Why Feminists Hate Evo-Bio Really

Most evolutionary biologists seem always on the defensive, having to argue against the mythmaking and inventions of the social-constructionists and simultaneously against journalistic oversimplification, exaggeration and tendentious abuse of their own findings. Rarely do they seem to take their gloves off and return the compliment by attacking the motives and agenda of the deniers. Richard Dawkins, who long ago mislaid all his gloves, is fully occupied fighting a different, though de facto allied, tribe of obscurantists.

The commonest attack on evolutionary biology is couched in terms of its attempting to justify traditional sex roles as being in accordance with nature. Even were this entirely true – and to the contrary, it might follow from the new biology that all politics should be handed over to women, who are better wired for it – it is perfectly possible to say, “This is natural, but it sucks, so let us set our faces against Nature.”

If evolutionary biology is a mortal threat, what exactly is being threatened? Scientists are not proposing to deprive women of the vote, forbid them higher education, banish them from the workplace, or do any other Taliban-like things; after all, a lot of these scientists are women themselves. Perhaps what is so threatening is the evolutionists’ tendency to regard all animal and thereby also human behaviour in terms of strategies; that is, as methods of obtaining resources and reproductive success in the teeth of other players’ endeavours to achieve the same thing. It is not so much that genders have strategies as that genders are strategies; anatomy is destiny, in that it dictates which specific games you play in order to get what you want.

Cui bono – who benefits from ignorance of how men and women play games against one another? One would expect the prime beneficiary to be the player whose strategies depend on not being thought to be strategies at all.

A proper counter-attack might, for example, reveal how feminist sociology, while pretending to be something quite different, was itself a strategy for achieving gender goals. One might discover how entire academic disciplines are exercises in misdirection. We might then begin asking how it has come about that everything one sex says and thinks about the nature of reality is considered to be a patriarchal discourse that expresses and maintains male power, while everything the other sex says and thinks about the nature of reality is considered to be, well, Reality. Saying that your words are a mere tactic while mine are absolute truth is itself a tactic.

And the same would be true of the memes that have percolated down from the ivory tower to the home, the school and the workplace: down here, it is equally axiomatic that whatever men say about themselves is self-interested and false and whatever women say about themselves is objective and true; anyone who challenges this is quickly cut out of the herd. But this state of affairs is the result of very successful strategising over a very long period, a strategising that absolutely depends for success on the curtains not being opened to let the light in.

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