Erik Graff's Reviews > The Naked Ape: A Zoologist's Study of the Human Animal

The Naked Ape by Desmond Morris
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's review
Mar 18, 15

really liked it
bookshelves: sciences
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Recommended for: very old people
Read in January, 1967 — I own a copy , read count: 1

This was one of the most upsetting books I have ever read. Fifteen years of age, I approached Morris with a vague, general interest in animals, i.e. zoology. His book was popular and available in the Park Ridge public library where I read it.

Fifteen and never been kissed. Well, that is not quite true. In first grade I was kissed by Lisa. That happened in her garage up Butte Lane from our house in the Meadowdale development. It was, it is unforgettable. A willowy blonde, she wore a powder blue smock over a white shirt. Between that and her matching white knee socks there was a provocative inch or two of scuffed skin. The kiss was tender, mutual, a bare wisp of a touch--then her little brothers and sisters who had been spying on us started to snigger and it was over. A few days later Lisa and Susan Whitaker got into a fight over me at the Oak Ridge School playground. That was it. I joined George and some other guys in a girl hating organization devoted to such manly pursuits as watching old Three Stooges films on television again and again.

Nine years later and I was obsessed with girls, obsessed. Small for my age (4'11" entering high school), they were all taller and had been taller for quite some time. I had loved one of them, Nancy Stinton, from sixth through eighth grade, carrying half her books home for her daily, but nothing had happened and, indeed, it was probably just enough to see her smile, to have the twenty minute conversation after school.

But by fifteen, it was getting to be too much. The girls in junior high had already started, some of them, to date high school guys and some of those guys were six feet tall and proudly stubbled. Now I was in high school, watching couples prominade from class to class, surrounded by beautiful women, most of them older than me. God, I'd never grow up!

Yeah, an "interest in animals, in zoology" I wrote, hah!, the book said "Naked" and it had the silhouette of a nude man on the cover and a chapter entitled "Sex" and another entitled "Comfort"--that's why I read what I hoped would be an informative piece of highbrow pornography.

It was indeed informative--horribly so! Morris, as if reflecting my worst fears, seemed to relate everything, everything to sex, to sexual attraction, to reproduction of the species. Women? Everything about women was to attract and mate with men. Everything. Why do women wear high heels? Because it elevates their rumps for penetration. Why do women wear lipstick? To suggest the blood engorgement of labial arousal. And on and on and on. It was terrible. I was doomed.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Alex (new)

Alex What a beautiful review.

Erik Graff Thank, Alex.


Erik Graff It's been some years since I read the book so I don't recall precisely what he writes. I presume that one could just as well say they were invented for men.

I should pick up a history of clothing.


message 4: by Mohit (new)

Mohit Parikh 'Invented for men'... lol.
Thanks for suggesting this book. I have bookmarked Jared Diamond's Why is Sex Fun, and Sperm Wars for research... this might help as well.

Erik Graff Haven't read the Sex is Fun book yet, but enjoyed his Guns, Germs and Steel.

Travelin Haha. Strange, I skipped the bit about your early sex life to read your synopsis about woman and man-monkeys again.

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