Who’s Afraid of Charles Darwin?: Debating Feminism and Evolutionary Theory

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There are many feminist theories and each of them is informed by different sources. There is overlap of where various feminists get to their conclusions but there continues to be unending variations. Griet Vandermassen the author of Who’s Afraid of Charles Darwin?: Debating Feminism and Evolutionary Theory seeks to draw feminists attention towards science as a new source of information to help understand women’s roles and to reinforce women’s rights to equality. She outlines her intentions and her reasons for the book and follows it with an exhaustive argument. Comparing her work to other feminist viewpoints especially views from other women in the sciences helps to shed light on the weaknesses of her argument. Vandermassen is unable to successfully argue the benefits of incorporating a Darwinian feminist viewpoint in feminist ideology. Vandermassen made the decision to write the book after realizing how her own views of feminism and human sexuality were incorrect because she had not used a Darwinian perspective to shape her views. She erroneously believed that all people were born bisexual and the majority chose to maintain heterosexual relationships because of cultural conditioning. When through research she discovered the mistakes in her worldview and saw that many others had been labouring under the same misconceptions. She feels that many feminists see science as a completely patriarchal construct which has nothing that can be used to enhance feminist thinking. Vandermassen spends the first five chapters of her book outlining the scientific theories she feels feminists should pay more attention too. She also describes and critiques feminists who have argued against them. She looks at how Darwinian theories have been interpr... ... middle of paper ... ...nt for feminists to recognize science and how it can be used to better the lives of women. Vandermassen fails to do this as she is stuck needing an irrefutable explanation for behaviour. As a result she trivializes differences and interprets commonly found behaviours in a way which displays them positively such as women actively seeking a wealthy partner by labelling the activity choice. In doing so she forces women into stereotypical roles which rob them of their autonomy by forcing them to be dependants. She also unnecessarily blinds herself to the diversity possible in science if socially centred feminist thought it allowed to enter the discussion by ascertaining that women are considered when research is done on products they will be expected to use. Vandermassen is ultimately trapped within her Darwinian feminism and is unable to see the potential beyond it.

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