Biosociology: An Emerging Paradigm

By Anthony Walsh | Go to book overview

ably have meant reproductive failure. As with other forms of patterned behavior, our sexual behavior is the result of an incredibly complicated series of adaptations to ecological challenges faced by our distant ancestors and by ourselves.


NOTES
1.
It is often noted that many sex-specific traits have no apparent adaptive value and may even be maladaptive in a survival sense. The existence of such traits is at odds with the otherwise impeccable logic of natural selection. The usual example given of such traits is the lush plumage on male peacocks which place their possessors in greater danger than their less elaborately adorned conspecifics. We note that it is the most decorate animals of some species, if they survive the dangers posed by their adornments, who produce the most offspring. Thus, Darwin reasoned that many sex- specific traits arose not from survival imperatives but from reproductive imperatives (of course, a trait that enables an organism to survive is only useful in an evolutionary sense insofar as it aids the organism's reproductive success). Evolutionary vectors sometimes conflict, and the intersection of the survival vector (maximizing safety of the individual in its environment) and the reproduction vector (maximizing genetic survival) is one such conflict.
2.
The mid- to late 1960s saw the confluence of a number of factors that led to the low sex ratio. First, there was a large cohort of women born during the baby-boom years being matched with males from a smaller cohort due to age differences between males and females in typical marriages. Second, there were far more males than females away from home in the armed forces, other overseas occupations, and in prisons. Third, there are least twice as many homosexual males than homosexual females. Last, more males die in every age category from homicides, suicides, accidents, and a wide variety of diseases.
3.
Guttentag and Secord ( 1983) provide a wealth of historical data from many societies and epochs revealing the consistency of their thesis across time and place. Of medieval Europe they write, "As expected from the low sex ratios, the prevailing ethos was sexual libertarianism. . . . Sexual cynicism rather than the ideal of committed love predominated" ( 1983:69). On the other hand, in countries with high sex ratios (more men than women) such as France and Spain, the same period saw the rise of "courtly love," romance, modesty, and sexual restraint ( 1983:71-73).
4.
Data from as far back as the 1930s show strong correlations in the low to mid- 0.80s between the sex ratio and the prevalence of marriage for black women. The greater the male excess, the more likely women were to marry ( Cox, 1940). More recent data from 270 SMSAs produced essentially the same results. Where females hold the dyadic power (more men than women), they are more likely to marry; where males hold the dayadic power, they are less likely to marry ( Fossett & Kiecolt, 1993).
5.
Broude and Greene's ( 1977) analysis of the sexual attitudes of 116 cultures found that none of them was more lenient toward female sexuality than toward male sexuality, although 13 of these cultures (11.2%) were equally tolerant of male and female nonmarital and extramarital sexuality. It has been noted that even French Revolutionary law, which went to great extremes to abolish all forms of sexual discrimination, retained it in its differential attitude toward female and male adultery, arguing that the

-170-

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Biosociology: An Emerging Paradigm
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Tables and Figures vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Preface xiii
  • Note xv
  • Chapter 1 the Case for Biosociology 1
  • Notes 16
  • Chapter 2 Genetics and Human Behavior 19
  • Notes 41
  • Chapter 3 the Brain and Its Environment 43
  • Notes 66
  • Chapter 4 Emotion and the Autonomic and Endocrine Systems 69
  • Notes 90
  • Chapter 5 Intelligence and Society 93
  • Notes 117
  • Notes 120
  • Chapter 6 Sexual Dimorphism and Sex-Role Behavior 121
  • Notes 142
  • Notes 144
  • Chapter 7 Human Sexuality and Evolution 145
  • Notes 170
  • Chapter 8 the Nature and Nurture of Criminality 173
  • Notes 197
  • Chapter 9 Love, Marriage, and the Family 201
  • Notes 224
  • References 227
  • Name Index 259
  • Subject Index 269
  • About the Author 273
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