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

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  33 Ratings  ·  10 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
Mar 24, 2013 rated it liked it
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.
May 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
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.
Liz H
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cultural-theory
Interesting look at how evolutionary psychology influences particular modes of masculinity, by extension revealing the influence of science on modern and postmodern identities, and the role of popular culture in scientism. A critique of certain contemporary masculinities which acknowledges the harm done to men as well as women by "caveman masculinity" and affirms the potential for positive reconstruction of more liberated, fulfilling and democratic masculinities.

More broadly, this book delves i
J.P. Drury
Jan 04, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Melissa Yael Winston
Oct 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Jul 28, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: politics, science
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
Feb 01, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 28, 2008 marked it as to-read
Oh goodie! More bad science to read about! I love it!
Mar 12, 2016 rated it liked it
Some parts of this book are super interesting - but I wish it was more in-depth in its unpacking of HBE and caveman portrayals in the media.
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