Sunday, September 18, 2011

Evolutionary Feminism

A few weeks ago, I blogged that behavioral biology is an important legal skill because it provides the proper model for human behavior, which is necessary to understand the law.  Having the right behavioral model is especially important to an area like feminism, where advocates feel that significant changes need to be made.  I have posted an article on SSRN entitled Evolutionary Feminism in which I deal with this issue.

Abstract: As a group of scientists have asserted, “insights provided by evolutionary psychology have increasingly been applied to practical societal problems.” Evolutionary feminists have employed evolutionary psychology to study gender problems. This includes law, and previous studies on gender have encompassed such issues as sexual harassment, sexual assault, and infanticide.

Evolutionary feminists think that evolutionary psychology provides better ways of studying gender problems than traditional feminist approaches. Professor Baker has declared: “Therein lies biology's attraction to feminists. By laying bare the harsh reality of nature, it forces us to embrace our normative convictions. . . . What feminists call patriarchal culture, biologists call nature, but whatever it is called, anyone with any moral sensitivity can readily see that it is an altogether inferior, unjust, and undesirable place to be. And as biology makes plain, it is up to us to change it.” Or, as Professor Vandermassen has declared, “I believe, however, as do other Darwinian feminists, that it is only through taking into account our evolved human nature that it will be possible fully to understand the sources of women’s oppression.” She has added: “Instead of being destiny, biology is our ally in the struggle for women’s rights.”

Part II of this paper will discussion evolutionary feminism in general and in the legal academy. It will begin with general principles of evolutionary psychology and evolutionary feminism. It will then examine how evolutionary feminists have dealt with particular gender problems, such as mate selection, marriage, domestic abuse, abortion, intrasexual female competition, and sexual harassment. Part III will evaluate evolutionary feminism and make additional proposals. This part will begin with a general critique of evolutionary feminism, then focus on the specific topics discussed in Part II.


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