Bonobos: our pansexual cousins

I’ve spent a lot of time looking at how societies might have been structured before the development of agriculture.  Clearly, we can’t directly study the human groups that existed outside Africa between 50,000 and 5,000 years ago, because they no longer exist. So I  also looked at relatives of humans, particularly our closest, bonobos, Pan paniscus.

Our ancestors left very little evidence. Although they did use stone and bone, a great deal of their artefacts were made of wood or leather and were perishable. The few that we do have are somewhat mysterious.

To try to shed light on this, we reviewed a wide range of anthropological literature. We especially concentrated on extant traditional societies, of which there are a surprising number, despite the attempts by religious fundamentalists, especially the Christian and Muslim ones, to eradicate them. (As a matter of fact, Islam has been less damaging to many traditional societies than Christianity, as we see from the number of traditional groups still living, and respected, in Indonesia.)

We reviewed the mythology that was recorded soon after the invention of writing, in Sumer in the 5th Millennium BCE. We then compared this to modern mythologies which form part of traditional cultures. We also looked at similar species, and that’s where bonobos came in.

 

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Transsexualism: Will it end the gay lifestyle?

It’s clear that there is a deal of brouhaha about the extent to which transsexualism is impacting on the lesbian and gay, and to a lesser extent bisexual, lifestyle and political hegemony in the West. This is contributing to an increasingly bitter spat about young transitioners — people transitioning gender before they reach their majority.

There is no doubt that political activists are operating on this body of young people, some with laudable motives, others not so; but why is the lesbian and gay community so exercised?

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I first published this article on 5 May 2018 and while my thinking has evolved since then, the article remains sound and particularly in an era of increased transphobia, especially in the UK, on point. Today I would perhaps use some different terms but the sense is correct.
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Selection and Beauty: sexual selection shaped us

beauty-selection

There are two forms of Selection involved in Evolution. Both were described by Darwin.1 One is Natural Selection, which is the cumulative effect of the environment on organisms, and the other is Sexual Selection, which is how individual organisms choose their partners. Key to Sexual Selection is attraction: we select partners we find attractive. In humans, this is important, because we have overcome most of the environmental factors that impinge upon us.

While the effects of Sexual Selection are best known in domestic animals, where humans do the selecting, we have shaped ourselves through it, by choosing our sexual partners and at the same time, by making ourselves appealing to our targets.2

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Gynandromorphophilia/GAMP: Loving Transwomen

Gynandromorphophilia, the love of transwomen, is a little-discussed sexual orientation which was made even harder to talk about because it breaks your tongue trying to say it. The conventional acronym is GAMP and that is what we are going to use in this article. We are only going to discuss GAMP as it affects males. There is evidence that some females share this orientation but there is no reliable data.

You may never have heard of GAMP but, despite being popularly ignored, it is a common phenomenon. Put simply, it describes an attraction to transsexual women. The term gynandromorphophilia was coined by Ray Blanchard, who gave us the current scientific position on transsexualism. He was a one for the tongue-twisters too.

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First published January 2018; updated July 2020

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