Sex, Time, and Power: How Women's Sexuality Shaped Human Evolution

Sex, Time, and Power: How Women's Sexuality Shaped Human Evolution

by Leonard Shlain
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Sex, Time, and Power: How Women's Sexuality Shaped Human Evolution by Leonard Shlain

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780142004678
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/07/2004
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 817,740
Product dimensions: 5.53(w) x 8.41(h) x 0.96(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Leonard Shlain is the author of Art & Physics: Parallel Visions in Space, Time & Light, and The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image. He is the chief of laparoscopic surgery at California Medical Center in San Francisco.

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Sex, Time, and Power: How Women's Sexuality Shaped Human Evolution 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
ASK DR. BAUGHAN November 20, 2003 WHY BABY WHY? I vividly remember a day in my second year of medical school when I asked a question of my imposing pathology professor, only to be rebuked, ¿Now, Baughan, you know better than that.¿ After reconstituting myself from a puddle of humiliation, several classmates confided they had wanted to ask the same question. Recently, I felt an immediate soul connection with Leonard Schlain, M.D., when he described a similar experience in his medical school years in the introduction to his most recent book, Sex, Time and Power: How Women¿s Sexuality Shaped Human Evolution. Some people go to medical school because they want to ¿be doctors¿ and practice the profession. For others, they are curious to know how human beings work and how they got to be the way they are. For many, the practical application of contemporary medical care can dull the curiosity that drove the career choice in the first place. Fortunately, that has not occurred to Dr. Schlain. His book is an exciting roller-coaster of ideas and theories about why we are the way we are, with an astonishing amount of information from a cornucopia of disciplines to support his proposals. I cannot recall a book (except perhaps his previous one, The Alphabet versus the Goddess, that made me repeatedly stop and think, ¿Now where in the world did he learn that? How is there enough time in the world to read and synthesize so much?¿ His simple question in medical school was, ¿Why is the normal hemoglobin level of women less than men?¿ The dismissive answer was, ¿Women bleed and men don¿t.¿ In a wonderful example of where a simple question can lead if curiosity is not quashed, Dr. Schlain for several decades continued to explore questions like the following that wove themselves into the fabric of his book: Why do women menstruate? Few mammals do, none to the degree that humans do. What possible evolutionary value could it have? If women lose blood (and the iron in it), how would that change their nutritional needs compared to other primates? They would be healthier if they ate meat. Would they be the ones likely to hunt for meat? No, men were more adapted to that. How would that influence the relationships between men and women? When homo sapiens appeared on the scene 150,000 years ago, the evolutionary advantage of their larger brains carried some distinct disadvantages for women. By standing upright, with the consequent pelvic changes, and then trying to deliver babies with bigger heads, maternal and infant mortality increased dramatically more than any other primate. How could this possibly be beneficial to the species without some major adaptations? What adaptations must have occurred for the human species to thrive as it has? Might it have something to do with why we have males who in their sexual prime seem programmed to want sex anytime with any willing female and women who do not give off obvious sexual signals like every other primate in heat and learn to say ¿no¿ when they are ovulating, unlike every other female mammal? The explorations continue with the observation that defies explanation of how women¿s menstrual cycles so closely match the phases of the moon, again, unlike any other species. With all women of small hunter-gatherer bands menstruating at the same time, and the bright night-time orb looking the same, was that the trigger for the discovery of Time? If women discovered Time, and taught it to men, how might that affect their relationships? Shortly after the first calendars appeared 40,000 years ago, burial ceremonies began. Was the discovery of Time quickly followed by the realization of the inevitability of Death? How did this affect the psyche¿s of male and female differently? How did these issues play into the establishment and expression of spiritual and religious beliefs and institutions? Sex, Time and Power is a grand adventure that begins with a simple question about hemoglo
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the most FASCINATING books I have ever read. What a triumph of the intellect to make the kind of evolutionary and social anthropological connections. I have reread this book and never cease to be honestly amazed. Mr. Schlain is a delighful thinker and a positively stunning author. He had written several more books and they are all just as terrific.
Brainylainy More than 1 year ago
Very readable prose loaded with dubious claims about females, such as his claim that females often get a terrific orgasm as they give birth. The baby's head coming down the birth canal triggers "the G spot." Huh? Even so, he raises many interesting issues of how the needs of females were the driving force behind evolution, pointing out that the first "tool" was probably a sling used to hold babies. Since hominins didn't have a furry coat for a neonate to grab onto, a mother had to hold it in her arms. Making a sling out of animal skins freed up her hands for gathering berries and other foods.
Danester More than 1 year ago
This book is chock full of interesting views on why human beings do what they do. Mate selection. Power. Time. Things I've intuitively believed about the church and how they gained power. I think this book is great.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Our book group recently finished this book. It prompted much discussion. He raised so many ideas and questions that we hadn't thought about previously. He also did so at a level we could understand, and incorporated a sense of humor throughout. His research is phenomenal. Well worth your time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The author has shown deep mental digestion of presently known facts with startling conclusions that may seem suspect to some at first glance. On further consideration the validity of reflexive loading on behavior(action, reaction and further [now educated] action)becomes clearer. This, after all, is how evolution happens with the extent governed by the power of the stimulant, sex and the natural economics of competition being examples. This text explores the development of large brained homo sapiens and the further repercussions of said large brain now extant upon its bearer in the light of sex, time and power. An excellent read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i thought this book was amazing. i picked it up on a trip to the bay area, and it connected me to the whole stream of evolution. i think we are so divorced from our nature as animals, as biological things as connected with other biological things - this book really helped me to feel more connected to myself, to others, in a way few books i have ever read have done so. i have read so much philosophy, theology - its refreshing to read something that challenges you to think about your biological being, its drives and what shaped them, and to consider stimulating reasons why they were shaped that way, what the point is evolutionarily. he just kees coming at you with provocative ideas that you want to play with, add to, discuss with other people... i couldn't put the book down, i wanted to read more, about what his conclusions were... bravo to shlain for having the guts to think and write creatively! he even made me feel connected to fellow creatures such as reviewers who think writing in academe, where no one will ever read what you have to say, or in a 'peer reviewed journal', is somehow the mark of anything near 'the truth'. those people are happy to hog their little conclusions to themselves and never let any normal people (whom they underestimate intellectually) learn from their efforts. plus they are jealous that someone wrote such an interesting book in their field! good job, leonard shlain, for bringing us in the loop of so many fascinating ideas, and your insightful conclusions
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It shows her boobs and vinus finally
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Oh thank you master." She comes again and moans sucking her ti.t and letting it burst into her milk burst into her mouth.