Animal: The Autobiography of a Female Body - Sara Pascoe (2016)
No Babies Just Blood
Possible Outcome B) Unfertilised
Please delete as appropriate: Hooray/Boo hoo.
I am a complete expert about the menstrual cycle. My mum bought me a book called Have You Started Yet? when I was about ten. It gave me all the information I needed, I knew exactly what to expect from my first period. It would be like a gushing wee, but made of blood and it would mean I could have children. And so for a couple of years, every time I went to the toilet, if the wee felt particularly smooth I would have a look in the toilet and check what colour it was. Sometimes I pressed very, very hard into my belly button to see if that might get everything started up, but so far, nothing. I wasn’t desperate for it to start or anything - just curious. And one day, after having stomach aches all morning, when I went to the toilet and found a smear of brown blood on my underpants I put two and two together - tummy pain, blood - I knew exactly what was happening and shouted downstairs to my mum, ‘I’M PREGNANT’.
Good old Mummikins ran up to find me in the bathroom. I wouldn’t let her in as I needed my privacy, but I described my dirtied knickers in detail and she told me I was now a woman. Which I was not, I was twelve. My mum said some spiritual, beautiful things about cycles, magic and the moon while I sat quietly waiting for her to finish talking about rubbish that had no relevance to me.
Mum then took me to our local Tesco, where she proceeded to put every single sanitary item available into our trolley, and there was a lot because this was a megastore, and when we got to the till and my mum was loading up the conveyor belt with cotton in different shapes, sizes and absorbencies the lady behind the till gave us a questioning look. My mum answered that look by explaining, ‘Sara’s just started her period,’ which was true. She continued, ‘She’s a woman now,’ which had already become my most hated phrase. ‘We didn’t have anything in the house,’ my mum told the complete stranger; ‘she’s only got toilet paper in her pants!’
Embarrassment doesn’t cover it. I was flooded with adrenaline, my face bright red, what’s called a ‘fight or flight response’, except neither of those responses was appropriate - I couldn’t hit my mum, could I? And I couldn’t run away, she was driving me home. So my body reacted in the noblest way it could, by having a nose bleed, while I stood there, frozen and ashamed. And the lady on the till, clearly a bit of a wit, said, ‘Oh look, she’s bleeding from both ends now,’ and then she laughed and my mum smiled politely and I wished I was dead and wondered how adults could be so insensitive and so cruel. I already loathed my period, not because of anything physical but because it encouraged other people’s input and judgement. It didn’t feel like it was mine, rather something external, taking me over. I begged my mum not to tell my dad; it was nothing to do with him. But she rang him when we got home - I heard ‘She’s a woman now’ echoing through our little house. I couldn’t bear that people were talking about a thing that was taking place in my underwear. And that my mum was trying to make it mean something that it didn’t, trying to make it special when it was actually gross. My sister Cheryl learned from my horrible experience and never told my mum that she’d started her period, and thanks to that shopping trip she didn’t have to - we had a lifetime’s supply of pads and wads under the stairs.
After my first period (five days, medium heavy, medium pain) I didn’t have another one for a year. I thought that was it, I’d tried it out, decided it wasn’t for me and gone back to girlhood, great stuff. Some time in between we had a special assembly at school, after regular assembly had finished. All the girls were asked to stay where they were and all the boys to get up in their rows and follow their teacher back to their classrooms. We watched them leaving and wondered why we couldn’t and they stared at us as they left, wondering which group of us was being punished. What strikes me now is why did they send the boys away? Why don’t boys get educated about menstruation? Is it because the teachers think girls will be embarrassed? I feel like the secrecy of it, the action of segregating us, sends the message that we should be ashamed. That our periods are something to hide from the opposite sex. I still - and I am thirty-four flipping years old - when I take a couple of Nurofen in front of someone, and this usually gets a comment because I can’t swallow pills, I poke them down my throat with my fingers - YES, I am cool, I’ll show you some time - well, this could be at a gig or a meeting or with someone I don’t know and they’ll say, ‘Headache?’ and I’ll say, ‘I’ve got period pain,’ and then there is this awkward beat like I’ve said something gross and personal when I’m not supposed to. I’ll wish I’d lied, ‘Yes, headache,’ instead. I’ve got male friends who say ‘urgh’ and ‘yuk’ about periods, I had a boyfriend who didn’t want me to ever talk about being on because it made him not fancy me and I’ve had boyfriends who liked to use code words and silly phrases about painters and decorators or Arsenal’s playing arrangements and surely, surely, if boys had been included in those assemblies with their female classmates they wouldn’t be such idiots about it. They would have been given their chance to ask questions about bodies that were different from theirs. They’d have been taught that the menstruation that affects fifty-one per cent of the world’s population for one quarter of most of their lives also concerns the non-menstruating forty-nine per cent. Little boys grow up to have female co-workers, female friends and maybe female lovers and female children. Isn’t it dangerous to have given them this early indication that female bodies are mysterious and unknowable? Doesn’t their exclusion suggest dirtiness and shame? Surely it’s this lack of information that creates a taboo? Boys may not physically experience menses but they still owe their very existence to it.
When the last of the boys were banished, a nice woman stood at the front and she told us about eggs and tubes and monthly bleeding and cramps. We were told about hot-water bottles for the pain, and sit-ups and hot baths. And then we were shown tampons and towels and that old belt thing that female dinosaurs used and asked if we had any questions.
‘Why are these sanitary products taxed as “luxury items” with VAT payable, despite being considered a necessity by those who have no choice but to use them?’ I could have asked if I had known or cared about that then.
‘What about girls my age in other countries, those who have to be sent out of villages - is there anything I can do to help?’ would’ve been a good question if I hadn’t been a privileged western chick who didn’t yet realise how fortunate she was.
‘Is there any truth to the rumour that chemicals in tampons make you bleed more and thus need more tampons?’ is the kind of thing I would ask now, because that’s what I worry about and I have looked up about on the internet but am distrustful of every source, so - I don’t know. I have found a charity that helps refugees make their own sanitary products though. It’s listed with the others at the end of the book.
The first question came from Jordanna, who asked, ‘Could the string come out of tampons?’ The lady called her to come up on stage and have a go, and Jordanna tugged and tugged at the blue thread but she couldn’t pull it out and we all laughed and clapped. The atmosphere was relaxed and convivial now and I felt safe and excited and so I asked, because they hadn’t mentioned this and I couldn’t work out the logistics: ‘Can you have sex with a tampon in?’ I knew that people had sex in their vaginas and, apparently, vaginas were where you inserted these max-flow Tampax and whatever. ‘Can you have sex with a tampon in?’ I repeated in the quiet. The lady looked around at everyone and laughed. A couple of teachers laughed too. Like it was obvious or unimportant. It bugged me for years, this conundrum. It didn’t even say on a tampon leaflet that I read. The vagina was such an unreal place to me, a portal to another galaxy, the sandpit the Psammead lived in, Mary Poppins’s never-ending bag. I apparently had this space inside myself that things would go inside and where people could grow and I didn’t know what shelves there were, how many compartments and doorways. But I now knew not to ask questions, because some were right and about strings, and some were wrong and left you exposed as a pervert or something.
My mum criticised the sex education we got at school. ‘They don’t teach you about love. They just tell you the mechanics,’ she used to say. But I didn’t really understand the mechanics either. I was a child without internet access, I don’t think I even used a computer until I was at college. I had to look up sexual words in the dictionary. If I’d been born fifteen years later, I probably would have left that assembly, typed ‘period sex’ into a free porn site and known much more than I needed to. I was obsessed with collecting as much information about sex as possible and trying to piece it all together so I could visualise it. I shoplifted magazines from the 7/11 near school; More, Minx, Just Seventeen. I absorbed details about positions and fantasies and ‘tricks’ to make boys like you and I filled out quizzes pretending I’d done it all already with nameless guys outside nightclubs and I left the completed pages around school to impress girls like Jordanna, who saw through me. She’d had her period for ages, and boobs since she was about nine.
SFX: RING RING RING RING
Oh hi ovum, what you up to? Just been released by the ovary? Cool. You want us to come and see you? Why of course!
The sliding doors moment for an egg is after it has been released and before it reaches the womb. I call it sliding doors because this is when its fate could be massively changed by the arrival of a sperm, but it’s more accurate to say ‘sliding window of a few days’. For our hypothetical ovum no sperm is on the way, but she doesn’t know that and floats towards the Fallopian tubes, tiny and determined. During this time the luteinising follicle is producing progesterone and the womb gets busy creating a thickened lining of cells called endometrium. After around two weeks, if the brain detects no hormones indicating foetal development in your bloodstream, progesterone production stops. Oestrogen drops. This sudden reduction of hormones signals to the womb that the sumptuous lining is unnecessary and can be evacuated from the body. It’s like a landlord putting down carpet in case she gets a new tenant, but by the end of the month she realises no one is moving in and so she tugs the carpets off the floor and chucks them wastefully out of the window. She’s listening to Alanis Morissette and crying for no reason while she does it.
landlord womb undulates gently to slough off the endometrial cells (think of the wiggling motions of peristalsis in your intestines to get an idea) while local capillaries restrict their blood supply and oxygen, causing them to drop off. This process is what causes that painful, cramping feeling. The activity of clearing the unneeded tissue takes several days, and the cells gradually leave the body via the vagina along with fresh blood caused by broken capillaries, and some cervical mucus and vaginal secretion. A typical amount of menstrual fluid is between five and twelve teaspoonfuls. It doesn’t actually travel out on spoons although sometimes it can feel like that.
There it is then, menstruation, a basic bodily function integral to the process of making people. It’s simple physical mechanics, an external signal of cyclical fertility. So why has everyone always been so weird about it? From the earliest human records people have been chatting crap about periods. In ancient Rome, Pliny the Elder said that if a menstruating woman took her clothes off she could scare away hailstorms and lightning and cause all the caterpillars to fall off the trees. Even with her clothes on she would turn wine sour, rust metals and cause ‘a horrible smell to fill the air’. Aristotle in ancient Greece told everyone menstrual blood was women’s semen and that it stopped us from going bald. This was shortly after Hippocrates had spread the word that menstrual bleeding was a healthy way to get rid of poisons and cool down, and that it helpfully turned into breast milk when a woman had a baby. In the thirteenth century a book called The Secrets of Women revealed the previously classified information that menstruating women would poison the eyes of any baby that looked at them and that children conceived during menstruation would have epilepsy and leprosy because of all the venom. AND THAT’S JUST THE SCIENCE BOOKS LADS.
When you look into the world’s religions you find that virtually all have taboos around menstruating women. In the Hindu faith they are considered ‘ritually impure’, not allowed to enter kitchens or temples, to have naps in the daytime or touch anyone or drive a car. The Torah dictates, in the book of Leviticus, that anyone who touches a menstruating woman will be ‘unclean until evening’, and Orthodox Judaism forbids all sexual contact between husbands and their menstruating wives. In Japanese Buddhism menstruating women are banned from attending temples and in Orthodox Christianity women are supposed to abstain from Holy Communion while on their period. The common theme through all is ‘dirtiness’: a woman’s menstruating body is considered sullying, contaminating the objects and people around her.
Nowadays many faiths have softened in their attitudes and don’t take ancient writing about menstrual impurity literally, but there are still villages and towns where women on their period are banished, sent away to separate dwellings for days at a time. In Nepal apparently ninety-five per cent of girls have restricted lives during their periods, having to stay off school or sleep outside. Twenty per cent of girls in Sierra Leone have to skip school when menstruating and thirty per cent in Afghanistan. In India twenty-three per cent of girls stop attending school altogether after their first period. When we’re considering menstrual stigma we have a spectrum of consequences: at one end, the erosive effects of embarrassment and shame; at the other, actual physical restriction and oppression based on a bodily function. Missing one fifth of their education or having to quit school at eleven or twelve has a massive knock-on effect on a girl’s later life - her work opportunities, her income and thus her independence and autonomy.
There is residual, old wives’ tale misinformation about women’s wombs and their business everywhere. Throughout my teens I was given a range of advice I was nearly certain was rubbish: don’t go swimming/don’t wash your hair/don’t bake cakes when you’re on your period, but never a proper explanation as to why. In 1920 Professor Bela Schick attempted to support age-old taboos with scientific evidence. He proposed that ‘menotoxins’ were emitted by menstruating women; that they were present in their sweat and on their skin and were poisonous. He then conducted a lot of not very reliable studies which proved that if a menstruating woman held a flower it eventually wilted. Whereas flowers in water, well, they don’t wilt. Da da da da da da, SCIENCE! That was less than a century ago and we continue to live with the consequences of ‘periods are disgusting’ indoctrination.
While I was in my early teens, coming to terms with my own menses, all the slang terms were so negative. ‘The curse’, old people called it; boys at school accused teachers of being ‘on the blob’ and then laughed; my dad called it ‘women’s troubles’. WOMEN’S TROUBLES. Something we brought on ourselves when we ate that blooming apple without permission. Something that was none of men’s business. Mine to experience, mine to deal with. And ‘troubles’ is such a belittling word. I have been in agony for nearly a quarter of my life. AGONY. Can’t leave the house, can’t get off the toilet sometimes - it’s not a trifling trouble, it’s been a monthly apocalypse. Sorry for shouting, Daddy, it’s not you I’m angry with.
I am relieved to be talking about this actually.
I am a modern lady, a cutting-edge, very recent woman. And yet the only menstrual blood I have ever seen is my own. Is that weird? I can see sex on all the movies and TV programmes, I can watch murders being enacted and people pretending to shit themselves in the street, yet no periods. All the advertisements inviting me to select sanitary products prove absorbency with a clear blue fluid, the exact opposite of the mushy muck that ruins my underwear. The absence of public dialogue about periods is implicitly instructing us to shut up. The scandal and shock of a used sanitary towel explicitly tells us we’re gross. When I started stand-up comedy I occasionally fielded questions like ‘Do you just do jokes about your period?’ ‘No,’ I’d reply defensively, ‘no, I don’t do any,’ and I thought I’d passed some kind of test. Well done me. Women aren’t allowed to talk about their periods because some people don’t like to hear about periods. When I started comedy I thought I was being ever so clever avoiding topics that were seen as ‘things women talk about’ and it took me a while to realise that I had been coerced into not expressing my experience as a human because I happen to be the kind of human that is not male. If you are repulsed by periods that is completely fine but you have to understand that the problem lies with you, and not in a bit of blood and cells escaping the vagina. Menstruation is not going away (or it will, but it’ll be back in a few weeks). People’s responses are the only thing that can change.
To be disgusted by periods is illogical - we know from science that women aren’t more germy or polluting around this time. The cells being sloughed are the purest imaginable, suitable for a tiny vulnerable foetus. Yet the prohibitions and stigma are almost universal, so where have they come from? Do they have a communal origin?
It’s quite easy to imagine that before knickers, showers and mooncups women were a bit smelly on their periods. The oldest evidence of tampons is from the time of the ancient Egyptians, who made them from softened papyrus, and most civilisations have had versions ever since, made out of lint or grass or whatever. But even then, without access to running water I’ll concede that women probably did find it difficult to manage their menstrual blood. Hence all the banishments and ‘don’t touch my food’ stuff. I mean, it’s awful but I can see some logic to it. Another thought I had was that as women are unlikely to conceive during their period and religions are always insisting that sex be for procreation rather than pleasure, maybe that’s the root of all those religious proscriptions? No better way to ensure marital sex occurs during fertile times than spreading rumours about menstruating women being toxic. But then I found out that periods weren’t even linked to ovulation until 1831, when Charles Négrier worked it out and told everyone. So the ancient cultures that produced these taboos hadn’t even connected periods and the fertility window yet.
My new theory is that without education and comprehension, menstruation does seem magic. It ignores the rules of nature; women feel pain, they bleed, they exhibit the symptoms of illness or disease and then suddenly recover their health and appear unharmed. It’s so at odds with the rest of human experience - no wonder early people didn’t trust it. We are the first humans to ever understand it properly. By measuring hormones and watching the body on ultrasounds and MRIs, scientists and doctors can now witness the womb at work. Our physiological processes are common knowledge and so we can make sense of our internal manoeuvres while our poor ancestors had to make up stories and whisper at the moon.
Most animals don’t menstruate. Monkeys and apes do, and some bats and the elephant shrew,* but none as much as we do. All other mammals have ‘triggered decidualisation’, which is when the body waits for the hormonal trigger of an embryo before building up those uterine walls, which seems sensible. Their landlords wait until someone is moving in before laying the red carpet. We lucky Homo sapiens bitches have ‘spontaneous decidualisation’, which means we build it up first, ask questions about embryos later. Why don’t we wait?
a) We enjoy it.
b) The ironing’s finished and there’s nothing else to do.
c) We think it burns calories.
d) We need more endometrial lining than any other animal.
CORRECT, we have to build up more of a womb reception than other animals, and why might that be? It’s because human embryos are incredibly needy, very hungry, greedy, they attach deep on to the uterine wall, as deep as they can, and if there was less endometrium, mothers would become vulnerable to the vampirism of their unborn children. In what scientists refer to as an ‘evolutionary arms race’ (one side improves and adapts slightly, and the opposition adapts and responds accordingly), human mothers and their tiny cellular pre-babies have been evolving together so that each gets enough and neither destroys the other. Can you guess why even at a few days old humans are so desperate for nutrients? Sing it with me: because we have massive brains!
Toot toot on the ‘we all knew the answer’ trumpet!
When a woman is pregnant, and usually while she’s lactating, she will stop having periods. Scientists who study women’s bodies and understand our evolution say that tens of thousands of years ago, when we foraged for food and lived outdoors, the average woman would’ve had about fifty periods in her lifetime because she would have been reproducing and breastfeeding so much. Nowtimes, a woman might have between 460 and 500 periods in her life. Our great fatty diets mean we start our menses earlier, and our quality of life and lower infant mortality mean we average a lot fewer children. I have had absolutely no children. None. I don’t know if I will ever have them and I am not sure how I feel about that. It changes.
I have a special kind of jewellery called ovarian cysts. They are super-common, one in fifteen women have them, and they’re caused by insulin resistance, which makes your pancreas release more insulin and then all that extra insulin confuses your ovaries, lowers your oestrogen and results in a too-high testosterone level. This interferes with the follicle-ripening egg stuff we talked about earlier, so instead of an ovum floating off towards your tubes you get a cyst and Madame Ovary ends up looking like a cloud covered with grapes. I saw mine cos I went to the hospital. A nurse put a camera wand inside my vagina - she put a condom and lube on it first and explained that the condom was ‘for hygiene, not because you could get pregnant’. It was very kind of her to assume I’d be confused and be expecting a baby wand in nine months. The camera sent a grainy video to a small telly and I saw the mess of my grape clouds and the nurse said, ‘Oh yes, sorry dear,’ in a sad voice like I was going to cry. But it was a relief for me.
I had suspected something was wrong because of my up-and-down
women’s troubles moods. Books and articles aimed at helping women understand pre-menstrual tension (PMT) describe emotiveness and ‘feeling crabby’. Crabby sounds so sweet. I imagine an American woman apologising to a supermarket worker she forgot to smile at while she packed her groceries - ‘Forgive me, Mary-Sue, and have this $5 tip, I’m in ever such a crabby mood.’ My menstrual moods are monsters, not crabs. I am hit by the pointlessness of everything. The futility. I think of death and I am filled with hate. And I’ve done nothing about it except taking evening primrose oil and fantasising about the menopause.
I have blamed my ‘hormones’ for all my negative behaviour since I was about seventeen. But when I met John, he didn’t believe me. He said I had some much more serious mental disorder. ‘Surely all your girlfriends were like this while on their periods?’ I asked, head spinning round like that bit in The Exorcist. Apparently not; he has had a sheltered life. John told me to go to the doctor so I did. I explained all my symptoms and she told me I was depressed and I said, ‘I’m not,’ while tears fell onto my lap. She agreed they would test me for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) because I had all of the hairy/weight gain/irrational mood symptoms.
I insist I am not depressed because I shouldn’t be. I have a stimulating life and neither of my parents is dead and I’m really enjoying series 3 of The Bridge, yet for a few days every month everything is turned inside out and terrible. I think of it as reverse alchemy; my menstrual hormones touch my life and turn it to sludge and slurry. Knowing it’s my hormones, that it’s episodic and will pass, does not help me. That was John’s advice: ‘If you know it’s hormones just ignore it, it’s not really you,’ but when the monster arrives it doesn’t feel ‘not real’. Instead it seems it’s the rest of the month that’s a fiction and the true me with my true feelings has been waiting underneath, coping, repressing, and now here she is to CRY ABOUT IT.
I cry very regularly anyway, let us say on average one small cry a day in frustration or disappointment or whatever. But seven days before my period it goes into overdrive. My boyfriend jokes about how much I cry; sometimes he laughs when I start, because what I am crying at is so stupid. He has written a funny list of ‘things my girlfriend has cried at’ to do in his stand-up routine, and if you heard it you’d think he’d made them up but he didn’t. I cry getting dressed, I cry thinking about how big space is, I cry at the thought of an animal being stuck in our bin, I cry if John can’t hear me from the other room, I cry when I remember Amy Winehouse is dead, and Samuel Beckett and Nanny Babs, I cry at all television, advertising, music and some print media. And John doesn’t even know about all the times I cry on my own. It’s like I’m leaking something that I can’t hold in. I am a TSUNAMI of tears for all the people in all the world and I am not separate from anything any more. I am misery, sadness and self-indulgence personified for seven days out of thirty-five. Come round some time, I’ll show you.
I am interested in finding out what causes this pre-menstrual sadness and I am reading around on hormones and their effects but it has really surprised me how many books say ‘We don’t know why this happens’ or ‘This is another mystery of women’. Oestrogen and progesterone both completely plummet just before a period, so this hormonal drop must be something to do with it. Things like drinking and smoking make it worse - I had always known this but not understood why; your liver balances the hormones in your blood (or tries to) and when it’s working on stored alcohol (which it has to if you drink more than one unit per hour) then the hormones can become more unbalanced. Interesting, huh? And annoying, because downing wine and hoping it will make everything better is one of my favourite nonsensical behaviours.
Apparently, with my polycystic ovaries, the extra testosterone can cause a higher sex drive, but it has also caused nobody to want to have sex with me because of the accompanying aggression and facial hair. When I am not crying at John, it’s usually because I have taken a break to shout. Usually about wanting us to have more sex together - there is loads of stuff written about women having an increased interest in sex around their periods; apparently orgasms are really helpful with cramps and the heaviness of the engorged womb imitates arousal. But what no one acknowledges is how difficult it is to seduce someone by raging at them with snot down your face.
The PCOS can also make it trickier to have children, because your eggs are tied up being cysty. And it’s a strange thing; when I was sixteen and planning my abortion, I was so certain that I never wanted to have children. Ever. And people told me I would change my mind and I hated those people. And through my twenties even. People don’t believe you when you say, ‘No kids, not for me.’ They act like you’re not qualified to know what you want. And I didn’t, and I never changed my mind - but something changed in my body. My body cleaves and clenches and saddens. Perhaps it’s all these periods I shouldn’t be having, but I’m thirty-four and the baby thing has confused me without my permission. I think I understand why people don’t believe you when you say you don’t want children, because they know it’s a compulsion rather than a choice. That a woman’s body changes with age - it begins as a beautiful, bouncy machine for her brilliant mind to travel about in and some time in her thirties it transforms into BabyWantingBot2000 with her rational ‘the planet is so overpopulated already’ mind trapped inside.
Or, I should say, that’s my experience. I’m not saying it’s true for all women, it’s not even true for me all the time, I reckon for seventy-five per cent of my day it wouldn’t cross my mind to worry about procreation. I am busy, excited by my varied life and the fun and chores and my excellent bicycle with a basket. Then for fifteen per cent of the time I am low-level thinking about it, I have long-game thoughts like ‘Once I’ve bought a house I could register for adoption,’† or ‘I could go to a sperm bank, no need to panic now, I could just buy some sperm when I’m forty.’ So it’s only the remaining ten per cent of my day when I anxiously fret, ‘WHAT WILL I DO WHEN I’M FIFTY?’ I don’t want to be still living this child’s life, I want to be responsible, I want to care about people who aren’t me. I don’t want to be still talking about sex on stage and having to make jokes through my menopause and barrenness before going to bed with my stupid bicycle. I want to read stories or make them up. I want to complain about the school system, I want to go into assembly and insist that the boys are taught about periods and tell everyone how you can’t have sex with a tampon in actually. Then I could show them a used sanitary towel and say, ‘THAT’S LIFE, KIDS, DON’T LET ANYBODY SHAME YOU.’ I want to share. I have been a daughter for thirty-four years and it’s been great but I also want to try being a grown-up. I feel stupid when I worry about this, I’m not sad now but maybe I’ll be sad later. But maybe when later happens I won’t be sad at all, and then I’ll regret the tenth of my time I wasted feeling like a cliché and not knowing what to do about it. Stupid stupid thoughts and thinking.
I’ve said it before but it bears repeating that without the very powerfully embedded drive to procreate any species would dwindle and disappear, ARE YOU LISTENING, PANDAS? We humans are the first species to consider procreation a choice - or to consider anything at all. Before science created artificial insemination, sex was the only way for our species to procreate. Thus the urge for sex IS the urge to procreate (although that might be the furthest thing from your mind at the time). It’s unconscious, most sex isn’t ‘baby-making sex’, but any kind of sexual behaviour has evolved because sex makes babies. Making children is also the most exhausting, demanding and dangerous thing a woman can do with her body.
Our evolution has had to counterbalance this. As our species’s brains grew exponentially in size the difficulties of pregnancy and childbirth increased. This meant that women with certain attributes would be ‘fitter’, would be more successful in their child-producing. There are the body adaptations; wide hips, stored body fat, etc. But there were also behavioural traits that benefited our ancient female ancestors - for instance really wanting children and being able to love those children very deeply - which would result in better care and higher survival rates.
And sexiness. Women with no sex drives would have left no genes. Even with the widest hips and the hugest potential for bonding with offspring, if the human women of millions of years ago did not want to have plenty of sex, they did not get the ensuing plenty of children. We modern women have inherited the genes of the most sexual women through thousands of generations because they were the most reproductively successful. Yet our gender’s sexuality has been repressed, ignored, misunderstood and outright denied by our civilised societies. Take your knickers off and follow me, it’s time to find out why …
* You need to image search this cutie pie right now - you won’t regret it! Now imagine her all moody and on her period.
† For me to adopt a child, silly, not for a family to adopt me.