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← Infanticide in higher mammals

LaurieB's Avatar Jump to comment 33 by LaurieB

VrijVlinder,

"Is it possible to reach a point where pathological behavior such as this, is ousted from human behavior?"

If a behavior is so very widespread in the human population then we can hardly label it pathological. That females employ certain adaptations in order to control the paternity and spacing of their offspring is so widespread that we have to say it's normal behavior. Granted, when it goes so far as infanticide, as I said, it's difficult for us to acknowledge that this is also normal human female behavior. It took me quite some time to be able to say that.

I always view religion as one big scheme by men to control the reproductive behavior of women. Deny them access to birth control, abortion, the freedom to choose sexual partners, the right to reject sexual advances from husbands and we are reduced to baby making machines.

From time to time in the States we hear about cases of infanticide by mothers of newborns. Usually they are teen moms who have in desperation disposed of their newborns in trash dumpsters or trash bins in their high schools etc. The public is always horrified by this behavior, and rightfully so, but I hope we could gain a better understanding of this in light of our evolutionary past. Obviously our social services and the families of these young women have totally failed them in the nine months leading up to these births, but if we can accept the fact that infanticide, including of course, abortion, is normal female behavior, then these infanticides of newborns become absolutely predictable! All the factors that lead to this behavior must have been there for anyone to see and yet ignored. Personally, I don't feel horrified by these stories. I feel very sad about it.

If we can't accept that infanticide by females is normal and common throughout the population and well established in our evolutionary past then we will never deal rationally with the idea of abortion and with the young women who find themselves in desperate situations with newborns that they don't want and can't care for. These young women are trapped in a society that intends to control their fertility for them and severely punishes any deviation from the severely restrictive religious definition of what female reproduction and sexuality is supposed to look like, in their opinion. In light of this, it's no surprise that we will continue to hear about babies abandoned in trash bins.

I have on occasion been asked what good is all this theorizing by academics in their ivory towers and what practical purpose could it serve to the general population and my answer is that we all suffer when we don't understand and acknowledge what is the truth of our own evolutionary past. We can't wish away certain unsavory aspects of our behavior. When we impose a behavioral model that we consider to be ideal because our imaginary friend in the sky said so or because we hold a view of motherhood that is so high minded and pure that no real human female could ever measure up then we are asking for disaster. Let's face it, motherly love is conditional. It's not a given.

I am asking for a more realistic understanding of this behavior and a more compassionate strategy of dealing with these women.

Wed, 04 Jul 2012 06:34:28 UTC | #948542