Sex at Dawn Quotes

Rate this book
Clear rating
Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality by Christopher Ryan
18,932 ratings, 4.03 average rating, 1,962 reviews
Open Preview
Sex at Dawn Quotes Showing 1-30 of 181
“And yet, despite repeated assurances that women aren't particularly sexual creatures, in cultures around the world men have gone to extraordinary lengths to control female libido: female genital mutilation, head-to-toe chadors, medieval witch burnings, chastity belts, suffocating corsets, muttered insults about "insatiable" whores, pathologizing, paternalistic medical diagnoses of nymphomania or hysteria, the debilitating scorn heaped on any female who chooses to be generous with her sexuality...all parts of a worldwide campaign to keep the supposedly low-key female libido under control. Why the electrified high-security razor-wire fence to contain a kitty-cat?”
Christopher Ryan, Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality
“Societies in which women have lots of autonomy and authority tend to be decidedly male-friendly, relaxed, tolerant, and plenty sexy. Got that, fellas? If you're unhappy at the amount of sexual opportunity in your life, don't blame the women. Instead, make sure they have equal access to power, wealth and status. Then watch what happens.”
Cacilda Jethá, Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality
“Marriage," "mating," and "love" are socially constructed phenomena that have little or no transferable meaning outside any given culture. The examples we've noted of rampant ritualized group sex, mate-swapping, unrestrained casual affairs, and socially sanctioned sequential sex were all reported in cultures that anthropologists insist are monogamous simply because they've determined that something they call "marriage" takes place there. No wonder so many insist that marriage, monogamy, and the nuclear family are human universals. With such all-encompassing interpretations of the concepts, even the prairie vole, who "sleeps with anyone," would qualify.”
Christopher Ryan, Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality
“But with trust we can strive to accept even what we cannot understand.”
Christopher Ryan, Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality
“One wonders, in fact, why marriage is a legal issue at all - apart from its relevance to immigration and property laws. Why would something so integral to human nature require such vigilant legal protection?”
Christopher Ryan, Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality
“No group-living nonhuman primate is monogamous, and adultery has been documented in every human culture studied- including those in which fornicators are routinely stoned to death. In light of all of this bloody retribution, it's hard to see how monogamy comes "naturally" to our species. Why would so many risk their reputations, families, careers- even presidential legacies- for something that runs against human nature? Were monogamy an ancient, evolved trait characteristic of our species, as the standard narrative insists, these ubiquitous transgressions would be infrequent and such horrible enforcement unnecessary.
No creature needs to be threatened with death to act in accord with its own nature.”
Christopher Ryan , Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality
“Darwin says your mother’s a whore. Simple as that.”
Cacilda Jetha, Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality
“Nor do the females of our closest primate cousins offer much reason to believe the human female should be sexually reluctant due to purely biological concerns. Instead, primatologist Meredith Small has noted that female primates are highly attracted to novelty in mating. Unfamiliar males appear to attract females more than known males with any other characteristic a male might offer (high status, large size, coloration, frequent grooming, hairy chest, gold chains, pinky ring, whatever). Small writes, "The only consistent interest seen among the general primate population is an interest in novelty and variety...In fact," she reports, "the search for the unfamiliar is documented as a female preference more often than is any other characteristic our human eyes can perceive.”
Christopher Ryan, Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality
“Before the war on drugs, the war on terror, or the war on cancer, there was the war on female sexual desire. It’s a war that has been raging far longer than any other, and its victims number well into the billions by now. Like the others, it’s a war that can never be won, as the declared enemy is a force of nature. We may as well declare war on the cycles of the moon.”
Christopher Ryan, Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships
“Though many strive to hide their human libidinousness from themselves and each other, being a force of nature, it breaks through. Lots of uptight, proper Americans were scandalized by the way Elvis moved his hips when he sang "rock and roll." But how many realized what the phrase rock and roll meant? Cultural historian Michael Ventura, investigating the roots of African-American music, found that rock 'n' roll was a term that originated in the juke joints of the South. Long in use by the time Elvis appeared, Ventura explains the phrase "hadn't meant the name of a music, it meant 'to fuck.' 'Rock,' by itself, has pretty much meant that, in those circles, since the twenties at least." By the mid-1950s, when the phrase was becoming widely used in mainstream culture, Ventura says the disc jockeys "either didn't know what they were saying or were too sly to admit what they knew.”
Christopher Ryan, Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality
“In The Moral Animal, Robert Wright laments, "A basic underlying dynamic between men and women is mutual exploitation. They seem, at times, designed to make each other miserable."

Don't believe it. We aren't designed to make each other miserable. This view holds evolution responsible for the mismatch between our evolved predispositions and the post-agricultural socioeconomic world we find ourselves in. The assertion that human beings are naturally monogamous is not just a lie; it's a lie most Western societies insist we keep telling each other.”
Cacilda Jethá, Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality
“As attentive readers may have noted, the standard narrative of heterosexual interaction boils down to prostitution: a woman exchanges her sexual services for access to resources. Maybe mythic resonance explains part of the huge box-office appeal of a film like Pretty Woman, where Richard Gere's character trades access to his wealth in exchange for what Julia Roberts's character has to offer (she plays a hooker with a heart of gold, if you missed it). Please note that what she's got to offer is limited to the aforementioned heart of gold, a smile as big as Texas, a pair of long, lovely legs, and the solemn promise that they'll open only for him from now on. The genius of Pretty Woman lies in making explicit what's been implicit in hundreds of films and books. According to this theory, women have evolved to unthinkingly and unashamedly exchange erotic pleasure for access to a man's wealth, protection, status, and other treasures likely to benefit her and her children.”
Christopher Ryan, Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality
“I’d been traveling in Asia long enough to know that monkeys there are nothing like their trombone-playing, tambourine-banging cousins I’d seen on TV as a kid.

Free-living Asian primates possess a characteristic I found shocking and confusing the first time I saw it: self-respect. If you make the mistake of holding the gaze of a street monkey in India, Nepal, or Malaysia, you’ll find you’re facing a belligerently intelligent creature whose expression says, with a Robert DeNiro–like scowl, “What the hell are you looking at? You wanna piece of me?”

Forget about putting one of these guys in a little red vest.”
Christopher Ryan, Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality
“the bigger the society is, the less functional shame becomes.”
Christopher Ryan, Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality
“The conditions necessary for devastating epidemics or pandemics just didn't exist until the agricultural revolution. The claim that modern medicine and sanitation save us from infectious diseases that ravaged pre-agricultural people (something we hear often) is like arguing that seat belts and air bags protect us from car crashes that were fatal to our prehistoric ancestors.”
Cacilda Jethá, Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality
“Sex for pleasure with various partners is therefore more “human” than animal. Strictly reproductive, once-in-a-blue-moon sex is more “animal” than human. In other words, an excessively horny monkey is acting “human,” while a man or woman uninterested in sex more than once or twice a year would be, strictly speaking, “acting like an animal.”
Christopher Ryan, Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships
“Our sense of the full range of human nature, like our diet, has been steadily reduced. No matter how nourishing it might be, anything wild gets pulled - though as we'll see, some of the weeds growing in us have roots reaching deep into our shared past. Pull them if you want, but they'll just keep coming back again and again.”
Cacilda Jethá, Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality
“We have good news and bad news. The good news is that the dismal vision of human sexuality reflected in the standard narrative is mistaken. Men have not evolved to be deceitful cads, nor have millions of years shaped women into lying, two-timing gold-diggers. But the bad news is that the amoral agencies of evolution have created in us a species with a secret it just can’t keep. Homo sapiens evolved to be shamelessly, undeniably, inescapably sexual. Lusty libertines. Rakes, rogues, and roués. Tomcats and sex kittens. Horndogs. Bitches in heat.1 True, some of us manage to rise above this aspect of our nature (or to sink below it). But these preconscious impulses remain our biological baseline, our reference point, the zero in our own personal number system. Our evolved tendencies are considered “normal” by the body each of us occupies. Willpower fortified with plenty of guilt, fear, shame, and mutilation of body and soul may provide some control over these urges and impulses. Sometimes. Occasionally. Once in a blue moon. But even when controlled, they refuse to be ignored. As German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer pointed out, Mensch kann tun was er will; er kann aber nicht wollen was er will. (One can choose what to do, but not what to want.) Acknowledged or not, these evolved yearnings persist and clamor for our attention. And there are costs involved in denying one’s evolved sexual nature, costs paid by individuals, couples, families, and societies every day and every night. They are paid in what E. O. Wilson called “the less tangible currency of human happiness that must be spent to circumvent our natural predispositions.”2 Whether or not our society’s investment in sexual repression is a net gain or loss is a question for another time. For now, we’ll just suggest that trying to rise above nature is always a risky, exhausting endeavor, often resulting in spectacular collapse. Any attempt to understand who we are, how we got to be this way, and what to do about it must begin by facing up to our evolved human sexual predispositions. Why do so many forces resist our sustained fulfillment? Why is conventional marriage so much damned work? How has the incessant, grinding campaign of socio-scientific insistence upon the naturalness of sexual monogamy combined with a couple thousand years of fire and brimstone failed to rid even the priests, preachers, politicians, and professors of their prohibited desires? To see ourselves as we are, we must begin by acknowledging that of all Earth’s creatures, none is as urgently, creatively, and constantly sexual as Homo sapiens.”
Christopher Ryan, Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships
“Remember the Tenth Commandment: "Thou shalt not covert thy neighbors house, thou shalt not covert thy neighbors wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox,nor his ass, nor any thing that [is] thy neighbor's." Clearly, the biggest loser (aside from slaves, perhaps) in the agricultural revolution was the human female, who went from occupying a central respected role in foraging societies to becoming another possession for a man to earn and defend, along with his house, slaves, and livestock.”
Cacilda Jethá, Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality
“What if economic security and guilt-free sexual friendships were easily available to almost all men and women, as they are in many of the societies we’ve discussed, as well as among our closest primate cousins? What if no woman had to worry that a ruptured relationship would leave her and her children destitute and vulnerable? What if average guys knew they’d never have to worry about finding someone to love? What if we didn’t all grow up hearing that true love is obsessive and possessive? What if, like the Mosuo, we revered the dignity and autonomy of those we loved? What if, in other words, sex, love, and economic security were as available to us as they were to our ancestors? If fear is removed from jealousy, what’s left?”
Christopher Ryan, Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships
“If women were as libidinous as men, we’re told, society itself would collapse. Lord Acton was only repeating what everyone knew in 1875 when he declared, “The majority of women, happily for them and for society, are not very much troubled with sexual feeling of any kind.” And yet, despite repeated assurances that women aren’t particularly sexual creatures, in cultures around the world men have gone to extraordinary lengths to control female libido: female genital mutilation, head-to-toe chadors, medieval witch burnings, chastity belts, suffocating corsets, muttered insults about “insatiable” whores, pathologizing, paternalistic medical diagnoses of nymphomania or hysteria, the debilitating scorn heaped on any female who chooses to be generous with her sexuality…all parts of a worldwide campaign to keep the supposedly low-key female libido under control. Why the electrified high-security razor-wire fence to contain a kitty-cat?”
Christopher Ryan, Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships
“We are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you any different. KURT VONNEGUT, JR.”
Christopher Ryan, Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships
“Does all this frivolous sex make our species sound “animalistic”? It shouldn’t. The animal world is full of species that have sex only during widely spaced intervals when the female is ovulating. Only two species can do it week in and week out for nonreproductive reasons: one human, the other very humanlike. Sex for pleasure with various partners is therefore more “human” than animal.”
Christopher Ryan, Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships
“Societies in which women have lots of autonomy and authority tend to be decidedly male-friendly, relaxed, tolerant, and plenty sexy. Got that, fellas? If you’re unhappy at the amount of sexual opportunity in your life, don’t blame the women. Instead, make sure they have equal access to power, wealth, and status. Then watch what happens.”
Christopher Ryan, Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships
“Women and men should not marry, for love is like the seasons—it comes and goes. YANG ERCHE NAMU (Mosuo woman)”
Christopher Ryan, Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships
“Circumcision remains prevalent in the United States, though varying greatly by region, ranging from about 40 percent of newborns circumcised in western states to about twice that in the Northeast. This widespread procedure, rarely a medical necessity, has its roots in the anti-masturbation campaigns of Kellogg and his like-minded contemporaries. As Money explains, “Neonatal circumcision crept into American delivery rooms in the 1870s and 1880s, not for religious reasons and not for reasons of health or hygiene, as is commonly supposed, but because of the claim that, later in life, it would prevent irritation that would cause the boy to become a masturbator.”
Christopher Ryan, Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality
“Readers acquainted with the recent literature on human sexuality will be familiar with what we call the standard narrative of human sexual evolution, hereafter shortened to the standard narrative. It goes something like this:

1. Boy Meets girl,

2. Boy and girl assess one and others mate value, from perspectives based upon their differing reproductive agendas/capacities. He looks for signs of youth, fertility, health, absence of previous sexual experience and likelihood of future sexual fidelity. In other words, his assessment is skewed toward finding a fertile, healthy young mate with many childbearing years ahead and no current children to drain his resources.

She looks for signs of wealth (or at least prospects of future wealth), social status, physical health and likelihood that he will stick around to protect and provide for their children. Her guy must be willing and able to provide materially for her (especially during pregnancy and breastfeeding) and their children, known as "male parental investment".

3. Boy gets girl. Assuming they meet one and others criteria, they mate, forming a long term pair bond, "the fundamental condition of the human species" as famed author Desmond Morris put it. Once the pair bond is formed, she will be sensitive to indications that he is considering leaving, vigilant towards signs of infidelity involving intimacy with other women that would threaten her access to his resources and protection while keeping an eye out (around ovulation especially) for a quick fling with a man genetically superior to her husband.

He will be sensitive to signs of her sexual infidelities which would reduce his all important paternity certainty while taking advantage of short term sexual opportunities with other women as his sperm are easily produced and plentiful.

Researchers claim to have confirmed these basic patterns in studies conducted around the world over several decades. Their results seem to support the standard narrative of human sexual evolution, which appears to make a lot of sense, but they don't, and it doesn't.”
Cacilda Jethá, Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality
“Intermittent fasting was associated with more than a 40 percent reduction in heart disease risk in a study of 448 people published in the American Journal of Cardiology reporting that “most diseases, including cancer, diabetes and even neurodegenerative illnesses, are forestalled” by caloric reduction.”
Christopher Ryan, Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships
“For thousands of years, males have seen women not as women could be, but only as males want them to be.”
Christopher Ryan, Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships
“The human female’s sexual behavior is typically far more malleable than the male’s. Greater erotic plasticity leads most women to experience more variation in their sexuality than men typically do, and women’s sexual behavior is far more responsive to social pressure. This greater plasticity could manifest through changes in whom a woman wants, in how much she wants him/her/them, and in how she expresses her desire.”
Christopher Ryan, Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships

« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7