Saturday, April 02, 2011

Sex at Dawn

The Infamous Brad has an interesting review and summary of Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality. The book investigates the sexuality and mating behavior of human beings from the disciplines of primatology, history and anthropology and biology. According to Brad, the authors collect exhaustive data to conclude that monogamy is entirely an due to agricultural society where inheritance and male ownership of property dominate the economic relations. If Brad is as good a reviewer as it appears (and he appears to be very good indeed), the authors have made a rock-solid case against monogamy being in any sense "natural".


  1. I always argue that marriage is really unnecessary today, and we should embrace the model we're gravitating to: serial monogamy. Although there's something to be said for open relationships if we can be grown-ups about it.

    But I try to avoid discussions of "natural" - which can lead to the essentialist claim that this is how we're "supposed" to be. I prefer a more pragmatic approach focusing on what actually works for people today. Is staying in a stagnant marriage really useful to most of us? Is having sex exclusively with one person more or less beneficial than spreading the love?

    Obviously, most important to this issue is weeding out economic necessity from love. Maybe we need contracts that bind us to support another person who took a financial hit in order to do the bulk of raising our kids, rather than a contract that binds us, with no real binds, to love each other until we die.

  2. I mean "natural" in this sense not as "essential" but as opposed to "artificial," in the same sense that it is natural — but not at all essential — that human beings have two legs.


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