Books on sex are a dime a dozen these days. From tomes on how to create a more spiritual union or bring more spice to your marriage through the cunnin...moreBooks on sex are a dime a dozen these days. From tomes on how to create a more spiritual union or bring more spice to your marriage through the cunning use of super glue, paperclips, and a rubber band (the well-named MacGuyver technique) to how to give your lover earth-shattering orgasms through locating some mythical pressure point, this genre has risen to be one of the pillars of the self-help section of a bookstore. It's gotten so that this subgenre receives even less respect (and deservedly so) than the Harlequin romances that continue to be published at the rate of a gross ton each week. Yet when a writer as highly respected as sex columnist Dan Savage goes as far as to call this book "the most important piece of sexual research since the Kinsey Papers," I have to sit up and take notice.
No mere work of bookshelf fluff designed to titillate (hehe) the masses, Sex At Dawn is instead one of the most well-researched works on the roots of human sexuality that I've ever had the pleasure of reading. It's no secret that most modern relationships are broken affairs- soulless/passionless marriages where neither spouse much cares for the other but stays out of some sense of obligation, or cheats rather than discussing and owning up to their feelings of flagging sexual interest (which can not help but end in bitter recriminations and acrimonious heartbreak). With porn of every flavor a mere web search away, swingers on Craigslist, casual bar hook-ups, marriage counselors popping up like mold spores, the chaste Victorian notion of "one love, happily ever after" has taken a severe beating in the past century.
If humans had evolved to be monogamous pairs raising children, what authors Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha call the Standard Narrative, then wouldn't these systems work better? Wouldn't we naturally fall into them rather than having to create so many social pressures and laws to force us into conforming? Through meticulous research into our closest animal ancestors (that'd be the bonobo and not the chimp, for those with scorecards), anthropological studies of foraging/pre-agricultural communities, and physiological analysis, the authors make a rather convincing case that monogamy is not intrinsic to the human condition but rather a very recent adaptation that humans are still fitfully trying to conform to.
While at times a bit dry and overly analytical, the book is still an incredibly interesting read. The section on human semen competition alone provided much fodder for discussion around the dinner table. Still, as ground-breaking as their research may be, the advice they give to couples is still the same- we need to communicate our wants, needs, and desires better and to understand that flagging sexual interest and the desire for new mates is an inherent part of our genetic make-up. This book shouldn't be taken as a clarion call for men to run out and be cads, but as a means of beginning to find better ways to define our sexuality and work toward a more satisfying future for all.(less)
Highly overrated piece of fiction masquerading as a true story. Yet for all of Castaneda's insanity, some interesting bits. Not worthy of its cult sta...moreHighly overrated piece of fiction masquerading as a true story. Yet for all of Castaneda's insanity, some interesting bits. Not worthy of its cult status, however.(less)