I recently finished reading the “Land of the Painted Caves” by Jean M. Auel. It is the final book in the Earth Children’s Series which I have been reading since I was a young teenager, so one of my few exceptions in which I will foray into the land of fiction novels. The series depicts the life of a young woman named Ayla, set in prehistoric times at the split of the Neanderthal and Homo sapiens line. The book was set during early hunter gathering society and although sadly it did not live up to the standards of the previous books, it did touch upon an incredibly interesting topic which falls hand in hand with my constant relationship questioning. The research is overwhelming in supporting the fact that if early humans were monogamous then we would not have survived. Survival was hard and to this day there are still strong risks and a high mortality in trying to procreate our species. Any of my regular readers know about my fondness for “Sex at Dawn” in exploring some of the myths around males baser instincts.
I have written about how there is strong evidence that a males desire is in procreation and spreading his seed, whereas a females desires lie in finding the highest quality food sources to sustain life, Reproductive Goals Blog
. But where do we separate that line from where we evolved to where we are at now, that place of struggle between our base instincts and our societal norms. In the aforementioned novel, Jean M. Auel takes the readers to the point in history where the change begins to take place between the poly lifestyle and leads into a more monogamous way of thinking. The male flatheads (Neanderthals) openly had sex with any females who were around in an instinctual needs only basis. The Zelandonii (Homo sapiens) believe that babies are created by the mixing of spirits and thus sex is their gift of pleasure given from the Mother for all to enjoy.
She depicts a land where there are Mother Festivals in which any person may mate with another so long as both consent. Sex was about sharing pleasures and not about procreation in the eyes of the first Homo sapiens. The author proceeds to challenge the first peoples way of thinking about sex by introducing a vision to Ayla that a baby is created by more than spirits but by the actual physical act of sex. This introduces the most feared and tabooed feelings of jealousy. With jealousy there can be little cooperation which was an intrinsic part in ensuring that our species survived. This book is of course fiction; however it presents a plausible scenario in which humans created monogamous bonds as an evolutionary tool to ensure that jealousy was eradicated or at the very least minimized. When the complexities of life were introduced to a species that were just focusing on survival, we did what we had to do, we adapted. The creation of social norms to ensure that that deadliest sin, based around jealousy was once again made taboo was a response to learning more about ourselves in our increase cognitive thoughts.
As our brains grew bigger, so did the need for social constraints to ensure co-operation and thus ultimate survival. I don`t know about you, but sometimes knowing a plausible cause and effect of new knowledge really makes me want to battle harder against it. I think it is natural to grow up and move forward, thus when a society grows out of a constraint created to by us, it almost feels empowering to try and rise above such things. Breaking free from our prehistorically created social norms, towards something a lot more fulfilling and naturally simple seems like an obvious choice. Sex is about fun and pleasure. We have so many tools at our disposal to prevent pregnancies prior to a solid foundation and family being built to raise children, in my opinion, properly where children can always come first. So now that we have the technology for safe, and lower risk sex, should we not be properly enjoying that aspect of life? Can we as a society break free of the taboo’s and shame towards having sex with multiple partners and just enjoy ourselves? Breaking free of our prehistoric roots, in search of more pleasure and happiness in hopes that we can learn to evolve beyond the challenge of jealousy.
Breasts are defined as secondary sex characteristics, so then why did breasts evolve? Two main hypothesis’s exist in the anthropologists mind. The first is that men just favour women with larger breasts so that is who they mated with which lead to an increased breast size in our gene pool. The second is that it was an evolutionary trait to attract men paralleled to the peacock and his eyelets on his feathers. In peacocks studies have been done to show that the eyelets, both colour and quantity is a sign of the best possible mate to the Peahens. These secondary sex characteristics have thus evolved into beautiful and ornate things of beauty. So with this in mind it will be curious to see how “life finds a way” with all the plastic surgery and breast enhancements out there that actually skew reality.
Let’s say that men just really love women with large breasts and select those women to have sex with.
Well great, everyone loves boobs
, and that would explain why breasts are getting larger, even unnaturally large in some instances.
Of course we have to balance in the additional hormone levels in our food, and our easy access to higher quality and more plentiful resources.
But what if it is the latter?
If women’s breast size was an adaptive advantage to securing a mate or even just getting his attention, it is possible that historically we were not all a monogamous society.
If women had to compete then there would have to be an evolutionary reason, and that reason just hypothetically would be that there was direct competition between the sexes.
Women had to display these secondary sex characteristics in the faces of men in order to be selected as a mate.
Thus there may have been a time when women had to compete for male attention in an evolutionary sense.
Likely to have evolved in multi female – one male societies as depicted in the animal kingdom where women needed to develop secondary characteristics.
We see examples in the animal kingdom where polygynous (one male, multi female)birds will develop very strong secondary sex characteristics to attract the males.
If interested this
is a great article that explains further.
Although there is risk to utilizing animal behaviour to determine right and wrong human behaviours, it can be used and a great resource to exemplify the relationship variants.
Personally I am far too competitive a soul to contemplate engaging in a plural relationship where I shared by mate full time with another female. But that is entirely my viewpoint and I acknowledge that it may make some couples incredibly happy. To me the fascination is in exploring all the different viewpoints and why as a society we favour one circumstance over another. It’s exciting to think that we have evolutionary clues as to what and how our past ancestors lived, and under what social constructs.
When I was in grade school I remember learning about the debate surrounding nature versus nurture and how the scientific community was working on research with twins to prove if genetics stand alone in a persons predisposition. Imagine my surprise to learn in a university course that this debate is no longer an issue. In fact scientists have determined that the code is genetic, environmental and developmental and not just any sole area, working together to form our genetic disposition. Aside from feeling a little old at having lived through a theory and an actual solution in my lifetime it also gives me amazing hope at finding the answers in my own life.
Let me share with you the question that I have been thinking about this last year, thus making an impact on my belief system. How much time do you currently exert on your partners happiness. Or to put another way, how much time do you invest in measuring your own happiness based on your partners emotional level. I spent the last two days in personal reflection mode, whereby I kept track on day one of all of my negative comments. On day two I kept track of all the positive comments that I made (which was even more interesting as I was moderately hungover). When I took a long hard look at my results it was very eye opening as to whom my negative and or positive comments were geared and directed. So then where do I take this information in relation to my blog? Why of course in the direction of what my relationship status is compared to my previous long term one.
I have written on my happiness
. And I work daily to ensure that I am responsible for my own happiness, and games like this really eye open for me my strengths and weakness’. I happily report that shifting the focus onto positive comments about myself and those around has improved my personal relationships without even trying. Confident and sexy me, is the only focus I need to have as the rest is a very happy result. I took a risk and shifted my train of thought onto doing things that I enjoy and enhancing to my life. I no longer sit watching my partner, wondering if he’s happy. Wondering if he is faithful, or willing to stay with me long term, and a million other things that have gone through my head. I wasted years of energy on this battle and let me assure you I found no winners, or even answers, just more painful questions.
We are a result of our genes, our environment, and our development, and I cannot stress just how amazingly important this is. I am not plagued by the same plagues of my family. I am an individual result of everything that surrounds me and has the capacity to influence me. I gained to much in changing a focus that was instilled since I was a little girl, “how to please your man”. For my this was my biggest downfall, as I was not pleasing myself first. When I was in a funk I relied on someone else to get me out of it, rather than knowing myself through and through. How much benefit would there be to you to not worry or stress about someone that you will never be able to control? For me the answer is priceless. At the end of the day, there is me and only me. I nurture my own destiny as an adult, and of course questioning everything around me.
In primates, survival of the species depends on the female having access to food and the males having access to females. In other words, a male chasing tail is the only way to ensure that he will be able to procreate. Whereas the females chase nutrition in order to not only to survive but to give nutrients to their offspring as the “tail” comes right to them. Now enter humans with our cognitive ability, those pesky emotions, complex thought processes and interpretive skills. The natural order of things in Canada and the USA has females making up 51% of the population, giving the males plenty to choose from.
Let us consider the mountain gorillas for a moment as a case study in regards to their mating effectiveness. The males have an opportunity of creating 0 – 35 offspring in their lifespan, whereas females have the potential of a 5-8 offspring range. Males can mate and walk away, but for females, reproducing takes a huge toll on the body and energy levels. So the goal of the male universally is to mate as often as possible and for females it’s more or less quality over quantity to ensure overall survival. It’s interesting to note here too that the females are the concerned one when it comes to incestual mating and of little or no concern to the male. Food for thought! Thus our society evolved and developed social norms and constraints to aid in the evolutionary balance. Thereby trying to prevent men from running amuck, also giving females support financially and socially.
There is a really interesting society that I am linking here, where it seems the development was geared more towards a natural evolution versus an intellectual evolution. And by that I mean the females have support of family to raise their children, thus they evolved with a lot more parallels to primate social and mating systems than typical other societies found around the world, article here
. It is an incredible read and challenges the brain to imagine a completely out of the box way of looking at our system for rearing children. And that is really what it is all about isn’t it? Trying to look outside the box of social systems that many of us don’t even feel like we are in? Well until that box gets wet and we need to find a way to dry it or move. Charming little visual eh? So do you want to stay in your box or explore the possibilities of different shapes, and sizes? Perhaps even create a box all of your own?