Hazel's Reviews > Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality

Sex at Dawn by Christopher  Ryan
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did not like it

I’m not usually one to leave a bad review but this book deserves it. I had to triple check when it was written, because it reads like it was published in 1910, not 2010.

The author, who clearly hasn't bothered to talk to any actual women, argues that “women are not particularly sexual beings” based on the following evidence:

“An attractive undergraduate student volunteer walked up to an unsuspecting student of the opposite sex (who was alone) on the campus of Florida State University and said, “Hi, I’ve been noticing you around town lately and I find you very attractive. Would you go to bed with me tonight?” About 75 percent of the young men said yes. Many of those who didn’t asked for a “rain check.” But not one of the women approached by these attractive strangers accepted the offer. Case closed.”

Right. So that evidence has nothing to do with how society has conditioned women over the past few centuries, or how biologically men are stronger and statistically, women are in more physical danger of men when engaging in a one night stand, and therefore might want to get to know a guy before they leap into bed with him, no matter how good looking he is? Might it also have something to do with the fact that, for so long, the public depiction of sex has been entirely about the man's pleasure, not the woman's, and maybe if men would bother to learn a bit about women's sexuality, women might be more eager to hop into bed with them? Whatever the reason, the anecdote above is hardly the strongest argument for lack of sexuality. But Ryan is trying to prove his own, warped point of view, so ignores these potential contributing factors entirely.

Another argument he puts forward to explain women's lack of sexuality is when he compares genitalia. I quote: "Unlike her closest primate cousins, the standard human female doesn't come equipped with private parts that swell up to double their normal size..." In actual fact, clitorises swell by 50 to 300% when engorged when aroused. 300%! By Ryan's logic, that would make women far more sexual than men. Perhaps he should consider doing some basic research and rewriting this book.

But in all seriousness, I cannot fathom how this book got past publishers, editors and proof-readers, and made it into public consumption. The amount of five star reviews here saddens me, because it's indicative that we still have such a long long way to go in terms of understanding sexuality, if such blatant inaccuracy can go unnoticed by so many.
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Reading Progress

April 14, 2015 – Shelved
April 14, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
September, 2019 – Started Reading
September, 2019 – Finished Reading

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