…even though you damn well better, if you ever want to make any pronouncement about sex/gender and behavior in the animal kingdom.
Department Of I Am Woman Hear Me Roar 
The book club moiself is hosting – so unprecedentedly named, “Book Club” – is reading a book that, despite being entertaining in and of itself, has some of the more enthusiastic and engaging reviews I’ve run across in years.
But there is one adjective (most of) the reviews have left out. Time and time again they mention how educational and entertaining the book is – you’ll laugh, you’ll gasp, you’ll shake your head and say WTF?!?!? – but they left out the anger part. As in, for all readers with an IQ above their shoe size, this book should also, IMO, make you angry. Angry in that the information contained in it is considered new and/or controversial to some people; angry that, even in the sciences, in fields of (supposedly) open inquiry, so many minds were closed for so many years and so many prejudices and social mores were passed along as biological realities.
From what I’ve written, and from the review excerpts (my emphases) which follow, can you guess the subject of the book? 
“Fun, informative and revolutionary all at once…should be required reading in school. After reading this book one will never look at an orca, an albatross, or a human the same way again. And the world will be better for it.”
( Agustin Fuentes, professor of anthropology at Princeton University)
“….blows two centuries of sexist myths right out of biology. Prepare to learn a lot -and laugh out loud. A beautifully written, very funny and deeply important book.”
( Alice Roberts, author of Evolution )
“astonishing, wildly entertaining, and massively important.”
(Mary Roach, American popular science author )
“An important corrective to the ‘accidental sexism’ baked into so many biological studies… [and] a clarion call that the remaining terra incognita of female biology merits far more comprehensive mapping.”
( Financial Times )
“[An] effervescent exposé… [A] playful, enlightening tour of the vanguard of evolutionary biology.”
( Scientific American )
“… shows what a difference women make to scientific inquiry, asking questions and proposing studies their male colleagues didn’t think of — or didn’t bother with.”
( Bethanne Patrick, LA Times )
“By analyzing numerous animals, this sparkling attack on scientific sexism draws on many scientists — of multiple genders — to correct stereotypes of the active male versus passive female.”
( Nature )
“In compelling and often hilarious prose, using the scientific authority she has earned as a trained biologist…(the author) confronts the long history of androcentric assumptions baked into evolutionary biology and begins to set the record straight.”
( Jessie Rack, Science )
“…demolishes much of what you probably learned about the sexes in biology class. This may be disconcerting, even confronting for those who feel comfortable in the warm embrace of Darwinian order. But it’s also exciting, and fascinating, and very well might change the way you see the world.”
( Science News )
“…dives into sex and gender across the animal kingdom, dispelling all the misogynist notions of females being the weaker sex…This book elevates not just the science itself but the scientists that have been marginalized for too long.”
( Lucy Roehrig, Booklist )
“In this delightful, revelatory survey of cross-species sexism, (the author) treats readers to an information-dense reframing of the many misunderstandings around sex and sexuality that burden ‘girls’ of all kinds. Come for the promise of some really neat nature facts. Stay for Cooke picking apart the misogynistic underpinnings of Charles Darwin’s fundamentally flawed theory of evolution.
( AV Club )
“A dazzling, funny and elegantly angry demolition of our preconceptions about female behaviour and sex in the animal kingdom… I read it, my jaw sagging in astonishment, jotting down favourite parts to send to friends and reading out snippets gleefully.”
( The Observer )
“The author has a charmingly irreverent style that, among other things, pokes holes in the sexist scientific research of old that used cherry-picked data to conclude females weren’t worth studying.”
( Publishers Weekly )
“A top-notch book of natural science that busts myths as it entertains.”
( Kirkus )
“Brilliant… readers will never see the world the same way again… inspires awe in the breathtaking diversity of nature and the evolutionary roots of our behaviour.”
( Times Literary Supplement )
“A glorious rebuttal of everything we have believed about gender since Charles Darwin got it all wrong.”
( Daily Mirror )
* * *
Since 99% of us have had a least some exposure to Darwin’s works on evolution (On The Origin of the Species; The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex), we owe it to ourselves to read the scientific updates/corrections that have been over 160 years in the making.
In other words, if you *think* you know at least something about natural selection and animal behavior, you need to read this book.
“…since Charles Darwin got it all wrong.”
Pay close attention to that review fragment.
Darwin didn’t get it *all* wrong. He and his peers,  whose work led us to the beginning of understanding evolutionary biology, were able to challenge the substantial religious barriers of their time and publish their findings. But when it came to sex and species, they were still men of their times, emphasis on both men and times. They were unable to shed, nor even recognize, their blinkered, Victorian male mindset when it came to observations of pronouncements about the females of the species they studied – any and all species which used sexual reproduction. 
Except that they mostly *didn’t* study the females of the species.
One of the most encouraging aspects of science is that, being science, it progresses. Contemporatry scientists add on to the knowledge of the past, and correct the errors. Still, this progress is often glacial, as science was done and continues to be done by human beings, with their flawed assumptions and hidden (even – especially – to themselves) biases. Broadening the scope of knowledge and correcting errors can takes many years, and in the case of Victorian male scientists projecting their cultural assumptions and male privilege onto that of their theories and observations (or lack thereof) re females, it has taken tens of decades – approaching two centuries – for the “phallocracy of evolutionary biology” to be challenged in theory and overturned by the evidence.
Closing in on 200 years after Darwin and Wallace began organizing their theories of evolution, the old boys network many contemporary male scientists still hold on to the past. Even when presented with the DNA analysis confirming what ethologists and biologists observed in the field – that, for example, in the nest of the assumedly monogamous/pair-bonded songbirds, only two of the clutch of the female’s six eggs are actually fathered by the male of the pair – some scientists still cling to the myth that only the males of a species are promiscuous. The lower their blinders; they protest and bluster and try to explain away the evidence right under their prudish noses. 
“Even the most original and meticulous scientists are not immune to the influence of culture…. The leading academic minds of the Victorian era considered the sexes to be radically different creatures – essentially polar opposites of one another. females were believed to experience arrested development; they resembled the young of their species by being smaller and less colorful…. Essentially, males were considered to be more evolved than females.
These sentiments were all incorporate by Darwin into The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, which, as the title suggests, used sexual and natural selection to explain human evolution and the sex differences upheld by Victorian society.
‘The chief distinction in the intellectual powers of the two sexes is shewn by man’s attaining to a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than can woman – whether requiring deep thought, reason or imagination, or merely the use of the senses and hands,’ explained Darwin. ‘Thus, man has ultimately become superior to woman.’
Darwin’s theory of sexual selection was incubated in misogyny, so it is little wonder that the female animal came out deformed, as marginalized and misunderstood as a Victorian housewife.
….because of (Darwin’s) godlike reputation, biologists who followed in his wake have suffered from a chronic case of confirmation bias. They looked for evidence in support of the passive female prototype, and saw only what they wanted to see.”
( excerpts iv-xv, Introduction, Bitch: On The Female of the Species )
Moiself’s summary/teaser for the book. In Bitch… you will learn how the sexist scientific research of old
* projected their cultural assumptions and male privilege on to that of their theories and observations
* ignored and/or marginalized the science (and scientists) which contradicted their inherited stereotypes of the active male versus passive female
*used cherry-picked data to conclude females weren’t worth studying, and ultimately defined the females of species in terms of the males 
*drew conclusions from studying male animals’ behaviors – and even anatomies – which they applied to females
These points cannot be emphasized enough. Thus, I intend to do so, at least 23 times per post, in every blog of mine from here on out.
* * *
Department Of Moiself’s Favorite Story From This Book Full of Favorite Stories
From Bitch’s Chapter Four: Fifty Ways to Eat Your Lover: the conundrum of sexual cannibalism.
“Most people don’t think of the word flamboyant when describing a spider… (however) the male peacock spider is the Liberace of the arachnid world – an outrageous peformer who just like his avian namesake, employs an estraordinary iridescent tail-fan to win his mate….
When approaching a female…this fuzzy little four millimetre wonder stages an unexpectedly elaborate dance routine by abruptly lifting his furry abdomen into a vertical position and unfurling two shimmering flaps decorated with graphic blues, oranges and reds that could have been designed by Gianni Versace. This peacock arachnid wagles his gaudy butt-fan whilst bobbing his body up and down, stomping his feet and waving a pair of oversize legs in the air. This exhuberant toutine, part Fred Astaire and part Village People, can go on for up to an hour until he’s close enough to make his move.
It is an undeniably charming spectacle, made all the more endearing by the fact that the peacock male is, of course, dancing for his life. Up to three quarters of peacock suitors are terminally dispatched by an unimpressed female.”
* * *
Punz For The Day
Biology and Evolution Edition
Some people don’t believe in evolution.
They’re primate change deniers.
If evolution’s really a thing,
why haven’t hummingbirds learned the words yet?
How do you identify a male bald eagle?
All his feathers are combed over to one side.
* * *
May we always be willing to question the conventional wisdom;
May we continue to update our knowledge base;
May we enjoy watching footage of the ludicrous sage grouse booty call dance;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 And if I am a woman lion hear me roar as I mate with every male lion I encounter…much to the distress of many male biologists….
 Yeah, I’m going to make you read further before I give the title. Such a tease.
 In the running for Best Book Title Ever. ®
 “The female songbird must have been raped!” Cool story, bro, except that, like most birds (97%), male songbirds do not have a penis, and cannot rape their mates. Both genders have a cloaca and must cooperate to share their genetic material, mating with what ornithologists call a “cloacal kiss.”
 Male lions are the default; females are the afterthought, the “-ess”es.