Saturday, January 05, 2008

Monkey Prostitution?

If this is prostitution, then most women I've dated are prostitutes:
The [macaque] males use grooming as a form of currency to buy sex from the female, the study found. ... Left to her own desires, a female macaque mates about 1.5 times an hour, but that rate jumps to 3.5 times an hour when the male partner first provided grooming services, the study found.
What scientists call "currency," the rest of us call "foreplay."

Seriously, the problem here is that personal services are not currency. I don't know what would qualify as prostitution in a barter economy, but I think at minimum the female would have to receive, in exchange for sex, something she could exchange for something else instead of using it herself. Unless the male macaques were handing out day-spa gift certificates, this doesn't qualify.

UPDATE: This, however, does qualify as monkey prostitution:
Something else happened during that chaotic scene, something that convinced [Keith] Chen of the monkeys' true grasp of money. Perhaps the most distinguishing characteristic of money, after all, is its fungibility, the fact that it can be used to buy not just food but anything. ... What he witnessed was probably the first observed exchange of money for sex in the history of monkeykind. (Further proof that the monkeys truly understood money: the monkey who was paid for sex immediately traded the token in for a grape.)

7 comments:

Jenny said...

This is so stupid! A monkey's economy? These scientists would have a better case for calling it "currency" if the females were accepting food, toys, or tools from the males. Even then, those would simply be the monkey version of candy and flowers. Next they'll tell us that the great apes practice religion! :roll:

Aaron Davies said...

Hmm, not sure about that last. I'd still call it prostitution if, say, she was paid in food, and that was her only source of food.

Will said...

Heh, indeed. Let's think about direct vs. indirect exchange for a minute...

Shaun Connell said...

I've believed that sex was currency all along. This just proves my thesis once again.

Anonymous said...

The grape scene is stretching it a bit. It all sounds like monkey foreplay to me.

Glen Whitman said...

"The grape scene is stretching it a bit. It all sounds like monkey foreplay to me."

The token-for-grape exchange took place after the sex was over, so I don't think it qualifies as foreplay. And the token itself had no intrinsic value, so it's hard to see that as foreplay either.

Anonymous said...

So primates are in tune to the oldest trade in the world!

There is such a gray area in dating; it would seem at one time or another that we've all been in question when it comes to prostitution. Where on earth is the line drawn?