Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan
How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships (P.S.)

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Synopsis

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.

 

About Christopher Ryan

See more books from this Author
Christopher Ryan, PhD, is a research psychologist. He lives in Barcelona, Spain.
 
Published March 27, 2012 by Harper Perennial. 420 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Political & Social Sciences, Self Help, Science & Math, Education & Reference, Romance, Parenting & Relationships, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Sex at Dawn

Examiner

Before the agricultural revolution, paternity was not an issue… all the men in any given tribe felt more or less the same level of responsibility for and kinship with all the children (also like bonobos and common chimps)… One of Ryan and Jethá’s main points here is that the male obsession with p...

Sep 03 2010 | Read Full Review of Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why...

PopMatters

“Could it be that the atomic isolation of the husband-wife nucleus with an orbiting child is in fact a culturally imposed aberration for our species—as ill-suited to our evolved tendencies as corsets, chastity belts, and suits of armor?” Might other familiar headlines—of exhausted parents, broken...

Jul 02 2010 | Read Full Review of Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why...

Bookshelf Bombshells

The best thing about Sex at Dawn (I am a gay male with very little interest in human sexuality but has an unexpected wealth of knowledge about it) is that it is a reference point for a whole new way of looking at human sexuality.

Aug 02 2011 | Read Full Review of Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why...

Persephone Magazine

They also take a stab at popular evolutionary psychology theories on sexuality and mating, most notoriously the common theory that most women are just whores who use sex for food and shelter, while most men desperately need to fuck and will make monetary exchanges for some of the mighty ‘P’.

Sep 27 2011 | Read Full Review of Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why...

Psychology Today

(NYT's best-selling Sex at Dawn, by the way, is the winner of the 2011 Society for Sex Therapy & Research Consumer Book Award, as well as a 2010 favorite book of NPR, and an Audible.com's Best Book of 2010.

Jul 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why...

https://www.psychologytoday.com

(NYT's best-selling Sex at Dawn, by the way, is the winner of the 2011 Society for Sex Therapy & Research Consumer Book Award, as well as a 2010 favorite book of NPR, and an Audible.com's Best Book of 2010.

Jul 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why...

https://www.psychologytoday.com

Sex does not have much to do with love so how could it be a threat to my committed love relationship?!.

Jun 29 2010 | Read Full Review of Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why...

https://www.psychologytoday.com

Frans de Waal isn’t telling religious people that they’re wrong to love their fellow humans (and non-humans) because God tells them to.

Jun 19 2013 | Read Full Review of Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why...

International Socialist Review

“In those societies which have no double standard in sexual matters and in which a variety of liaisons are permitted,” wrote anthropologists Cleland Ford and Frank Beach more than fifty years ago (in a passage quoted in the book), “the women avail themselves as eagerly of their opportunity as do ...

| Read Full Review of Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why...

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