Bohemian Buddhist Review

Redefining Seduction

Charles Darwin and Sexual Selection

"Redefining Seduction" by Donna Sheehan and Paul Reffell upends our old thinking about Darwin's theory of natural selection. Turns out it's women who are the arbiters of sexual selection, based on sexual attraction.

charles-darwin.jpgAuthors Sheehan and Reffell have dredged up an important part of Charles Darwin's work from "The Descent of Man" that's been suppressed for a long timeAnd if you're wondering why Bohemian Buddhist BuReview likes this non-Buddhist book so much, it's because the gender wars are one of the biggest sources of suffering on the planet, which "Redefining Seduction, Women Initiating Courtship, Partnership and Peace" could go a long way toward reducing. (Quote Sheehan, "There are only two problems on the planet -- men and women.")

"Does every male of the same species excite and attract the female equally? Or does she exert a choice, and prefer certain males? This latter question can be answered in the affirmative by much direct and indirect evidence," Darwin writes in his "Selection in Relation to Sex." 

Interwoven with the charming and frankly-told story of their unusual 20-year long love affair are Sheehan's and Reffell's insightful observations about the emerging roles of men and women in post-feminist, post-modern society. It's not enough for women to bewail the dearth of "good men."  Women must step up to the bat and start choosing men for live-affirming rather than life-destroying values. (And some well-chosen sex therapy probably wouldn't hurt, either.)

Females of all species actually hold the key to evolution because the traits they choose in their mates are the ones that get passed on to future generations.  "Donna's intuitive use of her biological power to select and seduce the mate of her choice was completely natural . . . Women's ability to guide men into true partnership is the foundation for forming stable, co-creative cultures in which women and men use their separate, complementary skills in unison rather than in competition and with unrealistic expectations."  As a wise and experienced woman, Sheehan knows her way around sexual seduction.
It's time the battle of the sexes evolved into mutual admiration societies rather than the usual blame games.  sexual-selection.jpgMen are very good at certain things, as are women, but in very different domains.  Our brains are wired differently, as is becoming common knowledge.  Recognizing our separate strengths and weaknesses would go a long way to creating peace and happiness on the planet, one pair-bonded couple at a time. Honestly recognizing our sexual needs if not sexual kinks would go even further.
As the saying goes, Evolve or Die.  If the human species doesn't evolve past patriarchy, it's pretty clear what the outcome will be.  The values that enabled homo sapiens to evolve in the past are not the ones that will help us survive in the future.  We need new guidelines and insights, including some perhaps unfamiliar ones -- such as females' role in selecting Beta rather than Alpha males as mates.  Witness the slew of recent rom-coms where the not-so-A type guy gets the gal.  If this isn't the new form of sexual selection, what is it?

From an interview the authors had with their local paper, the Point Reyes Light:  ". . . Charles Darwin's theory of sexual selection explains that males compete and display for female attention, while females select the males with the traits most apt for the continuation of the species.  Sexual selection and natural selection go hand-in-hand to create the divergence of traits necessary to survival of a species.  Human patriarchal societies have distorted sexual selection by taking the selection away from women through arranged marriages and the general degradation of women's roles.  Women are biologically designed to select their mates and influence their behavior for the good of the species."

According to Tibetan Buddhism, any culture that denigrates the wisdom of women is in trouble, materially as well as spiritually.  Women's brilliant wisdom needs to be given equal voice in the affairs of men's brilliant methodology, otherwise we have a lop-sided system, as in fact is extant today all over the world.  Whiz-bang technology without intelligent oversight only creates more problems, viz, the waste from our nuclear power plants.  (I find it hard to believe women would have dreamed up a power source that couldn't be cleaned up.)

Sheehan and Reffell make a seductive argument for "seduction as an instrument of positive change in politics, business and romance that men will accept, not resist."  And their book is a lot cheaper than a sex therapist.
Paki S. Wright 

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