Christopher Ryan Ph.D.

Sex at Dawn


Getting Sex Backwards

When it comes to sex, humans are the animals.

Posted Sep 26, 2010

"That's the effect of living backwards," the Queen said kindly: "it always makes one a little giddy at first."  — Through the Looking Glass

As yet another outspoken enemy of gay rights is exposed as just another pathetic, self-hating homosexual (he actually called for gays to be killed), I wonder, what's it going to take? What's it going to take to demonstrate once and for all that unhinged opposition to equal rights for LGTB people is an obvious indication of unresolved issues around one's own sexual orientation? What's it take until all high-school kids know that the only people who care enough to beat up and harass their non-hetero classmates are tormented closet cases themselves?

The fact is that when it comes to sex, the conventional view tends to consistently get things backwards. Gay people are depicted as weak, despite the fact that coming out to friends and family requires a measure of personal courage beyond what most comfortably heterosexual teens or young adults ever have to muster (including me). Fundamentalists (whether Christian, Muslim, or other) depict themselves as upright, decent folk, when in fact they spend more time and energy obsessing over sex than even the most enthusiastic prostitutes, swingers, drag queens, or dominatrixes.

Even on a purely biological level, we get it all backwards. People sometimes say that by arguing that non-monogamous sex played a large role in human evolution, our book "reduces human beings to the level of animals." Hardly. Aside from the fact that humans are animals, very few other animals have intercourse more than a few dozen times in their entire lives. In almost all cases, other species appear to follow the Pope's teachings: "Intercourse is only for procreation. No monkey business!"

Humans (and bonobos and dolphins) are the exceptions, making the beast with two backs at times (during menstruation, after menopause, when already pregnant, etc.) when pregnancy can't possibly occur. Humans, in other words, are one of the only creatures on Earth that do it just for fun. Non-human animal sex, on the other hand, tends to be infrequent, uncreative, and quick.

When it comes to doing the nasty, humans are the animals.


Update: This article by Jesse Bering explores the science behind this in much greater detail.

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