Envy (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 186)

“You envy the leaves and the grass because the rain wets them, and you want to be the grass and the leaves and the rain too. But I am content to enjoy them and everything else in the world that is good and young and happy.”

Happy Ever After

Leo Tolstoy          1859

What If’s of Erotic Love (Love vs Sex 238)

First-born children often feel jealous when a younger sibling is born. Wise parents make a special point of reassuring the child that she’ll always be special, that the baby doesn’t represent any kind of threat to her status, and that there’s plenty of love for everyone. Why is it so easy to believe that a mother’s love isn’t a zero-sum proposition, but that sexual love is a finite source? Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins asks the pertinent question with  characteristic elegance: “Is it so very obvious that you can’t love more than one person? We seem to manage it with parental love (parents are reproached if they don’t at least pretend to love all their children equally), love of books, of food, of wine (love of Château Margaux does not preclude love of a fine Hock, and we don’t feel unfaithful to the red when we dally with the white), love of composers, poets, holiday beaches, friends…why is erotic love the one exception that everybody instantly acknowledges without even thinking about it?”

Why indeed? How would the prevalence and experience of jealousy be affected in Western societies if the economic dependence trapping most women and their children didn’t exist, leading female sexual access to be a tightly controlled commodity? What if economic security and guilt-free sexual friendships were easily available to almost all men and women, as they are in many of the societies we’ve discussed, as well as among our closest primate cousins? What if no woman had to worry that a ruptured relationship would leave her and her children destitute and vulnerable? What if average guys knew they’d never have to worry about finding someone to love? What if we didn’t all grow up hearing that true love is obsessive and possessive? What if, like the Mosuo, we revered the dignity and autonomy of those we loved? What if, in other words, sex, love, and economic security were as available to us as they were to our ancestors?

If fear is removed from jealousy, what’s left?

Human beings will be happier—not when they cure cancer or get to Mars or eliminate racial prejudice or flush Lake Erie but when they find ways to inhabit primitive communities again. That’s my utopia.

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

According to E. O. Wilson, “all that we can surmise of humankind’s genetic history argues for a more liberal sexual morality, in which sexual practices are to be regarded first as bonding devices and only second as a means of procreation.” We couldn’t have said it better. But if human sexuality developed primarily as a bonding mechanism in interdependent bands where paternity certainly was a nonissue, then the standard narrative of human sexual evolution is toast.

Sex at Dawn

Ryan and Jethá          2010

 

 

Rendering the Normal and the Abnormal against our Natural State (Love vs Sex 236)

It bears repeating that we are not attributing any particular nobility or, for that matter, ignobility to foragers. Some behaviors that seem normal to contemporary people would quickly destroy many small-scale foraging societies, rendering them dysfunctional. Unrestrained self-interest in particular, whether expressed as food-hoarding or excessive sexual possessiveness, is a direct threat to group cohesion and is therefore considered shameful and ridiculous.

Is there any doubt that societies can reshape such impulses?

Right now, girl’s necks are being elongated ring by brass ring in parts of Thailand and Burma to make them more appealing to men. Clitorises are being cut away and labia sewn together in villages all over North Africa to dampen female desire, while in glamorous California, reduction labioplasty and other cosmetic vaginal surgeries have recently become a booming business. Elsewhere, the penises of boys are being circumcised or split open in ritualistic subincision. You get the point.

From savoring saliva beer or cow blood milkshakes to wearing socks with sandals, there is little doubt that people are willing to think, feel, wear, do, and believe pretty much anything if their society assures them it’s normal.

Social forces that convince people to stretch their necks beyond the breaking point, schmush the heads of their infants, or sell their daughters into sacred prostitution are quite capable of reshaping or neutralizing sexual jealousy by rendering it silly and ridiculous. By rendering it abnormal.

Sex at Dawn

Ryan and Jethá          2010

  

Loving Only or Loving All (Love vs Sex 235)

When seventeenth-century Jesuit missionary Paul Le Jeune lectured a Montagnais Indian man about the dangers of the rampant infidelity he’d witnessed, Le Jeune received a lesson on proper parenthood in response. The missionary recalled, “I told him that it was not honorable for a woman to love any one else except her husband, and that this evil being among them, he himself was not so sure that his son, who was there present, was his son. He replied, ‘Thou has no sense. You French people only love your own children; but we all love all the children of our tribe.’

Sex at Dawn

Ryan and Jethá          2010

How Women and Paternity Became Private Property along with Everything Else (Love vs Sex 233)

Clearly, the biggest loser (aside from slaves, perhaps) in the agricultural revolution was the human female, who went from occupying a central, respected role in foraging societies to becoming another possession for a man to earn and defend, along with his house, slaves, and livestock.

“The origins of farming,” says archeologist Steven Mithen, “is the defining event of human history—the one turning point that has resulted in modern humans having a quite different type of lifestyle and cognition to all other animals and past types of humans.” The most important pivot point in the story of our species, the shift to agriculture redirected the trajectory of human life more fundamentally than the control of fire, the Magna Carta, the printing press, the steam engine, nuclear fission, or anything else has or, perhaps, ever will. With agriculture virtually everything changed: the nature of status and power, social and family structures, how humans interacted with the natural world, the gods they worshipped, the likelihood and nature of warfare between groups, quality of life, longevity, and certainly, the rules governing sexuality. His survey of the relevant archaeological evidence led archaeologist Timothy Taylor, author of The Prehistory of Sex, to state, “While hunter-gatherer sex had been modeled on an idea of sharing and complementarity, early agriculturalist sex was voyeuristic, repressive, homophobic, and focused on reproduction.” “Afraid of the wild,” he concludes, “farmers set out to destroy it.”

Land could now be possessed, owned, and passed won the generations. Food that had been hunted and gathered now had to be sowed, tended, harvested, stored, defended, bought, and sold. Fences, walls, and irrigation systems had to be built and reinforced; armies to defend it all had to be raised, fed, and controlled. Because of private property, for the first time in the history of our species, paternity became a crucial concern.

But the standard narrative insists that paternity certainly has always been of utmost importance to our species, that our very genes dictate we organize our sexual lives around it. Why, then, is the anthropological record so rich with examples of societies where biological paternity is of so little or no importance? Where paternity is unimportant, men tend to be relatively unconcerned about women’s sexual fidelity.

Sex at Dawn

Ryan and Jethá          2010

“Only Wanting to Date Younger Women” (L vs S 220)

Trying to appear casual and nonchalant, but failing miserably in such effort through her assertive posture and accusatory expression, she said “I thought you told me you only liked younger women, that you preferred them, and that you only wanted to date them.”

And I replied “That simply isn’t true. It isn’t even close to the truth. You are significantly distorting what I said. I told you that I had dated two women that were about half my age, and as fate would have it, I love(d) them both. But it wasn’t about their age or them being a hot piece of ass. They were both young, beautiful, and sexy, but what stood out to me the most about them, what captivated me beyond reprieve, was their brilliant minds and their exceptional awareness, their souls and their passion, for them trying to live in a world of infectious numbness and delusion. They were both more mature than many women twice their age. I already told you all of this in full honest disclosure, but I never said anything remotely close to ‘I only want to date young women.'”

Then, I turned and looked her directly in the eyes, and tried to work through the insult of her repetitive rewriting of my more than vulnerable and honest disclosures, disclosures which I had willingly shared with her. I slowed my breathing and tried to remember that her pain, anxiety, and fear were the real demons, and not her delicate and damaged soul. “What you should be asking yourself, is ‘Why is it that I am drawn to women like them and yourself?’. ‘What is it that I see and feel towards them and you?’. I have dated a grandmother and a person over fifty years old. You have never dated anyone else even as old as I am, and we both know about your last younger boyfriend. You know that I married an older woman and was faithful to her for eleven or twelve years. Yes, she was only slightly older, but still, she was older. I have also dated plenty of other women who were my age or a few years older. You can’t make such a factual counterclaim in your dating or your relationships. You can’t even come close. So, why would you twist my words like that? I don’t understand. I don’t look at age or physical appearance or anything so simple as the defining characteristic of my interest, attention, or attraction. It doesn’t work that way for me. So, seriously, please tell me who it is that really prefers to only date younger people? And then, can you tell me why?”.

Cribb          2016