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The Evolutionary function of the hymen.

by misogynisticfeminist
Tags: evolutionary, function, hymen
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arildno
#19
Mar12-06, 01:01 PM
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A very good counter-argument to my theory.
As for whether my theory makes sense or not, it is at least falsifiable (by making an empirical study on the hymen's effectiveness as a barrier).

That cannot be said about Dr. Morris' hypothesis, since he and his followers reject outright as a valid complaint that there are NO women at all who has abstained from sex out of fear of the pain associated by hymen rupturing.
By retreating into their cosy, little realm defended by unfalsifiability, they have cut themselves off from the world of science.
arildno
#20
Mar13-06, 10:11 AM
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As for other SCIENTIFIC hypotheses concerning the retention of the hymen (in contrast to Desmond Morris' unscientific, ideology-driven drivel),
I'm sure there are plenty of good ideas about:
Here's a couple of others:

1) The presence of the hymen might preserve the proper level of humidity in the vaginal tract, so that dryness and ensuing risk of infection does not occur, i.e, maximizing the number of girls reaching puberty without infertilizing infections.
This is, at least, a falsifiable theory.

2) Since the female will always know whether a child is her own or not, but the male does not have that type of certainty, a (almost) sure proof of the virginity of a female might be enticing for a male who wants to ensure himself he's to raise his OWN children, rather than some other male's.
Thus, the hymen may have been retained in the female as yet another feminine allurement of the male, i.e, a stratagem to get the male she wants "hooked". This theory does have some empirical support, in that male preoccupation with the virginity of prospective brides is historically well-attested, and some contemperaneous accounts seems to suggest that straight males have a peculiar fascination of, and attraction to, female virgins.
selfAdjoint
#21
Mar13-06, 01:43 PM
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Well arildno, you finally got around to my hypothesis (your #2). I wasn't going to post it for fear of getting into a flame war with you over ideology.

In fact, of course human males have no inner need to stay around and help raise the kids, and giving them an ego/property right does tend to enhance that behavior, whatever one thinks of patriarchal cultures.
Moonbear
#22
Mar14-06, 02:16 AM
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With regard to #2 in post #20, you'd have to show that men, as well as males of other species, actually bother checking for an intact hymen before engaging in intercourse to demonstrate that is involved.

I actually think the hygienic barrier function makes a bit more sense. Not as the hymen currently exists in women, but in an evolutionary sense. Since many species do have a completely closed vagina until reaching sexual maturity, it could just be that such selection has been relaxed in humans long enough that "imperfect" hymens were not selected against. That some girls are born with imperforate hymens, even if that's currently a bad thing, that may not have always been a bad thing, especially if something between the two current variants existed in ancestral humans.

When thinking about the evolutionary role of a particular feature, it's good to look at the variant forms present in other species and take a more comparative approach than to try to cobble together some hypothesis based solely on the modern-day function, which it may not have. Given the wide range of variation among various species, from the partially closed structure in humans to the structure in many rodents that is closed until puberty, to the structure in guinea pigs that opens and closes with every ovulatory cycle, it would indicate that any function it did have is not very important for survival in the modern world, and that there hasn't been much selection pressure for it in a very long time for such variation to exist.

One could also speculate it is the other way around, that it has never had a function, and is tissue that is "left over" during development of the reproductive tract , and that it would be better for the survival of the species not to have it, but as long as it is not impenetrable, it's not going to limit reproduction, thus was never selected against. Perhaps no different than the webbing between the fingers of the embryonic human that is supposed to be gone by the time the baby is born, but once in a while a baby is born with webbed fingers, except in the case of the hymen, it became more common because there was no social selection against it (by the time a potential mate discovers it, it's too late to opt to not reproduce).
arildno
#23
Mar14-06, 02:57 AM
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Quote Quote by selfAdjoint
Well arildno, you finally got around to my hypothesis (your #2). I wasn't going to post it for fear of getting into a flame war with you over ideology.

In fact, of course human males have no inner need to stay around and help raise the kids, and giving them an ego/property right does tend to enhance that behavior, whatever one thinks of patriarchal cultures.
Have no fear!
I hope I made it clear that what I dislike immensely with Morris' hypothesis is that
a) he does not bother to check whether there is empirical support for his hypothesis

b) That he cannot possibly talk about real humans, since that would imply that actual women abstained from sex out of fear from the pain of hymen rupture (which is not the case)

I find Moonbear's criticism very good, and to the point.

I'm not too sure whether this issue is unambiguously resolvable.
Rade
#24
Mar15-06, 08:15 PM
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Quote Quote by arildno
b) That he cannot possibly talk about real humans, since that would imply that actual women abstained from sex out of fear from the pain of hymen rupture (which is not the case)
Do you have the reference to the publication where this was statistically shown ? --I would like to see the form of the questionnaire that was used to reach this scientific conclusion. Clearly, if such a finding has been published, then Morris's hypothesis has been falsified--if so, I really do not understand the above statement that the hypothesis of Morris can never be falsified--seems to me you have knowledge of the study that has done so.
Mk
#25
Mar16-06, 01:22 AM
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I think arildno has got it right. Up till now, I've always spelled it "arnildo." I hope you didn't mind too much. lol sorry. I thought it was spelled like that.
SciFiGuy
#26
Mar18-06, 12:28 AM
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Quote Quote by arildno
His project is, in essence to "explain" modern, Western lifestyles as somehow "natural" (in this case, that women has an instinct for longtime pair-bonding), even though from a historical point of view, most of his ideas can be dismissed as necessarily wrong.
He simply doesn't know enough about the variety of human cultures and lifestyles throughout history.
While Morris's explanation has issues, you've just demonstrated some pretty severe bias of your own in your critique of Morris's bias.
It is in the best evolutionary interest of women to maintain a long-term pair bond. Clearly, pair-bonded women have access to more resources to raise their children. However, women who are bonded to the father of their children are better off than those who practice serial monogamy. Numerous studies have shown that step-children are more likely to be abused and eve killed than natural children. Step-children are also less likely to be financially supported - I seem to remember a massive gap in the percentage of natural children whose parents funded their college education versus step-children.
I'd also challenge this idea that it's all about being Western culture to talk about long term pair bonds - most cultures have marriage. Most cultures let men divorce, or take additional spouses, but not women. Interestingly, this fits well with men's ability to function as r-strategists, where women cannot (as effectively).
So, while Morris MAY be full of it, his explanation is based on real female optimal reproductive strategy, and deserves to be mocked only for the faults it actually possesses.


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