SEX AT DAWN
Having just completed reading the book, I would like to sing its praises, as it impacted me on several levels. Having typically written on Social Justice issues, it may appear to be a stretch, but it gave some structure to a book I’d like to write, though lacking in the research requirements. The book would be entitled “Heaven on Earth in 500 Years”. Permit me some introduction before I get back to the salient parts of Sex at Dawn.
The premise of “heaven of earth” is not to define utopia, but to define a path to nirvana. The idea is based on a discussion with a priest in the early nineties, when I commented on the misunderstanding of 1 Corinthians 13. The comment was that “love” was used over and over, causing it to be used in wedding ceremonies, yet it does not represent the point Paul was trying to make. His point would be clearer if the translation used the word “respect”. In fact, if ALL references to love were changed to respect, we’d get a better perspective of biblical tracts. This from an atheist!
The intent was to research what constituted the practice of Respect, where the word has become as trite and meaningless as Love. Thus if we worked on the practice of respect, it would take at least 500 years to evolve into a common practice, and we would have heaven on earth. The two items standing in the way of this evolution were the human traits of ego and envy.
Now back to the book. Sex at Dawn, authored by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha, has been the second enlightening book I’ve read in the last ten years, the other being Jared Diamond’s The Third Chimpanzee. The book questions the societal norm of monogamy. However, along the way, they deal with a host of issues that prevent open dialog on the subject. The obvious attraction to males, who always dream of multiple sex partners, is a slam dunk. Yet going through the details, it would turn a lot of open minded males into feminists. In the dark recesses of our (male) minds, we inherently know our inability to satiate the average female. This is where the macho man cries bullshit, and many females will dutifully agree. The case made for shedding monogamy in the book is quite appealing. The intent is not to repeat the case here, as I am encouraging you to read it, slowly.
In building the case for alternative relationships, another great point is how we are lead into falsehoods, through culturally accepted norms. In this case, it’s regarding female desires and “capacity”. You need only to look at treatment of “hysteria” malady from the time of Hippocrates to about the mid-fifties. The same principle applies to a whole host of scientific endeavors, where we readily accept the experts and respected researchers. Yet there are a number of cases where the experts are just plain wrong. The length of time their knowledge controls the narrative, determines the depth of societal damage. The one proviso always in play is that we remain open to assess conflicting ideas against all cultural proscriptions.
Another topic was the change in our social structures transitioning from hunter gatherer to agriculture based societies. With the advent of agriculture, private ownership, inheritance through paternity, and commodity control has been at the heart of conflict. The authors show some evidence that contrary to common belief, the foraging societies were not the ferocious warriors depicted in most anthropological studies.
Matriarchically society was another topic the authors delve into. Our assumption has always been that the power base would be women instead of men, thus basically an inverse of what we have in most of the world today. This may not be so, as there have been studies of matriarchal societies that are not testosterone driven and therefore enjoying existence with far less conflict.
Are we greed driven or egalitarian at our core? This is another topic, with references going back to primatology studies of monkeys, chimps, and bonobos. The authors build a case for conflating modern scenarios on earlier cultures AND primate relatives (Flintstonization). Again, you must read the book to see the elaboration, but my take is that both are in our DNA, but nurture plays a bigger role than nature in shaping our behavior.
These are but a few of many lessons to be learned where conventional wisdom is really stupidity repeated through each generation. Changes will not come about through new laws being enacted, although it may help to get a number of laws off the books. Laws protect the status quo and maintain the advantage of the privileged. Change will come through individual behavior and respectful acceptance of the inevitable change required to get us off a continual war footing.
It is clearer to me now that there are a multitude of paths through devolution. Thus many need to be researched to get to the heaven on earth goal. We need to shed the taboos and myths that filter our view of true reality. This reality would be the ultimate “Libertarian” (not the party) dream. Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose!