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Riv Biol. 2002 Sep-Dec;95(3):379-412.

The history of the human female inferiority ideas in evolutionary biology.

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Northwest State College, 22-600 State Rt 34, Archbold, Ohio 43502, USA.


A review of the prominent late 19th-century biological writings reveals that a major plank of early evolution theory was the belief that women were intellectually and physically inferior to men. Female inferiority was a logical conclusion of the Darwinian world view because males were believed to be exposed to far greater selective pressures than females, especially in war, competition for mates, food and clothing. Conversely, women were protected from selection by norms that required adult males provide for and protect women and children. Darwinists taught that as a result of this protection, natural selection operated far more actively on males than on females, producing male superiority in virtually all intellectual and skill areas. As a result, males became "more evolved" than women. The women inferiority doctrine is an excellent example of the fact that armchair logic often has been more important in building Darwinism than fossil and other empirical evidence.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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