Cecil did a pretty good job of summarizing the theories why hymens might exist - except for one which just occurred to me. I’ve been rereading a bunch of Stephen Jay Gould’s books (great essays, if you like essays), and he points out that many things which make humans special, like extended ability to learn easily, large head size, and the like, are really juvenile characters - making it likely that one of the things which happened back in our evolution was that our growth pattern was messed with, causing us to retain certain juvenile characteristics into adulthood. Cecil points out that in several other sorts of mammals, hymens exist in the embryo but not later. Perhaps the persistence of the hymen to adulthood in humans is an unintended side-effect of the suite of changes induced by retained juvenility?
I cannot believe that even cecil messed this one up! The purpose of the “hymen” is so obvious! Due to the lack of schooling of many early americans where learning survival skills took a back seat to a formal education and thereby spelling was not an important life objective, the original spelling of the word was inadvertantly incorrectly written Once the “hymen” was discovered, it was realized that the barrier was actually an anatomic greeting card for a woman’s first encounter. Originally it was spelled “hi man.” However, as with many new terms, had gone through a metamorphasis in actual terminology. This, along with the formally educated perpetuating the need to make simple body terms difficult for everyone, formally changed the “hi man” to hymen. You can see other examples of this perpetuation in the terms “hypertension” (HI blood pressure) “hyperglycemic” (HI sugar)
Cute Ursula. However, I shall most immediately take out the mystery for you.
Tada. Read this below and then you tell me if you can figure it out
Hymen noun [L, fr. Gk Hymen]
: the Greek god of marriage
© 1996 Zane Publishing, Inc. and Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. All rights reserved.
Good point, Eloise – that’s the only sensible theory offered so far. Speculating about the evolutionary purpose of every little feature is a lot of fun, but people tend to forget that some things may not have a purpose – they’re just byproducts of other processes.
On the tangential question of women’s orgasms, there are some interesting insights in Gould’s essay “Male Nipples and Clitoral Ripples”, printed in Bully for Brontosaurus.
well, maybe I was not entirely correct. Guess that 30 grand for college was ill-spent. But it was fun!
I am so very disapointed with Cecil’s sources. They obviously know nothing about anthropology.
" … that appears to be unique to our species is the retention of the
hymen or maidenhead in the female."
Like Cecil pointed out this is incorrect.
“By putting a partial brake on this trendin the female, the hymen demands that she shall have already developed a deep emotional involvement before taking the final step, an involvement strong enough to take the initial physical discomfort in its stride.”
Sorry, but back in the day, males didn’t ask for sex (which makes sense that the more aggressive [physically] sex has the stronger sex drive. Also, women had no need to keep the male aroung after the birth of her children. Like all primates, human females are self suffucient in feeding & protecting her kids.
“Such adaptations are explicable only if the male of the species finds it to his advantage to seek a virgin,”
“But we don’t even know why women have orgasms. Morris’s preposterous theory: orgasm keeps women on their backs afterward, grinning with satisfaction, whereas if they were up and about right off the bat, the semen and with it their chances of reproductive success would dribble down their legs.”
This guy seriously needs to stop reading 1950’s sex-ed books. First off, any eighth grader can tell you, a female can get pregnant no matter how hard she jumps up and down or runs around after sex. Seamen doesn’t fall out (some of her natural lubricant might, however). The reason women have orgasms is the same reason why men have nipples. Long, long, long ago we were unisex creatures. Male and female reproductive systems are virtually the same minus the obvious differences. Having two different sexes offers more variation than receiving all your chromosones from the same person, thus faster evolution.
Why are there female orgasms?
So females will want to have more sex.
More sex, more children.
This isn’t a hard question, people.
Since when do women’s orgasms make more babies?
Now, more male orgasms yes, but women’s, no.
Except that Boltcutter didn’t say female orgasm leads directly to more babies, but that female orgasm leads to more sex and more sex leads to more babies.
Orgasm = Woman enjoys sex
Woman enjoys sex = Woman more likely to have sex
Woman more likely to have sex = Woman more likely to get pregnant
It’s not an irrational conclusion to come up with, although there are other factors that would influence it in the real world.
“We’re gonna have lawyers here. It’ll be a fun time.”
It has also been shown that the orgasm in women help dip the cervix into the pool of semen that occurs in the vagina after ejaculation, this helps fertility.
>>while contemplating the navel of the universe, I wondered, is it an innie or outie?<<
—The dragon observes
Is there any other female mammal that has the capacity for orgasm?
“With enough courage, you can do without a reputation.” - Rhett Butler
Isn’t evolution supposed to produce a species tailored to live in a cerain environment? If humans are the epitome of evolution, why are we so unsuited to live on our planet? We need clothing to protect ourself, tools to hunt and gather, and various medicines to survive. Now include everything that makes no sense (like hymens).
Of course, these same arguments make sense against creationism as well. Why create an organism unable to survive on it’s own. Anyway, I always thought it was to protect the vaginal area until the female was of capable age to reproduce.
[Is there any other female mammal that has the capacity for orgasm?]
There are even other species where the females have sex just for fun - and not just with males, either. Bonobos are a favorite of mine. (they kind of look like chimps, but are sufficiently different biologically to be another species; there’s also really interesting behavioral differences). Actually, evolutionarily speaking, it’d be a heckuva lot harder to have a species where the male orgasmed and the female, using equivalent parts, didn’t, than the situation we have now. Basically there’d have to be some selection pressure to remove the ability for orgasm from one sex and not the other. Not a likely happenstance, and so we’re stuck with what we got. Lemme tell ya, there’s a buncha things I’d have changed if someone’d shown me the blueprints before putting us in production (though removing female orgasms isn’t, ahem, one of them).
RE: “Why create an organism unable to survive on its own?”
First of all–" its" does not need an apostrophe.
Secondly, What the heck do you mean—unable to survive on its own? There is NO living organsim that is totally self-sufficient. Look at the lowest form of plant life even. They too need carbon dioxide and sunlight to produce their own food. Organsims (NOT ORGASMS) that are able to produce asexually still cannot survive on its own! Yes, we humans (or at least I, human (don’t know about you) need to use tools to hunt, clothes for warmth, yet we are capable to survive on our own! We have the capability to realize how to survive on our own. We have the skills and brain power to use or make tools to hunt, clothes to make, and homes for shelter to build.
We can get religious here and refer to Genesis (the Bible–oh yeah we learned to communicate without noises or gestures too) where the BIG “S” (sin) resulted in human beings needing clothes, hunting for food, et al. Whereas in the Garden of Eden everything necessary was supplied.
Well, that’s life. Ya gotta do whatcha gotta do
RE: Females being self-sufficient after childbirth…the biological model of attachment theory (or something like that–i took my human bonding course in fall of 1998, which is forever ago to me) states that it is most advantageous for the female to develop a relationship with one male mate for the purposes of conceiving an infant and supporting both mother and child for about 4 years. Interestingly, the “four year itch” results in the end of many relationships today, with or without children.
The cycles of a relationship (initally high attraction, build-up of attachment as attration peaks and wanes, leveling off of attraction while attachment grows slightly) coincide with the desired order of events: at the stage of high attraction, the desire for sex is high–resulting (hopefully) in pregnancy; attraction stays high enough for the male to stay with his pregnant mate, and as this happens, they develop a strong interdependence; this attachment usually stays strong for as much time as it takes to bring the child out of infancy (3-4 years). Of course, many human relationships last much longer than this, but that was a whole other set of lectures…
I should mention, here, the names for two competing theories of female orgasm: the first theory, that orgasm causes the female to lie around exhausted; the second, that the contractions of orgasm may cause sperm to be actually drawn into the uterus. The names? Respectively, the “poleaxe” theory and the “upsuck” theory.
RE: RE: “Why create an organism unable to survive on its own?”
Dear Ursula, I am really disappointed in you. I found your first post really quite charming. Your second however was so snide that I wonder if it was written by the same person.
“First of all–” its" does not need an apostrophe."
Surely then you must feel genuine remorse for your own misuse of the rules of grammar.
“Look at the lowest form of plant life even.” is not a sentence and even at that, you misplaced the word “even”.
“Organsims (NOT ORGASMS) that are able to produce asexually still cannot survive on THEIR own!”
“Yes, we humans (or at least ME, I don’t know about you) need to use tools to hunt AND WEAR clothes for warmth, yet we are capable OF SURVIVING on our own!”
“We have the skills and brain power to USE tools to hunt, MAKE clothes to WEAR, and BUILD homes for shelter.”
Enough said. I guess that $30,000 education was a waste at that.
Let’s get off the grammar train
Eye halve a spelling chequer.
>It came with my pea sea.
>It plainly marques four my revue
>Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.
>Eye strike a key and type a word,
>And weight for it two say
>Weather eye am wrong oar write.
>It shows me strait a weigh.
>As soon as a mist ache is maid
>It nose bee fore two long,
>And eye can put the error rite.
>Its rare lea ever wrong.
>Eye have run this poem threw it.
>I am shore your pleased two no
>Its letter perfect awl the weigh.
>My chequer tolled me sew.
Most likely reason for a human hymen is to keep foreign stuff [hair, leaves, etc] out of the vagina.
me so sorry hershey. You be rightly. I was be’d in a bad mood when I were writed that them there message. And me gots a whole lot much more lot of education than alots of you alls.
(Just kidding—I do appreciate that you found my first response charming!! thanks!