Sunday, September 24, 2006

Darwin: Evolutionary Misogyny

I have put Darwin's Descent of Man, 6th Edition, on Course Reserve in order that you can compare his nineteenth century misogyny to John Knox's of the sixteenth century. Darwin's declaration that

man has ultimately become superior to woman. It is, indeed, fortunate that the law of the equal transmission of characters to both sexes prevails with mammals; otherwise, it is probable that man would have become as superior in mental endowment to woman, as the peacock is in ornamental plumage to the peahen,
is the necessary result of his belief in the two evolutionary mechanisms that he invented -- natural selection & sexual selection. His theories, then, as he constructed & defended them, are thus flawed.

To my mind, the absence of any serious engagement among scholars and special interest groups with Darwin's excessive belittlement of women has a whiff of political expediency. That is, feminists who have read Descent of Man may be reluctant to give Darwin the same critical attention as other similar -- even far less strong -- misogynists receive, due to the use Darwin can be as a stick against other enemies. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."

For us, however, our motto is rather, Fas est et ab hoste doceri (Ovid.)

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