Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How About Sex at Dawn?

We hope you can join us Wednesday night at 7 to hear one of the authors of a controversial, idea-driven book that challenges everything you know about sex, marriage, family, and society.  Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality, by researchers Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá, debunks almost everything we think we know about sex. On Wednesday, Christopher Ryan will join us to talk about this new book.
In the book, the authors show how our promiscuous past haunts our current struggles regarding monogamy, sexual orientation, and family dynamics. Some of the themes they explore include:

• why long-term fidelity can be so difficult for so many;
• why sexual passion tends to fade even as love deepens;
• why many middle-aged men risk everything for an affair;
• why homosexuality persists in the face of standard evolutionary logic; and
• what the human body reveals about the prehistoric origins of modern sexuality

Ryan and Jethá show that our ancestors lived in egalitarian groups that shared food, child care, and often, sexual partners. Weaving together convergent, often overlooked evidence from anthropology, archeology, primatology, anatomy, and psychosexuality, the authors show how far from human nature sexual monogamy really is. They expose the ancient roots of human sexuality while pointing toward a more optimistic future illuminated by our innate capacities for love, cooperation, and generosity.
Here's what some of the reviewers have said about this book:

Sex At Dawn is the single most important book about human sexuality since Alfred Kinsey unleashed Sexual Behavior in the Human Male on the American public in 1948.” (Dan Savage, author of the internationally syndicated sex-advice column “Savage Love” and The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family)
"By examining the prehistoric origins of human sexual behavior the authors are able to expose the fallacies and weaknesses of standard theories proposed by most experts. This is a provocative, entertaining, and pioneering book. I learned a lot from it and recommend it highly.”(Andrew Weil, M.D., world famous integrative health expert and author of several books on health and wellness) 

And in her review in Newsweek, Kate Daily calls the prose "funny, witty, and light -- it makes the 400-plus pages of genetic and anthropological interpretation fly by." She also says that the book is "a scandal in the best sense, one that will have you reading the best parts aloud and reassessing your ideas about humanity's basic urges well after the book is done."  
Here is some background on the authors (shamelessly cribbed from their website), who reside together in Barcelona: Christopher received a BA in English and American literature in 1984 and an MA and Ph.D. in psychology from Saybrook University
in San Francisco twenty years later. He spent the intervening decades traveling around the world, living in unexpected places working at very odd jobs (e.g., gutting salmon in Alaska, teaching English to prostitutes in Bangkok and self-defense to land-reform activists in Mexico, managing commercial real-estate in New York’s Diamond District, helping Spanish physicians publish their research). Somewhere along the way, he decided to pursue doctoral studies in psychology. Drawing upon his multi-cultural experience, Christopher’s research focused on trying to distinguish the human from the cultural. His doctoral dissertation analyzes the prehistoric roots of human sexuality, and was guided by the world-renowned psychologist, Stanley Krippner. He blogs regularly for The Huffington Post and Psychology Today.

Cacilda Jethá has an Indian face, a European education, and an African soul. She was born in Mozambique to a family that had immigrated two generations earlier from Goa, India. As a child, she fled civil war to Portugal, where she received most of her education and medical training before returning to Mozambique in the late 1980s. A young physician determined to help heal her country, Cacilda spent seven years as the only physician serving some 50,000 people in a vast rural district in the north of the country. While there, Cacilda also conducted research (funded by the World Health Organization) on the sexual behavior of rural Mozambicans in order to help design more effective AIDS prevention efforts.

After almost a decade in Mozambique, Cacilda returned to Portugal, where she completed her medical residency training in both psychiatry (at the prestigious Hospital de Julio de Matos in Lisbon) and occupational medicine.

This is bound to be a wildly fascinating discussion, so we sure hope you can join us! Come early for the best seats!

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