Nature is Sex Positive: That’s a Good Thing

Dec 21st, 2020 | By | Category: Reproductive Rights/Women's Rights

By Geoffrey Holland, contributing writer.

Sex has been around for two billion years. Trillions of plants and animals of countless varieties have come and gone on Earth over that time. All but the simplest, non-nucleated organisms were the progeny of a female and male of their species, who shared a moment of sexual union.



‘…from so simple a beginning, endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.’

Charles Darwin, Origin of the Species



There isn’t a single human person that ever walked the face of the Earth that didn’t start out as a female egg being penetrated by a male sperm.  You can’t have one without the other.


Mother Nature image, 17th century alchemical text, Atalanta Fugiens [photo: Wikipedia]

Mother Nature image, 17th century alchemical text, Atalanta Fugiens [photo: Wikipedia]


In Nature, sexual reproduction is the primary mechanism for facilitating change in organisms to allow them to fill open biological niches and to adapt to changes in the environment, encouraging survival of a genetic line long term. Over the ages, a flourishing of life has come from evolution. The result is widespread speciation that competently fills every biological niche on Earth.

Since our beginnings 200,000-400,000 years ago, about 110 billion humans have walked the Earth. All were a product of a sexual relationship between a female and a male.



‘Sexual reproduction is the chef de’oeuvre, the masterpiece of nature.’

Erasmus Darwin  – Phytologia, 1800 



If the timeframe of human existence were equated with the minutes in one hour, all but the last few minutes has played out in the stone age, with humans living on survival’s edge in small groups as nomadic hunter-gatherers,  During that long period of human ascendence,  sex, fertility, and childbirthing were a central mystery of  life.  The anthropological record tells us male and female humans co-existed as equals. In fact, because women were the life-birthers, they held a revered place in the mysteries and rhythms of nature. One of the oldest pieces of art in existence is the Venus of Willendorf, a fertility figurine of a naked human female, estimated to be from the stone age, about 30,000 years ago. A substantial portion of paleolithic art that has been found reflects that period’s focus on females and fertility.


Venus of Willendorf [Photo: MatthiasKabel, Wikimedia]

Venus of Willendorf
[Photo: MatthiasKabel, Wikimedia]


A Day in the Life of Actual Flintstoners

What does pre-historic art tell us?  Stone age humans lived on the edge of survival in small clans. Consider one clan living in a cave. They spend most of the daylight hours looking for food: gathering edible plants and berries and hunting other animal species. Before sundown, they’re back together in the cave. What are they doing? Some are on guard against predators. Some are cooking. The youngest are playing and caring for siblings. Almost no one lives past the age of 20. There’s no TV, no music, and no light or heat except from the fire. There’s no language, just a lot of vocalizations. Probably something a bit more sophisticated than the grunts and chirps we know from chimps, gorillas, and other primate relatives.

In that clan’s cave, how do you think the healthy ones are behaving?  What is one thing you might see as these cavers pass the dusk hours?  Can there be any doubt there was some serious sniffing and shagging that kept them occupied? Those cavers were our ancestors. To some degree or another, just as our ancestors, we are all hard-wired to have sex on our minds a good bit of the time. We are designed by nature – most of us – to want sex. It’s in our DNA.



“The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.”

Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth


Where We Went Wrong

About 12,000 years ago, humans began to cast off their nomadic existence for living in permanent settlements and surviving by growing edible crops and raising goats and other kinds of livestock.

For a while, things remained egalitarian.  As time went on a warrior caste emerged. These male humans specialized in defending the community and its precious food stores from marauders.  Out of that came a shift in the broad human culture away from living cooperatively to a new norm that was dominated by the male warrior class.  This dominance meme spread, until virtually all of the planet’s human cultures and communities were under authoritarian male rule. Women were subjugated. All of Nature was treated as prime for plunder.

The written history of humanity emerges about 5,000 years ago.  A lot of it is about male authoritarians engaged in bloody wars over turf and resources.  As the years ticked along toward the modern era, human development lurched forward and slid back countless times in countless places, punctuated by famines, plagues, and lots of conflict, suffering and death.

The spoils of power were funneled into the hands of strongman authoritarians, and lesser men who were allegiant to authority. That included soldiers, sheriffs, and religious clerics, who served authority by maintaining a social narrative that fostered strict top-down control.

The great religions reinforced male authoritarian rule and codified it in scripture. The Christian Bible, which first emerged from oral teachings some 4,000 years ago, declares male humans to be in charge and directly responsible to their God. The Bible dismisses female humans as untrustworthy andreduces them to a form of property. It severely constrains the lives of women, and applies stiff penalties including death for female humans, who risk transgression of cultural norms.

Religion also declares man to be above and superior to nature.  It claims the plants and animals that populate the Earth’s living biosphere are the dominion of man, and are made for the taking, without consequence.

Religion applied a chastity clamp to female humans and handed the key to the male gender. It denied the connection women, as life givers, had with nature.  It forced them to function under a heavy blanket of unnatural moral constraint.

What were the Salem Witch trials about? Answer: obedience by instilling the fear of God in all humans, and most particularly female humans.


Dominance in the Industrial Age

About two hundred years ago, the human saga took another major turn as humans began to migrateaway from agriculture to big cities to meet the labor needs of the emerging industrial age.

At the top, authoritarian rule shifted to the hands of bankers, entrepreneurs, and opportunistic politicians. Systems of governance evolved to put commerce and profit in place as the prime cultural directive. In the new era, most men fell into the category of labor, subordinate to an elite few other men, who controlled the money and the power.

Women remained marginalized, denied access to education, and limited to housekeeping, childbirth, and serving the needs of the men, who controlled them.

Modesty and chastity were moral imperatives. From birth to death, females were expected to cover their bodies, stifle their natural sexual urges, and bear children.

In 1848, a brave woman named Elizabeth Cady Stanton organized the first woman’s rights convention in the US. Out of that meeting came a ‘Declaration of Rights and Sentiments’. Its preamble declares, ‘The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpation on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her.’


Elizabeth Cady Stanton [Photo: Wikimedia]

Elizabeth Cady Stanton [Photo: Wikimedia]


We should all celebrate the courage it took for Ms. Cady Stanton and the 68 women and 32 men that signed that declaration to stand up and be heard given all that was in their time and all that had come before.



“The prolonged slavery of women is the darkest page in human history.”

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, 1815-1902



Modesty As Misguided Moral Construct

For our cave-dwelling ancestors, nakedness and the expression of sexuality was unencumbered.

Not so in 19th century America. A cultural meme, grounded in religion – called modesty – was pervasive in society. If you ask Siri about modesty, she’d say it’s a behavior, manner, or appearance to avoid impropriety or indecency.

Think about what that means.  Women were forced by rigid morality to submit in full to their husbands.  Modesty required that they hide their nakedness in clothing that covered their bodies from head to toe. They were given limited education, if any at all. Girl children were indoctrinated at a very early age about modesty, to fear exposure of their bodies, denying their natural sexual urges, learning to be anxious about shame.  Girl children grew up suppressing needs hard-wired into them by nature.

In the urbanized, industrial 19th century, life for many American women was living in slums, raising children, or working to exhaustion in sweat shops. The cultural cudgel lurked everywhere, threatening condemnation for the least indiscretion. The morality police were on guard for any failure to embrace the dogma.

A growing number of women in the late 19th century were fed up with being oppressed.  In Europe and North America, suffrage for women became a force. There was plenty of resistance from the established order, some of it violent, but the suffragettes persisted. In 1920, they prevailed in the US. The 19th Amendment to the Constitution gave women the right to vote.

It seems a good bet that one day, historians will conclude that demanding and getting the vote was the beginning of the end for the subjugation of women.


Fast Forward to Now

With a new year on the horizon, the picture for humanity is a mixed bag at best.

In the one hundred years that have passed since American women became voters, a lot has changed. There are now more women in the workforce than men. Over half of college graduates are now women. In politics, women are getting elected in record numbers.  Kamala Harris, the first woman Vice President of the United States. is about to take office.  The cultural order is being shaken at its core by women.



“For most of recorded history, parental violence against children and men’s violence against wives was explicitly or implicitly condoned. Those who had the power to prevent and/or punish this violence through religion, law, or custom, openly or tacitly approved it. …..The reason violence against women and children is finally out in the open is that activists have brought it to global attention.”

Riane Eisler, The Chalice and the Blade



When given leadership opportunities, women are proving they can be more than up to the task.  One can argue that the most charismatic and inspiring leader on Earth at this moment is the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern. Just elected to a second term, she has responded remarkably to the challenges of the times and has become a highly regarded presence on the world stage.

Life is changing very fast in America and across the world. Some of the change is good. Women have raised their voices and have made great strides.  Gender equality is at hand, though not entirely won.  Racial and gender justice are still unsettled, but there is reason for optimism. That’s the good we can say about the current dynamics at work on our Earth.

There is another dynamic, a looming dynamic, that is putting massive pressure on our planet’s shrinking store of resources. That would be the sheer size of the human family. There are now nearly eight billion humans on Earth. That’s more than double what there were just fifty years ago, and the number is predicted to further explode to ten or twelve billion by 2050.

Every human needs food, water, and shelter to survive.  Supporting eight billion humans is exhausting the planet’s ability to provide. There are now 80 million refugees worldwide living with food insecurity, and shortages of potable water. That’s double the number there were just a decade ago.



“Can you think of any problem in any area of human endeavor on any scale, from microscopic to global, whose long-term solution is in any demonstrable way aided, assisted, or advanced by further increases in population, locally, nationally, or globally? ‘Smart growth’ destroys the environment. ‘Dumb growth’ destroys the environment. The only difference is that ‘smart growth’ does it with good taste. It’s like booking passage on the Titanic. Whether you go first-class or steerage, the result is the same.”

Al Bartlett,  Physicist, University of Colorado



Consider the consequences of what is clearly human overreach.  We are using up our sub-surface aquifers and squandering millions of tons of precious topsoil as we struggle to keep up with the food demands of a rapidly expanding human population. We are stripping the life from our oceans, and replacing it with millions of tons of human plastic waste.  We are clear-cutting our forests. We are  mindlessly contaminating our environment with toxic industrial chemicals.

We are exploiting nature relentlessly and taking more and more of the Earth’s diminishing wild habitat for ourselves. Our Earth’s plant biodiversity is collapsing and wild animal populations are in freefall.



“The one process now going on that will take millions of years to correct is loss of genetic and species diversity by the destruction of natural habitats. This is the folly our descendants are least likely to forgive us.”

E. O. Wilson, Half-Earth Project



Climate change, linked directly to the human addiction to dirty fossil fuels, is the existential threatmost urgently in need of attention.  Every gallon of gasoline burned generates more than 20 pounds of heat-trapping air pollution. On an annual basis, that’s about 37 billion tons of CO2 alone.  We are flooding our only atmosphere with civilization’s toxic sludge. Because of it, sea levels are rising, and putting coastlines around the world under grave threat. On top of that, we’re seeing more extreme weather, more often, like Hurricane Harvey, a super-storm that dumped 50 inches of rain on Southeast Texas in just five days a few years ago. It used to be, a gigantic tropical weather system like Harvey was expected to occur only once in 500 years. Now, storms of that power and consequence arehappening somewhere on Earth almost on an annual basis.

As if that isn’t enough, we now have contend with a seriously destabilizing global pandemic, with massive amounts of death, suffering, and economic displacement.

For thousands of years, humans have been functioning in a global culture built on hierarchy and dominance. Men have been in charge, women have been disenfranchised, and nature has beenassigned no value other than as a collection of resources that humans are compelled to consume to exhaustion. That party is over. We cannot continue to treat nature like a toilet. We cannot continue totake everything the planet has to offer for ourselves. We cannot continue to relegate the female half of humanity to subordinate status. We are at the end of the road with that type of ‘culture.’



“If we look at the last decades, we see that the US rightist-fundamentalist alliance demonized partnership-oriented families and painted women’s rights as a threat to “tradition” – which of course it is to traditions of domination. These people had an integrated political agenda that recognizes that a “traditional” authoritarian, male dominated, punitive family is foundational to an authoritarian, male dominated, punitive politics. We can see this connection in sharp relief in brutal top-down regimes, be they secular like Nazi Germany or religious like ISIS in the Middle East.”

Riane Eisler, The Chalice and the Blade



[Author Riane Eisler, The Center for Partnership Studies]

[Author Riane Eisler, The Center for Partnership Studies]

Cooperation and Partnership Define the Way Forward

The course correction humanity desperately needs can only happen if we trade our long entrenched,dominance-driven, cultural model for a new paradigm built on gender equality and mutual respect. It’s not about tossing away our tribal identities; not entirely. We can still be humans with our own points of view.  There are some parts of being tribal that are good, like when tribalists get past self-interest and stand together with all the other diverse human communities on Earth to serve a greater good.

If you think getting past tribalism is an impossible task, consider what happened before European settlers showed up in North America. There was an alliance that served the common interests of sixdifferent Native American nations. It established what history now remembers as the Iroquois Confederacy.  It was governance based on partnership and cooperation. Women played a prominent role. It was done by Native Americans who realized life would be better for everyone if they shaped a framework for getting along.  They found a way.  They created the Great Binding Laws of the Iroquois Confederacy, a legal framework that put the common good over tribal self-interest. They all bought in, and it worked.  In fact, the evidence suggests the Iroquois Binding Laws were part of the inspiration for Thomas Jefferson and the framers of the US Constitution.



‘The thickness of your skin shall be seven spans — which is to say that you shall be proof against anger, offensive actions and criticism. Your heart shall be filled with peace and good will and your mind filled with a yearning for the welfare of the people of the Confederacy. With endless patience you shall carry out your duty and your firmness shall be tempered with tenderness for your people. Neither anger nor fury shall find lodgment in your mind and all your words and actions shall be marked with calm deliberation. In all of your deliberations in the Confederate Council, in your efforts at law making, in all your official acts, self-interest shall be cast into oblivion. Cast not over your shoulder behind you the warnings of the nephews and nieces should they chide you for any error or wrong you may do, but return to the way of the Great Law which is just and right. Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground — the unborn of the future Nation.”

Founding Principle of the Iroquois Confederacy



The Iroquois Confederacy is powerful inspiration for how we humans should stand together and work for the common goal of a life-affirming and sustainable future.

Getting all of humanity on the same page is a tall order. There is no argument about that.  But, we have some things going for us.  We have instant communications on a global scale like never before.  There are ways to connect with each other. Around the world, there are already tens of millions of people who share common interest as seriously concerned planetary citizens. They are committed to serve the change they wish to see.

Right now, the corporate media and the social media are almost entirely in the hands of private business. They represent a brand of market economics that is fine tuned to maximize revenue, before all else.

Imagine if the corporate and social media were focused on the common interest rather than the primarypursuit of profit. Think bigger picture: imagine what could be accomplished if we had a globally accepted set of standards, regulations, and rules that define the planetary commons.  That is somethingwe desperately need.

Another bit of good news: there is actually a fresh and promising initiative for accomplishing just that goal. It’s called Common Home for Humanity. Based in Portugal, Common Home is rapidly extending its message and influence worldwide.

Imagine if humans had a Planetary framework to guide us; a coda that elevates the common welfare of all humans, along with the health and resiliency of the biosphere.  Isn’t that something we all should want?  Wouldn’t that be the best course for the living planet we all call home?

Let’s not just imagine it. Let’s do it. Let’s choose to stand together and get it done.

We are losing ground by the day.  It’s time for humanity to grow up and behave responsibly. We must come together and embrace a common direction that is both life-affirming and sustainable.

We humans are the only ones that can save us from ourselves. Quite simply, we swim together, or we sink together. Half-measures will not get us where we need to go.


[Image: Public Domain Super Heroes]

[Image: Public Domain Super Heroes]

Refocusing Morality and Judgement

The kind of common human commitment we need can only be built on a solid foundation of racial justice and gender equality.  Fortunately, despite some evidence to the contrary, the world does seem to be headed in that life-affirming direction.



‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’

~ Martin Luther King



The human cultural crucible has been stirred like never before.  The America we know is under great strain in so many ways, but the cultural arc does seem to be bending more sharply toward justice and equality.

A worthy future for humanity starts with justice for all, regardless of race, creed, or gender. I’m talking equality in all ways. That might sound ‘pie-in-the-sky idealistic, but there is no other way to go.

For thousands of years, women have been kept powerless. That is changing fast in some parts of world, not so much in others.  The goal must be for all humans, including female humans, to have an equal and respected place in life, with the same rights and responsibilities.

Women have made great strides toward gender equality in much of the developed world.   But there is a primary part of every human’s life, where American women remain far less than equal. That would be in the range of sexual expression that traditional society tolerates as legitimate and open to them.

All round the world, the morality police are still very much on shamer duty. But their influence is waning, especially in North America, and even more in Europe.

It’s a fact: nature is sex positive. Our stone age ancestors were sexual beings; that’s where we ‘modern humans’ all come from.

Yet female humans in the early part of the 21st century are still not free. And they won’t be free as long as they are encumbered with moral judgement for owning and celebrating sexual behavior that falls well within what is a natural range of human expression.



‘When I’m good, I’m really good; when I’m bad, I’m better.’

Mae West



The future of life on Earth depends on good people standing together and pushing back against the destructive status quo. That is where our moral indignation should be focused.

Women and men are born equal. They are entitled to fair and equal access to the levers of power. That is the only worthy way forward.


“Countries with more gender equality have better economic growth. Companies with more women leaders perform better. Peace agreements that include women are more durable. Parliaments with more women enact more legislation on key social issues such as health, education, anti-discrimination and child support. The evidence is clear: equality for women means progress for all.”

Ban Ki-Moon, United Nations General Secretary, 2007-2016



Humans are fortunate to have self-awareness and intelligence beyond any other lifeform. Nature also gifted humans with a powerful need for sexual expression, females as well as males.  We must celebrate that, because fair is fair, and nature is sex positive.



Geoffrey Holland is an award-winning writer/producer, and the author of The Hydrogen Age.


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