Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality

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Harper Collins, Jun 29, 2010 - Social Science - 432 pages
24 Reviews

Since Darwin's day, we've been told that sexual monogamy comes naturally to our species. 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. But this narrative is collapsing. Fewer and fewer couples are getting married, and divorce rates keep climbing as adultery and flagging libido drag down even seemingly solid marriages.

How can reality be reconciled with the accepted narrative? It can't be, according to renegade thinkers Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethĺ. While debunking almost everything we "know" about sex, they offer a bold alternative explanation in this provocative and brilliant book.

Ryan and Jethĺ's central contention is that human beings evolved in egalitarian groups that shared food, child care, and, often, sexual partners. Weaving together convergent, frequently overlooked evidence from anthropology, archaeology, primatology, anatomy, and psychosexuality, the authors show how far from human nature monogamy really is. Human beings everywhere and in every era have confronted the same familiar, intimate situations in surprisingly different ways. The authors expose the ancient roots of human sexuality while pointing toward a more optimistic future illuminated by our innate capacities for love, cooperation, and generosity.

With intelligence, humor, and wonder, Ryan and Jethĺ show how our promiscuous past haunts our struggles over monogamy, sexual orientation, and family dynamics. They explore why long-term fidelity can be so difficult for so many; why sexual passion tends to fade even as love deepens; why many middle-aged men risk everything for transient affairs with younger women; why homosexuality persists in the face of standard evolutionary logic; and what the human body reveals about the prehistoric origins of modern sexuality.

In the tradition of the best historical and scientific writing, Sex at Dawn unapologetically upends unwarranted assumptions and unfounded conclusions while offering a revolutionary understanding of why we live and love as we do.

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - 4everfanatical - LibraryThing

ILLUMINATING As somebody who has a great interest in evolutionary theory, I found this book fascinating. The ideas the author presents and the evidence that is presented in support are definately ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - KittyBimble - LibraryThing

ILLUMINATING As somebody who has a great interest in evolutionary theory, I found this book fascinating. The ideas the author presents and the evidence that is presented in support are definately ... Read full review

Contents

Another WellIntentioned Inquisition
1
Remember the Yucatán
19
What Darwin Didnt Know About Sex
25
A Closer Look at the Standard Narrative of Human Sexual
46
The Ape in the Mirror
61
Who Lost What in Paradise?
81
Whos Your Daddies?
90
Mommies Dearest
105
The Longevity Lie Short?
200
BodIes In MotIon
213
The Truest Measure of a Man
225
Sometimes a Penis Is Just a Penis
233
The Prehistory of O
244
When Girls Go Wild
255
Men are froM afrICa woMen
269
The Perverts Lament
280

Making a Mess of Marriage Mating and Monogamy
113
The Crumbling Cornerstone of
124
A Beginners Guide to Coveting Thy Neighbors
138
the way we werent
151
The Selfish Meme Nasty?
166
The NeverEnding Battle over Prehistoric War Brutish?
182
Confronting the Sky Together
301
Acknowledgments
313
References and Suggested Further Reading
349
Index
381
Copyright

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About the author (2010)

Christopher Ryan, PhD, is a research psychologist. He lives in Barcelona, Spain.

Cacilda Jethá, MD, is a practicing psychiatrist. She lives in Barcelona, Spain.

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