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The Natural Roots of Sexuality

by: Sam Vaknin
The Natural Roots of Sexuality

By Sam Vaknin
Author of "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited"

Recent studies in animal sexuality serve to dispel two common myths:
that sex is exclusively about reproduction and that homosexuality is
an unnatural sexual preference. It now appears that sex is also
about recreation as it frequently occurs out of the mating season.
And same-sex copulation and bonding are common in hundreds of
species, from bonobo apes to gulls.

Moreover, homosexual couples in the Animal Kingdom are prone to
behaviors commonly - and erroneously - attributed only to
heterosexuals. The New York Times reported in its February 7, 2004
issue about a couple of gay penguins who are desperately and
recurrently seeking to incubate eggs together.

In the same article ("Love that Dare not Squeak its Name"), Bruce
Bagemihl, author of the groundbreaking "Biological Exuberance:
Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity", defines homosexuality
as "any of these behaviors between members of the same sex: long-
term bonding, sexual contact, courtship displays or the rearing of
young."

Still, that a certain behavior occurs in nature (is "natural") does
not render it moral. Infanticide, patricide, suicide, gender bias,
and substance abuse - are all to be found in various animal species.
It is futile to argue for homosexuality or against it based on
zoological observations. Ethics is about surpassing nature - not
about emulating it.

The more perplexing question remains: what are the evolutionary and
biological advantages of recreational sex and homosexuality? Surely,
both entail the waste of scarce resources.

Convoluted explanations, such as the one proffered by Marlene Zuk
(homosexuals contribute to the gene pool by nurturing and raising
young relatives) defy common sense, experience, and the calculus of
evolution. There are no field studies that show conclusively or even
indicate that homosexuals tend to raise and nurture their younger
relatives more that straights do.

Moreover, the arithmetic of genetics would rule out such a
stratagem. If the aim of life is to pass on one's genes from one
generation to the next, the homosexual would have been far better
off raising his own children (who carry forward half his DNA) -
rather than his nephew or niece (with whom he shares merely one
quarter of his genetic material.)
What is more, though genetically-predisposed, homosexuality may be
partly acquired, the outcome of environment and nurture, rather than
nature.

An oft-overlooked fact is that recreational sex and homosexuality
have one thing in common: they do not lead to reproduction.
Homosexuality may, therefore, be a form of pleasurable sexual play.
It may also enhance same-sex bonding and train the young to form
cohesive, purposeful groups (the army and the boarding school come
to mind).

Furthermore, homosexuality amounts to the culling of 10-15% of the
gene pool in each generation. The genetic material of the homosexual
is not propagated and is effectively excluded from the big roulette
of life. Growers - of anything from cereals to cattle - similarly
use random culling to improve their stock. As mathematical models
show, such repeated mass removal of DNA from the common brew seems
to optimize the species and increase its resilience and efficiency.

It is ironic to realize that homosexuality and other forms of non-
reproductive, pleasure-seeking sex may be key evolutionary
mechanisms and integral drivers of population dynamics. Reproduction
is but one goal among many, equally important, end results.
Heterosexuality is but one strategy among a few optimal solutions.
Studying biology may yet lead to greater tolerance for the vast
repertory of human sexual foibles, preferences, and predilections.
Back to nature, in this case, may be forward to civilization.

Suggested Literature

Bagemihl, Bruce - "Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and
Natural Diversity" - St. Martin's Press, 1999

De-Waal, Frans and Lanting, Frans - "Bonobo: The Forgotten Ape" -
University of California Press, 1997

De Waal, Frans - "Bonobo Sex and Society" - March 1995 issue of
Scientific American, pp. 82-88

Trivers, Robert - Natural Selection and Social Theory: Selected
Papers - Oxford University Press, 2002

Zuk, Marlene - "Sexual Selections: What We Can and Can't Learn About
Sex From Animals" - University of California Press, 2002



==============================================================
AUTHOR BIO (must be included with the article)

Sam Vaknin ( http://samvak.tripod.com ) is the author of Malignant
Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West
Lost the East. He served as a columnist for Central Europe Review,
PopMatters, Bellaonline, and eBookWeb, a United Press International
(UPI) Senior Business Correspondent, and the editor of mental health
and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and
Suite101.

Until recently, he served as the Economic Advisor to the Government
of Macedonia.

Visit Sam's Web site at http://samvak.tripod.com


Sam Vaknin ( http://samvak.tripod.com ) is the author of Malignant
Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West
Lost the East. He served as a columnist for Central Europe Review,
PopMatters, Bellaonline, and eBookWeb, a United Press International
(UPI) Senior Business Correspondent, and the editor of mental health
and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and
Suite101.

Until recently, he served as the Economic Advisor to the Government
of Macedonia.

Visit Sam's Web site at http://samvak.tripod.com





Contact him at http://samvak.tripod.com