To follow up on yesterday’s post about feminism and biology, here we have a transcript of a conversation between Camille Paglia (CP) and Christina Hoff Sommers (CHS). The exchange took place recently at the American Enterprise Institute. It comes to us from the Heat Street blog. Preceding it were two other posts, here and here.
Both Paglia and Sommers bemoan the fact that women’s studies have consistently ignored biological realities. For feminists gender is a social construct … end of story. If you don’t accept it, shut up.
So, forewarned is forearmed. Consider your as having received a trigger warning.
CP: The biggest gap in women’s studies is the failure to have a requirement about biology. There’s no reference to biology. You’ve now had 40 years of women’s studies where there is the social constructionist view of gender — without the slightest reference to hormones or endocrinology.
CHS: Forty years of women’s studies and I think we know less about gender than we did when they started, for this very reason. This dogma that men and women are the same; that we’re cognitively interchangeable…
CP: … we’re blank slates at birth and society inscribes gender on us. It’s absurd.
CHS: One feminist philosopher said many years ago — we’re all born bisexual, and then through socialization we are transformed into gendered human beings — one destined to command and the other one to obey. I went throughout that with my husband too and he said: ” Which one obeys and which one commends?”
CP: There you go. For heavens sake, I’m someone who was writing a dissertation on androgyny and I never for one moment in my entire life doubted that sexes are actually different. There are some very powerful hormonal compulsion that drives the sexes together for procreation, hello!
CP: Men have on average 8 to 10 times the amount of testosterone circulating in their body than women do. There are consequences from that. But of course this subject is entirely untouched in gender studies. You can graduate from with a degree in women studies and know nothing about it.
CHS: Nothing! And anytime they find statistical disparity between men and women. Any field — if there are more male, particularly in engineering — it has to be discrimination.
CP: It can’t be women’s free choice for any reason. On average, women are interested in other things.
CP: Also women want more flexibility in life to allow for children. But that’s also not part of the feminist picture.
CHS: As if we don’t have a special bond with children. The denial of nature, of femininity and masculinity — which for most people is a source of enjoyment.
If you are conventionally feminine, you enjoy that typically. Same with men — you enjoy a masculine men. And all of that is now either denied, or there’s this aura of disapproval around conventional sexuality.