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Sex at Dawn: Modern Relationships Essay

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Updated: May 29th, 2021

Natural Sexual Tendencies

The ideas introduced by Ryan and Jetha (2012) go against the conventional perspectives on human sexuality. First of all, the authors suggest that people are non-monogamous. While marriage is traditionally regarded as the “fundamental condition” of male-female relationships and the nuclear family – as the core unit of the society, some features, such as sexual dimorphism, extra-pair copulation, and so on, indicate the contrary. Another important tendency derives from the denial of the importance of the marriage institution. It is shared parenthood which implies that all members of the community participate in raising others’ children and treat them as their own. The given behavioral tendency is largely associated with the early, pre-agricultural people and shows that the unselfish attitude to sex is natural for people. Ryan and Jetha (2010) consider that with the advancement of the social structure, humans started to oppress their natural instincts in order to preserve the current convenient patterns in the distribution of resources and privileges (and sex, in particular).

It is possible to say that the predilections discussed by the authors should be acknowledged because it seems that the conventional views on human sexuality contribute to social inequality of genders and sometimes may cause unnecessary distress in individuals. In the Western tradition, marriage is always synonymous with sexual exclusivity. Moreover, partners usually have intentions to stay together for a long time, if not forever. The deviation from the given model, e.g., cheating on the mate with another person, or legal separation of spouses, etc., is frequently criticized, especially in case the woman is the one who does not adhere to the prescribed behavioral norms. By acknowledging the natural sexual instincts and trying not to oppress them that much, society may gain a chance to become more wholesome, eradicate unfair social practices and double standards.

Bodily Pleasure and Interpersonal Violence

According to James Prescott, the presence of bodily pleasure in the person’s life may interfere with the development of propensity to violence in him or her (Ryan & Jetha, 2010). The researcher claims that positive body experiences are especially important during the early, formative period of life because, at the given developmental stage, the psychological and behavioral patterns are formed in individuals. Depending on the degree of exposure to violence or pleasant sensory experiences, the person develops either violence-seeking or pleasure-seeking behaviors. In this way, it is true to say that deprivation of bodily pleasure leads to an increased propensity to violence.

Violence is an intentional expression of aggression, damage, or injury to individuals. In some cases, aggression may serve as a natural mechanism of self-protection. However, when the aggressive and violent state of mind becomes a norm of living, one may rather call it a pathological condition. Multiple research findings suggest that the deprivation of bodily pleasures and sex may lead to hypertrophy of the natural instincts to the degree when a person cannot control his or her own behavior and, as a result, becomes violent to others. Thus, the practices associated with sexual deprivation in society may be correlated with the overall rates of crime, interpersonal conflicts, and even organized warfare.

The evidence summarized in the book reveals that in primates whose sexual activity is frequent, the level of aggression is significantly low (Ryan & Jetha, 2010). Moreover, since they are not exposed to intense stress, they do not participate in intragroup conflicts as often as the primates are associated with low sexual activity. The given observation applies to humans as well. For instance, in armies, men are deprived of female company, and it may be one of the methods to direct their natural instincts into violent forms of behavior.

Based on the provided arguments, it is possible to conclude that society should change the current oppressing attitudes to sexuality and educate young individuals on the risks of deprivation of bodily pleasure. Only if a favorable and supportive informational and social environment will be created, the violence related to sexual oppression and abuse may be reduced.


Ryan, C., & Jetha, C. (2012). Sex at dawn: How we mate, why we stray, and what it means for modern relationships. New York: Harper Perennial.

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IvyPanda. "Sex at Dawn: Modern Relationships." May 29, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/sex-at-dawn-modern-relationships/.


IvyPanda. 2021. "Sex at Dawn: Modern Relationships." May 29, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/sex-at-dawn-modern-relationships/.


IvyPanda. (2021) 'Sex at Dawn: Modern Relationships'. 29 May.

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