UC Berkeley expert on sexuality co-authors new book to be released on Valentine's Day (Feb. 14)

By Kathleen Scalise, Public Affairs

BERKELEY-- Do men and women have different love agendas? Why are some people unfaithful? Do the secrets of human passion lie in our primate roots?

These questions and more are answered in a new book - "Ever Since Adam and Eve: The Evolution of Human Sexuality" (Cambridge University Press) - to be released on Valentine's Day (Feb. 14) by University of California, Berkeley, Professor Malcolm Potts and co-author Roger Short .

A physician and professor of public health, Potts for the past five years has taught a large UC Berkeley undergraduate course on human sexuality and more recently another smaller course called "With Sex in Mind."

He put all this knowledge to work and teamed up with distinguished reproductive biologist Roger Short of the University of Melbourne, Australia, to write what Potts calls a "coffeetable book with content."

Valentine's Day is the perfect time to come out with such a book, said Potts, because it's an occasion for eroticism mixed with romance and nurturing, to celebrate human love.

The two authors have planned a special event in Australia Melbourne Zoo to launch the book Feb. 14. Short will host the event while Potts remains in the Bay Area.

"We've hired two professional actors to play Adam and Eve," said Potts. "We have a huge live python to play the snake and we even remembered to have an apple and a few fig leaves around."

Theatrics aside, Potts said the new book is really quite serious. It explores many sexual topics from the point of view of the animal within us.

"We're basically polygamous animals struggling to be monogamous," said Potts. "No doubt we come from a promiscuous stock."

Monogamy, with all its courtship rituals and romantic nuances, probably originated because human babies are so huge and dependent that women by themselves could not easily raise them in a primitive environment, Potts said. Their evolutionary strategy was to seduce a male to stick around and help.

One of man's closest primate cousins, the chimpanzee, remains polygamous and is raised solely by the mother, he said.

But "the chimpanzee is just about at the limit of what one mammal can do alone in the natural world. You see very tired mums with perhaps a baby at the breast and another on the way," said Potts, an Englishman.

Chapters in the new book include:

· "Sex and Power," an explanation of why a double standard on promiscuity exists for men in positions of wealth or power;

· "Dying for Love," a debate over whether running the health risks of sex and intimacy is ultimately worth it for the human race;

· And "Love and Marriage," an historical look at traditions of romance and marriage.

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