Feminism and Evolutionary
Sophia Elliott Connell
If feminists-of all stripes-want to know their enemy, it is now available for inspection (Robert Wright, 'Feminists, Meet Mr. Darwin', New Republic, 28 Nov. 1994: 34-46).
The enemy in question is evolutionary psychology,
an increasingly influential description of human motivation and behaviour, which
assumes profound psychological differences between men and women based on their
differing reproductive strategies. This field of study, which has also been
known as human sociobiology, extends evolutionary theory in order to explain
behavioural as well as physical adaptations to particular environments. The
environment to which human being have adapted is taken to be that occupied by
the first nomadic hunter/gatherer tribes. Behavioural traits that serve to maximise
reproductive advantage in that environment are considered to have been more
effectively passed on to the next generation, forming our inherited mental capacities.
For this new breed of Darwinians, it is not individuals but their genes which
strive to perpetuate their kinds. The fundamental regenerative drives of genes
are capable of accounting for the varieties of animal structure and behaviour
we observe. Although genes are obviously not conscious agents, such teleological
terminology is unavoidable. Because animal behaviour is brought about by genetic
mechanism, the animals themselves are thought of as vehicles for genes, and
are even sometimes described as puppets or robots.1
The genes of male and female animals must develop different mechanisms in order to ensure their survival, since their parental 'investment' differs. Most male animals 'invest' very little in reproduction, while females especially among mammals, provide nourishment for months, or even years.2 In order to ensure reproductive success males must attempt to mate with as many females as possible, while females have to carefully select fathers for their offspring. Evolutionary psychology posits that genes ensuring male promiscuity and female 'coyness' predominate in most animals, having survived best of all. This general picture of the rationale behind animal behaviour is applied to humans and thought to provide insights into the different sexual habits of men and women and to lie at the root of other fundamental psychological and behavioural differences between the sexes. In terms of sexuality, proponents of evolutionary psychology believe that men are naturally lecherous and seek only youth and beauty in their partners, while women feel the need for security from wealthy and powerful men. 3 Female coyness and the intense male competition and aggression it produces, serve to expand the theory of sexually dimorphic behavioural patterns to explain the prominence of men in positions of power, male violence against women, rape, war, adultery, infanticide, etc.4
Recent popular summaries of this type of research in evolutionary psychology attempt to sell their ideas by detailing the way in which it fits with stereotypical gendered behaviour in humans. However, they have also felt obliged of late to deny the reactionary aspect of their work, especially its seemingly obvious sexism. Evolutionary psychology defends itself against feminist criticisms in two ways. First it appeals to the supposed truth or objectivity of its point of view, a quality which it then contrasts with the fictitious or fanciful nature of that of its opponents. Thus Glenn Wilson in his book The Great Sex Divide: A Study of Male-Female Differences (Peter Owen: London, 1989) thinks it 'unfortunate that so many books on the topic of sex differences are written by dedicated feminists whose political aims take precedence over objective facts in the matter' (p. 39). For him reverse discrimination is completely unjustified since it disregards the truth of sex difference and instead 'indulges in fantasies' (p. 114). Meanwhile, Kingsley Browne, author of Divided Labours, professes that m en's desire for status and tangible rewards is biologically ingrained and runs deeper than a mere social 'paradigm', as is women's desire for high-status men. The notion that large numbers of female executives and professionals would be willing to marry men who would stay home and tend children is nothing short of fanciful (p. 56).
Another common strategy of evolutionary psychology's apologists is to claim that 'science' does not need to involve itself in unrelated issues of ethics, politics or justice. Stephen Pinker, for instance, who laments the fact that 'today's intellectual climate' makes it impossible not to mention feminist theory in his account of sex difference, thinks that the goal of feminism is 'an ethical and political position that is in no danger of being refuted by any foreseeable scientific theory or discovery' (p. 492). When he notes that the environment he envisages for the development of our psyches is one in which 'sex led to babies' and 'children were a mother's problem more than a father's' he notes that these statements are completely separate from moral considerations (Pinker, Mind, pp. 468-9). Matt Ridley is also careful to argue that '[t]he asymmetry in prenatal sexual investment between the genders is a fact of life, not a moral outrage'. He claims that because somethings being 'natural' does not make it right, his detailed account of the naturalness of sex inequality is mere harmless description (Ridley, Queen, p. 174).5
Before we find out in what sense evolutionary psychology counts as scientific, it is important to question whether it is possible to claim that scientific descriptions of human behaviour have no effect on or responsibility to society. These authors are well aware of the power of appeals to the naturalness or unnaturalness of certain behaviours which still serve as potent prescriptions or deterrents. Also by claiming to be giving people the truth or the scientific facts about sex difference they are consciously promoting their point of view. It even seems possible that the sidelong stabs at (usually a straw version of) feminist in these works reveal a covert political agenda.6 Their need to refute feminism shows that they aim to persuade rather than to inform the reader. For if their theories were really true, they would not feel at all threatened by the idea of female equality. Feminism, on the other hand, has good reason to feel threatened by evolutionary psychology. As it rides high on the wave of popular science literature, this account of naturalness of sex inequality not only effects common opinion, but is also being used in the public sphere to justify sexism.
There are three branches of study that I will discuss: (1) technical papers, published in academic books or journals; (2) feminist evolutionary psychology; (3) popular books which provide a general picture or 'worldview'7 by bringing together a series of technical studies.
The author or authors of technical papers attempt to fit a certain human behaviour, considered to be universal trait, into the structure of evolutionary theory. Rape, for instance, is taken to be a heritable tendency in human males, which evolved as an effective method of ensuring that extremely undesirable men are able to reproduce.8 Another example is male jealousy, which is explained with reference to women's inclination to cheat on their husbands with genetically stronger men.9 The reproductive rationale for women's behaviour is explained in detail, as are the advantages of male anger and violence against those women who look likely to stray.10
The theoretical model used in these studies comes from evolutionary science, although much of their methodology does not. In general, a priori theories are posited which are meant to explain aspects of complex behaviour patterns in adult humans. Confirmation of these patterns is usually offered in the form of surveys, questionnaires and statistics, as well as the anecdotal evidence of history and anthropology which are meant to justify treating any particular behavioural trait as universal. The numerous problems with this approach have been pointed out by scholars and scientists over the past few years, in pieces of writing that never seem to make it into the pages of newspapers and magazines.11
First of all, it has been pointed out that when empirical data does not seem fit with the premises of evolutionary psychologist, the writer immediately accommodates the theory to this new information. Thus, the fact that many men remain monogamous throughout their lives, which may look to be at odds with the hypothesis that men are naturally promiscuous, turns out to pose no problems. Monogamous men, they explain, because they lack the wealth and power requisite for attracting women, must settle for what they can get.12 Another recent example responds to the mismatch between the results of their survey of male University students and the hypothesis that men rape because they cannot attract women, by proposed an alternative thesis still within the framework of evolutionary psychology.13 A theory can be upheld only if the scientist is able to imagine data which will falsify his view and show that this data cannot be generated. Gravity is viable in part because it could be disproved if a physicist could make heavy objects travel upwards as regularly as they travel downwards on earth. But there is, by the look of it, no possible bit of evidence that could disprove the hypotheses of evolutionary psychology.14
Another scientific failing of evolutionary psychology is that it is not able to definitely dismiss alternative explanations of the data it cites as support. For instance, in one experiment women and men at a university campus were approached by attractive members of the opposite sex and invited to have sex. Many more men than women accepted the offer.15 Evolutionary psychology cites this as proof that men are programmed to pursue sex indiscriminately, while women have evolved to be more cautious.16 But another explanation is available: perhaps the women were tempted but were also afraid that they would be attacked or raped, especially by someone so strange as to suggest sex with every passer-by.17 There is also an alternate, and more plausible explanation for the weakened sex drive of nursing mother cited by Wright. Evolutionary should ensure that people who are infertile are psychologically disinclined to have sex, according to Wright. This conjecture not only ignores the inclinations of many pregnant and post-menopausal women, it also appears to show that Wright is unaware of how exhausting feeding and caring for a small baby can be. These represent only a few examples of evolutionary psychology's failure to even seriously consider alternative explanations of the available data.18
Even if evolutionary psychology were to show how its account of the data was superior to any other account, the surveys, questionnaires and statistics it cites do not provide the required scientific proof of its hypotheses. Surveys cannot give direct evidence of innate biological inclinations, since the answers are prejudiced by media representations, education, family experiences, as well as what the respondent thinks he or she is expected to say. Fully grown human subjects have been exposed to a lifetime of gender imperatives.19 Even scientifically viable experiments that show differences in the brain structures or mental capacities of men and women cannot be used to prove that this differential is genetic.20 Most brain pathways are formed by experience and it is likely that the differing levels of encouragement and education that boys and girls experience results in the development of different psychological capacities.21
Much of the evidence the proponents of evolutionary psychology cite, which also includes anecdotes, has the status of rhetorically rather than scientifically proof of their claims.22 This becomes particularly clear when attempts are made to justify the use of questionnaires about sexual fantasy23 in order to tap into men and women's real feelings about sex.24 For Wilson, sexual fantasy 'is more relevant to the sexual nature of men and women' because it is 'less constrained by partner preferences and social expectations' (Sex Divide, p. 10). Another writer thinks that in order to 'discover just how different the sexual mentalities of men and women are' it would be necessary to conduct a controlled experiment in which an 'average man and an average woman' (whose averageness would it seems be difficult to measure) and 'give each the option of faithful marriage to a familiar partner or continual orgies with beautiful strangers'. Although he laments the impossibility of conducting this interesting experiment, there is no reason to despair: 'For it is in effect possible to do exactly that experiment by looking inside people's heads and examining their fantasies' (Ridley, Queen, pp. 260-1). Claiming the veracity of fantasies that are matched in every particular by the conventions of contemporary popular pornography appears to be extremely questionable.
More serious complaints still come from the field of genetic research. There have been no quantitative tests attempting to confirm the hypothesis that psychological features of humankind are biological adaptations. One field of wheat may grow taller than another because its genes are adapted to do so, or because it is responding to different environmental pressures: only a controlled experiment could determine the possible evolutionary basis of differences between adult plants or animals. It is impossible to create a controlled experiment in which human male and female children are exposed to exactly the same environment.25 Therefore, evolutionary psychology's claim that character or behaviour is adaptive, and thus genetic, finds very little support from genetic science.26 A comprehensive and thoroughly tested account of the pathway leading from genes to behaviour would also be required. If this were ever to be proven, the claims of evolutionary psychology regarding gendered behaviour would further entail some account of the mechanisms by which behavioural genes were turned on by sex hormones.
Evolutionary psychology maintains that although there is no way to trace behaviour or psychological traits directly from a particular gene or complex of genes, nevertheless they are adapted and inherited traits. These theorists assume that human minds were adapted to maximise reproductive advantage in a Palaeolithic hunter/gatherer environment about which we can know very little.27 Thus, many conjectures about this environment and the way in which humans adapted their behaviour to it are impossible to test. Once again able to avoid scientific experiment and controlled empirical proof, neo-Darwinians depend instead on statistics from adult humans to establish the validity of their hypotheses.
Evolutionary psychology maintains that the presence of universal psychological or behavioural traits in humankind proves that these traits are adaptive and evolved early on and data attempts to provide evidence that certain behavioural traits occur in all human societies. The logic behind this endeavour is flawed, since the universality of a trait need not imply that it has been passed on genetically.28 The methods used to locate universal human traits are also questionable, since in this pursuit there is a purposeful disregard of evident diversity among human populations, and an unwillingness to assess the cultural expectations of observers. The latter fault has been left far behind by modern anthropology. As for the former, recent feminism itself has challenged the ability to create a unified and consistent picture of sexual oppression, advocating an openness to divergent perspectives. Evidence would have to be manipulated to create an even account of sex difference in societies across the globe.29 Often, evolutionary psychologists do not use comprehensive samples in any case. It is perhaps unsurprising that particularly brutal patriarchies, such as the !Kung tribe of Africa or the Yanomamš of South America, are most often employed as examples of cross-cultural data. Most studies do not bother with even this gesture at universality, settling instead for the ubiquitous opinions of American university students and statistics from Western cites.30
Faced with problem of obtaining information about 'typical' human behaviour in a supposed period of uniform environmental pressure, much evolutionary psychology depends on the technique of comparing humans with animals. Typically, certain behaviour patterns that animals species have adapted are taken to be identical to these patterns in humans. For example, one study compares sexual coercion in scorpions to rape in humans.31 Others take data from rodents, reptiles and birds as well as certain sorts of primates and map the evolutionary models that explain such behaviour onto humans. Simone De Beauvoir criticised this type of approach over fifty years ago.
[A] society is not a speciesÉ Its ways and customs cannot be deduced from biology, for the individuals that comprise the society are never abandoned to the dictates of their nature (S. de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, trans. H. Parshley [New York: Knopf, 1953] p. 40).
Today's criticisms come not only from feminist, but also from biological science. Cross-species comparisons are rarely employed by biologists since it is difficult to justify the transference of data from one species to another; nobody would study bees in order to find out about chimpanzees.32 Evolutionary theory cannot support this move either since similar behaviour in different species of animal need not indicate that the same evolutionary process lies behind both.33 Besides, many of the human behaviour patterns that evolutionary psychology likens to animal behaviour appear to be too complicated. 'Assertiveness' or 'achievement-motivation' in adult men is not really the same thing as aggression in primates and birds.34
The final set of criticisms I will mention comes from within the discipline of evolutionary psychology itself, some of whose proponents are professed feminists. Darwinian feminists employ similar methodology to traditional evolutionary psychology but challenge their colleagues' use of selective empirical evidence.35 In the tradition of one branch of feminist epistemology, these thinkers take it that women have a different point of view, which allows them to assess data in a more open manner. The masculine scientist focuses on the male and his interests, and tends to find what he expects to in terms of his own cultural paradigms. Thus, traditionally, biologists have tended to ignore or undermine evidence of female sexual adventurousness and male parental concern in the animal world. Darwinian feminists, in contrast, focus on the behaviour of female animals, especially that which has not been previously accounted for.36 Some proceed by questioning why baboons, whose society is based on violently maintained sex hierarchy, are chosen for comparison with humans rather than other more peace-loving and seemingly feminist primates.37 Although some have tried to get rid of anthropomorphic terminology in the study of animal behaviour (e.g., 'wife-swapping', 'cuckolding', 'prostitution' and 'rape'), because Darwinian feminists remain committed to cross-species conjectures, they are open to the same criticisms that plague their more masculinist colleagues.38
Documentation of facts about animal behaviour is probably more influenced than any other portion of biological research by human expectations. Theorists tend to see what looks familiar from human society; this is why they describe it using familiar terms for human emotions and actions. When evolutionary psychology uses the behaviour of animals as proof of the naturalness of certain human behaviours, they are often reporting what humans tend to see of themselves in animals.39 Consider the import of the following:
[M]en lay claim to particular women as songbirds lay claim to territories, as lions lay claim to a kill, or as people of both sexes lay claim to valuablesÉ40
Mating effort has a high fixed cost; the male must establish himself as successful before he can mate at all. In deer, this entails growing antlers and gaining size; in humans, it may involve acquiring sufficient size and resources to become attractive to a potential mate (Browne, Divided, p.13).
[M]an is just like an ibis or a swallow or a sparrow. He lives in large colonies. Males compete with each other for places in a pecking order (Ridley, Queen, p. 226).
Each statement appears to have more in common with literary metaphor and maybe even fable than with scientific reasoning. Could it be that accounts of evolutionary psychology are moral tales rather than scientific facts? It certainly seems that neo-Darwinians' stubborn proclamation of the truth of their views is only matched in stubbornness by their refusal to use scientifically acceptable methods to prove their case. In advocating as true that which is woefully underdetermined, the authors are acting irresponsibly. Either this or they are indeed aware of the possible use of their views in public and political spheres.
The popularity of this type of work on the biology of sex difference indicates that it does not challenge common cultural conceptions. People read these accounts because they seem familiar: mentions of prostitution, adultery, mistresses, pornography and fashion models are in line with most other forms of popular media. Ridley notes that the evolutionary account of the differences between male and female minds 'accords with common sense' (p. 245), while Browne notes these differences are 'just what [evolutionary] theory would predict' (p. 48). These statements do not so much show the veracity of their picture, as illustrate that these theories must have come from common perceptions of gender differences in our society. Books which challenge such complacent and conservative views of human nature are far less easy to swallow.41
In defence of their studies, many evolutionary psychologists argue that analysing rape, violence against women, adultery and other behaviours within their framework will be helpful in endeavouring to curtail such activities.42 But the recommendations for tougher sentences and stronger will-power they mention hardly require the backing of biological theory. The picture they present is much more likely to may discourage visions of a world free of needless violence, by leaving readers with the impression that anti-social behaviours of the kind they describe are inevitable. These claims of utility mask the much more likely consequence that these theories will be harmful to society, especially in their explanations of violence against women. One study claims that the propensity of men to reject raped wives and girlfriend as 'damaged goods' or accuse them of having enjoyed the rape is merely part of a set of evolutionary strategies implanted in their minds to ensure their reproductive success (Daly and Wilson, 'Chattel', p. 305). Another author supports the idea that rape itself is an reproductive strategy by portioning some of the blame to the victim of the attack.
It is also increasingly recognized that if a woman looks like she will put up considerable resistance, most rapists will move on to easier prey, rather in the same manner that a car thief steals cars that are easy to break into. This fact is predictable on the basis of evolutionary theoryÉ (Wilson, Sex Divide, p. 130).
Both statements show how coolly these theorists use highly charged, contention and sensitive issues to promote their viewpoint without any regard for the feeling of the victims of such crimes. It is unsurprising that statements of this kind, however qualified, tend to reinforce the unjust treatment of victims.43
Marriage, and its failings, is another social issue which evolutionary psychology claims it will be able to help us to understand properly44 But the insights it pretends to offer are depressingly familiar.
After a few years of marriageÉthe husband's sexual appetite begins to wane and an apparent reversal of libido may even occurÉHe, of course, is still perfectly capable of being aroused by his mistresses and office girls.É The need for periodic recharging of libido by novel females that is seen in most mammals is another manifestations of the male's reproductively optimal 'promiscuity strategy'. This presents a problem, for men especially, over the course of a long marriageÉ (Wilson, Sex Divide, pp. 43, 94).
Beneath all the thoughts and feelings and temperamental differences that marriage counsellors spend their time sensitively assessing are the stratagems of the genes-cold, hard equationsÉ Is the wife really duller and more nagging than she was twenty years ago? Possibly, but it's also possible that the husband's tolerance for nagging has dropped now that she's forty-five and has no reproductive future (Wright, Animal, p. 88).
A man uses his wife to produce children for him. A woman uses her husband to make and help rear her children. Marriage teeters on the line between a co-operative venture and a form of mutual exploitation - ask any divorce lawyer. (Ridley, Queen, p. 19).
Modern marriage cannot benefit from such obnoxious stereotypes of bored husbands and scheming wives.45
When discussing issues such as rape and marriage, one is immediately entering the public domain and can only with difficulty maintain the stance of objectivity. Matt Ridley, although he does not admit it, accepts and promotes regressive sexual stereotypes. We can be in no doubt, from the following quotation, that the formidable scientist Richard Dawkins agrees with Ridley's rejection of 'politically correct' (read: 'feminist') views about sex difference.
Matt Ridley is more concerned with clarity of explanation, elegance of style and simple, honest truth than he is with the yawn-inducing canons of political correctness, and his book is consequently a breath of fresh air (Richard Dawkins, back cover of Ridley, Queen, my emphasis).
Dawkins also does not admit his views outright; instead he proclaims Ridley's account to be true. As we have seen, Ridley and the studies he cites provide the reader with very little insight into the scientific facts of the matter. Such popular accounts of sex difference according to evolutionary psychology ought to be clearer about how much of their text is based on objective fact and how much on opinion. And they probably need to ask themselves why they wish to discuss the social world in terms of evolved sex differences. In some cases, evolutionary psychologists appear to be unaware of having any political agenda of their own.46 In these cases, they should at least acknowledge that their work may affect politics. By reinforcing stereotypical perceptions of the capacities of men and women more generally, evolutionary psychology feeds into the political rhetoric of the right, especially in North America.47 The media favours sensational articles based on this research, which can in turn effect public opinion and those political and judicial processes that depend on it.48 Evolutionary psychology has even been exploited by prominent politicians in America.49
The new Darwinians urge us to consider that humans are animals, and that we have to have been designed to some extent by evolutionary processes. To this, few would disagree. However, the extend to which humankind can be explained in terms of evolutionary biology is a very big question indeed. It seem likely that the behaviour of human beings is greatly effected by their environment, which, if correct, would render any genetic factors in behaviour insignificant.50 The difference between the sexes that evolutionary psychology wants to place in a biological framework could be equally well explained with reference to social coercion, prejudice, and profound lack of choice. And accounts of this research often work to help restrict women's choices.51 Some of these appear to be particularly confused about what choice and freedom for women would look like, as is clear in the following quotation from Stephen Pinker's How the Mind Works.
Throughout history the critics of beauty have been powerful menÉThe enthusiasts are women themselves. The explanation is simply economics and politics (though not the orthodox feminist analysis-quite insulting to women, incidentally-in which women are dupes who have been brainwashed into striving for something they don't want). Women in open societies want to look good because it gives them an edge in competing for husbands, status, and the attention of powerful people [meaning men]. p. 487.
Pinker obviously has little understanding of what women find insulting. More important than this is the political nature of his view that women should be allowed only to envisage certain kinds of choices. The persistent claims that women truly want to stay at home, care for children, marry aggressive men or use their beauty to influence the powerful (and are restricted from these fulfilling occupations by the authoritarian canons of feminism) crudely conceal the political stance of these authors.52 If they think that the worst danger of feminism is that it will 'wither for lack of support' than these authors would not worry so much about refuting it.53 Some Darwinians admit that they are interested in the potential political significance of their views, but are not clear about what effects they wish their claims to have. The presence of a research institute entirely devoted to evolutionary psychology at the London School of Economics, indicates the probable amenability of Darwinist social theory to modern economics.54 Darwin at LSE's promotion of an evolutionary calculus of advantage appears to support right wing capitalist agenda and yet it leader, Helena Cronin, is keen to deny any such affiliation. Instead she promotes her views thorough the, by now familiar, veil of scientific fact. In defending the evolutionist's stance on sex difference, she claims that men are more persistent, competitive and risk-taking than women because of the 'divergent mating strategies' that 'ramify throughout our evolved minds, pervading male and female psychologies'.
ÉAll this is well-established science, painstakingly modelled and tested. And yet feminist orthodoxy persists in denying any evolutionary basis to sex differenceÉ Science simply tells it like it is; it doesn't dictate goals. But how can we promote a fairer world - from social and legal policy to personal relationships - unless we understand differences, unless we let truth, not ignorance, be our guide? ('It's Only Natural', Red Pepper, Aug. 1997, 38, my emphasis).
The claim that her views about human capacities and human nature are pure and simply truth is unjustified, but remains an irresistible way to contrast these with the views of her opponents. Cronin and others like her must take full responsibility for their opinions.55 As a feminist, I consider it important to be fully informed about the biological aspects of sex difference in order to, as Cronin says, 'understand differences'. However, the profound sex inequality found in many human societies has never been proven to be based in biology. This means that those evolutionary psychologists who delight in publicly pronouncing that they are need to be more open about what they are up to. If their real aim is to discover what evolutionary biology might be able to tell us about human differences, they need to practice due scientific caution and not discredit their project by too swiftly settling for what they expect to be the case
1 'Puppet' in K. Browne, Divided Labours: An Evolutionary View of Women at Work (London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1998), p. 14 and R. Wright, The Moral Animal: Evolutionary Psychology and Everyday Life (London: Little and Brown, 1994), p. 37; 'Robot' in R. Dawkins, The Selfish Gene (Oxford: OUP, 1989), 2nd edn., pp. 19-20.
2 The hypothesis that parental investment effects behaviour was first formulated by R. Trivers, 'Parental Investment and Sexual Selection' in B. Campbell (ed.), Sexual Selection and the Descent of Man 1871-1971 (Chicago: Aldine, 1972).
3 D. Buss, The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating (New York: Basic Books, 1994); M. Ridley, The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature (London: Viking, 1993), pp. 259 60; S. Pinker, How the Mind Works (New York: Norton, 1997), p. 482.
4 See Recent Issues of the journal, Evolution and Human Behaviour, edited by M. Daly and M. Wilson.
5 See also Wright, 'Feminists', p. 44.
6 Most evolutionary psychologists who make passing mention of the dubiousness of the claims of feminism are clearly unaware of all its stripes. They often dismiss the view that men and woman are the same, a view which is not necessarily part of feminism and which has been discussed extensively in scholarship they do not read. See for instance, I.M. Young, 'Politics of Difference' in her Throwing Like a Girl and Other Essays in Feminist Philosophy and Social Theory (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990).
7 Wright, Animal, p. 4: 'a new worldview is emerging'.
8 R. Thornhill and N. Thornhill, 'Human Rape: The Strengths of the Evolutionary Perspective' in C. Crawford, M. Smith and D. Krebs (eds.), Sociobiology and Psychology: Ideas, Issues, and Applications (Hillsdale, NJ, 1987), pp. 269 91 and their 'The Evolutionary Psychology of Men's Coercive Sexuality', Behavioural and Brain Sciences 1992, 15: 363 421; and popular versions in Wilson, Sex Divide, p. 129; Ridley, Queen, p. 229, Pinker, Mind, pp. 491 3.
9 R. Baker and M. Bellis, 'Human Sperm Competition: Infidelity, the Female Orgasm and Kamikaze Sperm', Human Behaviour and Evolution Society Conference Proceedings, 1992.
10 B. Smuts, 'Male Aggression Against Women: An Evolutionary Perspective', Human Nature 1992, 3: 1-44; M. Daly, M. Wilson and S. Wehorst, 'Male Sexual Jealousy', Ethology and Sociobiology 1982, 3: 11-27; M. Daly and M. Wilson and J. Scheib, 'Femicide: An Evolutionary Psychological Perspective' in P. Gowaty (ed.), Feminism and Evolutionary Biology (New York: Chapman and Hall, 1997), pp. 431-65.
11 See for instance A. Fausto-Sterling, Myths of Gender: Biological Theories About Women and Men (New York: Basic Books, 1992), 2nd edn.; P. Kitcher, Vaulting Ambition: Sociobiology and the Quest for Human Nature, (Boston: MIT Press, 1985); A. Fausto-Sterling, 'Feminism and Behavioural Evolution: A Taxonomy' in Gowaty (ed.), Feminism, pp. 42-60; V.L. Sork, 'Quantitative Genetics, Feminism and Evolutionary Theories of Gender Difference' in Gowaty (ed.), Feminism, pp. 86 115; Z. Tang-Martinez, 'The Curious Courtship of Sociobiology and Feminism: A Case of Irreconcilable Differences' in Gowaty (ed.), Feminism, pp. 116-50; C. Allen, 'Inextricably Entwined: Politics, Biology, and Gender-Dimorphic Behavior' in Gowaty (ed.), Feminism, pp. 515-21; D.L. Rhode, 'The Ideology and Biology of Gender Difference', The Southern Journal of Philosophy 1996 Supplement, 35: 73-98; J. Dupr, 'Against Reductionist Explanations of Human Behaviour', The Aristotelian Society Supplement 1998, 72: 153-71.
12 See especially Wright, Animal, on the Charles Darwin's marriage and Ridley, Queen, p. 260: 'An ageing ugly man does not mate with several young and beautiful women (unless he is very rich indeed). He settles for a faithful wife of the same age', see also pp. 171, 199.
13 M. Lalumiere, L. Chalmers, V. Quinsey and M. Seto, 'A Test of the Male Deprivation Hypothesis of Sexual Coercion', Ethology and Sociobiology 1996, 17 (5): 299 318.
14 See Tang-Martinez, 'Curious Courtship', pp. 119, 136; Allen 'Inextricably Entwined' p. 517.
15 R. Clark and E. Hatfield, 'Gender Differences in Receptivity to Sexual Offers', Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality 1989, 2: 39 55.
16 Buss, Evolution of Desire.
17 Tang-Martinez, 'Curious Courtship', p. 141.
18 Although Wright claims that evolutionary psychology is the best explanation of the human mind available, he fails to show this to be the case. Instead the status of evolutionary theory as 'truth' and 'right' is evoked and contrasted with moral or social alternatives (Animal, p. 150). For more thorough expositions of this topic see especially Sork, 'Quantitative Genetics', pp. 109-110; Tang-Martinez, 'Curious Courtship', pp. 139-141; Allen, 'Inextricably Entwined', p. 518.
19 Wilson, for instance, cites questionnaires completed by readers of the Sun as proof for his theory of the biological basis of gender difference (pp. 58 62, 91). For more criticisms of this methodology see Dupr, 'Reductionist Explanations', pp. 159 60.
20 Fausto-Sterling, Myths, pp. 34, 74.
21 Rhode, 'Ideology', p. 80.
22 Ridley posits that the simultaneous instincts for marriage and casual sex (in men) is 'proven by the existence of a thriving call-girl or 'escort' industryÉ' (p. 176). He also notes that in his view there is 'no reason' to disbelieve what fictional women say about their sexuality (p. 210), (even though most of them are created by male writers). See also Browne, Divided, p. 17 and Wright, Animal, p. 66: 'These predictions have been confirmed by eons of folk wisdomÉ'
23 Of course they do not find the 'fantasies' of feminists (involving business-suited women watching over their nappy-changing men) to be nearly so revealing of reality (Browne, Divided, p. 114).
24 B. Ellis and D. Symons, 'Sex Differences in Sexual Fantasy: An Evolutionary Psychological Approach', Journal of Sex Research 1990, 27: 327-55.
25 Sork, 'Quantitative Genetics', pp. 101 102.
26 Fausto-Sterling, 'Taxonomy', p. 47; Dupr, 'Reductionist Explanations', pp. 161 2.
27 See L. Cosmides, J. Tooby and J. Barkow, 'Introduction: Evolutionary Psychology and Conceptual Integration' in L. Cosmides, J. Tooby and J. Barkow (eds.), The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), pp. 3-15; Wright, Animal, p. 38.
28 Sork, 'Quantitative Genetics', pp. 109, 112.
29 Young, 'Politics of Difference'.
30 L. Lueptow, L. Garovich, M. Lueptow, 'The Persistence of Gender Stereotyping in the Face of Changing Sex Roles: Evidence Contrary to the Sociocultural Model, Ethology and Sociobiology 1995, 16: 509-30 cites one survey as evidence for complex claims concerning innate sex differences. M. Wilson, M. Daly and J. Scheib, 'Femicide: An Evolutionary Psychological Perspective' in Gowaty, Feminism, pp. 431-65 uses statistics from only three locations in North America and Australia. The economic, social and personal circumstances under which these murders took place were considered, but not proven to be, irrelevant.
31 R. Thornhill, 'Rape in Panorpa Scorpionflies and a General Rape Hypothesis', Animal Behaviour 1980, 28: 52-9.
32 Kitcher, Vaulting, p. 435.
33 Tang-Martinez, 'Curious Courtship', pp. 121 3, 128. See also R. Lewotin, S. Rose and L. Kamin, Not in Our Genes: Biology, Ideology and Human Nature (NY: Pantheon, 1984), p. 157.
34 Browne, Divided, pp. 18 19. This lumping together of concepts is criticised in Rhode, 'Ideology', p. 82.
35 See, for instance, M. Small, Female Choices: Sexual Behaviour of Female Primates (Ithaca, NY: Cornell, 1993), D. Haraway, Primate Visions: Gender, Race and Nature in Modern Science (London: Routledge, 1989) and others listed by Fausto-Sterling in 'Taxonomy', pp. 49-50.
36 E.g., E. Lloyd, 'Pre-Theoretical Assumptions in Evolutionary Explanations of Female Sexuality' in E. Fox Keller and H. Longino (eds.), Feminism and Science (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), pp. 91 102.
37 Tang-Martinez, 'Curious Courtship', pp. 123 6.
38 Ibid, pp. 128 9, 143; cf. P. Gowaty, 'Sexual terms in sociobiology: Emotionally Evocative and, Paradoxically, Jargon', Animal Behavior 1992, 30: 630-1.
39 'Sociobiology's appeal to nature to explain social dominance works by focusing on those animals and birds whose behaviour (if they were human beings which they are not) would be rather deplorable' H. Rose, 'Beyond Biology', Red Pepper, Sept. 1997, 37; Cf. Kitcher, 'Homage to Aesop' in Vaulting, pp. 13 16.
40 M. Daly and M. Wilson, 'The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Chattel', Barkow, Cosmides, Tooby (eds.), Adapted Mind, pp. 289 326 (p. 289).
41 P. Kitcher's Vaulting Ambition, for instance, has long been out of print. Cf. A. Brown, The Darwin Wars (London: Simon and Schuster, 1999), p. 72.
42 Daly, Wilson and Schneib, 'Femicide'; Pinker, Mind, p. 492; P. Gowaty, 'Introduction: Darwinian Feminists and Feminist Evolutionists' in Gowaty (ed.), Feminism, pp. 1 17 (pp. 12 13). Criticisms can be found at Tang-Martinez, 'Curious Courtship', p. 143.
43 Fausto-Sterling, Myths, pp. 194 5.
44 Browne, Divided, pp. 92 5.
45 For a measured analysis from a feminist perspective of the pressures inherent in modern marriage see C. Dryden, Being Married, Doing Gender: A Critical Analysis of Gender Relationships in Marriage (London: Routledge, 1999).
46 Fausto-Sterling, Myths, p. 203.
47 See S. Faludi, Backlash: The Undeclared War Against Women (London: Chatto and Windus, 1991), chs. 9 10.
48 For accounts of media reception and use (especially in the US) of the biological evolution of sex difference see Sork, 'Quantitative Genetics', p. 89; Tang-Martinez, 'Curious Courtship', p. 139; Allen, 'Inextricably Entwined', pp. 515-16; 519-20; Rhode, 'Ideology', p. 79. Political propaganda based on evolutionary psychology can be found in R. Epstein, Forbidden Grounds: The Case Against Employment Discrimination, (Boston: Harvard University Press, 1992); N. Davidson (ed.), Gender Sanity (Lanham: University Press of America, 1989).
49 Sork, 'Quantitative Genetics', p. 89; Rhode, 'Ideology', pp. 81 3.
50 Allen, 'Inextricably Entwined', p. 517; Sork, 'Quantitative Genetics', pp. 87 8, 103.
51 Rhode, 'Ideology', p. 89.
52 Staying home: Wilson, Sex Divide, p. 63; Caring for children: Wright, 'Feminists', p. 46; Wanting aggressive partners: Browne, Divided, p. 61.
53 Wright, 'Feminists', p. 34.
54 The biological paradigm of individual advantage and inevitable competition fits with the predominant capitalist calculus. Cf. Brown, Darwin Wars, p. 78; Dupr, 'Reductionist Explanations', p. 154.
55 There is a need to be sensitive to the long history of using pseudo-biology theories to justify exclusion of women from education and professions (Rhode , 'Ideology', pp. 74-5).
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