Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality by Christopher Ryan, Calcida Jetha

Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern SexualitySex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality by Christopher Ryan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Originally published October 1st, 2013
My original plan was to read Sex at Dawn, then read Sex at Dusk and review both together. Unfortunately, Sex at Dusk is proving much more challenging to find, so I’m giving up on that idea for now. I’d like to start my review of Sex at Dawn by quoting Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha:

Our model might strike you as absurd, salacious, insulting, scandalous, fascinating, depressing, illuminating, or obvious. But whether or not you are comfortable with what we present here, we hope you’ll keep reading. We are not advocating any particular response to the information we’ve put together. Frankly, we’re not sure what to do with it ourselves.

If you decide to read this book, you should keep that in mind.

Of all the explanations I’ve read of why humans think the way they do about sex, this one seems the most solid. Also one of the most likely to fill readers with rage. You can’t research the prehistoric origins of sexuality and blithely publish your results the way you can with something like early tools, decorative art, or rituals. Anything you say is bound to piss somebody off. Sex is no longer just procreation, affection, or bonding. It’s become loaded with meanings, standards, rituals, expectations. It’s almost impossible to divorce ourselves from those thought patterns and look back to what sex meant before it had all that meaning. No single book could hope to answer all possible questions about why our brains and bodies work the way they do when it comes to sex, but I think Ryan and Jetha do an admirable job with Sex at Dawn. There’s still a staggering amount of information we don’t have. But I think this book takes us closer to the truth of our distant past than anything else I’ve read. And I think the conclusions Ryan and Jetha draw are things we should keep in mind when we approach any type of sexual relationship, for a variety of reasons. For you conservatives, “forewarned is forearmed”. Monogamous relationships are challenging, and if you want to have a successful one, you’re better off knowing what you’re up against. More of a libertine? If you aren’t interesting in monogamy, this book may help you understand why (and possibly make you feel less lonely, if you have been). And if you just like anthropology, or sexuality, or apes, this book has lots in it for you too.

Just remember to take a deep breath. It’s not the end of the world.

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4 thoughts on “Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality by Christopher Ryan, Calcida Jetha

  1. LS

    Is there a delay for comments or has mine gone missing? 🙂

    I was just wanting to ask where you had tried looking for the other book, “Sex at Dusk”, as I’m curious why it was too difficult to find.

    Thanks

    Like

    1. Sorry, there is a delay! I don’t necessarily get a chance to address them as promptly as I should. Thanks for your patience.

      I looked originally at my local library, and on the website for my e-reader. I was hoping to find a copy I could just borrow, or download a free version, but didn’t have any luck at the time.

      Like

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