Tagged Sex differences

Blowback

Women After All cover hi res reducedMy new book—Women After All: Sex, Evolution, and the End of Male Supremacy, published by Norton on March 9th—has produced some highly predictable, in fact predicted, reactions.

I’d written on p. 17, “this book will have something to offend almost everyone.” Three of the four groups I mentioned specifically were those (not all) feminists who deny that any important things about men’s and women’s behavior are influenced by biology; discouraged women who think I exaggerate the pace of change; and of course, the flat-earthers who think evolution didn’t happen and won’t read past the subtitle.

But the nastiest blowback by far has been from men. The first wave  Read more

Women After All

Sex, Evolution, and the End of Male Supremacy

Published by W. W. Norton & Company, March 9, 2015

“This beautifully written, exquisitely conceived book should provoke spirited debate among all audiences, from researchers to general readers.”—Cynthia Fox, Library Journal

“Engaging and provocative…a virtuoso performance.”Bookpage

Women After All cover hi res medium

“Mel Konner has written a lively, readable, feminist book arguing that the complementarity of the sexes is returning and women are forging ahead as the historic anomaly of male dominance is ending.”  Louise Lamphere, University of New Mexico, Current Anthropology,  August 2015*

“A sparkling, thought-provoking account of sexual differences. Whether you’re a man or a woman, you’ll find his conclusions gripping.”—Jared Diamond, UCLA, author of Guns, Germs, and Steel and The World Until Yesterday

Women After All is astonishingly insightful…It is the best available examination of how and why men and women differ and how 21st century humans can use this knowledge to forge a better world.”—Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, University of California, Davis, author of Mother Nature, Mothers and Others, and The Woman That Never Evolved

“Sweeping, ambitious and eminently readable, Konner’s Women After All tours the sciences to harness the most contemporary offerings of biology, physiology, sociology and psychology to craft an argument that women are not only different from men, but perhaps even better. A compelling and thought-provoking read for men and women alike.”—Lisa Sanders, M.D., New York Times columnist and Associate Professor, Yale School of Medicine

Women After All describes what future historians will surely recognize as one of the momentous transformations in the human saga…Engagingly written and persuasively argued, it shows how an acknowledgment of human nature combined with a long view of history can advance the human condition.”—Steven Pinker, Harvard University, author of The Blank Slate and The Better Angels of Our Nature

“For a young woman just about to embark on adult life…reading this book is imperative…it will make sense of the world and human behavior and empower my daughter to deal with the constant blizzard of antifemale sentiment that is surely roaring her way…Women After All is the manifesto that will remind these young women, as well as us older ones, to be fierce. Always, every minute of every day—unstoppable.”  Meredith Small, Cornell University, Current Anthropology,  August 2015*

“Konner raises vital questions eloquently and with depth. We are in his debt.”  Lionel Tiger, Rutgers University, Current Anthropology,  August 2015*

“An urgent message for women—and men…a brave book.”  Camilla Power, Times Higher Education Supplemement,  March 2015

“As I read, I was challenged on almost every page. Where I didn’t agree, I needed to think hard. Where I agreed, I was presented with new facts and surprising implications. All in all, just what you want from a book: a fluent, provocative, well-argued engagement with a lively mind.”—Sherry Turkle, MIT, author of Alone Together, Life on the Screen, and The Second Self

“Witty, well paced, packed with useful information…This is fascinating stuff, about which we are learning a lot more every year, and Konner lays it out with a fine blend of science and anecdote and a virtuoso mastery of detail.”  Paul Seabright, Times Literary Supplement 15 May 2015

“Konner tells a convincing story with a breadth of research to sustain it. He anticipates counterarguments, is not afraid to offend…and brilliantly shows us the bright new world that we could really have were women’s capacities as biologically given truly recognized for what they are.”  Unni Wikan, University of Oslo, Current Anthropology,  August 2015*

Women After All is the definition of a provocative page-turner…Konner’s writing is clear and light, but this  should not be mistaken for simplicity. Nearly every page presents a scientific finding, tucked between his humorous turns of phrase and well-crafted interpretations.”  Justin R. Garcia, The Kinsey Institute, Current Anthropology,  August 2015*

“Dr. Konner…makes a powerful case for a provocative thesis: that women are, in nearly every way that really matters, superior to men…In making this argument, he ranges from evolutionary biology through ethology, neurobiology, embryology, anthropology and history, with digressions into economics and politics. Not many people could pull this off—but Dr. Konner does… The author’s descriptions of the natural world are erudite and enthusiastic… But the crux of Dr. Konner’s narrative concerns human beings… You might want to argue with the seeming stridency of Dr. Konner’s thesis, but if so, you need to read his book first.” David Barash, The Wall Street Journal, August 3, 2015

“Melvin Konner, a distinguished anthropologist…maintains in this entertaining book that, when it comes to the evolutionary race, men are definitely the weaker sex. What’s more, he says, the sooner we wake up to this reality and adjust our world accordingly, the happier all of us will be.” Kathryn Hughes, Mail on Sunday (and Irish Mail on Sunday), 26 April, 2015

“Konner has written a volume rich in examples, concepts, and insights. Whether or not you agree with his recommendations, you will find much to foster continued and deep debate about the changing and gendered human condition.”  Peter B. Gray, University of Nevada,, Current Anthropology,  August 2015*

“A society in which women are allowed to speak and be heard on equal terms with men is one that has a shot at the kind of decent and democratic future Konner is looking for.” Joanna Scutts, The Washington Post, April 17, 2015

“A wide-ranging, absorbing, and thoughtful account of the many sources of sex differences, from the earliest organisms through to the modern world.” Margery Lucas, “Difference Feminism Now,” Society 52:499-502, 2015.

“A thorough overview of the literature on sex and evolution that is accessible to readers without a strong background in evolutionary theory.” Ashley N. Peterson and Amanda E. Guitar, Evolutionary Psychology, 2015:1-3.

* One of six full-length book reviews published simultaneously in a forum in Current Anthropology.

 

 

Wife-Wooing*

It’s easier when you remember that it’s about love.

contemplator-couple-1b1A posting by Psychology Today blogger Anita Kelly produced a lively discussion (including some prudish comments on masturbation). The basic idea was that your wife is tired and resents you because she does much more of the chores and child care than you. But there also seemed to be an honest recognition of a fact that’s been proven as well as any fact about sex differences: average women desire sex less than average men. (See “Sex Differences in…Sex “). But Dr. Kelly seems to want all the compromises from him: Read more

Sex Differences in…Sex

634963_49660373-copyNote: By invitation, I’ve started a blog on the Psychology Today website, and my latest post can be read there or here, although different (and likely more numerous) comments will be  posted there. This entry resembles and updates one I posted here in March 2009, which was followed by an interesting exchange on “insatiable widows” and other cross-cultural myths.

We hear a lot about sex differences, and arguments rage over which are real. Evolutionary theorists weigh in about why this or that difference should be expected, while some anthropologists say cultures vary so much that generalizations are folly. But of all Darwinian predictions about la différence, few are as logical as the one about sex differences in sexuality. Here’s why. Read more

Alice Rossi

rossialiceMy friend and colleague Alice Schaerr Rossi, a co-founder of the National Organization for Women and one of the leading sociologists of her generation, died on November 3 at age 87.

For a few years in the ‘70s and ‘80s, I worked with her and Jane Lancaster, a distinguished anthropologist now at the University of New Mexico and editor of the journal Human Nature, on a committee of the Social Science Research Council, and both of them affected my thinking about gender. Read more

Men, Women, and Iran: An Exchange

My friend and colleague Prof. David Blumenthal wrote this comment on my last posting, and I try to answer it below.

Dear Mel,

I’m not sure I agree that educating women is the way to go. As long as Islamic
men have the following cluster of problems, no amount of women’s education
will work:

(1) Islamic men have no empowerment – not economic, not religious, not
political, etc. This is also why Arabs can’t negotiate a peace; they have to
be empowered, to win. (2) Islamic men believe that submission is the
ultimate value – for themselves and especially for those who defy them. Read more

Insatiable Widows: More Gender & Sex

In response to my last posting, “Sex Lives, Male and Female,” reader Clare wrote this thoughtful comment:

“I’m curious what you make of the ethnographic accounts from cultures where widows are considered to be insatiable sex fiends? Is this how fear of women expresses itself, that they become more interested in sex than is considered usual? Or is there some truth to the folklore? Is there any evidence that sexual interest waxes and wanes (so to speak) over the life course of men and women?”

I thought it well worth answering at length: Read more

Sarah Palin: Evolutionary Psychology and Cultural Anthropology

McCain’s VP Pick Makes Darwinian and Boasian Sense

Sarah Palin takes aimShock and awe. That had to be one thought in McCain’s mind when he picked a little-known governor of Alaska–the state one pundit called an overgrown igloo–to stand a heartbeat away from his seat in the Oval Office, his age and cancer history be damned.
Read more

“Evil Genes”

Evil is real, and so are evil genes.

Today I stumbled on a C-SPAN presentation by Barbara Oakley about her book Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother’s Boyfriend. I haven’t read the book, but it evidently overlaps with many things I’ve long thought and written myself, in The Tangled Wing and elsewhere.
Read more