Adonis Diaries

Archive for September 2nd, 2016


Note: These words are ordered according to oldest used. I think that I have posted this on my blog a while ago. Jouska should be what authors do when attempting to write a conversation?
How useful it is to memorize a few of these words? Just keep it a secret for your “Aha. I have the proper term for what I am just feeling, though I don’t care to search for it…?

Female Orgasm: Where it fits in evolution?

Many aspects of the human body have obvious purposes.

But some defy easy explanation. For biologists, few phenomena are as mysterious as the female orgasm.

While orgasms have an important role in a woman’s intimate relationships, the evolutionary roots of the experience — a combination of muscle contractions, hormone release, and intense pleasure — have been difficult to uncover.

For decades, researchers have put forward theories, but none are widely accepted. Now two evolutionary biologists have joined the fray, offering a new way of thinking about the female orgasm based on a reconstruction of its ancient history.

On Monday, in The Journal of Experimental Zoology, the authors conclude that the response originated in mammals more than 150 million years ago as a way to release eggs to be fertilized after sex.

Until now, few scientists have investigated the biology of distantly related animals for clues to the mystery.

The male orgasm has never caused much of a stir among evolutionary biologists. The pleasure is precisely linked to ejaculation, the most important step in passing on a male’s genes to the next generation. That pleasure encourages men to deliver more sperm, which is evolutionarily advantageous.

For women, the evolutionary path is harder to figure out. The muscle contractions that occur during an orgasm are not essential for a woman to become pregnant. And while most men can experience an orgasm during sex, it’s less reliable for women.

In a 2010 survey, 35.6 percent of women said that they hadn’t had an orgasm the most recent time they had sex. Part of the reason for this is anatomy: the clitoris is physically separated from the vagina.

Still, a number of scientists suspect that the female orgasm serves some biological function favored by natural selection. They just need to figure out what it is.

“My gut instinct is that something that matters so much at an emotional level — the intense pleasure of orgasm — would seem to have reproductive consequences,” said David A. Puts, an evolutionary anthropologist at Pennsylvania State University.

Many hypotheses have been put forward. Dr. Puts and his colleagues have carried out studies to test the possibility that orgasms increase the odds that a woman’s eggs are fertilized by a genetically attractive male. (Many novels mention that women knew they were impregnated from the types of orgasm they experience, though impregnation does Not happens until 2 days later)

Elisabeth A. Lloyd, a philosopher at Indiana University, isn’t buying it. In 2005, she published a book called “The Case of the Female Orgasm,” in which she reviewed 18 published theories about its function.

Dr. Lloyd thinks the best explanation for the female orgasm is that it hasn’t served any evolutionary purpose at all. It’s nothing more than the by-product of the development of the male orgasm. The orgasm is to women, she believes, as nipples are to men. (Funny. I don’t buy that)

Esther Perel shared this link. August 29 at 5:00pm ·|By Carl Zimmer

Dr. Pavlicev and her colleague, Günter P. Wagner of Yale University, are making the case that the human female orgasm has a deep evolutionary history that reaches back to early mammals.

They began by getting better acquainted with the sex lives of other animals, poring through obscure old journals to gather information on species ranging from aardvarks to koalas.

They noted that many female mammals release oxytocin and prolactin during sex — the hormones released by women during orgasms. What’s more, in many of those species, females use a radically different kind of reproduction.

While women release an egg each month, other female mammals, such as rabbits and camels, release an egg only after mating with a male.

Ovulatory cycles evolved in only a few lineages of mammals, including our own, Dr. Pavlicev and Dr. Wagner found. Before then, our ancient mammal ancestors originally relied on ovulation triggered by sex with a male.

Those early mammals developed a clitoris inside the vagina.

Only in mammals that evolved ovulatory cycles did the clitoris move away. Based on these findings, Dr. Pavlicev and Dr. Wagner argue that the female orgasm first evolved as a reflex to help females become pregnant.

This arrangement has worked well for mammals that rarely encounter males. It helps females make the most of each mating.

But eventually some mammals, including primates like us, started spending their lives in social groups. Females had access to regular sex with males, and orgasm as an ovulatory mechanism was no longer so useful.

Our female forebears instead evolved a new system: releasing eggs in a regular cycle.

As the original purpose of the orgasm was lost, the clitoris moved away from its original position.

Dr. Wagner speculated that this shift was part of evolution’s dismantling of a sensor system: “You don’t want to have the old signal sending noise at the wrong time,” he said.

“Basically, we don’t know why this happened,” he added. But across mammalian species, “it’s just a very strong evolutionary pattern.”

Dr. Lloyd and Dr. Puts welcomed the new study as a provocative addition to the debate over the female orgasms.

“I’m pretty excited that it’s being published,” Dr. Lloyd said, “because people are going to start talking about female orgasms and getting a fresh look at how much we don’t know about female orgasms, and thinking hard about what we need to know.”

The new theory may shed light on how the human female orgasm first evolved, but Dr. Pavlicev and Dr. Wagner said that it doesn’t settle the debate about its current role in women. “All directions are open,” Dr. Wagner said.

Dr. Wagner said that deciphering the history of the female orgasm might improve reproductive medicine.

Southern Lebanon’s Martyrs, Memories, and Resilience

“All we see are dead people.”

A twenty-something college student named Hassan tells journalist Belen Fernandez as they drive through the towns and villages of Southern Lebanon, referring to the posters of martyrs that line every road and plaster every storefront.

Belen is an American, a journalist, a hitchhiking wanderer; Hassan is a Shiite Muslim from the battered border town of Houla who doesn’t believe in organized religion and despises the sectarianism that colors every personal and political interaction in Lebanon.

In her recently released travelogue, Martyrs Never Die: Travels Through South Lebanon, published by Warscapes in June 2016, Fernandez describes the tragedies Houla witnessed over the years:

Given its proximity to Israel, Houla enjoys a rich history. In October 1948, as the Israeli enterprise was getting into full swing, scores of villagers were massacred by Zionist forces.

During the occupation era, Houla was part of Israel’s “security zone,” which from 1985 until 2000 constituted an area of approximately 850 square kilometers—or 10 percent of total Lebanese territory—in which the Israelis ran the show along with their proxy, the South Lebanon Army (SLA), composed primarily of Christian and Shia Lebanese mercenaries…

The 2006 war brought new horror to Houla, as the Israeli military set about firing fatal projectiles into civilian homes and otherwise tormenting the population to which it had supposedly bid adieu six years earlier.

Houla is one of over a dozen locations that Fernandez visited during her weeklong journey throughout Southern Lebanon in February 2016.

The seventy-one-page travelogue tells the extraordinary stories of ordinary people Fernandez encountered as she traversed the embattled landscape of Southern Lebanon, scarred and bruised by decades of conflict and destruction.

Having traveled to the region once before, immediately following the war between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006, (when Israel bombarded all the Lebanese territory, the bridges, the highways, the power stations…) and witnessed the devastating aftermath of that conflict (by the time she departed Southern Lebanon in November 2006, Fernandez wrote that “undestroyed buildings had begun to look odd and out of place”), Fernandez decided to return ten years later to see whether and how the place and the people had been transformed.

An avid and experienced hitchhiker – “I suspected one could sometimes learn more as a wanderer than as a journalist,” she writes – Fernandez relied on the goodwill of strangers for her daily excursions from the ancient Phoenician port city of Tyr, her chosen “base of operations,” to surrounding villages and towns, often flippantly designated as “Hezbollah strongholds” in mainstream Western media accounts.

The result is a refreshingly honest and human slice of Lebanese life, death, and resilience; a mosaic of martyrs, memories, and missing persons, woven together with threads of hope and an unwavering commitment to resistance.

Through her travels, Fernandez encounters fishermen, UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) troops, grandmothers, Hezbollah fighters, Lebanese intelligence officers, all of whom have a story to tell – of Israel’s twenty-two-year occupation beginning in 1978, of the 1982 war, of the 2006 war; of fleeing, of fighting, of selling out.

Both the landscape and the people are pockmarked by politics. The bombed-out remains of the notorious Khiyam prison, operated by Israel’s proxy, the South Lebanon Army (SLA), are still standing, a testament to the region’s dark history.

A former Hezbollah fighter shows Fernandez the scar on his neck, a bodily reminder of war. And the state’s institutionalized sectarianism, a result of a confessional system instituted by the French in 1926, “boils down to a forcible division of the population along religious lines so as to perpetuate an elite stranglehold on power,” Fernandez writes.

War is mundane here, and fresh wounds are layered atop old scars. Hezbollah fighters, who took on Israel in 2006, are now fighting alongside the Assad regime in Syria, and “a fresh batch of martyr posters has joined the existing multitude of faded remnants from the occupation era and less-faded remnants from 2006.”

Wars, even those past, are never really over. The state refuses to acknowledge its dark past; the country’s civil war is not even taught in Lebanese schools, “which allows sectarian leaders to continue disseminating their own divisive and politically-motivated versions of history to respective audiences.”

In Martyrs Never Die, decades of history and political strife are couched in the everyday stories of those on the ground who have lived, and continue to live, through it.

Fernandez’s personal politics are clear: She is critical of Western media coverage of Israel’s military offenses (in particular from The New York Times), the cult of personality surrounding political leaders in the region, and the role of the UN, which on several occasions has failed to protect, and sometimes even harmed, the Southern Lebanese community.

And yet, while much travel writing tends to be self-centered, self-righteous, and self-aggrandizing, Martyrs is none of that.

As The Nation editor Liza Featherstone writes, “Martyrs seethes with moral outrage, yet is never shrill or preachy.” Fernandez allows the characters she encounters to come alive and speak for themselves, never attempting to speak for or over them.

Her voice is full of personality, but not overbearing – the writing is accessible, sincere, and, on many occasions, downright hilarious.

Her anecdotes about the impossibly hospitable families who insist on constantly feeding her and the friendly stranger who casually suggests she should sleep with him provide a welcome sense of comic relief and lightness to an otherwise quite heavy subject matter.

Throughout it all, the reader can sense Fernandez’s genuine love for the people and the place, and a commitment to do right by them and their stories.

It is refreshing and rare to read journalism that is so human and that pays tribute to, as Fernandez writes, “the durability of the human spirit under fire.”

Andrew Bossone shared a link.
Journalist Belen Fernandez hitchhiked throughout Southern Lebanon to witness how the politics, landscape, and people have changed over the past decade.




September 2016

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