Re: Human faithfullness [was Re: Fwd: Lanier essay of 2001.12.04]

From: Mike Linksvayer (
Date: Tue Dec 11 2001 - 05:54:28 MST

On Mon, Dec 10, 2001 at 08:29:50AM -0800, Robert J. Bradbury wrote:
> John commented:
> > One plus where religion(especially conservative) is concerned is as an
> > added buttress against infidelity. This would be a big attraction for
> > both men and women. Especially in our day and age, with so many coming
> > from divorced families who want to do better with their own marriages.
> The "Human Sexuality" psych course I took circa '89 at the U.W.
> had an interesting discussion of a tribe in India where the village
> elders take the adolescents of the tribe, collect them into a "camp"
> for a few months and have them all sleep with all of the other potential
> mates in the village. At the same time they are actually trained to
> become good sex partners. Interestingly enough the village has a
> phenomenally low divorce rate (< 5%(?)). I suspect it is because one
> learns who the right partner may be for you and the idea that "the grass
> may be greener elsewhere" may be, to a large degree, purged from
> the meme set of individuals having this experience.

Have any less common keywords that might turn up information about
the above?

The Na, a tribe in Yunnan (southern province famous for spring-like
weather and numerous minorities) that has no marriage or anything
similar. Sex happens in the context of a furtive (but agreed upon
in advance) "visit", in which a man meets a woman in her bedroom
after dusk and leaves before dawn. Children are rasied by the
mother's extended family, and nobody knows who their fathers are.
Na society isn't less rigid the average human society with something
like marriage, just in different ways. For example, sex can't be
spoken of at all in public, because you don't know who your sibilings
are, and there is a strong incest taboo. The biggest problem in
Na society (apart from centuries of failed attempts to get them to
adopt a "normal" lifestyle by Han Chinese) is that half of Na adults
have syphilis.

Or so I gathered from reading a review of "A Society Without Fathers
or Husbands: The Na of China" by Cai Hua translated from French by
Asti Hustvedt in (unfortunately
that article isn't online). The reviewer makes a big deal about
the Na falsifying one or two dominant theories held by sociologists,
but I can't remember any details, perhaps something about the
universality of the nuclear family?

Olga Bourlin wrote:
> I've often wondered how different individual people (with their respective
> individual predispositions) would be if we didn't have STDs. Two forms of
> "permanent-you'll-have-it-all-your-life-type" STDs, while not lethal, can
> be passed on to partners during sexual intercourse EVEN IF condoms are used:
> the human papilloma virus (aka "warts") and herpes. Compounded by the
> problem that many people who have one or both of these STDs don't even know
> it (and subsequently pass it on to others).

I'd almost certainly have been more promiscuous in such a world.
Aversion to taking on long term risks for short term benefits seems
to be deeply rooted in my disposition. I hear that some "at risk"
people actually get a thrill out of the possibility of contracting
STDs. Perhaps they'd be less promiscuous in an STD-free world.

  Mike Linksvayer

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