Sex at Dawn

I knew that title would get your attention! Actually, this is a review of the book by the same title: Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality*. The fact that it got your attention does, in a way, support the book’s very premise: we are one of the most sexual creatures on earth. But it doesn’t stop there. In Sex at Dawn, authors Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá also assert that human beings did not evolve to Sex at Dawn coverbe monogamous. Now, before you get your monogamous, pair bonded panties in a bunch about it, read on.

We’ve all seen the stereotype in books, movies, and advertising: The cave woman bonds with her mate for food and protection. Her mate is thus assured that it is his offspring she’s carrying, his genes she’ll pass on, blah, blah, blah …

The standard narrative assumes that a male-female pair bond offered the best chance of a child’s surviving to reproductive age. But the authors contend that humans evolved in societies where it was typical to share food, child rearing responsibilities, and, perhaps, sexual partners. And they offer plenty of research findings to support that. 

Ryan and Jethá apprsex at dawn1oach the subject with literary aplomb and scientific savvy,. Citing current data from convergent disciplines, including anthropology, primatology, physiology, and social psychology, the authors boldly challenge societal norms while challenging the reader to do the same. Monogamy and the traditional “pair bond” are relatively recent occurrences, say the authors. Yet we take these phenomena for granted and presume that it’s “always been this way.” If monogamy is “normal,” why do so many people have trouble staying monogamous? Pointing out that adultery even occurs in cultures where it could result in stoning, the authors suggest that “No creature needs to be threatened with death to act in accord with its own nature.”

Regardless of where you stand on the issue, this witty and insightful work will make you laugh and rethink your cherished assumptions. Read this book … or better yet, read and discuss it with a partner … or partners …

*Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality. Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá. 400 pages, hardcover. 2010, HarperCollins. Also available in paperback.

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1 Response to Sex at Dawn

  1. ShannonRaelynn says:

    I just read this book a little over a month ago and it got me thinking. Really got me thinking.


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