Reader Query: feminist critiques of evolutionary psychology?

I’m a first-year grad student and today was my first day of discussion sections for the 101 course I’m TA-ing. Given that I’m not actually assigning the readings, there’s only so much I can do to encourage participation by members of under-represented groups, though I did what I could with my own syllabus and I intend to monitor power dynamics within discussions. Today one of my more active sections went from a discussion about why we care about piety to the subject of what drives us toward excellence, and one very vocal (female, interestingly) student was pushing a pretty hard evolutionary psychological line; so hard, in fact, that she was explicit about her belief that only men need to be excellent so that they can attract mates but women mostly need to worry about nurturing! I didn’t want to be heavy-handed and intervene so I mostly let the students discuss it amongst themselves, but at least one other student appeared visibly uncomfortable with the view we were discussing, though when I asked her after class if she had felt uncomfortable she said that she didn’t and she enjoyed arguing.

I haven’t read much philosophical literature on this topic (and I think Gender Trouble might be a little bit much), but if anyone can recommend something easy (easy for non-majors at a middling state university) and short that critiques EP from a feminist perspective, I would love to bring it up next week.

We’ve gone a fair few posts on the topic, here. But what else do you all know of? I like Natalie Angier’s _Woman_ but it’s dated. Cordelia Fine of course has some excellent stuff that’s very relevant, as does Rebecca Jordan-Young.

15 thoughts on “Reader Query: feminist critiques of evolutionary psychology?

  1. Sofia Elliott Connell’s paper, “Feminism and Evolutionary Psychology” is short, readable, and provocative (and convincing, but ymmv). At minimum it lays out the terms of the debate clearly, and I could see it working well to focus undergraduate discussions.

    ‘Feminism and Evolutionary Psychology’, electronic publication, 4th European Feminist Research Conference, Bologna, 2000.

  2. Thanks everyone! I am the reader who queried, and I appreciate the suggestions. This is a literature I’d really like to get into some day when I have the time, and this looks like a good starting place.

    And Adam – I’m pretty sure I’ve heard Dan Savage talk about Sex at Dawn, so I’m glad to know it holds up to feminist philosopher-scrutiny.

  3. ‘Human Nature after Darwin’ by Janet Radcliffe-Richards would be great for an undergraduate class (I think it started out as an Open University course text).

  4. Sarah Blaffer Hrdy – has made several important contributions to evolutionary theory. Can highly recommend.

    Edited collection of papers ‘Alas Poor Darwin’ – I’ve not read all of this, but Anne Fausto-Sterling (biologist) has a good piece in it.

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