The Caveman Mystique: Pop-Darwinism and the Debates Over Sex, Violence, and Science
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The Caveman Mystique: Pop-Darwinism and the Debates Over Sex, Violence, and Science

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  21 ratings  ·  8 reviews
Has evolution made men promiscuous skirt chasers? Pop-Darwinian claims about men's irrepressible heterosexuality have become increasingly common, and increasingly common excuses for men's sexual aggression. The Caveman Mystique traces such claims about the hairier sex through evolutionary science and popular culture. After outlining the social and historical context of the...more
Paperback, 167 pages
Published October 19th 2007 by Routledge (first published January 1st 2006)
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Steve Wiggins
An important book, but will men who need to read it do so? Not all men are socialized the same, although I had to admit seeing some reflections of myself at points. Still, a vital message to correct a worldview that allows for men to get away with far too much. See further comments here: Sects and Violence in the Ancient World.
Suspicious of evolutionary just-so stories about gender roles in the popular press? Able to deal with post-structuralist queer-theory sociology of science lingo? There are some excellent points in here, though I wonder if they'll get through to everyone she'd like to persuade. Requires too much background knowledge for undergraduates, but good for academics who care about the topic.
J.P. Drury
At the end of this book, it's still not entirely clear what McCaughey wants. 13 pages before the end, she does say "We must demand not only better science from the HBE theorists, but a better understanding of science in our culture at large." Well who doesn't agree with this?

She does make some compelling arguments. For one, the notion that men can embody some false narrative about their caveman tendencies (i.e. what she refers to as the Caveman Mystique) is no doubt a problem. Furthermore, that...more
Well-cited examples point out why the caveman is both present today and obsolete. Gist: Think things through.

The author draws on diverse sources, using anecdotes, quotation, and logic to move forward. I would lose track of where is forward on account of the diversity of those sources. And, then, the next paragraph of logic would things back together for me.

Three instead of four stars because of my inability to follow the thesis in each paragraph / chapter / whole book. It was, however, enjoyable...more
I am slowly but surely making my way through this book, not because it is poorly-written, but because it is so dense! It is packed with information in every sentence, and this makes it tough to wade through. McCaughey is just the voice we need these days, because of her schooling in both HBE and social science makes her uniquely qualified to give critiques of both, though this book focuses on the disinterest of some HBE scholars to work alongside social scientists to account for the impact the s...more
Although I essentially agree with the author's viewpoint, I thought it was a little dull at times. Chapters one to three felt like an extended introduction, and I feel like I read the phrase "In this chapter I will be discussing X, using Y's theory of Z" far too many times. Chapter four was a little wacky, with the author attempting to find an evolutionary justification for impotence and homosexuality. The book finished fairly strongly. I just wish that she'd spent more time picking apart evo-ps...more
Melissa Baggett
A good commentary on how aggressive male sexual behavior is excused with erroneous claims to a "caveman mystique," whereby acts such as infidelity, sexual harassment, ogling and rape can be excused as adaptive evolutionary behaviors designed to propagate the species. McCaughey does a good job of showing, first of all, that these behaviors are not necessarily adaptive as well as showing that scientific claims to evolution are steeped in a political, hetero-normative (and heterosexist) climate tha...more
Sep 28, 2008 Eileen marked it as to-read
Oh goodie! More bad science to read about! I love it!
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