Books  Evolutionary Biology  Human Evolution & Anthropology 

The Domesticated Penis: How Womanhood Has Shaped Manhood

Popular Science

By: Loretta A Cormier(Author), Sharyn R Jones(Author)

239 pages, 23 b/w photos

University of Alabama Press

Paperback | Nov 2016 | #232188 | ISBN-13: 9780817358914
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £33.95 $47/€38 approx
Hardback | Nov 2015 | #231691 | ISBN-13: 9780817318741
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £54.95 $76/€62 approx

About this book

The Domesticated Penis challenges long-held assumptions that, in the development of Homo sapiens, form follows function alone. In this fascinating exploration, Loretta A. Cormier and Sharyn R. Jones explain the critical contribution that conscious female selection has made to the attributes of the modern male phallus.

Synthesizing a wealth of robust scholarship from the fields of archaeology, cultural anthropology, evolutionary theory, and primatology, the authors successfully dismantle the orthodox view that each part of the human anatomy has followed a vector of development along which only changes and mutations that increased functional utility were retained and extended. Their research animates our understanding of human morphology with insights about how choices early females made shaped the male reproductive anatomy.

In crisp and droll prose, Cormier's and Jones's rigorous scholarship incorporates engaging examples and lore about the human phallus in a variety of foraging, agrarian, and contemporary cultures. By detailing how female selection in mating led directly to a matrix of anatomical attributes in the male, their findings illuminate how the penis also acquired a matrix of attributes of the imagination and mythical powers – powers to be assuaged, channeled, or deployed for building productive societies.

These analyses offer a highly persuasive alternative to moribund biological and behavioral assumptions about prehistoric alpha males as well as the distortions such assumptions give rise to in contemporary popular culture. In this anthropological tour de force, Cormier and Jones transcend reductive gender stereotypes and bring to our concepts of evolutional biomechanics an invigorating new balance and nuance.


"The Domesticated Penis is a study of the anatomical distinctiveness of the genitals of the human male and diverse cultural attitudes toward them and their symbolism. This is scholarship at its liveliest: a colorful, knowledgeable romp through history and across cultures and species, to explore how the penis we know and (mostly) love today developed its characteristic shape, size, physiology, and behavior. The core argument is evolutionary: ancient women knew what they wanted, and what they wanted was smooth, substantial, long-lasting penetration. Male anatomy evolved to match female desire."
– Beth A. Conklin, author of Consuming Grief: Compassionate Cannibalism in an Amazonian Society

"Assiduously avoiding tired gender stereotypes and naive evolutionary reasoning, and written in clear and sparkling prose, Cormier's and Jones's book advances the debate on the evolution of human sexuality."
– Sarah S. Richardson, author of Sex Itself: The Search for Male and Female in the Human Genome


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Loretta A. Cormier is an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA. She specializes in cultural anthropology, primatology, languages, and medical anthropology, and is the author of The Ten-Thousand Year Fever: Rethinking Human and Wild Primate Malaria and Kinship with Monkeys: The Guaja Foragers of Eastern Amazonia.

Sharyn R. Jones is an associate professor of anthropology at Northern Kentucky University, USA. She specializes in archaeology, ethnoarchaeology, human ecology, and gender studies. Her work has ranged from the study of Fijian cannibalism to the analysis of bones from the recently discovered Amelia Earhart site in Micronesia. She is the author of Food and Gender in Fiji: Ethnoarchaeological Explorations and coeditor of Behaviour Behind Bones: The Zooarchaeology of Ritual, Religion, Status, and Identity.

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