The Caveman Mystique
Pop-Darwinism and the Debates Over Sex, Violence, and Science
Routledge – 2008 – 176 pages
Routledge – 2008 – 176 pages
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 rise of pop-Darwinism's assertions about male sexuality and their appeal to many men, Martha McCaughey shows how evolutionary discourse can get lived out as the biological truth of male sexuality.
Although evolutionary scientists want to use their theories to solve social problems, evolutionary narratives get invoked by men looking for a Darwinian defense of bad-boy behaviors. McCaughey argues that evolution has nearly replaced religion as a moral guide for understanding who we are and what we must overcome to be good people.
Bringing together insights from the fields of science studies, body studies, feminist theory and queer theory, The Caveman Mystique offers a fresh understanding of science, science popularization, and the impact of science on men's identities making a convincing case for deconstructing, rather than defending, the caveman.
"The Caveman Mystique sits at the intersection of feminism, cultural studies, science studies, and sociology of the body. As such, it would be an excellent monograph to assign in a class addressing any of these or their intersections. More generally, HBE logic, whether we want it to or not, infuses all of our classrooms. In this sense, we all have an opportunity to question "the [exclusive] right of scientists to comment on complex cultural practices" (p. 128) and to insist on the importance of feminist sociological contributions. For anyone who desires to do so, this book is an excellent way to catch up on the politics and poetics of this compelling and pervasive mythology." -- Lisa Wade, Gender and Society, April 2008
"…McCaughey seeks to shift our understanding of science from a practice and methodology evaluated by objective standards to a cultural discourse influences by social relations and power." --Feminist Collections, Vol. 29, No. 3-4, Summer-Fall 2008
Introduction: Welcome Back to the Caveman Times 1. Sperm Wars, Sex Wars and Science Wars 2. Homo Resurrectus: The Theory of Evolution as a Moral Answer for Men 3. Homo Habitus: Evolution, Popular Culture and the Embodied Ethos of Male Sexuality 4. Homo Sexual: Perverting Evolutionary Stories of Male Sexuality 5. Homo Textual: A Missing Link between Science and Culture
Martha McCaughey is Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies and Director of Women's Studies at Appalachian State University. In 1999 she was named the Emerging Woman Scholar in the U.S. by the American Association of University Women.