Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Darwin and Women

What would Darwin have to say about women's rights activists? As discussed in lecture, there is a very clear and definable thread throughout his 'Origin of Species' that connects his theory to themes in Victorian society. But as those societal values began to shift, does this mean that Darwin's theory is not longer applicable? Or does his theory also shift alongside culture? Does evolutionary Theory itself evolve?

Darwin proposed sexual selection as a disclaimer for natural selection as it was not able to encompass all areas of evolutionary life. The Victorian values of a man courting a woman, a male fighting for/conquering the female is considered to be not completely outdated today, however it is viewed upon as a more traditional means of 'sexual selection.' However, these ideals today have evolved; Women gained the Vote in 1919, they gained 'control' over their sexuality in the 1960s and today, they are CEO's and influential leaders. What would Darwin have said to this? Does his theory have to change in order to accommodate these new social norms? In order to understand Darwin's 'Origins' we must familiarize ourselves with Victorian Era values - which isn't so hard as it is part of our ancestry as a former British nation. But what about those who do not have an understanding or a recollection of the Victorian Social Strata? How does one apply Darwinism in that setting? This is a flaw with Darwin, as it is a flaw with all of us - that we are a product of our times - our surroundings, our nature and our nurture. However, despite that disclaimer, Darwin cannot apply something that is era-specific to his theory on multi-era generations/formations/origins. It cannot and will not apply. Victorian values were not present in Homo Sapiens Sapiens, so why is it present in his 'Origin of Species'? Mr Darwin's own gap-filler for natural selection has undone his whole theory.

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