Christopher Ryan took a cue from Charles Darwin. Not many people know it today (because not many people today have read The Origin of Species), but Darwin was a clever writer — and he used that to full effect when dismantling the longstanding belief in creationism to set up an argument in favor of evolution. Darwin attacks the biblical explanation for Why Things Are with evidence, evidence, and more evidence — and gets there with clever turns of phrase and easily understood reasoning. Ryan and co-author Cacilda Jetha employ the same method in Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships, but the similarity ends there. In fact, Darwin is among the learned scientists whose assertions that monogamy is the “default setting” and “natural state” of human sexual relations Ryan and Jetha shoot down. Often (as in the case of Darwin), these assertions were based on nothing more than conjecture and anecdotal observation. Yet Ryan and Jetha don’t settle for easy targets, aiming also at people whose research is more extensive. They present anthropological data showing that rather than being “hard-wired” for monogamy, humans have had many social and economic reasons to favor non-monogamy until pretty recent times. Ryan participates in a panel discussion on the topic with a number of educators as well as sex-and-relationship experts. Performances and a dance party produced by Club Exotica follow.
Wed., Nov. 9, 8 p.m., 2011