Discover more from Just Emil Kirkegaard Things
Paper: Evolutionary Psychology and Feminism (David Michael Buss & David P. Schmitt)
Abstract This article provides a historical context of
evolutionary psychology and feminism, and evaluates the
contributions to this special issue of Sex Roles within that
context. We briefly outline the basic tenets of evolutionary
psychology and articulate its meta-theory of the origins of
gender similarities and differences. The article then evaluates
the specific contributions: Sexual Strategies Theory and the
desire for sexual variety; evolved standards of beauty;
hypothesized adaptations to ovulation; the appeal of risk
taking in human mating; understanding the causes of sexual
victimization; and the role of studies of lesbian mate
preferences in evaluating the framework of evolutionary
psychology. Discussion focuses on the importance of social
and cultural context, human behavioral flexibility, and the
evidentiary status of specific evolutionary psychological
hypotheses. We conclude by examining the potential role of
evolutionary psychology in addressing social problems
identified by feminist agendas.
Keywords Evolutionary psychology . Feminism . Sexual
strategies . Gender differences
I came across this study while reading this article, which i think i will comment on later.
The fact that physical attractiveness is so highly valued
by men in mate selection, and contrary to conventional
social science wisdom is not arbitrarily socially constructed,
does not imply that the emphasis placed on it is not
destructive to women—a point about which many feminists
and evolutionary psychologists agree (e.g., Buss 1996;
Wolf 1991; Vandermassen 2005). Many feminist scholars,
evolutionary psychologists, and evolutionary feminists
concur that the value people place on female beauty is
likely a key cause of eating disorders, body image
problems, and potentially dangerous cosmetic surgery. As
Singh and Singh (2011) and others point out, it can lead to
the objectification of women as sex objects to the relative
neglect of other dimensions along which women vary, such
as talents, abilities, and personality characteristics. Finally,
in the modern environment, it seems clear that men’s
evolved standards of female beauty have contributed to a
kind of destructive run-away female-female competition in
the modern environment to embody the qualities men desire
(Buss, 2003; Schmitt and Buss 1996).
In our view, the key point is that feminist stances on the
destructiveness of the importance people place on female
attractiveness need not, and should not, rest on the faulty
assumption that standards of attractiveness are arbitrary
social constructions. Societal change, where change is
desired, is best accomplished by an accurate scientific
understanding of causes. The evolutionary psychological
foundations of attractiveness must be a starting point for
indeed, as is (nearly?) always the case: if one wants to change some state of affairs, then actually understanding WHY it is the way it is to begin with is of paramount importance.
Adaptations to Ovulation
Ovulation attains special status within women’s reproduc-
tive biology because it provides the very brief window
(roughly 12–24 h) during women’s menstrual cycle during
which conception is possible. Conventional wisdom in the
field of human sexuality over the past century has been that
ovulation is cryptic or concealed, even from women
themselves (e.g., Symons 1979). Evolutionary psycholo-
gists over the past decade have begun to challenge this
conventional wisdom. The challenges have come in two
forms—hypothesized adaptations in men to detect ovula-
tion and hypothesized adaptations in women to adjust their
mating behavior around ovulation.
Ancestral men, in principle, could have benefited (in
reproductive currencies) if they could detect when women
ovulated. An ovulation-detection ability would afford men
the ability to selectively direct their sexual overtures toward
women when they are ovulating, as male chimpanzees do.
And already mated men might increase their mate-guarding
efforts when their partners are ovulating. Both strategies, in
principle, could have evolved in men. The key question is:
Did they?More than 20 years ago, Symons (1987) concluded
that such male adaptations to ovulation had not evolved:
“The most straightforward prediction I could have made,
based on simple reproductive logic and the study of
nonhuman animals, would have been that . . . men will be
able to detect when women are ovulating and will find
ovulating women most sexually attractive. Such adaptations
have been looked for in the human male and have never
been found . . .” (p. 133).
it seems to me that the authors need to learn more logic. the above case seems to be an example of an argument from ignorance, altho in a nonstraightforward way. heres how i interpret it:
1) Symons wrote that there is no evidence of such adaptations in humans.
2) thus, Symons thought that there is no evidence of such adaptations in humans.
3) thus, Symons thought that there are no such adaptations in humans.
(2) follows given normal conditions, that is, that he wasnt lying etc. it has a hidden premise stating that the conditions are normal, in a kind of default reasoning way.
(3) however attributes an argument from ignorance inference to Symons, which is not warranted. it may be that the adaptations are difficult to find and that science had per 1987 just missed them.
Symons might not have held the view the authors attribute to him.
[...] And no other framework suggests that adaptations to
ovulation might have evolved. Whatever the eventual
evidentiary status of the competing hypotheses, it is
reasonable to conclude that the search for adaptations to
ovulation has been a fertile one, yielding fascinating
The positive outcome for everyone is that evolutionary
psychological hypotheses, sex role/biosocial theory hy-
potheses, and gender-similarity hypotheses all share the
scientific virtue of making specific empirical predictions.
In this sense, we see this special issue of Sex Roles an
exceptionally positive sign that the discourse is beginning
to move beyond purely ideological stances and toward an
increasingly accurate scientific understanding of gender
since evo psychs dont hav any ideological stance, this description is exceptionally nice to them. the only ones who need to move past any ideology are the marxist feminists.