A few years ago we went through a Jared Diamond phase. After Collapse, I read his book Why Sex is Fun.
I didn’t like it. Not only was it not about why sex is fun, but it seemed poorly researched. For example, he stated with awe that hyenas give birth through the clitoris but did not mention that human females do as well. (It is wish-bone shaped and mostly internal fyi). He also used it to promote his theory of the battle between the sexes.
His premise was that each sex is trying to get the other to give more of its resources in caring for the young. The sex which is most selfish wins. Thus, female birds which cheat on their mates and leave the nest full of young for the males to feed while they go and start another nest with a new mate are the clear winners. Male animals which mate and never come back win.
Ergo, sex differentiation happened when the biggest of the species forced the smaller ones to become female and carry the brunt of reproduction.
Well, no, that isn’t true.
Bob MacDonald and his science program “Quirks and Quarks” often feature biologists talking about the sex lives of animals.
Recently a man who studies the penises of barnacles was describing how these hermaphrodites decide when to be male or female. They are all ready to be male when one of them decides to be female. The one acting as a female is the one making the choice. ‘She’ isn’t forced, and the rest of the barnacles act as males only after the signal from the one acting as a female.
In a sense, the one acting as female has more control.
Also, male animals can give more or less to the offspring and/or mother depending on circumstances. The brown spotted butterfly wet season male gives hardly any “nuptial gifts” to the females he mates with. As a result, those males aggressively pursue females since they can mate with as many as they want with little consequence.
The females, however, actively pursue the male butterflies born in the dry season. Those males give a large nuptial gift which lengthens the females’ lives at the expense of their own. Those males can only mate a few times and are in high demand.
In conclusion: Bob MacDonald is a better authority on animal sex than Jared Diamond.
Also, my lab tutorial leader was studying beetle penises. There seem to be a lot of those studies, but the only people studying clitorises are sex educators. Why is that?