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-   -   Sex At Dawn? (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=25547)

Fayerweather 07-13-2012 12:23 AM

Sex At Dawn?
 
Who among you here have read Sex At Dawn? I just finished it and am feeling strangely isolated. My partners and my partner's partners haven't read it, and I'm surrounded by monogamous people who are either threatened by what the book is about or aren't interested.

I was curious to see what poly people thought of it and how it affected them, if at all.

Thanks

Glitter 07-13-2012 12:26 AM

I haven't yet, what is it about?

Magdalena 07-13-2012 04:15 AM

Loved it! Really helped me to make sense of all this.

Fayerweather 07-13-2012 01:10 PM

Glitter: It's a book about how early man (pre-agricultural man) was naturally polyamorous. It kind of disproves the standard narrative that says that monogamous pair bonding is "natural" to our species. Full of awesome information, anthropological, archeological, sociological info that proves that we were never naturally meant to be monogamous and that monogamy arose out of a need to pass down land and ownership of property in our post agricultural societies. Really cool stuff whether you agree with it or not. I'd highly recommend it.

Magdalena: Yes! I found the book to be incredibly validating. I knew polyamory was always the right choice for me whether It was prehistorically preordained or not, but the book painted such a beautiful picture as human kind being predisposed to positivity and sexual freedom. Also, the feminist aspects were wonderful. Yes, it's OK that I'm always horny :P

Fayerweather 07-13-2012 01:17 PM

The thing that was strange, and Mag, maybe you can give me your opinion on this. I felt like the whole book was leading up to a proud declaration that we should all be poly. I was a little let down by Christopher Ryan's last chapter being devoted to strong suggestions that married people should open their relationships to purely sexual flings in order to keep marriages happy and healthy. He made a couple of luke-warm references to polyamory, but the main emphasis in the end seemed to be "let your partners stray a little so that you can maintain your marriage" with the main emphasis being on men having purely sexual affairs so as not to fall in love and threaten their primary partners. Did you pick up on that? Or am I coloring it somehow?

CielDuMatin 07-13-2012 02:38 PM

When it first came out I read several reviews talking about how it was a treatise on how we should all be poly, based on our genetics and that monogamy was a purely social construct.

I don't need that sort of thing to work out how to do poly better, or to justify how I feel. Others might. I really dislike discussions about this sort of thing, so disregarded the book.

Here is an earlier thread on the topic where the forum regulars at the time gave their viewpoints: http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=7555

Chimera 07-13-2012 03:06 PM

I find the book to stray too much into unsubstantiated generalizations from a very limited source material. As an anthropologist, these kinds of books drive me crazy.

As a species (biologically) and as social/cultural beings, we are evolving. There is no one "nature" that we can point to. I'm not disregarding biology at all here, just cautioning that there is no human nature/essence that can be disentangled from culture imo. All things must be historicized.

I do like that the author is trying to show empirically that monogamy is not natural. Fine, that's a substantiated argument and a powerful one at this present moment. But, how people choose to live and love is fully entwined with cultural norms. Desire is hardly derived from a rational response to stimuli -- we can see that all around us.

I like to argue that we don't even have to go back so far, we just have to look at the diversity of intimate, family, child-rearing arrangements that exist at the present to see that there is no one type that is "normal."

Vinccenzo 07-14-2012 11:27 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fayerweather (Post 143348)
The thing that was strange, and Mag, maybe you can give me your opinion on this. I felt like the whole book was leading up to a proud declaration that we should all be poly. I was a little let down by Christopher Ryan's last chapter being devoted to strong suggestions that married people should open their relationships to purely sexual flings in order to keep marriages happy and healthy. He made a couple of luke-warm references to polyamory, but the main emphasis in the end seemed to be "let your partners stray a little so that you can maintain your marriage" with the main emphasis being on men having purely sexual affairs so as not to fall in love and threaten their primary partners. Did you pick up on that? Or am I coloring it somehow?

Yeah I got that out of it a bit too. More like "he will still love you only like a sister so to have a shot at keeping him, you'll have to accept him having sex with other women and hope he appreciates it enough to stick around otherwise you're slowly neutering him and guaranteeing a sexless life for you both".

MeeraReed 07-15-2012 09:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vinccenzo (Post 143434)
Yeah I got that out of it a bit too. More like "he will still love you only like a sister so to have a shot at keeping him, you'll have to accept him having sex with other women and hope he appreciates it enough to stick around otherwise you're slowly neutering him and guaranteeing a sexless life for you both".

Nope, that's not what Sex at Dawn is about.

Its main argument is that human biology strongly suggests that humans as a species are evolutionarily non-monogamous. Meaning that BOTH men and women probably had multiple sexual partners during the early phases of human prehistory (and later).

In fact, most of Sex at Dawn focuses on the theory that men evolved to share female partners with other men, and that WOMEN evolved to have multiple partners.

The book's main theme is to contradict the generally held belief that a female human's "biological strategy" is to be monogamous while a male human's strategy is to seek as many females as possible.

I like the book a lot. As someone with a strong anthropological background, I have to disagree with the comment from someone who objected to the idea of books that argue general theories on anthropological grounds. Sex at Dawn has some really interesting theories to offer.

Vinccenzo 07-16-2012 12:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MeeraReed (Post 143564)
Nope, that's not what Sex at Dawn is about.

Its main argument is that human biology strongly suggests that humans as a species are evolutionarily non-monogamous. Meaning that BOTH men and women probably had multiple sexual partners during the early phases of human prehistory (and later).

In fact, most of Sex at Dawn focuses on the theory that men evolved to share female partners with other men, and that WOMEN evolved to have multiple partners.

The book's main theme is to contradict the generally held belief that a female human's "biological strategy" is to be monogamous while a male human's strategy is to seek as many females as possible.

I like the book a lot. As someone with a strong anthropological background, I have to disagree with the comment from someone who objected to the idea of books that argue general theories on anthropological grounds. Sex at Dawn has some really interesting theories to offer.

Then explain to me what the point was of so much emphasis on "the Coolidge Effect"?

"In biology and psychology, the Coolidge effect is a phenomenon—seen in nearly every mammalian species in which it has been tested—whereby males (and to a lesser extent females) exhibit renewed sexual interest if introduced to new receptive sexual partners,[1][2][3][4] even refusing sex from prior but still available sexual partners."

They went on to explain that males have built in genetic protection to inbreeding that would also manifest as a natural cooling towards familiar women over time. So with our siblings that time would begin when a boy and a girl were children in order to ensure that by the time they were of reproduction age, the female would be too familiar to be of interest to the male.


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