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Because circumcision reduces the diameter of the shaft immediately behind the glans and accentuates the coronal ridge, weve speculated that the practice of circumcision may have unwittingly modified the penis in ways that enable it to function as a more effective semen displacement device. My prediction would be that circumcised males ought to experience a lower incidence of being cuckolded.

Because circumcision reduces the diameter of the shaft immediately behind the glans and accentuates the coronal ridge, weve speculated that the practice of circumcision may have unwittingly modified the penis in ways that enable it to function as a more effective semen displacement device. My prediction would be that circumcised males ought to experience a lower incidence of being cuckolded.

Men who display this signal of sexual obedience may gain social benefits if married men are selected to offer social trust and investment preferentially to peers who are less threatening to their paternity.

Clitoridectomy and vaginal infibulation serve a parallel signaling function in women, increasing a husband's paternity certainty and garnering his increased investment.

Genital mutilation, in this view, is just another way to win the sperm war.

In some forms of mutilation, the handicap to sperm competition is obvious.

READERS: The latex genitalia study wasn't terribly convincing because the models were circumcised, and in real life the foreskin would interfere with the semen-displacing functions of the coronal ridge.

So, does the foreskin pose a problem for the semen displacement theory?Home advantage Circumcision is one of the less painful forms of mutilation, but it is also less effective at reducing sperm competition.Wilson suggests, however, that the lack of a foreskin could make insertion or ejaculation slower, meaning brief, illicit sex is less likely to come to fruition and lead to a pregnancy.In some African and Micronesian cultures, young men have one of their testicles crushed.Male genital mutilation makes it less likely that a male will manage to father a child with another mans wife, Wilson says.But if a man with, say, four wives wants to ensure that any children his wives produce are his, there is pressure to make sure other men cant successfully impregnate them. If the sperm competition theory is correct, he reasoned, then male genital mutilation should be more common in societies where men tend to have multiple wives, especially those in which the wives live apart from the husband. Wilson searched anthropological databases and found that his predictions were borne out: 48% of highly polygynous societies practice some form of male genital mutilation, and in societies in which wives live in separate households that increases to 63%.The husbands own reproductive ability is impaired, but continuous and repeated access to his wives makes up for it, while any genital mutilation is a greater handicap to an interloper trying to sneak brief occasional sex with his wives. The mutilation would also probably be carried out in a public setting, witnessed mostly by other men, and performed by a non-relative. Only 14% of the monogamous societies in the database practice male genital mutilation.There is subincision, for example, where cuts are made to the base of the penis.This causes sperm to be ejaculated from the base rather than the end, and is performed in several Aboriginal Australian societies, says Wilson.It might also be the case that selection works at a group level, so that societies that enforce mutilation are more stable because of less conflict over paternity, Wilson says.David Barash, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Washington in Seattle, US, says that the paper makes a convincing case. Journal reference: Evolution and Human Behavior (vol 29 p 149) Evolution & Human Behaviour, May 2008, Vol 29, Issue 3, pp 149-164 Male genital mutilation: an adaptation to sexual conflict Christopher G.

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