Sex, Love & Marriage: What We’ve been Doing Wrong (and Right) for 8,000 years!
The Judeo-Christian traditions, and others over the last 6,000 years or so, have turned human sexuality and romantic love on its head. For 98% of human existence (of which 8,000 years is but a blink of an eye), humans lived in small communities ‘where everybody knew your name.’ Our ancestors led very egalitarian lives compared to the dominance based, often patriarchal societies of so-called modern civilization.
Today, ‘unnatural’ (as in, not part of the social evolution of humanity until very recently) emphasis has been put on competition with its Hobbesian attitudes of a selfish, brutish, cold human existence. This has, in part, let to inherently self-centered economic systems like Capitalism (based on the artificial notion of Private Property) which has, among other problems, demanded sexuality be considered almost inhuman, scarce, and hierarchical, and thus championing the supposedly moral virtues of monogamy and the “nuclear family.” Any real attempts of returning to our basic human natures has been faced with threats from the State, Church, and even from the Sciences (particularly from the field of evolutionary psychology).
So, how can humanists and other freethinkers better understand the nature of human nature with regards to Sex, Love and Marriage in such a society as ours? On this 2-hour special, we turn to two researchers in these areas to try to get a better handle on what and who we are, and where we may want to venture in the 21st Century.
Stephanie Coontz teaches history and family studies at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, and is Director of Research and Public Education for the Council on Contemporary Families, which she chaired from 2001-04. She has testified about her research before the House Select Committee on Children, Youth and Families in Washington, DC, has addressed audiences across America, Japan, Australia, and Europe, and has appeared on the Today Show, Crossfire, 20/20, NPR, CNN’s Talk Back Live, CBS This Morning, the O-Reilly Factor and MSNBC with Brian Williams.
Stephanie is the author of the forthcoming “A Strange Stirring”: The Feminine Mystique and the Wives of “The Greatest Generation,” and the award-winning Marriage, A History: How Love Conquered Marriage.
Christopher Ryan has a MA and Ph.D. in psychology from Saybrook University, in San Francisco, CA. Drawing upon multi-cultural travel experience, Christopher’s research focused on trying to “distinguish the human from the cultural.” His doctoral dissertation analyzed the prehistoric roots of human sexuality. Based in Barcelona since the mid-1990s, Christopher has lectured at the University of Barcelona Medical School and consulted at various local hospitals. He speaks about human sexuality to audiences around the world, and his work has appeared in major newspapers and magazines in many languages, scholarly journals, and a text book used in medical schools and teaching hospitals throughout Spain and Latin America. His new book , co-authored with his wife, Cacilda Jethá, is Sex At Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality.