So how does this methodology contribute to the discussion of how and why humans interact with one another? There is one reason why historical materialist arguments usually start with the Stone Age. Humans adapt culturally and we experience that culture through human society. This form of adaptation (i.e. cultural adaptation) began when our previous form of adaptation ended. Biological adaptation as the means to human evolution ended over the course of the Stone Age, where Homo Sapiens Sapiens emerged for the first time.
The only form of society in this time period is the hunter-gatherers. As hunter-gatherer society represents 99.995% of our current genus, the origins of human society trace back to this age’ the age of stone. We can even separate it into two main developmental stages. The biological adaptation stage and the cultural adaptation stage (beginning with either Homo Sapiens Sapiens or Homo Sapiens Idaltu).
Adapting biologically means evolving the body to better suit the needs of the group. Hunting and gathering involves physical prowess and a superior intellect. Nomadic tribes consist of 20 to 50 mostly equal individuals. Eventually, it becomes more advantageous to evolve the relations within the group rather than the body. This is where a cultural adaptation begins to emerge. These relations could either be cooperative or competitive. Culture provides a framework for these relations that everyone within the group has access to.
Is this where social constructs we would recognize appear for the first time? It would make logical sense. This is the beginning of our cultural form of adaptation, where society first became the epicenter of human evolution. This is where the story of historical materialism begins. So in hunter-gatherer society, what would have been the material conditions for gender and sexuality?
In a hunter-gatherer society, everything is accomplished communally. All individuals are personally familiar with every other individual in the tribe. Therefore, the relationships present in these societies can have a tremendous influence over how the group accomplishes subsistence, regardless of how the group primarily adapts.
In a group of humans who adapt biologically, everything relates back to the relationship between subsistence and their biology. Anything that enhances this relationship must have been taken advantage of. Sexual attractions partially originate from having sex. When adapting biologically, this must have been extremely advantageous! Especially when considering the fact that most of human communication is nonverbal. In other words, sexual relations enhances communicative abilities between individuals. Also, have you ever wondered why the biology of the human male is so perfectly suited for gay sex? What if it purposefully evolved that way?
Remember, monogamy and marriage are concepts that originated from class society. Class society arose some time AFTER the cultivation of agriculture. Hunter-gatherer societies were not under these influences. This is why it is safe to say that before class society, human sexuality was more important than it was afterward.
It must have been very interesting when humans began to adapt culturally for the first time. I say this because sexuality most likely had already been incorporated into “society”. Yet, as culture began to provide a different framework for how individuals could relate and understand one another through, the role of sexuality changed. Rather than going away, it began to meet different needs instead.
One thing is very clear. When hunter-gatherer society began, our primary form of adaptation was biological. By the time hunter-gatherer society ended (i.e. no longer was our species main form of social structure), our primary form of adaptation was cultural. As such, it is my belief that the origin and development of our oldest social constructs, such as human sexuality, dates back to this transitional period in human history.
A Frolicker of Sexual Fluidity