Wednesday, August 18, 2010

This just in: biology

Susan Walsh of Hooking Up Smart wrote today about recent studies essentially proving that men and women are, in fact (shock!) different.

Conversely, three days ago, The Guardian published an article claiming pretty much exactly the opposite.

You know, I just think it's, well, rather... odd... that we really have to talk about this so much. It's obvious that most males and females differ in ways that are probably at least a little innate to our biology; that says nothing, however, of women's and men's rights to be treated as individual, autonomous beings who are capable of making decisions for themselves, cooking, cleaning, talking, parenting, governing a state or nation, or being the head of a Fortune 500 company. It says nothing of our abilities to do well in school. It says nothing of our learned skills. It's annoying to me that this needs to be discussed: there's the camp of misogynist men who like their misogyny validated. The ones unhappy with any mention of differences between men and women are coming from that confusing group of feminist denialists. Anyone heard of David Reimer? Some feminist groups at the time were very interested in the case of David Reimer (then Brenda Reimer) when news broke about his botched circumcision and the doctor's and parents' plan to raise him as a girl. This was poised to be the ultimate answer to the question of "nature vs. nurture"-- with feminists, of course, in the "nurture" camp. Those feminists groups were also very upset, as was the doctor, when it became very clear early on that it just wasn't going to work out as expected.

So what if we admit that most women cannot lift as much with her upper body as most men of her age? So what if we admit that estrogen, which most women have more of, and testosterone, which most men have more of, are largely responsible for certain things about us, respectively? Would it mean that women shouldn't be allowed to vote, after all (oh, and Happy birthday, 19th Amendment!), or that we should go back to being our husbands' property? Would saying it out loud mean that the fight to end rape culture and objectification and oppression against women is a wash?

No. It definitely doesn't. Sheesh. Now let's get over it. This isn't gender essentialism; it's fucking biology. If you're not into that, I see some Tea Partiers just behind you, talking about the global warming hoax, the importance of abstinence-only education, ex-gay camps, and the benefits of teaching Creationism in science classes. They're waving.