Tag Archives: Sex At Dawn

Why Your Ancient Ancestors Had Better Sex Than You: Cracked Podcast

For a while now, I’ve been talking about a fascinating/sexy-as-hell book I’ve been reading called “Sex At Dawn.” By now, my sentiment towards that book should be pretty clear. If you’re really in the mood for something that’s non-fiction, but still sexy as hell, then this is the way to go.

There are so many profound concepts and insight in this book, most of are even sexier than you think they are. I’ve discussed a few of them. This book is the one that coined the term “the standard model” for modern sexuality. It’s basically a catch-all term for the so-called “traditional” brand of romance that involves the white picket fence, a monogamy non-kinky couple, and a glut of kids who aspire to be future soldiers, workers, and tax-payers.

The main purpose of the book is to deconstruct that model and highlight just how flawed it is. It does this by shining a light on our evolutionary past, namely the part that creationists don’t think existed. It explores how sexuality manifests in the pre-agricultural, hunter/gatherer societies that once made up the entirety of the human species.

This book, and the narrative it paints, has given me a lot to think about. Some thoughts are sexier than others. Some involve belaboring certain flaws in modern romance, which isn’t quite as sexy. In any case, this book has been an insightful read. If you enjoy the kinky topics I discuss on this blog or the sexy stories I write in my books, then “Sex At Dawn” is right up your alley.

If my own personal recommendation isn’t enough, then maybe this will help as well. Cracked.com, a site I’m quite fond of, does a weekly podcast and every now and then, they’ll get a special guest. Well last week, in what might be the best cosmic karma since I found a $20 bill outside a strip club, they invited the author of “Sex At Dawn“, Dr. Christopher Ryan, to be part of a live recording.

It made for a fun, fascinating, and quite sexy discussion. The staff at Cracked made quite an effort to challenge him and expand on what he wrote about in the book. It made for some pretty amazing insights.

One particular discussion that stands out is Dr. Ryan’s clear assertion that there’s no going back to the more egalitarian, sex-positive culture of hunter/gatherer societies. He makes clear that it’s just not possible, given how modern civilization has entrenched itself with its dogmatic reservations towards sexual issues.

Sadly, I agree with him. I do think it’s impossible to turn the clock back on human society. If there were, then the priests, mullahs, and social conservatives would’ve used it a long time ago. That said, Dr. Ryan does say there might be one way to level the playing field, so to speak. As it just so happens, it involves something else I’ve discussed on this blog. At this point, it feels like cosmic karma is letting me cop a feel.

He makes clear in the podcast that he favors a universal basic income, a very new idea, but one I’ve discussed on this blog extensively. He believes this will be the key to reorienting our society in a way that’s more conducive to the brand of sexuality that evolution has wired within us. It’s an intriguing, but sexy idea and one I hope to explore.

It’s just one of many interesting topics that came up on this podcast. It’s aptly called “Why Your Ancient Ancestors Had Better Sex Than You” and I highly recommend it. Below is a SoundCloud link to it. Enjoy it, but if you’re wearing tight pants, you might want to change them. Just a fair warning.

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Love Vs. Obsession: Why Knowing The Difference Is So Vital

We’ve all asked ourselves one fateful question. It also happens to be the question at the basis of 85 percent of all romance movies and 99 percent of all bubblegum pop music songs. It affects us all in some form or another and is a core component of the human experience.

“How do I know I’m in love?”

It’s a profound, but beautiful question to ask. To love someone is a big part of being human. One could argue it’s one of the most important parts of being human. Being in love is one of those basic, emotional experiences that drives us all. We seek out love because it helps make life worth living. Like chocolate, bacon, and hot showers on a cold winter day, it fulfills us on a fundamental level.

Love is a beautiful thing. It’s a beauty I get to admire from a unique perspective as an erotica/romance writer. Pretty much all of my books deal with love in some form or another. Some books, like “Holiday Heat” and “The Escort and the Gigolo,” go to great lengths to build up a romance. Others, like “The Final Communion” and “Jackpot,” use less elaborate forms of romance.

Whatever form it takes, I enjoy writing about romance and many of my future novels will deal heavily in romance. When mixed with a healthy dose of erotic undertones, it can make for some pretty potent narratives, among other things.

As much as we love romance and as critical it is to the human experience, there’s another question that’s somewhat linked to romance, albeit indirectly. It’s a question we don’t ask ourselves quite as often and in some cases, that’s becomes a big problem. It’s uncomfortable, unpleasant, and distressing to think about. That’s a clear sign that it’s still worth asking.

“How do I know I’m obsessed?”

Stay with me here. I know some snicker at that question the same way they would if a five-year-old came up to them and asked why dogs don’t talk. It seems like an unrelated question. It seems like something that really shouldn’t enter the equation when talking about love, but it does. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s a big part of the flawed narrative we collectively craft about what love is.

This is another insight I’ve been contemplating while reading “Sex At Dawn,” a book that has already offered quite a few insights into the mechanics of sex and love. The sexy parts are plenty interesting to say the least, if only for those who opt to wear tight pants, but the parts about love are just as insightful.

A big part of “Sex At Dawn,” involves breaking down what it describes as the “Standard Model.” Again, this model is just the stereotypical boy-meets-girl-and-they-live-happily-ever-after-like-an-old-Disney-movie narrative. It’s very familiar to modern Western civilization. It’s the ideal embodied in sitcoms, music, and movies.

However, in analyzing this model, the book highlights a few unflattering features that are hard to overlook. A big part of this standard model requires that the man and the woman be completely devoted to one another, the first thought they have when they wake up and the last thought they have when they go to sleep, presumably after a quick round of highly-scheduled, missionary-style sex.

That’s all wonderfully romantic on the surface, but take a closer look at the finer details of this narrative. They’re completely devoted. They direct all their romantic and sexual energy at each other. Their thoughts and feelings are completely narrow and focused on a singular person. At what point does that kind of sentiment turn from romance into obsession?

I ask that question knowing there isn’t a fine line. However, it’s difficult to decouple the details of this narrative from the definition of “obsession.” According to Dictionary.com, the definition for “Obsession” is as follows:

  • The domination of one’s thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, image, desire, etc.

With this definition in mind, think back to the narrative surrounding the standard model of romance I mentioned earlier. How much of that romance is built on love and how much of it is built on obsession?

It’s a hard, if not impossible question to answer, but it’s a question that’s worth contemplating because it reveals something about the nature of our emotions. Part of being in love is to desire someone and to be desired. However, sometimes our faulty, flawed brains take it too far and that can really hamper the romance.

When someone is obsessed with someone, especially when it’s done out of love, it consumes a person so completely that they struggle to function on a basic level. They can’t focus at work. They can’t focus with family. They can’t focus on whatever goals, aspirations, or dreams they may have had in their lives. It all becomes secondary because of a person.

A good way to contrast this is to look at it from the opposite end of the spectrum. There are all sorts of people who are obsessed with someone out of hate. There are even entire groups devoted to hating others. For most reasonable people, this is deplorable. Devoting that much time and energy into hating someone just seems wrong. It makes no sense.

So if hate is that wrong when taken to extremes, why should love be different? Isn’t that just as unhealthy? I admit it’s not an entirely fair comparison. Comparing love and hate is like comparing candied bacon with expired kale. They’re two very different manifestations of something that’s so basic, broad, and varied. That doesn’t make the extremes any less damaging.

Being in love is a wonderful feeling, but then again shooting heroin and smoking crack can feel wonderful too. That doesn’t mean that it’s healthy. The problem is that Disney movies, pop songs, and bad romance novels have created this ideal about what love is and some of that ideal involves more obsession than love.

There are plenty of examples to explore and I plan on doing more blog posts on this issue. I hope to break it down a bit more, if only to help me craft more complex, engaging romances in my novels. For now, I’ll focus on one particular example involving music.

When it comes to sappy love songs, pop music can always be counted on to give us a massive glut of material from boy bands, country stars, and 80s hair metal bands. There are so many love songs out there of so many different kinds that if super-intelligent aliens landed tomorrow, even they would be confused about how our music defines love.

This leads me to a very famous song that is often mistaken for a love song. It also happened to be one of the biggest pop hits in 1983, voted song of the year by Rolling Stone. Chances are, if you’re over the age of 30, you’ve heard it at some point or another. If you aren’t familiar with the lyrics, you’re at least familiar with that soothingly haunting tune and the undeniably handsome face of Sting.

This song was, and still is to some extent, widely regarded as a love song. However, if you look at the lyrics a bit closer, how much of it is love and how much of it is obsession?

Every Breath You Take

Every Move You Make

Every Bond You Break

Every Step You Take

I’ll Be Watching You

In a certain context, that sounds sweet. It sounds like something a dying spouse would tell their lover before they passed away to provide comfort.

In another context, it sounds creepy as hell. It sounds like a note a stalker would leave someone, as if to warn them that they can never escape their obsession.

The mere fact that such context is even needed says a lot about our inconsistent sentiments towards love and romance. On one hand, we want to be desired. On the other, we don’t want to be stalked by someone who devotes every waking hour to obsessing over us. It’s a tough balancing act.

This conflict is something that even Sting himself, the writer of this song, admitted in a 1993 interview. He goes onto say:

 “I didn’t realize at the time how sinister it is. I think I was thinking of Big Brother, surveillance and control.”

Again, it’s pretty telling when we can’t tell whether a song is about love or obsession. It says a lot about how we assess love, sex, and romance. Since I’m in the romance/erotica business (or at least trying to be part of it), it’s something I think I need to assess more than most.

At the end of the day, stories about love and romance still strike us on a fundamental level. They have an appeal that spans generations, civilizations, and terrible pop music. I want to channel that appeal with my novels because in the end, a story about love will always be more compelling than a story about obsession.

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The Paradox Of Traditional Romance

The more I read and write about love, sex, and the elaborate hoops we jump through in order to get them, the more I notice something frustratingly profound. When it comes to love and sex, there is no normal. There is no true tradition. There is only the ever-evolving, constantly-adapting dynamics between lovers, love interests, and fuck buddies alike.

Human beings are such complex, diverse creatures. That’s a big reason why our stories about them are so elaborate and varied. I’ve written stories about repressive religious communities that engage in ritualistic orgies. I’ve written stories about strippers who find love in the never-ending party that is Las Vegas.

In each case, there are elements of what some people, namely those who watch too much Fox News, would call “non-traditional” behavior. Whether it’s in love or sex, these people and the mentality they embody represent a standard set of assumptions that we in the Western world cling to, despite any evidence or anecdote to the contrary. They cling to it so hard that it can openly conflict with the very nature that makes us human.

Now I’m not talking about the kinds of assumptions that lead to uptight religious leaders calling same-sex marriage a cause for terrorist attacks or old men thinking granting women equal rights will turn them into lesbians. Those assumptions are the product of one too many intimate encounters between a baseball bat and a skull. They can’t be taken seriously, nor can they be effectively debated.

The assumptions here involve our standard perceptions of sex and romance. Some call it the “standard model” and since I’ve used that term before, that’s the term I’ll keep using until someone comes up with something better/sexier. We all know about these assumptions to some degree. It goes like this:

  • Boy meets girl
  • Girl meets boy
  • Boy and girl fall in love
  • Boy and girl get permission from religion and government to legally have sex
  • Boy and girl move into together, start having babies, and become upstanding members of society
  • Boy and girl constantly struggle to avoid the urge to cheat one another with more exciting sex acts
  • Boy and girl do what they can to abide by societies expectations about how a married couple and family should behave

These assumptions are a big part of the narrative in “Sex At Dawn,” a book that continues to intrigue/arouse me with each chapter. In one of the early chapters, this book makes a keen observation that even my dirty mind missed. It’s an observation that’s so painfully obvious that you really do wonder if psychic lizard people are controlling our thoughts to make us think such crazy things.

If this traditional model of sex and romance is so natural, as many traditionalists claim, then why does it need all these elaborate legal, religious, and social institutions to reinforce it. If it’s so natural, then those protections wouldn’t be necessary, would it?

Think about it. There’s no need for a thought experiment this time. Look at all the elaborate tactics that religion, government, and society uses to preserve and reinforce the traditional model of romance and sex.

They make cheesy sitcoms. They make elaborate love songs. Entire countries even create this massive web of benefits for married couples that, until very recently, were reserved strictly for couples that stuck to the standard model of romance and sex.

This says nothing about the draconian extremes that religion went to in preserving this standard model of romance and sexuality. For some, just having laws, TV shows, and legal benefits wasn’t enough. Entire religions had to make this standard model of sex and romance a matter of spiritual importance. To go against it would be to go against an all-powerful deity that doesn’t want you using your genitals in a certain way.

Combine all that together and you start to see an odd pattern. This institution that’s supposed to be so “natural” needs all these elaborate traditions to protect it. It’s almost as if these traditions are not at all conducive to mankind’s natural inclinations for love and sex. If I could say that with any more sarcasm, I would.

Now some will claim that these traditions are necessary because mankind is naturally rebellious and immoral. Hell, that claim is the basis for no less than three major religions in this world. However, if you think about it just a little bit more than any priest or mullah ever dared, you should be able to see the flaws in that logic.

Take a moment to channel your inner Mother Nature. Pretend for a moment you’re programming a successful species from scratch. Why the hell would you install a program that makes the species rebellious and deviant? You want them to survive and reproduce, right? Making them rebellious just means you’re giving them a mechanism to defy the very goals you established in the first place.

That’s not to say that some people don’t have faulty wiring in their brains and their biology. Some really are naturally deviant, rebellious, and arrogant to a point where they get their own reality show on Fox. Those individuals are a byproduct of the diversity that every species have, daring to venture into uncharted territories to pave the way for others. They’re supposed to be the exception and not the norm.

What the assumptions surrounding the standard model of romance and sex do is invert that dynamic. It creates the impression that the norm is the exception. All those powerful mechanisms that urge us to love, hump, and cooperate in ways that make Catholic Bishops cry at night are scolded and shamed. The only way to subvert them is to create entire traditions and cultures that warp peoples’ mind into believing these assumptions.

It is a romantic paradox in many respects. We claim this standard model of romance that is the basis of so many Shakespeare plays and boy band songs is natural, but it still needs all these protections and traditions to propagate.

It’s enough to make you wonder what will happen as these traditions and assumptions fade. It’s another interesting thought experiment, but one I’ll have to hold off on until I finish “Sex At Dawn” in its entirety.

It’s already giving me many interesting ideas for the kinds of sexy love stories that may fly in the face of everything Stephanie Meyer ever wrote, but these are ideas worth exploring. When our love lives and our sex lives are involved, the stakes are pretty damn high. If my erotica/romance novels can flesh out those ideas, then that’s a worthy endeavor if ever there was one.

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Cheating And Other Flaws In The Standard Model Of Romance

Why is it that stories of cheating, infidelity, and affairs get us feeling giddier than a kid in a room full of puppies? What is it about these stories that fascinate/disgust/arouse us so much? We can’t ignore our reaction to it. There’s a very good reason why Jerry Springer had so much success and it wasn’t just because he’d bring out the occasional midget.

Cheating, infidelity, or whatever you want to call it has always been an obsession of sorts, both in today’s culture and throughout history. Go all the way back to Greek mythology and you’ll get philandering cheats like Zeus, whose track record of infidelity would shock even Jerry Springer.

Fast forward 2,000 years and we still have things link Brangelina, which ended recently in divorce, but for a time was its own cottage industry of sorts, having been built on a foundation of alleged infidelity. Whether we’re in ancient Athens or Newark, New Jersey, we as a society are fascinated by cheating.

That leaves us with an uncomfortable, but sexually suggestive question. Why? This is actually one of those things that can’t be explained solely within the context of caveman logic. The concept of infidelity, as well as the very concept of marriage, takes on a very different context in the caveman mind. The vastly different courtship practices of hunter/gatherer societies are proof enough of that.

As with so many other complex human traits, our caveman brains can’t be precise, accurate, or even logical. They can only do what they must to help us survive and reproduce. It is, as I’ve said before, a blunt instrument that’s prone to error. That error is compounded with infidelity, which is why there are so many theories as to why people cheat.

Our brains still don’t know that we’re not cavemen living in hunter/gatherer societies anymore. Humans, like every other species, are at the mercy of the slow pace of evolution. To be fair to evolution though, humans have been subject to some major upheavals in recent times.

According to most estimates not made by update Texas pastors, the human species has been on this planet for about 200,000 years. It’s only in the last 10,000 years or so that the agricultural revolution laid the foundation for our civilization.

It’s this major shift that laid the foundation for our current concept infidelity. It’s this system of society that helped establish the marriage, child-rearing, and gender roles of civilization that have persisted for most of human history. It’s also this system that made infidelity such a big freakin’ deal to begin with.

I bring this up because last month, I talked about a new book I had been reading called “Sex At Dawn” by Christopher Ryan, Cacilda Jetha, Allyson Johnson, and Jonathan Davis. This book attempts to break down the standard model of romance and expose the flaws within.

I touched on some of those flaws before I even read the book, but it has been very insightful (and very sexy) in fleshing out those flaws in ways I never could. Recently, I got to the part of the book where cheating is discussed and it put the whole concept into a new context, one that can really inspire an aspiring erotica/romance writer.

First, the book lays out the standard model of romance. Anyone who ever watched a sitcom in the 1950s knows what that model looks like. It’s basically one man, one woman, one house with a white picket fence, and exceedingly rigid roles for everyone involved.

The man works to provide money for the family. The woman stays home to raise the kids. The kids get into trouble every now and then, requiring a lecture from their wise father to fix everything. Everybody goes to bed having learned a lesson. It’s basically the exact opposite of the Simpsons.

The Rick Santorums of the world praise this model. At times, they deify it the same way the entire state of Massachusetts deifies Tom Brady. They see it as the perfect ideal that must be pursued, protected, and championed, even if it means bashing homosexuals and screwing over single parents.

There are many problems with this model and even more with the uptight people who champion it, but “Sex At Dawn” singles one in particular out when it comes to infidelity. Don’t worry though. It’s the sexy kind of problem.

The book sets up a fairly standard scenario not much different from the 50s sitcom model. Picture a man and a woman together. They’re married. They’re fairly normal. They’re as typical as typical can be in a country that makes bacon-flavored lube.

The man provides a stable, comfortable home for the woman. He works a job that pays the bills, allowing the woman to stay at home to keep it in one piece. He’s not an overly exciting man. She’s not an overly exciting woman. Their sex life is the antithesis of an old Motley Crue music video. It may as well be as routine as doing the laundry.

So why is this a problem? Well, “Sex At Dawn” makes it a point to note that evolution creates numerous incentives that we don’t already recognize, let alone understand. Remember, our brains and bodies are built for survival and reproduction. The standard model does provide some of that, but it’s not entirely a safe bet.

In that model, the man and the woman are gambling with their evolutionary imperatives. The man is only impregnating one woman in this model. What if that woman has health issues that render her infertile? What if the children she has suffer birth defects? What if she’s only able to have one or two kids at the most?

The are just as many risks for the woman. What if the man’s genes aren’t that good? What if the man’s fertility is limited at best? What if the children she bears aren’t particularly talented or advantaged in any way?

That’s a lot of gambling in the game of evolution. Like immature children who try to cheat at monopoly, we humans will try to bend the rules when we can. This leads to the kind of sexy scenarios that makes “Sex At Dawn” one of the most colorful and insightful books an erotica/romance writer can reference.

For the man, evolution provides an incentive not to hedge his bets. That means the inclination to spend some extra time with their hot young secretary is pretty strong. Unlike a woman, a man can hump multiple women and has a chance at impregnating them all. Sure, those kids will be at a disadvantage if their father is not involved, but the law of averages said at least one of those kids will survive to carry on his genes.

Like I said, evolution has the maturity of a 13-year-old watching Game of Thrones. It’s basically a recipe for extra-marital humping.

For the woman, there are other incentives, but they’re just as powerful and just as sexy. A woman with a boring, but faithful husband will likely have children who share that trait. The boys she bears will be boring and faithful, still having to rely on one woman to propagate their lineage.

Enter the bad boy rebel who will hump anything with legs and a pulse. He’s James Dean. He’s Wolverine. He’s Johnny Cash. This man, for perverse reasons that evolution fuels, gets the woman horny enough to do some extra humping on the side. Sure, it requires that she go behind her hubby’s back, but as women and men alike know all too well, we do crazy things when we’re really horny.

On top of the toe-curling pleasure that comes with exciting, bad-boy sex, she may now bear a child who can hump more women and make more stud babies. Those stud babies have a much better chance at passing on the woman’s genes so she has a powerful evolutionary incentive to make sure all her sons are Wilt Chamberlin and all her daughters are Kardashians.

In light of these evolutionary incentives, coupled with the rigid social order imposed by the “Leave It To Beaver” crowd, it makes perfect evolutionary sense. Evolution forged our basic drives and imperatives. Evolution, being the imperfect process it is, doesn’t give a two whiffs of a skunks ass what laws, taboos, and Jerry Springer says. If it propagates a species, then that’s all it needs.

It’s because of these evolutionary forces and powerful incentives that infidelity makes a perverse kind of sense. For years, I struggled to understand why women wanted to sleep with the bad boys, knowing they weren’t going to stick around or be faithful. Now, when I think about it from the “stud baby” perspective, it does make sense.

It also reveals how imperfect our current assumptions about relationships and romance are, even in the 21st century. Granted, there have been improvements since the Victorian Era, but I think we, as a society, can do better. I don’t claim to have a solution, but I will definitely explore a few sexy possibilities on this blog and in my novels.

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