DJ HarveyProfessor James McKenna Anthropology November 15 2017What’s Love Got to Do With It? Sexuality is largely interwoven within modern society. Meredith Small echoes this notion, as she argues that “Sexuality surrounds us, but it is not necessarily part of us in an easy way.” This assertion is valid and applicable when examined in any context, and it is often epitomized throughout the lives of children. Sexuality is unavoidably interjected within the lives of children, as sexual knowledge is developed through everyday act such as watching television, movies, or surfing the internet. The infuse on of sexuality as a result of media sources is exemplified in the common experience that most children have in which they are forced to react to a sex scene while watching a movie with a member of their family. Further, sex plays an active role in interpersonal relationships by affecting the way people converse and interact with each other.
For example, college students are constantly forced navigate sexual scripts, and they often base interactions with their peers based on the existence or potential of sexual interest. More, the inescapable nature of sex within college student’s interpersonal relationships can also introduce feelings of scepticism and uncertainty about friendships, as students often wonder if a friend of the opposite sex is genuinely interested in friendship or if they are merely trying to have a sexual relationship with them. Despitethe extensive role of sexuality within our society Small explains that culturalvalues and biology are at times at odds. The competing nature of biologicalsexuality and cultural values can also be seen within the lives` of youngpeople.
Small writes, “Human babies are extremely dependent from the moment ofbirth and nurse for several years, and both parents seem to be involved incaretaking” (Small, page 9). Our cultural values suggest that a couple shouldonly have sex or reproduce after they have gone through the marriage processand have made a commitment that both partners will be together to take care ofthe child. This is not always the case, as many teens and young people gothrough puberty and have biological urges to become sexually active long beforethey are married. Further, some children are not brought up within the idealfamily structure, thus their environment contradicts what cultural scriptssuggest. For example, some children who are born out of wedlock often grow upin a separated home where the mother and father are not actively raising thechild together in the same home. In this situation, the child’s biologicalneeds are in conflict with their environment as well as cultural values.
According to Small “Marriage is a human universal. In all cultures, men and women pair off, two by two, establishing a family unit.” (Page 9) By saying this Small is making an argument that the human race has universally evolved to become monogamous. Monogamy is evident within the context of marriage. Personally, marriage signifies a union in which two people vow to dedicate their lives to one another. Within this union of marriage, sexual encounters are dedicated and restricted to their partner. Small’s argument that monogamy came about through evolution rather than through cultural change alone can be seen through utilization what is known about man’s early ancestors.
While, it is known that our predecessors partake in what we know today as marriage, evolutionary changes can arguably account for mankind’s shift to monogamy. The female body provides an insight in which this can be understood. Modern man’s predecessor’s bodies were different as men were much bigger than women.
Small argues that this size difference suggests that males were often fighting over females to mate with, thus they had a need for increased size. Today, female bodies have significantly evolved and experienced a relatively large amount growth making them comparable to the bodies of their male counterparts. The fact that male bodies did not continue to evolve to be larger and stronger suggests that size was not longer needed to continuously secure mates, which in turn suggests that monogamous practices have been an evolutionary development rather than a cultural ideal. “Is a person born gay, or did they learn to be gay?” This question has been widely debated over the past ten years and has played a major role in the development and progression of governments around the world. Four major scientific studies that have been conducted within this time have found significant evidence that suggests a connection between sexual behavior and people’s chromosomal makeup.
Dean Hamer MD., a doctor who specializes in genetics, paved the road for arguments tying sexuality to chromosomal make up, as he published evidence that many families possess a specific chromosome that is handed down from a mother to a son. On the other hand, John Money uses his research to argue that sexuality can only determinate by who that person falls in love with in an intimate way and there is no way to tell who a person is going to fall in love with right after birth or during their childhood. This psychological argument is directly contradicted by a study, conducted at UCLA, that found evidence that heterosexuals have chromosomes that are not present in homosexuals and vis versa. Michael Bailey and Richard Pillar’s research also supports claims that sexuality is biological. Bailey and Pillar studied twins and found that if one identical twin is gay, there is close to a 50% chance that the second twin will also be gay. More, further research found that this connection is not necessarily true for fraternal twins.
Because identical twins share the same DNA and chromosomes and fraternal twins do not, the findings of this research suggest that sexuality is biologically determined. Taking all of the competing research into account, it is still definitely uncertain whether or not a person is born gay. Additionally, Small brings up a valid point, in arguing that the environment in which the person grew up in should also be studied when analyzing sexuality. Personally, I would disagree with the argument that being gay is a lifestyle choice.
People are not capable of controlling their genetic makeup or the environment in which they are raised. As research shows that both of these things are strongly linked to sexuality, the argument that people choose their sexuality is arguably a non sequitur. According to Small there are big differences between what men and women seem to be interested in when it comes to sexual relations and sexual behavior. Regarding sexual behavior for women are almost always attractive to males, not necessarily proceptive according to their cycles, and don’t need to be receptive to have sex, sexually flexible, which means that woman don’t suddenly become sexual only when they are near ovulation(Small 17). Women are sexual just about anytime during their ovulation cycle.
The flexibility is a distinct feature of our species that must have had a significant impact on male-female relations(Small 17). When it comes to relations Small believes women are interested in 4 things when having sex. Those 4 things are the excitement, plateau, orgasm and resolution(Small 84). Women also want a man that can provide for her and her offspring. High socioeconomic status, lots of resources or a rosy future. This man women seem to be drawn to is older, established, higher status men for mates(Small 128). With men the main reason we have sexual relations is to spread and deliver sperm, pass on genes(Small 104).
Finding a monogamous partner is not the goal, their main goal is to pass on genes as much as possible. This is why men are more attracted to young, healthy women that are fertile and “show no signs of having sex with other men”(Small 128). The biocultural perspective believes that biological it’s the competition and the need to have fresh sperm that makes us want to spread our genes. Behaviorally women are “choosy about their mates, stingy with their sexuality, and very careful when faced with the possibility of sharing their genetic material”(Small 129) while men with “their low-cost, abundant sperm are only interested in spreading their genes around want sexual variety, high number of partners and ready to copulate at the drop of a hat.”(Small 128) Usually the dedication of a book has to do with the relationship between two people and how that person has inspired the writer in one way or another.
On the superficial level, if the dedication is considered on its own, this can be assumed about Small and Tim, but once it is considered within the greater context of the book the dedication takes on a new meaning. Throughout her book, Small discusses sexuality as a result of biological differences between males and females and reproductive led evolutionary changes. Despite Small’s focus on the scientific and biological aspects of sexuality, she also argues that evolution has led to mankind to monogamy. Even if monogamous relationships are a product of the need for reproduction, when someone spends all of their time with someone else and only gives themselves sexually to that person it is easy to see how feelings of love can develop. Therefore, the dedication makes me think that Tim may be monogamous partner of Small.
Their relationship is obviously more than sexual Small. Nonetheless, it is hard to tell the true nature of Small and Tim’s relationship without further information. Still, the dedication does not necessarily contradict Smalls writing throughout the rest of the book.