Sexual Favours Entwined

Hōkakatanga – Māori sexualities
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In sub-Saharan Africa, young women ages 15—24 have more than twice the risk of acquiring HIV as their male counterparts. Over the last 15 years, the social sciences have contributed significantly to understanding the meaning of and motivations for this practice. The findings from these studies are rich, but varied, rendering lessons difficult to navigate for intervention and further research.

We therefore contribute a historically-grounded, comprehensive literature review on the nature and motivations for women's participation in transactional sex in sub-Saharan Africa.

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Drawing from over studies through , we distill three prominent paradigms observed in the literature that we review toward presenting a unified conceptualization of the practice. We find important commonalities in the structural factors that shape the three paradigms of transactional sex including gender inequality and processes of economic change. Sign in. First Name. Email Your confirmation will be sent to your email address. Confirm Password. Uh oh! You need to have cookies enabled to sign in. Sign in with Facebook. Sign in with Google. Stay signed in. Take full advantage of our site features by enabling JavaScript.

sexual favors

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Energies that ride wild over the most hopeful pretensions to 'conquest' any male can assume. A woman's endowment of clitoral, G-spot, and uterine orgasms p , amid a propensity for multiple, repeated, or continual climax, all in a context of beguiling sexual privacy p amid almost permanent sexual receptiveness, ever-so-inscrutably coloured by subtle hormonal shifts at ovulation towards sexual adventure, launch female eros into a sustained stratospheric territory, which no man alone can lay claim to, nor be sure of sustaining, in his 'own right'.

In our primate relatives, including bonobos p and chimps p , female sexual incitement, particularly during estrus, which ironically means 'gadfly' is at peak time of fertility, a play for the best male genes available, and to either side of the peak, a more general all-comers insurance that as many males as possible will be inveigled into the 'paternity net' and will thus be encouraged to support, rather than injure or kill, the ensuing offspring.

No male can thus be sure he is not 'the father of the child' and will be drawn into protecting more offspring than his own and refraining from eliminating small competitors, as males are want to do, as harbingers of hunting and death as opposed to gathering, birth and life.

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On the side, out of sight of others, there are also covert matings with an undisclosed partner 'on safari'. A degree of 'infidelity' is also essential to optimize a female's mating with a male with complementary histocompatibility and thus superior disease resistance. Ape females also solicit sex when they are not ovulating, for socially 'manipulative' reasons, which run from such maternity insurance to heterosexual, or lesbian erotic 'love' - social bonding, easing competition, even at the sight of food.

In one short sentence - female sexual ecstasy serves to strategically reduce paternity certainty p , just as male ejaculation serves to increase it, consistent with sexual paradox. The advent of pair-bonding in humans has overlaid a more 'partnered' theme to this open sport, with the female's almost perpetual sexual receptiveness, enticingly curvaceous form, concealed ovulation, sexual privacy and hormonal 'incitement' during ovulation - otherwise known as 'female reproductive inscrutability' - only adding to the intrigue.

Our most central and basic social mental faculties are consequently to do with detecting cheating and betrayal, with sex at the emotional centre of the cyclone. Biologists are frank that 'monogamy' as they use the term is not equatable with genetic or sexual fidelity, but social bonding, for increased reproductive gain and that females in monogamous species also do 'time on the side' with the best studs they can find, as genetic testing has confirmed human females do to a similar degree.

Seventy percent of married women over 35 admit to marital infidelity in the US, confirming that this astute and inscrutable pattern continues. Hence all the archaic manifestations of male jealousy and violence, which even in socially monogamous prairie voles, with all their oxytocin and vasopressin bonding, still cause males to become aggressive and suspicious of other males the moment they have sexually 'bonded' with a female.

Given that small, exclusive female territories, amid female reproductive competition p 31 , rather than all-embracing sisterly love is the best indicator of mammalian and primate monogamy, rather than paternal parental resourcing as in birds, we have an interesting paradox.

Female espousal of monogamy thus looks as much the 'two-faced' resourcing gambit, albeit for genuine reproductive investment, as is men claiming 'their' women as patrilineal 'property' in our human version of mate guarding, while also sewing wild oats far and wide. The only situations where we find what we might call loosely egalitarian female coalitions are in the decidedly bisexual bonobo, where females make love passionately together in hoka-hoka p and spend seven times as much time together as with males, and in baboons and monkeys a single matriline's kin altruistic affinities.

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The clitoris is no dependable organ of biological fertility, like the penis, but a fickle discriminator of male attention - an intimate diviner of genuine indicators of fitness p The impetuous nature of female orgasm, inaccessible as an enclosed garden one minute, and an overflowing chalice the next, does not serve well the monotonous security of monogamous pair-bonding, but the intrigue, thrill and the novelty of the chase - the young buck, fine as an apple tree in the orchard, seduced by 'fatal attraction', amid our all too brief fallings in love.

Mortal Fear and Violent Oppression.

Given this perilous heritage, it is no wonder the patriarchy fears female sexuality like primal chaos, and attempts to anathematize it, to cauterize it, to cut it out, by circumcision p , subincision p and infibulation p , or to bottle it up in chastity belts, or hide it, by sequestering and veiling p , in burkas and chadors p , in closed rooms with high windows, and every form of control and repression, from stoning p , to drowning p , to burning alive p and throwing acid in the face of the beloved, or in modern more 'sexually liberated' times at least to tame it into a milder subservient domesticity, exciting, but not too much so, along with some nubile pornographic appeal on the side.

All our creation myths and religious imperatives are disguised attempts by diverse peoples to mark out the boundaries of sexual transgression between women and men, rather than merely the innocent creation and ordering of the universe they pretend. The deities and players, from Yahweh condemning Eve's lubricity p and thus decreeing her husband 'shall rule over her'; through the incestuous enticement of the Sun by Venus p , highlighting the intoxicating nature of female sexuality at the root of sexual antagonism among the Amazon's 'fierce people' p ; to the excoriating Dogon primal conflict of sexual energies between the one God and Mother Earth p , resulting in female circumcision p , are all projections of central male sexual and reproductive anxieties, and stratagems of male control over female sexuality.

A quick look at the few existing matrilocal, quasi-matrilineal societies such as the Canela p attests precisely to this theme. Here, women are expected to share their sexual favours as widely as possible, just as chimps and bonobos do, until they become pregnant and settle into the matriarchal network of motherhood and the familial ties of child rearing. Marriage is only a token in partnership to ensure paternal care of any infant a woman gives birth to.

The role of the father is secondary to the mother's maternal uncles, and males are expected to show no jealousy over their 'wives' affairs. Men are expected to be 'forbearing' and women abide no conventions of emotional control. This is a close parallel to the beena marriage of the Old Testament p , which Jacob rejected in leaving Laban's fold with Rachel and Leah. Conflicts over such sexual motifs are reflected in Lilith's mythical refusal to lie under Adam, rising up to the wild heavens in her own ecstasy p ; the whoring ways of the Queen of Heaven p ; the fertility rites, on every high hill and under every green tree; and the strange woman of Proverbs, her lips dripping with honey comb, but her ways going right down to Sheol p At the opposite extreme, the polygynous, patrilocal, patrilineal Dogon summarily chop the clitorises off their women folk p so they, won't be led to stray into surreptitious affairs by their all-to-precocious genitals, confine them all to menstrual huts in full view of the men's houses p , so that the men folk in the village can readily observe just who is going to be ready to be fertilized by their reproductive 'owners' and when they can best achieve it, threatening them with cosmological calamity if they break the rule.

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Similarly, throughout the central arenas of our cultural emergence Lerner , from Sumeria and Egypt, through Babylon p , Assyria p , Greece p , Rome, Israel, Vedantic India p , Islamic Arabia p and Confucian China p , a consistent theme of patriarchal dominion amid confinement of women and fear and repression of their sexual nature, the abduction and capture of women p and their exploitation as slave concubines p , their assignment to marriages, nunneries and brothels, along with male rights of exclusive patriliny p , primogeniture, and paterfamilias p often in the name of patriarchal religions, has led to a distorted, violent and unstable cultural paradigm.

These diverse sources confirm our worst fears: The sex wars are the foundation of our entire human social and cultural edifice. What do we do about this? Exert some such form of social control? This is exactly what the patriarchs have done to women, violently to the occlusion of feminine nature, and the detriment of human nature, and our future viability, resulting in multiple, repeated and continual warfare, genocide, apocalypse, mutually-assured nuclear p , chemical and biological destruction, overpopulation p , the rape of the Earth p and the entire diversity of life p , climatic crisis p , and boom and bust economies with no long-term stability of future p , all in the spermatogenic p , venture-risk, winner-take-all, competitive paradigm of the patriarchal imperative.

Unravelling the Gordian Knot.

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This condition of real or repressed sexual conflict is neither inevitable, nor is it a fatal flaw in the human species. The complexity of human culture appears to have emerged from the creative amatory race sexual selection induces in a state of sexual paradox. Some of our founding genetic and cultural archetypes in the Bushmen and Pygmy Forest Peoples, such as the! Kung p , Sandawe p , Biaka p and Mbuti p exist in a state much closer to sexual paradox and egalitarian cooperation between the sexes than most more highly evolved societies. Our gatherer-hunter origins are a manifestation of an interdependency, despite differing sexual strategies, that coincides with the deepest in female and male nature, in the resourcing of life's continuity in motherhood, and the death culling performed by the all-too-mortal male hunter-warrior.

Those anthropologists, sociologists and cultural feminists who assert the human psyche is a 'blank slate' p 38 which has left behind its biological origins need to take into account these deleterious consequences of the patriarchal cultural adventure, when cultural prerogatives are imposed in denial, or even in affirmation, of our sexual sociobiology, particularly when applied to the role of mothering, so critical for human survival p Our genetic nature is not deterministic and remains adaptive to both individual emotional and intellectual responses and to social and cultural forces.

However society and culture prosper and ultimately survive only in constructive relationship with our biological nature, not in spite of it, or imposed upon it. Rather than psychological pathology, fear of the power of female life-giving p , testosterone poisoning p , or the consequences of a fundamentally violent species p 44 , the rise of patriarchy appears to be a natural product of primate sociobiology, and the gatherer-hunter division of labour, driven into male dominance by inter-group conflict by male coalitions p 43 , the need for intra-group moral cohesiveness in response, the resulting social stress and uncertainty of resources p , paternity uncertainty, and the rise of urban classes and property in development of large-scale agriculture p Sexual complementarity cannot be unraveled overnight and may even be integral to the cosmic design.

As we have noted, subjective mind and physical reality present as inextricable complements as do wave and particle. The relationship between our two sexes is as polarized as the primally-broken symmetry of the universe, let alone that between a single enveloping ovum, ripe with cytoplasmic fecundity, and the myriads of particulate sperm that compete to fertilize it, only to be capriciously chosen by the shock 'neurological' awakening of the egg's cortical reaction p Lack of an understanding of the depth of this relationship between the sexes is the root ignorance that has caused war and genocide and could bring our utopian pretensions in the genetic age crashing down, if we fail to recognize our ancient and immortal reproductive quest in sexuality and depend only on cultural fantasies and technological fixes.

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IVF techniques p , which already include direct injection of immature sperm nuclei incapable of fertilization into the egg p , conserve deleterious mutations perpetuating and amplifying infertility in the human population. Sperm counts have been falling p , partly as a result of the feminization of nature from industrial estrogen contamination p , putting further pressure on this technology.

Experiments are under way to see if a human embryo can be engineered from two sperm nuclei and an enucleate egg p , or from two egg nuclei to satisfy the cultural desire of homosexuals of both sexes to have offspring who are children of both partners p These techniques could render sexual fertility obsolete. Massive over use of Caesarian delivery p also has the potential to make natural birth inviable by removing natural selection at a principal point of difficulty in human evolution.

Contraceptive techniques, while essential to control a burgeoning population and provide sexual freedom of choice, particularly for women, have divorced our sexuality from the reproductive quest, cutting sexuality off from its biological motivation in fertility. Consequently extreme cultural imbalances are developing in the reproduction rate. While paternity testing and the sexing of unborn infants provides valuable information to and about parents, it is both exposing our innate sexual strategies, and potentially exacerbating existing trends to cull offspring of one sex or another for cultural or personal reasons.

At the same time there are pressures to engineer the germ line p to remove genes for deleterious conditions, or undesirable characteristics, with neither a clear idea of the evolutionary implications nor the ethical implications. Proposals are afoot to begin across the board IVF combined with genetic testing as an avenue of choice for all births to screen for and avoid a variety of genetic defects p In such a brave new world scenario we know neither how interactive this process may be not what grotesque directions runaway cultural and sentimental interference in our genetic identity could become.

Both sickle cell and cystic fibrosis which many would love to eliminate confer disease resistance in heterozygous form against malaria and typhoid respectively two major world killers. The consequence of these changes for sexuality and our reproductive future are profound and can't be properly understood and debated while, despite our apparent sophistication, we remain naively in a state of cultural and personal denial about our sexual and sociobiological roots.

We risk circumcising - lobotomizing, the very paradox of nature at the root of maleness and femaleness and life itself, and with it our evolutionary sustainability as a species. Our two natures carry, hidden within their diversity, not only our sex wars, but the imprints of ancient genetic wars of attrition, including cytoplasmic incompatibility between isogametes, which first consumed the cytoplasm of one sex to form the sperm, causing the male to become the 'sneaky' low-investment sex and which carry with them all the tangled history of life between. A history of mutual genetic pot-shots that have molded our X and Y-chromosomes and sometimes attack one sex or another with infertility or death, in a mutual and perilously unstable arms race of sexually-antagonistic coevolution.

A genetic struggle between male genes which would force the female to invest all her reproductive energy immediately in his offspring, which is expressed in the invasiveness of the placenta itself, and the female's resistance to this is also indelibly marked in our genome in genetic imprinting, in a precarious 'balance' between opposing male and female forces, which may also govern the development of our emotional and intellectual brains, and can cause pathological conditions, or fetal abnormalities, when either opposing influence is disrupted.