Why did you decide to write this book?
I’ve been interested in the subject for a long time. I’d noticed that where feminist articles often blame magazines and popular culture for the way women feel and are treated, the scientific literature tends to focus more on biology and evolutionary theory. I wanted to write a book that combines both these angles, alongside my own personal experiences.
Where does your passion for science come from?
A big part is from my mum. She’s amazing. She did a PhD in the genetics of autoimmune disorders while raising three children as a single parent. She was so excited about how experiments could be applied to help change people’s lives, and I think some of that rubbed off on me.
How animal are we?
We’re all part animal, part conscious. Writing Animal has made me realise how much of our behaviour is underpinned by millions of years of evolution. It can explain everything from mating preferences to jealousy and infidelity. But we’re more than that. We have these big, crinkly, clever brains that enable us to consider whether or not we should act on these animal impulses. When a dog humps someone’s leg, it’s not worrying about whether or not the leg fancies it back, or if the leg is married or underage. The dog is just acting on impulse. We, on the other hand, have the capacity to understand that actions and desires are different things. That makes us unique.
This is a excerpt of the full interview with Sara Pascoe in the May issue of BBC Focus magazine.
Animal: The Autobiography Of A Female Body by Sara Pascoe is out now (£12.99, Faber & Faber).