24th Sept 2015: Evolving for Girls by Doreen Soutar

Question Evolution

Come along to The Counting House at 7pm to listen to Doreen, share a crust of bread, and listen to her ideas on girls and evolution…


Title of talk:

Evolving for Girls

Bullet points of what you would like to talk about:

A wry look at how evolutionary psychology currently narrates human evolution and the interaction between the genders in terms of mate selection. It will suggest that:

  • The current narrative of mate selection is a tad male-centred
  • The current mate selection model has some quite fundamental problems trying to explain what women are actually like
  • Some of these theories are highly amusing
  • A female-centred version of evolution might be a bit of a good idea
  • There are some quite good reasons for supporting a female viewpoint, including being a woman and preferring to have a say in mate selection theories about you.
  • A few suggestions for a female-centred model of mate selection will be offered up for consideration.

A few paragraphs on your subject:

Evolutionary psychology looks at the way individuals in a species select mates for reproduction. This is known as sexual selection. Sexual selection was mooted by Darwin in the Origin of Species, but was developed in a further book called the Descent of Man. This book and the theories it contained were pretty much ignored by mate selection theorists for over a hundred and thirty years. However, since the turn of the 21st century it has been making a come-back. This could be seen as a good move for feminists, as it suggests that in most species females do the mate choosing.
However, the evolutionary psychology industry is still predominantly populated by males, and sexual selection has been essentially ‘bolted-on’ to existing male-centric theories. Worse, it can often be used to associate female decision–making with irrationality. As the subject is grounded in the power and control of mate selection between genders, it is unlikely that male researchers will be able to bring the existential and subjective issues pertinent to females into the mix. Women will need to do that for ourselves.

A few paragraphs about you:

I am a female, a feminist, and have spent some time in academia and out looking into evolutionary psychology. What I found didn’t shock me, but it did get my goat, and continues to do so. Indeed, some of the theories I have stumbled across are so weird and wonderful, I didn’t need to do very much work making them into a comic lecture. In fact, I would have had a hard time trying to make it to the end of the lecture with a straight face.

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