Human Sexual Nature and it’s so called Repression by MonogamyPeter M. ZechHumberInstitute of Technology and Advanced Learning AbstractChristopherRyan and Cacilda Jetha think that monogamy is a form of repression that goesagainst our true sexual nature, when understood evolutionarily. Marlene Zukthinks they are wrong. In this paper we will describe Ryan and Jetha’s accountof the origins of monogamy, and explain Zuk’s main criticism of that account.
Along with their accounts on human sexual nature, we will attempt to find themost convincing argument, and provide reasons for this decision. Keywords: Sexual Narrative, Monogamy, Agriculture, Sexual Nature, Sex at Dawn.Human Sexual Nature and it’s so called Repression by MonogamyNumerous studies have beenconducted by various psychologists in attempt to decipher the very root forcebehind our true sexual nature, in order to explain why we as humans act incertain ways. In particular, Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha wrote a booktitled “Sex at Dawn” (2010) which talks specifically about monogamy and itsrepression of our true sexual nature. Marlene Zuk, an evolutionary biologistand behavioural ecologist, in her book “Paleofantasy: What Evolution ReallyTells Us about Sex, Diet, and How We Live” (2013), criticizes the accounts madeby Ryan and Jetha, and argues that it is impossible to come to a clearunderstanding of true human sexual nature through studying prehistoricancestors and the great apes.
Repression by MonogamyIn Ryan and Jetha’s Sex at Dawn(2010) which talks about “why we mate, why we stray, and what it means formodern relationships” (Ryan, Jetha, 2010, pg.1), the point that monogamy goesagainst our very sexual nature is very prevalent. In the title, the dawn theyare referring to is the dawn of humanity in the Paleolithic Age. The bookdescribes examples of what sex was like during this period in order to explainthe sexual behaviour’s exhibited today. The example of a monogamousrelationship in Western culture provides a basis for further research into thenature of human sexual desires.
When looking at the romantic ideal as seenacross Western culture of monogamous relationships, it is so very prevalentthat most of them fail due to adultery. Ryan and Jetha argue that the reasonbehind this is because human beings, like their prehistoric ancestors, aresexually promiscuous, and are designed to desire multiple sexual partners. Theauthors give an example of a chimpanzee, which is the primate closest to humanbeings, having intercourse multiple times per day with most or all of thewilling males, and rampant bonobo group sex that leaves everyone relaxed andmaintains intricate social networks (Ryan, Jetha, 2010, pg. 12). They go intodetail describing the human body; how males have testicles far larger thanneeded by a monogamous primate with capabilities of multiple ejaculations, andhow females are capable of having multiple orgasms. According to Ryan andJetha, all of these indicators support the vision of prehistoric promiscuity,one that goes against the sexual narrative. Ryan and Jetha believe that humansexual nature started to be repressed, and redirected as a direct result of theagricultural revolution.
The agricultural revolution whichhappened around the 17th and 19th century, was theprehistoric transition from hunting and gathering to settled agriculture. Itwas in this time that the concern for paternity became more prevalent. Agricultureprovided humans with the food necessary to survive, but it also brought aboutthe concern with property and ownership. In order to farm, protect and maintainthat land, human beings became concerned with paternity of children, which inturn brought a concern with monogamy (the practice of being married, or havingsexual relations with one person at a time). The reason for this was so thatthe man could be certain that a newborn child was his, and not the offspring ofanother man. That child would grow up and work on the farm, and eventually takeownership of the land.Before the agricultural revolution,people lived in nomadic groups where everything was shared, from tools andresources, to sexual partners. The main concern for these groups was survival.
In today’s society, we live in an era where monogamy is desired as a publicstatement, or the natural progression of human life and relationships, but inreality, most of the so called monogamous relationships are troubled withadultery, which further proves Ryan and Jetha’s belief that monogamy isn’t partof human nature. The campaign to obscure the true nature of our species’sexuality leaves half our marriages collapsing under an unstoppable tide ofswirling sexual frustration, libido-killing boredom, impulsive betrayal,dysfunction, confusion, and shame (Ryan, Jetha, 2010). PaleofantasyMarleneZuk criticizes accounts that use evolutionary theory to find a more natural wayto live in her book titled Paleofantacy: What Evolution Really Tells Us aboutSex, Diet, and How We Live (2013). In her book, Zuk examines a number oftheories derived around looking at the prehistoric past, as well as our”closest animal relatives” in order to understand the sex life of contemporaryhuman beings such as those made by Charles Darwin, Christopher Ryan, CacildaJetha and Craig Stanford. Zuk openly criticizes the presumptions made abouthuman sexual nature being derived from our prehistoric ancestors or any of thegreat apes (chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas). Zuk claims that it is possible forhuman beings to be an evolutionary ancestor of the great apes and not sharedirect significances.
One of her reasoning’s behind this is that humans havenot shared a common ancestor for at least 5 million years, so more than enough timehas elapsed for selection to act separately on each of the three species (Zuk,2013). Zuk doesn’t deny that human beings prehistoric ancestors may have beensexually promiscuous, but she doubts that monogamy goes against humans’ naturalsexuality. One of the main points Zuk makes to contradict Ryan and Jetha is”Lifetime fidelity to a single partner may be rare among animals, and evenamong humans…but the sheer variation in mating systems among human societies inboth space and time make it unlikely that we have been ignoring our truenatures. If evolution favoured a single marriage or sexual system, why would wenot have all have converged on that pattern?” (Zuk, 2013, pg. 192-193). Ryanand Jetha don’t see monogamy as anything more than the doom of countless menand women to lives of guilt and secret philandering (Ryan, Jetha, 2010). Zuk onthe other hand sees it as an adaptive part of human society necessary forsurvival (Zuk, 2013). Without adaptation, the possibility for survivaldiminishes.
Although there are a lot of things that can be learned fromtheories derived upon evolution, Zuk argues that it can’t be used to explaineverything, and there isn’t one form of mating that is our true sexual nature. Mostconvincing accountWhenasked the great question of which one of the previous accounts I found to bemost convincing, the truth is, I have a hard time finding either one of themconvincing. In order to accept Ryan and Jetha’s theory that monogamy isswimming against an evolutionary promiscuous tide, and that our true sexualnature is derived by our prehistoric ancestors and the great apes who are”anatomically identical” to us, I would have to believe in evolution. In orderto agree with Zuk, I would also have to believe in evolution. Most of Ryan andJetha’s theory is based upon the great apes, and how human beings are identicalto them, and have evolved from them, so therefor we naturally have the samesexual inclinations as they do. The reality behind it is ape to human evolutionis impossible. Recent DNA tests scientifically prove that ape and human DNA arefar too different for humans to have evolved from apes (DarwinConspiracy,1999-2016). I disagree with the theory that monogamy only started with the dawnof agriculture.
Paleontologists dig around in the dirt to find shards of clay,and pieces of bone, and through this create fanciful narratives that are merehypothesis that cannot be proven. But because there is no other evidence thatcan be obtained, people tend to take these theories and accept them as fact.There is no evidence that dates back to the dawn of agriculture to support thistheory.
The result of this is we have two intellectuals who are desperate tocreate academic credibility by presenting their own theories without there beingany real evidence to support them. I think that we can conclude that it is afact that many humans stray from their monogamous relationships. There seems tobe a desire in the human nature for experimentation and sexual promiscuity,however this human nature cannot be in any way dated back to any specificperiod in time, or the source of this human nature cannot in any way be linkedto evolution or it does not in any way prove that humans evolved from apes.
Ifyou believe what the bible says, the first ever monogamous relationship was atthe beginning of creation between Adam and Eve. Because of this belief, anyevidence dated further than approximately 4000 BC is not biblically correct,and in my opinion not factual. I believe that sin came into the world throughsatin, and the reason for these adulterous or sexual promiscuous desires stemsfrom our sinful nature which began when Adam and Eve ate from the forbiddentree. Because of this, it is in our nature to sin, and “covet our neighbour’swife”, and not because evolutionary theorists believe we have the same sexualnature as apes. We as humans by nature are not good at sharing (we arenaturally jealous and possessive) and don’t want to share our partners withother people. This natural inclination doesn’t stem from society adapting, butfrom our nature itself. When I think of my personal friendships, and I speakwith those individuals who are not in a relationship, there seems to be alonging to be in a committed monogamous relationship with another person.People argue that society is the thing shaping people toward monogamousrelationships, however when you look at popular television programming, italmost seems that the opposite is true, that what is being sold as the socialnorm is to have multiple partners.
In my opinion, these theories of sexualnature are nothing more than convenient ways for people to justify theiradulterous and sexually promiscuous behaviour’s, and in many circumstances,have no factual evidence to support it other than evolutionary theory, andinaccurate carbon dating (drdino.com, 2001). References Creation Science Evangelism. (2017). Mission Statement.
online Available at: https://drdino.com/ Accessed 30 Dec. 2017. Darwinconspiracy.com. (2017). DNA tests prove Darwin Was Wrong – Ape DNA very different from human DNA – Laws of Genetics Contradicts Ape to Human Evolution. online Available at: http://www.
darwinconspiracy.com/ Accessed 30 Dec. 2017.
Ryan, C. and Jetha?, C. (2011). Sex at dawn. Carlton North, Vic.
: Scribe Publications. Zuk, M. (2013). Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us about Sex, Diet, and How We Live. pp.
164-193. The Holy Bible Accessed 30 Dec. 2017