The Sexual Nature of Man
IN ORDER TO UNDERSTAND THE SEXUAL standards in America, or in any society, one must have some knowledge of the ways in which our social existence shapes our sexual nature. One must know something about the sexual similarities and differences existing between man and other animals, between men and women, and among various societies in the world today. Let us dwell briefly on these topics in this chapter, and, in this fashion, begin the quest for understanding America's sexual standards.
The similarities between man and the other animals in physiological areas are easily seen.1 The human embryo and fetus in its various stages of development resembles many other embryos, e.g., it appears almost identical to that of many fishes at first; then for a short time it resembles that of some reptiles, then other mammals as the rabbit or monkey, and it is only after a few months of pregnancy that the untrained observer can be sure to what animal the fetus belongs. This similarity to other prenatal forms is further evidence of the evolutionary connections among all creatures. This, of course, is not in itself sufficient evidence or explanation of the development from one-celled creatures to man, but for that, the reader must go to the biological literature; my purpose here is mainly to establish man's roots in the animal kingdom.
SIGNS OF RELATION
Before pointing out how our sexual life differs from that of other animals, let us focus on some similarities. These examples will only be similarities, not identities. But by making such analogies, we will have more of a basis of comparison between men and other animals. Many of us are somewhat familiar with a polygamous-type family and even more familiar with a male-dominated family system. See how similar this sea elephant family is to its human counterpart:
A female left a herd and headed for the sea. As soon as she entered the water, five subordinate males hovering outside the surf converged upon her under forced draft, then reared and blew their horns in an effort to drive one another off by vocal challenge alone. The noise attracted the harem master who, without taking time to send a warning blast, charged full speed down the beach toward the turmoil in the water. The subordinates all drew off without a gesture and the harem bull caught up with the female and mated with her.2
It is quite conceivable that many a sheik had similar difficulties with his human harem. The dominance, the lust, the aggressiveness, in the roles played by the sea elephants, could fit well into many a human drama. Of course, there are also many important differences in the case of man, but these shall be dealt with later.
One finds other similarities in the area of female restraints. The female moth casts an odor into the air which attracts male moths. However, it is predominantly the virgin moth alone who is able to cast this odor, so the experienced female is "punished" and, therefore, ignored. Again, the female firefly is a "modest" creature. She never winks first—the male firefly must wink at her and then she will respond.
Courtship is well developed in the Empidae fly family. The male fly hovers near the female, vibrating his wings; she responds by similar vibrations, and then he approaches her with his front legs uplifted. The female fly lifts up her front legs and the two flies embrace! The exchange of sexual favors for valuable gifts is also common among this species of fly. The male fly will capture an insect and wrap it in silk threads. He presents this "gift" to the female, and while she is busily unwrapping the gift, the male mates with her.3
The female is not always the submissive one with the male the aggressor. For example, the female spider quite often will literally eat up her puny mate after the sex act is finished. Such female dominance and aggressiveness is not unusual. Bee societies have existed for almost one hundred million years and the queen bee is as tyrannical and all-powerful as the male sea elephant. She is upper caste and picks the most able male for a mate. She is constantly guarded and fed by the lower-caste bees that wait on her.
The laughing gulls on the islands off Cape Cod present a good illustration of behavior which, on the surface, appears quite similar to our own:
In a small group the first problem of a lusty male, after running at a female and recognizing her by her standing firm, is to get rid of any nearby competitors. So, one at a time he charges them as well, and those that are males retreat and fly away. This leaves him, as a rule, with more than one female, too much for his monogamous personality. One female, therefore, drives the rest away and only the pair are left. . . . More and more, the two indulge in a mutual courtship feeding of a purely symbolic kind, while the male issues long, plaintive sex moans. When at last they seem to be so well acquainted that they can distinguish each other from all of their neighbors, they go off on their own. The male goes first to select the site and then calls the female to him. . . . After mating, both birds share in building the nest, the male collecting, the female constructing, later on, they take turns in brooding the eggs.4
The superficial similarities to our own customs are obvious. The courtship process builds up emotional attachments in birds such as the laughing gulls, and many birds stay together for a long period of time. In fact, geese often mate for a full lifetime with one partner only. This is true of other animals also, such as the wild fox.
In all these cases, there appears to be some similarity to man's sexual behavior. But, more importantly, there is a basic difference between man's sexual behavior and that of these other creatures. This difference lies in the concept of learned behavior.
The male sea elephant does not have to be taught that it desires a harem, how to mate, and so forth. These responses seem fairly well established at birth in the hormone structure and other physiological ways, and, given a typical environment, they will evidence themselves. The laughing gull does not have to learn over the years how to "court" a female gull— he is born with certain physiological mechanisms which usually guarantee these responses when the proper situation arises. The female firefly does not have to learn that it is "impudent" of her to "wink" first—she simply does not wink first because of her inherited characteristics.
Now, of course, there is some learned aspect in many of these responses, e.g., I imagine that the male sea elephant does learn from practice how better to manage a harem, even though the original impetus to obtaining the harem is based on unlearned mechanisms. However, learning, per se, does not seem vital for the animal courtship patterns I have discussed; they are based predominantly on inborn tendencies.
Now, what is the case with man? When a man courts a woman in a particular way or has particular desires for a type of sexual relation, is it similarly based almost exclusively on inherited tendencies? I think not, for unlike other animal species, men, in different societies, court in many different ways and desire many different types of sexual relations. Of course, there is a biological or inherited aspect to man's sexual standards; but in determining specific characteristics, learning is the dominant factor, and the inherited aspect only a minor limitation. To substantiate this important point, let us now examine man's sexual standards in the many non-literate cultures of the world.
ARE WE CIVILIZED?
There is a tendency for Americans to think of non-literate people (people who have no written language, such as the South Sea Islanders) as "savages," as "uncivilized," and as therefore being sexually promiscuous. It is somewhat surprising to find such erroneous beliefs so widespread in this day and age. The non-literate person, as far as we know, has the same intellectual capacity as the literate American; the non-literate person has some customs which are more complex than ours and some which are simpler. The non-literate does not lack sexual standards. His sexual behavior is regulated by numerous standards—some of them less demanding than ours, but always there are rules and regulations.
Unlike many other living creatures, man's sexual drives are ever present and thus are vital in terms of relating the men and women who make up society. Sexual behavior is so ever present that it has great possibilities for increasing or decreasing social integration. It is aways socially regulated in some fashion or another, because it involves such important factors, as love, jealousy, social position, and pleasure.
Many a nineteenth-century anthropologist had the typical bias of his time; when he discovered people who lived differently than he did, he immediately interpreted this difference to mean inferiority. For the nineteenth-century intellectual, in many cases, the logic was simply that if the non-literate were intelligent and moral, he would be living as Europeans did. Today, science makes no such extravagant claims regarding intellectual inferiority or primitive promiscuity, for we know that there is no evidence to support such a position.
Let us not prejudge the worth of these customs or people. Instead, let us look at some of the customs in order to illustrate the learned aspect in the human animal's sexual standards.
a) Man, the Aggressive Sex? The human female has a unique distinction among female animals. As far as can be discerned, only the human female is capable of orgasm, or reaching a sexual climax. Some other female animals, when they are in estrus ("heat") seem to enjoy sexual behavior, but they do not evince any clear indication of orgasmic climax to their pleasure. Furthermore, the human female does not seem to have regular periods of estrus during which she desires intercourse much more than at other times. I am not talking here of moods or individual differences but of a biological trait. There are studies which seem to show that the woman still has traces of periodicity, in that she most desires sexual relations just before and just after her menstrual period.5 This contention has not been fully supported. Even if such regularity were fully substantiated, it might be explained by learning rather than biological factors, i.e., perhaps the thought that for several days she will not be able to have sexual intercourse makes a woman more easily aroused before her menses, and perhaps the relief that those days of waiting are over also makes a woman more responsive shortly after her menses. If there are biological factors operative, then nature has, in one sense, gone amiss, for immediately before and after the menses is the most infertile time to have coitus. Regardless of the particular aspect of this situation, one can say that women, unlike other female animals, are capable of being sexually aroused at almost any time, even though they may be more desirous at certain times.5a
Many Americans think that women are by nature less sexually aggressive than men, and point out the presence of such a pattern in our country as evidence for their contention. But these people are looking at only one case— America. As soon as one looks at other cultures, he clearly perceives that the lack, or presence, of aggressiveness in woman is vitally affected by learning, by what her culture teaches her. The Hopi Indians, in our own Southwest, and the Trukese and Trobriander, in other parts of the world, all afford examples of cultures where the woman is as aggressive as the man and apathetic women are scorned.
I might add here that there are societies where women are not only equal to men as sexual aggressors but where they definitely outdo the men. Kwoma, Maori, and Mataco societies are good examples of female sexual aggressiveness. In this connection, it should be clear that the widespread belief that males of all animal species play the more active role in initiating sex can be seriously questioned. Furthermore, in man's nearest relatives, the chimpanzees, orangutans, gorillas, and gibbons, it has often been reported that females in estrus initiate sexual activity more than males.6 Our own experience tends to make us think that everyone else in the world is just like us, or, if they are not, they must be abnormal. Both such ethnocentric assumptions are quite often in error.
To further illustrate the initiation of sex activities by women, there is a custom in Lesu, Dahomean, and Kurtatchi cultures which entails exposure of the female genital area to entice a male to have coitus. Ford and Beach describe sexual customs in other areas as follows:
On Bali, girls commonly make overtures to boys or give encouragement to a shy suitor. At a ceremonial dance the Goajiro woman is permitted to trip a man; and if she succeeds he is duty-bound to have intercourse with her. In theory the Lepcha woman should never make direct sexual advances; but in point of fact nearly every boy has his first complete sexual experience with the wife of an "elder brother" or "uncle" and this occurs as a result of the woman's direct invitations.
A few societies make little or no distinction between the sexes in the matter of initiating sexual affairs. Among the Tro-brianders, Lesu and Kurtatchi either the boy or the girl is permitted by custom to take the first steps in soliciting intercourse. In these societies lovemaking is said to be as spontaneous on the part of one sex as of the other.
There are a few societies in which the girl generally begins all love affairs. Among the Kwoma the girl makes the first advances.7
This should make it quite clear that, if so trained, women will initiate sex activity as easily as men. There may be some physiological differences. The male sex organs, due to their externality, may have some initial advantage for the sexual development of the male, due to ease of location and manipulation. I am not proposing an identity but am merely pointing out that whatever initial differences there may be are greatly modifiable by cultural training.8
b) Mirror, Mirror on the Wall. . . . Many of us also tend to think that our standards of sexual beauty are universal. One would think that the memory of the "flat-chested, narrow-hipped" twenties would be enough to convince us of the changing standards of beauty.9 Ford and Beach found in the societies they studied that the only female sexual characteristic almost unanimously preferred was wide hips; all other characteristics varied in order of preference, e.g., some societies preferred plump body builds, others slim builds, some pendulous breasts, others upright breasts. In a few societies, the size of the clitoris or the labia majora are considered major beauty characteristics, e.g., this is the case respectively among the Easter Islanders and the Dahomeans. Since what appeals to men in one society does not necessarily appeal to men in other societies, it seems that much of what is sexually attractive is learned.
Other examples of the preponderant role of learned behavior in human sexual standards are not hard to find. For example, instead of our comparatively subtle methods of sexual seduction, the Alorese solicit young women by touching their breasts. This supposedly arouses the woman so much that she cannot resist. Choroti women show their excitement during sexual intercourse by spitting in the lover's face! The lover does not resent this any more than the American male resents the scratches and bites he may receive on his back and neck. The locale for intercourse also varies a great deal. In our society it is customary to copulate in private, but in other societies, such as the Formosan, the natives often engage in coitus outdoors, providing there are no children around.
c) Premarital and Extramarital Intercourse. Although the majority of non-literate cultures are opposed to most forms of extramarital sex (adultery), the vast majority are in favor of premarital sexual intercourse. Murdock's examination of non-literate cultures revealed that 70 per cent allowed premarital coitus for both males and females, but only about 20 per cent allowed full extramarital coitus.10 Many people seem to feel that if a society allows premarital coitus, it cannot prevent extramarital coitus, but the record of these societies indicates that it is possible to allow premarital coitus and refuse to permit extramarital coitus. Again, the human being seems a most pliable creature, capable of learning many modes of living.
It may well be that for most, not all, societies casual adultery is more disruptive of social order than casual premarital intercourse, since such adultery disturbs an established family structure. This is possibly the reason for such a common taboo on adultery. However, in some cultures, as the Eskimo, adultery seems to fit quite well. Some of the Eskimos while away the bleak winter months by playing a game called "putting out the lamps," in which married and single couples put out the oil lamps and scramble for a new partner for the night.11
There are many different standards of premarital sex in the cultures that allow such relationships. There are cultures that allow premarital coitus, providing neither partner is refers primarily to adultery with an unrelated person. Adultery with one's brother- or sister-in-law is accepted in many societies, for these in-laws are possible future mates. Both Murdock and Ford and Beach used the files on preliterate cultures at Yale for their research. These files cover over 150 cultures and are the best of their sort in the world. Nevertheless, information on sexual customs is most often quite limited. Ford and Beach studied 190 cultures and found slightly higher percentages of those who accept adultery (39 per cent). See: Ford and Beach, op. cit., pp. 113-15. Kinsey lists 50 per cent of all societies forbidding adultery for women, 40 per cent forbidding it except on special occasions and 10 per cent allowing adultery. Restrictions on men were minimal. Kinsey, Human female, p. 436. married and they both are of a similar age group. Most cultures place many additional restrictions on the occurrence of premarital coitus, e.g., some societies give the girl the right to pick one of her lovers as her husband if she becomes pregnant. Samoa is one such culture. Other cultures, such as the Hopi, require premarital coitus to be limited to "steady boyfriends" or "fiances."12
The few cultures which fully restrict premarital coitus vary in the nature of their restriction. In many of them, the restriction is a "double standard" type, i.e., the male is allowed to have sexual freedom, but the female is severely condemned if she engages in premarital coitus. This is similar to the situation in America today, where the female is more severely condemned for her premarital sexual behavor than is the male. In a few societies, the harsher penalties apply to the male, and the female is given sexual privileges—just about the reverse of our practice! In other societies, both male and female are closely guarded and equally restricted in their premarital behavior.13
Comparatively speaking, our society is a highly restrictive one in terms of sexual behavior, but in practice most people seem to break the formal rules we set up. Theoretically, we restrict sexual intercourse to marriage. Nevertheless, Kin-sey found that the majority of the men and women in his sample had engaged in premarital sexual intercourse.14 Thus, it is important to keep in mind the difference between the code a society formally or ideally holds to and the informal or operational code which is much closer to actual behavior. A society may have a formal standard of abstinence for all and an informal standard of freedom for men. Actual behavior will likely entail intercourse which is very much in line with the informal standard.15
d) Homosexuality. The restrictiveness of the American sexual code is apparent when we examine attitudes towards homosexuality. Of the seventy-six non-literate societies on which Ford and Beach were able to gather material, forty-nine of them had a permissive attitude towards homosexuality. This does not mean that all forty-nine of them approved of homosexuality for all males. Rather, it means a great many things —from approval for some males to engage in homosexuality, to approval for all men to engage in homosexuality at certain times.But in all cases, the attitude was a permissive one and thus more liberal than our own attitude toward homosexuality.
Among the Siwans of Africa, for example, all men and boys engage in anal intercourse. They adopt the feminine role only in strictly sexual situations and males are singled out as peculiar if they do not indulge in these homosexual activities. Prominent Siwan men lend their sons to each other and they talk about their masculine love affairs as openly as they discuss their love of women. Both married and unmarried males are expected to have both homosexual and heterosexual affairs. Among many of the aborigines of Australia this type of coitus is a recognized custom between unmarried men and uninitiated boys . . .
Keraki bachelors of New Guinea universally practice sodomy and in the course of his puberty rite, each boy is initiated into anal intercourse by the older males. After his first year of playing the passive role, he spends the rest of his bachelorhood sodomizing the newly initiated.16
The evidence for female homosexuality is more difficult to locate, but Ford and Beach found clear evidence for such practices being accepted in seventeen societies. Mutual masturbation seems to be the most common form of homosexual practice among women. Both male and female homosexuality is never the dominant sexual mode for a society; it is always a minor activity subsidiary to heterosexual behavior. Even among the other mammals, homosexuality is only a variation for some individuals. The key difference among societies seems to be in the attitude towards those people who practice this variation. As has been shown, some societies condemn it, some condone it, and some simply tolerate it.
THE SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE
Many areas and types of sexual behavior have been dealt with here.17 From this diversity of belief and behavior, one can see that learning is a dominant factor in a people's sexual behavior. If an American baby were brought up among the Todas, she would believe in polyandry and premarital coitus, just as a Toda baby brought up here in America would likely believe in monogamy and oppose coitus outside of marriage.
The learned aspect in sexual behavior can be seen within one society also. For example, people with higher education are more likely to engage in premarital petting to orgasm, more likely to masturbate, prefer to have coitus with some sort of light in the room, engage in more oral-genital play and so forth. These are the findings of Kinsey's studies. Clearly, more highly educated people are not of a different species, so these differences must be learned.18
Physiological factors, hormones, inborn tendencies relating to sexual behavior are present in all animals, including man. But as one follows the scale of evolution toward man, one finds, that the learned factors become more and more significant and the physiological factors more and more modified and augmented. Observers have frequently noticed that a male chimpanzee will evidence rather decisive preferences for one sex partner over another and that often this preference seems based on an emotional compatibility with the preferred partner. Female chimpanzees also show such preferences, although females in estrus are less discriminating than males. This seems to indicate the presence of learned behavior that is modifying the purely physiological sexual drives. When one leaves the class of mammals, especially the apes, and goes to the reptiles, fishes and others, there is much less, if any, of this sort of selection—this sort of learned behavior. Conversely, as one approaches man, there is more and more of it.19
Women who have had ovaridectomies (removal of ovaries) usually still maintain their sexual drives. Among other animals, an ovaridectomy most often stops all sexual responses. Men who have been castrated (removal of testicles), although they react somewhat more negatively than women do to such operations, still, in many cases, retain their sexual desires. All that seems to be altered is potency. Even this is not seriously altered for all men; many castrated males seem able to carry on a normal sex life.
Many women who have passed menopause (change of life) feel that their sexual desire is over because of this physiological change. There is no necessity for sexual activity to cease. A woman, after menopause, can enjoy sexual relations just as much as before. In fact, due to the absence of a pregnancy fear, sometimes the enjoyment is increased. The individual's psychological reaction to menopause and these other physiological changes seems to be the crucial factor.20
Much of the modern psychiatric theory concerning homosexuality also reflects the importance of learning.21 Many, though not all, psychiatrists and psychologists today view the sexual drive at birth as a relatively neutral force. They conceive of it as a tension which will persist until some sort of relief is afforded, but they do not believe that the sexual drive of the male infant is aimed at female satisfaction and that female sex drives are structured so that only males can satisfy them.22 Heterosexuality would be accented in all societies for without it the society could not survive.
The homosexual individual in America is thought to be, in most cases, a person whose upbringing has not effectively channeled his drive in a heterosexual direction,23 i.e., due to frustrations with the opposite sex, due to fixations of attitudes in the family, due to contact with other homosexuals, etc. In all these ways and numerous others, the sex drive of the homosexual is satisfied in a socially unaccepted fashion. Psychiatrists report numerous cases where homosexuals have become heterosexual; this is brought about by redirecting their sexual drives, by finding out what channeled the drive, and by getting the patient into situations which will channel it in a heterosexual direction.24 The human infant takes proportionately longer than any other animal to grow up, thus allowing ample time for all sorts of learning situations.
What is true of the sexual drive seems true of other physiologically rooted drives such as hunger. The prevalent view is that we are born with a hunger drive, i.e., our stomach contracts and makes us feel pain if we do not eat for a long period of time. But whether we satisfy our hunger by eating steak or by having an Eskimo dessert of body lice and stuffed intestines is a matter of learning. One should also note that our social experiences can intensify our desire for foods. Thus, it is impossible to discern what our inborn hunger drive was, for it may be increased or decreased due to learning processes. The same seems to hold true for our sexual drive—the type of behavior that satisfies it is learned, and the intensity of it can easily be affected by our experiences.25
a) What Is Normal? Since all cultures have a learned mode of sexual behavior, no culture has the "truly physiological" or "natural" or "normal" way of acting sexually. The question of which way is right is a separate one with which I shall deal later. It might be well to say a few words here on the use of the term "normal." It was not so long ago that any behavior outside actual coitus was considered abnormal. In fact, even coitus which did not involve the "proper positions" was considered abnormal. The present psychological and medical view is quite different. All sexual behaviors which do not physically injure a person or reflect great internal conflict are most often considered normal.26 Even the injurious behaviors are considered abnormal only because they seem to be symptoms of mental illness. Thus mouth-genital contact, masturbation, and all positions in coitus are accepted as normal today. There seems to be great variety in our sexual practices today, e.g., about half of the married couples in the Kinsey study stated they both practiced mouth-genital erotic play.27 Our more objective approach to all such behavior is an attempt to broaden our understanding and remove our personal biases from our observations. Thus, although one may not approve of certain actions, one can no longer call them abnormal. One must state his disapproval on other grounds. Where one finds internal mental conflict of a high degree or other such symptoms, one may call the act abnormal, but this can occur with any action and need not occur in those acts of which we disapprove. Mankind is finally learning to use the term abnormal for disease-reflecting actions and not to apply it indiscriminately to any behavior that is merely disliked.
b) Body vs. Soul. Another important point relevant to this discussion concerns the oft heard "body versus soul" conflict. Let us clear this up at the very beginning. The issue here is the point of view which states that man is constantly in a battle with his "animal" nature—that the opponents in this contest of strength are man's ideas, values, or what some call his soul versus his hereditary "animal" drives, instincts, or what have you. Now, in the light of what has been discussed in this chapter, such a conflict is hardly meaningful. For example, when a man states that his soul tells him sexual relations are wrong, but his "animal" nature desires it and thus he is in conflict—is he accurately portraying his situation? Is it not more accurate and useful to put the situation as a conflict between a learned desirable way of satiating his partly physiological and partly learned sexual desires, on the one hand, and his learned ideas concerning right and wrong, on the other hand? In short, are not the conflicts between two or more learned ways of behaving, rather than between an ideology and an "animal" drive? No adult human has a purely physical drive for sex, food, or anything else. Learning has always entered in, so that any resulting conflicts are not between that non-directed, neutral, physiological drive and our ideas of right and wrong, but between the way we have learned to satisfy and develop that drive and the ideas of right and wrong which we have learned. This is an important point, for many people say that they are fighting just their "animal" drives when they fight sexual impulses—this is not quite correct, for the particular way their sexual drive shows itself is learned.
Since the above connotation of animal instincts or drives is a derogatory one, it will lead to much clearer thinking if we drop such prejudged terminology. The use of the word animal in this derogatory sense leads to much confusion. Man is an animal; thus his ideas as well his so-called "desires" are part of him, qua animal. The confusion is due to the belief that there is something "bad" about anything we share with other animals, such as sex desires. Since, to some degree, we share many things with other animals, according to this way of thinking, all these aspects should be "bad" and not just a few sexual characteristics. It is scientifically much better to drop such biased terminology and to stop using other animals as the basis for invidious comparisons.
c) Culture. Man is the only animal who has developed abstract thought, the use of language symbols to represent the distant past and the distant future. Accordingly, man is the only animal who thinks in terms of moral "oughts," or right and wrong. The advantages man's brain gives him allow him to perform these seemingly miraculous feats of breaking the time barrier and contemplating a better state of things. Because of his superior communication and thought ability, man can pass on what he learns in his lifetime to the next generation. He can pass it on by word of mouth or by writing it down—and all of this is possible because of the precious ability to think abstractly. Other animals do seem to be able to communicate, but, almost exclusively, their communication concerns the present, i.e., a screech signifying danger, a howl signifying present hunger, and similar expressive forms of communication. They also seem to pass on some slight informaton to the next generation but, again, nowhere near the degree that man does.
This body of information, this collection concerning ways of doing, feeling, and believing that man passes down to the next generation is what we, in the social sciences, call culture.28 The word is used here more broadly than its commonplace usage which includes only art, music, and literature. We use it to include all that man shares with other men and passes down to his offspring—in short, culture is an entire way of life. It is this body of information, this culture, that distinguishes man from other animals and that is the foundation of human society. Culture binds men and generations together. Culture is to man what hormones and physiological factors are to other animals—it is his source of behavior, his place of obtaining ways of doing, feeling, and believing; it is his "social heredity." Man, then, is an animal who, by contact with culture, through his social relationships with other people, builds up a way of life, a way of satisfying and shaping his biological, social, and cultural desires. Each man takes and gives to his culture during his lifetime and picks and chooses the parts of his culture he will accept. Man is much more than any collection of words can describe. But let us, in examining his sexual life in America, consider man as a social and cultural animal.
1. For gaining insight into the story of evolution, see George Gaylord Simpson, The Meaning of Evolution (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1951) and Theodosius Dobzhansky, Evolution, Genetics and Man (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1955). For understanding the role sex has played in evolution, see Norman J. Berrill, Sex and the Nature of Things (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1954). Another book by Berrill may prove most interesting to those who want an informal introduction to the evolution of man: Man's Emerging Mind (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1955).
2. Berrill, Sex and the Nature of Things, p. 234.
3. Dobzhansky, op. cit., p. 279.
4. Berrill, Sex and the Nature of Things, pp. 138, 139.
5. K. B. Davis, Factors in the Sex Life of Twenty-Two Hundred Women (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1929). L. M. Terman, Psychological Factors in Marital Happiness (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1938). See also A. C. Kinsey, W. B. Pomeroy, C- E. Martin, and P. H. Gebhard, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders Company, 1953), pages 608-10 and Part III which is a full physiological comparison of male and female. This book will be hereafter referred to as follows: Kinsey, Human Female. The other Kinsey study with W. B. Pomeroy and C. E. Martin, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders Company, 1948), will be referred to as follows: Kinsey, Human Male. On pp. 628-31 of Human Female, Kinsey presents evidence which indicates that, on occasions, females of other species may reach orgasm.
5a. Kinsey believes that females of other species may at times be sexually arousable even when estrus is not present. Human Female, pp. 736-38.
6. Clellan S. Ford and Frank A. Beach, Patterns of Sexual Behavior (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1953), pp. 102-3; an excellent account of sexual customs in 190 non-literate societies.
7. Ibid., p. 102.
8. Kinsey, Human Female. Part III has an elaborate discussion of
differences between men and women. The position taken by Kinsey in this
section is somewhat anomolous. He admits the power of learning in sexual
behavior and shows that there are no conclusive male-female differences in
anatomy and physiology of sexual response and that hormonal differences
are speculative. Yet he maintains in chap. xvi that males are basically more
easily conditioned to sexual stimuli than females. Kinsey himself presents
in other places evidence from other cultures to refute this belief. He also
mentions similar differences in sensitivity to sexual stimuli among different
classes of men (Human Male, p. 363) but in this case he accepts such dif-
ferences as learned! In light of all this, I find it easier to explain male-
female differences by reference predominantly to differences in cultural
upbringing, although I shall also speak of biological factors in this chap-
ter and in chapter iv.
9. For a pictorial demonstration of such change in the last few thousand
years, see Madge Garland, The Changing Face of Beauty (New Yorkr
M. Barrows Co., 1957).
10. George Peter Murdock, Social Structure (New York: The Macmil-
lan Company, 1949), p. 265. It should be clear that this taboo on adultery
11. Incest taboos are much more universal, but may have a similar "practical" reason for being. Incest would prevent the addition of wealth from other families and introduce sexual competition within each family. This line of reasoning seems probable since biological explanations of incest are not valid, i.e., many island groups are quite inbred over thousands of years and still forbid incest although their ordinary marriages are genetically just about as "close." For a brief discussion, see Ralph Seals and Harry Hoijer, Introduction to Anthropology (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1953), pp. 416-24. See also H. L. Shapiro (ed.), Man, Culture and Society (New York: Oxford, 1956), chap. xii by Claude Levi-Strauss. See also Murdock, op. cit., chap. x.
12. For a brief but interesting account of eighteen cultures, see George
P. Murdock, Our Primitive Contemporaries (New York: The Macmillan
Company, 1954). See also Elman R. Service, A Profile of Primitive Culture
(New York: Harper and Brothers, 1957).
13. Ford and Beach, op. tit., chap. vi.
14. Kinsey, Human Male, p. 550. The percentage of males who engaged
in premarital coitus varied from 67 per cent for college-educated to 98
per cent for eighth-grade educated men. See p. 330 in Human Female for
the summary 'findings on female premarital intercourse. Fifty per cent of
the married women had premarital coitus. These permissive people are not
all violating their beliefs—in many cases they are abiding by more liberal
sexual standards. See my chapter three. It should be stressed here that I
am not proposing, and neither was Kinsey, that these percentages are applicable to all groups of Americans; they are to be taken always with qualifications. Kinsey's figures are most representative of the Northeastern, well-educated, upper- or middle-class person. Many of Kinsey's 12,000 interviews come from this segment.
15. The distinction between formal and informal culture is virtually the same as the common distinction between overt and covert culture or explicit and implicit culture. I use these terms (formal and informal) for simplicity's sake.
16. Ford and Beach, op. cit., pp. 131-32.
17. Other types of behavior follow similar lines, e.g., masturbation is
also viewed more permissively in non-Western societies. However, even in
America, Kinsey found that in his sample, 93 per cent of the men and
62 per cent of the women had masturbated. The taboo in this area may
well be weakening.
18. Kinsey, Human Male, chap. xvi.
19. Ford and Beach,op. cit., chaps. xii and xiii. For a recent discussion
of this issue, see Robert Bierstedt, The Social Order (New York: McGraw-
Hill, 1957), chap. x. Bierstedt discusses the point of the relative impor-
tance of culture and physiology.
20. Ford and Beach, op. cit., chap. xii. This chapter has a good account
of the differential effect of such operations and changes on humans and
other animals. See also A. M. Krich (ed.), Women (New York: Dell Pub-
lishing Company, 1953), chap. xii, "Menopause: The Change of Life" by
Dr. E. Novak. For an interesting discussion of the controversial male
"change of life," see A. M. Krich (ed.), Men (New York: Dell Publishing
Company, 1953), chap. xii, by Dr. G. Maranon. Kinsey mentions an 88-
year-old man and his 90-year-old wife who were having intercourse regu-
larly. See Kinsey, Human Male, p. 237. Kinsey also discusses the effects of
castration and menopause. Kinsey, Human Female, pp. 731-45.
21. For a summary of the major approaches used by psychiatrists and
psychologists, see Patrick Mullahy (ed.), A Study of Interpersonal Rela-
tions (New York: Hermitage Press, 1949). See especially "Changing Con-
cepts of Homosexuality" by Clara Thompson, pp. 211-23. See also J.
McCary and D. Sheer (eds.), Six Approaches to Psychotherapy (New
York: Dryden Press, 1955), and R. L. Monroe, Schools of Psychoanalytic
Thought (New York: Dryden Press, 1955).
22. The books of a generation ago began accepting this position in
psychology. See Laurance F. Shaffer, The Psychology of Adjustment (New
York: Houghton Miffin Company, 1936). See chaps. ii, iv, and xiii es-
pecially. See also Alfred R. Lindesmith and Anselm L. Strauss, Social
Psychology (New York: Dryden Press, 1950), chap. xv.
23. The most widely accepted explanation of personality development
in sociological literature can be found in somewhat difficult form, but most
worthwhile, in George H. Mead, Mind, Self and Society (Chicago: Uni-
versity of Chicago Press, 1934); see especially pp. 135-227. This approach
is very much in line with the psychological position being discussed. For a
good summary of psychological views, see Calvin S. Hall and Gardiner
Lindzey, Theories of Personality (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1957).
24. Albert Ellis, "The Effectiveness of Psychotherapy with Individuals
Who Have Severe Homosexual Problems," Journal of Consulting Psychol-
ogy, XX (1956), 191-95. Good references can be found in this article on
the treatment of homosexuality. The biological factors cannot be ignored
in homosexuality, but in most cases they do not appear to be as crucial
25. Our culture develops less "erotic imagery" in women than in men.
Perhaps this accounts for the male's greater sensitivity to psychological
stimuli and the female's greater dependence on tactile stimulation. See my
discussion of this point in chap. x.
26. See Louis L. Berg, M. D. and Robert Street, Sex: Methods and
Manners (New York: McBride Company, 1953). For an early statement
of this view, see Havelock Ellis, Psychology of Sex (New York: Mentor
Books, 1954). Not all social scientists agree with this definition of normal
but it is increasingly being adopted. The November 7, 1959 meeting of the
Society for the Scientific Study of Sex discussed this point of normality in
a panel composed of Wardell B. Pomeroy, Leo P. Chall, Henry Guze, and
Milton Levine. Although lacking in full agreement, the consensus was to
avoid using the term "normal" to denote behavior one morally disapproves
of and to define it instead in terms of its psychological pathology. See also:
A. C. Kinsey, W. B. Pomeroy, C. E. Martin, and P. H. Gebhard, "Concepts
of Normality and Abnormality in Sexual Behavior," in P. H. Hoch and J. Zubin (eds.)Psychosexual Development in Health and Disease (New York: Grune and Stratton, 1949).
27. Kinsey, Human Male, p. 268.
28. Those who desire to investigate this culture concept further should read the delightful and fascinating book by Robert H. Lowie, Are We Civilized? (New York: Rinehart and Company, 1929). See also any recent anthropology text for briefer statements.