Book Review: Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan & Cacilda Jetha

7640261In this controversial, thought-provoking, and brilliant book, renegade thinkers Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá debunk almost everything we “know” about sex, weaving together convergent, frequently overlooked evidence from anthropology, archaeology, primatology, anatomy, and psychosexuality to show how far from human nature monogamy really is. In Sex at Dawn, the authors expose the ancient roots of human sexuality while pointing toward a more optimistic future illuminated by our innate capacities for love, cooperation, and generosity. (synopsis from back of book)


They aren’t kidding when they say this book is thought-provoking. A friend of mine recommended this book to me since I have an interest in human sexuality, and I’m so glad she did. There is so much information in this book, but rather than feeling dense, the book is written in an enjoyable and palatable way.

Rather than claiming that they are right and everyone else is wrong, the authors simply look at the data and suggest that maybe we are coming to the wrong conclusions about human sexuality and monogamy. Ryan and Jethá claim that there are studies and anthropological findings that seem to lean in the direction of non-monogamy actually being human nature rather than the monogamous framework that we have been working under for centuries. However, when these findings were first published, it appears that researchers (probably unknowingly) ascribed the socially accepted idea of monogamy to their findings despite the fact that some of these findings seem to tell a very different story.

Ryan and Jethá never claim that these interpretations are necessarily wrong, but that there are other, and possibly better, ways to interpret the data and information that we have. However, researchers and scientists seem to be hesitant to interpret their data as anything that goes against what Ryan and Jethááá call the “standard narrative”.

Sex at Dawn is a book that asks us to consider some important questions. Why is it that society and the research community refuse to acknowledge that we might have been wrong this whole time?  What might our society look like if we accepted non-monogamy as normal and natural? Why have we given in to the idea that humans are natural violent and jealous beings?

This book leaves us with a lot of ponder about ourselves. It was an eye-opening read that made me question so much of what I once believed. And in my opinion, those are the most important books to read.




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