I recently finished reading the “Land of the Painted Caves” by Jean M. Auel. It is the final book in the Earth Children’s Series which I have been reading since I was a young teenager, so one of my few exceptions in which I will foray into the land of fiction novels. The series depicts the life of a young woman named Ayla, set in prehistoric times at the split of the Neanderthal and Homo sapiens line. The book was set during early hunter gathering society and although sadly it did not live up to the standards of the previous books, it did touch upon an incredibly interesting topic which falls hand in hand with my constant relationship questioning. The research is overwhelming in supporting the fact that if early humans were monogamous then we would not have survived. Survival was hard and to this day there are still strong risks and a high mortality in trying to procreate our species. Any of my regular readers know about my fondness for “Sex at Dawn” in exploring some of the myths around males baser instincts.
I have written about how there is strong evidence that a males desire is in procreation and spreading his seed, whereas a females desires lie in finding the highest quality food sources to sustain life, Reproductive Goals Blog. But where do we separate that line from where we evolved to where we are at now, that place of struggle between our base instincts and our societal norms. In the aforementioned novel, Jean M. Auel takes the readers to the point in history where the change begins to take place between the poly lifestyle and leads into a more monogamous way of thinking. The male flatheads (Neanderthals) openly had sex with any females who were around in an instinctual needs only basis. The Zelandonii (Homo sapiens) believe that babies are created by the mixing of spirits and thus sex is their gift of pleasure given from the Mother for all to enjoy.
She depicts a land where there are Mother Festivals in which any person may mate with another so long as both consent. Sex was about sharing pleasures and not about procreation in the eyes of the first Homo sapiens. The author proceeds to challenge the first peoples way of thinking about sex by introducing a vision to Ayla that a baby is created by more than spirits but by the actual physical act of sex. This introduces the most feared and tabooed feelings of jealousy. With jealousy there can be little cooperation which was an intrinsic part in ensuring that our species survived. This book is of course fiction; however it presents a plausible scenario in which humans created monogamous bonds as an evolutionary tool to ensure that jealousy was eradicated or at the very least minimized. When the complexities of life were introduced to a species that were just focusing on survival, we did what we had to do, we adapted. The creation of social norms to ensure that that deadliest sin, based around jealousy was once again made taboo was a response to learning more about ourselves in our increase cognitive thoughts.
As our brains grew bigger, so did the need for social constraints to ensure co-operation and thus ultimate survival. I don`t know about you, but sometimes knowing a plausible cause and effect of new knowledge really makes me want to battle harder against it. I think it is natural to grow up and move forward, thus when a society grows out of a constraint created to by us, it almost feels empowering to try and rise above such things. Breaking free from our prehistorically created social norms, towards something a lot more fulfilling and naturally simple seems like an obvious choice. Sex is about fun and pleasure. We have so many tools at our disposal to prevent pregnancies prior to a solid foundation and family being built to raise children, in my opinion, properly where children can always come first. So now that we have the technology for safe, and lower risk sex, should we not be properly enjoying that aspect of life? Can we as a society break free of the taboo’s and shame towards having sex with multiple partners and just enjoy ourselves? Breaking free of our prehistoric roots, in search of more pleasure and happiness in hopes that we can learn to evolve beyond the challenge of jealousy.