Richard Prum, the author of “The Evolution of Beauty,” explains how who a female chooses to mate with can change the common traits that men show. Over time, women can change the evolutionary definition of maleness. Following is a transcript of the video.
I’m Richard Prum. I’m the William Robinson co-professor of ornithology at Yale University and I’m the author of “the Evolution of Beauty.”
So one of the things that’s really mysterious about people is the evolution of our cognitive complexity, our long childhoods, language, material culture — all of these things. And they take large amounts of investment in babies to get them to grow for a really long time.
This pattern of investment was only made possible by overcoming male violence in our primate ancestors. Male chimpanzees and gorillas routinely murder babies for their own sexual advantage when they take over a troop.
And this kind infanticide is really damaging to the sexual interest of the females.So one of the things that had to happen in human evolution was to solve the infanticide problem.
Human females have evolved or have used mate choice to transform maleness in a way that furthers their own sexual autonomy.
And this could have included preferring males that were smaller in relative body size. That were say not as large as gorillas.
That had smaller canine teeth. They didn’t have weapons in their faces like our chimpanzees ancestors.
So this is a kind of special way in which mate choice can remodel maleness in a way that furthers the sexual autonomy of the female.
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