Monday, February 13, 2012

Cooperative Female Sexuality in Humans?

Bonobos, like Burners, enjoy sexual activity with same-sex and opposite-sex partners for a variety of non-reproductive purposes. The "hippie ape" seems to make for itself an ideal society, high in sex and low in violence.

Unfortunately for humans, evolution has taken us down a different path from the funtime orgy we'd all be having if we were bonobos. Humans, compared to bonobos, exhibit significant adaptations to monogamous pair bonding, or at most mild polygyny, and use a variety of tools (including violence) to control the sexuality of their partners and other conspecifics.

We're not hippie apes; we're jealous apes. Human heterosexual sexuality is simply not analogous to bonobo heterosexual sexuality.

But the question I have not seen addressed, much less resolved, is whether human female-female sexuality has played a significant role as a cooperative mating strategy.

Evidence Suggestive of a Role for Female Cooperative Sexuality

The first piece of evidence for an adaptive role for female-female sexuality is the existence of female-female sexuality in humans. We can do better than the existence case, though: there is evidence that the capacity to be sexually aroused by women is near-universal in human women. Female sexual response is much more bisexual (and even bestialist!) than male sexual response, regardless of self-identified orientation.

Second, there is evidence that life history affects female sexuality in a manner consistent with the predictions of evolutionary psychology. One study found that lesbians with prior hetero experience were more likely than heterosexual women to have experienced physical and sexual abuse by men. To the extent that heterosexual sexuality is found to be dangerous, through early rape or severe abuse, one might be expected to look for a different strategy to survive and reproduce than heterosexual pair bonding.

Third, human males are highly aroused by images of female-female sexuality. In that vein, nominally heterosexual women often engage in public situational bisexuality in the context of (presumably) heterosexual mate selection, such as sticking their tongues down my throat on the dance floor at a heterosexual club. Female-female sexuality is more widely displayed in heterosexual contexts than male-male sexuality. (I have only rarely observed situational male-male sexuality in a largely heterosexual context, and in all cases a number of females had expressed their arousal over, and approval of, this type of sexuality.)

Fourth, female-female sex is "costless" in evolutionary terms, whereas female-male sex is very costly to females. Being costless, female-female sexuality fails to cry out for an explanation the way fitness-damaging behaviors do. A low-cost tool is one we might expect to see used as part of a variety of strategies. This post was inspired in part by Dain Fitzgerald's An Ev Psych Standard Gets a Twist, in which he relates the curious case of Terri Conley. Conley, in a serious of papers, attempts to challenge Sexual Strategies Theory (i.e., that women aren't as interested as men in casual sex because duh pregnancy) for a variety of stupid reasons. The stupidest alleged attack on SST is that women are shockingly willing to engage in casual sex WITH ANOTHER WOMAN, just not with a man. She (and the popular press) attribute this almost completely to women getting greater sexual satisfaction from women as opposed to men.

While appealing to male fears of sexual inadequacy is totally hilarious, the proposition that a girl is going to sexually satisfy you better than a guy is hardly a given. There are two much more salient features of girl-on-girl action, and they both relate to it being relatively costless.

One aspect of costlessness is material: girls don't fertilize you. This has two consequences: first, you don't incur the costs of pregnancy and childrearing; sex can be just sex. Second, you don't incur the jealousy (or reputational) costs inherent to a fertilization risk; there's no risk of paternity confusion, so none of the negative consequences that might flow from paternity confusion need be realized.

The second aspect is more purely one of signalling. Men are easy; girls are hard. As Eliezer Yudkowsky has noted, the size of a nerdy female's harem is limited only by the stress tolerance of her clit ring. Sleeping with men is not an indication of high mate quality; it may be the opposite, given the value of a woman's reputation for chastity (at least sperm chastity). But having sex with women is an indication of quality and status; I for one am about four thousand times more likely to brag about an all-girl fivesome in the shower of Senior House than about any sexual act involving males, even though I'm predominantly heterosexual. In a dyadic situation, female-female sexuality may even signal to males that sexual access to one means sexual access to both.

Polygyny and Its Discontents

Does the idea of cooperative female-female sexuality conflict with the high levels of conflict (and presumably low levels of scissoring) observed among co-wives in polygynous societies? From the abstract of the 2005 paper "Co-Wife Conflict and Cooperation":
Conventional wisdom holds that the polygynous family system is as sexually and emotionally satisfying as a monogamous one. Ethnographic accounts of 69 polygynous systems, however, provide compelling evidence that the majority of co-wives in a polygynous family prefer pragmatic co-operation with one another while maintaining a respectful distance. Moreover, there is often a deep-seated feeling of angst that arises over competing for access to their mutual husband. Co-wife conflict in the early years of marriage is pervasive, and often marked by outbursts of verbal or physical violence. Co-wife conflict may be mitigated by social institutions, such as sororal polygyny and some form of "social security" or health care. Material wealth may be divided more or less equally, but as a husband's sexual attention (a primary source for increased fertility) and affection cannot always be equitably distributed, there is ongoing and contentious rivalry among co-wives. [NSFW link mine.]

The high-conflict, high-stakes environment of polygyny is not a happy lesbian love-fest. But this environment might be just the place for pockets of sexual cooperation between females (what better hack to get the patriarch's attention?); do female-female sexual relations exist in these societies, and under what circumstances? I am not aware of the answer to this question.

But if girl-on-girl bonding sex isn't used in modern polygynous societies, that doesn't mean it isn't used in other contexts relevant to our environments of evolutionary adaptedness. "Unicorn polyamory" is the pejorative term used to describe a male-female couple in search of a second female to complete a three-person relationship; such females are located about as often as is the concept's namesake. Unicorn polyamory, in my view, is similar in sexiness to the idea of entering somebody else's polygynous marriage: not fucking very, mister patriarchy. There's not much advantage to banging your co-wife, unless the two of you can out-compete the rest of the co-wives that way. Similarly, there's no advantage to sharing a male with another female if you could reliably get your own, assuming high paternal investment.

But when the female-female sexual cooperation comes first, the female dyad is more powerful, and sexier, than either female individually - perhaps more than both put together. I would expect cooperative female-female sexuality, to the extent that it exists, to be geared toward the formation of female-female sexual dyads for the purposes of (a) attracting the attention and investment of high-quality males and (b) pooling resources to raise children safely.

Happy Valentine's Day!

47 comments:

  1. Unfortunately for humans, evolution has taken us down a different path from the funtime orgy we'd all be having if we were bonobos.

    No love for Sex at Dawn's claim that we're not different in evolution from bonobos, but rather the invention of agriculture led us down this dark path?

    I have no idea if it's true, although the book was an interesting read. And even if it is, I see absolutely nothing that could be done about it, so I guess it's not worth being depressed about.

    I have only rarely observed situational male-male sexuality in a largely heterosexual context, and in all cases a number of females had expressed their arousal over, and approval of, this type of sexuality.

    Yeah, I don't understand that either (but I'm a gay man, so what do I know about it?) Clearly most men are not just uninterested in other men, but repulsed. It's unclear to me why evolution would endow men with such a strong preference, although I find it confusing. If in some hypothetical state of the world making out with a woman would make me more attractive to other guys, I'd do it in a heartbeat. But it doesn't seem to have caught on for straight men.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If in some hypothetical state of the world making out with a woman would make me more attractive to other guys, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

      Interesting. I kind of assumed, based on a few conversations I've had, that gay men were about as "repulsed" by sexual interaction with females as we straight men seem to be about sexual interaction with other men.

      To be (at least) slightly presumptuous, do you know if other gay men feel the same way about this?

      Delete
    2. No love for Sex at Dawn's claim that we're not different in evolution from bonobos, but rather the invention of agriculture led us down this dark path?

      I wish it were true, but the universality of violent male sexual jealousy (even among hunter-gatherers) says otherwise. E.g., here's a picture of an Apache woman with her nose cut off for adultery :(

      The Chivers paper I link somewhere above finds that men are much more gender-specific in their arousal than women (gay men toward men and straight men toward women), but it's nothing like 100%, and as Pual supposes, that doesn't exactly mean they're repulsed by women. Some gay men are attracted to women, others not, but I don't think many find us repellent (one friend says it's like watching the nature channel). (Which is another amusing footnote of the Chivers research - women are turned on by watching animals have sex! But men aren't.)

      Delete
    3. Pual, I don't actually know, and would be interested in finding out if anyone had any real info on it. To be honest I've talked to very few people about it. But at least for me, yeah, straight sex is not repulsive, just uninteresting. If I watch straight porn (as I did a bit when I was younger in a vain attempt at kindling some heterosexuality), it's more or less like watching animals do it on the Discovery Channel. Weird, sometimes vaguely amusing, hardly titillating, and mostly boring.

      Delete
    4. Huh, looking back, I didn't read Sister Y's post before mine. But her gay friends seem to agree with my experience.

      Follow up for straight males who might still be reading: Does all gay sex equally repulse you, or is it more limited to anal? I'm curious because my understanding is that in Ancient Greece, everyone's favorite paradise of rampant homosexuality, the main male-male sexual activity was instead intercrural, which is obviously less penetrative.

      Delete
    5. An excellent question! It's really hard to model other people's sex desires, and we don't realize how crappy our models are because it's a blind spot - we don't even know what we don't know about other people's sexuality.

      My fencing partner, like me, is right-handed and bisexual, and once we decided to fence left-handed to see what it was like, and it felt SO WRONG that at one point I asked: "Is this what it's like for non-bisexuals to be with the 'wrong' sex?"

      Of course, this "blind spot" applies as much to two people of the same nominal orientation imagining each other's desires as it does to people of wholly different orientations.

      I'm curious what triggers the "ew gross" reaction in straight men, too.

      Delete
    6. Hmm, "straight man" is usually not a minority group on the Internet, but I suppose this isn't your average website. Personally, I think watching gay sex invokes more of a "nature channel" response, while imagining myself involved in gay sex is more "repulsive". However, I suspect many straight men would claim to have the same repulsion recation to gey porn. Are they telling the truth, though?

      Delete
    7. I can only speak for myself and my friends, but most of my gay male friends, whom I'd like to think are a fairly self-aware bunch, have been physically intimate with women and ranged from having been indifferent to being moderately aroused and pleased. Even the ones who haven't been with a woman aren't grossed out by the thought of vagina.

      I suspect that a lot of the "ewww, sex with women!" attitude you hear from gay men is learned and serves to affirm group membership and to deny disadvantage relative to straight men. It's also a strong signal to women that the signaler won't try to put the moves on.

      Delete
    8. Additionally, when a gay man thinks about hetero sex, he's either imagining himself in the role of the man, in which case he's just fucking a loose girly guy with tits who's not very hot, or he's imagining himself int he role of the woman, in which case he's just getting fucked by a guy, per usual.

      When a straight man thinks about homo sex, the thought of him getting penetrated probably crosses at least subconsciously his mind, which is something foreign (literally!) to him, and threatening. Cuz, getting fucked is, objectively, more dangerous than fucking. Homo sex challenges the straight man's identity and sense of integrity in ways that hetero sex doesn't challenge the gay man.

      Delete
  2. I've read about studies that contrast jealous responses between men and women, as well as between heterosexuals and homosexuals (mostly summarized in Buss's "The Dangerous Passion"), but I don't think I've seen anything that looks at how hetero male jealousy registers when the trigger involves his partner in a female-female relationship/encounter. My strong intuitive hunch is that the stressor is significantly less intense. Do you know if this has been studied?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't know but that's a great question. Do we just have a "generic infidelity detector" or are our sperm competition/resource competition detectors specific enough to eliminate the false positive of girl-on-girl sex?

      Delete
    2. Let's hope, for the sake of science, Cheaters transcends its heteronormativity.

      Delete
    3. "Let's hope, for the sake of science, Cheaters transcends its heteronormativity."

      More likely would be a gay version of Cheaters on Bravo or something like that. Media that treats heterosexuality and homosexuality as the same doesn't fly in the U.S. You can have Will and Grace, and you can even have bi characters, but you can't have bi characters for whom the sex of the people they're interested in is a non-issue (as opposed to trying to figure out whether they want to be with a man or a woman).

      Mixed-gay/straight Cheaters would be liking having a bisexual show that was indifferent toward the sex of its partner. It would deny the essentialization of straightness versus gayness. (I.e., that there is this thing, "heterosexuality", that is something different from this thing, "homosexuality".)

      Delete
  3. J. Michael Bailey argues that women, in a sense, don't have a sexuality - that sexual orientation is a male construct inappropriately applied to women, which I have been arguing drunkenly at parties for years. He argues that males exhibit sexual arousal patterns - sex-specific attraction, but also greater incidence of fetishes and pedophilia and stuff. Women, on the other hand, just don't really have attraction patterns at all.

    His paper above is still going with the "male bisexuality doesn't exist" thing, but he since then co-authored a study where he acknowledged that bisexual men exist. However, it's pretty clear that male bisexuality is rarer than female bisexuality - much less universal.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "However, it's pretty clear that male bisexuality is rarer than female bisexuality - much less universal."

      No doubt true, but men on the straight side of bi suppress their homosexual attractions and behavior to a greater extent than do similarly situated women, or complementarily-situated gay-side-of-bi men.

      Just from personal experience, the only straight-side-of-bi men I'm personally aware of who call themselves, at least in some contexts, bi, are <strike>bonobos<\strike> burners.

      Delete
  4. What a delightfully affirmative retort to Nietzsche's "healthy doubt as to whether women really want – and are able to want – to provide enlightenment about themselves" -- and sexy "new piece of finery"...

    Lisa Diamond has recently argued for applying dynamical systems models to the conceptualization of female sexual orientation ( -more like a wave, as she puts it, than, as with men, a compass).

    Also, some startling research on male hetero porno preferences.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a great paper! (Nietzsche & misogyny)

      Re: the porno thing - I keep meaning to write about the Twat Squeegee Theory of Sperm Competition that McKibben is talking about there.

      Delete
  5. Equal Opportunity TrollFebruary 14, 2012 at 1:44 PM

    According to the OkCupid blog, the vast majority of bisexuals (both male and female) only message people of the opposite gender. They suggest that bisexuality is just a form of signalling "adopted by straights to appear more sexually adventurous to their (straight) matches".

    Happy Morning-After Pill Day (Feb 15)!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The OKC blog is AMAZING - wish they'd publish every week. Or make their data available to outside scholars.

      Re: the bisexuality thing - the claim seems to be that because people who click "bisexual" only message one gender, that identification as bisexual is for signalling purposes and doesn't reflect "real" orientation. I'm actually going one further - it may be that the REAL orientation (in girls at least) could serve signalling purposes.

      But the OKC data doesn't support the "identification as bi is signalling only" hypothesis as much as it seems. For one thing, and this reflects my arguments in the post, lots of girls on there are only interested in meeting girls, because they're in monogamish relationships WITH BOYS. That's pretty undeniably bisexual, but that would show up as "fake bisexual" according to the message-both-genders metric. (Also, no girl ever has to send a message on OKC!)

      Delete
    2. I don't understand your argument. Hypothesize two girls in monogamish relationships who are only interested in meeting girls. Neither one messages each other, because girls don't have to. That doesn't make sense, how are they supposed to meet?

      I acknowledge I don't know how the site actually works, so maybe people can come into contact without messaging, but then that's something surprising that you should have mentioned.

      Delete
    3. entitledtoanopinion - sorry, I slide pretty freely between Serious Explication and jokey silliness. That was jokey silliness - yes, girls have to message other girls to meet each other.

      So this is Serious Explication. Looking at the graphs again, a few things are striking:

      1. The charts are consistent with greater "polarization" of male bisexuality - it's more even between messaging both, just girls, and just boys for girls, but guy bisexuals appear more likely than girl bisexuals to just message one gender.

      2. What's amazing is that the numbers of bis who just message girls is around the same as the number of bis who just message boys, for both genders of bisexual. It's rather amazing that bisexuality is used as a signal at similar levels in both cases!

      To attach a story to each category, straight-ish girls signal to boys that they're bisexual for reasons outlined in the post - not that surprising. But that (about) the same number of girls who are only interested in girls also want to signal bisexuality is rather interesting. I wonder how many of them are the monogamish-mated type I describe above?

      It makes intuitive sense to me that gay men would indicate they're bi for signalling purposes - I obsessively read craigslist M4M for a number of cities (who doesn't, I know), as well as watch a variety of gay porn, and there does seem to be a big-time straight fetish among gay guys.

      But the straight guys saying they're bi in equal-slash-increasing-with-age numbers is a little surprising. If the demographic they're trying to appeal to is me, it makes sense, but how many girls like me can there be? I suspect that autogynephilia explains some of it. Weirdly, both the functionally bisexual men I've met on OKC listed their orientations as straight.

      Why does EVERYBODY want to be bisexual - straight and gay men, straight and gay women? Why would that be attractive to each demographic equally? Signalling adventurousness makes a LOT less sense for straight guys signalling to straight women than for straight women signalling to straight guys.

      Delete
    4. maybe it makes you sound less jealous and threatening to potential matches' status quo? OKC isn't exactly straight-up monogamy central. And it's hard for someone who identifies--or, particularly, acts--as a bisexual to get away with being jealous without just coming off as a crazy hypocrite.

      Delete
    5. Why does EVERYBODY want to be bisexual - straight and gay men, straight and gay women? Why would that be attractive to each demographic equally?

      Declaring yourself as "bisexual" on a site like OKC or in certain circles of friends isn't necessarily only about signalling to others. It seems fairly intuitive to me that your average liberal-minded college student type would take no small amount of pleasure in attempting to convince themself that they were bisexual, especially if they were brought up in a small town or a socially conservative home environment.

      Maybe this happens to men more than women, which cancels out the fact that there are more bisexual women? The only thing we can know for sure is that I'm talking out of my ass.

      Delete
    6. "Or make their data available to outside scholars. "

      Yes!!

      There's a lot of hackish stuff they do on the blog that bothers this stats-heavy natural scientist.

      I think they did, however, share their data with these guys.

      Delete
    7. "Maybe this happens to men more than women, which cancels out the fact that there are more bisexual women? The only thing we can know for sure is that I'm talking out of my ass."

      What matters is whether it happens more more to men who use OKCupid. And, generally, OKCupid selects for monogamish-to-poly, sexually-liberal, less-mainstream, self-expressive people. Which are not most people.

      Delete
  6. Your link on sororal polygyny goes to google results for "lesbian twins". The actual term, as described on wikipedia, refers to something completely different. Interestingly, the only form of polyandry I've heard of recognized by anthropologists is fraternal.

    Greg Cochran didn't bother trying to explain lesbianism with his pathogenic theory, in part because the incidence is lower.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes - very sadly for everyone else, the only polyandrous societies are the rare fraternal polyandry where brothers buy a wife together, and Less Wrong.

      I was making a joke with the link - that the modern fetish for similar-looking females getting it on is an echo of an ancestral longing for sororal polygyny.

      Delete
    2. Cochran focuses on preferential homosexuality, the incidence of which is indeed lower in women. But while there are fewer avowed lesbians than gay men, there are marked and persistent gender differences in homosexual arousal. As Michael Bailey's labs document, women are roughly as likely to be turned on by erotic stimuli involving female-female action as by hetero action, by erotic images of women as of men. I think that under the right circumstances, this fluidity translates into behavioral bisexuality (which includes "homosexual" encounters) for women who nevertheless self-report as preferentially heterosexual.

      There is also less reason to speculate on the bio-etiology of lesbianism because, for fairly obvious cultural reasons, it doesn't leave us with a Darwinian puzzle to unravel the way male homosexuality does; until very recently, it seems safe to assume that "real" lesbians were as apt to have children as heterosexually oriented women.

      Delete
    3. Cochran's latest iteration of the pathogenic theory is here.

      Delete
    4. I find Cochran's theory plausible and certainly not offensive, but I find it unusual/amusing that he seems to assume at the end of that post that knowing what causes homosexuality, and presumably being able to control it, automatically means the end of gays. But why? Let's say 2% of people are gay and 98% are straight. Even if all the gays wanted to go straight, it wouldn't take a large number wanting to go the other way to have a net increase in homosexuality.

      Isn't it plausible that some nonzero fraction of males would want to not have to put up with this nonsense and go gay?

      (Yes, I'm assuming that if something is in the brain it's mutable, which may be a sort of transhumanist bias of mine. Although Cochran's narcolepsy/orexin example would seem to support that. And there's this...)

      Delete
    5. Indeed - there are so MANY advantages to gayness that it's almost not even a fair contest. Lots of straight guys I know say they wish they were gay, but who knows how much of that is signalling their extreme comfort with their own sexuality (which is okay with me). I imagine wanting to be gay for more misogynistic reasons (echoed by my nerdy female friends and lovers), like there being a perhaps shortage of women in the cognitive reaches we like to frequent.

      Delete
    6. > I imagine wanting to be gay for more misogynistic reasons (echoed by my nerdy female friends and lovers), like there being a perhaps shortage of women in the cognitive reaches we like to frequent.

      Absolutely. Among my nerdier friends, this seems to be a fairly universal problem. The overlap of "will date male(-ish) nerds", "intelligent" and "familiar with nerd culture" is pretty tiny, and the few people in it are in high demand.

      Unfortunately, I seem to be the only one who is genderfluid enough to break the deadlock, so I still don't get to date them. (Fortunately, I'm asexual enough that this doesn't bother me too much. One advantage of high neuroticism.)

      Delete
    7. I think this echoes what Sister Y said in a previous thread, but thinking about female sexuality not as female homosexuality + female heterosexuality but rather as undifferentiated female sexuality may be useful here. I would go a step further and extend this to male sexuality.

      In this model, humans start out as generally sexual beings. It may be that it's simply easier for Nature, in apes at least (or maybe just in hominins[1]), to turn on a generalized sexuality than to turn on sex-specific sexualities. In men, there is a fitness cost to homosexual behavior, so hormones and other sex-specific developmental forces suppress sexual orientation toward men. This explains why heterosexuality in men is often accompanied by revulsion to homosexuality (at least for oneself), while heterosexuality in women is more rarely.

      In women, there is no need to suppress sexual orientation toward women, or to anything else for that matter.

      ---
      [1] Pan + Homo, i.e., humans, chimps, and bonobos.

      Delete
    8. I think this is the model that best explains the Chivers data (that women are physically aroused by everything from naked folks of both sexes to animal sex, regardless of orientation or reported arousal, whereas men only respond to the preferred sex).

      sex-specific developmental forces

      Do you think anti-gay bullying could be such a factor? I wish this phenomenon were studied cross-culturally more - it seems rich. It's widespread but far from universal, and people respond incredibly strongly to it (victims of bullying find it more painful if it's anti-gay bullying regardless of victim's sexuality, plus there's the gay youth suicide data). I would love to know the extent to which it influences sexual response and sexual behavior.

      Delete
    9. You mean, that anti-gay bullying actually makes kids less gay? Oh, no, you mean that the sex-specific developmental forces cause boys to engage in anti-gay bullying? I guess if one is not gay, then being bullied for supposedly being gay may induce some self-revulsion. But if one *is* gay, then one has missed the forces that create revulsion toward homosex. Although, I guess there are self-hating gays, though this owes more to having internalized the opprobrium from society, right?

      Delete
  7. I suppose I should clarify that the above ETAO comments were from me rather than Dain, although my guess is that you could have guessed.

    Thanks for clarifying, and I am likewise puzzled (since the sororal polygyny hypothesis strikes me as less plausible, I'm more puzzled than you). I can try my best guess for why straight men might tell women that. I've heard a couple women recommend attending a pride parade in boystown as a great way to pick up chicks, because girls (or at least this variety of girl) dig guys who aren't hung up on puritanism* or whatnot. Since most guys are extremely averse to being thought of as at all gay, self-describing as bi might be a sort of costly signal for men to attract such girls. As for self-described bi girls who don't message guys, it might be a case of "Bi means saying bye to heterosexuality". I heard that line from Corrolla and think it applies more to men (it's more frequent for women to lapse back from lesbianism and marry a man), but I can recall reading an account from a lesbian that she described herself as bi when she was young because she hadn't fully acknowledged that she was just gay. Under that theory, the prevalence should decline with age.

    I recall a thread at Sailer's where there was discussion of "straight-fetish". I think Steve's take was that they find masculinity attractive and straights to be more masculine. Steve's gays vs lesbians article should predict the same thing among women, although they'd be less into porn & casual encounters ads.

    *I forget what was actually said and expect I just substituted my own self-description.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I suppose I should elaborate on why the hypothesis I suggested is at all different from the one given above. Voicing disgust/hostility to homosexuality may mark one as being a troglodyte generally speaking, aside from merely boring sexual practices (if Slate's reporting on evangelicals is to be believed, many religious conservatives are publicly open to quite a bit within the bounds of marriage).

      Delete
  8. (I am still struggling with the new nested comment system, this is meant to be a standalone comment but may end up as a followup...)

    I think one should be extremely cautious about ev-psych interpretations of the supposed low levels of male bisexuality. Ancient Greece, anyone? Contemporary sexual mores and practices arise from a goulash of cultural, historical, and technological contingency. They have changed before and they will change again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, Ancient Greece may be a society where male bisexuality was especially premiumed; on the other hand, it may have reflected more the natural state of humanity, and ensuring cultures have unnaturally suppressed it.

      Delete
  9. Forget "signalling" for a sec; let's assume for the moment that the gang on OKC is generally honest. What could be another explanation for why most self-declared bisexuals message the opposite gender? Well, as Louis C.K. puts it, lesbian sex isn't morally wrong, but it is geometrically wrong. (He thinks gay sex is geometrically logical; clearly he's never had anything big and hard up his poop chute outside of constipation episodes.)I'm guessing actual homoerotic IMPULSES as opposed to mere signals) are around 80-90 percent more common in bisexuals than homosexual acts. If I were a guy I'd have to be REEEEAAAAAAALLY into another guy before I'd have him slammin' that in there. A less obvious example: a girl gets hot looking at other women but she's just fine with a guy too and she's tired from work and maybe drunk or something, would she rather have somebody with a built-in dildo, or would she rather perform oral sex for the year it takes some women to find satisfaction? The body can't always accomplish what it and the mind desire. (Sorry, self-help authors.) And people are lazy. Heterosex is just easier to do, and given both options, shit, who wants to work hard in bed? Especially given the flexibility of the human imagination... it can put you in both situations at the same time. (Well, so can a three-way but that's hardly easy... see unicorn above in Sister's comments.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shit, I just realized I forgot to take into account the number of sexual impulses period people have as opposed to the ones they [get to] act on... asshole.

      Delete
    2. "the number of sexual impulses period people have as opposed to the ones they [get to] act on"

      Right, Ann. If you want to find a man to have sex with, if really all you want is sex, it's not especially difficult.

      "If I were a guy I'd have to be REEEEAAAAAAALLY into another guy before I'd have him slammin' that in there."

      More than as a woman the extent to which you'd have to be into a guy before having him slammin' that in there?

      If you're a man who likes getting fucked, then it's much easier to do that with someone of the *same* sex. In the U.S. at least, it's generally recognized that there's more bottominess than toppiness among gay men. In addition to the natural distribution, this may be skewed by (1) the depletion of bi men, who are more likely than gay men to top, from the pool of MSM because of the reluctance of men who want to have sex with women and to be esteemed by their fellow heterosexual men to appear anything by totally hetero, and by (2) the people who do the "general recognizing" being in bottom-heavy areas like New York and San Francisco.

      Delete
    3. I've known a number of bi men whose only sexual interest in men was to be fucked by them. They were way closer to straight men with, like, a fetish for being fucked.

      I have never heard of there being "bottom-heavy" areas! I wonder what forces shape such things? The only science I've seen about that was that "erotic role preference" is associated among gay men with 2D:4D digit ratio (lower digit ratio = top, as expected). The studies on gayness and digit ratio are a fascinating mess.

      Delete
    4. "I have never heard of there being "bottom-heavy" areas! I wonder what forces shape such things? "

      Clearly, it's the fact that NYC Subway cards and SF Muni cards are proportioned such that it's hard to handle them if your index finger is short.

      Delete
    5. "I've known a number of bi men whose only sexual interest in men was to be fucked by them. They were way closer to straight men with, like, a fetish for being fucked. "

      I doubt your sample is representative. And are these men part of the MSM *community*, or are they basically straight men who make fetish-style arrangements? Like, are they part of the fucking/dating pool?

      Delete
  10. Replies
    1. FUCK YEAH BONOBOS!

      Great find Todd.

      Delete

Tweets by @TheViewFromHell