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Old 03-07-2011, 10:26 PM
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Default Book: Sex at Dawn

The book, Sex at Dawn, is being discussed in various threads in the fora here. I have not yet read the book, but intend to. It seems to merit its own thread.

Sex at Dawn
by Christopher Ryan, Ph.D. & Cacilda Jethá, M.D.

http://sexatdawn.com

Moderators: Feel free to remove this thread if it already exists -- my search did not turn one up.

To those who have read this book: I'd love to hear your thoughts about it. Also, links to reviews and other discussions of this book are most welcome.
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Old 03-07-2011, 10:42 PM
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I liked it, but thought it was pretty one sided. I felt as if the authors were pushing the idea that the "Hunter/Gatherer" society was far superior than the "Agrarian" societies and we should do away with agriculture all together and go back to being hunter/gatherers. There didn't seem to be much room for a balance between the two.
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Old 03-08-2011, 08:39 PM
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Originally Posted by SNeacail View Post
I liked it, but thought it was pretty one sided. I felt as if the authors were pushing the idea that the "Hunter/Gatherer" society was far superior than the "Agrarian" societies and we should do away with agriculture all together and go back to being hunter/gatherers. There didn't seem to be much room for a balance between the two.
I didn't really get that from it. I felt the authors were examining our primitive roots, the way we were for all human history preceding the advent of agriculture. Monogamy as we know it is a relatively recent development, and the idea is that if we lived differently for the vast majority of our existence as a species, then what we are doing is, in all likelihood, unnatural.

This does not mean that chosen monogamy is unnatural, but that enforced monogamy goes against our biological imperatives and is unhealthy for us on many levels.
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Old 03-08-2011, 09:18 PM
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Originally Posted by SNeacail View Post
I liked it, but thought it was pretty one sided. I felt as if the authors were pushing the idea that the "Hunter/Gatherer" society was far superior than the "Agrarian" societies and we should do away with agriculture all together and go back to being hunter/gatherers. There didn't seem to be much room for a balance between the two.
I agree that the authors were pretty clear that immediate-return hunter gatherer societies had some structural advantages with respect to egalitarian balance between the sexes, role of sex in society, and role of property/possessions.

He was pretty clear about the role of agriculture having some clear advantages in being able to support much larger populations - but still leading to systematic poverty, etc... It's success from a cultural/technical evolution perspective is manifest. It is a successful model and - now - necessary to our very survival. Which is why there was so much hand wringing about it in the book - the unintended consequences are severe.

I thought it a provocative argument. Only one sided in the sense that he doesn't spend a lot of time on arguing how agricultural revolution allowed our species to dominate the earth in real terms. I also don't think it requires much argument. He was focused on the under-appreciated impact of this wildly success cultural/techno revolution.
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Old 03-08-2011, 09:29 PM
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Default Other threads on the book

Hi, I found a few related threads, so I thought I'd point them out here...

RickPlus reviewed Sex at Dawn, and a discussion followed in the Book Recommendations thread:
http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showt...2739#post62739
The link above goes directly to the review and discussion which starts at Post #71. At Post #78 member Zinc summarizes the book.

See also a thread by Jokutus about jealousy, prompted by his reading of the book:
http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=4170

...and a thread where member Immaterial asked for opinions on the book, but no one responded:
http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=3170


Also, the book has been mentioned in several members' blogs, including mine, but mine was part of a longer post about a specific relationship, so I'll just include the little bit I wrote about the book here:
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Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
Been reading Sex at Dawn . . . It's an interesting book, with good writing, and full of conclusions that seem to make lots of sense. The authors point out flawed conclusions of other scientists who have made pronouncements about human love and relationships, but they don't back up their own conclusions with enough evidence. Some, but not a lot. So, you know, there really is no proof of anything, but it does seem to support very well the idea that people are biologically designed for polyamory -- that is not to say everyone is meant to be polyamorous, but that we're built for it . . . So, each person still has to make their own choices, but I like the idea that the status quo is being questioned. Who knows? Maybe we'll start to see poly families in commercials soon.
I need to read it again because I think I skipped a lot of it.
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Last edited by nycindie; 03-08-2011 at 09:43 PM.
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Old 03-08-2011, 10:01 PM
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Thanks!

Folks, does the book discuss the "polyamory movement" and its literature, websites, magazines, etc...? Does it use the word, polyamory? ( -- a word of fairly recent coinage)
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Old 03-09-2011, 12:56 AM
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I thought it was a great book, although it certainly does tend to do a little cheerleading for our side, which as a polyamorist I love, but at which as a scientist I tend to look askance.

No, he does not discuss modern polyamory or use the word at all, I believe, unless it is in the final page or two of conclusion. His subject matter is prehistorical nonmonogamy from an evolutionary and anthropological standpoint. He does discuss at length contemporary cultures in which strict monogamy is not the rule (which turns out to be most of them).

Last edited by Ready2Fly; 03-09-2011 at 12:58 AM.
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Old 03-09-2011, 01:06 AM
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He does discuss at length contemporary cultures in which strict monogamy is not the rule (which turns out to be most of them).
I hadn't realized! That's good news, I think. (Refering mainly to the parenthetical element.)

Thanks for answering my question.
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Old 03-09-2011, 12:02 PM
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I had the pleasure of meeting one of the authors (Christopher Ryan) at the Seattle Loving More conference last October. Not only is he an engaging speaker (and pretty cute, too :P ) he was also very up front about how happy he was to be among poly folks, because we were so enthusiastic about his main message (that monogamy is not necessarily "natural") and because we really enjoyed his bonobo videos. Hee.

I loved the book, btw.
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Old 03-10-2011, 12:17 AM
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(which turns out to be most of them).
Which cultures? I'm curious because the examples I have seen of cultures not predominantly monogamous are not ones that provide the things I want in my life.
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