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Sex, Time & Power
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0142004677, Paperback)This book sets out to explore why and when people evolved so far away from other mammals in several key ways, all of which Dr. Shlain ties to the biological differences between men and women. As in his excellent prior work The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image (which holds that there are links between the ascendancy of patriarchy and written language and the descent of matriarchal societies and goddess-based religions), some of the concepts proposed in this book might seem a bit of a stretch. And they are—whether or not they turn out to be factual. Shlain contends, for instance, that women essentially invented the concept of time due to their experience of menses. Whatever conclusions the reader comes to, the author exposes the underlying gender biases in so many scientific assumptions; the result is one of those books that cannot help but alter one's perceptions. A consistently engaging writer, Shlain traces the course of his own evolving ideas with what might be called a didactic wit: bold statements are first writ large, then Dr. Shlain reveals how he came upon them, frequently with colorful anecdotes that show these are questions he's been wrestling with for many years. It's difficult to tell whether this fascinating thinker will be viewed as the next Darwin or as a crank, but there's no denying this is an audacious work in the realm of evolutionary biology. --Mike McGonigal
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:20:21 -0400)
"Long ago, due to the narrowness of her bipedal pelvis and the increasing size of her infants' heads, the human female began to experience high childbirth death rates, precipitating a crisis for the species. Natural selection adapted her to this unique environmental stress by drastically reconfiguring her hormonal cycles. Her estrus disappeared and menses mysteriously entrained with the periodicity of the moon. Women formulated the concept of a month, which in turn allowed them to make the connection between sex and pregnancy. Upon learning the majestic secret of time, these ancestral females then gained the power to refuse sex when they were ovulating. Men were forced to confront women who possessed a mind of their own." "Women taught men about time, and men used this knowledge to become the planet's most fearsome predator. Unfortunately, they also discovered that they were mortal. Men then invented religions to soften the certainty of death. Subsequently, they belatedly grasped the functions of sex. The possibility of achieving a kind of immortality through heirs drove men to construct patriarchal cultures whose purpose was to control women's reproductive choices." "Leonard Shlain explores how these archaic insights about sex, time, and power dramatically altered all subsequent human culture, from the nature of courtship to the origin of marriage to the evolution of language, creating the conditions for two people to love each other more deeply and longer than any other animal. Sex, Time, and Power is a compelling book that challenges accepted views of human sexuality and is sure to stimulate new thinking about old matters."--BOOK JACKET.
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