Re: memetics-digest V1 #1527

From: Peter Baker (
Date: Tue 01 Mar 2005 - 10:42:16 GMT

  • Next message: Alan Patrick: "Re: memetics-digest V1 #1527"

    In message <200502281850.SAA24389@localhost.localdomain>, writes
    > But the animal should always prefer an opposite sex partner unless the
    >homosexual behavior has some adaptive function other than breeding.
    >This function may be to practice sexual skills without being pregnant,
    >or it may be to form alliances, or whatever.

    Obviously if the most frequent function of sex were procreation, then one would expect a partner of the opposite sex to be strongly selected for... But is it the most frequent use of sex?

    Given our own personal experience of the matter it is so strange that people still have this biblical view that sex is 99% for procreation, and 1% for sin, or other marginal reasons. Look at it this way... How many times does the average human have sex in a lifetime? At a very rough guess, once a week for 50 years? Say 2500 times in all? And how many children on average? 2.5? So procreation accounts for about 0.1% of human sexual activity. What the hell were we doing it for all the rest of the time? And if it wasn't for procreation, then does it matter whether it is with a partner of the same or different sex?

    Only if there is an adaptive benefit... and what Bagemihl shows
    (ignoring the shortcomings you mention) is that evolution favours diversity on this issue. Many, if not all mammals - including us - have the potential for bisexual activity and relationships, and we swing one way or the other as the situation requires. As humans, our MEMETIC makeup may predispose us to deny it (and as an aside there is good scientific evidence that closet bisexuals are the most vociferous in promoting anti-gay memes) - but that doesn't change the fact that we are all bisexual.

    I think my point here is to challenge the assumption that we need to explain homosexual behaviour MORE than we need to explain other non-procreative sex. Homosexual behaviour is less frequent than heterosexual behaviour, that's all. But orders of magnitude more frequent than procreative sexual activity. I suspect if we sat down and seriously thought about why we personally do what we do, and listed all the uses we put sex to - (yes, you!)... wanting to get/keep a partner; peace making (nothing like making love after an argument!); conversely, avoiding an argument with an amorous partner; showing off to one's mates
    (and if a guy having non-procreative sex with a woman in order to impress his mates isn't homosexual behaviour, I don't know what is!), showing off to oneself; indulging an unobtainable fantasy; 'scratching an itch'; or as a substitute for a good wank (pleasurable, and you might know how to do it better yourself, but of low memetic status)... I think we would find that when it comes down to it, most of the reasons for sex with someone of the same sex are the same as for with one of the opposite. We are not so different as some memes lead us to think.
    [Particularly those originating with a certain celibate brotherhood in Rome, but I've covered promotion of anti-gay memes above, so enough.] In fact - the memes in our heads are the largest difference we have, far greater than our biological diversity when it comes to sexual orientation.

    The problem lies in thinking that procreation is still the 'main' reason for sex. Feathers may have evolved to keep dinosaurs warm, but do we feel the need to explain the outrageous use that birds find for them? And in our puzzlement at such unorthodox use, would we suggest that one reason birds fly is in order to keep their feathers in trim for a cold night?


    Peter Baker
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