Re: Social evolution of hominids (too long)
4 Jan 1997 11:21:06 +0200

Laurie, I use parts of both of your two messages., wrote:

> Aila,
> I think you're assuming that the clitoris is more important among
> promiscuous breeders?

Hmm, actually, I did not think about that, but when you mention it,
I obviously should.

In fact, I believe that the mammal female needed means to be
sexually excited just to allow mating. If this excitement, or the
act itself, caused orgasms or not, was trivial, since it is the male
whose orgasm is needed to complete mating. The same primordial
tissue along the genital area where the penis originates, is the
natural source for the excitable area or organ of females.

Different modifications of both penis and its homologue in the
female must exist, depending on the reproduction strategies
and the social organizations of different species. With seasonal
breeders just once a year, where the only goal of mating is
pregnancy, the mere excitation function is quite enough. I can
not see anything like orgasm in female dogs which I know rather
well, though they certainly become considerably excited with the
licking of the male.

Instead, where mating extended from mere reproducing to a social
factor, we can expect more weight put on the female satisfaction.
I believe that what Debra Mckay told about the free sex of bonobos,
that they seem to use it to lessen constraints inside the group,
is an important line of reasoning.

I think, that promiscuous 'false' matings are a means to
strengthen the group bindings, like with the bonobos and, possibly,
early hominids. The !kung people seem to have such group structure,
the women enjoying sex, and it is said that this is reflected also
in their anatomy. This could well present the primitive situation.

The satisfaction which females have from such free sex, as well as
the interest in sex which such enjoyment may rise in them, need not
be a competition factor inside the group. Instead, it tends to keep
the group together, and all other females of the group get advantage
of it. Where firm structure of the group is a survival factor this
sexual behaviour may have importance in competition between groups.

The multiple and varying human cultures have put more and less
importance on the female satisfaction, beginning from extremes where
the whole excitable area is removed at an early age. I believe that
using promiscuous sex to bind the group together was later replaced
by other means, and the use of sex as a social factor disappeared.
Sex turned back to just reproducing, and probably binding the pair
together, when the social structure developed further with new
sources of food and with harsher climates, when Homo s. spread
around. It is possible that the ability of women to enjoy sex had to
diminish as a reaction to this change. Instead of binding the
group together, women with considerable interest in, and enjoyment
of, sex were more a kind of group-breakers in these new societies.

> I'm not sure about dolphin behavior, but they do have a reputation for
> promiscuity, in fact I heard one cetacean biologist refer to them as
> "the nymphomaniacs of the sea"!

A cetacean biologist is a much more reliable source than what I had,
so I guess the dolphins might have reached the stage of 'society
bound together by sex'.

Strong feelings of pleasure are connected to sex, so it is just
parsimony to use this pleasure in other purposes, too. Birds use
false mating to strengthen pair formation, as probably do modern
humans. Birds are sedentary with their nesting, modern humans are
more or less sedentary in respect to earning their living. Dolphins
and !kung and primitive hominids roam around, their home being their
group? Pair sex at home, group sex on the way? Or pair sex and out
or Africa?

Aren't bonobos living in more open areas and wandering more than
chimps? Group may be more important for them. How do they keep
contact when moving around, have they more vocalizations than chimps?
Dolphins keep contact by voice even though they can 'see' each other
with their radar as well, and they have developed something next to
our language in the animal kingdom, I have let tell me.

Don't ask me how I know! Just thinking aloud. :)

> Certainly I would say that the clitoris "helps" as you suggest,
> but I would suggest that the evolution of sexual behavior may be
> found more in the brain and ovaries than in the clitoris itself.

I totally agree! I just couldn't resist....

> Laurie

Aila Korhonen in Finland