Feeling That Sex Is Penetrative

I once came across a radical-feminist complaining that men “feel in their genes that sex is penetrative”. This utterance repays a moment’s reflection, in a spirit both of scientific enquiry and of horrified bemusement. In the first place it is unusual to see such a feminist admitting the existence of such things as genes, which imply biology and evolution, and thereby the limited malleability of human nature. Normally, of course, radical-feminists deny the existence of “nature” and invoke biology only when proclaiming that men are “by nature” inferior or depraved. That is, they believe that biological determinism is okay only when not based on actual biological knowledge.

If male sexual desire is indeed encoded in the genes, then it is entirely obvious that it will involve penetration, for the simple reason that, on average, the men of past epochs who were not genetically wired to ‘feel’ that sex was penetrative are less likely to be our ancestors than the men who were so wired. To put in another way, genes that made their possessor consider that sex ought to be essentially non-penetrative would rapidly go extinct, provided that such genes could have arisen in the first place, which they couldn’t. Had the men of yore been less enthusiastic about penetration than about infinite emotional regresses, then this radical-feminist writer would not be here either; which might represent a net gain for intelligent life in the universe.

Desmond Morris, never at a loss for speculative evolutionary explanations of physical features, suggested that the purpose of the hymen was to discourage the woman from embarking upon a sexual life without a committed partner. Unfortunately for that theory, many other mammals, including those by no means inclined to monogamy, possess hymens. Another possibility is that the hymen functions to select for confident, forceful males. Contrariwise, men who shrink from inflicting pain and immediately stop whatever they are doing when the woman says “Ouch!” are unlikely to be the first to penetrate her. Whether we can get an evolutionary mechanism out of this is uncertain, not least because the shape and toughness of hymens is so wildly variable. Even if this is not the evolutionary function of the hymen, however, it remains an undeniable consequence, and suggests that the perfectly “sensitive” man of feminist theory is not actually very viable in the real biological world. But, hey, we already knew that.

Whoever dreamed up the idea of the hymen, as it were, was therefore guaranteeing not only that the species would require males to “feel in their genes that sex is penetrative” but to be somewhat ruthless about it as well. There may be virgins who, through being in love, horny, clinically determined, desperate or drunk, suffer from no nervousness whatever about their own defloration; and probably such fearless virgins are much commoner now than previously; but it is unlikely that they ever formed a majority. In most cases, getting the business done, and thereby the species perpetuated, will require a man who is sufficiently strong-minded to ignore signs of distress and perhaps even not-fully-thought-through requests to desist. This, of course, means evolutionary and cultural selection in favour of a male mentality that is capable of rape; but if men were designed to freeze up on hearing the word “stop”, then we might have gone extinct long ago. For civilised men who deplore rape, this is a puzzlement.

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