L.B.: In these shoes?

L.B.: In these shoes? February 15, 2008

Left Behind, pg. 411

In a rare display of economy and pacing, we skip directly from Chloe’s midflight conversion to this at the beginning of the next chapter:

Buck called New Hope Village Church to set up an early evening meeting with Bruce Barnes, then spent most of the afternoon at the Chicago bureau of Global Weekly.

This is a remarkably streamlined transition and a radical, but welcome, departure from the pattern of the book so far. Sure, the first two words of Chapter 23 are “Buck called,” but we’re not forced to sit through a transcript of that phone call even though it would have been a chance to name-check Loretta. We’re also not forced to slog through all the logistics of the remainder of the flight from New York, the landing in Chicago, Buck’s getting off the plane, his choice of rental car and drive into the city, etc.

This might be further confirmation of my theory that Jerry Jenkins took a breather just after typing Chapter 21 and, for the first and only time, skimmed through the preceding finished pages. Maybe he learned from that. Maybe he thought to himself, “Hmmm, I’ve expended a great deal of ink so far on the minutiae and logistics of travel, which does nothing to advance the story or the characterization.” If he did realize as much, of course, he was still Jerry Jenkins — so he wasn’t going to go back and rewrite any of the earlier pages, but maybe he decided to try to do less of this from now on. Or perhaps he was just getting lazy, trying to spare himself a bit of work and — as a happy side effect — sparing us readers some extra tedium as well.

In any case, here we are at the Chicago office:

News of his becoming their boss has swept the place, and he was greeted with coolness by Lucinda Washington’s former assistant, a young woman in sensible shoes.

Global Weekly apparently conducts its internal business in accordance with its journalistic motto: “We won’t tell anyone.” Why send out a memo announcing Steve Plank’s departure and Buck’s promotion? Some form of the news will eventually get around to everyone through the office gossip grapevine.

“Sensible shoes” is, of course, a cue that we’re supposed to dislike this young woman. Only two kinds of women exist in Left Behind. They can be, like Lucinda Washington, a madonna. Or they can be, like this young woman, the other kind. “Sensible shoes,” for LaHaye and Jenkins, means “unladylike shoes,” and all women who are not ladies are whores.

The misogyny is palpable, but we’ve had plenty of opportunity to explore that before now, so let’s set aside for the moment L&J’s warped understanding of gender and consider instead their warped understanding of footwear. The authors seem to imagine all of their lady madonnas dressed like Donna Reed. Even their maternal stereotypes like Lucinda Washington are walking around in impractical high heels. Their whores meanwhile — a category that includes not just supposed flirts like Hattie, but all female executives and single women — are apparently all wearing “sensible shoes.” They seem to think of comfortable flats as slutty. Does that mean they would consider a pair of four-inch stilleto-heeled stripper shoes to be matronly?

Jenkins continues his thumbnail sketch of this ladder-climbing young trollop:

She told him in no uncertain terms, “Plank did nothing about replacing Lucinda, so I assumed I would move into her slot.”

Her attitude and presumption alone made Buck say, “That’s unlikely, but you’ll be the first to know. I wouldn’t be moving offices just yet.”

If there’s one thing Cameron Williams can’t abide it’s presumptuous young people trying to buck authority. Except, of course, for himself. “Buck” is, after all, a masculine nickname.

Both Buck and she-Buck here are, yet again, acting like they work for Global Quarterly. Lucinda Washington disappeared 9 days ago. Since then, at least two final publication deadlines would have come and gone. Jenkins lacks any sense of the relentless urgency of a weekly production schedule. Whether or not Buck wants to accept it, this young woman already got a battlefield promotion the day that Lucinda disappeared. The battle doesn’t stop just because the lieutenant got killed. The sergeant takes over without waiting for word from central command and the mission continues.

The same dynamic would have occurred in every institution that didn’t have the luxury of shutting down for a week or two in the aftermath of The Event. There would be first-year interns in charge of emergency rooms, rookie deputies stepping in as acting sheriffs. Every mayor, marshal and manager who had disappeared, died or crawled into the fetal position would have been replaced, out of sheer necessity, within hours of The Event.

The characters in LB are all behaving eerily blaise blase about the disappearances, as though The Event were something they had all read about in history books instead of a world-altering trauma they had actually experienced less than two weeks ago, but that’s not how any of this would really play out. Nine days after The Event, none of those assistants thrust into leadership roles would yet have had a full night’s sleep. They’d all be wearing sensible shoes, the same clothes they had on yesterday and the day before, and the bedraggled, frantic look of those surviving on adrenaline and necessity instead of food and sleep. Suddenly over their heads with others relying on them, they would either have learned to swim or they’d have drowned, replaced immediately by someone with even less experience.

If it takes the generals and the other higher-ups nine days before they even begin talking about sending replacements and reinforcements to carry out the necessary function of their now-missing lieutenants, then those useless REMFs deserve to be “greeted with coolness” by those who never abandoned their posts.

Buck’s response above is essentially to inform this young woman that he expects her to continue carrying out all of Lucinda’s duties and responsibilities indefinitely, at her previous pay grade, without any formal increase in her authority to carry out those tasks and without even a trace of support or gratitude from her new boss. This is yet another example of one of our supposed heroes behaving despicably as the authors give each other high-fives and celebrate the way Buck put this uppity, sensible-shoed bitch in her place.

These are truly awful people.

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  • burgundy

    I thought that XKCD was kind of sweet. But that’s in part because I’ve been reading it long enough to have some sense of how he writes about women, and his writing style in general, and to me it reads more like a silly kind of wonder than any kind of creepy “you are a baby machine” thing. And there’s the title, and the rollover, which I think support that interpretation. And come on – the process of gestation is neat and fascinating. You grow a new organ! And then you grow a new person! At worst all you can say is that he’s not up on abortion-debate dog whistles and made a poor word choice.
    I’m much more bothered by today’s XKCD. Grapefruits are non-tasty? What’s the matter with him?!

  • burgundy

    I thought that XKCD was kind of sweet. But that’s in part because I’ve been reading it long enough to have some sense of how he writes about women, and his writing style in general, and to me it reads more like a silly kind of wonder than any kind of creepy “you are a baby machine” thing. And there’s the title, and the rollover, which I think support that interpretation. And come on – the process of gestation is neat and fascinating. You grow a new organ! And then you grow a new person! At worst all you can say is that he’s not up on abortion-debate dog whistles and made a poor word choice.
    I’m much more bothered by today’s XKCD. Grapefruits are non-tasty? What’s the matter with him?!

  • Tonio

    I think it’s that my Catholic upbringing has caused me to associate all “Women are special because they have the power to create life”-type statements with distinctly anti-feminist rhetoric (ie “Women are far too sacred and special to be let outside for extended periods of time”), with some anti-abortion stuff thrown in for good measure.
    Perhaps that’s all connected. Taken together, they suggest a view of women as merely carriers for their men’s babies, as opposed to carriers of babies in general. Perhaps the men who created this view were desperate to make sure their women did not conceive by other men.

  • Tonio

    I think it’s that my Catholic upbringing has caused me to associate all “Women are special because they have the power to create life”-type statements with distinctly anti-feminist rhetoric (ie “Women are far too sacred and special to be let outside for extended periods of time”), with some anti-abortion stuff thrown in for good measure.
    Perhaps that’s all connected. Taken together, they suggest a view of women as merely carriers for their men’s babies, as opposed to carriers of babies in general. Perhaps the men who created this view were desperate to make sure their women did not conceive by other men.

  • Lauren

    Tomatoes are extremely tasty, so I don’t know what your problem with that is. I think maybe you have been eating the wrong tomatoes.
    What bothers me is the idea that it is easier to eat a peach than it is to eat a banana. Banana peels always release easily from the fruit, whereas I often have trouble getting the stone out of the peach. And if you can’t get the stone out, you are left chewing on a slimey, sour piece of wood, and that’s no fun at all.
    Really, each fruit needs to be represented by a range, not a point.

  • Lauren

    Tomatoes are extremely tasty, so I don’t know what your problem with that is. I think maybe you have been eating the wrong tomatoes.
    What bothers me is the idea that it is easier to eat a peach than it is to eat a banana. Banana peels always release easily from the fruit, whereas I often have trouble getting the stone out of the peach. And if you can’t get the stone out, you are left chewing on a slimey, sour piece of wood, and that’s no fun at all.
    Really, each fruit needs to be represented by a range, not a point.

  • jamoche

    I had a college roommate (the same one with the appalling taste in pop music, come to think of it) express concern that I was going to do something that would have me riding my bike across campus around 11PM. Wasn’t I scared? Erm, no. I was going to karate class, and would be wearing my uniform while riding my bike. (Not that I would’ve been scared anyway, but really. Karate uniform.)

  • jamoche

    I had a college roommate (the same one with the appalling taste in pop music, come to think of it) express concern that I was going to do something that would have me riding my bike across campus around 11PM. Wasn’t I scared? Erm, no. I was going to karate class, and would be wearing my uniform while riding my bike. (Not that I would’ve been scared anyway, but really. Karate uniform.)

  • Froborr

    I’m mostly upset that he included tomatoes, but not all the other vegetables-that-are-also-fruits, like cucumbers. But then, I like being metapedantic.
    Also, WTF? Pomegranates are hella tasty and easily the most difficult fruit. Bananas belong way up in the upper right corner, too.
    On the evolution of homosexuality: It’s highly unlikely it’s a response to population pressure, given two facts: situational homosexuality is attested and accepted in pretty much every known non-Abrahamic culture, historical and modern, and all bonobos are bisexual and very (very, very, VERY) fond of recreational sex, suggesting those two human traits are about 4-6 million years old (the date at which genus Pan* and human ancestors parted ways), or 80-120 times as hold as the human race.
    *Honestly, I have to admit, I’m fond of the idea of reclassifying the chimps, bonobos, and australopithecines as genus Homo, partially because it’s good science, but mostly just for the kick I get out of imagining how the ID nutjobs would respond.

  • Froborr

    I’m mostly upset that he included tomatoes, but not all the other vegetables-that-are-also-fruits, like cucumbers. But then, I like being metapedantic.
    Also, WTF? Pomegranates are hella tasty and easily the most difficult fruit. Bananas belong way up in the upper right corner, too.
    On the evolution of homosexuality: It’s highly unlikely it’s a response to population pressure, given two facts: situational homosexuality is attested and accepted in pretty much every known non-Abrahamic culture, historical and modern, and all bonobos are bisexual and very (very, very, VERY) fond of recreational sex, suggesting those two human traits are about 4-6 million years old (the date at which genus Pan* and human ancestors parted ways), or 80-120 times as hold as the human race.
    *Honestly, I have to admit, I’m fond of the idea of reclassifying the chimps, bonobos, and australopithecines as genus Homo, partially because it’s good science, but mostly just for the kick I get out of imagining how the ID nutjobs would respond.

  • Ken

    Taken together, they suggest a view of women as merely carriers for their men’s babies, as opposed to carriers of babies in general. Perhaps the men who created this view were desperate to make sure their women did not conceive by other men. — Tonio
    There’s a biological foundation for this. The pregnant female KNOWS it’s her DNA in the kid; unless there’s some exclusive sexual arrangement (like monogamous marriage or locked harem), the male does not have that assurance. (And of the two, I’d take Christian-style monogamous marriage over the harem arrangement.)

  • Ken

    Taken together, they suggest a view of women as merely carriers for their men’s babies, as opposed to carriers of babies in general. Perhaps the men who created this view were desperate to make sure their women did not conceive by other men. — Tonio
    There’s a biological foundation for this. The pregnant female KNOWS it’s her DNA in the kid; unless there’s some exclusive sexual arrangement (like monogamous marriage or locked harem), the male does not have that assurance. (And of the two, I’d take Christian-style monogamous marriage over the harem arrangement.)

  • Tonio

    the male does not have that assurance
    That shouldn’t be the woman’s problem. For most of human history, the monogamous marriage was little better for women than the locked harem because the woman had little or no power. That’s the issue – the only true way to assure paternity is to subjugate women. While there’s no valid reason to subjugate either gender to the other in the first place, trying to justify subjugation by assuring paternity is a sick joke.

  • Tonio

    the male does not have that assurance
    That shouldn’t be the woman’s problem. For most of human history, the monogamous marriage was little better for women than the locked harem because the woman had little or no power. That’s the issue – the only true way to assure paternity is to subjugate women. While there’s no valid reason to subjugate either gender to the other in the first place, trying to justify subjugation by assuring paternity is a sick joke.

  • Froborr

    Tonio: Two notes. First, “A caused B” is not the same as “A justifies B.”
    Second, humans have an absurdly extended childhood — even with excellent nutrition, it typically takes over a decade to reach sexual maturity and nearly two to reach adult size — and as such the optimal strategy for males is extremely different. While in most primates it makes good evolutionary sense for the male to impregnate as many females as possible and leave child-rearing to them, which means not spending a great deal of time with any one female, in humans it makes better sense for the male and female to rear the offspring together, because the investment necessary before the runt is capable of producing a new generation is so high*. This is the evolutionary pressure for pair-bonding, better known as “romantic love” — if males and females *like* having lots of non-sexual contact with their mates, they’re more likely to share the burden of rearing the young. One side effect of the male spending so much time with the female is that he can be reasonably (though not perfectly) confident the offspring are his.
    Anyway, it’s somewhat moot, because evolution is inherently amoral. It can explain why certain behaviors exist or are common, but it has no answers as to what behaviors should be common. “Should”, after all, is a term which has no meaning outside of a mind capable of imagination.
    *Remember, evolutionary fitness isn’t about how many children you have. It’s about how many grandchildren you have. This has been A Drastic Oversimplification.

  • Froborr

    Tonio: Two notes. First, “A caused B” is not the same as “A justifies B.”
    Second, humans have an absurdly extended childhood — even with excellent nutrition, it typically takes over a decade to reach sexual maturity and nearly two to reach adult size — and as such the optimal strategy for males is extremely different. While in most primates it makes good evolutionary sense for the male to impregnate as many females as possible and leave child-rearing to them, which means not spending a great deal of time with any one female, in humans it makes better sense for the male and female to rear the offspring together, because the investment necessary before the runt is capable of producing a new generation is so high*. This is the evolutionary pressure for pair-bonding, better known as “romantic love” — if males and females *like* having lots of non-sexual contact with their mates, they’re more likely to share the burden of rearing the young. One side effect of the male spending so much time with the female is that he can be reasonably (though not perfectly) confident the offspring are his.
    Anyway, it’s somewhat moot, because evolution is inherently amoral. It can explain why certain behaviors exist or are common, but it has no answers as to what behaviors should be common. “Should”, after all, is a term which has no meaning outside of a mind capable of imagination.
    *Remember, evolutionary fitness isn’t about how many children you have. It’s about how many grandchildren you have. This has been A Drastic Oversimplification.

  • Ken: There’s a biological foundation for this.
    No, there’s not.
    Males who help to rear their mate’s offspring that wass sired by other males never know it – have no way to know it, aside from DNA testing – and if they never know, they never care. There’s no biological foundation at all for males caring about who sired the offspring of the female they’re mated with, because there’s no biological way for a male to know.

  • Ken: There’s a biological foundation for this.
    No, there’s not.
    Males who help to rear their mate’s offspring that wass sired by other males never know it – have no way to know it, aside from DNA testing – and if they never know, they never care. There’s no biological foundation at all for males caring about who sired the offspring of the female they’re mated with, because there’s no biological way for a male to know.

  • Statistically, about 1 in every 6 children born to a married couple are not the offspring of the wife’s husband. Proved by blood typing. The vast majority of the husbands do not know this and therefore do not care.
    It’s sociological, not biological. Totally different kettle of fish.

  • Statistically, about 1 in every 6 children born to a married couple are not the offspring of the wife’s husband. Proved by blood typing. The vast majority of the husbands do not know this and therefore do not care.
    It’s sociological, not biological. Totally different kettle of fish.

  • Toonio

    “A caused B” is not the same as “A justifies B.”
    I’m not sure of your point. I’m suggesting that early monogamous marriages were controlled by men because they sought some guarantee of paternity. Are you suggesting something else?
    if males and females *like* having lots of non-sexual contact with their mates, they’re more likely to share the burden of rearing the young. One side effect of the male spending so much time with the female is that he can be reasonably (though not perfectly) confident the offspring are his.
    Those benefits would still hold in an egalitarian model of monogamous marriage. I’m saying that marriage should be egalitarian and not authoritarian.

  • Tonio

    How embarrassing – I misspelled my own name at 1:15 p.m.

  • Froborr

    Tonio: I absolutely agree that marriage should be egalitarian. I don’t understand how it’s possible to love someone you don’t regard as your equal. I was just tossing more information into the mix.
    Jesu: Actually, while I agree with you that in humans patriarchy is mostly or entirely a sociological phenomenon, the particular argument you use there doesn’t hold water. If males who prevent their mates from leaving the cave have a reproductive advantage over males who don’t, then jealous, possessive males will have more (presumably jealous, possessive) offspring. It doesn’t matter if they know *why* they’re jealous and possessive — evolution can act on their behaviors (if the behavior is biological in origin, which is a HUGE if) whether they know what’s going on or not. In other words, if male A has a natural tendency to jealousy and possessiveness, and male B doesn’t, and jealousy and possessiveness give males a reproductive advantage (possibly true in gorillas, probably not true in humans, where one could make a (probably specious) argument that it’s females that get a reproductive advantage by being jealous and possessive), then male A will have more offspring and therefore jealousy and possessiveness will become more common in future generations. This works if male A is a primate thinking “I should prevent my mate from mating with others so I can be sure my offspring are mine” or if male A is a sea slug just reacting instinctively to the smell of a female by pinning her under a rock or something.

  • hapax

    Froborr: all bonobos are bisexual and very (very, very, VERY) fond of recreational sex
    super-meta-pedantic — this assertion gets tossed around a lot, but it’s very far from proven. Almost all the studies of bonobo behavior took place under extreme population pressures, and it’s quite possible that the observed behavior was pathological.
    Which doesn’t mean that bonobos AREN’T bisexual and do NOT engage in recreational sex. But I get tired of hearing this iffy data tossed up to prove something-or-other about humans.

  • Caravelle

    or if male A is a sea slug just reacting instinctively to the smell of a female by pinning her under a rock or something.
    For some reason I find this image absolutely hilarious.

  • Froborr

    (channels Jesu): That is because you are trained by The Evil Patriarchy to be amused at the thought of female subjugation. To arms! To arms!

  • Tonio

    For some reason I find this image absolutely hilarious.
    Listen, my friend, I am a supporter of the slug community! I wore a brown ribbon to the Emmys. I have been to several Michael Bolton concerts. You say, what’s that’s supposed to mean? Michael Bolton…is a slug.

  • Lauren

    or if male A is a sea slug just reacting instinctively to the smell of a female by pinning her under a rock or something.
    For some reason I find this image absolutely hilarious.

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but slugs are hermaphrodites. Sea-slug patriarchy is impossible.
    Well, maybe that makes it funnier.
    Sea slug #1: “I’m just as much a man as you are!”
    Sea slug #2: “I don’t care, get back under the rock!”
    As for Micheal Bolton, all I can say is, not all slugs are created equal.

  • Caravelle

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but slugs are hermaphrodites. Sea-slug patriarchy is impossible.
    Oh that’s right ! And actually, in their own way sea-slugs have the worst patriarchy ever. I remember an internet discussion on the horrors of sea-slug* sexuality, was it here ?
    *some sea-slugs at least.

  • Oranges should be next to cherries. And the positions of peaches and plums should be exchanged. With pluots just above (I love pluots better than anything). Tuna (the fruit, not the fish) should be just to the left of pineapple.

  • Jeff

    it’s quite possible that the observed behavior was pathological.
    I don’t think that “out of normal” == “pathological”. The latter connotates rather severe mental illness, dangerous to the community and to the individual, at least to me. The situation may have been extremely unusual, but that doesn’t make the behavior “pathological”. Does it?

  • hapax

    I don’t think that “out of normal” == “pathological
    No, not necessarily. There is some solid speculation that the observed behavior *may well be* a pathological response to an extreme situation. Or it may be an unusual response to an extreme situation. Or it may be normal behavior that just happens to be occurring in an extreme situation.
    The issue at hand is that there simply isn’t enough observation on bonobos in a “normal” environment (i.e., not in captivity, or not under severe population and habitat pressures) to say with much assurance what their “normal” behavior is. It would be rather like basing an entire theory of human behavior solely on observations in the Warsaw ghetto. How can you tell what is the “normal” stuff from the abnormal from the pathological?
    That’s all.

  • Jeff

    How can you tell what is the “normal” stuff from the abnormal from the pathological?
    That I get, but you didn’t say “it’s quite possible that the observed behavior was abnormal, or even pathological.”, you jumped over abnormal, and I wondered at that.
    I’ve always been leery of interpreting human behavior based on that of bonobos, but mustly because I’m no fan of overlaying ANY animal behavior on humans. It’s not “we have behavior XYZ, so does animal ABC! OMG WTF ZOOBYZOOBYDO!”, it’s “we have behavior XYZ, so does animal ABC; interesting coincidence.”
    But, as I say, my knowledge of such matters is fairly limited.

  • Jesurgislac

    How can you tell what is the “normal” stuff from the abnormal from the pathological?
    So there’s no more reason to suppose that bisexuality observed in bonobos in captivity/under severe population and habitat pressures is abnormal than there is to assume that maternal affection observed in humans in the Warsaw ghetto is pathological?
    Reasoning backwards, after all: we know bonobos are our closest genetic relatives: we know that the normal human sexual orientation is some variation on bisexuality, with monosexuals at either end of the distribution curve: therefore, it makes sense to suppose that bonobos, like us, feel same-gender and cross-gender sexual attraction.
    Just because behavior occurs in an abnormal environment, there is no reason to assume by that it must be abnormal.

  • Just because behavior occurs in an abnormal environment, there is no reason to assume by that it must be abnormal.
    Well if the study takes place on bonobos in captivity, as in an artificial environment with enough resources to provide for the current population and no more, it would make sense for the bonobos to limit their population with bisexual sex. That way they are sexually active enough to produce children when they need them, but if it was exclusively heterosexual sex their would be too many off-spring for the environment to support.
    Not to say that they could be bisexual for other reasons, I’m only pointing out that the bonobos bisexuality doesn’t disprove the theory.

  • hapax

    practicallyevil and Jesurgislac, I’m afraid I cannot answer your posts much beyond, “well, umm, no”, without an entire short course on patterns of primate behavior, statistical analysis, and evolutionary mechanisms.
    At least, I am assuming that a lack of background motivated your comments, and not deliberate misunderstanding.
    Unfortunately, far too many people with agendas on both the left and the right have to all intents and purposes mythologized a handful of dubious studies on bonobo behavior, to the point that practically everything you read about it in popular literature (and that includes on the web) is scientifically meaningless.
    It’s a pity. Bonobos are interesting in themselves and worthy of study. To make them proxies in the totally human cultural hangups about sexuality and violence does a profound disservice to both species.

  • hapax

    practicallyevil and Jesurgislac, I’m afraid I cannot answer your posts much beyond, “well, umm, no”, without an entire short course on patterns of primate behavior, statistical analysis, and evolutionary mechanisms.
    At least, I am assuming that a lack of background motivated your comments, and not deliberate misunderstanding.
    Unfortunately, far too many people with agendas on both the left and the right have to all intents and purposes mythologized a handful of dubious studies on bonobo behavior, to the point that practically everything you read about it in popular literature (and that includes on the web) is scientifically meaningless.
    It’s a pity. Bonobos are interesting in themselves and worthy of study. To make them proxies in the totally human cultural hangups about sexuality and violence does a profound disservice to both species.

  • practicallyevil and Jesurgislac, I’m afraid I cannot answer your posts much beyond, “well, umm, no”, without an entire short course on patterns of primate behavior, statistical analysis, and evolutionary mechanisms.
    I was just pointing out even if the study was an accurate depiction of bonobo behavior, it wouldn’t disprove the theory.

  • practicallyevil and Jesurgislac, I’m afraid I cannot answer your posts much beyond, “well, umm, no”, without an entire short course on patterns of primate behavior, statistical analysis, and evolutionary mechanisms.
    I was just pointing out even if the study was an accurate depiction of bonobo behavior, it wouldn’t disprove the theory.

  • Oh, and major typo in my 8:14 post it should be “not to say they couldn’t be bisexual for other reasons. That’s bound to cause some confusion.

  • Oh, and major typo in my 8:14 post it should be “not to say they couldn’t be bisexual for other reasons. That’s bound to cause some confusion.

  • hapax

    even if the study was an accurate depiction of bonobo behavior, it wouldn’t disprove the theory.
    Umm. Which theory are we talking about here? That bisexuality in bonobos is a form of population control?
    Because, not to be rude or anything, but that’s an idea that really belongs on the TFWOT thread.

  • hapax

    even if the study was an accurate depiction of bonobo behavior, it wouldn’t disprove the theory.
    Umm. Which theory are we talking about here? That bisexuality in bonobos is a form of population control?
    Because, not to be rude or anything, but that’s an idea that really belongs on the TFWOT thread.

  • Jesurgislac

    I’m afraid I cannot answer your posts much beyond, “well, umm, no”
    So maternal affection in the Warsaw ghetto was pathological, because the Warsaw ghetto was an abnormal situation?

  • Jesurgislac

    I’m afraid I cannot answer your posts much beyond, “well, umm, no”
    So maternal affection in the Warsaw ghetto was pathological, because the Warsaw ghetto was an abnormal situation?

  • hapax

    Oh, to clarify: Nobody that I know of seriously argues that bonobos do not engage in f/f (mostly) m/m as well as f/m sexual behavior. The principle problems in interpreting the data are twofold:
    1. How does this sexual behavior function in bonobo society? It seems likely, both in the best studies of bonobos and cross-comparisons with other primate societies, that much of this sexual interaction is not meant to be “recreational” or a matter of “attraction”, as humans would understand it, but more as a matter of um, negotiation? Establishing and enforcing dominance patterns and heirarchical boundaries? Resolving disputes? It seems (heavy emphasis on the “seems”, because as I said, there really hasn’t been good data coming out of the area for decades) to be much more akin to, I don’t know, the complicated shenanigans involved in setting up handshakes between the diplomatic representatives of the U.S., Israel, and the Palestinians than it is to hooking up at a singles bar.
    2. If (and once again, stress the *if*, with all sorts of caveats about this is complicated and poorly understood) is a correct understanding of non-procreative sexual behavior among the bonobos, it does call into question the oft-reported “promiscuity” and “enthusiasm” the species shows for sexual encounters when they are in a habitat (either captivity, or serious encroachments and scarcity of resources) which will inevitably severely disrupt and stress their ability to cope with inter- and intra-troop conflicts.
    Once again, I don’t know — NOBODY knows — how “normal” the observed bonobo behavior is. It may indeed be normal — but the data is sufficiently contradictory the patterns of ever other primate species that it is quite justified to view it with some skepticism, especially since the conditions under which it was collected are anything but ideal. There are people trying to find out, but it is literally life-threatening work.
    It doesn’t help either bonobos or people to constantly repeat various pop misunderstanding of unrelated phenomena in order to grind particular ideological axes.

  • hapax

    Oh, to clarify: Nobody that I know of seriously argues that bonobos do not engage in f/f (mostly) m/m as well as f/m sexual behavior. The principle problems in interpreting the data are twofold:
    1. How does this sexual behavior function in bonobo society? It seems likely, both in the best studies of bonobos and cross-comparisons with other primate societies, that much of this sexual interaction is not meant to be “recreational” or a matter of “attraction”, as humans would understand it, but more as a matter of um, negotiation? Establishing and enforcing dominance patterns and heirarchical boundaries? Resolving disputes? It seems (heavy emphasis on the “seems”, because as I said, there really hasn’t been good data coming out of the area for decades) to be much more akin to, I don’t know, the complicated shenanigans involved in setting up handshakes between the diplomatic representatives of the U.S., Israel, and the Palestinians than it is to hooking up at a singles bar.
    2. If (and once again, stress the *if*, with all sorts of caveats about this is complicated and poorly understood) is a correct understanding of non-procreative sexual behavior among the bonobos, it does call into question the oft-reported “promiscuity” and “enthusiasm” the species shows for sexual encounters when they are in a habitat (either captivity, or serious encroachments and scarcity of resources) which will inevitably severely disrupt and stress their ability to cope with inter- and intra-troop conflicts.
    Once again, I don’t know — NOBODY knows — how “normal” the observed bonobo behavior is. It may indeed be normal — but the data is sufficiently contradictory the patterns of ever other primate species that it is quite justified to view it with some skepticism, especially since the conditions under which it was collected are anything but ideal. There are people trying to find out, but it is literally life-threatening work.
    It doesn’t help either bonobos or people to constantly repeat various pop misunderstanding of unrelated phenomena in order to grind particular ideological axes.

  • hapax

    So maternal affection in the Warsaw ghetto was pathological, because the Warsaw ghetto was an abnormal situation?
    No, Jesu. *sigh* That wasn’t the question you asked in your post.
    Because, there ARE good reasons to assume that *the particular expression of bisexual behavior* (note clarification) of bonobos under *those particular circumstances* is abnormal than that “maternal affection in the Warsaw ghetto was pathological.”
    To start with, because maternal affection is hella more widely documented.

  • hapax

    So maternal affection in the Warsaw ghetto was pathological, because the Warsaw ghetto was an abnormal situation?
    No, Jesu. *sigh* That wasn’t the question you asked in your post.
    Because, there ARE good reasons to assume that *the particular expression of bisexual behavior* (note clarification) of bonobos under *those particular circumstances* is abnormal than that “maternal affection in the Warsaw ghetto was pathological.”
    To start with, because maternal affection is hella more widely documented.

  • Caravelle

    Reasoning backwards, after all: we know bonobos are our closest genetic relatives: we know that the normal human sexual orientation is some variation on bisexuality, with monosexuals at either end of the distribution curve: therefore, it makes sense to suppose that bonobos, like us, feel same-gender and cross-gender sexual attraction.
    Are bonobos our closest genetic relatives ? Phylogenetically speaking they should be just as close/far from us as the other chimp species (does it have a particular name ?).