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Human Sexual Nature and it’s so called
Repression by Monogamy

Peter M. Zech

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Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning
































Ryan and Cacilda Jetha think that monogamy is a form of repression that goes
against our true sexual nature, when understood evolutionarily. Marlene Zuk
thinks they are wrong. In this paper we will describe Ryan and Jetha’s account
of 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 the
most convincing argument, and provide reasons for this decision.

Sexual Narrative, Monogamy, Agriculture, Sexual Nature, Sex at Dawn.

Human Sexual Nature and it’s so called
Repression by Monogamy

Numerous studies have been
conducted by various psychologists in attempt to decipher the very root force
behind our true sexual nature, in order to explain why we as humans act in
certain ways. In particular, Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha wrote a book
titled “Sex at Dawn” (2010) which talks specifically about monogamy and its
repression of our true sexual nature. Marlene Zuk, an evolutionary biologist
and behavioural ecologist, in her book “Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really
Tells Us about Sex, Diet, and How We Live” (2013), criticizes the accounts made
by Ryan and Jetha, and argues that it is impossible to come to a clear
understanding of true human sexual nature through studying prehistoric
ancestors and the great apes.

Repression by Monogamy

In Ryan and Jetha’s Sex at Dawn
(2010) which talks about “why we mate, why we stray, and what it means for
modern relationships” (Ryan, Jetha, 2010, pg.1), the point that monogamy goes
against our very sexual nature is very prevalent. In the title, the dawn they
are referring to is the dawn of humanity in the Paleolithic Age. The book
describes examples of what sex was like during this period in order to explain
the sexual behaviour’s exhibited today. The example of a monogamous
relationship in Western culture provides a basis for further research into the
nature of human sexual desires. When looking at the romantic ideal as seen
across Western culture of monogamous relationships, it is so very prevalent
that most of them fail due to adultery. Ryan and Jetha argue that the reason
behind this is because human beings, like their prehistoric ancestors, are
sexually promiscuous, and are designed to desire multiple sexual partners. The
authors give an example of a chimpanzee, which is the primate closest to human
beings, having intercourse multiple times per day with most or all of the
willing males, and rampant bonobo group sex that leaves everyone relaxed and
maintains intricate social networks (Ryan, Jetha, 2010, pg. 12). They go into
detail describing the human body; how males have testicles far larger than
needed by a monogamous primate with capabilities of multiple ejaculations, and
how females are capable of having multiple orgasms. According to Ryan and
Jetha, all of these indicators support the vision of prehistoric promiscuity,
one that goes against the sexual narrative. Ryan and Jetha believe that human
sexual nature started to be repressed, and redirected as a direct result of the
agricultural revolution.

The agricultural revolution which
happened around the 17th and 19th century, was the
prehistoric transition from hunting and gathering to settled agriculture. It
was in this time that the concern for paternity became more prevalent. Agriculture
provided humans with the food necessary to survive, but it also brought about
the concern with property and ownership. In order to farm, protect and maintain
that land, human beings became concerned with paternity of children, which in
turn brought a concern with monogamy (the practice of being married, or having
sexual relations with one person at a time). The reason for this was so that
the man could be certain that a newborn child was his, and not the offspring of
another man. That child would grow up and work on the farm, and eventually take
ownership of the land.

Before the agricultural revolution,
people lived in nomadic groups where everything was shared, from tools and
resources, 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 public
statement, or the natural progression of human life and relationships, but in
reality, most of the so called monogamous relationships are troubled with
adultery, which further proves Ryan and Jetha’s belief that monogamy isn’t part
of human nature. The campaign to obscure the true nature of our species’
sexuality leaves half our marriages collapsing under an unstoppable tide of
swirling sexual frustration, libido-killing boredom, impulsive betrayal,
dysfunction, confusion, and shame (Ryan, Jetha, 2010).


Zuk criticizes accounts that use evolutionary theory to find a more natural way
to live in her book titled Paleofantacy: What Evolution Really Tells Us about
Sex, Diet, and How We Live (2013). In her book, Zuk examines a number of
theories derived around looking at the prehistoric past, as well as our
“closest animal relatives” in order to understand the sex life of contemporary
human beings such as those made by Charles Darwin, Christopher Ryan, Cacilda
Jetha and Craig Stanford. Zuk openly criticizes the presumptions made about
human sexual nature being derived from our prehistoric ancestors or any of the
great apes (chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas). Zuk claims that it is possible for
human beings to be an evolutionary ancestor of the great apes and not share
direct significances. One of her reasoning’s behind this is that humans have
not shared a common ancestor for at least 5 million years, so more than enough time
has 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 been
sexually promiscuous, but she doubts that monogamy goes against humans’ natural
sexuality. 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 even
among humans…but the sheer variation in mating systems among human societies in
both space and time make it unlikely that we have been ignoring our true
natures. If evolution favoured a single marriage or sexual system, why would we
not have all have converged on that pattern?” (Zuk, 2013, pg. 192-193). Ryan
and Jetha don’t see monogamy as anything more than the doom of countless men
and women to lives of guilt and secret philandering (Ryan, Jetha, 2010). Zuk on
the other hand sees it as an adaptive part of human society necessary for
survival (Zuk, 2013). Without adaptation, the possibility for survival
diminishes. Although there are a lot of things that can be learned from
theories derived upon evolution, Zuk argues that it can’t be used to explain
everything, and there isn’t one form of mating that is our true sexual nature.


convincing account

asked the great question of which one of the previous accounts I found to be
most convincing, the truth is, I have a hard time finding either one of them
convincing. In order to accept Ryan and Jetha’s theory that monogamy is
swimming against an evolutionary promiscuous tide, and that our true sexual
nature is derived by our prehistoric ancestors and the great apes who are
“anatomically identical” to us, I would have to believe in evolution. In order
to agree with Zuk, I would also have to believe in evolution. Most of Ryan and
Jetha’s theory is based upon the great apes, and how human beings are identical
to them, and have evolved from them, so therefor we naturally have the same
sexual inclinations as they do. The reality behind it is ape to human evolution
is impossible. Recent DNA tests scientifically prove that ape and human DNA are
far too different for humans to have evolved from apes (DarwinConspiracy,
1999-2016). I disagree with the theory that monogamy only started with the dawn
of agriculture. Paleontologists dig around in the dirt to find shards of clay,
and pieces of bone, and through this create fanciful narratives that are mere
hypothesis that cannot be proven. But because there is no other evidence that
can 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 this
theory. The result of this is we have two intellectuals who are desperate to
create academic credibility by presenting their own theories without there being
any real evidence to support them. I think that we can conclude that it is a
fact that many humans stray from their monogamous relationships. There seems to
be a desire in the human nature for experimentation and sexual promiscuity,
however this human nature cannot be in any way dated back to any specific
period in time, or the source of this human nature cannot in any way be linked
to evolution or it does not in any way prove that humans evolved from apes. If
you believe what the bible says, the first ever monogamous relationship was at
the beginning of creation between Adam and Eve. Because of this belief, any
evidence dated further than approximately 4000 BC is not biblically correct,
and in my opinion not factual. I believe that sin came into the world through
satin, and the reason for these adulterous or sexual promiscuous desires stems
from our sinful nature which began when Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden
tree. Because of this, it is in our nature to sin, and “covet our neighbour’s
wife”, and not because evolutionary theorists believe we have the same sexual
nature as apes. We as humans by nature are not good at sharing (we are
naturally jealous and possessive) and don’t want to share our partners with
other people. This natural inclination doesn’t stem from society adapting, but
from our nature itself. When I think of my personal friendships, and I speak
with those individuals who are not in a relationship, there seems to be a
longing to be in a committed monogamous relationship with another person.

People argue that society is the thing shaping people toward monogamous
relationships, however when you look at popular television programming, it
almost seems that the opposite is true, that what is being sold as the social
norm is to have multiple partners. In my opinion, these theories of sexual
nature are nothing more than convenient ways for people to justify their
adulterous and sexually promiscuous behaviour’s, and in many circumstances,
have no factual evidence to support it other than evolutionary theory, and
inaccurate carbon dating (, 2001).

Creation Science
Evangelism. (2017). Mission Statement. online Available at: Accessed 30 Dec. 2017.

(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: 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.


The Holy Bible
Accessed 30 Dec. 2017

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