The Science of… Neanderthal Hookups?

The Science of… Neanderthal Hookups?

Don’t you hate it when people writing about sex indulge in lazy stereotyping, classist assumptions, xenophobic presumptions and careless generalizing? Wait, don’t leave — I wasn’t talking about Calico!

This week, Calico stumbled across awful cultural stereotyping around sex and culture in one of the places she least expected to find it: Science writing from the BBC. No, the BBC didn’t run a series in which a Klansman provided commentary about sex, or a documentary about the sexual benefits of Brexit — but it did run an article which makes claims about a culture that isn’t even around anymore to defend itself. For shame, BBC, for shame!

What culture did the BBC sexually defame? Is it one that silly producers for the History Channel believe to have predicted the end of the world in 2020? Does the culture secretly continue to thrive beneath the sea on the lost continent of Atlantis? Is the Bermuda Triangle involved in some way?

Most of these questions are ignored entirely in Calico’s latest post, but you should read it anyway, just to be nice. You can do that by scrolling further down and checking out “The Science of… Neanderthal Hookups?

by Calico Rudasill, Award Winning Indie Adult Films

neanderthal hookups

Read On…

One of the most irritating – and occasionally enraging – things I encounter in all my reading about sex and its history is the degree of insulting generalization, awful stereotyping and nuance-free thinking I encounter along the way.

While it’s not as common these days as it used to be, I’ve seen lots of generalizing about people of certain cultures being more “docile” or less skillful in bed, or “more likely to try to watch football surreptitiously while you’re performing oral sex on them, despite having been told not to do this several hundred times in the past.” (No, that last one isn’t from my direct personal experience; whatever gave you that idea?)

Anyway, I know I just said above that this sort of unfair, inaccurate and often offensive rhetoric and ‘analysis’ was more common in the past, that doesn’t mean such notions have been entirely excised or pushed way into the margins of expression. 

Hell, just this morning I stumbled across a brand-spanking-new bit of generalization about a culture’s sexually proclivities – and to make matter worse, it’s about a culture that is no longer around to defend itself!

Creb Swipe Right?

What now-disappeared culture am I talking about? I’ll give you a hint: They never created a sophisticated calendar that centuries later a bunch of confused white people decided must be predicting the end of time.

OK, now that I read it over, I suppose my hint doesn’t really narrow the field that much, so I’ll just come out and say which culture has been treated so unfairly in this week’s reading: I’m speaking of Neanderthals.

“He cleared his throat, looked her up and down, and – in an absurdly high-pitched, nasal voice – deployed his best chat-up line,” Zaria Gorvett writes for the BBC. “She stared back blankly. Luckily for him, they didn’t speak the same language. They had an awkward laugh and, well, we can all guess what happened next.”

Look, I get that there’s some skeletal/anatomical evidence for the claim Neanderthals had high-pitched, nasal voices, but do we really need to… um… “game-shame” some poor, defenseless, hypothetical, long-dead Neanderthal fellow with that theory in the midst of describing his attempts to woo an early human female? Why no mention of what her voice sounded like? Am I just supposed to assume she had the sexiest voice this side of Kathleen Turner and go back to laughing at our fictional, prehistoric McLovin over here?

The funny thing is, after noting that the Neanderthal’s prospective partner couldn’t understand what he was saying (and vice versa), Gorvett tells us his wooing was successful, nonetheless!

“They had an awkward laugh and, well, we can all guess what happened next.”

Hmm. Maybe I shouldn’t be so sure Gorvett is saying the Neanderthal’s seduction was successful, because my guess about what happens next when people can’t speak the same language is that they both hail a cab and go their separate ways. Granted, I’m not entirely sure Neanderthals had taxis, or for that matter whether a mammoth pulling a cart quite fits the definition of “taxi” in the first place.

Calico Study Abstract: Having Sex with a Man Who is 3% Neanderthal is Not Noticeably Different from Having Sex with a Man Who is 1% Neanderthal

OK, enough about Neanderthals and taxis. Where was I before I went on that tangent? Oh yeah – Neanderthals and sex.

As fate would have it, the man I chose to marry, according to 23andMe at least, ranks in the 99th percentile among humans when it comes to the amount of Neanderthal DNA in his genome. In other words, when it comes the modern population, it turns out the man with whom I have sex is about as Neanderthal as they come, these days.

So, what’s it like to have sex with a man who is approximately 3% Neanderthal? Honestly, offhand I’d say it’s not that different from having sex with a man who is 1% or less Neanderthal.

Maybe he grunts more? Or maybe he grunts the same amount, only in a higher-pitch, more nasal voice? I must admit these are both possibilities because I’ve never truly put it to a scientific test. Such a test would, naturally, require me to have sex with lots of men – or to observe someone else having sex with those men, but that just sounds a lot less fun.

Unfortunately, I don’t think my husband is on board the idea of my undertaking this important study, judging by his response when I asked about embarking on such a research project, which included ineptly scrawling a few random shapes on the wall, briefly beating his chest while angrily baring his teeth and finally running from the room on all fours screeching at the top of his lungs.

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