Please keep an open mind while reading... and thus far, this is the first and only draft of this article...
Reproduction is a natural part of life. Along with survival, reproduction is an organism’s main underlying objective. And our primary instinct to survive may very well be solely for the purpose of providing us with the chance to reproduce. This innate goal is imbedded in all animals and is triggered in the mind at one point or another in an animal’s life. The goal may not necessarily be fulfilled by all, but the instinct to reproduce is certainly present in all.
From apes to lions to dogs, several mammalian species exhibit their tendency to form harems. In this context, when I refer to harems, I mean animal polygyny, or a male having more than one female partner at the same time. “Monogamy is rare among mammals; only 3% of species are monogamous.” And polyandry, the inverse of polygyny, in which a female has a harem of males, is almost non-existent among mammals and humans. The majority of male mammals will attempt to seek out and mate with as many females as possible during his lifetime. And the formation of harems comes about as dominant or alpha males obtain a batch of female mates. Other less-dominant males may sometimes have the opportunity to mate with one female, and the rest may not even have that much of a chance at all. Polygyny is the most common mating system among animal species that exhibit sexual dimorphism, in which males (in comparison with females) are more colorful, larger, more aggressive, better equipped for fighting, provide less care contribution or no care at all for offspring, and have more delayed sexual maturity. Some of these characteristics contribute to a male’s level of attraction, defense and fighting abilities, and chance of reproduction.
Physical attraction is by far the most common and important factor for most animals in choosing their prospective mate. Beauty is typically not overlooked in the animal kingdom, and an animal’s colors, size, physique, and other physical features are main determinants in attracting a member of the opposite sex. These characteristics usually display an animal’s state of health, and so an attractive animal oftentimes means a healthy animal. And thus, a potential partner will want to mate with a good-looking, strong, and potentially healthy counterpart in order to ensure the survival and good health of their offspring. In other words, Mother Nature imbedded within us this instinct of pursuing attractive partners in order to ensure the passing of strong, healthy, and surviving genes.
Defense and fighting abilities are other deciding factors for males. A strong, healthy, and aggressive male has the potential to ensure that his genetic lineage and offspring can survive. A male’s aggression and fighting abilities can ward off potential enemies and other competing males, and at the same time, attract potential female partners and defend his tribe.
The naturally innate instinct and yearn to reproduce and a male’s aggressive tendencies can sometimes lead to forceful mating if the female is not in heat or does not like the particular male. This forceful mating is sometimes observed among animals, and is usually committed by a subordinate or non-alpha male. In such instances, the female will struggle to get away and sometimes fight back. If you look at these cases naturally, there are two legitimate sides. On the male’s side, he is only following the instinctive yearn to reproduce and may lack the ability to persuade the female by non-violent means, so he forcefully mates with the female in order to pass on his genes. The female, on the other hand, apart from being coerced into mating and unable to decline, may have underlying biological reasons as to why she is rejecting the male. She may be rejecting the male due to undesirable traits the male may have, which she is instinctively doing to ensure that her offspring do not inherit the male’s undesirable traits. And so the female will struggle and possibly fight back in order to escape the forceful mating. However, even if she doesn’t escape, her struggle and extreme dislike for mating with the male may work to her advantage by resulting in an unsuccessful conception. But in the wild, should the female have been near her alpha male (if she had one), perhaps this forceful mating would have been avoided.
Humans refer to this forceful mating as rape. Although quite natural in the wild, civilization views it as a crime. And so this brings me to the topic of the Subic Rape Case here in the Philippines, where “Nicole” alleged that Lance Corporal Daniel Smith raped her inside a van in Subic while three other members of the U.S. Marine Corps were also inside cheering Smith on. “Nicole” said that it was rape, while Smith claimed that it was consensual sex, so there’s no doubt that Smith had sexual intercourse with “Nicole,” as both statements confirm that sexual intercourse did happen. I don’t know the detailed evidence and intricacies of the case, but from thinking about it, if “Nicole” just wanted money out of the ordeal, I’m sure she would have accepted whatever the defense was willing to slip under the table. However, seeing that she continued with the prosecution, perhaps rape really did occur. In the wild and before the rise of civilization, this would have not been such a big deal. Either it would have been disrupted should a competitive or alpha male have been aware, or it would have just happened and then lived with or forgotten. Unfortunately for Smith, civilization views rape as a crime, and now he is being punished according to civilization’s regulation. But don’t get me wrong, I myself am not in favor of rape. I believe a male should always persuade a female through non-forceful and non-violent means.
In some groups there are anomalies, such as homosexuals. Homosexuals are not only present in human populations but also in other animal populations. Though a homosexual couple is not physically able to reproduce, homosexuals still have reproduction in mind, as I mentioned earlier that the instinct to reproduce is present in all. “Male penguin couples have been documented to mate for life, build nests together, and to use a stone as a surrogate egg in nesting and brooding.” Apparently the zoo keepers felt sorry for the gay penguins, so they replaced the stone with a fertile egg, which the couple then raised as their own offspring. Homosexual behavior has been linked to genes, specifically the X chromosome (distal region Xq28), and studies also show that it’s in the brain with documented size differences in hypothalamus neurons. There is a very high probability that sexual orientation is in the brain, in the genes, and can be inherited. However, having the genetic factor doesn’t necessarily mean that a person is born gay. So is it nature or nurture that makes one gay? That’s where the big question comes in, when does a person become gay? Did it happen during the prenatal period, neonatal period, childhood, puberty, or when? Were homosexuals born that way? Or do homosexuals choose to be that way and/or learn to be that way? Pondering about it just now, I think that gays are born carrying a “gay gene” that ultimately give them gay characteristics (including the difference in brain size) but is only completely triggered or put into full effect during or after puberty, as I believe only then can they fully contemplate and feel their attraction to and liking for members of the same sex. Many gays and lesbians like to believe and say they are born that way in order to be accepted by others and gain more supporters for gay and lesbian rights. However, this could also backfire, as parents may be able to screen for the “gay gene” and thereby get rid of a potentially gay baby sometime in the near future. And to end this discussion about gays, I would just like to say that I am NOT gay.
The aforementioned factors in an animal’s chance at reproducing can be summed up in Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Natural selection “is the process by which individual organisms with favorable traits are more likely to survive and reproduce than those with unfavorable traits.” Natural selection has also been known as “survival of the fittest.” The world has the resources for an animal’s survival. All an animal has to do is search for and obtain the resource. The problem is that the world’s resources are scarce. This scarcity factor is what makes life, in a sense, a struggle for existence. In this natural struggle for existence, only the “fittest” is naturally selected to survive. Apart from being “fit,” I believe there is also a luck factor. I actually believe that one can potentially live for a significantly much longer time than the average human lifespan (perhaps doubled or several times the average human lifespan today). I think this is possible by using the knowledge we have today regarding health and also incorporating our natural instincts on what should be eaten. And so, “old age” can gradually be reduced or eliminated as a reason for death. That’s where the luck factor comes in regarding survival. If we have healthy living down to an art, all that’s left would be uncontrollable unfortunate events and natural disasters.
And so how do humans fit into all of this? Natural instincts are still imbedded in humans. Physical attraction is still a major determinant in choosing one’s mate. However, due to the development and complexities of the human brain, other not-so visually obvious factors are now also taken into account in choosing one’s mate. Humans are mammals and also exhibit characteristics of sexual dimorphism in which the male has dominant traits compared to females. And so, naturally, polygyny would be prevalent in human society, with alpha males having harems of females. Alpha males would need to maintain top physical condition in order to retain their dominance. A leader gone soft would face the consequence of being challenged and perhaps being trounced by a younger prospective alpha male. However, civilization has changed this. The rise of religions, specifically Roman Catholicism, has created strict social guidelines that have interfered with the laws of nature. Today, anything but strict monogamy is frowned upon in most cultures. People today are brought up to view philandering as unacceptable in most societies, when in fact, it’s quite natural and instinctive for mammalian males to mate with several different females. A mammalian male’s tendency to mate with a variety of different females is to ensure that he produces a variety of offspring, which apart from increasing his genes’ survival in the human gene pool, it also increases the chance that a higher percentage of his diverse offspring will survive and pass on the genetic lineage. And before civilization, due to the prolonged period that an offspring remains in the womb, the long period of time before a mammal matures, and the chance that it may not survive before getting the chance to reproduce, it is only natural that males have the imbedded instinct to mate with as many females as possible as to ensure that not only his genes have a larger percentage in the human gene pool but also to ensure that the human race goes on to survive. Today, this is not the case. It is not an issue anymore that the human population may be diminishing. The issue is that the human population is growing out of proportion. Not only that, natural selection is no more. People today no longer have to worry about being fit in order to survive as civilization has gotten rid of that need. Humans have cheated the laws of nature. Humans no longer have to search for and obtain food. In fact, today, humans can even make food. Today’s need-to-have resource is an artificial creation--money. Fit people, fat people, good-looking people, ugly people, healthy people, and sickly people all strive and struggle to earn money. People no longer search for food, they search for money. It is how people obtain power and it is the new way to exert dominance. It is no longer a struggle for existence. There’s a very high chance you will survive. Civilization’s artificial selection occurs on how much money you can earn. It is not about whether you will live to reproduce (as that‘s basically a given, if you want to reproduce), but whether you will live rich or whether you will live poor. Having disregarded the need to focus on the basic instincts, and having multiplied so much and so rapidly, humans have shifted their focus to civilization’s concerns, which include politics, government, social systems and functions, intra and international relations, religion, and whatnot. And when you have an out of proportion human population (or any population), you are going to have problems. Perhaps this is how Mother Nature prevents cheaters from ever succeeding. Now with such a large and ever-increasing human population, it is inevitable for humans to have conflicts. Most problems arise from man-made creations, such as religion. But essentially, the most major of conflicts originate from scarcity. As I have said, the Earth’s natural resources are limited. And when resources are running out, people will fight over it. Their instinct of searching for and obtaining resources and also their instinct of survival will kick in. If nothing is done about it, humans, who have long been trying to cheat the laws of nature, will end up killing themselves because of the very instincts they have been trying to morph, alter, and forget. Unfortunately, with their man-made creations, not only will humans kill themselves, they may even permanently destroy all other species and the whole world along with them.
Friday, December 15, 2006
Please keep an open mind while reading... and thus far, this is the first and only draft of this article...