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The Woman That Never Evolved

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  180 ratings  ·  19 reviews
What does it mean to be female? Sarah Blaffer Hrdy--a sociobiologist and a feminist--believes that evolutionary biology can provide some surprising answers. Surprising to those feminists who mistakenly think that biology can only work against women. And surprising to those biologists who incorrectly believe that natural selection operates only on males.

In The Woman That Ne
Paperback, Revised Edition with a New Preface and Bibliographical Updates, 304 pages
Published December 20th 1999 by Harvard University Press (first published December 12th 1981)
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Aug 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
More challenging than Mother Nature in two important ways: (1) technically, in that the vast bulk of the text focuses on (then) current primatological research, and (2) ideologically, in that it places the onus for feminist progress entirely on political/social reform by contemporary feminists (this she demonstrates is possible, pointing to status competition and other pre-political conduct by female primates), by showing that no pre-modern feminist paradise ever evolved. (The book is a little d ...more
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic book! Takes on the big questions not only of sociobiology but also of feminism: why male domination everywhere?, why women not bonding together?, why we look the way we do?, who's taking care of the kids?, what's going on with our supposed monogamy?, etc., etc.

Filled with about as much research data on primates as you can take, but beautifully curated with humor, drawings, and wisdom. I highly recommend this book for all: looking through a summative lens of our primate family
Mar 26, 2018 rated it liked it
I am sure this book was revolutionary back in the 80's, so people didn't mind that it's not that well-written, slow moving, and repetitive. Since pretty much none of these ideas were revolutionary to me (OMG women care about status and are actually quite hierarchical just in a different way than men?!) it was pretty boring.

On that note: When men ruled the world they fought wars honestly. You always knew who the winner was. Today's wars are secretive and sneaky and the masses never know what's re
Jan 29, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-math
I read this book on the recommendation of a colleague at work. She had read it in one of her anthropology courses during college. I therefore enjoyed reading it as much as I did partly because I knew there would be no exam at the end!

I was confused about the title until the very end of the book. Mostly, it is a discussion of various primate societies and the different sex roles they exhibit. The hope is that by studying our nearest genetic relations that we can begin to understand the developmen
May 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
I'm so spoiled by Natalie Angier. Hrdy's writing isn't at all the saucy romp that Angier's is, but it is due to scientists like Hrdy that Angier is able to write about topics like primate filandering in the first place.
The Woman That Never Evolved is a great look into some of the social-sexual workings of our near and dear primate cousins, and while the writing itself didn't have me in stitches, the content was more than sustainably fascinating.

Fun fact: Bird species are 90% monogamous, while ma
Dec 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: feminism
I liked this book overall but I thought that the focus of the book on apes and monkeys was overdone. It looked at how the evolution of the female monkeys can be used as a backdrop to explain the progress or lack of progress that has been made in homo sapien women. It got more and more interesting as the pages turned and the last section about sexuality of monkeys was pretty eye opening but overall I didn’t have that many best bits to report.
The book had chapters such as why some women never evo
Apr 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: evolution
This book is fascinating, well-written and -argued. Hrdy discusses female behavior in many species of primates and finds competition among them an important component of evolution. She argues that this quality forms a part of human character and should not be ignored in favor of the unfounded notion that women are essentially more cooperative than men. She concludes that women's very recently achieved social equality is fragile and should not be taken for granted, and that is for sure given rece ...more
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Uzun zamandır okumayı planladığım bir kitaptı. Dişilerin toy ve pasif olduğu fikrine karşı, dişilerin rekabetçi ve girişken olduklarını primatlar üzerinden anlatması çok değerli. Türler arası karşılaştırma yaparken, türleri yaşadıkları çevre üzerinden değerlendirerek sosyobiyoloji, primatoloji ve davranışsal ekoloji konularında bilgi veriyor. Yaşayışımızı anlamakta oldukça önemli bir kitap olduğunu düşünüyorum. Smuts'ın Evolutionary Origins of Patriarchy (1995) isimli makalesi ile de tamamlayıcı ...more
Jun 11, 2019 added it
Interesting stuff about primates but I don’t really get what she’s saying the implications are for humans, it felt like a lot of info dumping about monkeys and no payoff. Mother Nature was a way better ratio to me of monkey info vs human info
Nov 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scholarly
Really fascinating! I wish it was longer. I definitely want to read her other books now!
Sep 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I first read this book as an undergrad but to my dismay lost my copy in my many roommate shuffles and moves. I looked several times over the years for it and was overjoyed to snap up a new edition of it some years ago when it came back into print. I have re-read this book multiple times and it sparks new avenues of thought and understanding for me to this day.

A word of caution: Dr. Hrdy is a serious primatologist and this book is dense with facts. It is not a breezy, bedtime read. This book hel
Jan 11, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: have-e-book
This book brings the focus of evolutionary theory on women in stead of men, which, seeing the results, it desperately needed. There is a lot that can be gleemed on women and against stereotypes about women by looking at other primate females and using Darwin. That is hasn't been done before is a severe oversight.
My only wish is that it focussed a little bit less on monkeys - at some point I can't even keep them apart - and a little bit more on the implications for women. But even so, good book.
Oct 25, 2014 rated it did not like it
Mungkin saja saya bacanya sedang tidak fokus jadi buku ini rasanya... tidak menarik. Kebanyakan penjelasan tentang hewan-hewan primata ketimbang manusianya. Masuk akal sih kenapa lebih banyak membahas primata, tapi ya... bosan juga. :P
Jan 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful way to understand feminism and female sexuality. It is a comprehensive study of our closest primate relatives. It is honest and rational and beautiful and I admire Hrdy immensely. It gives voice to the kind of feminism that I feel
Nov 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I can't believe I'd never run across Hrdy until now. A feminist sensibility + evolutionary thinking grounded in actual science as opposed to speculation and surveys of American college undergrads=serious science win.
Jun 14, 2012 added it
Great incite into our odd behavior (especially regarding our teenage girls need to be socially dominant).
Diana Michele
May 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Anything and everything by Hrdy is worth reading. Excellent research!
May 31, 2007 marked it as to-read
the cover alone made me want to read this book.
Jun 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Terrible title, great book.
Erin Lenberg
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Sarah Blaffer Hrdy is an American anthropologist and primatologist who has made several major contributions to evolutionary psychology and sociobiology. She has been selected as one of the 21 “Leaders in Animal Behavior.”

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