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Sex, Time, and Power

How Women's Sexuality Shaped Human Evolution

Leonard Shlain - Author

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ISBN 9780142004678 | 448 pages | 03 Aug 2004 | Penguin | 5.51 x 8.46in | 18 - AND UP
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"A coherent and captivating narrative...[that] will affect forever your notions about sex." —The San Francisco Chronicle

As in the bestselling The Alphabet Versus the Goddess, Leonard Shlain’s provocative new book promises to change the way readers view themselves and where they came from. Sex, Time, and Power offers a tantalizing answer to an age-old question: Why did big-brained Homo sapiens suddenly emerge some 150,000 years ago? The key, according to Shlain, is female sexuality. Drawing on an awesome breadth of research, he shows how, long ago, the narrowness of the newly bipedal human female’s pelvis and the increasing size of infants’ heads precipitated a crisis for the species. Natural selection allowed for the adaptation of the human female to this environmental stress by reconfiguring her hormonal cycles, entraining them with the periodicity of the moon. The results, however, did much more than ensure our existence; they imbued women with the concept of time, and gave them control over sex—a power that males sought to reclaim. And the possibility of achieving immortality through heirs drove men to construct patriarchal cultures that went on to dominate so much of human history. From the nature of courtship to the evolution of language, Shlain’s brilliant and wide-ranging exploration stimulates new thinking about very old matters.

Preface: Iron/Sex
Acknowledgments

Part I: Iron, Sex, and Women
1. Unknown Mother/African Eve
2. Big Brain/Narrow Pelvis
3. Red Blood/White Milk
4. Plant Iron/Meat Iron
5. Gyna Sapiens/Gyna All-the-Others
6. Periods/Perils
7. Her Climax/His Climax
8. Grandmothers/Circumcision

Part II: Iron, Sex, and Men
9. Prey/Predator
10. Carnivory/Vegetarianism
11. Menarche/Mustaches
12. Premenstrual Tension/Masturbatory Tension

Part III: Sex and Time
13. Moon/Menses
14. Woo/I Do
15. Anima/Animus
16. Gay/Lesbian
17. Same Sex/Hermaphrodite

Part IV: Death and Paternity
18. Mortality/Angst
19. Superstition/Laughter
20. Father/Mother
21. Incest/Dowries
22. Wife/Husband

Part V: Men and Women
23. Misogyny/Patriarchy
24. Unknown Mother/African Eve/Modern Woman

Epilogue
Notes
Bibliography
Illustration Credits
Index

           
Preface: Iron/Sex
Acknowledgments
Part I: Iron, Sex, and Women
1. Unknown Mother/African Eve
2. Big Brain/Narrow Pelvis
3. Red Blood/White Milk
4. Plant Iron/Meat Iron
5. Gyna Sapiens/Gyna All-the-Others
6. Periods/Perils
7. Her Climax/His Climax
8. Grandmothers/Circumcision

Part II: Iron, Sex, and Men
9. Prey/Predator
10. Carnivory/Vegetarianism
11. Menarche/Mustaches
12. Premenstrual Tension/Masturbatory Tension

Part III: Sex and Time
13. Moon/Menses
14. Woo/I Do
15. Anima/Animus
16. Gay/Lesbian
17. Same Sex/Hermaphrodite

Part IV: Death and Paternity
18. Mortality/Angst
19. Superstition/Laughter
20. Father/Mother
21. Incest/Dowries
22. Wife/Husband

Part V: Men and Women
23. Misogyny/Patriarchy
24. Unknown Mother/African Eve/Modern Woman

Epilogue
Notes
Bibliography
Illustration Credits
Index

     

No clear and compelling explanation currently exists for the sudden emergence of big-brained Homo sapiens 150,000 years ago. Here, Leonard Shlain proposes an original thesis that argues that profound changes in female sexuality hold the key to this mystery.

According to Shlain, bipedalism, narrow pelvises, and enormous fetal heads precipitated a crisis for our species. Mothers faced a grave death threat in childbirth. To compensate, women lost estrus and its urgency to copulate, but gained veto power over sex. Drastic reconfiguration of their reproductive cycle, particularly the new feature of heavy menses, allowed women to discover the dimension of time and with it the insight that sex caused pregnancy. Men used foresight to become the planet's most dangerous predator but they suffered terror when they learned they were doomed to die. Inventing religions and afterlives to ameliorate the knowledge of death, men then learned the part they played in impregnation. The concept of paternity drove men to create patriarchal cultures designed to control women's reproductive choice. But the insights, first discovered by women, also created the conditions for two people to love each other more deeply and longer than any other animal.

Throughout Sex, Time, and Power, Shlain offers carefully reasoned and certain to be controversial discussions on subjects such as menses, orgasm, masturbation, menopause, circumcision, male aggression, the evolution of language, homosexuality, and the origin of marriage. Written in a lively and accessible style, Sex, Time, and Power is certain to generate heated debate in the media and among readers interested in human evolution and the history of sexuality.

           
Preface: Iron/Sex
Acknowledgments
Part I: Iron, Sex, and Women
1. Unknown Mother/African Eve
2. Big Brain/Narrow Pelvis
3. Red Blood/White Milk
4. Plant Iron/Meat Iron
5. Gyna Sapiens/Gyna All-the-Others
6. Periods/Perils
7. Her Climax/His Climax
8. Grandmothers/Circumcision

Part II: Iron, Sex, and Men
9. Prey/Predator
10. Carnivory/Vegetarianism
11. Menarche/Mustaches
12. Premenstrual Tension/Masturbatory Tension

Part III: Sex and Time
13. Moon/Menses
14. Woo/I Do
15. Anima/Animus
16. Gay/Lesbian
17. Same Sex/Hermaphrodite

Part IV: Death and Paternity
18. Mortality/Angst
19. Superstition/Laughter
20. Father/Mother
21. Incest/Dowries
22. Wife/Husband

Part V: Men and Women
23. Misogyny/Patriarchy
24. Unknown Mother/African Eve/Modern Woman

Epilogue
Notes
Bibliography
Illustration Credits
Index

     

No clear and compelling explanation currently exists for the sudden emergence of big-brained Homo sapiens 150,000 years ago. Here, Leonard Shlain proposes an original thesis that argues that profound changes in female sexuality hold the key to this mystery.

According to Shlain, bipedalism, narrow pelvises, and enormous fetal heads precipitated a crisis for our species. Mothers faced a grave death threat in childbirth. To compensate, women lost estrus and its urgency to copulate, but gained veto power over sex. Drastic reconfiguration of their reproductive cycle, particularly the new feature of heavy menses, allowed women to discover the dimension of time and with it the insight that sex caused pregnancy. Men used foresight to become the planet's most dangerous predator but they suffered terror when they learned they were doomed to die. Inventing religions and afterlives to ameliorate the knowledge of death, men then learned the part they played in impregnation. The concept of paternity drove men to create patriarchal cultures designed to control women's reproductive choice. But the insights, first discovered by women, also created the conditions for two people to love each other more deeply and longer than any other animal.

Throughout Sex, Time, and Power, Shlain offers carefully reasoned and certain to be controversial discussions on subjects such as menses, orgasm, masturbation, menopause, circumcision, male aggression, the evolution of language, homosexuality, and the origin of marriage. Written in a lively and accessible style, Sex, Time, and Power is certain to generate heated debate in the media and among readers interested in human evolution and the history of sexuality.

         
Preface: Iron/Sex
Acknowledgments
Part I: Iron, Sex, and Women
1. Unknown Mother/African Eve
2. Big Brain/Narrow Pelvis
3. Red Blood/White Milk
4. Plant Iron/Meat Iron
5. Gyna Sapiens/Gyna All-the-Others
6. Periods/Perils
7. Her Climax/His Climax
8. Grandmothers/Circumcision

Part II: Iron, Sex, and Men
9. Prey/Predator
10. Carnivory/Vegetarianism
11. Menarche/Mustaches
12. Premenstrual Tension/Masturbatory Tension

Part III: Sex and Time
13. Moon/Menses
14. Woo/I Do
15. Anima/Animus
16. Gay/Lesbian
17. Same Sex/Hermaphrodite

Part IV: Death and Paternity
18. Mortality/Angst
19. Superstition/Laughter
20. Father/Mother
21. Incest/Dowries
22. Wife/Husband

Part V: Men and Women
23. Misogyny/Patriarchy
24. Unknown Mother/African Eve/Modern Woman

Epilogue
Notes
Bibliography
Illustration Credits
Index

     


Compelling, scholarly, thought-provoking... brings a stimulating new perspective to the question of what it means to be human. (Donald Johanson, author of Lucy: The Beginnings of Mankind)


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