Nina's Reading Blog

Comments on books I am reading/listening to

Why Is Sex Fun? The Evolution of Human Sexuality

Posted by nliakos on May 14, 2015

by Jared Diamond (Basic Books, a member of the Perseus Books Group, 1997; ISBN 0-465-03126-9)

In this very short (less than 200 pages) book in only seven chapters with titles like “The Animal with the Weirdest Sex Life,” “Why Don’t Men Breast-feed Their Babies? The Non-Evolution of Male Lactation,” and “What Are Men Good For? The Evolution of Men’s Roles”, Jared Diamond considers why human sexual behavior is so different from that of most (but not all!) other animal species, in that ovulation is concealed, intercourse is not limited to fertile periods, females experience menopause, and men’s penises are larger than they need to be. He considers where humans fit on the spectrum of promiscuity, monogamy, and harems. He discusses different strategies for fertilization in use throughout the animal world. He postulates that perhaps the reason for menopause is that it allows women some years unencumbered by childcare during which they can finish raising their own children and help raising their grandchildren, and function as knowledgeable elders in their family or tribe. Like a book that describes a reader’s native culture, allowing him or her to really notice it for the first time, this book helps readers to view human sexuality from a more objective vantage point and to wonder about how it came to be as it is. Diamond is just speculating, but he leads the reader to speculate with him; it’s interesting.

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2 Responses to “Why Is Sex Fun? The Evolution of Human Sexuality”

  1. […] over the past year or so I have read several of Diamond’s books (Guns, Germs, and Steel; Why Is Sex Fun? and now this one. Next up: The Third Chimpanzee). His books are extremely interesting, clearly […]

  2. […] read several Diamond books by now (Guns, Germs, and Steel; Collapse; Why Is Sex Fun?), and there is a lot of overlap among them, but they are all fascinating and thought-provoking. […]

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