Putting together data and models in fields of research as diverse as social and biological anthropology, gender and feminist studies, evolutionary biology, nutritional sciences, and obstetrics, this chapter proposes that a convincing hypothesis for the observed human sex differences in height is actually missing in scientific arenas because of the absence of an inclusive research. It argues that the most realistic hypothesis is that of gendered practices’ effects on the long term: unequal protein intake between men and women but also stature discrimination on small men and tall women. Nutritional inequalities are well documented in classical ethnology. But they seemed not being worth deserving interpretation within the framework of global gender inequality. From a gender theory standpoint, nutritional inequalities should be suspected to be present as an inevitable consequence of the gender order. Asking the still underestimated question of how unnatural selections are able to shape human biology points specifically on a renewal of “sex and gender” epistemologies that envision sex as a product of natural selection or as a pure scientific construction. Setting the problem another way has direct concern for contemporary public debates stuck to a particular social/biological articulation of gendered identities.
- Small Stature
- Sexual Size Dimorphism
- Female Size
- Female Pelvis
- False Idea
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This research was originally a PhD thesis, now published in French. See .
For poststructural feminism, as for Judith Bulter (see ), the body cannot be apprehended as a “reality” outside any sociohistorical context. This position will be shortly debated in the paper’s conclusion.
See discussion in .
Well-known controversies exist in the discipline on this topic. For instance, important size differences in Australopithecines fossils, first attributed to sex, were then suspected to signify that two different species were actually present.
For a discussion of the arbitrary, nonnatural character of this division, see .
In fact, the taller a man is relative to a woman partner, the more likely it is that childbirth will be difficult. A woman choosing a man taller than herself will perhaps help her daughters be taller, but this choice represents a risk more important to her own survival and thus to the “reproductive success” of the “tall genes.”
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Touraille, P. (2013). Human Sex Differences in Height: Evolution due to Gender Hierarchy?. In: Ah-King, M. (eds) Challenging Popular Myths of Sex, Gender and Biology. Crossroads of Knowledge, vol 1. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-01979-6_7
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Print ISBN: 978-3-319-01978-9
Online ISBN: 978-3-319-01979-6