Intro to Anthropology
15 November 2017
What’s Love Got to Do With It?
Meredith Small references the fact
that sex and sexual behavior are embedded in our culture and everyday lives.
She writes about the red light districts of the world, decorated with different
sexual figures (Small, 2). Because of these magazines, television shows,
billboards, and other types of risquee entertainment, sex has become an
industry that is apart of our daily lives and makes us look at sex “not as
patterns of behavior that evolved as part of our nature but as something to be
hidden, whispered about, perhaps be ashamed of.” (Small, 4). Small suggests
that under the artifice of sex that is depicted in the public, lies a sexual
animal that is embedded in our biology. The culture that we live in today has
“separated sex from reproduction and hung it with trappings of culture”(Small,
4). Sex through culture is set off in a world of its own. It is separated by
this perceived notion that humans have about it. However, just like anything
else we do, it is apart of how we are supposed to act according to our
evolution and biology.
An example of the cultural values
and biology clashing as far as sexual behavior is concerned, is birth control.
Birth control was made so a man and woman could have sexual intercourse without
impregnating the woman. Because of the
industry of sex that Small refers to in her book, it has become popular to have
sex for pleasure, rather than for reproduction which is the cultural side of
human’s sexual behaviors. Overall, sexual behavior in our society is embedded
within the entertainment and other sources of the public, however the culture
that has been built around it, juxtaposes the biology of humans to have sex in
order to reproduce.
According to Meredith F. Small,
there is a definite relationship between mating and marriage and that
relationship is that “marriage provides easy sexual access for both partners.”
(Small, 12). As sexual activity is in our biology and our evolution because of
reproduction, marriage is “intended to formalize the system in which children
are born and raised”(Small, 12). However, many times, marriage occurs between
two parties because of alliances between families being formed, or because of
politics. Therefore, according to Small, “in a sense, sex is the last thing
that marriage guarantees.”(Small, 12). Looking from a universal vantage point,
marriage accomplishes these things as well as the ability to make a family. In
addition, marriage can have financial benefits for the two people involved.
These include perks like a marital tax deduction, social security benefits,
filing taxes jointly along with many others (13 Legal Benefits). In many
cultures, there are arranged marriages where the parents of two families tell
their son and/or daughter who they are to marry, so there is no love involved
in those cultures primarily, but it can grow. Love is involved in other cases
despite this tradition in some cultures.
Monogamy, according to Small, is
very rare in the animal world, however it seems interesting then that marriage
is practiced by so many people around the world (Small, 12). In addition, after
digging up fossils and researching them it seems that we were not monogamous in
the past (Small, 19). Studies show that over 73% of cultures worldwide admit to
extramarital affairs(Broude). It seems that similarly to how culture has
dictated sexual behavior, it is also dictating monogamy in many cultures.
Marriage is followed by many cultures around the world and because of that, it
has become the cultural ideal that causes monogamy, which is unnatural, to occur.
Homosexuality and sexuality as a
whole, according to Meredith Small, after researching the subject, derives from
the biology of each human (Small, 169). It is how they are wired, however this
is not what everyone always thought up until 1952. In fact, Small states,
“Before the sexual revolution and gay liberation, most people assumed that
homosexuality was a product of a twisted childhood. Psychoanalyst Sigmund
Freud, and many other scientists believed that homosexuality was caused by a
childhood with an oppressive mother and an aloof father that led to a mental
disarray (Small, 167). However, in the 1950’s Evelyn Hooker was able to
disprove that theory, by looking at scans of both homosexual and heterosexual
men, and seeing that their brain scans were not different, and that homosexual
men were not put under more stress than heterosexual men. She believed that
instead of a sociological disorder, homosexuality was a sexual deviance(Small,
168). Now it is accepted by many psychologists and other scientists that
sexuality is how a person was made biologically (Small, 169). Recent research
has found that although there are no “homosexual genes”, there are some genes
that make it more likely that a person is homosexual (Ghose).
Overall, scientists have not been
able to stamp an exact difference between homosexual and heterosexual humans,
however there are some differences that occur in the majority of homosexuals
but not in all of them (Small, 184). A UCLA group has found that the anterior
commissure of the brain is larger in females than in males, and it is even
bigger in homosexual males, however another lab has different findings of this
(Small, 182). There have also been other differences found between the
suprachiasmatic nucleus in homosexual males, however these findings are
inconsistent therefore there is no definite proof of the differences (Small,
182). Furthermore, according to Small, “None of these studies have declared
they know the roots of homosexuality, only that male homosexual brains sometimes
and in some places seem to end up wired a bit differently”(Small, 184). Because
of this, there is no definite difference between homosexuals and heterosexuals
biologically known yet, however many scientists have hunches.
Many people might believe that
“homosexuality is a lifestyle choice”, and that all homosexuals are actually
straight, however they just want to be homosexual. I disagree with this
assumption, because as a straight man, I know that some men find a certain type
of woman more attractive than other men do. For instance, a male may think that
blonde’s are the only attractive woman, therefore only want to be with blonde
women. The men who are like this do not get to choose who they find attractive,
it is how they are wired, and it is not a choice of theirs. Therefore, I think
that homosexuality is not a choice in that homosexual men and women are just
wired to be attracted to the same sex.
question beckons what the differences between sexual behavior are between men
and women. According to Small, “Men have more sex partners over a lifetime than
women. More men than women approve of casual sex. Me have more extramarital
affairs than women, although women are catching up.” (Small, 120). Men are also
confirmed to seek out sex more than women are, so it is understood that men,
biologically, are more inclined to have sex than women. Because of evolution
and the biology of men, they have been naturally selected to want to spread
their genes around to as many women as possible. Women’s primary reproductive
aim is to want to have sex to conceive therefore it is irrational to believe
that they would want to have sex often, except to conceive (Small, 121).
However, Small thinks that women would not want to have sex on a regular basis
with strangers rather than men because of the culture that we live in. She
believes that “For women, sex with a stranger is fraught with the danger of
violence, and this is always added into the equation, at least in this
country”(Small, 122). In addition, women have been told their entire lives to
not interact with strangers, with the chance of violence always in the mix.
Because of this, the culture has influenced them in such a way that they are
not prone to wanting to have sexual relations with a man unless they get to
know them. Men on the other hand, have no fear of strangers, therefore they are
inclined to want to have sex with strangers just for the sake of sex (Small,
Small makes it evident throughout
her book that love itself really does not have much to do with it. She states,
“No one has to love his or her partner to have sex with them or conceive an
infant with them:(Small, 208). Despite this, as humans, although the act of
sexual intercourse is disconnected from love itself, the act of love is connected
to sex in many instances (Small, 209). She is able to make a dedication to Tim
stating “For Tim, Because Love Has Something To Do With It.” because she
understands that humans are individuals and that they are “all looking for love
in some form or another”(Small, 210). Sex, alone is something that does not
need love for it to occur between the sexual animals that humans are
biologically, however when love is involved, sex is something that can be a
significant part of a loving relationship (Small, 208).
Broude and Greene, 1976.
Small, Meredith F. What’s Love Got to Do with It?: the
Evolution of Human Mating. Anchor Books/Doubleday, 1996.
“13 Legal Benefits of Marriage.” Theknot.com, www.theknot.com/content/benefits-of-marriage.
Ghose, Tia. “Being Gay Not a Choice:
Science Contradicts Ben Carson.” LiveScience,
Purch, 5 Mar. 2015, www.livescience.com/50058-being-gay-not-a-choice.html.