Sex at Dawn authors home
Richard Schweid talks to the authors about their latest book, Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality
Long-time Barcelona residents Chris Ryan from the US, and Cacilda Jethá from Mozambique, have just published a book that is getting a lot of attention in the States, titled Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality (www.sexatdawn.com). Dan Savage, a well-known syndicated writer of sex advice, has called it “…the single most important book about human sexuality since Alfred Kinsey unleashed Sexual Behavior in the Human Male on the American public in 1948.”
Their book, using both ample scientific documentation and wry, humorous observations of the human condition, sets itself at odds with the branch of evolutionary psychology that holds monogamy and the nuclear family are lynchpins of our development. There is little doubt that homo sapiens is the most sex-obsessed species on the planet, and with sex playing such an important role in our lives, the concept of an ideal, monogamous relationship is unreal and damaging, both to individuals and society, according to Ryan, a research psychologist and his wife Jethá, a practising psychiatrist. “No group-living nonhuman primate is monogamous, and adultery has been documented in every human culture studied—including those in which fornicators are routinely stoned to death,” they write.
Humans’ closest primate relative is the bonobo, which lives in a peaceful, polygamous matriarchal society, in which casual sex is the norm. Ryan and Jethá maintain we would do well to cultivate a society based on the bonobo example. Along the way, they also take well-documented exception to the widely-held notion that life improved when humans stopped being hunter/gatherers and became farmers.
The couple live in an attic flat in Poble Sec. “Cacilda and I met at a psychology conference in Portugal in 1999,” Ryan told Metropolitan. “It only took me about a year to convince her to drop her very lucrative practice in Lisbon to start all over again here. Amazing what you can accomplish with lots of love and some pan con tomate.”
How does Barcelona rank on the ‘bonobo’ scale of life? Pretty high, according to Ryan. “It's refreshing, especially for an American, to see that the reaction to a naked guy walking past a café is nothing more than friendly laughter and occasional applause. Nobody seems to worry that their kids will be emotionally scarred forever by the sight of a naked human body.”