Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Feminism and Biology

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.

The transcript:

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!

And, also:

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.

1 comment:

Ares Olympus said...

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.

I wouldn't think anyone should object to biology lessons for Women's Studies, but apparently this needs to be mandatory.

Testosterone is an interesting issue, as the transgender community is learning in their brave new world of mutant humanity. One of the tricky factors apparently is that although women have much lower testosterone than men, the testosterone levels they do have has a large effect.

So a consequence is that if you take away a male's testicles, the source of his testosterone, and replace it with an external smaller amount that is consistent with the average woman, their athletic performance will fall far below that of an average woman with the same levels.

So now biological men, transitioned to hormonally to women are allowed to compete in women's sports BUT they might not be able to compete if their biology doesn't react like a woman's body. It is a brave new world, whether we're intentionally changing hormones, or trying to artificially "level the playing field" against real women athletes who don't follow the norms.
Under the new rules, a man transitioning to a woman must undergo hormone therapy and demonstrate that the total level of male testosterone in the athlete’s blood has been below 10 nanomols per liter for at least a year prior to competing.

The IOC document also cited the case of hyperandrogenism, or presence of high levels of testosterone in female athletes. Indian sprinter Dutee Chand was suspended by the International Association of Athletics Federations in 2014 due to hyperandrogenism and missed the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games. But the Court of Arbitration for Sport suspended the rule last year, saying the I.A.A.F. had failed to prove that women with naturally high levels of testosterone had a competitive edge. Chand was cleared to compete, and the court gave the I.A.A.F. until July 2017 to present new scientific evidence.

And for Men competing in athletics falling in love or having children is apparently a bad idea, at least while they're developing your career, while perhaps women athletes do better in a relationship?
Falling in love decreases men's testosterone levels while increasing women's testosterone levels. There has been speculation that these changes in testosterone result in the temporary reduction of differences in behavior between the sexes. However, it is suggested that after the "honeymoon phase" ends—about one to three years into a relationship—this change in testosterone levels is no longer apparent.
Fatherhood also decreases testosterone levels in men, suggesting that the resulting emotional and behavioral changes promote paternal care.

It is fun and maybe useful to have some small understanding of the hidden hormonal influences on our preceptions. Free will says we're all responsible for our actions, but if alcoholics know they're more vulnerable, they can avoid that danger, and if high testosterone men know their weaknesses, perhaps they also can observe and identify how often they're thinking with the wrong brain.