Sexual Selections: What We Can and Can't Learn about Sex from Animals

Sexual Selections: What We Can and Can't Learn about Sex from Animals

Sexual Selections: What We Can and Can't Learn about Sex from Animals

Sexual Selections: What We Can and Can't Learn about Sex from Animals


"Zuk's analogies are better than anyone's--pithy, insightful, and funny. Who said feminists lack humor? Zuk made me laugh with deep pleasure more than once, as she reviewed the lessons of feminism for our understanding of non-human animals. Her main point--that studying the lives of non-humans should not be for the lessons they seem to provide for our political purposes, but for the pleasure of knowing nature on its own terms--will be compelling reading for all naturalists, feminists and not-feminists alike."--Patricia Adair Gowaty, editor of "Feminism and Evolutionary Biology

"Marlene Zuk uniquely combines a great breadth of knowledge about the behavior of animals with an ability to challenge conventional wisdom. She also writes with a graceful style and a mischievous wit. The result is a bold, fresh and feminist book about how our sex lives evolved."--Matt Ridley, author of "Genome

"This is an engaging and much needed book, which I hope will be widely read."--Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, author of"Mother Nature: Maternal Instincts and How They Shape the Human Species


Shortly after I entered graduate school at the University of Michigan, a fellow student came into my office and flung himself into the chair opposite mine. “I don't understand, ” he said, “how you can have feminist politics and still be interested in all that stuff over in the museum. ” the museum was the Museum of Zoology, and the “stuff” to which he referred was the burgeoning field of sociobiology, the study of the evolution of social behavior. It had become a flashpoint for vitriolic debate about the ability of science to draw conclusions about animal behavior in general and human behavior in particular. Both sex, meaning the genetic distinction between male and female, and gender, referring to its social and political associations, were a big part of the controversy from the start. Feminists were quick to recognize that a classic application of biology to oppression had been via the old “anatomy is destiny” route, and sociobiology seemed to some like the same restrictions dressed in trendy new genes.

The debate has taken many turns in the years since; some stereotypes have fallen, and some new perspectives have been achieved. One result of the feminist movement is that many more of the scientific participants are now women. the term “sociobiology” became sufficiently politically laden that it has been abandoned by many scientists, who now tend to call studies of the evolutionary basis of behavior in animals “behavioral ecology” and its counterpart in humans “evolutionary psychology. ” Yet we are as far as ever from consensus on what feminism and biology have to offer each . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.