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It might be too late for Jake and Vienna to kiss and make up. Savvier readers of this book—rather than that headline—may, however, reconcile themselves with these perplexing instincts, bred into us by our wandering progenitors over millions of years.

I actually though this was just-a-little-bit-this-side-of-sexy so we get our butts all tucked in bed. April 23, at 5: This is a book that opens a path to enlightenment. Advocates of the naturalness of monogamy for humans rarely state it in such bluntly economic terms, however — unless they are called upon to explain why they think it is natural, even in the face of soaring divorce rates, countless extramarital affairs and widespread single parenthood.

Supporters of monogamy are left with little choice but to hold it up as a romantic ideal, obviously difficult to achieve, but worth striving for.

The contradictions of their position are obvious when you think about it — if monogamy is natural, why do so many people find it so difficult? And why is it worth striving for if it contributes to so much misery? This understanding makes sense when you consider that for the majority of time Homo sapiens have existed, our ancestors seem to have lived in small hunter-gatherer groups who very probably had quite different social arrangements to those with which we are familiar.

Sexual intimacy serves to reduce aggression and conflict within the group, and bind its members together in relationships of trust and cooperation.

Children are children of the tribe, not of specific pairs, and they are cared for by all the adult members of the group. It seems a little odd, then, to assume that humans would be inclined to monogamy, like the more distantly related, less social and less intelligent gibbon, which is often held up as an exemplar of the nuclear family arrangement claimed to be natural for humans.

The authors go on to show how various aspects of human anatomy, in particular the genitalia, reflect the evolution of humans as promiscuous lovers.

Where there is genetic competition, it takes place at a cellular level, much more so than at the macroscopic level of the whole organism. The book offers an extensive and fascinating discussion of sperm competition and shows how humans seem to be evolved for this to take place.

So, here we are, stuck in a post-agricultural world with our pre-agricultural inclinations. What are we to do about it? Sex At Dawn offers little in the way of suggestions, but it does touch on the potential for polyamorous arrangements, swinging, and generally taking a more open and accepting view of sexuality. The book resonates powerfully with much of my personal experience. Sexual exclusivity has never been of paramount importance to me, nor have I ever considered sexual straying to be a deal-breaker in any relationship though perhaps an opening for some serious discussion!

Indeed, on those occasions where a partner of mine has been involved with another person, my response has not been to feel jealous, but rather to feel conscious of an expectation that I ought to be jealous. Such is the power of social conditioning. In fact, one of the best things about Sex At Dawn is that it invites us to examine many of the social and cultural assumptions that underpin — and perhaps actually undermine — our understanding of the way things are in our world.

It exposes some of the idols of our own minds. So it is without hesitation that I recommend Sex At Dawn to anyone interested in taking a fresh look at the so-called battle of the sexes.

Read it with someone you love. It will change your life. Well, perhaps not, but it will most certainly make you think. I highly recommend it. It goes a long way toward providing a reasonable explanation for the way human beings really are sexually.

I like to think of myself as courageously seeking out important truths, however uncomfortable. I was excited to read the contrarian Sex at Dawn, which suggests sexual promiscuity is our forager heritage. But that pretty sparkler was really a grenade — its uncomfortable truths shook me to my core.

In the controversial tome Sex at Dawn: It was only after the advent of agrarian society and its focus on individual property, the authors argue, that sex became a commodity pursued by men and hoarded by women.

One of those books that blew my mind and shifted my paradigms. One of those books that I think everyone should read. Where do I stand on the issue? I want to have discussions with everyone I know about this book. This book, while an excellent tour of human lustful behavior, is lacking on the murkier matter of love.

But I definitely recommend reading it. Whether or not this book will really make such a splash in the wider world, I believe it is the most important thing to happen for the polyamory-awareness movement in a very long time. Among the myths the authors challenge are that "monogamy is natural, marriage is a human universal, and any family structure other than the nuclear is aberrant" p.

They have little use for the one about how "men and women evolved in families in which a man's possessions and protection were exchanged for a woman's fertility and fidelity. I really do believe, like the authors do, that understanding and accepting our biological make-up can make us happier, healthier, and more peaceful people.

I very highly recommend this book. Is the nuclear family bad for people's mental health? Can a child have more than one biological father? These are some of the provocative questions explored in the new book Sex at Dawn: The authors argue, among other things, that human beings have evolved to desire sexual novelty — and that the current cultural conventions of marriage and monogamy, while not wrong, come at a cost to well-being — which would help explain why so many couples have problems with infidelity.

I spoke with Ryan recently: Do you think that early humans were promiscuous, rather than monogamous or polygamous?

I think it looked like casual sexual [behavior], with overlapping simultaneous sexual relationships between different people who had known each other for most of their lives. This is the difficulty of using words like promiscuous.

For us, promiscuous means random, cheap, shallow, but these people grew up with each other in most cases. There was some shifting between bands of [hunter-gatherers] but they certainly knew each other very well and depended on each other for everything from child protection to sharing food, for support of every kind. There was a very deep sense of intimacy. But if humans have evolved to be more polygamous than monogamous, why do we also have jealousy? In various cultures, people become very unhappy when their romantic partners sleep with someone else.

Depending on the cultural context, jealousy can be a major or minor issue. It varies between individuals to a great extent. I think we're mistaken in generalizing our own sense of jealousy and assuming that what we see around us is an expression of human nature as opposed to perhaps something that is [just] part of human nature.

Are you saying that early humans didn't fall in love — or pair-bond, as the researchers say — or didn't mind when someone they were in love with cheated?

It's like [with] jealousy. The pair-bond does appear to be an expression of some aspect of human nature but I think we make a mistake in assuming that the pair-bond included sexual exclusivity.

I wouldn't use the word cheat because it is so loaded. The fact that these are the words we choose says something about the cultural forces trying to shape our experiences. There certainly is evidence that human beings form very deep, loving, long-term, unique relationships, often between a male-female couple, but not always.

So you don't think early humans pair-bonded to raise children? We're arguing that the pair-bond was not the basis of the family unit and was not, as has been hypothesized, an evolutionary adaptation for raising children. You are basically agreeing, then, with anthropologist Sarah Hrdy, who claims that parenting requires more than two people and that early human children were raised by extended families and friends.

We're really challenging the whole notion of the traditional family being a mother, father and two kids. We agree with Sarah Hrdy that that's not the nucleus of human organization.

The nucleus is a band-level society in which there are many adults taking care of many children. Love flows between all the adults. The nuclear family is detrimental to both child development and parental mental health.

It's like wearing shoes that don't fit. Society can force you into [them] or you can force yourself and you're going to suffer. Are you suggesting that people should not be monogamous? What we're hoping is that the book will provoke people to reconsider their assumptions about the naturalness of long-term sexual monogamy. We're not encouraging people to abandon the notion of long-term sexual monogamy, we're just encouraging them to educate themselves and have a more realistic sense of what to expect if that's the path they choose.

This is not an indictment of monogamy. Choosing a lifetime of a monogamous union is like choosing to be a vegetarian. It's not necessarily a bad decision. It's very healthy — it's ethically wise, but that doesn't mean that bacon isn't going to smell good any more. I have to ask you, do you practice what you preach? We have a stock answer for this.

Our relationship is informed by our research but we don't discuss the particulars publicly. Some would argue that people tried having open marriages in the s and it didn't work out too well.

There was a massive increase in the divorce rate. We confront that in the book. First, where's the proof that it didn't work out so well? We don't know, because discretion is such an important part of intimacy. We don't know how many couples experimented and stayed together. We hear about the cases that don't work, but we don't really hear about the ones that did. Who is going to come out and say, "My wife and I were swingers for 20 years and I want to be your governor"?

Your book also discusses "partible paternity," a belief common to some South American hunter-gatherers that a child can actually have multiple fathers, that all the men a woman sleeps with play a role in fathering her child. Yes, it's the notion that any individual child can have multiple fathers, in both the biological and the spiritual sense.

These cultures have names for the different fathers, things like: There are many different tribes down there who believe in it. And it's not just in the Amazon, it's found all over the world. It's an idea that has arisen [independently] all over the world. And because the child is — the fetus is literally made of these men's semen — the woman who wants to have a child that combines the advantages of different fathers will have sex with the best hunter, the best looking [guy], the funniest, in order to get some essence of each of these men into her baby.

Where do you think this idea comes from? It's another indication that sperm competition was present in human evolutionary times, that we evolved in the presence of sperm competition.

There are so many indications of that, so many anatomical and behavioral [signs], it's just another nail in the coffin. What other evidence is there for human sperm competition? There's testis size and penis morphology and the fact that the testicles are outside the body rather than inside. Um, how does size matter? Smaller size of male organs means less sperm competition?

Did you see the South Park episode with Tiger Woods? The underlying thesis of the episode was that they formed a commission in Washington to try to figure out what drives successful, powerful men to have sex with young women. The Real Eliot Spitzer Question Do you think there are any models for a successful society that is centered less on the nuclear family or monogamy?

Every culture is sort of developing along its own path. One place to look would be Northern Europe. Marriage rates are very low, but the number of single-parent families is also low. There isn't this economic pressure [to stay together] because the government takes care of mothers and children, so people don't need to worry.

People seem to be much more forgiving and the relationships seem to be more durable, even if they are not official marriages. This is very much a political issue. It's really breaking down into American versus European notions of what society is. To what extent are we in this together? In America, it's become so fractured. People end up being so lonely. It really comes down to whether or not we are sharing our lives with enough people.

By Christopher Ryan, Special to CNN July 29th, Seismic cultural shifts about 10, years ago rendered the true story of human sexuality so subversive and threatening that for centuries, it has been silenced by religious authorities, pathologized by physicians, studiously ignored by scientists and covered up by moralizing therapists. In recent decades, the debate over human sexual evolution has entertained only two options: Humans evolved to be either monogamists or polygamists.

This tired debate generally devolves into an antagonistic stalemate where women are said to have evolved to seek male-provisioned domesticity while every man secretly yearns for his own harem. The battle between the sexes, we're told, is bred into our blood and bones. Couples who turn to a therapist for guidance through the inevitable minefields of marriage are likely to receive the confusing message that long-term pair bonding comes naturally to our species, but marriage is still a lot of work.

Few mainstream therapists would contemplate trying to persuade a gay man or lesbian to "grow up, get real, and stop being gay. Thus, couples are led to believe that waning sexual passion in enduring marriages or sexual interest in anyone but their partner portend a failed relationship, when in reality these things often signify nothing more than that we are Homo sapiens.

This is a problem because there is no reason to believe monogamy comes naturally to human beings. In fact, for millions of years, evolutionary forces have cultivated human libido to the point where ours is arguably the most sexual species on Earth.

Our ancestors evolved in small-scale, highly egalitarian foraging groups that shared almost everything. Anthropologists have demonstrated time and again that immediate-return hunter-gatherer societies are nearly universal in their so-called "fierce egalitarianism.

Most foragers divide and distribute meat equitably, breast-feed one another's babies, have little or no privacy from one another, and depend upon each other every day for survival. Although our social world revolves around private property and individual responsibility, theirs spins toward interrelation and mutual dependence. This might sound like New Age idealism, but it's no more noble a system than any other insurance pool.

Compulsory sharing is simply the best way to distribute risk to everyone's benefit in a foraging context. For nomadic foragers who might walk hundreds of kilometers each month, personal property -- anything needed to be carried -- is kept to a minimum. Little thought is given to who owns the land, or the fish in the river, the clouds in the sky, or the kids underfoot. An individual male's "parental investment," in other words, tends to be diffuse in societies like those in which we evolved, not directed toward one particular woman -- or harem of women -- and her children, as conventional views of our sexual evolution insist.

But when people began living in settled agricultural communities, social reality shifted deeply and irrevocably.

It became crucially important to know where your property ended and your neighbor's began. Remember the 10th Commandment: The standard narrative posits that paternity certainty has always been of utmost importance to our species, whether expressed as monogamy or harem-based polygyny.

Students are taught that our "selfish genes" lead us to organize our sexual lives around assuring paternity, but it wasn't until the shift to agriculture that land, livestock and other forms of wealth could be kept in the family.

For the first time in the history of our species, biological paternity became a concern. Our bodies, minds and sexual habits all reflect a highly sexual primate.

Research from primatology, anthropology, anatomy and psychology points to the same conclusion: A nonpossessive, gregarious sexuality was the human norm until the rise of agriculture and private property just 10, years ago, about 5 percent of anatomically modern humans' existence on Earth.

The two primate species closest to us lend strong -- if blush-inducing -- support to this vision. Ovulating female chimps have intercourse dozens of times per day, with most or all of the willing males, and bonobos famously enjoy frequent group sex that leaves everyone relaxed and conflict-free. The human body tells the same story. Men's testicles are far larger than those of any monogamous or polygynous primate, hanging vulnerably outside the body where cooler temperatures help preserve standby sperm cells for multiple ejaculations.

Men sport the longest, thickest primate penis, as well as an embarrassing tendency to reach orgasm when the woman is just getting warmed up. These are all strong indications of so-called sperm competition in our species' past. Women's pendulous breasts, impossible-to-ignore cries of sexual delight, or "female copulatory vocalization" to the clipboard-carrying crowd, and capacity for multiple orgasms also validate this story of prehistoric promiscuity.

But we are, in fact. Homo sapiens is one of four African great apes, along with chimps, bonobos and gorillas. Just as we can choose to be vegans, we can decide to lead sexually monogamous lives.

But newlyweds would be wise to remember that just because you've chosen to be vegan, it's utterly natural to yearn for an occasional bacon cheeseburger.

Saturday, Jul 30, No, not prince charming; he's after the widespread belief in a prehistoric hunter who would slay an antelope on the plains and heroically haul it back to his nuclear family. You might wonder what this has to do with monogamy. Well, Ryan argues that in actuality the meat would have been shared with the entire tribe, because pre-agricultural societies shared everything -- including sex. Our hunting and gathering ancestors were nonmonogamous, they argue -- the implication being that, biologically speaking, sexual exclusivity is unnatural.

The book challenges much of the previously accepted wisdom about the sex lives of our ancestors, although the authors admit they haven't exactly proved their case.

Regardless, they have gained praise and admiration from sexual radicals like sex columnist Dan Savage. That makes Ryan an ideal final interview in Salon's monogamy series, which was originally sparked by Savage's thoughts in a New York Times Magazine piece about "monogam-ish" marriage.

They planned to set out without a destination in mind, enjoy the drive and figure it out as they went -- which is awfully similar to their attitude toward monogamy in their marriage. Why is it wrong, as you argue, to assume that women are the choosy sex and men just want to spread their seed indiscriminately?

Well, there's a grain of truth there on a biological level. There's no denying that women make a greater biological investment in pregnancy and gestation than men do. There's no denying the fact that men produce millions of sperm cells in the amount of time that a woman releases one egg.

But when you look at highly intelligent, highly social species -- particularly primates but also dolphins -- what you find is that that's not the way things happen.

The assumption that women are choosing mates based on their access to resources is simply not the way it works in primates that are intelligent and social. In fact, there are no social, group-living primates that are monogamous. What you find in highly social species is that resources tend to be shared, particularly in bonobos and to some extent in chimps. When you look at pre-agricultural human societies, there really is no private property.

Even the best hunters gain their status by sharing what they catch. The worst thing you can do in those societies is hoard food. We're not saying these are "noble savages," we're not slipping into that "oh, they're so much better than us" mindset -- in fact, they're just like us. They're just in a very different situation in which the best way to spread risk is too share. Today I might kill an antelope, but I'm probably not going to again for a week or two.

You don't just go out and shoot an antelope like you go to the grocery store. The way to make sure that everyone eats, especially in a situation where there is no refrigeration, is to share what we find. They share their shelter, defense, childcare, food, access to the spirit world -- why should we believe that sex is the one thing that they don't share?

What we argue is that's an economic issue, it's something that happens with the advent of agriculture when suddenly men became obsessed with paternity because they had this accumulated property that they wanted to pass to their children. You mentioned love briefly -- how does it figure into all of this?

Cacilda and I don't dispute that love is a very important human emotion and is deeply embedded in our nature. In fact, one of the things that we do best is love other people. But what we do dispute is that it's necessarily linked to sexual exclusivity.

I think that's something that's very much culturally encouraged in our possessive, imperialistic society. Whereas in many of the societies we discuss in the book, there's not a lot of accumulated property like in agricultural societies, and there are rituals that are expressly designed to discourage that possessiveness and jealousy. That might suggest that there is a natural inclination toward jealousy and that these societies are working intentionally to minimize that response, whereas we live in a society that works to maximize it.

How natural is sexual jealousy, then? I think it's as natural as any other sort of insecurity or possessiveness. In these societies there are also rituals to expressly minimize and discourage selfishness about food, because in that sort of system, selfishness results in disaster for everyone. Any sort of antisocial behavior, including sexual jealousy, is discouraged in hunter gatherer societies, all based on whether or not it's ultimately positive for the society.

In our society, it seems to have had some pro-social function, namely knowing whose kids were whose and keeping inheritance lines.

But I think we're at a tipping point now with birth control, adoption, gay couples -- all these biological concerns are dissipating, so maybe we're at a point where we're starting to look at a gradual shift to a more hunter gatherer approach to these issues. So in the future people will look back at the advent of birth control and say it changed the course of sexual evolution? Yeah, and I think a lot of those changes are a return to earlier ways of thinking.

People talk about the sexual revolution in the '60s, which was largely brought on by the pill. For the first time ever, women could have sex with different partners without worrying about it -- at least before AIDS. But in prehistory, I think women were largely having sex without worrying about it, at least in the sense that you didn't need to worry about who was the father of your child, because you lived in a society where resources were shared.

Even if we accept that our ancestral roots are nonmonogamous, we're still living in a dramatically different time now. Does it really make sense to navigate open relationships in this day and age? This week I'm substituting for Dan Savage on his "Letter of the Day" column, and I just wrote a response to a letter asking a similar question. What I try to articulate very clearly is that we're not advocating nonmonogamy. What we're advocating is a realistic, informed understanding of what sort of animal we are so that when you enter into whatever sort of arrangement you choose, you do it with your eyes open, you do it with an understanding of the difficulties and the risks.

You take a compassionate approach to the problems that you're gonna run into. We're very careful not to tell anyone what to do; in fact we say very explicitly that we don't know what to do. Cacilda and I have been together 12 years, and we always talk about this stuff. It's a live issue for us and it has been since the beginning.

There's a lot of guilt-tripping out there, people saying, "This should be easy for you because you're in love, and if it's not easy for you it means you're not in love.

What I say in this column is that monogamy is like vegetarianism. All the evidence points to the fact that we've evolved as omnivores, but that doesn't mean that living as an omnivore in today's world is inherently superior than choosing to be a vegetarian. Being a vegetarian can make perfect sense, it can be ethical, healthy and smart -- but it's not going to come naturally, right?

Just because you've decided to become vegetarian doesn't make you an herbivore. You're an omnivore who's chosen to live as a vegetarian, but bacon is still gonna smell good and you shouldn't feel guilty about that. I think it's offensive when social institutions like religions and governments and even some scientists say, "Hey, this should come naturally to you.

This is human nature. If you get hungry when you smell bacon, there's something wrong with you. Relationships are living things, they're constantly changing.

When we were working on the book and anticipating what sort of questions we'd get, that was of course at the top of our list: They're gonna ask us about our marriage. One of the first interviews was with Dan Savage and he asked that question and I said, "Our prepared answer is: Our relationship is informed by our research. Follow tracyclarkflory on Twitter. Jul 28th By Amy Keyishian I have a really good male friend who lives with a woman.

He also can't keep it in his pants. He's not a jerk, but when he's on the road, which is a lot, he makes with the local fare. It doesn't affect his home life; they aren't that tight of a couple in the first place.

But he still insists on referring to himself as a "slimebag" and a "sociopath" because that's just how he rolls. This makes me sad. Honestly, while it's not ideal that he's not super-up-front about his habits, this doesn't make him a sociopath. It makes him not monogamous. Which is not a crime, a moral failing, or a sign of immaturity, according to two new authors.

Christopher Ryan, co-author of " Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origin of Modern Sexuality ," wants my friend -- and anyone else calling him- or herself nasty names because they don't fit the marriage-plus-two-kids-forever mold -- to know that the long-accepted idea that humans are naturally monogamous ain't necessarily so. Give him a chance. At first, he sounds like he might be Mr. Leisure Suit with the cocked eyebrow and the vasectomy pin Then you start realizing he makes a lot of sense.

Start with his central argument: It amounts to false advertising for a garment that fits almost no one. But we're all supposed to buy and wear it anyway. So what is this destructive myth about how human sexuality works? Well, the standard narrative has many different parts, but the crux of it is that paternity certainty has always been of central concern to human males.

So, there's allegedly been this exchange between men and women that goes back to the origin of species, in which women trade sexual fidelity for material support and protection from a particular man. Which seems to make perfect sense.

That's what we've always been told. It makes so much sense to people who look around and say, "That's the central exchange in the relationships in my life. It's comforting for people who want to keep the status quo. The trouble with it is that we've found that in prehistoric times -- before our society became agrarian -- there was no reason women had to trade sexual autonomy.

Everything was shared, from sexual partners to childcare. This central conclusion concerning monogamy is just not backed up. What's destructive about this myth? Adultery has been documented in every human culture studied, including those in which fornicators are routinely stoned to death.

In light of all this bloody retribution, it's hard to see how monogamy comes "naturally" to our species. If monogamy were an ancient, evolved trait characteristic of our species, like the myth says, adultery wouldn't be an issue. No creature needs to be threatened with death to act in accord with its own nature.

One of the things that really propelled us to write this book was the feeling we got that the standard narrative is like the pre-Copernican version of the solar system. It's so complicated, and it's layer upon layer of explanation that doesn't fit together.

The mainstream authorities have tried to plug it all together, but there are so many holes in their argument, it's just sort of absurd. How do bonobo apes factor into all this? Bonobo apes and chimps are our closest relatives on this planet. We share more DNA with them than we do with, say, gorillas.

We're more closely related than the African elephant is to the Indian elephant. So while people like to compare humans to, say, lions or walruses, and extrapolate the reasons for our behavior from the animal world, they really should be looking at the bonobos. How do the bonobos work? They have a lot in common with us. They have sex even when the female is not ovulating, which is quite unusual.

They spend most of their lives on the ground and are highly intelligent and intensely social. Their vaginas are more front-facing, making it easier to have missionary-position sex. They stare into each other's eyes and kiss when they have sex, something that sets them apart from every other primate except for humans.

And they're quite promiscuous. They don't pair off for life. Rather, they live in close-knit groups where nobody's quite sure who fathered any of the children of the group, which means everybody has a special interest in all of the children of the group. Monogamy isn't natural to any primate except -- if we believe this narrative -- us.

Are there are human societies where this is the case? We go into it in depth in the book, but there are few examples. Paul Le Jeune was a 17th-century Jesuit missionary who lectured a Montagnais Indian man about their society's promiscuity, and was told, "Thou hast no sense. You French people love only your own children.

But we all love all the children of our tribe. The have almost complete sexual freedom and autonomy for both men and women, which was first observed by the West via Marco Polo in the s.

They don't marry, they call each other "friend" rather than "husband" or "wife," and children are the paternal responsibility of a woman's brother, not her husband. The Chinese have been trying to squelch this tendency since they gained control in , but to no avail. The system continues to work in a peaceful way.

Let's talk about female orgasms and how they factor into your argument. Well, it's not the orgasms themselves. It's the female copulatory vocalization. I've asked audiences everywhere: Raise your hand if you've ever heard your neighbors having sex. Now drop your hand if the man was making more noise than the woman. It's a direct contradiction to the standard narrative. If sex is universally shameful, and women are less libidinous, then why are they so likely to loudly announce their sexual pleasure?

It doesn't fit into what we "know," according to this central myth. But it does fit into our new paradigm, because the primate species where the females make the most noise are the one where the females are the most promiscuous, because this attracts other males.

Fine, I'm convinced that monogamy isn't necessarily natural to our species, even though I'm personally happy to be monogamous. But weren't the open-marriage experiments of the '60s and '70s sort of an epic fail? I question that the '60s and '70s were an epic fail. Everyone wants to say, "Well, we tried open marriage, and it was a disaster.

Does that mean we never try again? You could say, "We tried racial integration, and it was a failure. We don't have a perfectly equal society, but we have a black president. Look at our social situation now -- we're debating gay marriage, and it has already passed in several states. Here in Spain, where I live, it's completely accepted. In fact, it's illegal to discriminate against LGBT people.

The '60s and '70s laid the groundwork for what we have now. When it comes to any sort of unconventional relationship that threatens the powers that be, success and discretion go hand in hand. Who knows how many people found their own non-standard ways of living and were completely successful? We hear about the failures. We don't hear about private people who don't want to attract attention to their arrangement, so they don't run around proselytizing.

Now, that being said, it's difficult to take a prehistoric sexual situation and insert it into a modern, capitalistic society. Like anything from prehistory -- from diet to exercise patterns -- we may know these things are healthy for us, but who has the time to walk 15 kilometers every day? Who wants to eat rabbits and insects?

We are up against 10, years of agrarian culture. You don't necessarily want this fluid situation for your kids when everyone else has fathers and central families at their school. We don't have the answer. We don't know what to make of it either. But this pervasive myth has got to go. Our principal ambition for the book was that it would encourage and empower people to clarify their sexual nature before signing on to long-term commitments. All we're advocating is to take a harm-reduction approach to infidelity rather than a "just say no" approach.

So, to those who say, "Just get divorced if there's infidelity It's very American, this script that you just end the relationship. We're calling for sex without lying. If that's what you want, figure out a way to deal with these things without the deception, self-destruction and pain to both parties.

You have to have the courage to come out of the closet about what you want or need, and you will eventually find people who understand that and can do that. You do it in every other aspect of your relationship. Be open about what you both need, and if you can't figure that out ahead of time.

If you aren't sexually compatible, that's not a sign of immaturity. You can't "just grow up" and change your nature. It's a sign of being incompatible. Nothing more and nothing less. Keyishian lives in San Francisco, but left her heart in Brooklyn.

She's written for every magazine you can think of, having spent four years as a Cosmopolitan staff writer and then freelancing for Self, Glamour, Maxim, Men's Health, Seventeen, Inc.

She has a couple kids, a couple step-kids, a husband, and a severe Twitter hashtag addiction. Interview by Stephen Snyder, M. In our modern world's fascination with the infidelities of its leaders and celebrities, the authors of Sex at Dawn see a vague recollection of a bygone era when sexual liberty was considered everyone's birthright.

Your book offers an explanation why -- because it motivated early hunter-gatherers to mate promiscuously, which was good for the group. We've known that grooming behavior was crucial to maintaining social networks among group-living primates.

But this same logic hadn't really been applied to sexual contact before. Your idea that the basic sexual unit in hunter-gatherer societies may not have been the couple, but the group -- how did this idea come to you? Morgan is largely forgotten today, even among anthropologists. He spent long periods living among Indian groups in upstate New York, and wrote about the "primal horde" as an early stage of social organization.

I suppose it was Morgan who really got me started down this path. Reading your book, I thought, "Of course early human sexuality was a group affair. They didn't have bedroom doors. There was very little privacy for most of our existence as a species. Even today, many pre-agricultural people live in communal dwellings where sex is at least a semi-public event.

Among sexuality scholars, there's always a tension between the essentialists who look for enduring truths, and the social constructionists who say all sexual norms are dictated by culture. Your book seems to move back and forth between these tendencies. Sex at Dawn gives great examples of the social construction of tastes and attitudes, both sexual and non-sexual.

For instance, some hunter-gatherers report that grub worms taste great. But I should stipulate that I've never eaten a grub worm. I'm as much a victim of cultural programming as anyone! But then you tack in an essentialist direction - saying that we are "essentially" promiscuous by design. I think it's pretty clear that human beings are both. We're highly adaptive and responsive to cultural conditioning, but our experience and behavior also reveal deeply ingrained structures reflective of evolutionary pressures.

Our culture has convinced many of us that a Big Mac, fries, and a milkshake constitute a good meal. But when we eat this way, our bodies inevitably rebel. So we're highly malleable, but only within certain biologically-imposed parameters.

The media have paid lots of attention to your claim that monogamy is the equivalent of a Big Mac with fries. The social constructionist part of your book, with its careful exploration of culture's influence on sexual attitudes, has been pretty much neglected. As Tony Soprano would say, "Whaddyagonnado? Frankly, we're thrilled the book's getting any attention at all! As Oscar Wilde said, "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.

But your depiction of early human female sexuality is a radical departure: I think it's difficult for most of us to really imagine how women would behave if they weren't backed into a corner by being economically dependent on men - and carrying several millennia worth of sexual repression on their backs. The world is hardly a safe place for women to express sexual curiosity, and hasn't been for a very long time. I was surprised by the book's ending.

Given your argument that monogamy was a natural outcome of our transition to an ownership society, it surprised me that you argued that we could now incorporate non-monogamy. We argued for incorporating honest communication about our true feelings and experiences. Clearly, there's room for a bit of realism to be interjected!

I came away from Sex at Dawn convinced that once you have an ownership society, you're stuck with monogamy. But there are different types of ownership societies. Denmark is very different from the U. But let me ask you. How would you have ended the book? I'd have said that abandoning our hunter-gatherer ways was tragic in many respects -- but that we can't go back to Eden.

Good luck selling that proposal to a publisher! I'm in enough hot water already, thank you. Using evidence from psychology, archeology, physiology, anthropology and primatology, the book traces the sexual behavior of our hunter-gatherer ancestors and comes to a culture-shocking but inescapable conclusion: Intelligent, iconoclastic, and wildly entertaining, the book takes on the "standard narrative" of the withholding female and the jealous male and turns it on its head.

I asked Christopher Ryan some questions about the things that matter to those who care about sexual freedom. I understand that you are a psychologist and your wife is a psychiatrist. What led you into working on this book? I wrote my doctoral dissertation on human sexual behavior in prehistory and Cacilda did research on human sexuality in Mozambiquean villages for the World Health Organization back in the 90s, so this book has been percolating in both of us for a long time.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, both on an intellectual level and as entertainment. I've seen people comment, however, that your humorous style felt flippant or dismissive.

In a field that is already so open to ridicule, why did you choose to write Sex at Dawn this way? Our goal was to write a book that was both informative and fun to read, but some people think that a serious book has to have a serious tone.

Humor can be very serious, and serious issues can be pretty funny. Plus, we're liberated by not being academics, so we don't need to worry about faculty meetings and tenure committees.

I tried to have fun in my dissertation, but one of the readers on my committee kept writing, "Save it for the book. With all the misery that the "standard narrative" causes, what do you think people are so afraid of? When people feel threatened, they fear any relaxation of structures they think are protecting them.

From Vietnam to the war on drugs, Americans refused to give an inch until millions of lives were needlessly destroyed.

Often, the greatest threat we face is our refusal to accept the inevitability of change. By refusing to accept it, we surrender our opportunity to shape it. Everybody knows that conventional marriage is a failed institution for the vast majority of people, but rather than allow it to change with the times, these reactionary types are digging in their heels. It's a very unfortunate pattern we see playing out in practically every arena of American society right now.

I live and write in a loose-knit community of polyamorists, and know many people who make it work beautifully. What do you think is the next step for modern romance and family life? I suspect the next few decades are going to bring a radical reconfiguration of American society.

Romance and family rituals generally follow and adapt to economic conditions, so we may well see realignments resulting in multi-family homes and off-the-grid communal situations. Some of these could involve some form of group parenting, home schooling, and so on.

But a lot of this depends on what happens economically and politically in the U. Crisis brings opportunity for change, and major crisis looms ever larger these days. One of the things that struck me most strongly about this book was its powerful feminist message: How much of writing this book, for you and Cacilda, was about this issue? Divide and conquer is the oldest trick in the book, and dividing men and women is probably its oldest application.

The thing we most passionately wanted to convey in this book is that men and women are not from different planets and the so-called "War Between the Sexes" is a dangerous distraction from the real enemies targeting all of us.

We need to be united against those who tell us we are born in sin and must live our lives in shame and guilt. We need to work together to overcome those who are trying to convince children that God hates them for their natural curiosity, refusing homosexual couples the dignity and legal protections of marriage, and legislating morality they themselves don't follow.

Much as we respect and admire Darwin, we thought it important to show how misogynistic the Darwinian view of human sexual evolution really is. We're all susceptible to social influence, and people need to understand how deeply Victorian morality is entwined in some Darwinian theory.

This same unwarranted assumption about female sexual appetite being limited to whores and nymphomaniacs fueled the pathologizing of healthy female sexual response [that continues to this day].

I write about kink as well as about open relationships, and I noticed that you write only briefly about "paraphilias," and paint them in a negative light as the result of sexual repression. But you spend no time discussing the wide variety of kinky sex and fetishes that many enjoy in the modern world.

Do you believe that the pain and power play that kinksters engage in is solely a result of the patriarchal power dynamics that emerged when our species went agricultural? Is there any evidence of "kinky" sex in hunter gatherer societies? Apart from group sex, partner-swapping, trans-gender acceptance, higher tolerance for child sexuality, and a lot of homosexuality, we didn't come across many indications of sexual practices that Westerners would consider kinky. This could simply reflect the fact that most anthropologists would be uncomfortable writing about these things, but it's more likely an indication that there's not much of a BDSM presence in hunter gatherers.

It seems that when sexual satisfaction is relatively easy to come by [as it is in many such cultures], these more elaborate expressions of libido—particularly those related to pain and control—tend not to develop. One subject that didn't get a lot of treatment in your book was sex work. As a sex-positive feminist, I believe in women's rights to do sex work safely and consensually.

Following from the theories in your book, sex work would have been wholly unnecessary until the dawn of agricultural civilization. Did you do any research as to when "the world's oldest profession" actually began, and what are your thoughts on sex work in the modern world? This would depend on how you define prostitution. As we discuss in the book, women often offer themselves sexually in order to motivate men to get out of their hammocks and do something productive.

We also talk about a woman going with work parties to have sex with the men at the end of the day as a way to make the work more palatable. But this isn't really prostitution, as there's no money changing hands and the women, according to the anthropologists' reports, don't feel put upon in any way.

This is just their way of contributing to the effort. So, if you're defining prostitution as money for sex, then it couldn't logically have arisen before the advent of agriculture which, if we're correct, was when sex along with most everything else shifted from an economy based upon sharing and plentitude to one organized around scarcity and hoarding.

As George Carlin observed a long time ago, how can it be legal to sell things and legal to have sex but illegal to sell sex? Any adult should be free to do whatever he or she wants with their mind and body. And it's dangerous nonsense because its illegality creates unregulated markets, inflates prices, and empowers the criminal element—just like we see with drugs. Declaring war against human nature is always a mistake, but we appear to be unable, or unwilling, to learn that lesson. Sometimes I think the human brain is nature's only example of an animal having an organ it doesn't know how to use.

A new book says we have been at war with eroticism for centuries, suppressing biological imperatives while attempting to abide by a societal structure set down by religious, political and scientific forces that have misinformed us about our sexuality.

In service of the monogamy myth, marriages have been needlessly broken, families torn apart and political leaders from Bill Clinton to Don Brash humbled and humiliated. Before that, Ryan says, humans lived in small egalitarian groups, surviving by sharing everything: A fan of the book, Ryan, like most others in the field, bought into this theory. He puckers his lips and lets her knock him around a little. All the while, his eyes regard her with what looks like an accepting, contented expression.

Later, the video shows the two rolling around together in the grass, embraced in a hug. Eventually, the male leads the female by the hand away from the watchful eyes of human onlookers. They are fun-loving, highly social animals with some eerily human habits: In fact, we are so similar to bonobos that it has been only five to six million years since we split from the ancestral line that links us with them and our chimpanzee cousins.

In the past, human behaviour has been compared closely with that of chimps, which have shown war-like tendencies under certain settings as well as numerous redeeming characteristics. But the often-overlooked bonobos, an endangered species found only in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, are a decidedly more peaceful and loving bunch. They are also spectacularly promiscuous within their groups.

It turns out that bonobo females at the height of their fertility, not unlike their human counterparts, can be very loud in expressing their carnal pleasure. A legacy of this behaviour is seen in a Australian study that showed that guys who view porn depicting two men with one woman produce ejaculates with more effective sperm than those viewing porn showing only women. It also explains why men reach orgasm quickly and then temporarily lose interest in sex, while women have developed the capacity for multiple orgasms.

Even today, many societies have an open approach to sex, marriage and parenthood. The men then all take on a father role in raising the child. The purpose of sexual attraction is to bring two people together.

So, what to make of love? If all that stuff Hollywood has peddled about Mr Right and The One turns out to be just an excuse to get us rutting to perpetuate our DNA, is there any hope for the starry-eyed among us? But here Ryan offers a sharp distinction between love and being in love.

The former is deep and real, he argues, while the latter is probably just pleasantly delusional, a hasty misinterpretation of the hormonal frenzy that comes with initial, and ultimately fleeting, sexual passion which lasts about two to four years.

Part of that, at least on the male side, can be attributed to the increased levels of testosterone experienced when a man finds a new sex partner. The renewed vitality and stronger sense of being alive that a man gets from a novel lover, however, is hard to replicate. Despite the advice from various glossy magazines, a few candles, some crotchless panties and a handful of rose petals are not going to have a long-lasting effect on the areas that testosterone so adroitly targets.

There are still strong forces within us that can accommodate the vagaries of our sexual biology, Ryan says. If he is right, then Western society, among a few others, may need to do some serious soul-searching.

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נערות ליווי בלונדון סרטי זקס -

Why might your normally modest wife fantasize about being consensually gangbanged by the Brazilian soccer team? These are some of the big questions that Drs. Part Three detours into material foundations for such societies, not as we assume so poor, nasty, brutish, or short in lifespan as Hobbes famously defined the primitive state. Apart from group sex, partner-swapping, trans-gender acceptance, higher tolerance for child sexuality, and a lot of homosexuality, we didn't come across many indications of sexual practices that Westerners would consider kinky. Eventually, the male leads the female by the hand away from the watchful eyes of human onlookers. But they זיונים עם ישראליות זיון סינית difficult to observe, since they נערות ליווי בלונדון סרטי זקס not to hang around her camp. One of the things that really propelled us to write this book was the feeling we got that the standard narrative is like the pre-Copernican version of the solar .

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נערות ליווי בלונדון סרטי זקס בקס חינם ישבנים שחורים
סקס זין סקס מבוגרות ישראליות 275
נערות ליווי בלונדון סרטי זקס סרטי עיסוי ארוטי פורנו לבנות
נערות ליווי בלונדון סרטי זקס פורנ זיון בחורות
Within נערות ליווי בלונדון סרטי זקס relatively small tribes, most humans had multiple partners, primarily from within the tribal group, although occasionally we'd have a dalliance with a stranger to keep the DNA pool zesty. Oh, are you just, like, gagging for another theory? Any adult should be free to do whatever he or she wants with סרטי סקס במרפאה תנוחת פרפר mind and body. There are still strong forces within us that can accommodate the vagaries of our sexual biology, Ryan says. One place to look would be Northern Europe. Monogamy does not seem to be built into our behavior, but forced upon us by our culture and religion.

So why do we believe that sexual love must be confined to one lover? I was particularly delighted to read their reference to my favorite developmental neuropsychologist and mentor, Dr.

That is, through a series of biological hurdles and the phenomenon of sperm wars, the female genital system only allows the strongest—or best positioned—sperm to win the prize of fertilizing the egg. And they weave it all together—stats and studies on everything from porn to prairie voles, balls to bukkake, vibrators to vampire bats, cuckolds to cougars, Melanesian Wedding Orgies to Victorian morality, instant lust to lasting love—to support their idea which holds very close to my idea that the human body and the human mind and that general all-around crazy thing that we call human behavior all reflect both our true highly sexual nature and our very promiscuous prehistoric past—one which seems to have also been a relatively peaceful past, much like the Bonobo Way of peace through pleasure suggests that it would have been… This is not to suggest that we should all live in polyamorous households.

Personally, I love being married—to just one husband. More power to them. Commit Bloggamy with her at http: This book has caused me to look seriously at what I believed was factual about my favorite subject and question some of the received wisdom of my text books and mentors. Nor do many of the people I see around me. Monogamy does not seem to be built into our behavior, but forced upon us by our culture and religion. High divorce rates, cheating scandals like Tiger Woods and Jesse James seem more like the norm.

The gay marriage issue is difficult to understand in a standard evolutionary perspectives. She watches for any sign he might leave her intimacy with other women and he watches for any sign of sexual infidelity lack of paternity certainty. Instead of seeing these as elements of human nature, the authors suggest they are adaptations to social conditions.

Those few of these societies that still exist today are fiercely egalitarian, sharing everything. They look at the work of the major writers on the human historical record, anthropologists and archeologists and, particularly, evolutionary psychologists, and point out their assumptions. For example, I have been taught, and have taught, that marriage is found in over different cultures and societies.

How long do they last, how hard are they to end, what meaning do these cultures apply to what the outside observer sees? Is it marriage, or is it pair bonding, or just sexual behavior they are seeing? And in any case, what does this say about pre-agricultural societies in the , years of anatomically modern humans.

The authors write at length, and with humor, about the genetic connection to our nearest primate cousins, and question why the chimpanzee is considered the model for human history and not the bonobo. Is it because modern day man is at war over scarce resources and the bonobo just wants to have sex and eat. How could THAT be our ancestor?

Human beings, regardless of religion, are at the other end of the libidinal spectrum: I cannot begin to cover what the authors cover in pages of text, 35 pages of endnotes and 31 pages of references.

I can only encourage you to buy this book, mark up the interesting parts, review their endnotes and references, and decide for yourself if what you teach is really factual, or socially conditioned cultural beliefs. I suspect you might change your lecture notes, I have. Savage also had Ryan on his podcast and has championed the book repeatedly. Sparking debate and controversy, Sex at Dawn challenges many widely held assumptions about evolutionary psychology.

Why did I hate such a book before reading a page of it? Primarily, because my ex-boyfriend read the book upon a vague reference I made to it without having picked it up myself , and offered it up as evidence that no human being is wired for monogamy. Funny thing is once I got around to reading it, I actually found myself nodding along. And I quickly realized that the authors themselves had a much more complex interpretation of their data and research than the snippets I was afforded through my past partner.

The book details how attitudes around sexual monogamy changed with the advent of agriculture and the ownership of property—and then it offers several ideas as to why.

At the same time, they underscore again and again the innate human capacity for love and generosity of spirit, and regardless of gender or sexual orientation. The authors refer often to the bonobo monkeys, who have peaceful communities, a range of partners, high incidence of homosexual activity, and tons of joyful sex.

Sex at Dawn was engaging from start to finish and chock full of surprising information. For example, there is a chart about the relative body size of different types of male and female primates, along with descriptions of their sexual behavior.

I recommend this book to anyone who ever puzzled over relationships, sex, or how the two intersect. Looking back, I wish I could have had a more informed discussion with my ex about its contents—it clearly had a lot to offer both of us.

He regularly makes public appearances, tweets items of interest, and develops ideas and discussions to continue this very important conversation. She works in nonprofit management and development. Stop giggling to yourself. Actually stopping this time. If you are one of those people that has read too many three volume Civil War accounts and thinks non-fiction is just the most tedious and tiresome of the boringest, get ready to change your opinion about the genre starting rightthissecondnow.

You only kind of believe me? Oh, are you just, like, gagging for another theory? Did you EVER think that someone would try to solve conflict in the Middle East by trying to tear down the institution of marriage? Do you want to get a great present for that 12 year old boy you know?

This might be it. Plus like a video game and a card with a picture of boobs on it. But this book did make me think. About what sex is. What a relationship is. What the point of monogamy is.

I love my romance. I love my closed relationship. I love my male friends knowing we are not going to have sex. I love random dudes on the street knowing we are not going to have sex.

I love my boyfriend not having sex with random girls. I love my boyfriend being stingy with his genitals. I love being stingy with my genitals! But I also love a book that really makes me think.

Dudes, you know you want to have a boner while reading non-fiction. Ladies, you know you want to have a metaphorical boner while reading nonfiction. Non-fiction boners for everyone! Or maybe a wandering-through-your-twenties-aimlessly-and-questioning-everything-you-thought-you-knew-about-yourself kind of relationship.

Oh, you did get it? Oh, you got it a hundred and ten percent? Check my face for my reaction to this suggestion. Oh, yeah, we are tucked in all right. Because they roamed to wherever food was plentiful, these early tribes neither had nor needed many possessions. Because nature provided for all their needs in abundance, they had no modern concept of ownership or property.

All resources were shared with the group, and there was nearly always enough. Sexual enjoyment, like everything else, was a bountiful resource to be shared with everyone.

There would probably have been little or no sexual jealousy. Sexual autonomy and freedom were a natural birthright for both men and women. One could mate with as many partners as one wished.

Sexual promiscuity was the rule rather than the exception. Sexual monogamy might have struck these ancients as a silly and selfish idea. Instead, sexual relations served to bond all members of the group together. The more sex, the happier and more cohesive the tribe. But is there any evidence to back up this notion of how our prehistoric ancestors lived? The evidence from comparative anatomy is even more compelling. For all of you who are still hesitating about whether to buy the book: What awful thing did we do as a species, to get us expelled from this delicious Eden?

The dawn of agriculture 10, years ago was an economic and cultural catastrophe from which we have never recovered. The organizing principle of human existence changed from abundance to scarcity. Since resources were now scarce, competition became the new cultural norm, as did individual ownership of land and other precious resources.

Wars erupted, for the first time in human history. And the once-peaceful little tribal group, with its sharing of bountiful resources, degenerated into smaller family units, each jealously guarding its small plot of land. Sexual life was transformed as well. In the new ownership societies, one person would now claim another as his or her property, to be jealously guarded against competitors.

Cultural institutions arose to safeguard sexual property. Chief among these was the new cultural ideal of sexual monogamy. This is our everyday world. Like adults watching children at play, the book forces us to confront the existence of a sexual paradise from which our agricultural intelligence accidentally exiled us long ago. We could use more intelligent debate in our field. Will the ideas it contains influence our culture — particularly our insistence on monogamy?

As the book proves beyond any doubt, culture is very powerful. But go read it anyway. And that the development 10, years ago of agriculture, an ownership society, and sexual monogamy brought an end to this golden age of sexuality. As a sex therapist in New York City where the kind of ownership society begun 10, years ago has perhaps reached a pinnacle of development , I wonder about whether the ideas discussed in this book will influence my field much.

But they were difficult to observe, since they tended not to hang around her camp much. So she tried to attract them nearer by regularly feeding them bananas.

The effect, evidently, was to make the chimpanzees more aggressive. Fighting between them increased dramatically. The gentle chimpanzees happily feeding far apart in the forest, not bothering each other? Or the hoodlum chimpanzees shoving each other out of the way at the daily banana trough? The answer, as Ryan and Jetha eloquently express, is neither. It all depends on the conditions. Change the conditions, and you change which of many potential natures will be manifest.

For the chimpanzees, a peaceful society depended on abundant food supply that was dispersed, with lots of feeding spots for everyone. Stick a big box of bananas in the middle of the forest, and the whole neighborhood goes to hell. The kind of early human social structure that encouraged sexual promiscuity was a delicate thing.

It required a small tightly-knit group of less than individuals, an abundant natural food supply, and an inability to hoard resources. The reality is more sobering.

The material conditions that would permit a stable culture of sexual promiscuity are long since gone. In my own practice it already has. But in a different way than you might think. One that can no longer be adequately described in words or images, because the psychological and cultural conditions necessary for it have vanished. This once-ecstatic form of sexual being was probably often communal, and involved an absence of shame and a deep sense of communal connection that I cannot imagine.

Be tolerant of the sexual struggles of your fellow moderns. Or, to quote the Wordsworth poem again, We will grieve not, rather find Strength in what remains behind; In the primal sympathy Which having been must ever be; In the soothing thoughts that spring Out of human suffering. Our sexual exile will not end anytime soon. There are often good sources for solid scientific information that is even sometimes well written. But the confluence of convincingly presented statistics which refute common truisms, layman's-level language without losing a whisker of intellectual rigor, and lots of sly humor is truly rare.

I have not read such delightful, convincing, and readable science writing since the dearly lamented Stephen Jay Gould. This book is funny, absorbing, clear-eyed, and deeply anti-patriarchal in a way that feels incidental to the facts rather than rising from any agenda -- which I find utterly, gleefully vindicating and deeply satisfying. The stated agenda of this book is to prove that despite years of scientific and social leaders telling us that humans evolved to be monogamous, we in fact evolved to have multiple sexual partners either simultaneously or at least in fairly quick succession.

I think anyone who has paid the slightest bit of attention to the world around us would come to this conclusion: Why, as the book points out, do some people risk stoning and death for extra marital sexual relations if it is our natural state to be blissfully, lifelongedly shhhh it's a word now monogamous? Well, because it isn't human nature, that's why. The authors go on at length to pull apart what they call the 'standard narrative,' first presenting the assumptions that have influenced so much of scientific and social thought, as well as their extremely flawed originators.

They point out that the only apes which are monogamous are gibbons -- more closely related to monkeys than to humans. They also point out how rare lifelong monogamy is among animals entirely, killing such sacred cows as swans and penguins.

Sorry, folks, but they practice serial monogamy -- like nearly every other supposedly monogamous animal. Prairie voles, which are famously set up to be an example to us as we are so closely related, one assumes will apparently have sex with anything that moves but will only sit next to their lifelong 'spouses.

What I found particularly refreshing was their refusal to exoticize and worship the 'primitive' as a somehow non-cultural being pure and closer to our ancestors than we are, yet still use the data of what few current pre-agrarian or nearly pre-agrarian societies we have at our disposal in real and convincing ways.

What I actually found the most fascinating about this book was not its stated premise, although they certainly make their point with a wealth of well-presented historical and physical data. I will leave him 'nasty' as apparently we were doing the nasty all the time, with pretty much anyone we wanted. Also there was no indoor plumbing. Critics of evolutionary psychology point out that there is no way of knowing how we may have acted or interacted, although the fossil record does show that after humans managed to survive infancy, we had quite long lives before the agricultural revolution introduced famine, plagues, and bad nutrition.

Their vision of what early humankind was probably like is far more compelling than the story we've all been told of men fighting over 'their women' and controlling the fertility of women much like gorillas, who are not terribly closely related to us in comparison with the freely sexual chimps and bonobos. The premise I found so heartening and enlightening about this book had nothing to do with sex.

It had to do with the patriarchal idea of individual competition. Of 'nasty, brutish' motivations between the sexes that are essentially at odds. It tears that idea asunder and presents us with a far more compelling idea, one that rings far more true: An idea of what makes us human not as warfare, but as communication, non-reproduction-based sexuality, and cooperation. With lines like "Despite its lack of curlicues, the human penis is not without interesting design features," it made me laugh out loud every ten pages.

Just as importantly, this book made me proud to be human. Often, they like it as much as men do - if not more. As much as this seems obvious to us, this is still in many ways a radical statement. Just ask Holly Hill. Key to Hill's argument against monogamy is the idea that men need sex, while women simply like it.

If you deny your man the loving he deserves, he will just go get it somewhere else. Or so the logic goes. But there is another argument against monogamy that makes a lot more sense than Hill's retrobabble.

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: Why the electrified high-security razor-wire fence to contain a kitty-cat?

Female sexuality has been a source of fear for centuries. It's been repressed and pathologized to the point where many women like Hill have come to believe that women seek sex for "intimacy" and not orgasm.

Interestingly, both camps boil it down to a single statement: Humans aren't really meant for monogamy. Infidelity, ugly as it may be, is actually kind of normal. Everything about us, from the shape of our genitalia to the way we have sex, points toward a more open view of sex and love. But does that mean we should just scrap the modern model and move onto polygamy or something of that sort?

In an interview published last week at Salon , Ryan explained: All we're really hoping for is to encourage more tolerance and more open discussion between men and women about sexuality and about marriage, and to come to see that marriage isn't about sex. It's about things that are much deeper and more lasting than sex, especially if you have children. And the American insistence on mixing love and sex and expecting passion to last forever is leading to great suffering that we think is tragic and unnecessary.

Separation of love and sex is not exactly a new idea, but the underlying context, that maybe sex isn't that big of a deal is something that bears repeating. As a society, we're pretty obsessed with sex. Maybe monogamy goes against our nature, but I suspect this doesn't matter nearly as much in a relationship as honesty and communication. No one, under any circumstances, needs to cheat - sex may be a driving force, but we are all more powerful than urges. Instead of promoting "tolerance," which is dangerously close the the crap Hill is shilling, maybe we should focus on the "open discussion" part of the equation.

Why do Jake and Vienna spark headlines—until the next couple, next week? What lures them to stray? After nearly two million years in the making, must we roam as randily as our bonobo cousins? It took a village to raise a child because any father or mother in the village might have created that child. Before the fetishizing of paternity that accompanied the rise of agriculture, the surplus of wealth, and the imposition of fidelity to legitimize inheritance, foragers imprinted their wayward ways within us.

Part Two applies anthropology. Why have such models been ignored or opposed? Western academics filter them through biases towards patriarchy; they perceive a matriarchy by distorting a mirror image that no society has been able to match. Inspired by sociobiologist E.

Part Three detours into material foundations for such societies, not as we assume so poor, nasty, brutish, or short in lifespan as Hobbes famously defined the primitive state.

Communal belonging likely produced for many of our forebears less stress than we suffer. Conflicts could be avoided or neutralized. An ancestral, open, relaxed sexuality gave way, with agriculture and wealth accumulation, to more toil, greater disease, and endemic inequality. Perhaps we bargained it away for refrigeration and dentistry, but we also produced slavery, discrimination, pain imposed upon women, and institutionalized fear of their sexual sway.

Part Four shifts back to our physical design. Their chapters cram dense learning with a lively array of anecdotes and statistics on this endlessly engaging topic.

The authors wonder if we might be moving into polyamorous relationships again today, as the nuclear family weakens.

Instinctive patterns rewarding a non-moralized, positive promiscuity may in time, once and if our morality adapts, replace our rigid monogamy. Trusting their clan, people indulged several sexual relationships at once.

This cohesive pattern endures in primitive societies studied today. Part Five answers why even when bonded to one partner, couples may seek satisfaction elsewhere. Homosexuals in too-rapid an authorial aside , persist due to a simple desire for bonding, one that can elude reproductive demands.

Couples seek emotional and sexual adventure so affairs go on; non-monogamy need not equate with debauchery. Where does this leave those vowed as pair-bonded?

At least they do in my neighborhood. It might be too late for Jake and Vienna to kiss and make up. Savvier readers of this book—rather than that headline—may, however, reconcile themselves with these perplexing instincts, bred into us by our wandering progenitors over millions of years.

I actually though this was just-a-little-bit-this-side-of-sexy so we get our butts all tucked in bed. April 23, at 5: This is a book that opens a path to enlightenment. Advocates of the naturalness of monogamy for humans rarely state it in such bluntly economic terms, however — unless they are called upon to explain why they think it is natural, even in the face of soaring divorce rates, countless extramarital affairs and widespread single parenthood.

Supporters of monogamy are left with little choice but to hold it up as a romantic ideal, obviously difficult to achieve, but worth striving for. The contradictions of their position are obvious when you think about it — if monogamy is natural, why do so many people find it so difficult? And why is it worth striving for if it contributes to so much misery?

This understanding makes sense when you consider that for the majority of time Homo sapiens have existed, our ancestors seem to have lived in small hunter-gatherer groups who very probably had quite different social arrangements to those with which we are familiar.

Sexual intimacy serves to reduce aggression and conflict within the group, and bind its members together in relationships of trust and cooperation. Children are children of the tribe, not of specific pairs, and they are cared for by all the adult members of the group. It seems a little odd, then, to assume that humans would be inclined to monogamy, like the more distantly related, less social and less intelligent gibbon, which is often held up as an exemplar of the nuclear family arrangement claimed to be natural for humans.

The authors go on to show how various aspects of human anatomy, in particular the genitalia, reflect the evolution of humans as promiscuous lovers.

Where there is genetic competition, it takes place at a cellular level, much more so than at the macroscopic level of the whole organism. The book offers an extensive and fascinating discussion of sperm competition and shows how humans seem to be evolved for this to take place.

So, here we are, stuck in a post-agricultural world with our pre-agricultural inclinations. What are we to do about it? Sex At Dawn offers little in the way of suggestions, but it does touch on the potential for polyamorous arrangements, swinging, and generally taking a more open and accepting view of sexuality. The book resonates powerfully with much of my personal experience. Sexual exclusivity has never been of paramount importance to me, nor have I ever considered sexual straying to be a deal-breaker in any relationship though perhaps an opening for some serious discussion!

Indeed, on those occasions where a partner of mine has been involved with another person, my response has not been to feel jealous, but rather to feel conscious of an expectation that I ought to be jealous. Such is the power of social conditioning. In fact, one of the best things about Sex At Dawn is that it invites us to examine many of the social and cultural assumptions that underpin — and perhaps actually undermine — our understanding of the way things are in our world.

It exposes some of the idols of our own minds. So it is without hesitation that I recommend Sex At Dawn to anyone interested in taking a fresh look at the so-called battle of the sexes. Read it with someone you love.

It will change your life. Well, perhaps not, but it will most certainly make you think. I highly recommend it. It goes a long way toward providing a reasonable explanation for the way human beings really are sexually. I like to think of myself as courageously seeking out important truths, however uncomfortable.

I was excited to read the contrarian Sex at Dawn, which suggests sexual promiscuity is our forager heritage. But that pretty sparkler was really a grenade — its uncomfortable truths shook me to my core. In the controversial tome Sex at Dawn: It was only after the advent of agrarian society and its focus on individual property, the authors argue, that sex became a commodity pursued by men and hoarded by women.

One of those books that blew my mind and shifted my paradigms. One of those books that I think everyone should read. Where do I stand on the issue? I want to have discussions with everyone I know about this book.

This book, while an excellent tour of human lustful behavior, is lacking on the murkier matter of love. But I definitely recommend reading it. Whether or not this book will really make such a splash in the wider world, I believe it is the most important thing to happen for the polyamory-awareness movement in a very long time.

Among the myths the authors challenge are that "monogamy is natural, marriage is a human universal, and any family structure other than the nuclear is aberrant" p. They have little use for the one about how "men and women evolved in families in which a man's possessions and protection were exchanged for a woman's fertility and fidelity. I really do believe, like the authors do, that understanding and accepting our biological make-up can make us happier, healthier, and more peaceful people.

I very highly recommend this book. Is the nuclear family bad for people's mental health? Can a child have more than one biological father? These are some of the provocative questions explored in the new book Sex at Dawn: The authors argue, among other things, that human beings have evolved to desire sexual novelty — and that the current cultural conventions of marriage and monogamy, while not wrong, come at a cost to well-being — which would help explain why so many couples have problems with infidelity.

I spoke with Ryan recently: Do you think that early humans were promiscuous, rather than monogamous or polygamous? I think it looked like casual sexual [behavior], with overlapping simultaneous sexual relationships between different people who had known each other for most of their lives. This is the difficulty of using words like promiscuous. For us, promiscuous means random, cheap, shallow, but these people grew up with each other in most cases.

There was some shifting between bands of [hunter-gatherers] but they certainly knew each other very well and depended on each other for everything from child protection to sharing food, for support of every kind. There was a very deep sense of intimacy. But if humans have evolved to be more polygamous than monogamous, why do we also have jealousy?

In various cultures, people become very unhappy when their romantic partners sleep with someone else. Depending on the cultural context, jealousy can be a major or minor issue. It varies between individuals to a great extent. I think we're mistaken in generalizing our own sense of jealousy and assuming that what we see around us is an expression of human nature as opposed to perhaps something that is [just] part of human nature.

Are you saying that early humans didn't fall in love — or pair-bond, as the researchers say — or didn't mind when someone they were in love with cheated?

It's like [with] jealousy. The pair-bond does appear to be an expression of some aspect of human nature but I think we make a mistake in assuming that the pair-bond included sexual exclusivity. I wouldn't use the word cheat because it is so loaded. The fact that these are the words we choose says something about the cultural forces trying to shape our experiences.

There certainly is evidence that human beings form very deep, loving, long-term, unique relationships, often between a male-female couple, but not always. So you don't think early humans pair-bonded to raise children?

We're arguing that the pair-bond was not the basis of the family unit and was not, as has been hypothesized, an evolutionary adaptation for raising children. You are basically agreeing, then, with anthropologist Sarah Hrdy, who claims that parenting requires more than two people and that early human children were raised by extended families and friends. We're really challenging the whole notion of the traditional family being a mother, father and two kids. We agree with Sarah Hrdy that that's not the nucleus of human organization.

The nucleus is a band-level society in which there are many adults taking care of many children. Love flows between all the adults. The nuclear family is detrimental to both child development and parental mental health. It's like wearing shoes that don't fit. Society can force you into [them] or you can force yourself and you're going to suffer. Are you suggesting that people should not be monogamous? What we're hoping is that the book will provoke people to reconsider their assumptions about the naturalness of long-term sexual monogamy.

We're not encouraging people to abandon the notion of long-term sexual monogamy, we're just encouraging them to educate themselves and have a more realistic sense of what to expect if that's the path they choose. This is not an indictment of monogamy. Choosing a lifetime of a monogamous union is like choosing to be a vegetarian.

It's not necessarily a bad decision. It's very healthy — it's ethically wise, but that doesn't mean that bacon isn't going to smell good any more. I have to ask you, do you practice what you preach?

We have a stock answer for this. Our relationship is informed by our research but we don't discuss the particulars publicly. Some would argue that people tried having open marriages in the s and it didn't work out too well. There was a massive increase in the divorce rate.

We confront that in the book. First, where's the proof that it didn't work out so well? We don't know, because discretion is such an important part of intimacy. We don't know how many couples experimented and stayed together. We hear about the cases that don't work, but we don't really hear about the ones that did.

Who is going to come out and say, "My wife and I were swingers for 20 years and I want to be your governor"? Your book also discusses "partible paternity," a belief common to some South American hunter-gatherers that a child can actually have multiple fathers, that all the men a woman sleeps with play a role in fathering her child.

Yes, it's the notion that any individual child can have multiple fathers, in both the biological and the spiritual sense. These cultures have names for the different fathers, things like: There are many different tribes down there who believe in it. And it's not just in the Amazon, it's found all over the world. It's an idea that has arisen [independently] all over the world. And because the child is — the fetus is literally made of these men's semen — the woman who wants to have a child that combines the advantages of different fathers will have sex with the best hunter, the best looking [guy], the funniest, in order to get some essence of each of these men into her baby.

Where do you think this idea comes from? It's another indication that sperm competition was present in human evolutionary times, that we evolved in the presence of sperm competition. There are so many indications of that, so many anatomical and behavioral [signs], it's just another nail in the coffin. What other evidence is there for human sperm competition? There's testis size and penis morphology and the fact that the testicles are outside the body rather than inside.

Um, how does size matter? Smaller size of male organs means less sperm competition? Did you see the South Park episode with Tiger Woods? The underlying thesis of the episode was that they formed a commission in Washington to try to figure out what drives successful, powerful men to have sex with young women. The Real Eliot Spitzer Question Do you think there are any models for a successful society that is centered less on the nuclear family or monogamy?

Every culture is sort of developing along its own path. One place to look would be Northern Europe. Marriage rates are very low, but the number of single-parent families is also low. There isn't this economic pressure [to stay together] because the government takes care of mothers and children, so people don't need to worry.

People seem to be much more forgiving and the relationships seem to be more durable, even if they are not official marriages. This is very much a political issue.

It's really breaking down into American versus European notions of what society is. To what extent are we in this together?

In America, it's become so fractured. People end up being so lonely. It really comes down to whether or not we are sharing our lives with enough people. By Christopher Ryan, Special to CNN July 29th, Seismic cultural shifts about 10, years ago rendered the true story of human sexuality so subversive and threatening that for centuries, it has been silenced by religious authorities, pathologized by physicians, studiously ignored by scientists and covered up by moralizing therapists.

In recent decades, the debate over human sexual evolution has entertained only two options: Humans evolved to be either monogamists or polygamists. This tired debate generally devolves into an antagonistic stalemate where women are said to have evolved to seek male-provisioned domesticity while every man secretly yearns for his own harem.

The battle between the sexes, we're told, is bred into our blood and bones. Couples who turn to a therapist for guidance through the inevitable minefields of marriage are likely to receive the confusing message that long-term pair bonding comes naturally to our species, but marriage is still a lot of work. Few mainstream therapists would contemplate trying to persuade a gay man or lesbian to "grow up, get real, and stop being gay.

Thus, couples are led to believe that waning sexual passion in enduring marriages or sexual interest in anyone but their partner portend a failed relationship, when in reality these things often signify nothing more than that we are Homo sapiens. This is a problem because there is no reason to believe monogamy comes naturally to human beings. In fact, for millions of years, evolutionary forces have cultivated human libido to the point where ours is arguably the most sexual species on Earth.

Our ancestors evolved in small-scale, highly egalitarian foraging groups that shared almost everything. Anthropologists have demonstrated time and again that immediate-return hunter-gatherer societies are nearly universal in their so-called "fierce egalitarianism. Most foragers divide and distribute meat equitably, breast-feed one another's babies, have little or no privacy from one another, and depend upon each other every day for survival.

Although our social world revolves around private property and individual responsibility, theirs spins toward interrelation and mutual dependence. This might sound like New Age idealism, but it's no more noble a system than any other insurance pool. Compulsory sharing is simply the best way to distribute risk to everyone's benefit in a foraging context. For nomadic foragers who might walk hundreds of kilometers each month, personal property -- anything needed to be carried -- is kept to a minimum.

Little thought is given to who owns the land, or the fish in the river, the clouds in the sky, or the kids underfoot. An individual male's "parental investment," in other words, tends to be diffuse in societies like those in which we evolved, not directed toward one particular woman -- or harem of women -- and her children, as conventional views of our sexual evolution insist.

But when people began living in settled agricultural communities, social reality shifted deeply and irrevocably. It became crucially important to know where your property ended and your neighbor's began. Remember the 10th Commandment: The standard narrative posits that paternity certainty has always been of utmost importance to our species, whether expressed as monogamy or harem-based polygyny.

Students are taught that our "selfish genes" lead us to organize our sexual lives around assuring paternity, but it wasn't until the shift to agriculture that land, livestock and other forms of wealth could be kept in the family. For the first time in the history of our species, biological paternity became a concern.

Our bodies, minds and sexual habits all reflect a highly sexual primate. Research from primatology, anthropology, anatomy and psychology points to the same conclusion: A nonpossessive, gregarious sexuality was the human norm until the rise of agriculture and private property just 10, years ago, about 5 percent of anatomically modern humans' existence on Earth.

The two primate species closest to us lend strong -- if blush-inducing -- support to this vision. Ovulating female chimps have intercourse dozens of times per day, with most or all of the willing males, and bonobos famously enjoy frequent group sex that leaves everyone relaxed and conflict-free.

The human body tells the same story. Men's testicles are far larger than those of any monogamous or polygynous primate, hanging vulnerably outside the body where cooler temperatures help preserve standby sperm cells for multiple ejaculations. Men sport the longest, thickest primate penis, as well as an embarrassing tendency to reach orgasm when the woman is just getting warmed up.

These are all strong indications of so-called sperm competition in our species' past. Women's pendulous breasts, impossible-to-ignore cries of sexual delight, or "female copulatory vocalization" to the clipboard-carrying crowd, and capacity for multiple orgasms also validate this story of prehistoric promiscuity.

But we are, in fact. Homo sapiens is one of four African great apes, along with chimps, bonobos and gorillas. Just as we can choose to be vegans, we can decide to lead sexually monogamous lives. But newlyweds would be wise to remember that just because you've chosen to be vegan, it's utterly natural to yearn for an occasional bacon cheeseburger.

Saturday, Jul 30, No, not prince charming; he's after the widespread belief in a prehistoric hunter who would slay an antelope on the plains and heroically haul it back to his nuclear family. You might wonder what this has to do with monogamy. Well, Ryan argues that in actuality the meat would have been shared with the entire tribe, because pre-agricultural societies shared everything -- including sex.

Our hunting and gathering ancestors were nonmonogamous, they argue -- the implication being that, biologically speaking, sexual exclusivity is unnatural. The book challenges much of the previously accepted wisdom about the sex lives of our ancestors, although the authors admit they haven't exactly proved their case.

Regardless, they have gained praise and admiration from sexual radicals like sex columnist Dan Savage. That makes Ryan an ideal final interview in Salon's monogamy series, which was originally sparked by Savage's thoughts in a New York Times Magazine piece about "monogam-ish" marriage.

They planned to set out without a destination in mind, enjoy the drive and figure it out as they went -- which is awfully similar to their attitude toward monogamy in their marriage. Why is it wrong, as you argue, to assume that women are the choosy sex and men just want to spread their seed indiscriminately? Well, there's a grain of truth there on a biological level.

There's no denying that women make a greater biological investment in pregnancy and gestation than men do. There's no denying the fact that men produce millions of sperm cells in the amount of time that a woman releases one egg.

But when you look at highly intelligent, highly social species -- particularly primates but also dolphins -- what you find is that that's not the way things happen. The assumption that women are choosing mates based on their access to resources is simply not the way it works in primates that are intelligent and social.

In fact, there are no social, group-living primates that are monogamous. What you find in highly social species is that resources tend to be shared, particularly in bonobos and to some extent in chimps. When you look at pre-agricultural human societies, there really is no private property. Even the best hunters gain their status by sharing what they catch. The worst thing you can do in those societies is hoard food. We're not saying these are "noble savages," we're not slipping into that "oh, they're so much better than us" mindset -- in fact, they're just like us.

They're just in a very different situation in which the best way to spread risk is too share. Today I might kill an antelope, but I'm probably not going to again for a week or two. You don't just go out and shoot an antelope like you go to the grocery store. The way to make sure that everyone eats, especially in a situation where there is no refrigeration, is to share what we find. They share their shelter, defense, childcare, food, access to the spirit world -- why should we believe that sex is the one thing that they don't share?

What we argue is that's an economic issue, it's something that happens with the advent of agriculture when suddenly men became obsessed with paternity because they had this accumulated property that they wanted to pass to their children. You mentioned love briefly -- how does it figure into all of this? Cacilda and I don't dispute that love is a very important human emotion and is deeply embedded in our nature.

In fact, one of the things that we do best is love other people. But what we do dispute is that it's necessarily linked to sexual exclusivity. I think that's something that's very much culturally encouraged in our possessive, imperialistic society. Whereas in many of the societies we discuss in the book, there's not a lot of accumulated property like in agricultural societies, and there are rituals that are expressly designed to discourage that possessiveness and jealousy.

That might suggest that there is a natural inclination toward jealousy and that these societies are working intentionally to minimize that response, whereas we live in a society that works to maximize it. How natural is sexual jealousy, then? I think it's as natural as any other sort of insecurity or possessiveness. In these societies there are also rituals to expressly minimize and discourage selfishness about food, because in that sort of system, selfishness results in disaster for everyone.

Any sort of antisocial behavior, including sexual jealousy, is discouraged in hunter gatherer societies, all based on whether or not it's ultimately positive for the society. In our society, it seems to have had some pro-social function, namely knowing whose kids were whose and keeping inheritance lines. But I think we're at a tipping point now with birth control, adoption, gay couples -- all these biological concerns are dissipating, so maybe we're at a point where we're starting to look at a gradual shift to a more hunter gatherer approach to these issues.

So in the future people will look back at the advent of birth control and say it changed the course of sexual evolution? Yeah, and I think a lot of those changes are a return to earlier ways of thinking. People talk about the sexual revolution in the '60s, which was largely brought on by the pill. For the first time ever, women could have sex with different partners without worrying about it -- at least before AIDS. But in prehistory, I think women were largely having sex without worrying about it, at least in the sense that you didn't need to worry about who was the father of your child, because you lived in a society where resources were shared.

Even if we accept that our ancestral roots are nonmonogamous, we're still living in a dramatically different time now. Does it really make sense to navigate open relationships in this day and age? This week I'm substituting for Dan Savage on his "Letter of the Day" column, and I just wrote a response to a letter asking a similar question.

What I try to articulate very clearly is that we're not advocating nonmonogamy. What we're advocating is a realistic, informed understanding of what sort of animal we are so that when you enter into whatever sort of arrangement you choose, you do it with your eyes open, you do it with an understanding of the difficulties and the risks. You take a compassionate approach to the problems that you're gonna run into. We're very careful not to tell anyone what to do; in fact we say very explicitly that we don't know what to do.

Cacilda and I have been together 12 years, and we always talk about this stuff. It's a live issue for us and it has been since the beginning. There's a lot of guilt-tripping out there, people saying, "This should be easy for you because you're in love, and if it's not easy for you it means you're not in love.

What I say in this column is that monogamy is like vegetarianism. All the evidence points to the fact that we've evolved as omnivores, but that doesn't mean that living as an omnivore in today's world is inherently superior than choosing to be a vegetarian. Being a vegetarian can make perfect sense, it can be ethical, healthy and smart -- but it's not going to come naturally, right?

Just because you've decided to become vegetarian doesn't make you an herbivore. You're an omnivore who's chosen to live as a vegetarian, but bacon is still gonna smell good and you shouldn't feel guilty about that.

I think it's offensive when social institutions like religions and governments and even some scientists say, "Hey, this should come naturally to you.

This is human nature. If you get hungry when you smell bacon, there's something wrong with you. Relationships are living things, they're constantly changing.

When we were working on the book and anticipating what sort of questions we'd get, that was of course at the top of our list: They're gonna ask us about our marriage. One of the first interviews was with Dan Savage and he asked that question and I said, "Our prepared answer is: Our relationship is informed by our research.

Follow tracyclarkflory on Twitter. Jul 28th By Amy Keyishian I have a really good male friend who lives with a woman. He also can't keep it in his pants. He's not a jerk, but when he's on the road, which is a lot, he makes with the local fare. It doesn't affect his home life; they aren't that tight of a couple in the first place. But he still insists on referring to himself as a "slimebag" and a "sociopath" because that's just how he rolls.

This makes me sad. Honestly, while it's not ideal that he's not super-up-front about his habits, this doesn't make him a sociopath.

It makes him not monogamous. Which is not a crime, a moral failing, or a sign of immaturity, according to two new authors. Christopher Ryan, co-author of " Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origin of Modern Sexuality ," wants my friend -- and anyone else calling him- or herself nasty names because they don't fit the marriage-plus-two-kids-forever mold -- to know that the long-accepted idea that humans are naturally monogamous ain't necessarily so.

Give him a chance. At first, he sounds like he might be Mr. Leisure Suit with the cocked eyebrow and the vasectomy pin Then you start realizing he makes a lot of sense.

Start with his central argument: It amounts to false advertising for a garment that fits almost no one. But we're all supposed to buy and wear it anyway. So what is this destructive myth about how human sexuality works?

Well, the standard narrative has many different parts, but the crux of it is that paternity certainty has always been of central concern to human males. So, there's allegedly been this exchange between men and women that goes back to the origin of species, in which women trade sexual fidelity for material support and protection from a particular man.

Which seems to make perfect sense. That's what we've always been told. It makes so much sense to people who look around and say, "That's the central exchange in the relationships in my life. It's comforting for people who want to keep the status quo. The trouble with it is that we've found that in prehistoric times -- before our society became agrarian -- there was no reason women had to trade sexual autonomy.

Everything was shared, from sexual partners to childcare. This central conclusion concerning monogamy is just not backed up. What's destructive about this myth? Adultery has been documented in every human culture studied, including those in which fornicators are routinely stoned to death. In light of all this bloody retribution, it's hard to see how monogamy comes "naturally" to our species.

If monogamy were an ancient, evolved trait characteristic of our species, like the myth says, adultery wouldn't be an issue. No creature needs to be threatened with death to act in accord with its own nature. One of the things that really propelled us to write this book was the feeling we got that the standard narrative is like the pre-Copernican version of the solar system.

It's so complicated, and it's layer upon layer of explanation that doesn't fit together. The mainstream authorities have tried to plug it all together, but there are so many holes in their argument, it's just sort of absurd. How do bonobo apes factor into all this?

Bonobo apes and chimps are our closest relatives on this planet. We share more DNA with them than we do with, say, gorillas. We're more closely related than the African elephant is to the Indian elephant. So while people like to compare humans to, say, lions or walruses, and extrapolate the reasons for our behavior from the animal world, they really should be looking at the bonobos.

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