Lucy Cooke, a renowned zoologist, best-selling author and award-winning broadcaster, recently came to give a fascinating talk entitled Myths of Sex and Gender: How the Animal Kingdom was Hijacked by Victorian Cultural Bias, revealing how Victorian cultural bias may have distorted our understanding of animal partnerships today.

Drawing from her fascinating new book, Bitch, Miss Cooke explored various different animal species over the course of the talk, from mole-rats to meerkats to orcas. By examining the relationships between different sexes, she uncovered many interesting insights. For instance, she brought to light that not all relationships are male-dominated and in many species, the females are actually in charge and can be stronger and larger than males, contrary to Victorian views.

Miss Cooke also briefly touched on same-sex relationships, using the example of chinstrap penguins and albatross. She explained how these birds often form either male-male or female-female partnerships to raise chicks together, completely challenging the idea that reproduction is the sole reason for sexual behaviour in the animal kingdom.

Overall, Miss Cooke’s talk was very insightful and yielded a thought-provoking Q&A session that followed, acting as a reminder of how cultural biases can affect one’s understanding of the natural world and how it can be important to approach science with an open mind.