“To argue that our ancestors were sexual omnivores is no more a criticism of monogamy than to argue that our ancestors were dietary omnivores is a criticism of vegetarianism,” says Christopher Ryan, psychologist and co-author of Sex at Dawn (Amazon affiliate link).
Without a doubt, his statement raises eyebrows but it’s intended to also raise the debatable question: are humans designed to be sexually exclusive? His answer is an instant “no,” and he makes the case by arguing that today’s society is no longer one that is founded on an economic relationship in which the man hunts and provides shelter while the woman offers sexual fidelity in exchange.
Why we aren’t meant to be sexually exclusive
By saying that “we’re not descended from apes,” but actually “are apes,” and citing other cultures with sexual practices that are far from the “one and only person for me” mindset that many cultures subscribe to, Ryan presents some interesting ideas. For starters, times have changed. The sex-in-exchange-for-shelter notion is clearly not as common as it once was.
He also urges folks to consider the sexual habits taking place in tribes in the Amazon, where women believe a child is the creation of accumulated semen. Therefore, a woman seeking a strong, smart and funny child would have a lot of intercourse with each man possessing those desired traits. The thought is that doing so carries over the essence of each man into the baby. When the child is born, paternity is considered a “team endeavor.”
In other cultures, people are enjoying sexual experiences with hundreds of other people and when pregnancies occur, the identity of who the biological father is a “non-issue.” For the entire discussion by Ryan, listen to his talk here.
Why monogamy is a good idea
On the flip side, many people say that monogamy is a must, suggesting that it leads to a deeper sense of well-being and a more harmonious life. Articles and books have been written on the benefits of monogamy. One Boston Globe article likened a monogamous relationship to the stability of permanent employment, compared to the inconsistencies and hurts that often come along with a temporary one.
Last, but certainly not least, is the issue of sexually transmitted diseases. One survey shows that 47 percent of males tell their dates they’ve had fewer sexual encounters than they actually have and 23 percent divulged they would not inform a partner if they were involved with someone else. As for letting the other person know they had an STD? Most surveyed said they would not make their partner aware.
Still, Ryan maintains that easing up on our outdated notions is a must. He says it can pave the way for a more tolerant society that once freed of sexual shames and conflicts, can finally learn to do what they feel rather than what they are told they should feel.
What are your thoughts on this topic? Is monogamy good for society or is it unnatural human behavior?
However, at Raw and Natural Health, our goal is to shed light on a variety of health topics (and certainly, with the complexities of emotion, cultural norms, STDs and so on, human sexuality is indeed a health topic both mentally and physically).
We aim to bring new and yes, sometimes eyebrow-raising topics to the surface (both relating to foods and topics like this), not for shock value, but in the spirit of informing and engaging others in conversation and learning from one another. Yes, the majority of our stories will still be about healthy food choices, but every so often, we’ll be delivering stories that address health in other ways. Because how we treat our bodies – food, thoughts and otherwise – is key to keeping us at our happiest and healthiest.
Sources for this article include: