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(Update: Blogger hasn't fixed its problem with the "adult warning". Will go back to posting at my WordPress blog)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Normal plus

If you follow this blog and read my scribbles you will know that I believe that sex is (potentially) part of friendship as well as part of love.  In the current episodes of Majorca Flats, I'm exploring how a deep friendship can become an amitié amoureuse ( friends with benefits, in the far less felicitous English phrase.)

I've shown this Venn diagram before, or rather one like it, but I've amended the earlier version slightly.  I've been reading Sex at Dawn, which makes a compelling case for multiple marriage, for the notion that sex is about bonding a tribe together, about transforming conflict into friendship using sex.  Of course, it's not quite that simple.  It never is.  All the same ....

It's long been obvious to me that sex between husband and wife is not about procreation, whatever the religious troglodytes say.  It's about love, about bonding a couple together long enough that their children have a good start in life.  And, you will know from my constant mutterings about it, that gayness (which otherwise is bizarrely dysfunctional from an evolutionary point of view) is really about bonding men together.  Being gay, if you have children, is not dysfunctional in evolutionary terms.  And in a group which practises multiple marriage, gay men would almost certainly sometimes have sex with women, even if only as part of a threesome. In fact, gayness would help bind the tribe even closer.  Not only would there be links between men and women, but there would also be links between men and men.

What if our survival depended not on our competitiveness but on our co-operation, on our ability to work together?   What if the whole Hobbesian "nasty, brutish and short" view of primitive "hunter-gatherer" societies is plain wrong?  What if the dog-eat-dog perspective of human society is in fact based on the false premise that a brutal Darwinian personal (as opposed to group) competition was essential for our survival, whereas in fact, what was essential was our co-operation?

Love between men -- in addition to love between men and women -- may be central to the survival of our species, because it will transform politics from a zero-sum game to a win-win one.  Bisexuality is normal plus, not minus, as Mary Renault said over 50 years ago.  

I'll keep you posted as I think this thing through.

1 comment:

Hunter said...

This comment actually responds to a comment that started off "One of the puzzles of 100% gayness is that that person's genes aren't passed on. So full or partial gayness must confer great survival advantages to the group, otherwise the genes would have been bred out long ago."

OK, stop right there: First, there's no surety that a gay man or
woman will not have offspring. In fact, through most of human
history, they have. I know several gay men who married and had
families before they came out.

Second, even if said theoretical "non-breeder" actually is a "non-
breeder," any siblings will pass on at least part of the genetic
heritage, which is going to contain at least some of the genes that contribute to same-sex orientation. That's where the advantages to the group come in -- a "gay" person historically has had a role in the group that contributed to the group's adaptive superiority, and
there's some evidence that "altruism" is founded on kinship: the "gay" person will work to enhance the survival of his/her kin and their offspring.

Third, there's no such thing as a "gay gene." There seem to be a
number of contributing factors, genetic, environmental, and social,
that result in "gayness." There is most likely a genetic
predisposition that depends on a number of environmental factors, both pre- and post-natal, to achieve expression. For the social component, see 1 above.

Freud's theories on homosexuality are basically non-existent (he said
so himself). They've been developed largely by his followers, based on patient populations, so their thinking is skewed, to say the least.

There's no reason to presume that exclusive heterosexuality has always been the norm. In fact, a certain degree of bisexuality was accepted among the ancient Irish, the ancient Greeks, the Sanskrit-speaking Indians, the pre-Meiji Japanese, pre-colonial Africans, and probably others. There's no reason to think it was different in earlier societies.

End of rant.