La Petite Difference
Despite my complete lack of the decorations or frills you will often find on a woman’s hands, there’s no way anyone would have trouble guessing which ones on the table were attached to a female body. And it’s not just that my hands are smaller, either — subtle differences in things like the contours of the fingers would still have made it obvious even if you altered a photograph so that all hands appeared the same size.
The same holds true for the arms, legs, throat, even feet — these are completely gender-neutral, non-sexualized parts of the body, yet men and women still get different models. Clearly, sex hormones don’t just affect the naughty bits but every bit of you.
Some people insist that the brain is the one exception to this rule.
Okay, when I say “some people” I actually mean “those moonbat-style feminists who insist on giving a Harrison Bergeron flavor to the phrase ‘gender equality.’” You know the ones I’m talking about: The only reason there are any differences at all in the way men and women behave is because of culture and upbringing. If you give your son nothing but Barbies to play with he’ll grow up to be a warm and nurturing kindergarten teacher, and if you give your daughter nothing but toy cars she’s guaranteed to be a politically emancipated lesbian.
God forbid you’re ever in the presence of one of these feminists and utter some generalization like “Men are stronger than women.” They’ll swell up like a poison puffer fish and snap “Jill Mills is a woman and she can squat-lift over six hundred pounds! You could never do that.”
The only way you can talk to these people is to tack disclaimers onto every comment, as in “Although men in general tend to be stronger than women, there are many individual women who are stronger than many individual men and I fully support a woman’s right to lead her own destiny and women only want to be wives and mothers because the patriarchy tells them they want to and I — I envy women their ability to create new life.”
Anyway, I found an article about a neuropsychiatrist named Louann Brizendine who’s going to have a lot of second-wave feminists yelling at her next month when her book The Female Brain hits the shelves:
Women and hormones has long been a marital minefield and the subject of innumerable off-color jokes, but Brizendine has made it her medical specialty. For 20 years, first as a medical student at Yale, then as a faculty member at Harvard Medical School, then as director of the Women's Mood and Hormone Clinic at UCSF, she's been developing what she describes as a female-centered strain of psychiatry focusing on the complex interplay between women's mental health, hard-wiring and brain chemistry.… Brizendine realizes she's going to take some heat. "I know it's not politically correct to say this," she says, "and I've been torn for years between my politics and what science is telling us. But I believe that women actually perceive the world differently than men. If women attend to those differences, they can make better decisions about how to manage their lives."
Certain psychiatrists who would never deny that brain chemistry creates things like sadness and happiness and arousal and fear still have no problem insisting that even though men and women spend their lives with their brains drenched in completely different hormones, these chemicals lead to no, I mean no, differences in the way men and women think.
[Brizendine’s] ideas are certain to spark controversy from some doctors and social scientists who think books like this undercut women and reinforce old gender stereotypes. Examining the biological underpinnings of gender difference is bunk, these critics say, because there aren't many. Last year prominent psychologist Janet Hyde examined decades of studies that compared the emotional and behavioral lives of men and women and concluded that most differences between the genders were statistically "close to zero." "There is no gender-difference phenomena to explain," she says.
The article goes on to discuss some of the advances in neuroimaging and neuroendocrinology that Brizendine describes in her book, but when worldviews are at stake, science must be discarded:
Dr. Nancy C. Andreasen, a psychiatrist and neuroimaging expert at the University of Iowa's medical school, says nurture plays such a huge role in human behavior that focusing on biology is next to meaningless. "Whatever measurable differences exist in the brain," says Andreasen, "are used to oppress and suppress women."
Ah, yes, oppression and suppression. That’s what the anti-science hysteria (pun intended) boils down to here: fear that scientific proof of gender differences will lead to legalized enforcement of gender differences.
And let’s admit that’s a legitimate fear. To deny that women historically got the short end of the gender-relations stick (and still do in many parts of the world) is as bad as to deny that women and men might have any differences at all.
But proving “women are more likely than men to want to raise babies” doesn’t have to cause “every woman's required to have a baby.” For that matter, saying “men are more likely than women to be aggressive” doesn’t mean “every man's going to be a bully.”
We probably still have a long way to go before we have a world that grants fully equal legal status and opportunity to two unequal (as in ‘not the same’) types of people. But we will never get there if we deny facts we don’t like.