The Natural Order of Sexuality, as if Nature Mattered

— OK, Jennifer Roback Morse is full of shit, and the National Review continues to demonstrate its status as a go-to source for scientific illiteracy.

Morse deigns to relate to us the “natural, organic purposes of sexual activity.” They are: reproduction and spousal unity. Well, OK. A more accurate term for “spousal unity” is “pair-bonding.” You can’t expect to taken seriously when you come right out of the gate, in a paragraph on natural purposes yadda yadda, implying the naturalness and non-historical character of the social institutions we associate with “spouses.” But yes. Pair bonding. That’s a function of sex.

In the next paragraph she name checks “evolutionary psychology” as if she’s read and comprehended some.

Evolutionary psychology observes the survival value to spousal cooperation. Males and females who attach themselves to each other, have a better chance of seeing their offspring survive long enough to produce grandchildren. Science can now tell us how the hormones released during sex help to create emotional bonds between the partners.

Yes. And science can now tell us so much more. Such as the fact that promiscuity and exotic patterns of sexual relations are damn natural, too.

A Google search on “female promiscuity evolutionary” brings up such informative gems as this article, from which Morse might discover that

Less than 50 years ago, Canela women, who live in Amazonian Brazil, enjoyed the delights of as many as 40 men one after another in festive rituals. When it was time to have a child, they’d select their favorite dozen or so lovers to help their husband with the all-important task. Even today, when the dalliances of married Barí ladies in Columbia and Venezuela result in a child, they proudly announce the long list of probable fathers.

Further down, we get more technical meat:

Physiological data supports the theory that women have been sleeping around for centuries. For starters, men have evolved to compete in their partner’s reproductive tract. Human males have large testicles that manufacture plenty of semen, especially when they reunite with their wives after separation. Their sperm includes coil-tailed versions that block instead of carry the ball.


Modern relationships are not all that different. High infidelity, remarriage and divorce rates may have less to do with modernity than with our collective sexual past. “It makes the variation we’re seeing in modern society so much more understandable,” Hawkes says.

If the anthropologists are right, monogamy may well be counter-evolutionary or an adaptation to modern life. Or perhaps the nuclear family has always been more of an ideal than a reality.

That was the FIRST ARTICLE to come up in my search. But of course, it’s AlterNet, so Roback Morse surely couldn’t have trusted the science.

Now, for some reason, Roback Morse found it worth the keystrokes to tell us that “As far as I know, humans are the only animals that copulate face to face. Shakespeare described the sexual act as “making the two-backed beast.”

She doesn’t know very far! A Google search on “face face copulation animal” [it takes, like, 20 seconds, Jennifer!] brings up, for instance, this page which tells us that “Orangutans engage in human like activities like face-to-face copulation, comprehension of speech, tool manufacturing, and imitation.”

Better yet, here’s one with illustrations.

“During copulation sharks meet face to face. As seen in this picture the male inserts one of his claspers into the cloaca of the female.”

Apparently the Stitchbird does it, too.

Again, from the AlterNet article, this amusing bit:

“This model of the death-do-us-part, missionary-position couple is just a tiny part of human history,” says anthropologist Kristen Hawkes, who has spent years studying the foraging habits of the Aché, a Paraguayan people, and the North Tanzanaian tribe Hadza, who also celebrate a rich love life. “The patterns of human sexuality are so much more variable.”

It would be too easy to go on about the stockpile of errors that is Roback Morse’s essay. Let it suffice to point out the extremely ambitious nature of her ignorance. If you’re going to write such portentous things as, “Many people celebrate the uncoupling of sexual activity from both of its natural functions, procreation and spousal unity. But by doing so, we have capsized the whole natural order of sexuality,” then you might want to know some small thing about the natural order of sexuality. It’s unecessary to know a damn thing about biology or anthropology to discover that Roback Morse has NO IDEA what she is talking about. Google! Yet she has the gall, the temerity, the ova to assume an air of authority as she extrapolates her ignorance into an argument for using the law to reinforce the marginalization of homsexual fidelity.

In the process of wrapping it up, she writes:

Human sexuality has a specific nature, regardless of what we believe or say about it. We are more likely to be satisfied with the outcome, if we work with our biology rather than against it. We will be happier if we face reality on its own terms.

Indeed. Now, go read a book or shut the fuck up.