Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Prehistoric Sex-way more exciting than it sounds.... a review of Sex at Dawn-The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Day Sexuality

Sex at Dawn, The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Day Sexuality had my head spinning for days. I am generally interested in any and all information regarding sex, but this book was more addicting that the Twilight Series and Fifty Shades of Grey combined.

The book questions the "monogamous" nature of human beings, and presents factual data that supports evidence to the contrary. I put "monogamous" into quotations because once you read the book, you realize that we have to start defining the word to a specificity in which we generally don't in American conversations. Monogamy can mean so many things to so many people.

As Christopher Ryan points out, MANY people believe that Penquins are the "perfect" examples of monogamy in the animal kingdom. What those same people probably don't realize is that the penguins' monogamous arrangement only lasts about 11 months, enough time for gestation and to help their young out of the "nest." They are then likely to go out and mate with another partner, and create more offspring. While I know some people who act like penguins, this doesn't seem the "perfect" example our current model of 'til death do us part' is referring to. There is one primate who does practice lifelong monogamy.
The Gibbon... who never leaves the "house", doesn't get to hang out with friends, has very little sex, and oh, not much intelligence... perhaps "monogamy" isn't something to strive for?

Ryan and co-author Cacilda Jetha, both contribute to the book. Although their words are not presented separately, you can see the definitive difference in writing styles. I enjoyed this quality, as it feels like you are listening to their casual conversation.

They do heavily focus on the argument that monogamy is not within our true nature, so if you're against this idea for religious or societal reasons, you may not make it through the first few chapters. If you are hell bent on the idea that we should hold ourselves to an ideal that is nearly impossible according to our biological evolution and are not open minded enough to hear the supporting evidence, then keep the book and your mind closed. I don't say this as a judgement of your choice, I do believe there is value in marriage and monogamy. Consider this more of a precaution. This is serious stuff! It may leave you feeling betrayed by the world, your chosen leaders, and the people around you. Proceed with caution. It is also nice to read that we are not a selfish, aggressive, or murderous people that past studies of human nature like us to believe. So before you pass up the opportunity to give it a go, know that you will read more than just facts about sex, you will be exposed to other studies about different aspects of human nature that might delight you.

I was shocked at the data that disproves many of the theories on which we have based our understanding of ourselves and our relationships. I devoured every page, reading random passages back to my husband (yes, I was questioning monogamy to the one person in this world who might actually be offended). Poor guy had to decipher the thoughts I was spewing his way, and even still, was intrigued and inspired to the read the book for himself. I found the information to be liberating, thought provoking, and fascinating. As a sexual woman in modern day society who feels that I have a deep understanding of my needs and desires, I was turned inside-out by this read.

I have always believed that marriage as an institution has been unsuccessful, and that it should be revised in ways that work for the people we have become. Sex is at the root of the cause much of the time. I am often asked for advice from women who are unhappy in their marriages. They feel the need to to cheat, leave, or divorce their spouse, and it always perplexes me to witness their desperate decision between affair or divorce. Why are these their only two options? Why aren't we able to have respectful, honest, and loving conversations with the person we once loved enough to MARRY, in which we ask for what we desire? Women who want their husbands to seduce them, but are so afraid to have this talk. They would rather have their indiscretions make decisions for them. We are so fearful of hurting our partner's feelings that we'd rather have them feel lonely and miserable, or worse, find out about our cheating and let divorce be the consequence. As if this is easier? Better?

If the topic of sexuality is of interest to you, grab this book at your earliest convenience. And if you value your marriage, read it together. Discuss the definition of monogamy within your relationship. Determine what is acceptable, and where the boundaries lie. Ask your partner what they desire. You are the only two people who decide what is right and what works for you.

I only have two regrets about the book.

1. That I didn't buy a copy to own, as I feel I will want to go back and reference the book for details.

2. That the book doesn't really discuss homosexuality. There are instances where homosexuality is included in the data, but there's no real discussion about where it fits within prehistoric life.