Evolutionary Psychology: Science, or Merely a Male Chauvinist Justification of Sexism?

February 9, 2011 at 12:30 am 4 comments

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Men who comment here sometimes, and men from the manosphere, frequently espouse views of evolutionary psychology in order to refute feminism. As “evidence” they mention sex stereotypes and attribute them merely to animal behavior and the human species’ wish to propagate our genes to the next generation.

The problem with this, of course, is two-fold. First of all, people are not merely animals. We have the ability to reason which differentiates us from many other species. Secondly, how does evolutionary psychology explain anomalies in our culture and how does it explain the phenomenon of feminism. Does it?

Evolutionary psychology says that women are valued only for their ability to reproduce and carry on a man’s genes, that women are only interested in sex in order to produce babies and are choosier in picking partners because it’s in their best interests to do so. Evolutionary psychology says that men are solely interested in young, hot women and that women are reduced to their “sexual market value.”

It doesn’t take into account those men who mate with older women. It especially discounts all the media cases lately of young men featured in the media who are “hot for teacher,” even when sometimes these much older teachers are not especially physically attractive in a conventional sense. It doesn’t take into account that most women don’t lose their desire for sex after they reach menopause.  How does evolutionary psychology explain these behaviors?

Men do generally prefer younger women, but what explains the differentiations from this? How do we account for the couples where the woman makes more money or has more money than the man? What is the evolutionary psychologist’s explanation for how this propagates the species? If evolutionary psychology can explain the relationship between the sexes, then how does feminism help to propagate the species? I’d be interested in hearing some theories.

But someone smarter than I am has written an article that refutes evolutionary psychology’s claims better than I can. Check out the article here:

http://www.evoyage.com/Evolutionary%20Feminism/Feminism&EP.htm

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. casualhero  |  February 9, 2011 at 6:41 am

    The main mistake regarding evolutionary psychology has to be overstating it. No theory about behavior will offer up a solution or road map to all members of the species. But we can still make some general statements. It is true that some people can live fine without any human interaction, but we’re still safe to generalize that human beings are social creatures.

    The science seems legitimate to me, at least as a matter of research. The author of the linked article dismisses it as prejudice on historical or cultural assumptions. But isn’t it possible those historical assumptions came from somewhere? When we observe other animals, we discover countless mating rituals based on gender; some birds sing for partners, some have bright feathers. Fish swim upstream to spawn because of some evolutionary but nevertheless suicidal impulse. Apes and dogs move in packs with alpha males at the top of strict hierarchical groups. The controversial position here is that human beings have never had something similar.

    There isn’t any inherent contradiction between feminism and an empirical science. Evolution may be true and natural selection may be a fact; the weak may die, the strong may survive, but these aren’t moral instructions. They are mere observations of how nature operates by default. They aren’t orders to live a certain way. So how there is a contradiction between moral judgments and observation is a mystery to me.

    Unless you mean something is used as a talking point, in which case that should be separately criticized from the research.

    Reply
    • 2. Author  |  February 10, 2011 at 1:03 am

      Thank you for your intelligent comment. I don’t disagree with evolutionary psychology in principle. I know that natural selection is true, and I have no problem with evolution as a theory. I don’t think it conflicts with either Christianity or feminism.

      I do have a problem with cultural biases influencing scientific research, which the author of the article proved brilliantly. But that’s not exclusive to evolutionary psychology, and I don’t think of it as a conspiracy against feminism. I’m not that conspiracy minded. I just chose a controversial title to generate traffic, essentially.

      However, I do have a problem with biased conclusions being used as talking points to “prove” that feminism is somehow at the root of all evils in our society. The manosphere has adopted what they like of this so-called science to “prove” their sexist philosophy. That’s where my biggest problem with evolutionary psychology stems from.

      Thank you for continuing to read. I read your blog, and I think we agree on some things about the relationship between the sexes. Thanks again for commenting.

      Reply
  • 3. Author  |  February 10, 2011 at 1:20 am

    Here’s an important blog post by casualhero, that although I think it’s important that both women and women be kind to one another, I agree with in principle:

    http://casualhero.livejournal.com/22798.html

    Reply
  • 4. Yume  |  May 13, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    I don´t know why so many people take this kind of “science” so seriously.As a women from a non-saxon-white culture (I am latin) it´s obviously that “science” is based on heterosex-male-white culture.Besides,we have many matriarchal animals like orcas,elepahnts,bononos( close relative of ours);by the other hand,we have polygamous female( orca,dolphin,canines atc) and monogamous males( bank voles,cranes,etc),but nothing of that mentioned by those “scientists”.They choose very carefully the animals they want to use to justify male violence and sexism,forgetting that in a polygamous society,the number of males are much inferior than the female´s and few of them “spreed their genes” due the high competition.

    So,in other words,that purely bullshit,troll science.It´s very easy to have argument against such “specialists” as you could see.Jus ask a real biologist how Nature works…

    Reply

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