Picks and Pans Review: Desmond Morris' the Human Sexes
The Learning Channel (Mon.-Wed., Feb. 2-4, 9 p.m. ET)
It takes all kinds to make a world. And if you don't believe the old saying, check out this six-hour documentary miniseries from writer-presenter Desmond Morris, the British zoologist and author of The Naked Ape. Morris takes viewers on a global exploration of gender differences and sexual mores, touching on everything from female neck stretching in East Burma (they wear stacked brass chokers to develop the desired swanlike look) to male circumcision in the Middle East to polygamy in Cameroon (where one pop star has 58 wives) to wife-carrying contests in Finland. Folks, it's an eye-opener.
With a flair for the sweeping generalization ("Women are better dealing verbally with people; men are better dealing silently with things"), Morris offers evolution as the explanation for a host of perceived differences between the sexes. Women live longer because the world needs grannies to help care for the kids; men tend to develop pot bellies because stored fat in the limbs would have hampered them back when their big job was hunting animals for their dependents to eat. Though some of this may be debatable, most of it is stimulating. And we're not even including the gratuitous (but educational) side trips to strip joints. The only serious problem with The Human Sexes is Morris's baffling blind spot when it comes to homosexuality. Gay men go unmentioned, while lesbians are considered only briefly as a faction of the feminist movement. Surely it takes all kinds to make a definitive documentary.
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