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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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24 Responses

  1. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable December 4, 2013 at 12:56 pm |

    The “walk of shame” is a Sunday morning ritual on college campuses (and sometimes beyond) across the United States: young women, hair matted and still in last night’s skirt and heels, trudge home post-hook-up. It’s a uniquely female ritual, and the term itself evokes a singularly female image.

    But POST-college, it becomes the “cab ride of pride.” See? Evolution. Or something.

    1. TimmyTwinkles
      TimmyTwinkles December 4, 2013 at 1:03 pm |

      Good call, walk of shame should be re-branded as the stride of pride

    2. LPBB
      LPBB December 4, 2013 at 3:31 pm |

      Huh, I graduated in 1996 and the Walk of Shame was definitely an equal opportunity phenomenon on my campus. It’s a little easier to identify women walking back to their dorm than men, because they generally dress up when they go out so it’s more obvious the next morning.

      Of course, that *term* is more likely to be used when it’s a woman than when it’s a man, but that’s because of our culture’s fucked up attitude towards women’s sexuality.

  2. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin December 4, 2013 at 1:04 pm |

    “Masturbation is cheap, clean, convenient, and free of any possibility of wrongdoing — and you don’t have to go home in the cold. But it’s lonely.”- Robert Heinlein

  3. TomSims
    TomSims December 4, 2013 at 1:05 pm |

    “Women are more likely to regret casual sexual encounters than men. Is that because women are evolutionarily predisposed to feel shame after sex? A team of UCLA evolutionary psychologists says yes. I say no:”

    I agree with you Jill. I hope your column is widely read by both young men and women.

  4. kittehserf
    kittehserf December 4, 2013 at 1:57 pm |

    Oh, fuckin’ evpsych “anything to maintain the status quo for teh menz” bullshit. Same old, same old. ::eyeroll::

  5. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune December 4, 2013 at 2:30 pm |

    Is that because women are evolutionarily predisposed to feel shame after sex? A team of UCLA evolutionary psychologists says yes.

    We’re evolutionarily predisposed to poop, so I guess they wouldn’t mind if I took a steaming dump on their degrees.

    Excellent article, Jill.

  6. NatureViaNurture
    NatureViaNurture December 4, 2013 at 2:56 pm |

    I agree with Jill that some aspects of emotional responses are due to widespread, I can’t support the dramatic nature/nurture social construction she is promoting.

    Emotions have evolutionary roots. Anyone who has a pet can see clearly that fear is an evolved emotion. Fear evolved because it motivates us to avoid dangerous people, situations, and predators. Disgust evolved to help us avoid parasites. I don’t think anyone doubts that motivations are evolved. If you are hungry right now, it is because Social attitudes towards different behaviors and towards these emotions and motivations can change them, but that doesn’t erase the fact that our evolutionary history helped produce them. For example, our responses to some moral issues rely on our disgust response systems.

    Social emotions evolve in animals. Dogs don’t feel “SHAME” the way that we feel shame, but shame helps animals navigate is social hierarchies. Dogs have a whole host of deferential behaviors that they engage in when they violate a social rule. The way shame is experienced differs to some degree across cultures, but it is has a critical evolved component that helps people navigate social interactions. Guilt, embarrassment, anger, regret, are important motivational systems.

    If you actually read the scientific article, you can see the authors don’t assign 100% of the explanation for sexual regrets to our evolutionary history. They ascribe some aspects to our evolutionary history, not all of it. In other words, they are typical evolutionary psychologists, who see culture emerging from biology and culture shaping biological responses, and view culture as a critical determinant of human social behavior. While the news articles overemphasize some differences, the radical claims in this blog post promoting the outdated nature vs. nurture paradigm don’t bring us any closer to understanding the complex evolutionary, hormonal, neural, and social influences on sexuality.

  7. Miranda
    Miranda December 4, 2013 at 4:20 pm |

    You know, I always wonder why people are hellbent on proving genetic differences and why it gets so much friggen attention constantly.

    I know that the constant lingering anxieties about whether I’m just “really naturally disposed” to be (a) not as smart as men; (b) have weird and unsatisfying sexual whatever; (c) less whatever whatever men…has actually significantly worsened my quality of life. I changed my intended field of study because I couldn’t deal with it anymore. I bet I’m not the only one. So I wonder what’s really going on here, because a lot of this evo psyche stuff has definite POLITICAL effects but I’m not always seeing how it advances scholarship anymore than a whole host of other questions–and the possibility for underlying errors is just so HUGE. For example, Steven Pinker’s methodological monstrosity, Better Angels of Our Nature. What was most telling there was that it seemed to get more reviews in the non-academic rather than academic press.

    Before anyone accuses me of being an Orwellian who wants to shut down academic progress in the name of “PC-ness,” I’m not saying don’t study this stuff. I just find it…suspicious… that this stuff is so hot right now, especially since a lot of it (Pinker comes to mind) is just based on really horrendous methodology. They don’t let me make the kinds of assumptions evo psyche people get to make, and I’m working on a branch of mythology that has all of four texts and a couple random piles of gold surviving.

    1. Miranda
      Miranda December 4, 2013 at 4:21 pm |

      And just to clarify, I’m speaking to evo psyche in general, not to this particular study, which I do not have the desire to read.

    2. NatureViaNurture
      NatureViaNurture December 5, 2013 at 3:49 pm |

      I study, in part, sexual objectification and it’s effects on sexual functioning and body dissatisfaction – issues for which there are clear proximate sociocultural mechanism.

      I am fascinated by evo psych, however, specifically because it can and does advance our understanding of sexuality in ways that are ignored by people who buy into the false nature vs. nurture social construction advocated in the original piece.

      Without ev psych research, we wouldn’t have information on how and why the brain processes faces the way it does.

      Without ev psych research, systematic changes in women’s sexual preferences across the ovulatory cycle would go ignored.

      Ev psych research provides systematic descriptions of the reasons women seek casual sex

      Ev psych research, more than most other fields, makes a strong push to collect data across cultures and forge collaborations between psychologists, anthropologists, biologists, and economists.

      The connection between science and society that you mention is important. Your concerns over how biologically naive public and scholars interpret this research and how social attitudes towards gender are important to consider. It is equally concerning to me, however, how immediately dismissive some people are to the idea that sexuality and sexual arousal and emotions do not have important biological roots and functions. To me, the knee jerk reaction dismissing the roles of biology in behavior are just as dangerous to our understanding of sexuality as failing to examine the social and structural factors shaping sexuality. If the goal is to advance knowledge of human sexuality, understanding the role that a billion years of evolution played in crafting complex behavioral and motivational systems is critical.

      1. Miranda
        Miranda December 6, 2013 at 4:01 pm |

        I’m not saying don’t study it. But when you say things like this,

        . It is equally concerning to me, however, how immediately dismissive some people are to the idea that sexuality and sexual arousal and emotions do not have important biological roots and functions.

        I start to wonder. Why wouldn’t people be suspicious of claims that have, for hundreds of years, been used to justify their own oppression? Duh?

        To me, the knee jerk reaction dismissing the roles of biology in behavior are just as dangerous to our understanding of sexuality

        I see how it is dangerous to scholarship, but not dangerous otherwise. Like I said, I think people have a right to be suspicious of something that has been used to justify all sorts of oppressions for hundreds of years.

      2. kittehserf
        kittehserf December 7, 2013 at 1:03 am |

        To me, the knee jerk reaction dismissing the roles of biology in behavior are just as dangerous to our understanding of sexuality as failing to examine the social and structural factors shaping sexuality.

        About this: what Miranda said. Because:

        If the goal is to advance knowledge of human sexuality, understanding the role that a billion years of evolution played in crafting complex behavioral and motivational systems is critical.

        It isn’t the goal, is it? Not for the misogynists and reactionaries and general gobshites who use EvPsych babble about BIOTRUTHS to say women should be at home, alternating between making the Manly Menz sammiches and providing blowjobs. It always ends up used to say women are weaker, less intelligent, more emotional (shock horror) and shouldn’t be in decently paid jobs, or able to compete with men at all, or independent, or voting, or, or, or …

        Yeah, I have no time for the agenda that’s tied up with evo psych, and that’s before the dubious-to-bad science involved.

    3. Miriam
      Miriam December 5, 2013 at 6:26 pm |

      Because ev Psych studies produce clickbait headlines. They’re perfect for today’s US media culture. Also, they tend to reinforce existing power structures, and they seem scientific (even though they’re not), so there’s not a lot of popular pushback.

      1. pseudalicious
        pseudalicious December 6, 2013 at 11:38 am |

        This. The work that various progressive movements have done has penetrated most skulls just enough to give assholes like these the sense that it’s impolite to say that women “ask for it” or that black people stupid, etc., etc., in public and that they’ll get pushback, but they still believe all this regressive bullshit, and feel so omg rebellious by “pushing back” against the “PC police” by doing this shit… and then hiding behind, “BUT IT WAS JUST A JOKE LOL” and “I DON’T HAVE ANY HATE IN MY HEART FOR [insert historically fucked over group here]“. A nation of Seth McFarlanes.

        Actually, at this point, there have been enough things like this in the news that I think they’re openly courting the controversy and publicity at this point, even if it’s negative publicity.

        1. pseudalicious
          pseudalicious December 6, 2013 at 11:41 am |

          I should add, even though I’m replying to a comment about evo psych, I’m referring to the party, but I think the people that write these clickbait articles are doing the same thing. They know everyone’s going to call them *ist, they don’t give a shit because clicks.

  8. Kyosuke
    Kyosuke December 4, 2013 at 11:28 pm |

    And as usual, my own experiences as a trans woman make me side eye anything like this.

    I have very similar feelings regarding hooks up (which I rarely do). I’m glad that gay men and lesbians were included, and that levels seem to be focused not on sexuality but gender. I identify as a lesbian, and I only have sex with women, and I find that often even when it comes to casual encounters, there’s an awful lot of communication and both myself and my partner have very similar fears about how an event will play out, something my male identified, and specifically cisgender men, friends do not seem to consider let alone experience. But then, obviously, my sexual experiences are not (and cannot be) centered around “erection and ejaculation.”

    tl;dr Agreed, Jill. This is BS.

  9. karak
    karak December 5, 2013 at 3:08 am |

    Evopsyche is such a fascinating field, and it seems that 90% of the people in it who attract mainstream attention talk out of their ass.

    “Shame after sex” has zero function. Zero. Let’s take a look at the Mosuo, a Chinese ethnic group that doesn’t practice marriage or highly value long-term monogamy, where inheritance and genealogy travel most strongly through the female line, but social status comes from your parents of the same sex.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosuo

    Proof this is group.

    There are thousands of minor and major complex behaviors that are shockingly consistent throughout humanity–an attraction to the color blue, red, black, and white often having important cultural meaning, raising our brows when we meet, singing… all kinds of cool shit. But not shame after sex, for chrissakes.

    1. NatureViaNurture
      NatureViaNurture December 5, 2013 at 3:37 pm |

      The website link that you provide doesn’t provide any information on whether Mosuo women are more or less likely to experience sexual regrets than Mosuo men. All it summarizes are the common marriage and relationship patterns.

      Many men and women in the U.S. have casual sex. Simply the fact that this occurs doesn’t tell us about their emotional responses to the sex. You have to actually measure it to make claims about it. Otherwise you are simply speculating.

      My guess is that the distribution of resources among the Mosuo evokes a different set of emotional responses. It’s pretty standard in biology and evolutionary psychology to examine behavioral ecology – how different ecologies and different resource distributions influence motivations, emotions, and behaviors. The fact that Mosuo women have extensive resource control and extended kin networks lessens the potential costs to sex and therefore the potential regrets. The systematic differences in resources across generations can help forge a culture that allows for more female control over sexual decision making. If you are thinking along those lines, you are thinking like an evolutionary psychologist.

      1. Miranda
        Miranda December 6, 2013 at 4:06 pm |

        The fact that Mosuo women have extensive resource control and extended kin networks lessens the potential costs to sex and therefore the potential regrets. The systematic differences in resources across generations can help forge a culture that allows for more female control over sexual decision making.

        This reads like the kind of shitty anthropology that that field has almost finally expunged from itself.

  10. Ciconio
    Ciconio December 5, 2013 at 1:37 pm |

    Women are also much less likely than men to orgasm during casual sex. This is partly biological since more women report having trouble orgasming generally than men

    Even that might be a misconclusion. Although I don’t have any scientific evidence at hand, I can (as a man) at least say for myself that my ability to have an orgasm hugely depends on how comfortable and safe I feel during sex and how easy I find it to let go.

  11. Janet
    Janet December 6, 2013 at 10:53 am |

    Thank you for this Jill. Well done.

  12. BroadBlogs
    BroadBlogs December 6, 2013 at 10:25 pm |

    Evolutionary psychology has a bias toward social conservativism because they insist that things are the way they are because of our genes, so just forget trying to change anything. To the extent that people buy this, it justifies the powers-that-be and leaves the social order in place.

  13. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers December 9, 2013 at 2:37 pm |

    You know I’d be a fan of evo psych if they didn’t have their heads up their asses 99% of the time.

    You cannot detect an effect when the noise in the data from a different effect is umpteen zillion times as large as the effect you’re looking for. If there are numerous documented reasons why socially, women would feel more shame about casual sex than men, then there is no reason whatsoever to speculate on a biological cause! And no way to do so. Because *if* there is a biological cause, the existence of so many powerful social factors and the degree to which we *know*, from history, that they modify women’s experiences of casual sex (for example, women in the US do not kill themselves in shame over casual sex, but might have in the 1800’s), would prevent us from ever finding it.

    In order to identify a biological cause for casual sex you’d have to find a cohort of men and women who were raised to have no shame about casual sex, or where the men were raised to have equal shame, and then see if the difference still exists. Good luck finding that cohort!

    As far as I can see, the only biological distinction between men and women that holds up cross culturally is that women are always more predisposed to care for children and men are always more predisposed to violence, and when I say “always” I mean in statistical aggregate in every culture and also all primate species, not that you can’t find a given woman who’s more violent than most men or a given man who’s more into taking care of kids than most women. *Every* human culture has had men being the violence class and women being the child caretakers, and every primate species and the vast majority of mammalian species, so I feel safe saying these are likely to be biological effects… which can still be overridden by culture, because there are many subcultures that demand and enforce nonviolence from men and many that suppress maternal desires in women. But they’re prevalent enough that they’re probably biological, even though they do not describe all men and women universally.

    However, women having more shame about sex than men? There is no reason whatsoever to assume this is biological when we know the effects of the culture are so huge. This is like trying to detect the flammability of a paint used on the interior of a building as an explanation for why it went up in flames while ignoring the team of arsonists with flamethrowers dancing around it outside, or mentioning them as “contributing factors” and not damn near 100% of the problem.

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