Author: has written 1136 posts for this blog.

Return to: Homepage | Blog Index

55 Responses

  1. Sara
    Sara October 24, 2007 at 4:49 pm |

    I know the analogy has its limits, but replace “women” and “men” with “black” and “white” and you’d have a carbon copy of arguments against integration of the armed forces. All he’s saying is that lots of men are dicks who don’t trust women. And I’d think it would be a good idea to get over it, given the recruitment troubles the US military is having.

  2. Cara
    Cara October 24, 2007 at 5:01 pm |

    HA.

    They really need to start using a phrase other than “evolutionary psychology” if they don’t want us to instantly know what kind of shit they’re trying to pull.

  3. alsojill
    alsojill October 24, 2007 at 5:15 pm |

    New evidence? He’s actually calling this recycled bullshit “new evidence”?

    Ugh. Dear Mr. Browne, please read Herbert Spencer et al. KTHXBI.

  4. JW
    JW October 24, 2007 at 5:18 pm |

    I thought that it was the possibility/frisson of love/sex that made women “unfit” for combat–because men would follow a woman “through the gates of hell.” Isn’t that what all our romantic stories tell us, anyway? I’m so confused. Maybe it’s that “infection” I’m getting over.

  5. Hector B.
    Hector B. October 24, 2007 at 5:22 pm |

    women don’t possess whatever cues evoke trust in men

    I think he means testicles. I worked with a guy who subconsciously grabbed his testicles whenever he wanted to emphasize the sincerity of his statements. That’s how we got the words testify and testimony meaning a trustworthy statement. Women with their hidden genitalia have less to lose and are thus much less trustworthy.

    Hey I could write a book full of nonsense, too.

  6. bushfire
    bushfire October 24, 2007 at 5:27 pm |

    Women shouldn’t fight in war. Men shouldn’t fight in war. Instead of arguing about who should fight in war, let’s talk about WHY THE FUCK people need to kill each other.

  7. Red Queen
    Red Queen October 24, 2007 at 5:33 pm |

    Agggggggggggggggg

    Stupid evo psych bullshit.

    And yes Hector- I think it is all about the testicles.

  8. EG
    EG October 24, 2007 at 5:39 pm |

    Do correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t women in combat units in many other countries’ armies?

    It always amazes me what people are willing to say even in the face of the facts.

  9. Sirriamnis
    Sirriamnis October 24, 2007 at 6:13 pm |

    Dr. Ruth Westheimer was a sniper in the Israeli military.

    This amuses me to no end.

    Apart from that, however, yes, women are in combat units in many different militaries. Including the Kurdish forces skirmishing with the Turks at the northern border of Iraq right now.

  10. harlemjd
    harlemjd October 24, 2007 at 6:24 pm |

    not to mention historical female military leaders like Boadicea and Joan of Arc

  11. SherlockHolmes
    SherlockHolmes October 24, 2007 at 6:35 pm |

    I’m not at all trying to say that I agree with the comments listed above, nor that I think that some of evo. psych. isn’t extremely sexist. I don’t want everyone to write it off without a more careful look. There are some really interesting aspects of evolutionary psychology that aren’t inherently sexist/racist. Look at the work of authors like Sarah Blaffer Hrdy or Susan Sperling or Linda Gannon or Anne Fausto-Sterling. All of these scholars have made serious strides in re-evaluating and complicating the discourse around sociobiology and evolutionary psychology. And it’s some damn interesting stuff too.

    Besides, let’s talk about other ahistorical and other seemingly “unattackable,” internally cohesive systems of thought, like Marxism. Look how far a feminist perspective and feminist critiques brought those thinkers.

    But, all that being said, that book does sound like bunk, even with a background in sociobiology.

  12. Vanessa
    Vanessa October 24, 2007 at 6:35 pm |

    Dr. Ruth Westheimer was a sniper in the Israeli military.

    Really? That is the best factoid, ever!

  13. norbizness
    norbizness October 24, 2007 at 6:37 pm |

    Whenever I see the word “hard-wired,” I reach for my bottle of JTS Brown whiskey, because it’s going to be a long, stupid night.

  14. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne October 24, 2007 at 6:39 pm |

    Dr. Ruth Westheimer was a sniper in the Israeli military.

    Really? That is the best factoid, ever!

    Yep.

    She apparently was — and still is — quite a good shot, though she says she never had to kill anyone.

  15. Lisa
    Lisa October 24, 2007 at 7:01 pm |

    Stupid evo psych bullshit.

    Whenever I see the word “hard-wired,” I reach for my bottle of JTS Brown whiskey, because it’s going to be a long, stupid night.

    Forgive me for not feeling the need to be so snug as others commenting here, but I’m curious to know where people stand on evolutionary psychology in GENERAL.

    I’m someone who also cringes when I hear biology-based arguments that argue for what men and women can/can’t do. But I need some convincing before I’ll throw out the baby with the bathwater.

    I’m not defending the research that’s contained in the pages of the book in question. But a few of the comments here appear to be saying that all evolutionary psychology is bullshit or oppressive to women. Do folks think it is? Talk amongst yourselves.

  16. Vanessa
    Vanessa October 24, 2007 at 7:08 pm |

    I’m not defending the research that’s contained in the pages of the book in question. But a few of the comments here appear to be saying that all evolutionary psychology is bullshit or oppressive to women. Do folks think it is? Talk amongst yourselves

    I’m not really an expert on evolutionary psychology, but I kind of get the feeling that a lot of these studies and books and articles that make the news are over-simplifications done to push an agenda.

    I could be wrong, though.

    I have studied some Human Evolutionary Ecology, which is kind of along similar lines, a little. And I think that when you look at human behaviors you can see that they’re all a complex mixture of nature *and* nurture. An ‘all-nature’ approach can lead to assholery like the book in the original post, and an ‘all-nurture’ approach can lead to things like children with intersex conditions being forced into genders they might not feel right in, or cases like this one.

  17. napthia9
    napthia9 October 24, 2007 at 7:09 pm |

    Wow, it makes so much sense! I mean, it’s not as if early humans lived in mixed-gender groups, where cross-sex cooperation would probably have been selected for!

    /sarcasm

  18. Jeff Fecke
    Jeff Fecke October 24, 2007 at 7:12 pm |

    Well, sure, Dr. Ruth was in the Israeli military. But we all know how wimpy the Israeli military is.

  19. spinsterwitch
    spinsterwitch October 24, 2007 at 7:18 pm |

    My frustration with evolutionary psychology arguments is that they usually run along the lines of: “In the stone age people did this, so today this means that that’s what people are still doing in (name your behavior) and therefore don’t try to argue that things can change.” The biggest frustration I have with this is that humans have evolved the way that we have because we are incredibly versatile in our ability to adapt.

  20. bittergradstudent
    bittergradstudent October 24, 2007 at 7:52 pm |

    Some of the reasoning is better than other parts of it, but it sems like there are a lot of evolutionary psychologists who seem to start out with an observation about the way the world is, and then try to generate an “evolutionary” reason for why things would be that way. It often isn’t checked, and it often ignores ample evidence from contemporary hunter-gatherer socieites. It often igores the basic scientifc premise that one theoretical understanding of things has a million consequences, and these can also be tested.

  21. Zoe
    Zoe October 24, 2007 at 7:54 pm |

    I’m someone who also cringes when I hear biology-based arguments that argue for what men and women can/can’t do. But I need some convincing before I’ll throw out the baby with the bathwater.

    There are likely some behavioral effects of the different hormonal levels and physical differences between men, women, and those who are neither, oth, or not within the genetic/physical considered “male” and “female”.

    However, socialization of infants to male or female begins at birth. Dress an infant in green, and the first question is “boy or girl”. Babies in pink are cuddled and treated gently; babies in blue are bouced and treated more roughly. Girls are quickly helped when they are not succeeding in a task; boys are left to figure it out on their own. And so on and so forth. I remain astonished at how little people pay attention to these rather stark differences in enculturation based on gender.

    That some people don’t resond to it, for whatever reason, is astonishing to me, to be honest.

  22. gordo
    gordo October 24, 2007 at 7:58 pm |

    Lisa–

    I think that there is a lot of explanatory potential in evolutionary psychology, but most of the people who invoke this field don’t want to use it in this way. What I mean is, they don’t gather data and try to come up with a Darwinian explanation. Instead, they gather assumptions and use their armchair speculations about the lives of primitive humans as evidence that their assumptions are correct.

    The most interesting recent find that relates to Ev Psych is the fact that the stimulus that most often produces laughter is another person’s laughter. This suggests that we are, um, ‘hard-wired’ to conform to community standards.The ev psych people don’t like this, because it leads to the conclusion that our behaviors are determined mostly by environmental factors. It is our nature to conform to our nurture.

    If that’s true, then in an egalitarian society, there should be few problems associated with having women serve. In fact, the amount of problems faced by women in the service would be a fairly good barometer of how egalitarian your society is.

  23. Vanessa
    Vanessa October 24, 2007 at 8:06 pm |

    That some people don’t resond to it, for whatever reason, is astonishing to me, to be honest.

    Which goes to show it’s not merely a question of enculturation. Otherwise, we’d all be in the kitchen baking pies right now.

  24. Silver Owl
    Silver Owl October 24, 2007 at 8:46 pm |

    A weapon does not give a shit who’s wielding it and dead is dead. If a man hesitates because his back is covered by a woman and vice versus then he is dead. End of story.

    Civilian women by and large do have an aversion to learning how to defend themselves with weapons. Some of it is personality and much of it is “wait for some guy to decide to get up off his ass and save you.” conditioning.

    Military training is about killing and covering the backs of others in order to live and survive. It’s not weapons training for men and knitting classes for women. They all shoot to kill. They do not get issued weapons unless they can use them accurately. A bullet does not flirt nor give love taps.

  25. Antigone
    Antigone October 24, 2007 at 9:04 pm |

    Silver Owl-

    And generally, we are socialized to NOT kill people in civilized society, but basic brainwashing training normally gets rid of that too. Can’t imagine that it wouldn’t work equally well with females than males, unless you’re arguing that we have a super ability to resist it.

  26. Silver Owl
    Silver Owl October 24, 2007 at 9:33 pm |

    Antigone,

    Murder is not condoned but self defense is another story. Human instinct is to live but society conditions civilian women to wait for someone else to save her. There are people by personality that would rather die than try to defend themselves by having to kill or mortally wounding another. Civilian women fall more into this category than men. It is neither good nor bad, it just is.

    Women can and do kill. Men, whether military or civilian, are socialized to kill and to do more violence than women are. Specifically in “protecting” themselves, women and children. It is more acceptable for men to kill and beat the living crap out of someone than women to do the same thing in the same situation. More people are more horrified to find a woman has killed and beaten the living shit out of someone. It’s because of expectations. The false expectation is that “women do not fight to live. Someone else does it for them.”

    My point was training to kill like the military does has nothing to do with whether one is man or woman. If a military man hesitates because of his own personal issues about how he views the role of women in the military he will wind up dead or blowing the mission. His training was not successful and he has failed in his job. Women with military training are trained to kill. That is their job. No one, man or woman gets issued any weapon unless they can use that weapon accurately. To kill.

    My nephew and his girlfriend are active Navy. Both know how to kill. Both will kill because that is their job. Has nothing to do with being a man or woman. Weapons do not care.

  27. Cola Johnson
    Cola Johnson October 24, 2007 at 11:34 pm |

    Yes. Better to explain away than try to change things.

  28. yugenue
    yugenue October 25, 2007 at 12:17 am |
  29. Allie
    Allie October 25, 2007 at 1:11 am |

    Yugenue: a) That link is spectacular, and in the same vein, b) this

  30. Rebecca
    Rebecca October 25, 2007 at 2:20 am |

    *snortle* If a man is unwilling to follow me into battle because I have boobs under my fatigues, then I don’t want him in my squad anyways. It’s his problem, not mine.

    As long as my commander isn’t some psycho more interested in scoring points than the job at hand, I’ll follow them, even if they are a giant purple people eater. If a man (or a woman, since misogyny isn’t isn’t limited to the penis) can’t say the same, then they shouldn’t have handed him a gun in the first place.

    *Totally rhetorical, btw, I suck at following order and lean towards pacifism.*

  31. exholt
    exholt October 25, 2007 at 3:35 am |

    Do correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t women in combat units in many other countries’ armies?

    Women have been involved in active combat since ancient times. Mulan, Boudicaa, and Joan of Arc were a few examples from ancient/medieval times. In the 20th century, the Soviet military had female fighter pilots and snipers who earned the hatred of their Nazi foes. Moreover both Nationalist and Communist Chinese armies employed female soldiers in some combat units at various points during the chaotic Warlord period and the Second Sino-Japanese War/WWII. There are probably other past and current examples both within national militaries and in various guerrilla movements.

    Here’s a related story from mom’s youth. Though the Republic of China(Taiwan) has never drafted females for the mandatory 2 years of military service, young women of high school/college age in my parents’ generation had to undergo a short period of military training including the use and cleaning of military weaponry. However, it was not done out of an enlightened sense of gender equality, but as a means to shore up defenses against the very real threat of a Communist Chinese invasion during the 1950’s.

  32. orlando
    orlando October 25, 2007 at 4:30 am |

    Lisa, I think the situation is that Evolutionary Psychology is a fascinating field with the potential to construct valuable insights, BUT the only facet of it that gets any general publicity is the branch that has been hijacked by ignorant narcissists with no respect for actual scientific process, who are just looking for an excuse to support the status quo and justify their obnoxious behaviour.

  33. Blunderbuss
    Blunderbuss October 25, 2007 at 6:47 am |

    So basically, if a guy thinks less of you because you’re a woman, it’s not his problem, it’s evolution.

    Right. And men who don’t have this problem are, what, evolutionary drop-outs?

  34. Betty Boondoggle
    Betty Boondoggle October 25, 2007 at 8:34 am |

    So basically, if a guy thinks less of you because you’re a woman, it’s not his problem, it’s evolution.

    Exactly. See, haters go a looooong way to make their hate seem perfectly logical. So, a man who doesn’t trust women isn’t a misogynist, he’s not turned on by her “trust” “cues”.

    Right. And men who don’t have this problem are, what, evolutionary drop-outs?

    Nah. They’re just not stupid.

  35. tannenburg
    tannenburg October 25, 2007 at 11:39 am |

    The interesting thing about these discussions is that you could construct a very good set of rationales why military organizations should be all-female and exclude men altogether, using the same sort of fluffy baloney “proofs” the other side uses. Drawing from my background in military history and leavening it with pop-psych bullcrap, I could argue:

    1) Women are smaller. Therefore they consume less supplies and resources, cutting down the logistical train. You would also save on costs of uniform cloth, make weapons lighter, and so forth.

    2) Women are inherently cooperative, not competitive. Women would naturally form cohesive units in wartime, relying on each other without the dominance struggles which men pursue as part of their hard-wired testosterone-induced competitiveness. Women naturally think of the group first, not the individual, and therefore would fight better as a team.

    3) Women are used to pain, having monthly periods and all. They would be therefore more resistant to shellshock, minor wounds, fatigue, and deprivation.

    4) Women are more compassionate, meaning they would be far less likely to commit atrocities such as rape and murder on civilian populations.

    5) Women have a lower center of gravity and a smaller body size, meaning they would make superior fighter pilots, far less likely to pass out in High-G conditions and use less fuel because they weigh less. (See note 1.)

    I’m sure I could come up with more specious arguments for an all-female military…but you get the point.

    Note 1: If any of you are interested in pursuing this little tidbit further, look up the history of Soviet female fighter pilots in the Second World War. Go here or here for some brief overviews.

  36. Zoe
    Zoe October 25, 2007 at 11:58 am |

    Which goes to show it’s not merely a question of enculturation. Otherwise, we’d all be in the kitchen baking pies right now.

    Well, yes. Obviously there are some aspects of people which seem to resist enculturation. However, the claims of evolutionary biology is that people naturally conform to whatever culturally dominant system is in place, and the men, women, and others who resist enculturation to those ends are actually evidence against that conclusion, not for.

    Individual differences, in addition, are not instincts. Over and over and over against, psychological studies have show that differences within groups are broader than differences between groups, and despite massive and unrelenting socialization, men and women still defy gender norms. All of this points toward contemporary characterizations of gender norms as not being instinctive, since one of the characteristics of instincts is that a member of a species will carry them through even in the absence of encuturation – much less in the presence of active enculturation.

    In other words, if inculturation is failing, that means what is being enculturated is definitely not instictive, which means it’s not “hardwired” or “inborn”, to use some of the media driven euphemisms.

    Civilian women by and large do have an aversion to learning how to defend themselves with weapons. Some of it is personality and much of it is “wait for some guy to decide to get up off his ass and save you.” conditioning.

    Which is why I actively speak otu against and act contrary to the standard that I, as woman, should be rescued. Indeed, I believe that’s one fo the cultural side effects of feminism – fighting that sort of self-limiting message.

  37. House of Mayhem
    House of Mayhem October 25, 2007 at 12:00 pm |

    ***Dr. Ruth Westheimer was a sniper in the Israeli military.

    That was on Jeopardy the other day. :)

  38. EG
    EG October 25, 2007 at 12:34 pm |

    Men aren’t hard-wired to follow women into danger.

    Well, so much for asking a guy to walk me home after dark.

  39. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne October 25, 2007 at 1:08 pm |

    Forgive me for not feeling the need to be so snug as others commenting here, but I’m curious to know where people stand on evolutionary psychology in GENERAL.

    In general, if you’re studying “evolutionary psychology” by only looking at people in a single culture and then extrapolating that out to all of humanity, it’s 100% unadulterated bullshit. See the rape “study” from last year that decided that men have an “evolutionary” need to rape from studying reported rapes in three neighborhoods in a single American city.

    If you’re going to show me some cross-cultural findings, then we might actually get somewhere. Otherwise, you’re not studying “evolutionary psychology,” you’re studying cultural psychology and then assuming that everyone, everywhere, in all time periods shared your culture, so therefore you can say that Cro-Magnon men and women thought the same way as 21st century Americans.

  40. Robbespierre
    Robbespierre October 25, 2007 at 1:19 pm |

    I find it interesting that some commenters here have the impression that evolutionary psychology is used to push an “agenda” – which may very well be the case – without noticing hat gende studies/feminism is only focusing on cultural effects. How easy it would be to actually accept that life is a complex interplay of both nature and nurture and then go and thy to identify the variables influencing that complex system? Well, it would not be easy, to be honest, but it would at least a) be a better model of the world and human “nature” and b) expose those on the other side who are in fact using evolutionary psychology to push an agenda. The problem, as I see it, is, that neurological / evolutionary psychological gender research runs counter to many of the established myths of rationality in feminist academia. So if the “other side” is using a well established theory to push their agenda, that will hopefully, eventually, force feminist social scientists to improve their models of the world…

  41. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers October 25, 2007 at 1:27 pm |

    I love it, Tannenburg! I’m actually very fond of doing this kind of thing, because it plainly demonstrates that rather than doing any actual *science* (which is what ev psych is *supposed* to be about), the idea is just to maintain the status quo.

    For example, if men are hardwired to rape women, then we need to treat all men like we treat dangerous predators. Castrate (or simply sex-selectively abort) the majority of them, leaving maybe 30% or so for breeding stock. Require men to go everywhere with an armed female escort to make sure they don’t get into trouble. Make it against the law to teach men how to fight and against the law to allow a man to carry a weapon. Because they biologically can’t stop themselves, so women must stop them, and since they are bigger than women, women must stop them by having a monopoly on violence and by executing any man who defies the female monopoly on violence. This is how groups have always kept control of other groups who would otherwise outnumber/overpower them, so it should work fine to stop men from raping.

    Or, you know, you could imagine that men are human beings and can make choices, and then just punish the ones that *choose* to rape.

    If women are hardwired to see dirt better than men, this implies that women will see any level of fine detail better than men. So women need to be all inspectors, quality control engineers, laboratory researchers, and detectives, because we can’t expect the crude male brain to see details. Men need to do jobs where details don’t matter, like for instance being a stockboy.

    Or maybe we can just expect men to be able to clean house, too.

    If men are naturally uncivilized and need The Love of a Good Woman to keep them under control, then men should make prominent displays of their marital status through changing their last names, having a specific title that means “I’m married, therefore you can trust me”, and wearing rings given to them by their women to signify that they have been civilized by a woman. Men who are not married by the age of 25 should be assumed to be violent and dangerous, and castrated or held in a camp under close supervision to make sure they don’t get out and commit violence. Since it’s more important to make sure that every heterosexual man gets a woman than to make sure that every heterosexual woman gets a man, we need to selectively abort male fetuses or perhaps practice male infanticide to ensure that the population of men is significantly less than the population of women. Since so much of a man’s destiny rides on whether or not he can attract a woman to civilize him, we would expect young men to spend most of their time in obsessive grooming, buying clothes and accoutrements designed to attract female attention, and reading self-help manuals about how to make their personalities more appealing to women.

    Or maybe we can just assume that men are responsible for civilizing themselves and if a man turns violent, it isn’t the fault of the women who wouldn’t go out with him.

    Funny how if you take the assumption that the evo psych pronouncement actually describes the way the world works, but that we should *not* put up with social status quo that is dangerous to women (or society) and that therefore it’s male behavior that needs to be constrained for the good of society, all of a sudden I’d bet you most of these guys would be screaming about civil liberties and prejudice against men. I am not actually in favor of treating all men like rapists, castrating men, requiring them to get married, denying them jobs as detectives or selectively aborting boy babies, but if these evo psych pronouncements about how men just are a certain way and we can’t ever expect them to change were actually true, then these would absolutely be steps society would be forced to make to control what is otherwise uncontrollable.

  42. Carrie S.
    Carrie S. October 25, 2007 at 2:10 pm |

    Another item for the “Why the Military Should Be All-Female” list:
    Once you get a woman to fight, she’s out to kill your ass–it’s a remnant of all that hard-wiring that tells her that if she has to fight at all, it’s because she’s the last barrier between the oncoming badness and her kids. Hence, female soldiers are more likely to shoot in the first place, and if they do are more likely to aim to kill. (For some reason, when girls get into fights they’re more likely to go for blows intended to kill or cripple their opponents than boys are. I suspect that this is actually because boys are expected to fight and therefore encouraged to do so in non-lethal ways, but the “female of the species is more deadly” just-so story makes for better evolutionary pseudo-science)

    For some reason this makes me think of The Gate to Women’s Country, a book I have a totally irrational liking for.

  43. Ugly In Pink
    Ugly In Pink October 25, 2007 at 3:03 pm |

    Alara – That was fantastic. I’m going to send that post to some people who’d appreciate it, if you don’t mind.

  44. exholt
    exholt October 25, 2007 at 3:50 pm |

    Castrate (or simply sex-selectively abort) the majority of them, leaving maybe 30% or so for breeding stock.

    Since it’s more important to make sure that every heterosexual man gets a woman than to make sure that every heterosexual woman gets a man, we need to selectively abort male fetuses or perhaps practice male infanticide to ensure that the population of men is significantly less than the population of women.

    Alara,

    Just out of curiosity, were the quotes above inspired by Mary Daly’s Gyn/Ecology by any chance? Just curious.

  45. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers October 25, 2007 at 4:44 pm |

    UglyInPink — no problem!

    Exholt — No, I’ve never read it; should I? I have read some science fiction that assumes this premise, but (aside from Gate to Women’s Country) I think I came up with it first. I think I was mostly inspired by Golda Meir’s “If it’s men who are committing rapes, why a curfew for women? Put a curfew on men.”

    Carrie S. — the problem with an all-female military for an expansionist superpower like the US of A is that women will only fight, in general, if we believe we are defending something by doing so. You can’t convince women en masse (at least, no one historically ever has) to die gloriously, or to die for honor, or that we must fight and kill because the enemy has insulted us or because we’re better than the enemy. Women have been historically willing to buy into these excuses enough to not get in the way, and even cheer, as their husbands and sons go to war, but no one’s ever figured out how to make women agree to go to war themselves for reasons the women don’t perceive as defensive. In other words, your all-female army does not go out conquering. And if you want to blow up Iraq for the bad actions of a bunch of Saudis living in Afghanistan, this would be a problem. So if you really want to be an expansionist, conquering superpower who is willing to kill other people for no defensive reason, you really need men to do it, because women just won’t fall for it like men will. (Most of the time. There was, if I recall, an all-female army in an African nation centuries ago, because the king feared that a male general would become a warlord and overthrow him, but I can’t recall if they were a conquering force or a defensive force.) Of course, from my personal perspective this is actually a better reason to have an all-female army, but Uncle Sam is unlikely to agree.

    (I am actually enough of an evo psychologist myself to believe that it would be very hard, although it might be possible, to create a culture that socializes women into being conquerors. There is just too much cross-cultural evidence that women only enter war en masse when the culture sees itself directly threatened. But perhaps it’s simply that no culture before has ever bothered to try.)

  46. exholt
    exholt October 25, 2007 at 9:14 pm |

    Alara,

    Mary Daly is a prominent feminist theologian who wrote several books including Gyn/Ecology. She used to teach at Boston College before she was effectively forced out due to a combination of controversy over her classroom policy regarding males registering for her classes, the college’s administration’s dislike of her views, and many other factors I may not know about.

    One of the things that jumped out and disturbed me was her referring to the use of eugenics to limit the proportion of males in the human population to 10% as far as I can recall. It was the first feminist publication I read and I read it not too long after reading about how eugenics was abused both in the US and abroad by the powerful to kill off marginalize groups.

  47. belledame222
    belledame222 October 25, 2007 at 10:24 pm |

    So, wait, ev psych is about how men go to war because of infected giraffes, and the women need to stay home so they don’t get infected? But why would we necessarily catch anything from a giraffe, and wouldn’t the men just end up bringing home not only their own giraffes’ infections but all sorts of foreign bacteria from foreign giraffes, and thus pass on all kinds of spotty diseases and such to the women anyway? I’m so confused.

  48. Zoe
    Zoe October 26, 2007 at 2:44 am |

    I find it interesting that some commenters here have the impression that evolutionary psychology is used to push an “agenda” – which may very well be the case – without noticing hat gende studies/feminism is only focusing on cultural effects.

    Urm… the fact that my feminism is culturally bound is rather central to my understanding of it… indeed, a lot of the recent, very apt and interesting and useful, critique of the largely white, middle/upper class feminism expressed by many women in the larger blogs has hinged partly on an understanding and acceptance of this fact.

    I find it interesting that you assume commenters here are applying different standards.

  49. Sabotabby
    Sabotabby October 26, 2007 at 7:54 pm |

    Alara Rogers: Awesome. Have you read Carnival by Elizabeth Bear? The premise is pretty much the scenario that you described.

    I bet ginmar could wipe the floor with this Kingsley Browne shlub.

  50. EG
    EG October 26, 2007 at 9:19 pm |

    gende studies/feminism is only focusing on cultural effects.

    That would be news to my cousin, whose feminism informs her work as a neurobiologist.

  51. angryyoungwoman
    angryyoungwoman October 27, 2007 at 2:00 am |

    I think just the title of the book alone is enough to tell me it’s not something I’d be interested in. I’m kind of surprized that no one here has brought up the Amazons–they were quite the all-female fighting power.

    Also, EG, your cousin works in neurobiology? That’s kind of interesting to me (I have interests in that area–I’m a bit brain damaged and years of tests and surgeries have led me to a bit of an interest).

  52. EG
    EG October 27, 2007 at 1:45 pm |

    Oh, yes! She works on depression, sex hormones, and the function of anti-depressants, mostly using rat models. Since she’s a Discworld fan, I sometimes call her the Death of Rats…

    Her work is really fascinating, at least to me. Her feminism comes in in this way: I didn’t know this, but according to her, all the studies in developing anti-depressants worked with male rat populations only, with the excuse that female populations’ cycles “mess up” the results. She and her advisor feel that this is arrant nonsense, especially since the results are generalized to both sexes. So she is concentrating her work on female rat populations, before, during, and after puberty, to examine the role female sex hormones play in the brain chemistry of depression. (At least, that’s my layperson’s understanding of what she does.)

  53. lorra
    lorra November 10, 2007 at 7:23 pm |

    I think theres alot of bad press about evolutionary psychology. Its actually a really interesting area, and not sexist. In fact, sexual selection basically suggests that we have evoved to fufill females sexual preferences. Read ‘ The mating mind’ of you want more info, its a really good read.

    I also think what someone said up top about ‘having a theory and fiding facts to fit it’ is a little off.

    Its usually they see a trait they are interested in and look at how it works, and how it may be used in either a survival context or a sexual context. these traits could be minute, such as why we see beauty in buildings? Its theorised that we find it beautiful because it is wasteful, and all sexual displays are ‘wasteful’ to some extent. Obviously, surplus shows an individual is doing well, and so is a good mate. They do studies to test it, just like any other scientific theory otherwise their work would not make it into journals, or be given any serious credit. Such as making ‘fake’ buildings with differing degrees of waste… and finding the building preffered by most people are the most wasteful.

    I think the theory gets abused by people. I also think the idea that men were ‘hunter gatherers’ absurd. theres evidence the women were the gatherers who provided the tribe with a sustainable diet. Hunting was apparently a fitness display, and they didn’t catch much often, especially in winter.
    Puts a hole in the ‘manly men’ providing for the family argument anyway…..

Comments are closed.

The commenting period has expired for this post. If you wish to re-open the discussion, please do so in the latest Open Thread.