25 November 2008

On hips

"The strongly favoured androcentric theory is that the difference [between men and women] is an aesthetic improvement, and that it evolved as some sort of sexual stimulus.

This is essentially a circular argument. 'I find this attribute sexy: therefore it must have evolved in order that I might find it sexy.' It's like saying that a wman walks with a wiggle because this is attractive to a male. In fact, she only walks with a wiggle because her children are so intelligent. The necessity of passing a large-skulled infant's head through her pelvic ring has prevented her skeleton to adapting to bipedalism quite as gracefully as her brothers; and males only find this defect attractive because they associate it with femininity."

-Elaine Morgan, [The Descent of Woman]

24 November 2008

What's in sexy?

"Professor Hardy explains the hair on our heads by saying that since only our heads remained above water, exposed to the sun, the hair remained to protect us from its rays. Other evolutionists, if they explain it at all, usually dump it on to the miscellaneous heap of unique human features labeled 'for sexual attraction'--a safe and lazy solution, since there are very few physical features which somebody at some time hasn't found sexually stimulating."

-Elaine Morgan, [The Descent of Woman]

The latter half of that is certainly true. She talks about a "vagueness of aim" in what humans find attractive in each other later in the book. "For sexual attraction" is also a good pigeonhole for some human attributes--especially in women--that on the surface makes sense but may have other evolutionary factors. An example from the text (hips) is in the queue for tomorrow.

This is a wonderful book but I wish I had read Descent of Man and The Naked Ape first for context. It was also originally published in 1972 so it has a lot of Vietnam and women's lib coloration--so it's interesting from a biological, cultural, and political standpoint.

19 November 2008

On Female Orgasm

"First: If female orgasm was evolved in our species for the first time to provide the woman with a 'behavioural reward' for increased sexual activity, why in the name of Darwin has the job been so badly bungled that there have been whole tribes and whole generations of women hardly aware of its existence?"

-Elaine Morgan, The Descent of Woman

18 November 2008

The Descent of Woman

"According to the Book of Genesis, God first created man. Woman was not only an afterthought, but an amenity. For close on two thousand years this holy scripture was believed to justify her subordination and explain her inferiority; for even as a copy she was not a very good copy. There were differences. She was not one of His best efforts.

There is a line in an old folk song that runs: 'I called my donkey a horse gone wonky.' Throughout most of the literature dealing with the differences between the sexes there runs a subtle underlying assumption that woman is a man gone wonky; that woman is a distorted version of the original blueprint; that they are the norm and we are the diviation.

It might have been expected that when Darwin came along and wrote an entirely different account of the Descent of Man, this assumption would have been eradicated, for Darwin didn't believe she was an afterthought: he believed her origin was at least contemporaneous with man's. It should have led to some kind of breakthrough in the relationship between the sexes. But it didn't.

Almost at once men set about the congenial and fascinating task of working out an entirely new set of reasons why woman was manifestly inferior and irreversibly subordinate, and they have been happily engaged on this ever since. Instead of theology they use biology, and ethology, and primatology, but they use it to reach the same conclusions.

They are now prepared to debate the most complex problems of economic reform not in terms of the will of God, but in terms of the sexual behaviour patterns of the cichlid fish; so that if a woman claims equal pay or the right to promotion there is usually an authoratative male thinker around to deliver a brief homily on hormones, and point out that what she secretly intends by this, and what will inevitably result, is the 'psychological castration' of the men in her life."

-Elaine Morgan, [The Descent of Woman]: The Classic Study of Evolution. From Chapter One.

12 November 2008

You can read my Livejournal with OpenID

I blog about my personal life on my livejournal but it's currently screened for friends only.

You don't have to be a formal livejournal user to read my livejournal--you can use [OpenID]!

If you use blogger/google, wordpress, Yahoo, AIM (here's a [list of providers]) or a host of other online applications you're already an OpenID user and already halfway authenticated to read and comment on my livejournal.

To use livejournal with OpenID:

1. Login to livejournal using the "login with OpenID" link in the top right hand corner and use whatever format you prefer to log in.

2. Once logged in, go to Friends>>Manage Friends on the dark blue menu bar at the top of the page.

3. Add "metricula" (or any other lj users you might know) as a friend by typing it into the given field.

4. Save your settings!

5. Bookmark [http://metricula.livejournal.com] or if you have multiple friends on livejournal you can use your "friends page" link above the blue menu bar to track them all. And as long as you're authenticated to livejournal those friends-only entries will show up on the rss feed of the journal.

It should notify me of your request, but you can also leave a comment on the "Friends Only" banner post on my livejournal. Once I add you back as a friend you'll be authenticated!

Unfortunately there isn't an easy way of getting protected livejournal entries to show up in some RSS aggregators like Google Reader so you'll have to pop by livejournal to see what's up.

It really doesn't

03 November 2008

I've never used it

This used to sit in the hallway of Kilgore Hall at NCSU.