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

Language: English

Pages: 250

ISBN: 0520240758

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Scientific discoveries about the animal kingdom fuel ideological battles on many fronts, especially battles about sex and gender. We now know that male marmosets help take care of their offspring. Is this heartening news for today's stay-at-home dads? Recent studies show that many female birds once thought to be monogamous actually have chicks that are fathered outside the primary breeding pair. Does this information spell doom for traditional marriages? And bonobo apes take part in female-female sexual encounters. Does this mean that human homosexuality is natural? This highly provocative book clearly shows that these are the wrong kinds of questions to ask about animal behavior. Marlene Zuk, a respected biologist and a feminist, gives an eye-opening tour of some of the latest developments in our knowledge of animal sexuality and evolutionary biology. Sexual Selections exposes the anthropomorphism and gender politics that have colored our understanding of the natural world and shows how feminism can help move us away from our ideological biases.

As she tells many amazing stories about animal behavior--whether of birds and apes or of rats and cockroaches--Zuk takes us to the places where our ideas about nature, gender, and culture collide. Writing in an engaging, conversational style, she discusses such politically charged topics as motherhood, the genetic basis for adultery, the female orgasm, menstruation, and homosexuality. She shows how feminism can give us the tools to examine sensitive issues such as these and to enhance our understanding of the natural world if we avoid using research to champion a feminist agenda and avoid using animals as ideological weapons.

Zuk passionately asks us to learn to see the animal world on its own terms, with its splendid array of diversity and variation. This knowledge will give us a better understanding of animals and can ultimately change our assumptions about what is natural, normal, and even possible.

Modern Girls on the Go: Gender, Mobility, and Labor in Japan

The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined Women

Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide

Myths Of Gender: Biological Theories About Women And Men (Revised Edition)

Dirty Little Secrets: Breaking the Silence on Teenage Girls and Promiscuity

Left Hand Of Darkness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kitchen and open their own cereal boxes. And yet, of course, we find them irresistible, a phenomenon that does not require much thought to justify from an evolutionary point of view, since not taking care of your offspring is a good way to ensure that your genes are not passed on. The characteristics that make us perceive certain beings as appealing are the subject of much speculation in psychology. Perhaps it is this superficial but misleading resemblance to the lambs rather than the mice, the

mysterious mother-child relationship is shattered when the mother is raised without others of her kind. Well, you might say, this is clearly an unusual situation. Monkeys are not usually raised by wire models, and under natural circumstances they can relate to their offspring perfectly well. This, however, is precisely my point: even a behavior supposedly as sacrosanct as the love a mother will have for her child depends on the environment. Here, then, is as good a place as any to discuss the

nonreproducing hangers-on may be allowed to remain on the territory in exchange for helping with child care, and they may gain valuable experience at taking care of offspring that will serve them well when conditions allow them to reproduce on their own. How hard the individual tries for a proportion of the breeding in the group depends on the costs and benefits of doing so, in terms of the likelihood of leaving genes in future generations. If a subordinate female mongoose is in good condition

Houppert wonders why modern American society is so obsessed with hiding menstruation from everyone, including the woman who is menstruating. She questions the need we all seem to feel for extreme secrecy, as if being discovered to menstruate were the most embarrassing revelation that could ever occur. Advertising for tampons and pads stresses the confidentiality of the product, featuring models clad in white, and most young men would probably be at least as embarrassed to be asked to buy tampons

with menstrual fluid (apparently this resulted in a great yield of tomatoes for one intrepid practitioner). And I applaud the idea that girls would find reaching menarche attractive, or at least not horribly embarrassing. My objection, nonetheless, is the same one I have been promoting all along: it does not help to view science as a tool for ideology, as a weapon in the gender wars no matter which side you are on. Arguing that Profet must be right because a misogynistic society has kept women

Download sample

Download