If Only Women Ran the World ...

Best friends. (Image credit: dreamstime, Noriko Cooper)

News Flash: Biological anthropologist endorses presidential candidate.

The wait is over. After months of speculation, and controversy, biological anthropologist, Dr. Earnest A. Hooton, of Harvard, has finally weighed in on his choice of presidential candidate.

The endorsement goes to … a woman, any woman.

"As a professional student of man [surely that's a misquote and he meant 'humankind'], I judge that females of our species have certain qualities that ought to render them superior to males in statesmanship," Hooton said, The New York Times reports.

Since there is only one woman candidate currently running, we have to assume that Hooton is throwing his weight behind Hillary Clinton, or would be backing her if he weren't long dead.

Earnest Hooton's call for a female president ran in the newspaper on October 17, 1944, (that would be during the presidential race between Franklin Roosevelt and Thomas Dewey, neither of whom were women). At that time, women were considered high-strung hysterics incapable of logical thought, let alone the guts to run a war room. Hooten probably wanted to be provocative, even outlandish in suggesting those silly little creatures might be able to do more than cook dinner.

"If human behavior, even on subjects they really knew nothing about. Readers may have laughed out loud when they read the column, but they probably read it.

No wonder. Those were heady times for anthropology (if one could say any times, ever, were exactly heady for anthropology). Anthropologists had been politically active during World War I and II and instrumental in addressing fears about immigration; Margaret Mead had made anthropology a household word. They were considered respectable, credible scientists with special knowledge about human behavior (even if their science, as we reevaluate it today, was sometimes dodgy).

But there was also a dark and dangerous side to side to anthropologists at that time which the discipline would like to hide in an academic closet. Hooton and others believed that people could be divided into racial types and that there was a connection between body type, temperament and race. And he championed a "biological purge" to keep society genetically upstanding.

So while Hooton was championing the abilities of women, he was also reinforcing stereotypes that caused, and continue to cause, so much damage.

Thank goodness no one is interested in the political opinions of anthropologists today, and it's a good idea to pay us no mind, except for weekly commentaries, of course.

Meredith Small is a professor of anthropology at Cornell University, and the author of "Our Babies, Ourselves". She is a contributor to Live Science.