The Virtues of Promiscuity

| August 2, 2002 Issue

W omen who are admonished as "sluts" for their promiscuity are really just fulfilling their biological duty to continue the human race, according to new evolutionary research.

Sally Lehrman in Alternet reports that the tendency to have multiple sexual partners was natural in societies such as the Canela of Amazonian Brazil, where women five decades ago "enjoyed the delights of as many as 40 men one after another in festive rituals" until traders, missionaries, and evangelists moved in and broke it up.

The finding disproves long-standing ideas about "traditional" marital relationships that are founded on a so-called "economic contract between the sexes," where men provide the food while women provide the nurturing. Anthropologist Kristen Hawkes says that "this model of the death-do-us-part, missionary-position couple is just a tiny part of human history. The patterns of human sexuality are so much more variable."
--Julie Madsen
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