“Sex at Dawn” is one of the most exciting books I’ve read in a long time. I love “Sex at Dawn.” I want to hand out copies of it like the Gideons do with The Bible. I love this book because it reinforces a lot of things I’ve felt and believed about the polyamory lifestyle.
“Sex at Dawn” is a book about evolutionary biology that explores the prehistoric ways of human sexuality and what it means for the way we live today. But it’s so much sexier than that description makes it sound!
The book explores a lot of ideas about the history of how humans evolved, how our human cultures have changed since our prehistoric hunter-gatherer days, and why we are biologically ill-suited to the way we live now. The thesis of “Sex at Dawn” is that humans were not meant to be monogamous – non-monogamy is our natural state. Humans do not “mate for life,” not if you look at the way our bodies evolved and the way many traditional cultures (still) live. The Western idea of the nuclear family is a fairly recent invention if you look at the long history of how human beings have lived on Earth, and perhaps the best way to save the nuclear family is to explore polyamory and other ways of soothing our natural urges.
Here are a few of the most exciting ideas that I most related to from “Sex at Dawn:”
1. I want to live in a matriarchal society. Prehistoric societies and many traditional “hunter gatherer” cultures are more egalitarian. Women tend to have more power than they have had (until fairly recently) in Western/monogamous cultures. Polyamory is part of the reason. When women can have multiple lovers, they don’t have to depend on one man to “provide” for them and their children. When paternity is uncertain, the whole village has an obligation to take care of the children, since no one knows for sure “whose” child it is. When women have more power and a better standard of living, men live better too. As Henry Rollins said (about an unrelated topic, the Steubenville rape case): “Things get better when women get more equality. That is a bit obvious but I think it leads to better results up the road. If it’s a man’s world as they say, then men, your world is a poorly run carnage fest.”
2. People in prehistoric times got laid constantly. Judging by the biological evidence, human bodies are more like some of our more “promiscuous” evolutionary relatives, bonobos. Also, many traditional hunter-gatherer societies (that are studied in modern times by anthropologists) are much more promiscuous than Western cultures – sex is part of the social glue that holds the communities together. People share their spouses with each other as a way of building community.
3. “It takes a village to raise a child” – paternity doesn’t matter. Sperm competition is a sign that people were biologically meant to have multiple partners at once.
4. Having sex with multiple people is good for your physical and mental health. Guys have affairs in midlife often because of low testosterone – having sex with someone new makes them feel alive again.
5. The first swingers were World War II pilots. The first modern-day “swingers” as we now recognize that term were World War II fighter pilots. They had the highest mortality rates of any combat group, and one of the things they did to build cohesion was to share wives – so that if one of the men died in combat, he knew that his wife would be taken care of by the larger group. Polyamory isn’t just about sexy fun – it’s a way to build a stronger community.
6. Monogamy is not the “natural” state of humankind. If you want to be monogamous for religious reasons or other personal reasons, that’s fine – but there’s nothing “unnatural” about polyamory. It has a long history in many human cultures – and many polyamorous cultures are more peaceful and egalitarian than monogamous cultures. When I was feeling that unique emotion of comfort and “naturalness” during our first time as swingers, it wasn’t a “new” feeling – I was feeling something “old” that has been part of the human experience for many centuries.
Have you read “Sex at Dawn?” What did you like best about this book? What aspects of “Sex at Dawn” would you like to make a reality in your own life?