Read Sex, Time, and Power: How Woman's Sexuality Changed the Course of Human Evolution by Leonard Shlain Free Online
Book Title: Sex, Time, and Power: How Woman's Sexuality Changed the Course of Human Evolution|
The author of the book: Leonard Shlain
Date of issue: March 26th 2004
ISBN 13: 9781574535631
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 7.66 MB
Edition: Audio Literature
Read full description of the books Sex, Time, and Power: How Woman's Sexuality Changed the Course of Human Evolution:I was a little nervous when I picked up Leonard Shlain’s Sex, Time and Power. The book is close to 400 pages and didn’t strike me as exactly a beach-read. As I started really delving into the book, I continued to have problems with Shlain’s reasoning and style. The book explores how gender and sexuality has shaped human evolution, differentiating us from our ancestors lower down on the food chain. While usually anything about gender and evolution has me punching my own face, this book was generally more informative than offensive. So much evolutionary theory is applied today to excuse male promiscuity, violence and dominance, while implying that women are naturally inferior. These explanations, flowing out of newspapers, websites, and Cosmo, fail to recognize the societal causes of gender discrepancies and were obviously written by groups of people who have never heard of Judith Butler. Shlain does manage to recognize that these are only theories and that society plays a huge role in constructing our gendered world.
Shlain also situates himself really well, stating at the beginning of the book that he is an older, white doctor, a privileged position that he needs to acknowledge. This privilege tends to seep into his writing, where he often seems to be relying on cultural assumptions without actually examining whether or not they are true. The entire book works under the assumption that men are aggressive, women are passive; men want sex, women want love; men are dedicated to thought, women are dedicated to nature. Though he does present the whole hunter versus caregiver caveman-days scenario that explains part of the truths in these statements, he fails to recognize that today these statements are far from true. The women I know defy these feminine gender stereotypes, showing that these traits are not our biological destiny and might be a lot more complicated than Shlain asserts. He essentializes gender in a dangerous way that seems to overshadow his obviously good intentions.
My other main problem with this book was the writing style. It was very apparent to me that this book was written by a doctor. Doctors are great, don’t get me wrong. I encourage them to write many books, as long as they don’t emulate Slain in his attempts at literary style. Shlain obviously tries to make up for his scientific background by weaving complicated metaphors with big words and ridiculously contrived imagery. It’s like he went on Yahoo Answers and searched for “how to write a book” and then packed every moronic suggestion into each sentence. Had the book been half as long it would have been twice as enjoyable. Though he was trying to make the book readable and enthralling to the lay person, he ended up alienating through his endless search for emotive language in situations where straight scientific language would have been sufficient. Calling a woman’s period her “monthly music”- Oh, brother. He also employed one of my favorite tropes, comparing a woman’s g-spot to a mystical unicorn. Attention people: stop comparing women’s sexuality to mythical creatures. Why does that happen so much?
In all this book, though full of interesting evolutionary tid-bits, read as sexist and essentializing. It only touches on homosexuality and has no mention of intersexuality. I found the discussions of why women menstruate and female sexual maturation fascinating, but they were overshadowed by the implications that men are naturally more clear-headed and stronger leaders, which are absurd. If one is willing to overlook Shlain’s wordiness and sexism, this book is an interesting read for anyone interested in human evolution.
Read information about the authorLeonard Shlain was an American surgeon and writer, the Chairman of Laparoscopic surgery at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco and was an Associate Professor of Surgery at UCSF.
He was a speaker at such venues as the Smithsonian, Harvard University, Salk Institute, Los Alamos National Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center and the European Union's Ministers of Culture. In 1999, he was a contributor to Academic Press' Encyclopedia of Creativity.
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