I’ve noted a couple times over the months that there is a five-step evolution continuum that begins with natural selection and then moves to step two where sexual selection focuses on a specific pattern when one (usually the female) chooses a mate.  Step three begins with human sexual selection, where adept practitioners of novel pattern creation (dance, song and later language) are selected as partners (usually by females with sensitivity to these subtle differences).  The fourth step is taken when novelty itself becomes desirable outside the partner-selection process, and society is compelled to embrace in its productions the infinite nuances of the new and less familiar.  In the fifth stage, awareness of evolution’s stages, attended by an awareness of the awareness that accompanies evolution, provides an identification with the five-stage creation continuum.

1)    natural selection
2)    sexual selection (selecting for pattern when seeking a mate)
3)    human sexual selection (selection for novel pattern when seeking a mate)
4)    art & culture (selecting for novel pattern outside of mate selection)
5)    awareness of the selection or creative process

It is a convention in our society to observe the effects of testosterone, concluding that it is the will of men that makes culture grand.  Economics, war and sports use one another as metaphors to describe their processes and accomplishments, speaking in the domination/competition/copulation lingo of the male hormone.

Consider that estrogen is at the root of what makes human beings unique.

In the five-step human evolution noted above, estrogen is the primary player.  Granted, in the heterochronic push and pull of neoteny and acceleration as they dance their way across the eons, testosterone informs maturation rates and evolutionary trajectories.  Yet, it is estrogen that compels discrimination.  It is estrogen that makes subtle evaluations.  It is estrogen that informs the judgments and forms the conclusions as to the nuanced natures and behaviors of a mate.

We are intensely sexual beings.  We have sexualized our environment by viewing our world through the filter of our cultures, cultures created by the forces of sexual selection.  Sexual selection is at the foundation of culture and art.  At the center of sexual selection is estrogen.

It began with female choice.  In countless species the female, exercising the demands of estrogen, chooses a mate based upon subtle variations on a theme.  In humans we are hypothesizing that men competed to achieve the opportunity to mate.  Estrogen, driving our evolution, picked males evidencing facility with dance and song.  Eventually, estrogen picked males evidencing facility with time.  The males that were able to line up sounds in ways that evoked a past and future, while bridging gesture into sound and then to speech, were picked by women to be harbingers of culture.

Estrogen molded testosterone to create.

Enormous numbers of studies have been conducted exploring the effects of testosterone on perception, functionality, skills, health and maturation.  Estrogen, not so much.  I am coming to the conclusion that the relationship between testosterone and estrogen, the relative thresholds within a person and between a mated pair, lies at the center of how we evolved, how our societies unfold and how healthy an individual is.  Our perception has been profoundly skewed by the blind spot that we have for the power of aesthetics and caring to inform not only evolution, but society.  Choice is what makes humans beings unique.  Estrogen is about choice.  (And, about caring.  Caring will be discussed in other essays.)

I suspect that evaluating individual male and female estrogen levels will reveal an enormous amount about the dynamic of aesthetics in society, particularly when observed in combination with testosterone thresholds.  We’ve tended to look at estrogen as the “caring” hormone, what attracts us to embrace and console.  Consider that we’ve been seeing only half the picture, feeling only a piece of the puzzle.  Combining caring and aesthetics and observing their relationship with sexuality and dominance, we may come to the conclusion that caring and aesthetics lie at the very foundation of culture.  Sexual Selection gone wild is who we are.

If testosterone is about changing rates in maturation informing species transformations over time, estrogen is about changing testosterone and observing/appreciating/caring for that journey of transformation.

Sexual selection and estrogen are what make us human.


This entry was posted on Monday, January 19th, 2009 at 8:53 am and is filed under Estrogen, Sexual Selection, Society. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
1 Comment so far

  1. Baby-faced for babies? « Anna’s Bones on February 4, 2009 7:59 am

    […] of the face, and facial hair in males, whereas in females, growth of these traits is inhibited by estrogen. Therefore, human feminine features are often associated with a smaller chin and higher cheekbones, […]

Name (required)

Email (required)


Share your wisdom