A great quote from Jonathan Gottschall from a chapter in Evolution, Literature, Film: A Reader (2010).

Alice in Weirdoland

Yikes! Too many choices… Maybe go ask Alice.

The chapter by Gottschall, on Homeric Women: Re-imagining the Fitness Landscape begins with a quote from Sarah Hrdy:

`Size Matters –


“To an extraordinary degree, the predilections of the investing sex – females – potentially determine the direction in which the species will evolve. For it is the female who is the ultimate arbiter of when she mates and how often and with whom.” – Hrdy, Woman.


The fact that, in most species, females choose and males compete to be chosen means that the female’s preferences go a long way to determining the traits and qualities of the male. Female preferences and male characteristics co-evolve, the one always shaping the other.

If men, for instance, tend to love and invest in their children, it is partly because ancestral women rewarded fatherly men with sexual access while denying it to those who lacked paternal feelings and a corresponding predisposition to invest in children.

Likewise, if men compete for status and dominance, it is partly because ancestral women rewarded high-status, dominant men with reproductive opportunities.

John Hartung was not being frivolous when he said “males are a breeding experiment run by females”… Rather, he was colourfully expressing the core of Darwin’s theory of sexual selection: the choices of females significantly shape many, though by no means all, male traits…

A viciously cyclical feedback loop takes hold: men can be dangerous so women reward the strong and potentially aggressive with sexual access; as a result males grow, generation by generation, more “demonic”, both by genetic predisposition and by socio-cultural pressure; this in turn places women in the position of having to select for progressively more demonic mates.

Demonism breeds demonism, and neither men nor women have much choice in the matter.

(Gottschall in Boyd, Carroll & Gottschall 2010, pp. 300-5)

Both Biology and Culture evolve. Try and stop 'em.

Both Biology and Culture evolve. Try and stop ’em.

And – for more detail on the evolutionary systems (or, complexity) view of narrative and bioculture in general, see, this book chapter:

StoryAlity #132The holon/parton structure of the Meme, the unit of culture – and the narreme, or unit of story – book chapter (Velikovsky 2016)

And for a great consilience & creativity & evolution reading list, see:

StoryAlity #71On Consilience in the Arts / Humanities / Communication

Comments, always welcome.


JT Velikovsky

High-RoI Story/Screenplay/Movie and Transmedia Researcher

The above is (mostly) an adapted excerpt, from my doctoral thesis: “Communication, Creativity and Consilience in Cinema”. It is presented here for the benefit of fellow screenwriting, filmmaking and creativity researchers. For more, see https://aftrs.academia.edu/JTVelikovsky

JT Velikovsky is also a produced feature film screenwriter and million-selling transmedia writer-director-producer. He has been a professional story analyst for major film studios, film funding organizations, and for the national writer’s guild. For more see: http://on-writering.blogspot.com/



Jonathan Gottschall, reprinted in Boyd, B., Carroll, J., & Gottschall, J. (2010). Evolution, Literature and Film: A Reader. New York: Columbia University Press.

Velikovsky, J. T. (2016). `The Holon/Parton Theory of the Unit of Culture (or the Meme, and Narreme): In Science, Media, Entertainment and the Arts.‘ In A. Connor & S. Marks (Eds.), Creative Technologies for Multidisciplinary Applications. New York: IGI Global.


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