Re: Brave Maidens

Julian O'Dea (jodea@MAILHOST.DPIE.GOV.AU)
Tue, 6 Aug 1996 10:00:38 +1000

>> why are there a
>> disproportionate number of altruistic acts (acts of bravery) done by young
>> women.
>Just a reminder: there are *no* data (at least, none mentioned on this
>list during this discussion) to support this idea! My apologies to those
>who are already aware of this.
> -- Bob Stallmann

Personally I would limit my claims to noting that young women feature in
Australian bravery awards in life-threatening situations.

The point I have been trying to make is that any evolutionary theory of
altruism in humans has to take such cases into account. The focus of the
genetic explanations I have seen has been on altruism as mate-attracting
display and reciprocal altruism, and I thought, perhaps incorrectly, that
childless females would not fit so readily into these explanations.

I found the recent suggestions of Janice Willard (who I believe used the
construction to which Bob Stallman has objected) to explain bravery in
young women along the lines of its being an extreme expression of maternal
nurturing to be very interesting, and a possibility I had not considered.
She wrote "Perhaps the genes for nurturing become activated at this time
[adolescence], even though the actual childbearing is delayed in our
society." (Julian O'Dea)