1 of 4: EcoSex @ U Conn – Ryan and Jetha’s Sex at Dawn – Student Responses: Adam’s Take
The EcoSex course at U Conn is complete. It was a great experience. We spent time reading amazing books. And here we resume posts to be shared with you. Thinking out of the box and across disciplines. Students had been sending their responses in, with discussion questions. In class, we did connected the dots: a holograph of what we’ve read together, the “required readings.” Multiple perspectives and good synergy. Here, we offer a glimpse. Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha’s Sex at Dawn was one of two cultural-theory theory books. We got five responses: from Adam, Michael, Alexandra, and Rhiann.
I had already purchased and owned “Sex at Dawn” years before I knew it would be on the list of readings required for a college class. Probably my favorite book that we
have read so far, “Sex at Dawn”, by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá, is informative, multi-disciplinary, well-written, and ultimately a funny read which caused me, at multiple times, to sit back, look at myself and my surroundings, and reflect.
“Sex at Dawn” discusses both the evolutionary and cultural roles of sex through time, much like Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan did in “Mystery Dance”, though Margulis and Sagan might be annoyed that the authors primarily only looked at the sexuality of primates. In addition, the book covers an emotional/psychological perspective, similar to the way that Deborah Anapol does in “The Seven Natural Laws of Love”. The healthy dualism sprinkled with feminist perspectives and ideals made “Sex at Dawn” truly enjoyable for someone of my background and beliefs; I could identify with much of what was brought up with ease.
Many critics say “the book downplays ways that monogamy can be evolutionarily adaptive, and that the book over-exaggerates human promiscuity and similarity to bonobos” (Wikipedia article on Sex at Dawn), points with which I disagree. The authors never say that monogamy is essentially wrong or estranged from the human condition; they merely make the argument that we evolved from polyandrous roots and, in many ways, still have polyandrous needs and desires. To the “similarity with bonobos” argument, the authors say that we share an obscene amount of genes with bonobos, generally have similar social tendencies, and that, until about 200,000 years ago, were likely indistinguishable – all points with which I agree.
In the beginning, one of the authors, presumably Christopher Ryan, recalls a story in which he temporarily reverted back to his primal, animalistic defense instincts in order to protect himself and his girlfriend from an attacking monkey. My question is – do you distinctly recall a time or times when you succumbed to your base, primal instincts? And if so, how did you feel and what were the responses of those who witnessed your exhibition, if any people did?
Let “nature” be your teacher in the arts of love. Education is the heart of democracy, education to love. Come back for more wonders: Students Responses have resumed, to appear now every Tuesday. More Book Reports to be scheduled soon, every other Thursday.
Serena Anderlini-D’Onofrio, PhD
Gilf Gaia Extraordinaire
Author of Gaia,Eros, and many other books about loveProfessor of Humanities