In [Richard Prum’s] new book, The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin’s Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World—And Us, Prum, an evolutionary ornithologist at Yale, challenges the dominant narrative among evolutionary biologists: that beauty and sexual ornaments, such as a peacock’s plumage, a deer’s antlers, or the size of a man’s penis, evolve for adaptive reasons. Traditional theory holds that these ornaments are designed to display good genes, attract females, and help the species reproduce. It also tends to characterize the female orgasm as either a tool for genetic subterfuge, or an evolutionary mistake.
Some evolutionary biologists theorized that [female orgasms] evolved to literally “upsuck” the sperm of genetically superior men….The other dominant theory…holds that the female orgasm, like male nipples, evolved as a byproduct of natural selection.
Prum posits a different—and coincidentally, far more appealing—explanation: that female sexual pleasure is in fact the central force behind the mating process. Basically, the female orgasm exists because it feels good, and women naturally sought out partners who could provide them with pleasurable feelings.
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