Sex and Death

Fruit-growers, knowing these things about plants, realize that if conditions are too favorable for their fruit trees the trees won't trouble to produce as much fruit, so by manipulating the watering at the right time they induce stress to the trees to encourage them to produce more fruit. The tree does this to ensure there will be more seeds, and the farmer gets a better crop. Thus the urge to reproduce is increased in life-threatening situations.

What about animals? Stress influences the chemistry of the blood, the most well known of the various effects being that of the secretion of adrenalin to arouse the senses and increase the metabolic rate in threatening situations. Denied the chance of fighting or fleeing the threat of death, a "last-resort" animal instinct is that to reproduce. Sensing the imminence of death, cattle awaiting slaughter at abattoirs will become sexually aroused, while people awaiting death in the gas chambers in Nazi extermination camps in World War II would, in a similar fashion, indulge in sex.

Another illustration of abnormal sexual activity is given in Louis Kuhne's New Science of Healing (1894):

"It is an old and well-known fact to farmers, that an unnaturally increased sexual impulse among cattle is a sure sign of a disease having broken out. And it is the same with man, as anyone can observe who will look about him. I need only mention here the abnormal sexual excitement on the part of consumptives.

Sexual impulse in healthy man is something altogether different from that unbridled lust we see so often today."

In situations in which animals are deprived of freedom and normal healthy activity, they will display sexual depravity along with brutality and other unnatural behavior they would never in their natural environment indulge in. Dr Solly Zuckerman was a distinguished professor of anatomy at Birmingham University in the 1920s and 30s, and in the study of humans and the other primates wrote a book from which it was intended humans could learn more about themselves. The book, The Social Life of Monkeys and Apes (1932), described various behavioral patterns of primates in captivity in the London Zoo but, as Robert Ardrey pointed out in his book African Genesis (1961), conclusions drawn from behavior in captivity are not representative of an animal's true instinct in nature:

"The famous anatomist cannot be blamed for presuming that the sex-obsessed activities of London baboons reflected true primate behavior, or for drawing the logical conclusion that the powerful magnet of sexual attraction must be the force that holds primate societies together. But over and over we shall encounter in this narrative the disastrous consequences of applying utter logic to a false premise. [Which goes to show that doctors are not the only people who jump to wrong conclusions by applying logic to a false premise.] And Zuckerman's premise was false. The creature whom we watch in the zoo is one denied by the conditions of his captivity the normal flow of his instinctual energies. Neither the drives of hunger nor the fear of the predator stir the idleness of his hours. Neither the commands of normal society nor the demands of territorial defence pre-empt the energies with which Nature has endowed him. If he seems a creature obsessed with sex, then it is simply because sex is the only instinct for which captivity permits him an outlet."

Desmond Morris has pointed out that to call a city an "asphalt jungle" is totally wrong because it is much more like a "human zoo", in which zoo flourishes crime, homosexuality, rape and obsession with food, drink and sex. Nor outside of cities are humans free and natural either, but they are freer and closer to Nature than their city counterparts and are blessed accordingly. It is clear that the further a community is distanced from an unnatural environment and the closer it conforms to Nature, the better is the likelihood its inhabitants will resemble true and proper human beings.

The fact that the majority of people prefer to live in cities demonstrates the natural instinct in humans to congregate, for mental stimulus and other advantages, but in man's primitive evolutionary past high density living was not possible and the appetite for carnivals and excitement had to be satisfied by the annual tribal get-togethers like the corroborees of Aboriginals or the singsings in the New Guinea highlands. Cities are man-made traps as much as are alcohol, cigarettes, junk food, medicine and pollution, and to those who are aware of the pitfalls they need present no great hazard.

The ways of Nature, mysterious and exact, are always directed at restoring homeostasis, not only within the body but within whole population groups. If for instance in a community of bees of a certain hive a greater than usual proportion of worker bees is lost due to bushfire or some other reason, or if a lot of soldier bees are killed defending the hive from predatory ants, straight away the output of eggs by the queen bee is altered to produce a higher proportion of either worker bees or soldier bees as the situation requires to restore the correct balance in the hive's population. In human populations, the death rate among males is slightly higher than among females, and this is compensated for by a similar slightly higher proportion of male children born than female. What mysterious natural force controls this ratio? Is this ratio variable should there be a change for some reason in danger factors among humans?

One factor associated with aggressiveness and oversexuality is the high consumption of meat in the diet, and when people give up eating meat to become vegetarian they report that their natures become more placid and less sexually aggressive. Statistics show that vegetarians, generally, have a far better life expectancy than meat-eaters, and therefore it is a reasonable supposition that vegetarians feel less urgency to reproduce. The self-regulating mechanism within all living things to increase the reproductive urge when survival is threatened works, it seems, not only to increase the urge in humans who eat a lot of meat, but takes into account also that the wastage rate among male meat-eaters is greater than that among females. Statistics can be used to prove anything so they say; what do you make of this one? A 1987 report from official British statistics stated that in 1980-82, for every 100 girls fathered by butchers and meat-cutters there were 121 boys, compared with the national average of 105.6 boys for every 100 girls. This fact, in light of how Nature works to preserve balance, would seem to confirm that meat-eating is a hazard, and in the further light of the fact that meat-eating tends to excite sexual arousal more than does vegetarianism, thus is provided another example of how "living dangerously" leads to sexual excesses.

For what it's worth, a recent article in Brisbane's The Courier Mail asserted that a woman could plan to influence the sex of her future child by means of diet. It said that if a woman's diet (obviously for some time before conception) included lots of lettuce, watercress, broccoli, asparagus, radishes, cucumber, cabbage and cauliflowers she would have a great chance of having a girl. And if she ate lots of ham, bacon, smoked salmon, salty mineral water, dried beans and broad beans, she would have "a sterling" chance of producing a boy. Whether butchers ever marry vegetarians the author has no idea.