Relationships: Sex as a weapon

Anthropology, History, Psychology, Sociology and other related areas.

Re: Relationships: Sex as a weapon

Postby Paralith on August 2nd, 2016, 1:43 pm 

Wolfhnd -

I used to think more like you do. Seeing parallels in the sexually dimorphic behavior of animals and the (stereotyped) behavior of humans was one of the things that most got me excited about using biology and evolution to understand human behavior back in my undergraduate days. Sex differences continued to be one of my greatest interests as I went into graduate school. And, as often happens in grad school, I was disabused of the notion that my existing knowledge was fully accurate, or anywhere near complete.

Yes, there are inherent differences between the human sexes. There are differences based on the fundamental differences in type and amount of reproductive investment carried out by each sex. These differences echo in our behavior throughout our lives. But the strength and relevance of that echo is debatable, especially in modern times.

While we humans are animals just as any other, we are also different than other animals in some very important aspects. One of the strongest sex differences in behavior you see in young children is their desire to spend time with adults and peers of the same sex. This was important when the realities of having to keep on the hip and breast feed infants ad libitum limited what activities women were safely able to do. This lead to the origin of sex-specific roles in subsistence roles especially, and if there are sex specific roles, children will learn how to do their roles best by spending time with other members of the same sex.

But what this means is that even in the absence of differentiated sex roles by necessity, the sexes will tend to fall into divergent roles even if the divergence becomes solely cultural. Women today can easily and safely rear children without having to limit what role they play in society. The necessity for women and men to play fundamentally different roles is gone. But it many ways men and women still diverge because we are biologically set up to to diverge, but exactly how we are supposed to diverge is much less restricted. So much of what makes humans different is how much we have to learn the behaviors we will need as adults. We specialize on extracting the highest quality foodstuffs out of whatever environment we happen to be in, and skills this complex and variable cannot easily be directly encoded for by genes or directed solely by instincts. We are built to learn, and we are built to learn from those most like ourselves in our society.

Yes, boy children on average tend to play with trucks and cars and things that move, and girl children on average tend to play with dolls and other things that look like families and people. But these are averages, and like most average human sex differences, belie the great deal of overlap that exists in those two bell curves. And how much do we honestly expect those tendencies to make a difference when it comes to the roles in our society today, most of which require thousands of hours to learn and years to master, that require the focused application of our conscious forebrain to learn long complex sequences of actions and movements, to absorb and remember large bodies of data and information, much of which is highly abstract. How does a tendency for men to hunt and women to identify, find, gather, and process food say much of anything about how well one sex or the other will be able to become a master software developer, going through years of study and then spending years more sitting at a lit up box all day long and building up completely abstract and incredibly complex logic machines?

And in the end, the thing that probably had the most to do with our development of these big fancy brains, is something both sexes have always had to do. Spend a lifetime navigating a social network filled with family, friends, spouses, children, and other community members, upon whom your continued survival absolutely relies.


* steps down off the soap box *
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Re: Relationships: Sex as a weapon

Postby wolfhnd on August 2nd, 2016, 2:38 pm 

Thanks for taking the time to respond Paralith.

I don't see any contradiction between are statements. If there is one it would have to do with how biology and culture interact. Puzzling out that relationship is probably beyond the scope of not only our current understanding but also the interest level of our audience.

Generally I'm concerned with the practical so yes focussing on the cultural which we can change as opposed to the biological we cannot is reasonable. That is why in general focussing on the entire relationship not just the sexual aspects is the choice of higher IQ individuals and is reflected in their marriage success rate. That doesn't mean we should ignore biology to the extent of calling gender a social construct.

If our goal is to assist people in living happy lives and not equality of outcome then applying some evolutionary psychology seems appropriate.
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Re: Relationships: Sex as a weapon

Postby Paralith on August 2nd, 2016, 2:54 pm 

But gender is a social construct, wolfhnd. That's the difference between the word gender and the word sex. Gender and gender roles are the compendium of our social cultural understanding of what different genders are, what they do, what they're like. They shape our practical, everyday expectations of what a man should do, what a woman should do, what a non cis-gender person should do. They shape what the people in this thread think it is and isn't ok for a woman versus a man to do in a heteronormal relationship.

Should all aspects of a human be taken into account when trying to help them live a happy and fulfilling life? Yes. Should we consider both their gender and their sex, both their experiences and expectations and their biology? Yes. But how much weight should we give to the different aspects of this person? Should we consider their biology, their sex, as a major deciding factor in helping them determine what's best for them? I don't think so. I think it is far more important, impactful, and relevant, to consider each individual as they are, what their experiences are, what their desires are, than to consider how many X chromosomes they have.

More so than any other animals, humans are what they learned to be when they were growing up, and what they decided to be while they were adults. Our biology evolved to allow us become what was needed in the social and environmental context we found ourselves in, not to fit one of a few particular roles. For so long we have been in a social context where the cultural expectations were for fairly rigid gender roles. (And this cultural expectation shaped our view of biological "facts" for many years.) But we have the power to change our own social and environmental contexts. If we are thoughtful and active enough to do so.
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Re: Relationships: Sex as a weapon

Postby wolfhnd on August 2nd, 2016, 6:46 pm 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender

I would suggest that the social sciences co-opted the word gender to give some questionable theories legitimacy. It would have been sufficient to have simply referred to the psychological aspects of gender as sexual identity. Admittedly gender being grammatical concept it was easy to co-opt.

The cultural contribution to our sexual identity is obvious enough that pointing it out does more to obscure the biological contribution to personality than enlighten us. Simply observing the effects that changes in hormones have on behavior significantly diminishes the argument that sexual identity is divorced from biology. Do to the complexity of the cultural biological relationship it would be impossible to determine exactly how that relationship sorts out. The important point to take away is that there is no reason why we should explore only the cultural aspect. The fact that there are political consequences to biological attribution is something that thoughtfulness can address if the current atmosphere of hypersensitivity is addressed.
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Re: Relationships: Sex as a weapon

Postby Paralith on August 2nd, 2016, 7:22 pm 

I did not say it was divorced from biology.

I only question how relevant biology is to many of the everyday practicalities we face when it comes to issues of gender and helping individual people feel happy and fulfilled. Like the question of in a relationship, what is ok for a man and a woman to do when they are having a fight. I don't think sex or biology really has much to do with this. Neither should ever use physical force. Neither should ever use emotional abuse. What about their biological differences would ever make using either of those tactics ok?

You have mentioned your perceived "hypersensitivity" of the world previously in a different thread. Though you say it ought to be addressed you failed to respond to me on the subject at that time. If you would like to actually address it I invite you to do so. Because my own history of my changing understanding of this topic has greatly impacted my view of the world, and I feel keenly aware of how several years ago I thought as you do, I sometimes thought as many people do now who like to shout down people who are trying to change our species' social context for the better. And I'll be honest, that scares me. It scares me about what it means for me and other women like me.
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Re: Relationships: Sex as a weapon

Postby HipOl on November 29th, 2016, 5:14 am 

if it's not a kind of 'punishment' then it can hardly be regarded as emotional abuse. If a woman just doesn't want sex at that very moment, if she has some troubles/situations to think about why should she do it like an obligation? then neither she nor he will gain the very emotions they wanted.
but there can be different problems: no interest in the partner or just the wish to 'punish' him...
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Re: Relationships: Sex as a weapon

Postby edy420 on November 30th, 2016, 2:39 pm 

female orgasm is important if you (as a male) want frequent sex.

I experimented withdrawing before ejaculation, not allowing myself to orgasm.
It's a technique my warrior ancestors used to ready for combat.
I wanted to see if it would help me with harder training sessions.
After a while I found I was very aggressive and the thought of sex was a bit of a put off.
I had the interest but my sexual frustration made it difficult for proper arousal.

If that's how a woman feels, who has sex byt does not orgasm, then I feel very sorry for them.

My wife and I have 7 kids, and now that I'm tied, "no" isn't in my vocabulary :P
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Re: Relationships: Sex as a weapon

Postby wolfhnd on November 30th, 2016, 3:49 pm 

I think the problem is the idea that there is a magic formula for relationship bliss. If you think that conforming to biological predispositions will make you happy you are going to have to come to grips with the fact that humans did not evolve to be happy. If think that the humans are only dimorphic in physiology you are likely to going to be constantly at war with your instincts.

The fact that people are unaware of their instincts should not be surprising considering the modular nature of the brain. It also shouldn't be surprising that people are unaware of their gender biases anymore than they understand how they learned how to use language.

It should also come as no surprise that gender diversity is as extreme as physical diversity. The tiny difference in genetics between humans and their closest relatives points to how difficult it is going to be to use the scientific method to ferret out the logarithmly smaller difference between the genders. What we are left to depend on is the less reliable sciences of sociology and psychology. The built in biases in the social sciences is a subject for another thread but for anyone who is unfamiliar with them I would recommend starting with Steven Pinker's "Blank Slate".
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