Bitch by Lucy Cooke

Bitch: On the Female of the SpeciesBitch: On the Female of the Species by Lucy Cooke
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was recommended to me by something I subscribe to (NYT?) and I like science, so I grabbed it for something to read while on a trip. The writing is professional and at times entertaining. There are a good number of curious animal facts and stories. But the book really has only two main points: first, Female animals have historically been given short shrift by the male-dominated science world which considered them dull and unworthy of study when in fact they are often the more aggressive and dominant of the sexes. Second, female researchers have been discriminated against by male academic higher-ups and journal editors. They are biased against anyone, basically limited to women, who suggests point one.

To bolster these points she fills the chapters with stories of female spiders who eat their mates, alpha female chimps, various species where the female has the more impressive and male-like genitalia, lesbian albatrosses, and so on. The women who submit articles about these things are routinely told by journal editors that they can’t or won’t publish the research documenting these studies because they “can’t be true” or “I don’t believe it.” Basically male chauvinism prevails in the science world.

I don’t disagree with the substance of these points. I just didn’t find it very entertaining after the eighth or tenth species. Every page or two I wanted to scream, “Okay, I get it.” I thought I was checking out a science book, not a feminist tract.

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