Another evpsych logic-wormhole: monkey-whores and the mating market


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via AFP: “Cost of coitus: Male monkeys pay for sex”. Weekly rag New Scientist is all over this paper by Gumert, who, surprise surprise, teaches evolutionary psychology, not primate biology. (I can’t get to full versions – can anyone?)

From the AFP article:

On average, females had sex 1.5 times per hour.

But this rate jumped to 3.5 times per hour immediately after the female had been groomed by a male — and her partner of choice was likely to be the hunky monkey that did the grooming.

Market forces also acted on the value of the transaction. If there were several females in the area, the cost of buying sex would drop dramatically — a male could “buy” a female for just eight minutes of nit-picking. But if there were no females around, he would have to groom for up to 16 minutes before sex was offered.

The work supports the theory that biological market forces can explain social behaviour, the British weekly says.

“There is a very well-known mix of economic and mating markets in the human species itself,” said Ronald Noe of France’s University of Strasbourg. “There are many examples of rich old men getting young attractive ladies.”

As tigtog said, “Grooming is a sign of commerce rather than affection why exactly?”?

Pared-down 4-point critique, only of logic-wormhole jump to “human biological markets” guff, not of original methodology and statistics, which may well be utter crap also for all I know:

1. Grooming != money. Economics really is the prime example of a one-hammer toolbox, isn’t it?

2. Monkeys != people.

3. Females != inevitably, always, and across-species gatekeepers for sex compared to always-ready-to-go males.

4. Occurs in nature != good/right/moral/reasonable/equitable.

But cue antifeminist evpsychers whooping and hollering about how prostitution is NATCHERAL and therefore GOOD!!1! and/or about how WOMEN are all WHORES!!1! in 3…2…1…

Categories: culture wars, Science

5 replies

  1. I read about this earlier today, at a couple of other feminist blogs. So does this mean that all women who enjoy foreplay are engaging in prostitution?
    If this weren’t so degrading to women on so many levels, it’d be funny.

  2. Beppie: And that all men who engage in pre-intercourse affection and touching are johns, apparently.
    Lauredhel’s last blog post..Who made the seeds?

  3. What I still don’t understand is how did ev psych become such a bullshit factory?
    I’m actually a bit more fond of economics, though, game theory has broadened the field in some interesting ways.

  4. To misquote A.N. Other, “It’s so stupid it’s not even wrong.”
    Evpsych became bullshit for the same reason that Freudianism still hauls in bigbuck$, too many people have a stake in locking arms & lying.

  5. I keep asking myself the same thing about evopsych and its popularity as, well, parlor game rather than science. The more I think about it, the more I talk about it also with people outside the humanities (good to have friends doing biological research), I come to think that evopsych’s major flaw lies in the endeavor to discount the role of culture. To theorize about society as if society and its webs of rules, norms, and taboos didn’t exist.
    My first major problem with the evopsych argument was the conception of language which uses naive arguments against theoretical linguistics. Having studied linguistics, I cannot nod to explanations which are based on an absolute lack of understanding of Saussurean theory. Dismissing it as disconnected from the natural world is silly — de Saussure and his followers did credit other animal life forms with language faculties of their own. However, they underscored the difference that set those forms of language apart from human language.
    Evopsych is at pains to reduce human language to natural symbolism, it seems to me. The arbitrariness that theoretical linguistics sees as the defining characteristic of human language is an unwelcome complication, therefore it is described as a lie that cuts us off from nature.
    Is then imagination also such a lie? Or the desire to invent? Oh I’m sure there is an it’s-all-reduced-to-our-uncontrolled-drives explanation for these.
    Arbitrariness of language is a fact not a lie, so is culture, so is society. The significant component in all of them is cognition, the annoying complication that spoils the puzzle for evopsych.
    Neither of the biologists I talked to was convinced by a vision of a social science that negates cognition, abstraction, and arbitrariness so much that it becomes a vision of society without society in the picture.
    Urgently needed for all enthusiasts and theorists: remedial classes in sociology and — can’t help it — intro to linguistics.
    Language was my first major issue, but what terrifies me most are the reductionist takes on human (and, come to think of it, also animal) sexuality. Not to take up more space here, two quotes come to my mind:
    “Flesh comes to us out of history.” (Angela Carter, The Sadeian Woman)
    “Even animals have to learn how to be sexual.” (Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth)
    Januaries’s last blog post..Persona

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