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The Myth of Monogamy: Fidelity and Infidelity in Animals and People Paperback – May 1, 2002
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Baby people are more like baby birds than baby mammals. To be sure, newborn cats and dogs are helpless, but this helplessness doesn't last for long. By contrast, infant Homo sapiens remain helpless for months ... and then they become helpless toddlers! Who in turn graduate to being virtually helpless youngsters. (And then? Clueless adolescents.) So there may be some payoff to women in being mated to a monogamous man, after all.
Careful to separate scientific description from moral prescription, Barash and Lipton still poke a little fun at our conceptions of monogamy and other kinds of relationships as "natural" or "unnatural." Shoring themselves up against the inevitable charges that their reporting will weaken the institution of marriage, they make sure to note that monogamy works well for most of those who desire it and that one of our uniquely human traits is our ability to overcome biology in some instances. If, as some claim, monogamy has been a tool used by men to assert property rights over women, then perhaps one day The Myth of Monogamy will be seen as a milestone for women's liberation. --Rob Lightner --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Scientific American
Editors of Scientific American --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
The authors give an excellent review of how genetic fingerprinting has dispelled the here-to-fore assumed monagamy of a host of different animal species, and quote a number of respectable studies in the process. The astounding and outstanding result is the realization of just how rare it is to find any animal species that is totally monogamous in nature, and humans are animals that happen to not be totally monogamous---by their very "nature". This begs the question "is adultery therefore natural, and hence forgivable?" Will Durant once adressed this issue by noting that many of our current vices were once indispensable virtues in the struggle for survival, and in keeping with this observation, it would seem reasonable to posit the idea that humans havent had enough time to evolve biologically or culturally beyond certain genetic features that have outlived their primal usefulness, and yet continue to stubbornly hang on--despite societal taboos. "Myth of Monogamy" is a book that helps to highlight that struggle without presuming to tell the reader what their ultimate conclusions should be.Read more ›
One small flaw must be dealt with first - sexual behaviour studies must retreat from overuse of the poor screw-worm fly. The authors cannot resist numerous word plays on the poor creature's name. As the subject of an early attempt at controlling pest populations, the screw-worm fly initiated the host of studies of sexual behaviour among animals. Barash and Lipton describe sterilization of this insect as largely successful, reducing its population significantly. Screw-
worm flies are monogamous, which reinforced the notion as predominant in nature. However, a 1970s groundbreaking paper indicated monogamy might not be universal in animals. From that start a wealth of new studies demonstrated that it was monogamy that was rare, not the reverse. The screw-worm fly turned out to be a rare exception to the rule, and the basis of comparison for the later research.
Bowing to the expected abuse of "anthropomorphising" biology, the authors eschew "adultry" in favour of EPC [Extra Pair Copulation] in describing the common practice in nature. They show the distinction between "social" and "sexual" pairing.Read more ›
The reason why so many find it difficult to be faithful to their partner for a long time, is biological. Originally, before an evolved society with its ground rules grew from primitive communism, the homo sapien men were polygamous, especially because genetically, nature demanded variety from their offspring.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Brought up a lit of things which I questioned after seeing some disasters within the polyamorous community that I knowPublished 7 months ago by Roseline Pouinard
I was really excited to read this book but it feels like the authors are saying the same thing over and over, just in a different way. Dissapointed.Published 12 months ago by Jennifer
For every human society in the historical record, monogamy has been the mating arrangement for the vast majority of its members. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Moose Eliot
I found this book hard to get though and in fact i didn't finish it. The writing style is un-engaging, the odd flippant remark or quip the author tries falls flat. Read morePublished on May 31, 2014 by Chrystal Vondra
King James Bible--Ecclesiastes 3:19--
For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they... Read more
This book is an interesting look at the sexual biology and behavior found in the animal kingdom including Homo sapiens. Read morePublished on June 10, 2013 by J. Grattan