It's 35 years since the last outbreak of feminism, when someone mentioned, I believe, that what little girls were made of might depend to a large degree on what was made of them. And much longer since it began to be understood that human beings are cultural creatures. Yet today, on The Today Programme we are told that there is an evolutionary reason why women prefer pink. A study in China has discovered that more women than men choose red colours over any others and the woman who conducted the study explained in all seriousness that the reason was 'millions of years old'. Women at the dawn of time (I love the dawn of time - not 6 in the morning when the alarm goes off, but so long ago that we don't have to say when it is or if we actually know anything about it) - I say, women at the dawn of time were gatherers of roots and berries while men hunted meat. Weren't they? We're absolutely sure about that, are we? Men brought home the meat for the pot, women poked about in the soil with sticks and things and picked berries so that the kids could have their five veg portions a day, and thereon hangs the tale of human culture.
Well, berries, says our scientific lady, are red, and therefore that is why women prefer pink. It gave them an evolutionary advantage. She means that women who preferred blue or yellow back in the dawnoftime failed to find as many berries as those with leanings towards pink, and so failed to reproduce and therefore died out. 'Nah, I'm not gonna pick that raspberry, I'll wait until I find a gooseberry, or - wait for it, a blueberry. Nothing will make me pull that white turnip from the ground. I'll keep looking till I find a cherry.' What man worth his weight in roast beef would want to mate with such a hopeless gatherer? It makes losing your cherry an even more serious business. Even if they did find some low life hunter, the children of such a union would fail to thrive on the wrong coloured berries as well as having the blue preference (which, for some reason has now become genetic)themselves which they passed on to their girl offspring, and so their pink loving sisters' children's children would prevail. Which is why us modern girls can't help but take the pink lavatory roll from the supermarket shelves.
Actually, there is at the very least doubt that the simple division of labour of men into hunters and women into gatherers was actually so simple a split. And it was taken as read way back in the 80's, when I was studying anthropology, that human cultural behaviour exponentially overwhelmed 'natural behaviour' if such a thing actually exists. Still, here we are in the 21st century and women the world over still feel pretty in pink, and that proves it. The girl can't help it. And god knows what the man can't help. Evolutionary psychology holds out no hope for the human race. It offers no expectation that we can learn, or develop beyond pre-determined survival advantages and disadvantages. Worse than that, it tells half-truths about the past and then uses them to determine the present. Even if it were true it would be so dull, so intellectually bereft, that we might as well all curl up and go to sleep until the dusk of time. All of which doesn't matter much in the larger picture, but the incorrigibility of it all it pisses me off. And maybe the larger picture does actually depend on being about to think well or poorly about the way and the why people are.