Women’s wide hips

According to the article cited below, women’s wide hips do not mean inefficient locomotion. The author also seems to be arguing that childbirth does not require wide hips. So, why wide hips? I am wondering if it is something to do with the strength and/or stability of triangles (such as that made by a wide pelvis and the legs) and the way women need to carry babies and young children efficiently, with the downward force towards the ground.

Stability might be particularly important when carrying a baby or child because of the risk of injury to the young.

In Defence of Wide Hips

 

 

 

9 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by fuzziewuzziebear on December 2, 2017 at 11:34 am

    I think that your speculation has merit. Baby strollers are, on an evolutionary time scale, very new. Anything that would protect children or facilitate them being raised would have an outsized effect among humans from a survival standpoint.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Roman Lance on December 2, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    I remember when I first met my wife I told her what attracted me to her was her Baby-makin’ hips. She took it in stride, as it were.

    Turns out I was right, she made 9 good looking babies.

    I did notice with all those children, they always slid off my hip if I held them to my side. Momma, it seems ,could hold them effortlessly on her hip seemingly all day. She would cook dinner, balance books, put laundry in the wash etc., all while carrying a babe.

    Pro Tip: Never tell a feminist she has good baby making hips or that she will make good babies for a man. Apparently they hate that. 🙂

    Reply

    • Posted by fuzziewuzziebear on December 2, 2017 at 11:22 pm

      Thank you. That was a good laugh.

      Reply

    • Posted by Julian O'Dea on December 2, 2017 at 11:36 pm

      Yes. That hip-carrying thing seems to be something women can do far more easily than men. Of course that could be another “adaptive reason” for women having wide hips, although there is always a danger of over-interpreting these features, which might just be what the late Stephen Jay Gould called “spandrels“.

      Reply

  3. women’s wide hips do not mean inefficient locomotion.
    I was unaware this was a thing. It doesn’t occur to me that wider would be necessarily inefficient, but would instead promote stability. It seems obvious that wider hips (but specifically a wider birth canal) would be advantageous for large, round skulled human babies.

    Reply

  4. As someone who apparently skipped getting into the “hips” line – yes, you want those hips for carrying babies. Not having them was a pain, sometimes literally.

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  5. Posted by Bike bubba on December 4, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    If hips aren’t necessary for carrying babies well, exactly why do the ligaments of the hips loosen when a woman is pregnant? Room in the birth canal is pretty darned important, both to mother and baby!

    And if narrow hips don’t help locomotion, please explain to me the figures of most elite distance runners. Honestly….

    Reply

    • Posted by Julian O'Dea on December 5, 2017 at 12:24 am

      The authors seem to be arguing that birth difficulties might be a more modern problem. But there is no real evidence for that. As you say, it seems very unlikely that a wider pelvis isn’t at least in part to allow as easy childbirth as possible.

      As for walking and running efficiency, I suspect they mean that for the result achieved, there is no excessive expenditure of energy. I don’t think this implies that narrower hips as on men and elite women runners are not an advantage for running quickly.

      With this kind of publication, one has to suspect that sexual politics plays a role in the findings, or at least on the spin they are given.

      It doesn’t hurt to sometimes re-examine old assumptions, and the article certainly made me think and wonder about other functions for broad hips, such as might permit efficient carriage of a child both before and after birth.

      Reply

      • Posted by Ray Manta on December 7, 2017 at 12:51 am

        As you say, it seems very unlikely that a wider pelvis isn’t at least in part to allow as easy childbirth as possible

        It was my understanding that pelvic width relative to body size was one of the most reliable indicators of sex in a skeleton. .

        I don’t think this implies that narrower hips as on men and elite women runners are not an advantage for running quickly.

        Camels have unusually narrow hips due to the fact that they move their legs on one side, then the other. Horses have a cross-pattern gait, and considerably wider hips. The advantage of narrow hips in camels is that movement requires a smaller shift in weight from side to side.

        Since humans are bipeds, it would make sense that there is selection pressure for narrow hips. But if the authors of that article are saying that wide hips in women aren’t as disadvantageous as previously thought, that might be true.

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