The Fish
for 29 May 2000. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Suck Staff

[Tim Cavanaugh]
Tim Cavanaugh
Special Guest Editor


Terry Colon
Terry Colon
Art Director


Heather Havrilesky
Senior Editor


[Phillip Bailey]
Phillip Bailey
Production Editor


Joey Anuff
Joey Anuff

Suck Alumni
Suck Alumni Text

The Rape of the Log

I agree with a lot of what
your article implies, but
come on, you make a lot of
assumptions that I don't know
if we can necessarily back
up. I'm not so sure that
there is that much evidence
that we are "hard wired" for
monogamy. Granted that (until
the past millennium or so) it
is clearly the best possible
survival strategy. However,
one need look no further than
evidence of human sexual
dimorphism as well as
testicle size, to deduce that
promiscuity, and serious
competition for mates, is not
sooo far back in evolutionary
history. Testicle size, as
observed is apes, is directly
correlative with promiscuity,
we don't exactly fit in the
faithful slot, far from it.
Situations in which physical
competition between males for
mates suggest that a female
might not always be paired
with her "choice," suggesting
that in early humans, big
males may have impregnated
whom they wanted. Which is
rape, assuming that the
females gave a damn.

There is undeniably a
biological incentive implicit
in rape, just as in murder
and many other human acts.
I'll agree, though, that not
only do those incentives not
excuse these acts, but are
probably not anywhere near
the primary motivation behind
them anymore. Evolution marks
a change, and what we are is
not necessarily a direct
reflection of what we were.
I'd expect that feminist
theory on "why" is probably
closer to explaining rape
today than anything Thornhill
has published. But it seems
your article downplays the
fact that there is a biologic
argument behind the event and
I don't know which
evolutionary theorists you
talk with, but the simple
fact: there is (or was).

One more thing, your
contention that this is all
"nonsense" centers around the
idea that it takes huge
investment to raise human
children, and that two
parents, with a male taking
an active role, is essential.
I'd argue that you fail to
consider the diverse social
structures that exist in
primate societies. There is
no reason to assume early
humans didn't live in packs,
where parenting duties were a
collective task, shared among
many, none of whom need be
the father. Also, even
allowing your vision of
essentially monogamous
society, it is feasible that
the progeny being raised by a
couple might be a product of
rape. The existence of the
act of rape does not negate
these pair-bonds. For
instance, in your duck
example, that 25% of eggs not
associated with the male
could possibly have been the
product of rape, the
implications are transferable
to our species. What you get
is perpetuation of your genes
with no investment, a
biologically strong strategy
(I'm not making a moral
judgment here) Anyway,
interesting subject, I just
don't think the evidence
presented really goes very
far towards proving the
article's thesis, of course,
it's a large, contentious,
and complex subject, so it
goes at least as far as does
this letter towards proving
anything at all.


Michael Brewer

Reasonable enough, since I
wasn't there and neither were
you. Sure, I'm making it all
up ... but then, this is, not a peer-reviewed

I did consider most of your
points. I'm not in love with
the entire testicle size =
promiscuity correlation. As
far as I'm concerned, if the
logic does hold (and it's not
unreasonable), all that
proves is that our simian
ancestors were moderately
promiscuous and there hasn't
been strong evolutionary
pressure in the past 100,000
years for major reduction in
testicular size. Evolution
does tend to be pretty poor
on backtracking, as I'm sure
you know. It doesn't say much
about human promiscuity.

And yes, I carefully
considered the "it takes a
troop of monkeys to raise a
child" theory and rejected
it. For this assumption to
work there have to be a
fairly large number of female
primates around with extra
time on their paws ... and I
don't believe it. I'm not
saying it doesn't make
perfectly good evolutionary
sense for the uncles and the
cousins and the sisters and
the aunts to help raise a
child; I'm just saying that
given the incredibly long
period of human helplessness
and the enormous amount of
attention and resources
needed to raise a child, I
don't think a tribe of
proto-humans would contain
enough such individuals who
didn't have their own
children to make it work.
Don't forget, childless
female primates are not
always benevolent: Jane
Goodall reports a murderous
female chimp that came close
all by herself to
exterminating her entire
troop. Agreed, the fathers
might be working as a team.
However, there are NO animal
models for that at all, and
it's easy to see why - the
tendency to "cheat" is too
great; a classic "prisoner's
dilemma" model. I don't
believe it makes biological

What I like about the theory
is that it explains why no
human society has ever, as
far as we know, developed a
working system for its
sexuality. Our fiction is
full of novels pointing out
how idiotically badly we
handle things, and every so
often somebody comes up with
a utopian scheme to fix it
all, but they all founder.
Given the amount of time
we've had to work something
out, and our total failure to
do so, I kinda like the idea
of original sin. Go and look
at that Cranach painting, or
— better — do a
search for it. He painted
several versions, all a
little different. Just look
at Eve, look at Adam, look at
that neat serpent. Original
sin, baby. Believe it.

Thanks for the close
attention. Nice to know
somebody cares. Remind me to
prove to you some time that
beer is the basis for all
human civilization.

The Doctor
Fish With Letter Icon

Subject: Close, But No Cigar

"Freed of the need to perform
the interplanetary refueling
operation that these days
constitutes heterosexual
relations, gay men are
strikingly more promiscuous
than lesbians."

While not disputed, this
statement in no way supports
Thornhill and Palmer's
argument, as gay promiscuity
has nothing to do with
passing on genes. Unless you
know something I don't know
about where babies come from.

Also, can you please cite
supporting evidence that
"child abuse is
overwhelmingly a function of
step-parents"? Not that I
don't believe you, but this
is quite a sweeping statement
to be made without citation.

Alexia Henke

Nice to know that somebody is
paying close attention.

The differences in sexual
frequency between male and
female homosexuals were cited
as proof that there really
are genetic differences in
sexual desire between men and
women. (Old joke: What does a
lesbian bring on a second
date? A moving van.) So, if
these differences, why not
others? We were building a
straw man, all the better to
knock him down. (Although gay
men and lesbians certainly do
have children, just like
breeders. Just ask dear Mr.
Wilde's wife). However, in
retrospect, there was a more
amusing way to make the same

Pornography is best
understood as a form of genre
entertainment, much like
mysteries, gothics, science
fiction, and westerns. Like
all genres, it is
characterized by (among other
things) stereotypical plots
and at least one obviously
incorrect assumption about
the universe. For
pornography, that assumption
is that men and women have
similar sexual appetites.
Consider the stock scene in a
pornographic movie: a number
of women are bathing and are
being observed, unknown to
them, by a number of men. The
men are discovered but the
women, rather than running
away or defending themselves,
greet the men with sexual
enthusiasm. Not, you'll
agree, a plausible scenario
in the real world. However,
were the sexes reversed, and
the men were to be observed
and then approached by eager
women, one might expect - in
the real world —
enthusiasm from the men ...
even though the trespass and
the intrusion were identical.
That pornography, by assuming
equivalent behavior in men
and women, becomes totally
implausible is proof of ...
well, it's proof of
something. Thanks for

The Doctor
Fish With Letter Icon

I've always found it strange
that no one writing on these
interesting matters ever
mentions why females, too,
have an evolutionary interest
in multiple partners. Why
should a female put all her
eggs in one basket (so to
speak) in terms of a single
partner's genetic material?
What if that one male were
sterile, or his genes were
flawed or even just mediocre?
Why not try to produce
offspring with several males,
thus increasing the chances
that they would turn out
well, survive, and reproduce?
It really doesn't make sense
to say that females have a
biological interest in
finding only a single mate.

Kirstin Peterson

Good question. The short
answer is that most
biologists have been men. The
longer answer is that while
multiple mates do make sense,
males will stay around only
to protect their own
offspring. Accordingly, while
women may

indeed have multiple mates,
they've learned — or
their genes have "learned"
— not to talk about it.
The useful analogy is with
dolphins. Apparently,
dolphins have never been
known to harm humans. This is
commonly taken as proof that
dolphins are friendly; it's
actually, of course, proof
that dolphins are smart
enough only to harm humans
where nobody can see them.

The Doctor
Fish With Letter Icon


"rape is an effective
strategy for men to use to
spread their genes"

Not if it is done by the
isolated lunatic. It is only
effective in a more massive
context, as in war. Ask the
Serbian military.

"Because 'selfish genes' want
to spread themselves as
widely as possible, men are
driven to have as many
children with as many women
as possible and to destroy
other males' children so as
to give their genes a further
head start."

The conventional "Selfish
Gene" argument greatly
exaggerates this. There is a
great difference in both
substance and consequence
between "to have as many
children with as many women
as possible and to destroy
other males' children" and
"to fuck whenever the
opportunity presents itself,
and let the women worry about
the progeny." Many phenomena
can be explained just as well
by either approach. The
killing of others' progeny is
not widespread enough in
either humans or animals to
reach any definitive
all-encompassing conclusion.

"People evolved as couples.
Males who fucked and ran
didn't spread their genes,
since their children didn't
live long enough to
reproduce...But those males
whose genes survived were
those who stayed to raise
their children. "

Unless they were raised by a
village or other extended
group. No particular
gender-mix is required in the
village. Try: "But those
males whose genes survived
were those who stayed to
support their community."

"All sorts and kinds of weird
and wonderful things flowed
out of this need to maintain
pairs. Women lost their body
and facial hair, developed
all sorts of interesting
secondary characteristics..."
Many other species have
features that are more varied
in size or brightly colored
than humans. We're actually a
rather tame lot.

"...women developed
year-round sexual interest.
(Nothing else has
this.)"Human oestrus is
cyclical, just as it is in
other mammalian species, and
it is common for women to
have their sexual urges vary
considerably during the
cycle. "all human societies,
revolves around keeping pairs
together in order to raise
children successfully"

This is such an ex recto
remark, it hardly merits
mention. Many communities,
even within the US, do not
follow this pattern very

" any real evolutionary
biologist will thus tell you,
is that we really are
programmed to be monogamous,
and faithful, and pair off
two by two ... just like
swans and eagles and all
those other birds that also
need pair bonds..."

If a person tells you that 1)
he is an evolutionary
biologist, and 2) we are more
closely related to birds than
to mammals, this should tip
you off that he may actually
be a cab driver or a guy who
just kind of hangs out on the

"We're hardwired for
monogamy, all right, but
we're also hardwired for
adultery, and we're hardwired
to be good at both of them."

More succinctly, we are hard
wired to fuck as much as is
convenient under the
circumstances and as befits
our individual temperament.
The details are not that

"Accordingly, there's a
reason all human societies,
even those that don't really
wear clothes, have nudity
taboos. We're stuck with
them; if you can't send out
pheromones you need some way
to signal sexual availability
and unavailability."

Beaches in the western world
are saturated with
scantily-clad people of a
broad cross-section of age,
gender role, appearance,
temperament, etc.

An astoundingly low level of
sex and rape occur in those
contexts, for practical
purposes nearly zero overall.
Nudity is a non-issue. Women
are quite adept at indicating
unavailability, even as men
are often only modestly able
to read the signals. Body
taboos in general may have a
variety of health-related,
esthetic, and sexual causes.

It's not hard to see why the
discussion didn't make it
into Science, or the other
reputable journals. This is
more like the kind of
entertaining drivel that can
be found in Harper's. It's
plain to see that everyone
twists and contorts the data
to fit whatever preconceived
notion they wish to promote,
with no more interest in
logic, consistency with
observation, or consideration
of alternate explanations
than the archetypical beastly
male gives to its own or
others' offspring.

There's an old Mexican
saying: "Lo que caiga es
bueno." Roughly: "Whatever
presents itself [as in
'sexual opportunity'] is
good." That summarizes it far

Heinz Hemken
Kiva Genetics
Mountain View, CA

Dear Dude:

I think you might profitably
distinguish between the
arguments I'm defending and
those I'm attacking. But
never mind....

Human beings are actually
quite bimorphic. We're not at
the top, by any means, but as
a species we're in the top
10%, which is pretty good
considering what a very young
species Homo Sapiens Sapiens
really is. More
interestingly, the type of
bimorphism we have is quite
remarkable. Men are still
pretty apelike; it's the
women who have lost body
hair, especially facial hair,
have converted lactational
glands into breasts, have
minimized the correlation
between ovulation and desire,
and have generally changed in
a way close to unique among
primates and all in a way
designed to attract males and
to identify themselves as
unique to a vision-oriented

Then again, I'm a
heterosexual male, so maybe
I'm biased. I can deal with

The Doctor
Fish With Letter Icon


Having spent years studying
Anthropology (both on my own
and in university), I
consider myself fairly
knowledgeable regarding the
various theories on human
evolution. This said, I did
want to present you with one
alternative perspective on
your main point that humans
are "hard wired" for monogamy
(with a strong helping of
"adultery" - that's a good
one!). While I agree that the
impetus for this reasoning
(the human infant's
requirement for extended
attention after gestation) is
on the money, there is a
widely circulated THEORY of
human "societal" evolution to
account for this need, while
still allowing the ever
predatory male half the
freedom to roam. This view
maintains that long ago human
females essentially laid the
groundwork for most of our
modern societal rules by
bonding together into strict
reproductively active female
groups. This would serve a
myriad of purposes to its
member sisters: friends and
relatives to take care of
young while foraging,
protection from invading
males (both in and outside of
the species), not to mention
a purposeful existence for
those rare females who - for
some reason or another - did
not successfully reproduce.
This theory also allows for
the continuation of a
separate "male clique" to
develop. One which favored an
individual strong and smart
enough to overcome a large
group of finicky females,
bringing them tasty morsels
of sustenance not available
in the immediate vicinity of
the group's normal range,
physically overcoming the
resistance of the older,
larger and stronger female
primary mothers (I believe in
that way you are correct) to
get a 'shot in' at the
younger, reproductively more
viable females. The
archeological record
indicates that somewhere
around 250k years ago humans
(presumably men, but women
certainly used the same
ingenious new cognitive
abilities to create tools of
their own) began to invent
useful tools. The single most
important (and most often
overlooked) benefit to this
development was our ability
to sustain an ever increasing
population. Before, infant
mortality, famine, and
predatory killings (by the
other animals outnumbering,
and out-toothing/clawing us)
kept our population on the
scary edge of extinction for
millions of years of
evolution (a situation all
those other animals now face
because of us and our tools).
Well, jumping ahead a bit,
this new, first wave of
population explosion took the
primate "troop" dynamic
explained above and gave it a
new home - literally. Groups
of successful males, with
even larger (numbered)groups
of females formed what would
become referred to as
'clans.' Now for the next few
sentences I must admit that
I'm stretching out the theory
on my own here, but I believe
that the female dominated and
CREATED beginnings of society
took root in this first
lithic-technology age and
gave rise to a general
cultural mode exhibiting the
closest thing to male/female
'equality' our species will
ever see. One in which the
curvaceous, permanent estrus,
life nurturing female was
revered, worshipped, and
ruled with equal power to the
muscled, foraging, out on the
savanna on a business trip
male. This went on for the
last 100-50k years or so.
Leaving behind the pagan (and
it could be easily argued
largely feminine) religious
traditions, changing the
female of the species rapidly
towards physical "inequality"
(stressing its propensity
towards storage, selecting
FOR the benefits of a
relatively smaller - lower
center of gravity, and wider
hipped - body type), and
giving the men the advantage
simply by their determined
tasks: range rovers,
fighters, and eventually
diplomats by necessity. While
the female traits were first
and foremost in regards to
the eventual staggering
success of our species, the
male's place in this task
list put him at the front of
the new benefits of this
transformation. One of the
first areas of major
civilization - and the one
with the most extensive
archaeological record:
Mesopotamia and the Nile
river valley societies, show
glimpses of this distant past
and its violent evolutionary
transition into 'male
dominated' society. But this
note is too long already.

I think I've briefly outlined
my point and how/why it
changed over the last,
crucial 100k years. The
utopia of "Eden" did perhaps
exist for a few moments of
human evolution, and it
consisted of the coexistence
of the female dominated
home/hearth troop concept
with the male dominated
troop concept. Camille Paglia
is correct in one respect:
our modern societies (and I
would argue that it's
increasingly both west and
east - the eastern
philosophies don't have a
handle on sexual equality at
all) are all about the male
of the species forcibly
building his own stature in
the home by rewarding a
psyche geared towards the
destruction of things
'other.' Sadly nature is
imperfect, and this
propensity rears its ugly
head towards home, family and
self (hence the male's
dominance of the suicide
category) more often than we
would like to believe. Rape
is sick, sad, and most
importantly, forever. It is
violence, it is sex, and it
is part of that essential
system BIOS that drove our
species to ultimate success,
and - in the grand tradition
of nature - will most
CERTAINLY bring about our
eventual extinction. We can
only hope we do so much more,
better, and for a few billion

Take care,


I'd like to believe in a
pastoral Eden of our lost
ancestors, in which the
female was worshipped and
equality ruled. I'd also like
to be tall and blonde.

Anthropologists studying
non-Western cultures
invariably seem first to
imagine them as peaceful and
sexually open. Somehow,
whenever real fieldwork
finally gets done, the actual
society turns out to be a bit
less pleasant. The gentle
Polynesians turn out to
engage in constant horrible
warfare with each other,
necessary since their
ancestors exterminated all
wildlife on

their small islands and
without warfare to control
population everyone would
starve. The gentle Mayans
turn out to have their entire
society focused on human
sacrifice. The current
love-generation society is
one the archeologists have
recently discovered on the
Indian flood plains a few
millennia back; no signs of
weapons or of city walls, so
these are finally the
peace-loving Edenists. Or
not. I'm waiting,
confidently, for the art
historians to find a mural or
two of Kali's predecessor
ripping the spleen out of a

Sorry 'bout that. Although
the battle is not always to
the strong nor the race to
the swift, that's the way to
handicap it.

The Doctor
Fish With Letter Icon

Analyze us like
the animals that we are!


Love has pitched his mansion
in the place of excrement
nothing can be whole that
once has not been rent. Does
that do it for you? The
Fish With Letter Icon

Hit & Run

Another fine Hit and Run
today. The rarest and most
exquisite pleasure of
following Suck's exploits
regularly is the bit that's
as funny as Filler, and the
Who's-On-First torture of
reader John Mihelic was that
in spades. I'm still cracking
up over it, and I read it
three hours ago. The bonus is
that I laughed out loud at
the Leone joke in the first
place. So I get to be smug,
too! Many thanks.

Oh, you're going to hire
Barney, aren't you?

Randy Ratliff

Barney will be bringing his
particular kind of expertise
to Suck regularly. The fact
checker's job is a thankless
one, and we were happy to
give Barney this chance to

Fish With Letter Icon

Not to come off as a
latter-day John Mihelic, but
perhaps you guys need to
lighten up about Road Trip.
The piece in Hit & Run left
me scratching my head; when
did Suck go politically
correct? It doesn't seem as
if you've actually even seen
the movie yet. Relying on a
film trailer for information
on the content of the film
can be dangerous. For
example, the trailer for Ian
McKellan's Richard III was
dreadful, but the film was
fantastic. Not that I would
compare Road Trip to Richard
, but it's an argument.

I, for one, am very
interested in renting Road
when it comes out on
video; say, in a couple of
weeks. I miss movies like
Animal House and Porky's, and
hope this one can live up to
the old masters.

Thanks for continuing to slam
"the Pope",

Alexia Henke

If Liz Claiborne and Tommy
Hilfiger have to get tortured
for racist comments they
didn't even make, we see no
reason to lighten up on
Dreamworks SKG. And the
argument that we shouldn't
comment on the trailer —
which will be seen by
multitudes more people than
will see the actual film
— doesn't make a lot of
sense. And finally, what's
more politically correct than
slamming the pope?

Fish With Letter Icon

now, *i'm* really confused.
is sierra related to ta
leone, wife of david
duchovny? is she african? she
doesn't look very african.
also, and this is really
weird, there's a movie called
"Leone di Amalfi, Il," which
stars a guy named _sergio_
fantoni! whoa! i think the
movie's about hiking, or
something. i was wondering if
you could straighten me out
on a few other things. like:
did jonathan swift *really*
think he could get away with
selling poor irish kids as
food for the rich? doesn't
seem very modest to me. ouch,
now my head hurts.



And another thing: Who do
these TV comedians think they
are making fun of President
Clinton? Isn't it against the
Constitution to make fun of
the President?

Fish With Letter Icon


Not to play the spoiler, but
the scene you describe from
"Road Trip" has nothing to do
with that favorite malady of
Bobby Dole. In a scene very
reminiscent of the visit to
the black club in "Animal
House" (produced, of course,
by Ivan Reitman, the
executive producer of "RT"),
our white road-trippers spend
the night at a black
fraternity house. This time
around, though, the ending is
happier, including the
bedroom scene you describe
with the skinny white boy and
the big black girl. But
skinny boy performs just
fine, despite his
inexperience, and race really
wasn't an issue either. The
biggest source of humor was
simply the whole "Jack Sprat"
aesthetic of the scene. But
maybe I should be reading


Mark Schofield

Never miss an opportunity to
take umbrage. Whole empires
have been built that way.

Fish With Letter Icon

 The Shit
Krushchev Remembers, by Nikita Krushchev (authorship disputed), translated by Strobe Talbott
Five-Star Day Cafe
Athens, Ga.
Salon's "Action Figures"
TV ad
Donna's Famous "Long and Short of It," by Donna Anderson and friends
Two-Lane Blacktop, directed by Monte Hellman (The Anchor Bay/Universal letterboxed edition)
George Bush, Dark Prince of Love: A Presidential Romance, by Lydia Millet (Scribner)
King Kong: The Complete 1933 Film Score, by Max Steiner Moscow Symphony Orchestra, William J. Stromberg conductor (Marco Polo)
Eightball #20, by Dan Clowes (Fantagraphics Books)
The ECW's Little Spike Dudley
Stan Kenton, City of Glass, featuring arrangements by legendary weirdo Bob Graettinger (EMD/Blue Note)
Comix 2000, Edited and published by L'Association, 2000
Star Dudes
Do you know of stuff that doesn't actively suck? Things so good they deserve to make the Shitlist? Send your suggestions to us.

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