a battle royale. On one hand, it’s natural for a man to want to stick it in every hole he can find, but on the flip side, it’s natural to want to care for your offspring to ensure their chances of survival. For women, on one hand, it’s natural to want to find the man with the most possible resources (the king or chief), but in that case, you’re most likely going to be competing with several different women for his attention. Therefore, it’s also natural to want to find a decent guy with decent resources who won’t run away and you have all to yourself.
The major rub here is that sex, love and reproduction were all inextricably linked. It was very, very unlikely that you have one without the others coming along for the ride. Our very hormones themselves alter after the birth of a child (for men and women) making it much more likely that mom and dad will stick around and care for that helpless little blob. These are things that are hard-wired into us. You’re not going to change it, at least not with current technology. However, that playbook; the one that got us from the Savannah all the way to airplanes, interchangeable parts, the polio vaccine and indoor plumbing got completely torched with one invention.
Those of you who read my previous piece will already know that I consider this to be the most Earth-shattering, life altering invention ever in human history. First approved by the FDA in 1960, this little pack of hormones made possible things that humanity never before dreamed of. Sex, love and reproduction, arguably the most formative phenomena of human evolution, were no longer linked. The world envisioned in Stranger in a Strange Land (published one year after the Pill was approved) was not speculative; it really was possible for people to live in group marriages and sex communes without the messiness of children entering the picture.
And that’s exactly what people did. With gusto. Like a college kid going on a bender at his 21st birthday, the drought was over. No longer would the chains of biology enslave us and repress us. No longer would we have to choose between plodding bourgeois monogamy and family or celibacy. No longer would women have to be so circumspect about who they took to bed. No longer would men have to think twice about having a one-night stand with that hot girl he doesn’t really like that much but has a great rack. As long as she’s on the Pill, all bets are off; no harm, no foul. Everyone gets their various rocks off, then walks away as if nothing ever happened. As easy as playing a game of Gin-Rummy but more fun.
“Intentional communities” (I really hate that term) like Sandstone (counting The Joy of Sex author Alex Comfort and Sammy Davis Jr. as members) and Kerista sprung up practically overnight. The Summer of Love and Woodstock firmly established that consequence-free casual sex and promiscuity were here to stay. The swinging 70s moved it from young free thinkers into the suburbs and the bourgeois community at large. Key parties and swinging became part of the cultural lexicon. Ordinary people began to question what radicals and academics had been questioning for decades; are the expectations of matrimony, nuclear family, monogamy and fidelity a scam? Why do we voluntarily subordinate our urges to outdated social structures? Why do we put a higher value on responsibility and commitment (which can certainly be a drag sometimes) than we do on pleasure, fulfillment and liberation? And the clarion call that still resonates to this day “IT’S NOT NATURAL!”
As stated above, this is true. It’s also not true. It’s also irrelevant. The human situation is one that is much more complex than any 60s sexual radical could conceive of. The millions of years of evolution leading us to this point has, again, created many contradictory urges within us. The onion-like human psyche is far more complicated than than a philosophy of “if it feels good, do it” can contain. But, easy pleasure is a siren song that is very hard to resist. One immediate social consequence of this revolution was a drastic increase in divorce. No doubt, this was a life saver to many people in lousy marriages, but to others it was the first inklings of the “broken homes” and “mixed families” that are ubiquitous today. The mainstreaming of so-called “alternative lifestyles” (another term I hate) would probably have continued apace except for one unfortunate complication.
To middle and late Gen-Xers like myself, I have never known a sexual world that did not have the specter of these four letters hanging over it. Previously, STDs were a mild inconvenience. Picked up the clap at the sex party last weekend? Just go get your shot and you’re good for the party next weekend. Even permanent diseases like herpes were NBD; just rub some cream on it and wait for the acute outbreak to go away.
Now, however, there was a badass new kid on the block and he wasn’t taking shit from anyone. No vaccine. No cure. Bringing about a horrible, painful, slow and humiliating death. It definitely changed the landscape of relationships and sex toward the more conservative. It’s an interesting coincidence that it just happened to occur during the Reagan Revolution and the New Moral Majority. Since anal sex was and is a much easier way to contract the disease, and since, on average, gay men tend to have more lifetime sex partners than straights and lesbians, AIDS first exploded among male gays. This was not only devastating to the community at large, but adding insult to injury, Social Conservatives used it to take potshots at gays calling AIDS “gay cancer” and “divine retribution” for their “deviant lifestyle”.
People like myself who came of age at this time were relentlessly bombarded with PSAs about how sex will kill you and, if you decide to be an idiot and have sex in spite of our warnings, don’t even *think* about not using a condom; you might as well just give a .357 a blowjob. It’s telling about the overwhelming strength of uncontrolled human sexuality that it took the threat of death to reign it in. Monogamy, sexual restraint and conventional family, never completely abandoned in the first place, came screaming back to overturn the sexual revolution for one brief moment, because the perceived alternative was Russian Roulette. This image was not helped by the fact that many prominent individuals known for their promiscuity contracted and/or died of HIV (Magic Johnson, Eazy-E, Liberace, Freddy Mercury and, more recently, Charlie Sheen).
However, time marches on and human ingenuity is a wonderful thing. New drugs and treatments started cranking out and, while initially very expensive, have become more or less available to anyone that has contracted the disease. Magic Johnson has been living with the virus for decades and seems as healthy as ever. HIV/AIDS was no longer an automatic death sentence; if, in fact, it was ever as big of a threat as it was portrayed in the first place. Some conspiracy-minded libertines maintain that the AIDS scare was trumped up as worse than it actually was to try and purposely counteract the promiscuous tendencies of the previous two decades. Regardless, it had the intended effect until the mid-late 90s when all of a sudden it just didn’t seem like that big of a deal anymore. Sleep around, but use a condom; it would definitely suck to catch it, but if you did it’s not automatically the end. You take drugs for life and, in some cases, the virus won’t even be detectable in your blood. You can even have HIV-negative children using advanced reproductive technologies. The beast of human sexuality was not completely unshackled as it was in the 60s and 70s, but it was let out of the cage and given a long leash.
Tinder, Hook-Ups and #metoo
So here we sit. The sexual revolution mostly back in full swing, so-called “alternative lifestyles” are very much en vogue again. To be fair, people were swinging, making “arrangements” with their spouses and creating sexual sub-cultures all throughout the AIDS scare, but it was definitely more underground and seen as dangerous and shameful. Now, these choices are out in the open big time and sometimes portrayed by the intelligentsia as superior to plodding, bourgeois monogamy; a middle ground between the new ground rules of non-child-bearing recreational sex and the continuing desire for stability and family. Perhaps it’s true. I suppose time will tell.
Sexuality among adolescents and young adults went through a secondary revolution of its own. It’s completely ridiculous to think that teenagers and students weren’t constantly having sex for centuries before the current era. However, many times these unions would involve quite a bit of emotional seriousness due to the looming specter of pregnancy. People married young and typically stayed married. The new rules of sex, intersecting with technology, made having sex more similar to ordering a pizza than a complicated dance of courtship and emotions. In many ways, the sexual revolution had reached its ultimate goal; totally unfettered, (mostly) consequence-free sex on demand. Just swipe right and you’re off to the races. For large swaths of young people, intercourse had become akin to a handshake.
As stated, and the theme of this plodding piece of mental excrement, is that human nature is never so simple and it’s not easily altered. You see, going along with the Savannah Principle (the idea that our brains haven’t changed much since the days of Oog and Ug), doubts, fears and general despair and dysphoria began to creep in to this arrangement. In spite of what the sexual revolutionaries had been saying for decades, intercourse is *not* a handshake, and even barring the physical consequences of pregnancy and disease there are emotional consequences of sex.
Recapping from earlier, on the Savannah, Oog and Ug have intrinsically competitive sexual strategies. This can be traced back to the fact that Oog has to carry the baby, then birth it and take care of it. This all comes at the a huge economic and physical cost; all to produce one lousy human. Ug, while his urges to impregnate as many women as possible are very strong, he also must protect his genetic legacy. Human babies are so useless for such a long time that there is a much higher probability that they will survive if they have two parents looking after them. Compound this with the fact that women have a much higher reproductive economic value; finite number of eggs and only able to carry one baby at a time vs. men’s zillions of sperm and ability to impregnate a theoretically arbitrary number of women; and further compound it with concealed ovulation and parental uncertainty, we have quite a complex social situation. Nature has concocted a cocktail of wonderful things to overcome this complexity; female orgasm, penis size, oxytocin, vasopressin, sexual jealousy among other things combine to bond mates together with strong emotions.
As if things weren’t already complicated enough, men and women are both hypergamous; ie: they want to “marry up”. This means very different things to men and women. Women’s reproductive value is derived from beauty and youth, so men want to find young, beautiful women with whom to mate. Men’s reproductive value is derived from strength and capability at procuring resources for mom and baby, so, in the old cliche, women prefer a big wallet to a big dick. I don’t pretend to have all the answers to these complexities. There are entire philosophies inquiring on the nature of love. Love, lust and sex have probably motivated the creation of more art than anything else in history (with the possible exception of religion). In drastic understatement, human familial relationships are very complicated. It’s no wonder there would eventually be a backlash against the often simple-minded form that they take today.
At first started by women coming out to claim that they had been victims of rape/assault and were too ashamed to say anything until now, it has now morphed into a sinister condemnation of male sexuality. Acting like a tactless boor is enough to get you #metoo’ed and potentially put your family and livelihood in jeopardy. Again, at the risk of over-simplifying, this can all be traced back to women giving up their leverage in the sexual marketplace. The ingrained biological behaviors from the Savannah cannot be forgotten or dismissed so easily. To put it bluntly, pussy used to be scarce and expensive, now it’s plentiful and cheap. The supply and demand have been drastically altered from the way things were for essentially all of human history up until 50 years ago (less than the blink of an eye in the grand scheme of things). Men behave like boors and expect easy sex because those are the new rules of the game. Men have always wanted easy sex, but the possibility/likelihood of pregnancy incentivized women to keep pussy scarce and expensive; after all, they had a much higher cost associated with sex. This was their leverage, and it was the most powerful leverage known to humanity. Women have always had the upper hand in sexual relationships because of this, in spite of what pop culture and half-baked feminist theories argue. Women certainly got a raw deal when it came to political freedom and, in some cases, arranged marriage. I do not trivialize the treatment women sometimes got as second-class citizens. These were strategies concocted by male-dominated institutions to try and wrestle some control back from the omnipotent vagina. But, it is always in vain because pussy is the ultimate trump card. Men want it. Women have it. And women ultimately decide who gets it, in spite of social constructs designed to contravene that power.
#Metoo, in my opinion, is a reaction by women who find they don’t especially like the results of the revolution. They feel cheated that they no longer have that leverage, even though their Savannah brain is telling them they should. They feel used and cheap and, in many cases, through no fault of their own, they are. To try and win back some of the control they lost through biology, they now are, consciously or unconsciously, using the apparatus of the State and public shaming to try and reel in male sexual fervor. I’ve always thought it self-evident that male and female sexuality are different, but complementary. Men are the engine and women are the transmission. Men are filled with drive and energy and power; a walking hard-on looking for a hole. Women channel that energy from unfocused sexual excess into a sublimation of productivity, art, engineering, etc. Thus things have been since G-d said, “Let there be light”. Now, the transmission has lost its ability to direct the power of the engine; running out of control, the engine tears apart millennia of tradition, family structure and personal motivation. Both sexes perhaps should be more careful what they wish for.
The ultimate purpose of this tome is not to answer any questions, provide predictions or suggest how things can be “fixed”. There *is* nothing to fix. Things are what they are now. The toothpaste is not going back in the tube. Who knows what the future holds? Perhaps some new, even more badass STD will (likely temporarily) push people back to their old ways of sexual restraint. Perhaps the swingers and polyamorists are right that monogamy no longer has a purpose and will be phased out, paving the way for group marriages or some other such arrangement. Due to the hard wiring in our brains, I doubt this is something that would happen on a large scale anytime soon, however. More likely, we’re going to continue escalating the sex war to some kind of breaking point. What comes after that is anyone’s guess. We are indeed cursed to live in interesting times.