Sex at Dusk

By Lynn Saxon. Subtitle: Lifting the Shiny Wrapping from Sex at Dawn

An engaging account of the evolution of human sexuality by way of a wholesale critique of Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha’s Sex at Dawn. Guides us through such topics as bonobo sex (not quite as “free love” as sometimes thought); the sexual lives of our forager ancestors; and such issues as promiscuity, paternity, parenting, pair-bonding, and much more.

One fascinating issue is pair-bonding. It is not found among bonobos or chimps.

Its cause may have been the growing size of human groups: as groups enlarged females needed to seek a “bodyguard” to deal with aggression from rival females, and harassment from males.

Its consequence may also have been to enable larger groups and wider cooperation. Among bonobos and chimps, males are invariably hostile to any male not from the natal group. There is no cooperation at all beyond the scale of the natal group. With pair-bonding, human males could establish peaceful and cooperative relations with the wife’s kin and live among non-related males (Saxon, p. 237).

The pair-bond (monogamous and polygamous) may have been part of the secret that allowed humans to begin cooperating beyond the scale of the natal group – eventually towards regional groups and then later into tribes, and all the other larger groups we have made. Without male pacification, or at least partial pacification, none of this would have been possible.

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