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WSTA01H3 Lecture Notes - Sociobiology

Women's and Gender Studies
Course Code
Victoria Tahmasebi

of 3
L. Sept.21 st
-Anatomy is decisive.
-Basis for difference in mens and womens experiences.
1) Biological theories play central role in our understanding of both gender difference and
gender inequality.
2) They seem to look at objective scientific facts.
3) They seem to agree with our own observations. Males and females often agree to be from
different planets.
4) There is a certain conceptual tidiness to biological explanations (assure us)
-> social is natural-> social arrangement between men and women.
-fixed and changeable; natural = inequalities that exist
-inequalities stand from biological differences
-fixed and changeable and inevitable.
1) existing inequalities are not our fault, no one is to blame= work of nature.
2) we cannot be held responsible, its in our genes. Why biological
explanations are
3) no amount of political initiative, social reform and social spending will
change the differences of men and women.
Biological Theories
-back to late 19th century
-Darwins theory on the origins of species-> 1859
-Four key arguments of the Theory of Natural Selection:
1.Reproduction and natural environment.
2.Genes are passed from one generation to the next
Productively successful= higher chance of passing own genes.
3.Species adapt to their changing environment
4.Those characteristics that survive ten to become common in species.
-Argued if women are excluded from public life = good reason for it.
-Womens bodies have been diagnosed only for a natural purpose = reproduction.
- If women went to college they would fail to reproduce.
-Dr. Edward C. Clarke: 1873- Harvards eminent prof. of education.
-Women should be excluded from higher education because of the tremendous demands
made upon their bodies by reproduction.
-Women would be less attractive to men.
-The systematic study of the biological basics of all forms of social behaviour.
-Certain forms of behaviour maximize the reproductive success of the human species.
-They become genetically encoded within the human species.
-Male and Female develop reproductive strategies.
1) Why men are more promiscuous and women are more monogamous:
-Man produces billions of tiny sperms= men fertilize as many eggs as they can=
natural promiscuity.
-Females require 1 mating session= very choosy in mate selection.
-Women have a far greater investment in the reproductive process.
-Must choose men who will be the best parent.
2) Why some men rape:
-As a reproductive method.
-fulfill their reproductive drive (reproductive method of men who cant get any).
-If seduction doesnt work, then rape!
Problems with Socio-biology
1)It is teleological (reasoning back to fill existing theoretical homes).
2)It assumes there is only one explanation.
3)It uses data selectively.
4)Some arguments are just plain wrong.
5)Clearly conservative and androcentric (Placing masculine or male-identified point of
view as the norm.
6)It is anthropomorphic (It attributes human characteristics or behaviour to animals
or even vegetation).
EX: Could there be other explanations and reasons to certain acts and behaviours?
= rape-> in control, hatred towards women, power, establishes hierarchy.
EX: Reason both parents invest time in children = to pass on their genes-> purely financial
-Usually favour male dominance and uses it to show examples.
-Women will be incomplete without having children -> maternal instinct.