If you need an accessible version of this item please contact JSTOR User Support

Making Males Aggressive and Females Coy: Gender across the Animal-Human Boundary

Erika Lorraine Milam
Signs
Vol. 37, No. 4, Sex: A Thematic Issue (Summer 2012), pp. 935-959
DOI: 10.1086/664474
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/664474
Page Count: 25
  • Download PDF
  • Cite this Item

You are not currently logged in.

Access your personal account or get JSTOR access through your library or other institution:

login

Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

If you need an accessible version of this item please contact JSTOR User Support
Making Males Aggressive and Females Coy: Gender across the Animal-Human Boundary
Preview not available

Abstract

AbstractSexual selection, as conceived by Charles Darwin, explained the origins of phenomena in the animal kingdom that could not be attributed to natural selection—why males and females differed in their appearance and behavior and the presence of beauty. Yet, in the early decades of the twentieth century, few biologists found Darwin’s proposed mechanism of female mate choice plausible, as they rejected the idea that animals possessed the capacity to aesthetically evaluate and choose a mate. Animals in the early twentieth century instead functioned as mechanical foils against which zoologists sought to define what it was to be human. After World War II, however, animals as social beings became sources for understanding our human instincts. Men were quickly bestialized because of their association with aggressive, warlike behavior, whereas women were exempted from such degenerate stereotypes. Yet, less than a decade later, biological anthropologists and zoologists began to frame female animals as equally manipulative, albeit by acting sexually coy and exercising their natural prerogative—female mate choice. Aggressive males and coy females were active constructions of the post-WWII period, not passive importations from Darwin’s theory of sexual selection over a century earlier. This article interweaves two polarities, animal and human, male and female, to elucidate the evolution of biological constructions of animality and gender throughout the twentieth century.

Page Thumbnails

  • Thumbnail: Page 
1
    1
  • Thumbnail: Page 
2
    2
  • Thumbnail: Page 
3
    3
  • Thumbnail: Page 
4
    4
  • Thumbnail: Page 
5
    5
  • Thumbnail: Page 
6
    6
  • Thumbnail: Page 
7
    7
  • Thumbnail: Page 
8
    8
  • Thumbnail: Page 
9
    9
  • Thumbnail: Page 
10
    10
  • Thumbnail: Page 
11
    11
  • Thumbnail: Page 
12
    12
  • Thumbnail: Page 
13
    13
  • Thumbnail: Page 
14
    14
  • Thumbnail: Page 
15
    15
  • Thumbnail: Page 
16
    16
  • Thumbnail: Page 
17
    17
  • Thumbnail: Page 
18
    18
  • Thumbnail: Page 
19
    19
  • Thumbnail: Page 
20
    20
  • Thumbnail: Page 
21
    21
  • Thumbnail: Page 
22
    22
  • Thumbnail: Page 
23
    23
  • Thumbnail: Page 
24
    24
  • Thumbnail: Page 
25
    25