Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mother Nature Could Care Less

We are deeply sexual beings designed to reproduce, and Mother Nature doesn't give a shit about emotional consequences. Her role is to keep us from becoming extinct.

That being said, some of you may disagree with this post, but I'll say it since I've yet to read it elsewhere. Here's my quick take on the 17 or 18, unmarried, white high schoolers who allegedly made a pact to get pregnant.

These young women - not girls, but women who are fertile and of child-bearing age - live in a "fiercely Catholic" Massachusetts fishing town that is no longer economically viable. We're talking working class and struggling, and most of these girls and the boys who impregnated them grew up hearing dinnertime tales of financial despair, watching bills collect and parents whispering or yelling at each other over how they would get paid.

I see their behavior as a symptom of social stress, not poor parenting or lack of sex education or religious or moral training. People who are chronically worried, stressed or poor have less hope for the future, and what brings more hope than new life?

This is an unconscious human reaction to stress and why the poor have always had more children, or at least, pregnancies. Young black American women had an explosion of out-of-wedlock births in the 80s when drugs flooded their communities, men were (and still are) racially profiled and locked up in never before seen numbers, and unemployment became higher than what mainstream whites are sweating over now.

From a psycho-evolutionary perspective, breeding more during periods of turmoil is what kept our species from extinction.

It seems to defy common sense to get pregnant when times are hard. That's the reasoning of the intellect, but the primal part of our brain tells our bodies to breed like bunnies and either multiply or die.

Don't forget either that historically, most young women were married off at 14 or 16 years of age. This biological survival strategy served humanity well during the hundreds of thousands of years when we died young and were hunter-gatherers, and later, an agricultural society. I mean really, who gave more than a minute's thought that Romeo's Juliette was a mere 14?

Every time our society moved up a stage, i.e., from agrarian to industrial to technological, and looming on the horizon - a post-peak oil society - there have been fewer jobs and a greater need to warehouse the young and recategorize them from adults to minors. As per usual, it's always about the money and resources: fertility control in Puritanical England, pushing up the age of majority in western countries, who can do what and go where, education, voting, war, etc.

Although our social system has changed dramatically in the past 100 years, along with our life spans, our biology and the way our brains are hardwired have not.

This is why policing adolescent sexuality has always been such a pain in the ass; we're fighting biology and evolution - which includes unconscious psychological survival mechanisms that we only get to peek at through the cloudy lenses of whatever culture into which we were born.

Now we have the media speculating that movies like Juno and the recent news of Brittany Spear's sister's pregnancy were negatively influential.

Superficial bullshit. That kind of behavior isn't rooted deeply enough in mainstream white American culture. At least not yet.

These white girls are unconsciously listening to the law of nature to reproduce now because their tomorrows are so damned uncertain. They are just the second wave of canaries in the coal mine.

The first can be found the inner cities.



  1. Its interesting how it's making the news..back when I was in highschool, we had a group of about 9 girls, who were all friends that made a similiar pact...they were black and latino...seemingly there was no press about it...I guess people assumed that was normal for an inner city.

  2. This was deep. I never thought about looking at it from a evolutionary perspective as an alternative explanation. Great post.

  3. Kit, As a biologist, I couldn't agree more. You've nailed it.
    I will have to say though that among that "first wave" you speak of from the inner cities, you should also include poor rural teenage girls among them. They have the same perspective and the same sense of uncertainty.
    Evolution, what a fickled master it is.

  4. Funge Black Chik, I've heard of these things too and known sisters (although a little older) planning to have their kids together.

    Anonymous, thanks. I love psycho-evolutionary theories and have developed many of my own. They make a little more sense to me.

    Sagacious, I didn't realize that about the rural teen white girls, probably because of where I've worked and their invisibility on the news compared to young black welfare mothers. Thanks.

    And yeah, I agree. Evolution and biology is a tough master indeed.


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