Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality
Christopher Ryan, Ph.D. & Cacilda Jethá, M.D.
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Maybe Infidelity Isn't Such A Huge Deal
Women enjoy sex. 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.

Yesterday, Sadie dove headfirst into some of the worst stereotypes about men, women, and sex - all brought to us courtesy of professional mistress-turned-author 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. In the new book
Sex at Dawn authors Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá argue that we might be programmed to cheat (and here's the shocking thing) equally. Instead of viewing women as the unwilling gatekeepers of male satisfaction, Ryan and Jethá suggest that evolutionary psychologists have drunk the misogynist Kool-Aid and missed the point entirely, as shown in this excerpt, published at Nerve:

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: female genital mutilation, head-to-toe chadors, medieval witch burnings, chastity belts, suffocating corsets, muttered insults about "insatiable" whores, pathologizing, paternalistic medical diagnoses of nymphomania or hysteria, the debilitating scorn heaped on any female who chooses to be generous with her sexuality . . . all parts of a worldwide campaign to keep the supposedly low-key female libido under control. 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? Hill might say yes, but Ryan and Jethá aren't moving that fast. 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. And though talking, thinking, watching, and engaging in sexual activity is all fun, sometimes it's worth restating that being
good in bed isn't the most important thing in the world and it really doesn't matter to anyone but yourself if you choose quality over quantity (or vice versa). 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.

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