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It's a Sexual R(Evolution)

Tara Raju's picture

It's a Sexual R(Evolution), Baby... 

“People ache to believe that we human beings are vastly different from all other species—and they are right! We are different. We are the only species that has an extra medium of design preservation and design communication: culture” (Dennett 338). The transition in the ideological framework among people is a cultural evolution- the sentiment that individuals fostered as well as the beliefs and value systems among how the general population changes is what characterizes a cultural evolution. The paradigms of thought shifts in different direction than they were once before. Culture tends to define a community, a large group, a nation but how the cultural evolution of a group affected the individual is difficult information to uncover. The interconnectedness of the revolution, evolution and sex have crossed paths over the course of American history- a web of words, each with strong connotations, that all rely on each other for their strength.  

Foremost, revolution is a word utilized to describe a fundamental change. The culture of American society is in part comprised of the individuals that lived and the conflicts that were endured by those individuals. For instance, the Civil Right leaders for African-Americans was initiated, the specific date is arguable, in 1955 with the Montgomery Bus Boycotts (Cozzens). The discrimination, prejudice and hatred that blacks endured as a consequence of their skin color was a war of beliefs and morals. During certain time frames, the culture of American society is epitomized by the conflicts that arose by the foundational differences in ideology, values and beliefs. But as time passed, the dynamic of American culture was effectively transformed- modern day US society does not have major diplomatic issues with Britain and African-Americans are not isolated from the mainstream. These revolutions, as seen through American independence and African-Americans acquisition of true freedom, were revolutions waged in hope of instigating an evolution. It may be a reasonable conclusion to draw that revolutions propelled the progression of an evolution.

Furthermore, in the case of African-Americans, the shift in thought in regards to the faction in American society certainly occurred. The election of Barack Obama to the office of the presidency of the United States signified a major mark in the cultural evolution that America had experienced. But this evolution would most likely not have occurred at the rate that it did unless the revolution, in this case the Civil Rights Movement, took place and did make the impact that it did on society.

Finally, how did these revolutions which propelled evolutions eventually affect the sexual revolution of African Americans? The percentage of Africans Americans that were present in the America during various twenty year time spans has been researched and documented. From 1860 to 1920, the percentage of Africans Americans in the US steadily declined from fourteen to ten percent (Hopkins). This time frame was one of difficultly for the African-American population and a reason for this decline may have been an indicator of the sentiment that society harbored. To further validate that claim, the percentage of African Americans from 1920 to 1960 stayed the same, at ten percent (Hopkins). Again, this was a time frame in history where Africans had not yet gained the right to vote and still experienced brutal repercussions simply based on their skin color. But, after the Civil Rights Movement had concluded, there was a two percent increase from 1960 to 1980 to twelve percent and ultimately, in 2000, it is found that African-Americans constitute thirteen percent of the population (Hopkins). The strong correlation between the cultural sentiment and the population is present. Did the overwhelming prejudice towards African-Americans cultural dynamic of American society prior to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which effectively ended the Civil Rights Movement, have something to do with the desire for African-Americans to not have children? Of course there could be a plethora of other reasons why population of Africans-Americans declined and then increased again but this one seems to be a solid fit.

The nature of revolution, evolution and the sexual experiences as reflected through a population measure, in the case of African Americans certainly seems to be interconnected. As Dennett said, it is culture that makes individuals “what we are” (Dennett 340). As a twenty year old that did not experience the cultural evolution in regards to African-Americans and only felt the “end” of the era of black oppression, it was important to me to explore the context of the situation from a different perspective- one that brought different facets of all different parts of society. The realization that revolution and evolution were so similar in nature and then how all of these actions ultimately affected the population of a the African-American faction, a obvious direct reflection of sexual encounters, is important in understanding the strength of the links between these seemingly different concepts.  __________________________________________________________________________

Cozzens, Lisa. "Civil Rights Movement 1955-1965." 14 Mar 2009

Dennett, Daniel . Darwin's Dangerous Idea. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1995.

Hopkins, Gary. "The African American Population in US History." Population in US History. 2008. National Education Association. 14 Mar 2009 <>.



Anne Dalke's picture

querying the census?


I’m very surprised by the topic of this paper; when I asked for projects that looked @ the “implications of evolution beyond the context of biology,” I wasn’t expecting a report on census trends! In fact, I’d say what you’ve done here is actually try to find a correlation between cultural and biological trends: your argument is that changes in attitudes towards civil rights has contributed to an upswing in a population that had been discriminated against.

I have lots of questions about this claim; most generally, I think you mistake a correlation for a causation. As I said in conference, one reason for the shift in census numbers could be the result of reporting. Perhaps more complete data has been gathered, as time has progressed. Or there may have been shift, as cultural attitudes became more open, in folks’ willingness to identify with a marginalized group. I’d also be interested to have you expand this thinking (and test its logic) in relation to other ethnic groups: how (following this logic, for example) would you explain the phenomenal increase in the Latino population in this country over the past ten years, and its projected further increase?

I also have a number of questions about your definitions. You argue here that “revolutions” lead to “evolutions,” and you define the first term w/out explaining just how it differs from the second. I’m assuming that one difference has to do w/ the sharpness of the change, and another w/ the speed w/ which it takes place? In his classic study of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn calls the move away from “normal” science a “paradigm shift,” in which the world is seen differently. But you are talking about an “evolution,” not a “revolution,” when, you say, “the paradigms of thought shift in different directions.” Your work doesn’t really align w/ Kuhn’s, then?