Promiscuity [was Re: violence...]

Robert J. Bradbury (
Fri, 24 Sep 1999 01:01:09 -0700 (PDT)

On Thu, 23 Sep 1999, Bryan Moss wrote:

> Michael S. Lorrey wrote:
> > > Just as promiscious sex was (no doubt) increased by the introduction of
> > > contraceptives.
> >
> > Actually, IMHO, people got laid a lot more and talked about it less back
> > then than now. The whole myth of 'saving' one's self for marriage was
> > only expected of daughters of aristocratic families, most other people
> > got married with one already in the oven.
> I thought saving yourself was just good Christian values, that's what the
> born-again-ers seem to think. I'm not sure about people being more
> promiscuous then (pre-contraception) than now since I have no evidence
> either way but I very much doubt it.
I would strongly urge both of you to review some of the literature on the probable sociology of ancient tribes/societies. Anything involving "saving" one's self, Christian values, etc. is an "add-on" to underlying genetic/cultural operating principles.

My education (studies of aging/longevity, etc.) says that women in an "evolutionary" context were generally in "reproductive" mode. Once they became fertile, the generally became pregnant and remained in the mode of pregnancy/birth/nursing for their entire lives. The reason we have an "epidemic" of breast cancer in our society is because women's bodies were not designed to undergo the relatively large number of reproductive cycles that they now subject themselves to (unless they remain on the pill [falsely pregnant] for much of their lives).

Almost anything that society has done as an "add-on" in the last 3000+ years is pretty irrelevant compared with our historical evolutionary gene-set or situations with huge demographic effects --

(a) the black plague;

(b) the migration of the "risk-takers" to the new world;
(c) the forced selection of Africans into slavery;
(d) the genocide commited by Europeans on native Americans

due to the diseases they carried.

It may be worth noting that women during most of the pregnancy/nursing cycle may be relatively promiscuous with little concern as to whether that would lead to offspring. There may be selective advantages to acting in this way if one can derive benefits from such behaviors. Whether or not folk-knowledge (or genetic knowledge) is/was sufficient to allow this, I suspect remains an open question.