I gotta admit this article, has me wanting to throw things. It’s on the mystery of female orgasm, and how researchers are trying to figure out how and why it exists. In the course of the discussion they get to the point where they’ve got two theories. The first is that female orgasm, by virtue of requiring more prolonged stimulation than you generally get from a man, encourages a woman to line up multiple partners and move from one to the next so as to achieve orgasm, possibly multiple times. The second theory is that female orgasm induces pair-bonding and makkes the woman more inclined to mate with that male again, making her more likely to get preggers with a non-selfish guy who’s therefore more likely to take care of the kid. It then spends several paragraphs hand-wringing over the problem of having these two theories, each with evidence to support them, which contradict each other. The first is all about polyandery! The second is all about monogamy! OMGZ!!!
Except the second isn’t about monogamy, it’s about repeat business. Nothing is stopping the woman from lining up the same six guys every time, maybe mixing up the order just to keep things interesting. There is no conflict between the two theories. It’s more than a little disappointing that this wouldn’t occur to them before they spent several paragraphs acting like there were.
There are other icky assumptions underlying points they make, like that females feeling unsafe with a random sexual partner is a normal, assumed thing, or that her unwillingness to communicate her needs to an unknown first-time lover isn’t just a consequence of cultural conditioning that tells her she shouldn’t be interested in that and probably undercutting her ability to understand how to get her needs met. The only reason I wouldn’t be communicative about my needs if it’s not working is if I’m not sure there’s going to be another time, and therefore isn’t worth the effort of correcting.
It does a pretty good job of outlining the reasons I refuse to fake an orgasm, though. And it does cite some interesting research. It’s just…grah! There are times when to miss something that obvious you’ve got to be smoking monogamy crack. And now I’m going to spend the next two days wanting to quit my job to go become the sex-researcher who sees proof humans are designed for polyamory everywhere, just to balance the monogamy crack-heads.
One thought on “Unquestioned assumptions in science”
The answer to this is, “evolutionary psychology is so many THOUSAND gallons of bullshit, and it always has been.” Seriously, we all have rants. SUCH RANTS. In the interests of not going on for seven paragraphs in your comments, I’ll leave it there.
Really, though, if you’re going to be looking at reasons for the particular design of female orgasm through an adaptive lens, you’ve already failed. If you do not take as your base assumptions homology between female and male genitals (which has not only heavy chromosomal evidence but also phylogenetic backing, seriously, there are trees), then you have failed. If you do not consider linkage between the evolution of both gender’s pleasure centers at the same time because it is the same genes and tissues, then you have failed. Because then you’re not telling stories about biology and evolution, you’re telling stories about people. (At least when I make unfalsifiable claims, it’s with an eye to proving them against an outgroup someday.)
The way you know I’m serious about “evolutionary psychologists are smoking the hard crack” is that the above isn’t even my rant, it’s just a prelude. Seriously, just ignore them.