Yuanmeng He

Intro to Anthropology

Written Assignment #3

Dr.James McKenna

Nov.14 2017

 

What’s
Love Got to Do with It

   
        Small mainly suggests that
culture, especially Western culture, tends to stigmatize the need and desire
for sex, which contradicts our biological traits. First, from an evolutionary
viewpoint, sexual acts should be enjoyable to humans due to their reproductive
function. In virtue of the strong impact of Victorian constraint on female’s
sexuality, women are normally conceived as passive participants in sex acts,
who are not supposed to pursue enjoyment in sex. Under such influence, even for
modern society where sexual revolution has already taken place, rarely would a
woman openly and seriously talk about her sexual desire, need and feeling, “and
female orgasm is still a rather mysterious phenomenon” (Small 64). However,
according to evolutionary need, women do have a biological desire to enjoy sex.
At the midcycle of ovulation, when conception is most likely to happen, women
will naturally desire sexual interaction driven by a great change of hormones.
Also, an experiment conducted by xxx, which investigates the frequency of
sexual arousal among males and females, points out that females are just as
easily sexually aroused as men. Therefore, women’s biological function of
enjoying sex conflicts with the cultural perception of women abstaining from
sexual pleasure. What is more, female orgasm guarantees conceptions, and
therefore is needed for reproductive function. Due to human bipedalism, women
can easily get rid of semen by standing up if they have not been immobilized
and occupied by the “sudden release of tension or a sense of disconnection”
(Small 82). From a reproductive perspective, females should be able to enjoy
sex because they have sexual orgasms as much as males do.

 
          According to Small,
mating is one of the major goals of marriage: “Marriage is the legally
sanctioned, publicly celebrated and acknowledged form of human mating” (Small
133).  What  marriage guarantees is a possible exclusive
long-term sexual relationship between the partners. Pervasive as monogamy is,
monogamous marriage mainly functions in rearing infants. As a result of the
obstetrical dilemma, one of the upmost responsibilities of females is to raise
the highly undeveloped infants, in which paternal help is indispensable.
Therefore, out of need of gaining help from the father, human females turn
their estrus into an unrestrictive period of sexual arousal. In such a way, the
father has to stay with the family so as to guarantee the offspring are his
biological descendants. From this perspective, marriage is a response to the
obstetrical dilemma. Regarding the topic of love in marriage, Small suggests
that love is no more than a disguise that cloaks human’s basic reproductive
need (Small 40). In worldwide marriage patterns, around 80 percent of 133
cultures consider arranged marriage a possible way of matrimony, but only 17
percent of the cultures regard arranged marriage as the only way of matrimony
(Small 138). Though both parties are consulted before the arranged
marriage, love is not usually involved in this kind of marriage in contemporary
society. Moreover, according to Small, monogamy is less biologically natural
than people assumed. The first evidence comes from dimorphism in human fossils,
which suggests a competition for mating typical in a polygamous society,
because in a monogamous society, the exclusive relationship prevents the males
from competing for mates. Also, as suggested by the worldwide survey, about 84
percent of human societies recognize themselves as polygamous——in contrast to
the 16 percent of monogamous societies. However, only 10 percent of men in
these societies can afford more than one wife (Small 20), yet the polygamous
tradition should not be denied. Also, even in monogamous societies,
extramarital affairs that characterize polygamous traits are found in 73
percent of cultures worldwide (Small 21). 

 
          Small describes four
theories about the origins of homosexuality. The first comes from Sigmund
Freud: homosexuality, to Freud, results from a suppression by one sex such that
the desire for that sex is suppressed as well. One illustrative explanation is
that the boy who is maltreated by his mother while his father doesn’t
intervened will develop a repulsion to females; as the boy turns into an adult,
he will be homosexual as a result of the unhappiness from the other sex(Small
167). The second theory comes from Dean Hamer’s investigation on the origin of
homosexuality: he suggests that the genes of homosexuality probably come from
the maternal side. By analyzing the X chromosomes of gay brothers, Hamer finds
out a possible similar pattern in their X chromosomes, but it is not an
indication of heredity of homosexuality (Small 174). The third theory results
from rodent studies: low male hormones in a male’s fetal life may possibly lead
to homosexuality (Small 178). The last hypothesis tends to explain
homosexuality from the difference of prenatal testosterone. One researcher
interprets the longer time homosexual men takes to circulate prenatal testosterone as an indication of hormonal manipulation of
sexual orientation(Small 179). The only difference between gay and heterosexual
men might be that gay men are more sexually attracted to their own sex——males——while
heterosexual men are more sexually attracted to the opposite sex——females. The
idea of “Being Gay is a lifestyle choice” implies that there is no genetic
determinant in one’s sexual orientation. From the examples and explanation
Small has given, it is by now safe to conclude that there is no declaration of
the biological root of homosexuality, so to a large extent the saying may be
correct.

            According to Small, men seems to be more interested in sex
than women. Biologically speaking, since men have the natural reproductive
instinct of dispersing as many genes as possible, they have the natural impulse
of mating with as many women as possible due to the concealed estrous period of
women. On contrary, women’s major reproductive goals are to conceive and to
rear infants, which don’t need many sexual activities as men do (Small 121).
Statistics underscores the discrepancy of having one night stand between men
and women——men are more inclined to have more sex. But Small also suggests that
the difference shouldn’t be ascribed to the reproductive pursuit. She believes
the discrepancy a result of cultural repression of women’s desire for
sex——”without repression women would presumably have sex as often and with as
many partners as men” (Small 122). Culturally, men controls women’s interest in
sex by educating them to be silent and passive on the topic of sex. For
instance, the statistics from one night stand can be interpreted as the result
of safety concern from women. Going out with one who one barely knows, a girl
takes the risk of possible harm including “rape, murder and injury” (Small
122). Such conception is imposed on women since they are born. Therefore, the
less interest in sex may be a result of a lack of reproductive need or a
cultural influence on women. When selecting mates, a difference in interest
also exists between men and women. In general, women tend more to find men with
power and status, while men tend to mate with young women. The difference in
mate choice, from the biological viewpoint, is the result of different
reproductive function: women need reliable resource for rearing infants; while
men need to guarantee the success dissemination of his genes, in which case
fertility is the priority (Small 129). From a cultural standpoint, women are
culturally forced to want high socio-status men. As power has long been denied
to women, to gain the best resource for infants, women have to rely on men with
high social status——not because their biology dictates them to find powerful
men, but because society denies their access to gain resource by themselves
(Small 130).

            Through
the book, Small presents and analyzes both biological and social reasons for
humans mating choice. When mating and reproduction are considered, Small
believes that love is not always a main factor leading to them. But by saying “For Tim, Because Love Has Something To Do With It” (Small
3), Small implies that even though the other marriages might not be the result
of love, her relationship to Tim is a result of love (Small 208). It is true
that Small dedicates most of the book to biological analysis of differences in
sexuality between men and women, but usually she suggests a variety of factors
that play a role in these differences. According to her belief, sex is complex,
which can be hardly ascribed to one single reason: myriad of elements including
“our genes, our particular evolutionary background, our specific body shape and
chemistry, and our individual psyche” dictates our sexuality (Small 209).
Therefore, by the saying, she recognizes that love is one of the reasons of her
sexual behavior, but she also acknowledges sexual behavior a intertwinement of
a lot of other complex elements.  

 

 

 

Work Cited

Small, Meredith F. What’s Love Got
to Do with It? Anchor, Aug. 1995.