Catalogue


Sexual selections : what we can and can't learn about sex from animals /
Marlene Zuk.
imprint
Berkeley, Calif. : University of California Press, c2002.
description
xi, 239 p. : ill.
ISBN
0520219740 (cloth : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
Subjects
More Details
imprint
Berkeley, Calif. : University of California Press, c2002.
isbn
0520219740 (cloth : alk. paper)
catalogue key
4679213
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 219-227) and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Marlene Zuk is Professor of Biology at the University of California, Riverside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"Zuk's analogies are better than anyone's--pithy, insightful, and funny. Who said feminists lack humor? Zuk made me laugh with deep pleasure more than once, as she reviewed the lessons of feminism for our understanding of non-human animals. Her main point--that studying the lives of non-humans should not be for the lessons they seem to provide for our political purposes, but for the pleasure of knowing nature on its own terms--will be compelling reading for all naturalists, feminists and not-feminists alike."--Patricia Adair Gowaty, editor ofFeminism and Evolutionary Biology "Marlene Zuk uniquely combines a great breadth of knowledge about the behavior of animals with an ability to challenge conventional wisdom. She also writes with a graceful style and a mischievous wit. The result is a bold, fresh and feminist book about how our sex lives evolved."--Matt Ridley, author ofGenome "This is an engaging and much needed book, which I hope will be widely read."--Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, author ofMother Nature: Maternal Instincts and How They Shape the Human Species
Flap Copy
"Zuk's analogies are better than anyone's--pithy, insightful, and funny. Who said feminists lack humor? Zuk made me laugh with deep pleasure more than once, as she reviewed the lessons of feminism for our understanding of non-human animals. Her main point--that studying the lives of non-humans should not be for the lessons they seem to provide for our political purposes, but for the pleasure of knowing nature on its own terms--will be compelling reading for all naturalists, feminists and not-feminists alike."--Patricia Adair Gowaty, editor of Feminism and Evolutionary Biology "Marlene Zuk uniquely combines a great breadth of knowledge about the behavior of animals with an ability to challenge conventional wisdom. She also writes with a graceful style and a mischievous wit. The result is a bold, fresh and feminist book about how our sex lives evolved."--Matt Ridley, author of Genome "This is an engaging and much needed book, which I hope will be widely read."--Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, author of Mother Nature: Maternal Instincts and How They Shape the Human Species
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2002-12-01:
Zuk (Univ. of California, Riverside) has written an intriguing book on how our biases and social agendas influence our interpretations of animal behavior. Sexual behaviors in animals have been used, depending on one's ideology, to espouse either the stereotypical roles of men and women or the feminist agenda. Zuk argues that neither is scientifically sound. Instead, animals should be observed on their own terms and not be used to reflect people's preconceived ideas. The book is organized into three parts. The first describes how human stereotypes distort interpretations of animal behavior. A broader insight can be gained by using a female perspective, which expands the questions scientists ask and how they answer them. The second section describes how the incorrect view of the "ladder of life" influences our thinking. The fact that humans are closely related to other primates does not necessarily mean that our behaviors mirror theirs. The third section describes four human behaviors--female orgasm, menstruation, homosexuality, and spatial ability--and explores how they evolved and whether they are adaptive. Zuk presents her ideas in an engaging style that is highly recommended for anyone interested in the biology of the sexes. General readers; lower-division undergraduates through faculty. E. H. Rave Bemidji State University
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
New York Times Book Review, July 2002
Choice, December 2002
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
Scientific discoveries about the animal kingdom fuel ideological battles on many fronts, especially battles about sex and gender. We now know that male marmosets help take care of their offspring. Is this heartening news for today's stay-at-home dads? Recent studies show that many female birds once thought to be monogamous actually have chicks that are fathered outside the primary breeding pair. Does this information spell doom for traditional marriages? And bonobo apes take part in female-female sexual encounters. Does this mean that human homosexuality is natural? This highly provocative book clearly shows that these are the wrong kinds of questions to ask about animal behavior. Marlene Zuk, a respected biologist and a feminist, gives an eye-opening tour of some of the latest developments in our knowledge of animal sexuality and evolutionary biology. Sexual Selections exposes the anthropomorphism and gender politics that have colored our understanding of the natural world and shows how feminism can help move us away from our ideological biases. As she tells many amazing stories about animal behavior--whether of birds and apes or of rats and cockroaches--Zuk takes us to the places where our ideas about nature, gender, and culture collide. Writing in an engaging, conversational style, she discusses such politically charged topics as motherhood, the genetic basis for adultery, the female orgasm, menstruation, and homosexuality. She shows how feminism can give us the tools to examine sensitive issues such as these and to enhance our understanding of the natural world if we avoid using research to champion a feminist agenda and avoid using animals as ideological weapons. Zuk passionately asks us to learn to see the animal world on its own terms, with its splendid array of diversity and variation. This knowledge will give us a better understanding of animals and can ultimately change our assumptions about what is natural, normal, and even possible.
Long Description
Scientific discoveries about the animal kingdom fuel ideological battles on many fronts, especially battles about sex and gender. We now know that male marmosets help take care of their offspring. Is this heartening news for today's stay-at-home dads? Recent studies show that many female birds once thought to be monogamous actually have chicks that are fathered outside the primary breeding pair. Does this information spell doom for traditional marriages? And bonobo apes take part in female-female sexual encounters. Does this mean that human homosexuality is natural? This highly provocative book clearly shows that these are the wrong kinds of questions to ask about animal behavior. Marlene Zuk, a respected biologist and a feminist, gives an eye-opening tour of some of the latest developments in our knowledge of animal sexuality and evolutionary biology.Sexual Selectionsexposes the anthropomorphism and gender politics that have colored our understanding of the natural world and shows how feminism can help move us away from our ideological biases. As she tells many amazing stories about animal behavior--whether of birds and apes or of rats and cockroaches--Zuk takes us to the places where our ideas about nature, gender, and culture collide. Writing in an engaging, conversational style, she discusses such politically charged topics as motherhood, the genetic basis for adultery, the female orgasm, menstruation, and homosexuality. She shows how feminism can give us the tools to examine sensitive issues such as these and to enhance our understanding of the natural world if we avoid using research to champion a feminist agenda and avoid using animals as ideological weapons. Zuk passionately asks us to learn to see the animal world on its own terms, with its splendid array of diversity and variation. This knowledge will give us a better understanding of animals and can ultimately change our assumptions about what is natural, normal, and even possible.
Bowker Data Service Summary
In this text, Marlene Zuk exposes the anthropomorphism and gender politics that have coloured our understanding of the natural world and shows how feminism can help move us away from our ideological biases.
Main Description
Zuk is against using science as a weapon in the gender wars. This feminist animal behaviorist gives us a lively overview of non-human sexual behaviors, trying to right the biases that have plagued the study of the subject and warn us against using animals for our own political agendas.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Note on Species Namesp. xi
Introduction: An Ode to Witlessnessp. 1
Sexual Stereotypes and the Biases That Bind
Sex and the Death of a Loonp. 21
Substitute Stereotypes: The Myth of the Ecofeminist Animalp. 34
Selfless Motherhood and Other Unnatural Actsp. 47
DNA and the Meaning of Marriagep. 61
The Care and Management of Spermp. 76
Unnatural Myths
Sex and the Scala Naturae (Or, Worms in the Gutter)p. 93
Bonobos: Dolphins of the New Millenniump. 107
The Alpha Chickenp. 121
Human Evolutionary Perspectives
Soccer, Adaptation, and Orgasmsp. 139
Sacred or Cellular: The Meaning of Menstruationp. 153
That's Not Sex, They're Just Glad to See Each Otherp. 168
Can Voles Do Math?p. 184
Conclusion: Unnatural Boundariesp. 200
Selected Readingsp. 213
Referencesp. 219
Indexp. 229
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

This information is provided by a service that aggregates data from review sources and other sources that are often consulted by libraries, and readers. The University does not edit this information and merely includes it as a convenience for users. It does not warrant that reviews are accurate. As with any review users should approach reviews critically and where deemed necessary should consult multiple review sources. Any concerns or questions about particular reviews should be directed to the reviewer and/or publisher.

  link to old catalogue

Report a problem