Evolution's Rainbow: Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and People

Front Cover
University of California Press, 2004 - Nature - 474 pages
In this innovative celebration of diversity and affirmation of individuality in animals and humans, Joan Roughgarden challenges accepted wisdom about gender identity and sexual orientation. A distinguished evolutionary biologist, Roughgarden takes on the medical establishment, the Bible, social science--and even Darwin himself. She leads the reader through a fascinating discussion of diversity in gender and sexuality among fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals, including primates. Evolution's Rainbow explains how this diversity develops from the action of genes and hormones and how people come to differ from each other in all aspects of body and behavior. Roughgarden reconstructs primary science in light of feminist, gay, and transgender criticism and redefines our understanding of sex, gender, and sexuality. Witty, playful, and daring, this book will revolutionize our understanding of sexuality.

Roughgarden argues that principal elements of Darwinian sexual selection theory are false and suggests a new theory that emphasizes social inclusion and control of access to resources and mating opportunity. She disputes a range of scientific and medical concepts, including Wilson's genetic determinism of behavior, evolutionary psychology, the existence of a gay gene, the role of parenting in determining gender identity, and Dawkins's "selfish gene" as the driver of natural selection. She dares social science to respect the agency and rationality of diverse people; shows that many cultures across the world and throughout history accommodate people we label today as lesbian, gay, and transgendered; and calls on the Christian religion to acknowledge the Bible's many passages endorsing diversity in gender and sexuality. Evolution's Rainbow concludes with bold recommendations for improving education in biology, psychology, and medicine; for democratizing genetic engineering and medical practice; and for building a public monument to affirm diversity as one of our nation's defining principles.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
1
4 stars
2
3 stars
2
2 stars
0
1 star
0

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - setnahkt - LibraryThing

Very mixed feelings about this one. Biologist Joan Roughgarden (who used to be Jonathan Roughgarden and who therefore has some personal insight into the situation), probably annoyed at being preached ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - MarthaJeanne - LibraryThing

As a transgendered woman, the author has a different take on the issues of gender and sexuality from most biology professors. Very interesting. I'm not sure I agree with all of her conclusions, but much of the time she makes a lot of sense. Read full review

Contents

ANIMAL RAINBOWS
11
HUMAN RAINBOWS
183
CULTURAL RAINBOWS
327
POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS
401
NOTES
409
INDEX
461
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2004)

Joan Roughgarden is Professor of Biological Sciences at Stanford University. She is the author of Primer of Ecological Theory (1998), Anolis Lizards of the Caribbean: Ecology, Evolution, and Plate Tectonics (1995), and Theory of Population Genetics and Evolutionary Ecology: An Introduction (1979).

Bibliographic information