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Sex at Dusk: Lifting the Shiny Wrapping from Sex at Dawn Paperback – July 14, 2012

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Sex at Dusk: Lifting the Shiny Wrapping from Sex at Dawn + Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships + The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 374 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (July 14, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1477697284
  • ISBN-13: 978-1477697283
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #352,408 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Sex - just what is it all about? Don't other species just get on with it? What are the conflicts and jealousy, pain and disappointments, really all about? The 2010 book SEX AT DAWN tells us that this modern misery is due to our belief in a false evolutionary story about human pair-bonding and nuclear family units. Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá claim that their evidence shows that before 10,000 years ago sexual constraints did not exist, paternity was not an issue, and men and women engaged in fairly free and casual bonobo-like sexual activity. Our ancestors, they argue, not only shared food, they shared sex. Are they right? Using predominantly the same sources, SEX AT DUSK takes another look at that evidence, fills in many gaps, makes many corrections, and reveals something far less candy-coated. Bringing together evolutionary biology, primatology, anthropology, and human sexuality, SEX AT DUSK shows that, rather than revealing important facts about our sexual evolution, Sex at Dawn shrouds it in a fog of misinformation and faulty logic that can only lead us further into the dark.

More About the Author

Lynn Saxon's first love was philosophy until science swept her off her feet. First cosmology but then, thanks in no small part to Richard Dawkins, evolution captured her curiosity and has held it fast ever since. She has studied primatology and considers herself fortunate to have then been able to pursue her independent research into the evolution of sex and the sexes alongside meeting family commitments to a number of rather demanding human primates.

Lynn Saxon has put her great depth and breadth of knowledge and understanding of this most fascinating and often controversial of subjects to good use as the author of "Sex at Dusk: Lifting the Shiny Wrapping from Sex at Dawn". She prefers to submerge herself in research and is not comfortable with the self-promotion authorship normally entails but believes that "Sex at Dusk" speaks for itself. Meanwhile she continues to be somewhere in the UK, sometimes spotted amidst piles of books and research papers where she is currently working on the evolution of intromittent organs (that's the penis to most of us).

Customer Reviews

The book is a little dense and a challenge to read.
'Dusk' will appeal to anyone with a passion for understanding the rich, complex roots of human sexuality and mating.
Marnia Robinson
It is a valid motive but why couldn't she find a respectable, science-leaning publisher for her book?

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

86 of 98 people found the following review helpful By thecaliforniakid on June 26, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really wanted to love this book. Sex at Dawn, the work this one is based on, struck me as being overly one-sided, going too far to paint our species as promiscuous (perhaps strategically so). I had hoped that this would be the one that struck a balance between the "standard narrative" and Ryan's polyamory.

However, most of Dusk is simply a reiteration of the standard narrative and even at times a dogmatic upholding of tradition, even going so far as to imply that monogamy is how societies advance. Perhaps so, but this is obviously not the fair, balanced take on the subject of human evolution that I had hoped for.

It took me a week to read Dawn and two months to read Dusk because Saxon's writing style is a little tough to read. I would need to re-read whole paragraphs a number of times to get at the heart of the matter, and often the arguments were non-linear, disconnected, or poorly and falsely interpreted. A number of her arguments actually bolster Ryan's case and an even greater number prove nothing in either direction, though much of the discussion is quite relevant and effective to her goals. At the very least, all of the subject matter is interesting -- it's sex, after all!

My big problem is with the straw man she evokes, saying Dawn promotes everyone sleeping with everyone or old men sleeping with young women in incestuous groups (p. 308). It's an unfair portrayal of Ryan's social-bonding hypothesis and utter disregard for the social and emotional architecture that men and women own. She immerses her rebuttal in biology, rather than sociality, where Ryan's thesis lives, thus missing the point entirely.
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45 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Vladimir Prus on January 17, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The stated goal of the book was to criticize "Sex at Dawn". And it does so fairly convincingly. In fact, for a book with such specific attack target, this one was rather balanced.

One of the typical trick here is to take quote from "Sex at Dawn", and then give a slightly bigger quote from the same source. And it changes the meaning very much. It also goes to great length explaining that behaviour depends on environment, and explains the environment that different tribes live in. So this is a solid work.

The writing style is somewhat unstable. Sometimes, it's informative and entertaining. Sometimes, it's technical and hard to read. In one chapter, after discussion of 10 different tribes, I had to skip over 10 more. Maybe, this is because the book is self-published, and therefore was probably not read by a professional editor.

Finally, I am not sure I've learned much. That is, the book succeeded in convincing me that "Sex at Dawn" is pure fiction, but after reading both of those books, I wonder if it would be better reading neither. I appreciate all the details in this book and work that went into it, but not much of that is relevant to general public like myself.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By eydelber on March 8, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A friend recently brought up that she’s in an “open” relationship and recommended reading Sex at Dawn by Ryan and Jetha. I also bought Sex at Dusk by Saxon, which is a rebuttal. These are my thoughts after reading both books.

Stylistically, Sex at Dawn is superior – it’s funny, playful, and ambitious – while Sex at Dusk starts very slow, is more academic and relatively more boring.

Sex at Dawn highlights the problems of most modern relationships: high divorce rates, jealousy, fear, lack of trust, and bad and frustrated sex. The research is clear that single parent households are the worst for children, so something needs to be fixed.

I think Dawn makes two broad arguments. The first is that open relationships are better than monogamous relationships as evidenced by bonobos, chimpanzees, hunter-gatherer groups, and human anatomy. Dawn emphasizes that open relationships should be built on open communication, negotiating sexual boundaries, and avoiding unspoken agreements. The evidence seems to be that humans are not naturally sexually monogamous, and Dusk doesn’t dispute this. So far, in principle, if everyone agreed to the open relationship and communication worked well, I don’t see any inherent moral problem with open relationships.

However, Dawn next argues that society itself should be re-arranged: increased female receptivity leads to less male frustration & competition, leads to reduced male alliances, leads to obscured paternity, leads to increased female bonding, leads to female dominated alliances, leads to less infanticide and generalized parental care. The basic premise- increased female receptivity- is somewhat shocking and not very clearly defined given the importance of it to the argument.
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67 of 91 people found the following review helpful By C. H. Wampold on August 22, 2012
Format: Paperback
In Sex at Dusk, Lynn Saxon does a superb job of weaving together an enormous array of facts from the fields of evolutionary biology, primatology and cultural anthropolgy to provide the reader with insights into the origins of human sexual behavior. In so doing, she absolutely demolishes the underpinnings of Christopher Ryan's Sex at Dawn. While I very much enjoyed Christopher Ryan's rapier wit exhibited in Sex at Dawn, my gut told me that his conclusions were not tenable. Saxon provides the intellectual substance that confiirms my gut reaction, and she delivers in a way that is accessible to the non-scientist.
I am a graduate student in Human Sexuality, and am one of those "sex-positve" people who would love to believe in Ryan's utopian view of sexuality. But I must concede that no fair minded person could read "Dawn" and "Dusk" and conclude that Ryan's view has any scientific substance. It is instead, a religious/philosophical manifesto masquerading as science. "Dusk" demonstrates that "Dawn" is best viewed as an alternative to the Biblical creation myth. Just as the story of Adam and Eve is a text that supported the system of hegemonic patriarchy that prevailed when Genesis was penned, the myth presented in Sex at Dawn is little more than an incorrect projection of contemporary Western mores on our Paleolithic ancestors. Ryan's utopian tale might best be viewed as a post-Sexual Revolution update of the Flintstones. I loved the Flintstones and I loved Sex at Dawn, but neither tells us much about Paleolithic human behavior.
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