Sex at Dawn : The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2010-06-29
  • Publisher: Harpercollins
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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 Jethå. While debunking almost everything we "know" about sex, they offer a bold alternative explanation in this provocative and brilliant book. Ryan and Jethå'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 Jethå 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.

Table of Contents

Preface: A Primate Meets his Match (A note from one of the authors)p. xi
Introduction: Another Well-Intentioned Inquisitionp. 1
A Few Million Years in a Few Pagesp. 10
On the Origin of the Speciousp. 17
Remember the Yucatán!p. 19
You Are What You Eatp. 20
What Darwin Didn't Know About Sexp. 25
The Flintstonization of Prehistoryp. 31
What Is Evolutionary Psychology and Why Should You Care?p. 36
Lewis Henry Morganp. 42
A Closer Look at the Standard Narrative of Human Sexual Evolutionp. 46
How Darwin Insults Your Mother (The Dismal Science of Sexual Economics)p. 48
The Famously Flaccid Female Libidop. 51
Male Parental Investment (MPI)p. 52
"Mixed Strategies" in the War Between the Sexesp. 55
Extended Sexual Receptivity and Concealed Ovulationp. 58
The Ape in the Mirrorp. 61
Primates and Human Naturep. 64
Doubting the Chimpanzee Modelp. 67
In Search of Primate Continuityp. 69
Lust in Paradise (Solitary)p. 79
Who Lost What in Paradise?p. 81
On Getting Funky and Rockin' Round the Clockp. 83
Who's Your Daddies?p. 90
The Joy of S.E. Ex.p. 93
The Promise of Promiscuityp. 98
Bonobo Beginningsp. 101
Mommies Dearestp. 105
Nuclear Meltdownp. 109
Making a Mess of Marriage, Mating, and Monogamyp. 113
Marriage: The "Fundamental Condition" of the Human Species?p. 115
On Matrimonial Whoredomp. 119
Paternity Certainty: The Crumbling Cornerstone of the Standard Narrativep. 124
Love, Lust, and Liberty at Lugu Lakep. 126
On the Inevitability of Patriarchyp. 131
The March of the Monogamousp. 134
Jealousy: A Beginner's Guide to Coveting Thy Neighbor's Spousep. 138
Zero-Sum Sexp. 141
How to Tell When a Man Loves a Womanp. 146
The Way we Weren'tp. 151
"The Wealth of Nature" (Poor?)p. 153
Poor, Pitiful Mep. 158
The Despair of Millionairesp. 161
Finding Contentment "at the Bottom of the Scale of Human Beings"p. 163
The Selfish Meme (Nasty?)p. 166
Homo Economicusp. 166
The Tragedy of the Commonsp. 169
Dreams of Perpetual Progressp. 172
Ancient Poverty or Assumed Affluence?p. 173
On Paleolithic Politicsp. 176
The Never-Ending Battle over Prehistoric War (Brutish?)p. 182
Professor Pinker, Red in Tooth and Clawp. 183
The Mysterious Disappearance of Margaret Powerp. 187
The Spoils of Warp. 190
The Napoleonic Invasion (The Yanomami Controversy)p. 194
The Desperate Search for Hippie Hypocrisy and Bonobo Brutalityp. 197
The Longevity Lie (Short?)p. 200
When Does Life Begin? When Does It End?p. 202
Is 80 the New 30?p. 204
Stressed to Deathp. 208
Who You Calling a Starry-Eyed Romantic, Pal?p. 210
Bodies in Motionp. 213
Little Big Manp. 215
All's Fair in Love and Sperm Warp. 219
The Truest Measure of a Manp. 225
Hard Core in the Stone Agep. 231
Sometimes a Penis Is Just a Penisp. 233
The Prehistory of Op. 244
"What Horrid Extravagancies of Minde!"p. 246
Beware the Devil's Teatp. 252
The Force Required to Suppress Itp. 253
When Girls Go Wildp. 255
Female Copulatory Vocalizationp. 255
Sin Tetas, No Hay Paraísop. 259
Come Again?p. 262
Men Are From Africa, Women are from Africap. 269
On Mona Lisa's Mindp. 271
The Pervert's Lamentp. 280
Just Say What?p. 283
Kellogg's Guide to Child Abusep. 285
The Curse of Calvin Coolidgep. 288
The Perils of Monotomy (Monogamy + Monotony)p. 293
A Few More Reasons I Need Somebody New (Just Like You)p. 296
Confronting the Sky Togetherp. 301
Everybody Out of the Closetp. 306
The Marriage of the Sun and the Moonp. 311
Acknowledgmentsp. 313
Notesp. 315
References and Suggested Further Readingp. 349
Indexp. 381
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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