In the following pages, we’ll explain how seismic cultural shifts that began about ten thousand years ago rendered the true story of human sexuality so subversive and threatening that for centuries it has been silenced by religious authorities, pathologized by physicians, studiously ignored by scientists, and covered up by moralizing therapists. At best, the only thing they would lose by such flight was their composure” (p. As we’ve established, these nomadic (immediate-return) hunter-gatherers are most representative of human prehistory—a period that is, by definition, before the advent of settled communities, cultivated food, domesticated animals, and so on. When we pointed out that many primatologists argue that bonobos are probably more representative), that even Wrangham had revised his opinion on the point, and in any case, it is factually wrong to say that chimps are our “closest non-human relative” without mentioning bonobos, he finally relented and added two brief references to bonobos to his lurid descriptions of chimps’ “bloody wars of attrition.” Since the online essay was an extract from his book, which was already in print, it seems unlikely these reluctant changes are reflected there.14. Deep conflicts rage at the heart of modern sexuality. The campaign to obscure the true nature of our species’ sexuality leaves half our marriages collapsing under an unstoppable tide of swirling sexual frustration, libido-killing boredom, impulsive betrayal, dysfunction, confusion, and shame. Also see Natalie Angier, “No Time for Bullies: Baboons Retool Their Culture, New York Times, April 13, 2004. Keeley’s confusion (and thus, Pinker’s) is largely due to his referring to horticulturalists, with their gardens, domesticated animals, and settled villages, as “sedentary hunter-gatherers.” Yes, they do occasionally hunt and they sometimes gather, but because these activities are not their sole source of food, their lives are dissimilar to those of immediate-return hunter-gatherers. On threat of torture, in 1633, the Inquisition of the Roman Catholic Church forced Galileo to state publicly what he knew to be false: that the Earth sat immobile at the center of the universe. Three and a half centuries later, in 1992, Pope John Paul II admitted that the scientist had been right all along, but that the Inquisition had been “well-intentioned.”Well, there’s no Inquisition like a Inquisition. The answers normally proffered don’t answer the questions at the heart of our erotic lives: Why are men and women so different in our desires, fantasies, responses, and sexual behavior? Perhaps his penis needs enlarging or her vagina needs a retrofit. In 2000, under the headline “Wall Street Meets Pornography,” reported that General Motors sold more graphic sex films than Larry Flynt, owner of the Hustler empire. Why are we betraying and divorcing each other at ever increasing rates when not opting out of marriage entirely? Why does the passion evaporate from so many marriages so quickly? Having evolved together right here on Earth, why do so many men and women resonate with the idea that we may as well be from different planets? Every month, truckloads of glossy supermarket magazines offer the same old tricks to get the spark back into our moribund sex lives. Maybe he has “commitment issues,” a “fragmentary superego,” or the dreaded “Peter Pan complex.” Are you depressed? Over eight million American subscribers to Direc TV, a General Motors subsidiary, were spending about 0 million a year on pay-per-view sex films from satellite providers. Oriented toward medicine and business, American society has responded to this ongoing crisis by developing a marital-industrial complex of couples therapy, pharmaceutical hard-ons, sex-advice columnists, creepy father-daughter purity cults, and an endless stream of in-box come-ons (“Unleash your Love Monster! Yes, a few candles here, some crotchless panties there, toss a handful of rose petals on the bed and it’ll be just like the very first time! You say you love your spouse of a dozen years but don’t feel sexually attracted the way you used to? Maybe you two should try doing it on the kitchen floor. Similarly, Rupert Murdoch, owner of the Fox News Network and the nation’s leading conservative newspaper, was pulling in more porn money through a satellite company than Playboy made with its magazine, cable, and Internet businesses combined.
And how many of the couples who manage to stay together for the long haul have done so by resigning themselves to sacrificing their eroticism on the altar of three of life’s irreplaceable joys: family stability, companionship, and emotional, if not sexual, intimacy? They—unlike true immediate-return foragers—have a lot to lose by simply fleeing aggression. If you live a settled life in a stable village, have a labor-expensive shelter, cultivated fields, domesticated animals, and too many possessions to carry easily, you’re not a hunter-gatherer. Meanwhile, so-called traditional marriage appears to be under assault from all sides—as it collapses from within. Pig theft is a major cause of conflict.—The economy was based primarily on fishing, collecting shellfish, hunting, and gathering until the establishment of missions and the gradual introduction of market goods in the 1930s and 1940s. Furthermore, why did Pinker not include the tens of millions who died in some of the most vicious and deadly examples of twentieth-century warfare? Even the most ardent defenders of sexuality buckle under its weight, as never-ending bipartisan perp-walks of politicians (Clinton, Vitter, Gingrich, Craig, Foley, Spitzer, Sanford) and religious figures (Haggard, Swaggert, Bakker) trumpet their support of before slinking off to private assignations with lovers, prostitutes, and interns. Hundreds of Catholic priests have confessed to thousands of sex crimes against children in the past few decades alone. While hunting and gathering remain important for some groups, motor vehicles, aluminum boats with outboard engines, guns, and other introduced tools have replaced indigenous techniques.—The staple food is the sweet potato. In his discussion of “our most peaceful age,” he makes no mention of the Rape of Nanking, the entire Pacific theater of World War II (including the detonation of two nuclear bombs over Japan), the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot’s killing fields in Cambodia, several consecutive decades-long wars in Vietnam (against the Japanese, French, and Americans), the Chinese revolution and civil war, the India/Pakistan separation and subsequent wars, or the Korean war. Conventional notions of monogamous, till-death-do-us-part marriage strain under the dead weight of a false narrative that insists we’re something else. We suggest, in particular, that this becomes an optimal solution for individual decision makers when the number of group members required for collective action exceeds the maximum group size at which leaderless cooperation is viable. Here’s an article about a paper demonstrating hormonal differences in how male chimps and male bonobos respond to stress, with chimps gearing up for battle and bonobos chilling out. If you prefer to read Pinker’s remarks, an essay based upon the talk can be found at org/3rd_culture/pinker07/pinker07_7. For a review, see Sussman and Garber’s chapter in Chapman and Sussman (2004). What is the essence of human sexuality and how did it get to be that way? Quite interesting, in light of the never-ending debate about the relevance of these two primates to human nature: Note that Pinker’s chart represents part of a chart in Keeley’s book (1996), and that Keeley refers to these societies as “primitive,” “prestate,” and “prehistoric” in his charts (pp. Indeed, Keeley distinguishes what he calls “sedentary hunter-gatherers” from true “nomadic hunter-gatherers,” writing, “Low-density, nomadic hunter-gatherers, with their few (and portable) possessions, large territories, and few fixed resources or constructed facilities, had the option of fleeing conflict and raiding parties. After we contacted him to ask how he could possibly justify the omission, Smith at first cited Wrangham and Peterson’s dismissal of bonobos as being less representative than chimps of our last common ancestor.