Why Most People Might Want to be a Prairie Vole

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Prairie Voles either have much superior willpower and strength of character than humans, or they are simply wired differently.

Maybe their ‘vows of marriage’ are much more meaningful to them.

Prairie Voles are almost exclusively monogamous, staying with their initial pair-bond for life. Indeed, if their partner dies, their commitment is such that they do not pair up with another.

I was intrigued by the article “Love is Strange” by Mike Lee Pearl in which he discusses the role of biology, and more specifically the hormones oxytocin and dopamine, in both Vole and human behavior around pair-bonding. It turns out that Voles are wired differently. They have “really dense oxytocin receptors...” which plays a critical role in their monogamous commitment.

So there you go. If only humans had denser oxytocin receptors the increased bonding instinct from the oxytocin ‘flood’ would cause us to stay for life with our first partner (as Voles do — although that might be a scary prospect for many). The issue of human infidelity and struggle with monogamy would be over!

But we don’t have equivalent biology. Yes, we process oxytocin and dopamine, but not to the same level. 

Despite this, we have somehow created a societal model that lauds monogamy as an ideal, and we use mental fortitude or pursuit of a higher spiritual esthetic as a way of accomplishing it. 

Let me just say I happily and sincerely extend my congratulations to any couple that is celebrating 50-years-plus of married life together. That is impressive, indeed (although, even as we cheer them on, we don’t know if they were truly monogamous).

So why do we so avidly aspire to a lifestyle we are not actually wired to? Yes, we do use oxytocin and dopamine for bonding and connecting, but not to the extent that we are so overcome that we don’t consider bonding and connecting with others.

Is it a spiritual test? That is, were we not given the Voles biology so that we ‘higher’ beings can learn to transcend our ‘lower’ physical nature? Seems rather cruel if the Universe intended it that way. The Voles get a free pass, but we don’t. Maybe if we succeed at monogamous commitment in this life we get to come back as Voles, so we can blissfully experience stress-free monogamy.

Okay, I jest. But doesn’t it make you wonder? If anything, shouldn’t our spiritual beliefs line up with our biology, and the biology of our planet?

Human beings greatest power for survival, beyond intelligence, is our capacity to share. We forget this from time to time, but we see it very clearly when there is a disaster or loss of life. People share and pull together. No doubt, if times get difficult on the planet, our key to survival will once again be to share.

Why is it we can share almost everything in life willingly—even money—but we can’t share our lover? Especially in light of the fact that we weren’t given the biology to be naturally monogamous.

What a revolution it would be if we could embrace our biology and see the sharing of our partner (both male and female) with others as a natural gift of loving connection. Ironically, more primary partner couples would likely stay together if this was so.

As for Mike Pearl’s comments about love, in the same article cited above, well, that’s for another blog post...

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On further thought: Of course, there is another way to look at human vs. vole oxytocin biology. Since our oxytocin receptors are less dense, we obviously have to touch each other and make love much more frequently to create the same level of pair-bonding. Perhaps the key to maintaining an exclusive couple is to touch frequently and make love several times a day — then no marriage contract needed. -- MH

Embracing Our Sexually Energetic Being-ness

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Speak this truth to yourself:

I am a sexually energetic being.

Sexual energy flows through me, and all things.

The same divine power that created all life, which allows life to reproduce and flourish, flows through me.

If I tune my awareness, I can feel the creative, healing power of sexual energy inside me.

If I tune my awareness, I can feel sexual energy in my surroundings, since all life is imbued with sexual energy. I can feel it in other people. I can feel it in nature. I can feel it in the things we have constructed. I can feel it in the sun. I can feel it in the rain.

I can lovingly embrace all the sexual energy around me and let it flow through me. I can embrace the world as wholesome and full, just as it is, even if it needs healing.

I can feel loving sexual energy in the water from the shower on my skin.

I can feel loving sexual energy from the touch of another.

I can feel loving sexual energy from the sun’s warmth on my skin.

I can feel loving sexual energy from my own touch.

As a beautiful sexually energetic being, I recognize my ability to be more loving, content, creative and engaged in the flow of life. I recognize my ability to hug, hold and touch others more than I do now. I recognize that I can generate joy and increase by combining my loving sexual energy with another.

I choose to use this divine, creative energy for positive things. I am a sexually energetic creator, and must honor that free gift.

No matter what body shape I have—whether or not I have given birth to children, have sustained injury or loss, have wrinkles or folds, am small or large or young or old—I am a beautiful, loving sexual energetic being. I am equal to, and connected to, all other sexually energetic beings, including all animals, trees, flowers, insects, humans, etc.

I lovingly honor them.

Look in the mirror each morning and say, “I am a beautiful, loving sexual energetic being. I am rich and creative. I seek to share that creative divinity with others, honoring and healing them with my loving touch and encouraging them to embrace their own divine loving sexual energy to empower and enrich their lives.”

Enjoy.

Why Women Are the Catalyst & Foundation for Polyamory

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In the hetero-normative world, you say open relationship and most men think ‘threesome’. You’d have therefore thought that would be a popular option for many. But as it turns out polyamory, a truly egalitarian multi-partner ideology, is strongly vilified in our patriarchal world. Because what is sauce for the goose, is definitely not sauce for the gander. Relationships where women have as much power as men to own and share their sexuality, are dangerous and scary. But what would such a society look like? We don’t have to look far to find out.

The bonobos are arguably our closest genetic- and physiologically-related species. Unlike their chimpanzee ‘cousins’, much of their sexual behavior (including face-to-face mating, oral sex, tongue kissing, having sex for enjoyment, with perhaps the exclusion of their uncensored promiscuity) is similar to ours.

They are extremely egalitarian in nature and behavior. The females join together to nurture a cohesive, bonded community. One could say the females ‘gift’ themselves to the males to diffuse conflict and to encourage equal sharing. Food is often shared after sex. The males, who take their status from the status of their mother, are not competitive or warlike.

Bonobo groups are matriarchal in structure. The women wear the pants (metaphorically speaking…)! But not perhaps in the way we are used to in patriarchy, because there is no hierarchy. There is a sense of gender equality. While the males participate in gathering food, their peaceful lifestyle is possible because the females make sure no one goes without. The males have little to complain about.

Whilst debate continues as to whether early human societies were matriarchal, many of the tribal societies discovered by the Europeans as they spread across the globe were matriarchal in structure. And despite being slowly enveloped by patriarchal religions and culture, matriarchal societies still exist today. Examples include the Mosou of China, the Minangkabau of Indonesia, the Bribri of Costa Rica, the Nagovisi of South Bougainville, the Khasi and Garo of India, and more.

Heide Gottner-Abendroth has made the study of matriarchal societies her life’s work. The economic pattern of matriarchal societies is a gift economy, she says, where the giving of gifts is always intended as an entry into and a way to maintain good relationships and peace. Women usually control food and clan houses, so they facilitate the gift economy, which can extend over a broad geographic area and gift giving economics of matriarchal societies is deeply woven into a spiritual system.

The guiding image for the economy is Mother Earth herself, and as with earth, sharing and giving away out of an abundance are its supreme values. The gift is the lynchpin of the economy, patterned after the continuous gift giving of earth and sky.

This sharing aspect of spiritual, matriarchal gift giving extends to sexuality. Sexuality is valued highly, with satisfied sexuality regarded as a key to health, peace and culture. A form of open sexuality is often practiced, with the females engaging in multi-partner relationships. Jealousy, as with the bonobos, is almost non-existent. And not surprisingly, these societies are all very peaceful in nature.

In her book “For-Giving: A Feminist Criticism of Exchange“, Genevieve Vaughan, contrasts the patriarchal ‘exchange’ economy with the matriarchal ‘giftgiving’ economy. Regarding sex, she speculates that women may be practicing a natural urge for “co-municative giftgiving” in their love relationships, including their ‘promiscuous’ ones.

Giving ourselves sexually allows us to feel the emotions of giving and receiving ‘on our own skin’. It allows us to do something for somebody else, satisfy a need without actually transferring goods from one to the other.

It is clear that gift-giving, sharing and nurturing are part of female human ‘wiring’. If given the primary ‘leadership’ role in community, women create an inherently peaceful egalitarian existence. This intrinsic and valuable nature, however, has been repressed by centuries of patriarchal culture.

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Thankfully there is change in the wind. Embraced by increasing numbers of men and women, polyamory (a word coined in the 90s, that only got listed in the Oxford Dictionary in 2006) has brought multi-partner, egalitarian relationships back into the spotlight.

Based on the tenets of what makes polyamory work, it is clearly a matriarchal structure. Here are some of the keys to the ideology:

  •     Authenticity, transparency and honesty.
  •     Trust and open communication.
  •     Consent and compersion (the opposite of jealousy)
  •     Non-possessive gifting of each other to each other
  •     Gender equality and a spirit of sharing equally (egalitarianism)
  •     Sex-positivity (modern, patriarchal society is sex negative)
  •     Agreement by consensus.
  •     Spiritual fulfillment.

This is definitely not a patriarchal construct.

Women will continue to become aware of how their role in multi-partner relationships is so key. Like the bonobos, the communication and bonding between the females in particular, form the ‘glue’ of such arrangements. Their nurturing wisdom can diffuse any conflict that arises in the males. Women also seem to better sense the spiritual connection that is critical to such open, egalitarian sharing.

As multi-partner relationships continue to seed the world with matriarchal wisdom and leadership it is time to recognize the “feminine power” of polyamory and other egalitarian multi-partner communities. Let’s embrace and encourage their matriarchal principles and make our world a better place.

Originally published on Multiple Match, found HERE.

Casual Sex or Not, Women Want Loving Sex

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In a fairly robust survey of 24,000 students over five years, done by Paula England at New York University, results showed that 74 percent of women had an orgasm the last time they had sex in a committed relationship, versus only 40 percent during their last casual ‘hook up’. In contrast, 80 percent of men had an orgasm in their last casual hook up.

This study spawned a wide number of recent media articles. You can read one of them, from the Globe and Mail, here.

Some of the ‘speculations’ from this study were:

  • Women are not free in a casual context to say what they need.
  • Guys care more in a relationship.
  • Practice with a partner yields better success.
  • Women’s path to orgasm is widely varied, not just derived from intercourse.
  • Women are still stigmatized for wanting casual sex.
  • We’ve been sold a bill of goods that the sexes can participate equally in hook up culture.
  • Maybe women are just as satisfied from the hook up, despite no orgasm.
  • Women may feel the quality of the sex is “weirdly irrelevant”.
  • Women are more focused on giving pleasure, than receiving.

While there is likely truth in all the statements above, the study, and the tenor of the interpretations, left me feeling uncomfortable. It seems to ramp up a debate that shouldn’t be a debate.

In a world where a huge percentage of young people are conditioned by the narrow spectrum sex of porn, there is a lot of distracting debate about the wants of men and women.

One of the women quoted in the Globe and Mail article, Vanessa Martini, says this: “You have to balance a lot of things in your brain, like what’s more important to me – just getting off, or do I actually want to have a connection with this person?”

Most porn is about just getting off. And if we believe what the endless videos portray, there is a lot of pleasurable ‘just getting off’ happening. I think, however, that Martini’s inner debate about connection is significant.

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Women intuit far more easily than men about connection. Just look at the bonobos, or the characteristics of matriarchal societies. There is no more intimate connection between a man and a woman than the physical union of penis in vagina, with the divine, generative power of sexual energy flowing between the partners, whether they acknowledge the divinity of it or not. There IS connection. Period.

Women get this, much easier than men, on a deep level. And when this connection is not acknowledged, there is dissonance. So for both women and men, it is not a question of do I want the connection or not, it is do I want to ignore the connection or not.

Women want to have sex at least as much as men. Perhaps more overall, since their sexual engines can keep going... and going... once at full throttle. But here, for me, is the important point. Women, whether they are having casual, hook up sex or not, want loving, honoring sex. They want to embrace the connection, even if it is only in passing, whether they will see their sexual partner again, or not.

Loving sexual energy is in all of us, male and female. Men, despite the cultural influences that bury their honoring desire even deeper than women, intrinsically want to express their sexuality in a full spectrum, loving way as well. Making a connection with another human being is not something we need to be afraid of. It is natural. It is divine. And we can embrace it.

The Bonobo Factor: Sisterhood

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Read the introduction to this series of posts here.

Bonobo Love Secret 03 - Sisterhood is Powerful

“Sex At Dawn” co-author Christopher Ryan writes:

Although female bonobos are about 20% smaller than males—roughly the same ratio as in chimps and humans—they dominate males by sticking together. If a male gets out of line and harasses a female, ALL the other females will gang up on him. This sisterly solidarity, combined with lots of sex, tends to keep the males behaving politely.

What does this mean for us?

Our centuries of patriarchal culture have disempowered women and to some degree ‘separated’ them from each other. The result? A mess.

But wait a minute, you might cry. What mess? Look at our much better quality of life in modern human society. Really? Perhaps we don’t have to work so hard for ‘survival’ in this heady Oil Age, but at what cost to our planet and our longevity as a species? And what about the billions of people who still suffer below the poverty line?

If males had behaved more politely, would our world likely be a better place? Yes.

‘Sister solidarity’ was much easier to sustain in a tribal world. Today, our species is so numerous and so spread out that any kind of global solidarity is a challenge. Perhaps impossible. But that doesn’t mean the principle isn’t worth giving attention to and encouraging within smaller social contexts.

Given the right environment to bond together, women can be a powerful force for interpersonal connection, creative community life, inspiring leadership, more sustainable economics and better attitudes toward our planet. I believe men today need to encourage women to ‘stick’ together and lead. And if the women need to “gang up” on one of us men for getting out of line, like the bonobo females do, so be it. I have no doubt it would work. : ))

Read Part Five HERE