Why Sex Matters: A Darwinian Look at Human Behavior

From: Larry Klaes (lklaes@bbn.com)
Date: Thu Jan 06 2000 - 12:55:31 MST

Date: Tue, 28 Dec 1999 09:05:43 -0500
From: Listserv@www.pupress.princeton.edu
Subject: New from Princeton University Press

For Members of Princeton University Press's E-mail List for
Biological Sciences
Gender Studies

We are pleased to send you the following information about this
newly published book:

Why Sex Matters
A Darwinian Look at Human Behavior
Bobbi S. Low

Why are men, like other primate males, usually the aggressors
and risk takers? Why do women typically have fewer sexual
partners? Why is killing infants routine in some cultures, but
forbidden in others? Why is incest everywhere taboo? Bobbi Low
ranges from ancient Rome to modern America, from the Amazon to
the Arctic, and from single-celled organisms to international
politics to show that these and many other questions about
human behavior largely come down to evolution and sex. More
precisely, as she shows in this uniquely comprehensive and
accessible survey of behavioral and evolutionary ecology, they
come down to the basic principle that all organisms evolved to
maximize their reproductive success and seek resources to do

Low begins by reviewing the fundamental arguments and
assumptions of behavioral ecology: selfish genes, conflicts of
interest, and the tendency for sexes to reproduce through
different behaviors. She explains why in primate species-from
chimpanzees and apes to humans-males seek to spread their genes
by devoting extraordinary efforts to finding mates, while
females find it profitable to expend more effort on parenting.
Low illustrates these sexual differences among humans by
showing that in places as diverse as the parishes of
nineteenth-century Sweden, the villages of seventeenth-century
China, and the forests of twentieth-century Brazil, men have
tended to seek power and resources, from cattle to money, to
attract mates, while women have sought a secure environment for
raising children. She makes it clear, however, they have not
done so simply through individual efforts or in a vacuum, but
that men and women act in complex ways that involve cooperation
and coalition building and that are shaped by culture,
technology, tradition, and the availability of resources. Low
also considers how the evolutionary drive to acquire resources
leads to environmental degradation and warfare and asks whether
our behavior could be channeled in more constructive ways.

Why Sex Matters is a compelling work of biology, sociology, and
anthropology and a penetrating study of the deep motivations
that underlie individual and social behavior.

At the University of Michigan, Bobbi S. Low is Professor of
Resource Ecology at the School of Natural Resources and
Environment, Associate Director of the Population Environment
Dynamics Program, and Faculty Associate at several centers
within the Institute for Social Research. She is an associate
editor for Politics and the Life Sciences and for Population
and Environment. She is the author, with Alice Clarke and Ken
Lockridge, of Family Patterns in Nineteenth-Century Sweden.

0-691-02895-8 Cloth $29.95 US and L18.95 UK
328 pages, 6 x 9, 18 line illus., 3 halftones, 2 tables.
Princeton University Press

If you wish to place an order, we encourage you to do so through your
local bookseller. If that is not possible, you can order through our
website by clicking on the link above.

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