Why Male Bonding IS Sexual

by Bobby Cook PhD

Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution Journal

How do we explain male bonding in which truly heterosexual men watch porn together, slap each other’s asses on the football field and want a night out with the boys?

Male bonding did not start with video games, football and debates on baseball trivia.  Modern man inherited behavioral strategies by natural selection and survival of the fittest. The best genes and behaviors will survive to dominate the gene pool.  Is there pleasure in bonding behavior?  Of course, but not obviously sexual, especially to straight men. Straight men will absolutely deny any accusation of a sexual connection or feeling in their need to have close male buddies.  This is usually due to the memes of social stigma.  The cliché, “It takes a village to successfully raise a child,” describes tribalism.  This bonding is a good survival strategy and is the “glue” holding tribes together. This behavior is similar to the social order of Bonobo apes, the closest extant relative to humans. 

Looking back to early man and tribalism, what factors attracted a male to his best possible female reproductive mate? Healthy is sexy, smart is sexy, strong is sexy, getting attention and respect is sexy.  These qualities give a man’s genes a much better chance of being passed on.  Ancient man used the same criterions in choosing members of his man tribe.  Healthy, smart, strong, bold and respected men were more likely to contribute to the survival of the tribe’s gene pool, hence are more attractive.  The clan worked together as an extended family, hunting, gathering and passing on knowledge, in one or two generations.  A man’s descendants will almost certainly have both his own and his male buddy’s DNA in a shared progeny.  So clearly, sexual selection is greater and more complex than mere heterosexual pairing. Early man’s selection of male AND female bonds are both clear factors in choosing the best genes for his gene pool. Early man lived in fairly small groups, making his children very likely to mate with the female offspring of early man’s close male comrades. So in effect, the rules for picking his female mates, traits considered sexy, are consistent with those of picking his best buddies.  At the same time, undesirable traits, which are considered non-sexy like sickliness, weakness, ignorance or disrespect are the same attributes avoided in choosing both female and male bonds.  Both male bonding and female bonds are investments in ones genetic future, following the same rules of natural selection and survival of the fittest.

Then came the Dark Ages.

Humans moved through time using trial and error, searching for explanations of the laws of nature, taking many wrong paths of logic.  What is considered truth at one time may be laughable the next.  The world IS round whether early man knew this or not. Cultural institutions such as religion or kingships pressured change in human societies, suppressing our animal instincts, but only on the surface.  Genetically, humans remain instinctively wired with drives, waiting to be satisfied, despite the pressures of the cultural institutions. 

It is my opinion that there will come a day when men reclaim their right to pursue happiness, a time when male bonding and sexual expression between men will no longer be treated as separate but as a part of the same human drive for healthy tribalism, a human right.