Recently, the phenomenon of telegony has become really popular as propagation of women’s faithfulness and virginity. It is quite OK to speak about telegony as the philosophy of morals. But for some reason people speak about telegony in connection with genetics. Why so ?
The telegony idea gained much popularity among those who supported segregation between blacks and whites, and was said to be particularly popular among the circles connected to the Ku-Klux-Klan.
One of the ardent advocates of telegony, candidate of historical sciences Valery Bochkarev says that if a woman has had lots of sexual contacts with various men before her first childbirth she then has her chromosome chain absolutely polluted. And when she gets pregnant from her husband and gives birth to her child it is hardly likely that this baby will be purely the man’s one in the genetic point of view. In a word, the expert means that girls’ virginity is an absolutely moral and genetic notion. He adds that a virgin has pure genetic, and this fact in its turn indicates that elder women in her family are carefully watching her moral and behavior.
The Big Soviet Encyclopedia describes telegony as “an assumed effect of typical characteristics of a man who copulated with a woman upon the woman’s future children that she may have with other men”. The phenomenon of telegony was discovered in the first quarter of the 19th century. Accurate genetic experiments conducted by many researchers at the end of the 19th century did not prove that the phenomenon really existed.
The definition may sound shocking for many. Is telegony really connected with woman's faithfulness? Let us assume that all previous sexual contacts have an effect upon all the subsequent ones. At that we should mind that telegony is no science it is just a law of biology.
The hypothesis saying that telegony actually existed was first stated at the end of the 19th century. At that time it said that the result of the previous pregnancy would determine all the subsequent ones. So, it sounds very much like a scientific hypothesis indeed. French biologist and philosopher Felix Le Dantec in his work “Individual Evolution, Heredity and Neo-Darwinists” (1899) mentions several facts that demonstrate telegony. But the evidence was quite pseudo-scientific even for that epoch. The author gave two examples with animals and one for humans.
Le Dantec wrote that some farmer told him that once his swine copulated with a boar and their pigs absolutely resembled the father in color. But when the same swine copulated with another boar some pigs of the second farrow still resembled the color of the male pig the swine had copulated first.
He also wrote about Lord Morton who first interbred a mare and a zebra and got a hybrid of horse and zebra. Next time he interbred the same mare with a horse. As a result of the second copulation the lord still got a colt that had lines resembling those of a zebra.
The example of telegony with humans given by Le Dantec sound somewhat incredible. He wrote: “Spencer tells that he learnt from Professor Flint that as a result of a research conducted in America it turned out that a white woman who once had a sexual intercourse with a black man would in the future have babies looking a little bit like Afro-Americans even if she marries a white man and he would be her only sexual partner.”
The above hypotheses required experimental application for researchers to understand if it actually existed or not. They started interbreeding horses first with zebras and then with horses and studied peculiarities of their offspring. Researchers also attempted to see telegony by interbreeding rabbits, guinea-pigs, mice and flies. But they failed to witness anything that could be called telegony. As no experimental confirmation of the hypothesis could be obtained it was declared quasi-biological and was never mentioned in the biological society since that moment.
In a word, the notion ‘telegony’ was never used or applied until the end of the 20th century.
It was in the end of the 20th century in Russia’s Orthodox circles that the idea of telegony sprang up again. In 2004, a book “Virginity and telegony. The Orthodox church and modern science of genetic inversions” came out.
This book goes even further than the previous publications pertaining to telegony. Earlier, it was said that previous copulations will have an effect upon the subsequent ones. But the authors of the new book insist that only a woman’s first sexual partner will have a tremendous impact upon all babies that the woman may have with other men. The book says that a man who deflowers a woman becomes some kind of a genetic father of her prospective children. It sounds absolute nonsense from the biological point of view. The publication gives the same examples proving that telegony exists that Le Dantec gave earlier but mentions them awfully exaggerated or even distorted.
To scare readers and particularly women the new book tells about a woman who gave birth to a black baby through telegony (it is said that she some time ago had had a sexual contact with a black man, and that affected her future generation). To tell the truth, this book about telegony is a compilation of scary and incredible stories invented by the authors to make women be very careful about their sexual contacts. It is highly likely that the Orthodox church arrived at an idea to employ telegony to make the parish not to break one of the Ten Commandments that prohibits adultery.
Translated by Maria Gousseva