Does anybody actually read of all this? Kung, they gave us a wonderful thing. Sex is often referred to as food: Out of one, many. Genital-themed ashtrays from the Komaki Penis Festival in Japan. For humans, sex is more complex than just getting genitals together. Apart from the fact that private, consensual sexual behavior is still considered a matter to be legislated, there were other interesting developments from the discussion.
A representative named Dave Hagstrom raised a deep question when he asked: Unfortunately his own answer did not live up to the profundity of the question: However, the other problem that I wanted to focus on here is trying to delimit human sexuality to any single function, even to something as fundamental as procreation.
Origins do not tell us everything. For example, a number of evolutionary scenarios have been proposed for the origins of grasping hands — and forward facing eyes — in early primates tens of millions of years ago, including for holding onto branches for climbing, for hunting insects, or for better hand-eye coordination to obtain fruit under low-light conditions Conroy Today, we apply our modified primate hands for activities far removed from our ancestral life in the trees such as for typing, using chopsticks, or for sign language.
The point is that evolution is a tinkerer, often tweaking and redeploying pre-existing structures for new functions, a concept known as exaptation Gould and Vrba, This may also apply to sex. Heterosexual individuals often go well out of their way to avoid procreation by using contraception, but they also engage in sex after menopause or during pregnancy, as well as a variety of other creative acts that cannot result in conception with the rarest of exceptions. What it comes down to is this: It is never just about biological processes, ever.
Some have argued that sex primarily became separated from marriage and childbearing after the sexual revolution of the s, which made birth control more accessible. However, that narrative oversimplifies things by a wide margin. Greg Downey has referred to the past few million years of human evolution as one long, slow sexual revolution , in continuous flux as humans have migrated and adapted to various ecological and social circumstances.
With this consciousness in hand, women have known about and used contraceptives or abortifacents for millennia ex. Children are wonderful, and often sources of joy and meaning — not to mention genetic continuity — but given the health risks and personal sacrifices involved in pregnancy, birth, and raising children, it makes perfect sense that women throughout history would have wanted to take more control over their own reproductive histories.
Yet they presumably had sex during that time, even if they wished to become pregnant on their own terms. The Sex Connection Why do it then? To continue with the alliteration, human sexuality is also pro-relational. Reproduction is a by-product of human sexual behavior, not its primary purpose.
Lesser bird of paradise, New Guinea. But perhaps more important than trying to single out any single primary purpose is the recognition that sex can have many functions, which depend on context.
One thing can be many things. If the pro-relational attributes of human sexuality are an exaptation, this need not mean that when new functions evolve that older ones have to wither away. In the present, they can still retain all three functions: The same goes for human sexuality: Or some combination of the three.
When Meston and Buss asked a sample of college students an admittedly WEIRD sample why they had sex, they came up with reasons, an amusingly high number.
These roughly fell into four categories, including: All other roads lead to Rome. Still, it seems that sex is akin to a Swiss Army knife with a variety of functions, with some being more socially acceptable than others. While sex can be multi-functional, the one consistent feature of it is rather obvious: Sexual desire, thus, is not chiefly aimed at physical pleasure or the production of children, but at connectedness with others.
Sexual pleasure is fundamentally a social construct, an emergent property of social exchange. He goes on to say that the experience is enhanced when pleasure is shared: Fundamental social, interpersonal dynamics are apparently present even here, inside the most alienated transaction.
But what is meant by connectedness, and what exactly is being exchanged? Like the reasons given in the Meston and Buss study, this is hard to pin down to any one thing. This list is not complete, but the important thing is that these are shared or exchanged between individuals, when sex is consensual! There is also some evidence that our neurobiology contains mechanisms which reinforce cooperation and reciprocal altruism, at least in lab settings Rilling et al To find someone willing to cooperate sexually with us could only be that much more satisfying.
In fact, sex seems to be one of the most satisfying things that we do. Size of the circle indicates the frequency of occurrence from Killingsworth and Gilbert, Volunteers were texted at random several times a day about their activities and emotions. Furthermore, there is also evidence that sexual stimulation has secondary benefits in other species. And sex is probably a pleasurable experience for most animals at least some of the time. But do any of them, other than humans, find it a source of meaning and engagement?
I have my doubts. Probably not a quest for meaning and engagement. Jurassic Museum of Asturias. Attitudes from other cultures vary, but appear comparable.
Married Ngandu and Aka couples had sex about and times a year, respectively, compared to 86 times per year for U. Hewlett and Hewlett attributed these high numbers at least partly to cultural beliefs that repeated intercourse and sperm were required to sustain a pregnancy.
Both males and females expressed equal and high amounts of desire, however, reinforcing that this was not merely seen as drudgery to procreate. There are other hints that indicate sex is often a means of connection. Copulation Positions Much has been made about the ability of humans and bonobos to mate face-to-face. It has also been seen, albeit rarely, in orangutans and gorillas, though not at all in chimpanzees.
Eye contact plays an important role during pre-copulatory behavior in many anthropoids monkeys and apes. Female monkeys of various species frequently attempt to look back at males during dorso-ventral copulations. Ventro-ventral copulation is not limited to humans. Clockwise from top left: The first is a monkey; the last three are apes. However, Neanderthals would have had a highly sophisticated intelligence and a well-developed theory of mind, so even across phenotypically distinct subspecies with different languages there was still the possibility of affection.
Admittedly, that is just speculation. As mentioned above, college students are a limited sample, but we can still learn from them. Freitas argues that hookups, or at least repeated ones without room for more traditional intimate relationships, leave many young adults dissatisfied.
In her assessment, this stems from the fact that emotional entanglement is verboten in hookups, and casual partners enter into any intimate encounter with the tacit agreement there will be no strings attached. However, some people have an easier time with this than others. In a way, one can liken a hookup to masturbating with another person present.
The problem is, most students fail at this goal, walking away with feelings for their partner. Women reported orgasms in 11 percent of first hookups, 16 percent of second or third hookups, 34 percent of higher-order hookups, and 67 percent of relationship sexual events.
At least in this sample, sexual satisfaction was higher in more committed relationships. Percent of college women achieving orgasm in different types of committed and uncommitted relationships from Armstrong et al.
Instead, the insula expanded its portfolio. Kung believe, sex may be a gift from the gods, but it seems that the type of gift that it is depends on circumstances. American Sociological Review 77 3: Descriptive and injunctive social norm overestimation in hooking up and their role as predictors of hook-up activity in a college student sample.
Link Donnan H, Magowan F. The Anthropology of Sex. The long, slow sexual revolution Part 1. The end of sex: How hookup culture is leaving a generation unhappy, sexually unfulfilled, and confused about intimacy.
Busting Myths about Human Nature. University of California Press. Why is sex so complicated? Psychology Today, Dec 3. Review of General Psychology. Sexual experience restores age-related decline in adult neurogenesis and hippocampal function. The structure of evolutionary theory. A missing term in the science of form. A biocultural approach to sex, love, and intimacy in Central African foragers and farmers. In W Jankowiak ed: