The rainbow flag flies in the animal kingdom
The theory of Darwin’s sexual selection —A pillar of the theory of evolution— promotes a concept of ‘normal’ sexuality that has been used to denigrate all human behavior that deviates from the obligatory heterosexual pattern.
Such is the starting point of this work by Joan Roughgarden in which, in addition to pointing out the gaps and contradictions of the Darwinian approach, it tries to offer an overcoming alternative.
Recall that, according to Darwin, certain animal traits that do not seem to have any survival value – the showy tail of the male peacock, the most famous example – are explained by their claim function to attract members of the sex. opposite and, in this way, ensure the transmission of their genes.
To challenge this approach, the author advances along the path cleared by Bruce Bagemihl, Whose book Biological Exuberance brought out of the closet a flock of species that practice homosexuality and the bisexuality.
In the present work, he develops his argument on three levels: the sexual diversity in animals; diversity in human biology; and gender roles in human societies. To start with, it lists almost 300 species of vertebrates capable of change sex (like the female blue-headed wrasse bird) or engaging in homosexual relationships, or they are simply hermaphroditic.
For the American ecologist, neo-Darwinists exaggerate the explanatory role of aggressiveness and competition, and underestimate cooperation
In passing, and for the purpose of demolishing the stereotypes of masculinity and femininity projected onto the natural order, documents that not all females are small and submissive, not all males big and dominant.
For the American ecologist, the neo-Darwinists exaggerate the explanatory role of the aggressiveness and the competition, and underestimate the cooperation.
He argues that evolution proceeds through adaptive adaptations made in groups and not individually, a process he calls the “rainbow of evolution.” And it uses the LGTBI flag to refer to a type of social selection that involves unions between individuals of the same sex and the group membership to access resource control. The efficiency of this social interaction – always according to Roughgarden – is the driving force that ensures the transmission of DNA from one specimen to the next generation.
It is interesting to note that the author is inspired by the emphasis placed on cooperation and negotiation by John Nash in its game theory.
According to Roughgarden, evolution advances thanks to a complex arsenal of tactics at the service of social coalitions for the benefit of survival
Hence his conviction that evolution advances thanks to a complex arsenal of tactics at the service of social coalitions for the benefit of survival; some of them forged through relationships between individuals of different sexes and others through fluid combinations of sex and gender.
It goes without saying that this approach contradicts the genetic determinism behavior, as well as the existence of the alleged “gay gene” and the alleged “selfish gene” that would drive natural selection.
Object of criticism
The neo-Darwinists reproach him for having chosen biased examples, ignoring that they constitute a minority in the face of the enormity of cases that corroborate Darwin. They object to him that he talks about the “gender” of animals, against the consensus of the specialists that said concept, due to its socio-cultural nature, should be respected.
The more biological notion of “sex” is used for humans and applied to animals.
Some criticize him that he sins of anthropocentrism by projecting the generic diversity of humans onto the fauna; and others for misinterpreting the valuable core of sexual selection theory. In short, they accuse him of going overboard in his vehement defense of sexual diversity and in his attack on binary thinking that, in his view, distorts the natural sciences.
The writer acknowledges that her book is the result of an awareness of the overwhelming variety of sexual practices of animals, which began with her own transition at age 52.
But her commitment exposes her to be questioned — and sometimes rightly so — for impregnating with militant subjectivity what deserves more impartial and dispassionate analysis. Its main merit lies in organizing data and findings from the most disparate disciplines in a suggestive argument.
The controversy, as the cliché says, is served. Meanwhile, this healthy reaction against mania for finding the explanation for all behaviors in genes leaves us with two certainties: sexual behavior, both between animals and humans, is much more complicated than that established by the X and Y chromosomes. ; and the second, that no person can be blamed for their identity being unnatural.
Qualification: The rainbow of evolution: diversity, gender and sexuality in nature and in people
Author: Joan Roughgarden
Editorial: Capitán Swing.
Translation: Patricia Teixidor
Date and place of publication: November 22, 2021, Madrid
Rights: Creative Commons