Sex at Dawn
Since Darwin’s Origin of the Species, we’ve been told that sexual monogamy comes natural. Mainstream science, as well as religious and cultural institutions, has maintained that men and women evolved in families in which a man’s possessions and protection were exchanged for a woman’s fertility and fidelity. In this groundbreaking book, however, Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá argue that human beings evolved in egalitarian groups that shared food, child care, and, often, sexual partners. Weaving together evidence from anthropology, archaeology, anatomy, and psychosexuality, the author’s show how far from human nature monogamy really is. Reading the book I understand that Ryan and Jethá try to explain how our promiscuous past clashes with our contemporary beliefs. They, in my personal opinion, explore why many people find long-term fidelity so difficult; why sexual passion tends to fade even as love deepens; why homosexuality persists in the face of standard evolutionary logic; and what the human body reveals about the prehistoric origins of modern sexuality.
Sex at Dawn sets out to topple what the authors call the “standard narrative of human sexual evolution”, with its emphasis on the centrality of pair bonding and monogamous mating, and fundamental conflicts of reproductive interests in the evolution of human sociality and sexuality. The standard narrative, Ryan and Jethá argue is merely the projection of contemporary arrangements back into the ancestral past, a tendency they refer to as “Flintstonization”. Not only are current mainstream views on human sexual evolution theoretically and factually wrong and political, “but destructive, sustaining a false sense of what it means to be a human” adding misery to the lives of those who buy into the myth, but struggle to live up to it. The introduction and the first three chapters outline their main claims give the reader a brief lesson on cultural relativity discuss Darwin’s views of sexual...
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