Evolutionary Psychology and Feminism 2011


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

this analysis.


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

empirical findings.


dat pun



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.





Leave a Reply