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Evolution & Human Sexual Behaviour


Evolution & Human Sexual Behaviour
By Peter B. Gray and Justin R. Garcia
Harvard University Press – £29.95

Whether it was The Beatles wanting to hold your hand or Madonna wanting to give you good face, the evolution of sexual behaviour, is, to varying degrees, paramount in almost everyone’s lives. Whether or not, most will admit to it – those of a puritanical Catholic persuasion for instance, such as uptight nuns or holier than thou born again simpletons – is an altogether different matter.

Either way, there’s oodles of room within most societies to learn, embrace and fully comprehend what is clearly, an imperative subject matter. One that is comprehensively taken for granted as well as assumed to be both natural and instinctive. Hence, a number of songwriters writing about it, and thousands upon thousands of cut throat, marketing campaigners, veritably bowing down at the alter of high-octane, economic sexuality.

Naturally, none of said (myopic) advertising moguls will ever agree to the havoc and the damage done by their appallingly, wretched campaigns – especially amid the upsurge of anorexic, teenage girls – which is why a book such Evolution & Human Sexual Behaviour makes for an important read.

To be sure, authors Peter B. Gray and Justin R. Garcia have herein written a book, that in certain areas of society, advertising and perhaps the Vatican in particular, ought to make for imperative reading.

Reason being, it’s a substantial and more than comprehensive clarification of sexual development, which, still to this very day, is, amid many segments of society, both denied and denounced.

As the Director of Evolutionary Studies and Chair and Professor of Psychology, SUNY at New Paltz, Glenn Geher, has written: ‘’In addition to excellent writing, this book is appropriately and impressively thorough – including a great amount of cutting-edge research. Further, this book is deeply integrative in its disciplinary scope. It includes research from physiologists, cross-cultural anthropologists, social psychologists, historians, and more. The scholars are masters of interdisciplinary work – and this fact emerges clearly and effectively in this book.’’

Indeed, it does.

Admittedly, said fact might be a tad dry throughout these 309 pages, but given the scientific background, research and contextualisation of said research (along with such chapter headings as: ‘Human Pubertal Transitions: Measurement and Variation,’ ‘Of Testes and Low Sperm Competition Pressures,’ ‘Secondary Sexual Characteristics: Beards, Muscles, and More’ and ‘Why Care about Peripartum Sexuality’) how could it really not be?

That said, there are a number eye opening sections, that within certain quarters, might be construed as fundamental home truths.

For instance, in chapter eleven (‘The Sands of Time: Aging and Sexuality’), the authors write: ‘’Among Kung women after age forty, when they have ceased reproduction, ‘’An older woman may take a younger man as a lover and do this more openly… There seems to be less danger attached to it, since husbands are often away for long periods or perhaps less jealous. In a number of recorded cases, after divorce or widowhood a woman has married a man younger than herself, in some instances ten or twenty years younger.’’ This portrait of a hunter-gatherer population illustrates some of the changes in older women’s sexuality. No longer fertile, a woman’s sexual liaisons are less dangerous since they cannot yield an offspring that a cuckolded husband will be asked to invest in. A female may be better positioned to flaunt her sexuality in order to entice attention and resources from younger men who perhaps lack the social might to attract a woman of reproductive age […].’’

This might go some way in deciphering what truly lies behind the mutton dressed as lamb syndrome. Not to mention why so many older women have a penchant for dating vacuous looking men in debt and in baseball caps.

Evolution & Human Sexual Behaviour is a vigorous and altogether comprehensive study of a subject that remains as resoundingly relevant today,
as in the day of Adam and the oft misrepresented Eve.

David Marx