recent, Science, Sex

Science Denial Won’t End Sexism

Last week, Nature, one of the top scientific journals in the world, ran a review written by Lise Eliot of Gina Rippon’s new book, The Gendered Brain: The New Neuroscience that Shatters the Myth of the Female Brain. Both Eliot and Rippon, neuroscientists affiliated with Rosalind Franklin University and Aston University, respectively, are vocal supporters of the view that gender, and the corresponding differences we see between men and women, are socially constructed.

Not a week goes by without yet another research study, popular science book, or mainstream news article promoting the idea that (a) any differences between men and women in the brain are purely socially constructed and (b) these differences have been exaggerated beyond any meaningful relevance. More recently, this argument has evolved to contend that (c) there are, in fact, no brain differences between the sexes at all. Eliot’s article appears to subscribe to a hodgepodge of all three perspectives, which not only contradict one another but are also factually incorrect.

So begins the book review, titled, “Neurosexism: The myth that men and women have different brains.” “Neurosexism,” a term coined by philosopher of science, Cordelia Fine, brands as “sexist” any claim that sex differences in the brain have a bearing on our personalities and behavior. From this line of thinking, wanting to understand these differences from a scientific point of view is inherently suspect—“bad neuroscience” and “bad research practice,” in the words of Eliot—because only sexists and those seeking to subjugate women would presumably be interested in them.

It is a tired argument that incorrectly conflates the potential for bad applications of a research finding with the finding itself. We can acknowledge that male and female brains have differences in structure and function, on average, without subscribing to the belief that one sex is better than the other.

Eliot writes, “Rippon’s central message is that ‘a gendered world will produce a gendered brain,’” but also that “conclusive findings about sex-linked brain differences have failed to materialize.” Furthermore, in an interview with the Guardian, Rippon says it is “neurofoolishness” to suggest there are any brain differences associated with sex.

How anyone familiar with the neuroscientific literature can argue this with a straight face is puzzling. Even if we were to neglect the thousands of studies documenting the effects of prenatal testosterone on the developing brain, we can look no further than the largest neuroimaging study examining sex differences to date, published just last year in Cerebral Cortex. In a sample of 5,216 brains, the study found significant differences between the sexes. The amygdala, a region associated with appraising emotion, was larger in men, even when men’s larger overall brain size was taken into consideration. Another study, published last month in Nature’s very own Scientific Reports, found sex differences in grey matter volume among 2,838 participants.

Contrary to Eliot’s statement that Rippon’s book exposes “the surprisingly weak evidence for brain sex differences in newborns,” a 2016 paper, also in Nature’s Scientific Reports, showed how testosterone alters brain growth in utero.

French psychologist Gustave Le Bon is also dragged from the grave for saying, in 1895, that women “represent the most inferior forms of human evolution.” What is unclear is how it is relevant to take a quote from the 1800s and extrapolate from it a representation of today. James Damore and the Google memo also receive mentions as further evidence of “neurosexism,” when the truth is, as several of us have said before, Damore was correct to cite biologically-based sex differences in occupational interest as the reason why we don’t see a 50:50 ratio of women in tech.

I don’t deny that sexism exists, but sexism today is not so severe that it stands in the way of a woman achieving a career in science—or any field—if she really wants to. There are countless programs in place that encourage girls and young women to pursue careers in scientific disciplines.

On a personal note, I remember my reaction when I first came across the term “neurosexism” many years ago—I felt relief. As someone who had learned about feminist theory, I believed that gender was a social construct, and was pleased to see outspoken women finally calling out these outdated, misogynistic beliefs. I was, in fact, a fan of some of these scholars’ work. (To hear someone like Eliot publicly denouncing my writing has been both surreal and, in a strange way, complimentary.)

It wasn’t until graduate school, when I began studying sexology (the scientific study of sex), that I realized none of these ideas made any sense. The fact that biologically-based sex differences exist in the brain was undeniable. Furthermore, acknowledging these differences and wanting to understand them more clearly, was not, by definition, a sexist endeavor.

Considering that brain imaging studies cost upwards of tens of thousands of dollars, a more effective use of these resources would be to promote a nuanced dialogue around acknowledging these group differences while also emphasizing that we should treat people as individuals. We should be questioning why femininity is devalued instead of pretending that it’s society’s fault that women aren’t identical to men. Pressuring women to be male-typical (and conversely, that men be more female-typical) is just as regressive as reinforcing stereotypical gender norms.

On top of this, misinformation only adds unnecessary confusion and damages basic science literacy. Happily embracing a distorted view of world, whether intentionally or out of ignorance, does nothing to promote gender equality. If anything, it offers evidence to those who are genuinely misogynistic that women aren’t as good at science and math.

As more and more scientific institutions jump on the social justice bandwagon, we will be hard-pressed to find scientists publishing papers demonstrating sex differences. Any such differences that are based in biology will be reframed as the result of socialization.

In a world where world-class scientists’ merit is now determined by their sex and skin color—with white men’s work being dismissed in the name of promoting women and minorities—I call on women who disagree with the suppression of sex differences to speak up, because it has negative implications on our health and wellbeing, too.

The science of sex differences isn’t perfect, but the response from the scientific community should be to improve its methods and to approach these questions with an openness to whatever one might find, instead of predetermining what the acceptable outcome should be and shaming suggestions to the contrary.

Eliot’s article ends with two claims that should leave neuroscientists and anyone with a cursory understanding of evolutionary biology, speechless: “The brain is no more gendered than the liver or kidneys or heart,” (sex differences have been observed in each one of these organs) and “‘biosocial straitjackets’…divert a basically unisex brain down one culturally gendered pathway or another.”

What on earth is a biosocial straitjacket?

Ultimately, we should all want equal rights for women. And we should all want sexism to end. But the way to achieve this is not to deny the role of biology, or to mislead the public with feel-good ideas that have no basis in reality.


Debra W. Soh holds a Ph.D. in sexual neuroscience research from York University and writes about the science and politics of sex. Follow her at @DrDebraSoh.

198 Comments

  1. Peter from Oz says

    What is interesting of course is that thie id a that there is no difference between male and female brains blows away the whole gender disphoria argument. If there is no biological difference between the male and female brain, how can a person of one sex feel like they should be the other sex?
    Also how can a gay person be “born that way” if everything is socially constructed?
    It would be interesting to see is if there is differences between the brains of SJWs and other people.

    • This is the lie these neoMarxists have chosen to force us to repeat. The new Soviet Person has no gender, and coincidentally no family. They promote homosexuality and transgenderism to destroy the family and the traditional male and female relations. The goal is to replace all with the state. It is the modern Lysenkoism and it will be just as deadly as that misguided and forcibly wrong “science” was.

      • jimb2 says

        This has very little to do with neomarxism, whatever that is. If you think it’s all a tribal war between the right-thinking good team and the family-destroying, transgenderist bad team, whoever they are, you’ve missed the whole point.

        To me this is about science denial. It’s important because there’s plenty of it about, on all sides, and it results in ungrounded unproductive “debate” that it little more than narcissism and name-calling. If you think it’s just another opportunity to bash your ideological opponents you’re part of the problem, not the solution.

    • Logical Son says

      Yes, there is a big difference. Where there is a brain in the skull of normal people, there is mostly void in the skull of SJW demagogues. And a lot of dusty winds.

    • Ekko says

      😀 yes exactly! This is a very good point. I am a trans girl, felt this way all my life, and why would I have crippling dysphoria if there were no psychological or physiologicql differences between the very hormones that pump through us! Proposterous SJW rationale. Haha.

      • Saw file says

        @Ekko

        Shhh…shhh..shush now, girl.
        Errr…I mean,boy.
        Fk! Can you just show me your MRI?
        jkn/, but you’re right. The ideological zealots have dragged this serious issue into looney-land.
        I personally know two trans persons. Each doing each way. One older, other younger.
        I genuinely like both, and both genuinely like me.
        Individuals have unique personality’s and perspectives.
        I have zero issues with respecting either of these people, and they both agree that biology is distinct and not changeable.
        I treat each as individuals who have made choices.
        They each have a great deal of courage.
        Courage alone is respect worthy.
        I have that certain ‘look’ (w/ plenty of back-up), that nobody fks-around over who they are when we go out socially.
        As a matter of fact, many of my ‘rough’ friends and acquaintances have marketability changed their POVs.
        That said… none of us will ever allow anyone to force us to use words that we know are ideological nonsense.

        • Polly styrene says

          Exactly. And I don’t understand why some feel the need to torture science to arrive at fake conclusions. What is the objective vis a vis all the legal protections are in place and beyond that — acceptance is on the rise. Force feeding fake facts just creates dissonance and alienates people who like their science unadulterated.

          I think there’s lots of good people around who care not about their friends personal preferences or race and just enjoy their company. I include in my group of friends people of all stripes and biases and this is not the reason they are my friends. We like each other as we play tennis, or hike or like to read similar books. Or think each other is funny. Not because of our personal differences, but because of the common ground we share.

          Whatever happened to peer review? It has clearly declined so much in quality as to be a failure if this error filled science can get published.

    • david of Kirkland says

      Yes, and we hear how bad medical research is because it focuses on white men primarily, though clearly that should be fine as there are no racial or sex differences. Diversity is great, but we’re really all the same.

    • Kim Olsson says

      They’re also inadvertently giving credence to gay conversion therapy. I’ve always felt that the case of David Peter Reimer clearly shows that the brain is very much gendered. David Peter Reimer was a Canadian man born male but reassigned as a girl and raised female following medical advice and intervention after his penis was severely injured during a botched circumcision in infancy. The psychologist John Money oversaw the case and reported the reassignment as successful and as evidence that gender identity is primarily learned. The academic sexologist Milton Diamond later reported that Reimer’s realisation he was not a girl crystallised between the ages of 9 and 11 years and he transitioned to living as a male at age 15. Well known in medical circles for years anonymously as the “John/Joan” case, Reimer later went public with his story to help discourage similar medical practices. He committed suicide after suffering years of severe depression, financial instability, and a troubled marriage. [Wikipedia].

      • Dan Flehmen says

        John Money’s notion that sex/gender is purely learned was rooted deeply in the 20th century conviction that nurture determines everything and nature nothing. Hundreds of kids with ambiguous genitalia (these are not uncommon, resulting from a number of different developmental anomalies) had their bits surgically altered after Money convinced parents that they were free to choose the sex of their child if they raised it as that sex. As in the story above, this fiction ended badly for a great many of Money’s victims.

        The function of prenatal testosterone in shaping the male brain is so well established by thousands of studies that the current gender fluidity craze is beyond astonishing. English and Grievance Study majors really should be required to take some science classes.

    • Happy to debate @DrDebraSoh about the true size and lack of consistency in sex/gender diffs in the MRI literature. Sex/gender accounts for 1-4% of the variance in structural volumes across the population. Brain is actually less “dimorphic” than kidneys.

      • Curious guy says

        Só you think that Dr soh’s assertion that the male and female brains are different is wrong?

      • Dan Flehmen says

        Are you suggesting that small anatomical or physiological differences have no effect? Your ovaries are very small parts of your body, but have major impacts on your behavior, to say nothing of allowing you to get pregnant and menstruate every month. My testes are not much bigger but controlled me for most of my life,The pituitary gland is tiny yet regulates most of the endocrine system. And the pituitary in turn is regulated by small parts of the small hypothalamus.

        When it comes to hormones and their impact on anatomy and behavior, size doesn’t matter.

      • So no more discussion about the differences between trans- and cisgender brains? Certainly no need to fund that research, much less make policy and law as though the differences exist, correct?
        Buh-bye to the relevance of f(unctional)MRI, because structural volume.

      • scubajim says

        I think Dr. Soh is not limiting the differences to brain volume. I think there are differences in density (which way I forget). There are differences also in what what gets active on a variety of stimuli. (where and how much) .

      • Lise Eliot : Happy to debate @DrDebraSoh about the true size and lack of consistency in sex/gender diffs in the MRI literature. Sex/gender accounts for 1-4% of the variance in structural volumes across the population. Brain is actually less “dimorphic” than kidneys.

        1-4% is not nothing
        I’m betting that your 1-4% is after adjustment for body size. Adjustments for body size are not, of course, uncontroversial
        There’s more to brains than structural volumes

        While a debate would be fun to watch, so would an actual experiment.

        Can you tell the sex of a person by looking at their brain scans ? Chekroud et al

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26984491

        claim that they can, to 90-95% accuracy.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @Peter from Oz

      The real (sex) has become the imaginary (the ‘socially constructed’), and the imaginary (that I am a woman because I feel like one) has become the real. It is a quite perfect example of Orwell’s ‘freedom is slavery. In a few decades it is possible for two words that have opposite meanings to invert. It is astonishing to me that this is possible, but we have seen it here. Someone should write a book on how it is achieved. I know that part of the process is to overload a word’s moral implication. We have good words and we have bad words. Discrimination, for example, is a bad word. We wouldn’t want to Discriminate. But the meaning of the word has changed 180 in a few decades — it is now Discrimination to NOT treat people differently based on their skin color — yet the badness of the word, it’s moral implication, remains unchanged. A wolf in sheep’s clothing is seen as a sheep even when we know that it’s a wolf. Interesting.

      • Saw file says

        @Ray the dolphin
        I was looking for your group on FB.
        Who would have thought that “Ray Andrews” was as common as ‘john smith’?
        I’m not sure of the rules here on Quillette, but can you somehow nudge me in the right direction?

        • Ray Andrews says

          @Saw file

          I have nothing on FB, the only thing I ever do there is follow A New Radical Centrism — the boss has interesting stuff all the time. Nope, my typing addiction is satisfied here at Quillette, Areo (more of us should support that too) and the above on FB. That’s the end of my social media existence. I dunno, maybe I should start some group for left-flippered centrist dolphins tho. No dextro-centric dophins allowed and no porpoises either, they think they’re better.

          • Saw file says

            @ray the dolphin
            Apologies.
            I thought I remembered you saying that you had a group of free thinkers on FB.
            As a CDN, you may enjoy ‘Tal Bachman’ on FB.
            All his posts are public, and he’s kinda in your neck of the woods.

          • Saw file says

            @ray
            ….don’t get me started on those uppity otter’s behavior…
            Haga…TC. Thx.

        • Ray Andrews says

          @Saw file

          Tx, I’ll check this Tal Bachman

    • Etiamsi omnes says

      Is that a social construct in your pocket, or are you really happy to see me?

    • Bill Conlon says

      I thought Dr. Hugo Z. Hackenbush already proved all that in 1937.

    • David MacLean says

      If there are no measurable difference in the brains of men and women, leading to the social construction of gender, then how could there be any measurable difference in the brains of straights and gays? This leads to homosexuality being a social construct. Therefore, there should be a so-called conversion therapy that would turn gays straight.

      But hasn’t conversion therapy been rejected by the same people that would have you believe that sex roles are socially constructed?

    • Ardy says

      Peter, this is the same drum the liberal left have been beating since the 60’s, the nurture v nature argument. They got done ‘like a dinner’ over that idea but like true lefties they will not let go of that which they believe in, regardless of how loopy, stupid or pseudo scientific it is.

    • Phoenix44 says

      The idea that somebody can “feel like a woman” is pure nonsense. How can you know what another person “feels like”? You simply cannot. All somebody is actually saying is “I feel how I imagine a woman feels, rather than how I imagine a man feels,” But this is all obviously nothing more than subjective. It can be nothing else.

      I have no idea if other men “feel” as I do, or if in fact what I “feel” is what women feel. Indeed, i have no idea what “feel” means in this context, nor is it even possible to define except in terms of things like attitudes or attractions.

    • (Prof. Emer.) Ferrel Christensen says

      Very well put, Oz. Would that the original article had spent more time on details of the evidence, rather than mostly just asserting its existence. (My PhD is in Philosophy of Science, including methodology, and I have spent years studying sex and gender with top scientists.)

    • Jon Zig says

      There is, the SJW brain is much smaller due to the lack of critical thinking. Isn’t evolution a great theory?

  2. It is seeply depressing that a journal like nature should publish something so ideologically driven which is contrary to what should be basic scientific general knowledge.

    My background is engineering but some insurmountable problems with the idea that gender diffeences in the mind or brain are soley derived from societal influences.

    In biology male and female behaviour is the norm across multiple species including all our ‘relatives’.

    Men and women have physical and developmental differences, female and male puberty onsets at different ages, women experience menstruation, men do not. How given this can there not be differences in the mind? It may be dangerous to say so but it is well known that the menstral cycle has at least the potential to affect mood and the hormones involved affect mood so how can this not lead to some average differences in the mind?

    Most obviously most men are sexually attracted to women and vice versa. This is an obvious mental difference which is clearly biological in origin.

    I am aware there is an extensive literature on the effects of testosterone on foetal brain development and that there are many experiments showing behavourial differences between the sexes for very young infants but you do not need this to see that the claims being made are deeply implausible.

    What is deeply disturbing is such a prestigous journal would publish something so clearly flawed for ideological reasons. This is an attack on the foundations of science and rationalism.

    • david of Kirkland says

      Sadly, I’ve noted more PC talk in Scientific American and even National Geographic. It’s like a throwback when science was constrained by religion.

      • John McCormick says

        In fact, david of Kirkland, central to many creation stories, not only the Judeo-Christian one, Earth is at the center of creation because we humans were the entire point of creation. While the work of Copernicus through Hubble have shown conclusively that Earth is at the center of nothing, we still have that “humans are the entire point of creation” and are therefore special. That’s where we are. Exactly 400 years later.

        A lot of people subscribe to the idea that it has to do with how Protestantism went from the Great Awakening to the Social Gospel and ultimately to secularization losing none of their evangelical zeal in the process and essentially creating the social sciences in the process (as well as eugenics and “race science”).

        Reading a good review of the following book communicates the idea. The review in the Washington Post is excellent.

        An Anxious Age: The Post-Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of America by Joseph Bottum.

        Also, the following entry into a scholarly work on economics and progressivism is telling. It can be downloaded from Princeton University > Papers > gospel4.pdf

        “Religion and Evolution in Progressive Era Political Economy: Adversaries or Allies? by Thomas C. Leonard.

        • Ray Andrews says

          @John McCormick

          It seems to be well understood in certain circles that wokeness is the final stage in the evolution of what is actually a Protestant Christian heresy. The hippies tried to create Christianity 2.0 (although they would never admit that) but some of the essential ingredients were left out with the result that what started out as ‘love’ without all those bothersome restrictions on who you could fuck, has morphed into the hate filled mobs of the woke puritans. Their religion has now overtaken even ‘Nature’ and CERN. Good bye science, it was nice to have had you for a while.

        • Ardy says

          John McCormick, and then the scientists at the centre of AGW claim that ‘the world as we know it is being destroyed’ – as if we puny humans could destroy a whole planet.
          Millions of years after we are gone this planet will continue doing what it has always done, creating life, killing life in a totally random manner and under no control of stupid monkeys like us!

      • Craig WIllms says

        @david

        ahem, this is the new religion. a dark an unenlightened one at that. The old religion would threaten your soul, this one will take your livelihood, your freedom of expression and your reputation.

        • Jon zig says

          Craig
          You got that right. You will be assimilated, we are the Woke!
          Thank God they can’t take my soul.

      • Jujucat says

        @David, it IS a religion: Belief which requires faith/lack of reason.

    • Melvin Backstrom says

      It also makes humans somehow an exception to all other animals. Obviously our mammalian cousins all have sexually distinct innate behavioral differences, so how could one possibly believe that human beings do not as well?

    • bumble bee says

      Yes, I too believe that science has caved to this societal phenomenon. There is no way however, that scientific studies will abandon the concept of male and female. If anything, Psychology and Psychiatry need to lead the way here rather than biology.

      There was an article I read quite awhile ago where physicians have come across transgender people requesting testing based on their gender identity. A women identifying as a man demanded a prostate exam, and a male identifying as a woman demanded a pelvic exam. When the physicians involved explained the impossibility of such testing, those patients became belligerent. There is no escaping reality. It is akin to someone having auditory or visual hallucinations and when no one can reinforce those hallucinations the person becomes agitated.

      While I understand that some may have gender dysphoria, it should be addressed with extensive counseling. If a person wants to live as another gender, as there have been examples of such for quite a long time, that is their right. However, when you add laws stating anyone who fails to call a person by their gender identity either by mistake or on purpose that is where it crosses the line. People should be not lawfully mandated to deny reality for the sake of those who have gender issues.

    • Tersitus says

      Bad science is only science if it leads to something better.

      • Declan says

        I would have been more impressed by her argument if Deborah Soh had reviewed the book itself and not a review of the book.

        In the article Soh quotes a paper which cites Rippon, and thanks Rippon at the end for commenting on a previous draft. I don’t know what to make of that.

        To make matters even more confusing, the author of the paper is Stuart Richie who wrote an article in quillette critiquing Cordelia Fine’s work. It was a fine article which trawled through the book and pointed out the flaws.

        Soh’s critique would have benifited from doing the same.

    • Dan Flehmen says

      Not multiple species, but all species more complex than a mollusk.

    • Yes, very disturbing. I subscribe to both Nature and Science and for several years I’ve been disturbed by political correctness creeping into the journal, not so much in the technical articles which remain strong, but in the peripheral commentary. The article referred to by Soh was a book review.

      I subscribed to Scientific American in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s but at some point I dropped it as even its technical articles became laced with PC.

      Also disturbing, The Economist (to which I also subscribe) has slipped into PC, especially in its Books and Arts section, while the editorial content has lost its economics rigor. Bagehot is turning in his grave!

  3. aljones909 says

    The BBC did a three part series “No More Boys And Girls: Can Our Kids Go Gender Free?”. It featured Rippon’s work extensively. The answer to the question was of course “yes”.
    The BBC used to have a reputation for impartiality. No longer. This series was presented as an even handed look at gender but it was purely propaganda. No scientists of stature (who knows if they’d dare) were wheeled out to critique Rippon.
    Depressing.

    • Young says

      The New Scientist also presents Rippon’s claims uncritically on its front page.

      Social constructivist propaganda is all permeating.

      I recommend a ‘Can my kids go BBC free?” experiment.

    • Considering how messed up people with gender dysphoria are, all that suffering they claim to go through, it’s astounding that anyone would wish that confusion on a child. It’s like saying ‘I hope this generation grows up to be unhappy and commit suicide.’

  4. Peter Kriens says

    It is always an interesting, and at first baffling, feminist argument to point out that the differences are very small. Still when it is about climate science, progressives have no problem in accepting that going from 0.03% CO2 in the atmosphere to 0.04% are predicted to have world wide devastating consequences. Similarly, we are sharing roughly 97% of our DNA with chimpanzees but I doubt any feminist would deny that that this small difference has rather large consequences. (Well, at least for women.)
    The most bizarre part in this feminist assault on neurology (Rippon , Fine, Joel) is that there is a gigantic difference between male and female brains: the weight. Male brains are about 15% bigger than females, even after adjusting for body weight. (Which makes male brains on average about 20% larger.) All these feminist authors cursory discard this difference as if it is irrelevant, just like they tend to discard that some small effects are actually correlated.
    However, the most bizarre part of these attacks on science is that they completely ignore hormones and hormones can significantly alter behavior to become more or less masculine/feminine. Even if the brains of males and females was identical (which they clearly seem to be not) then the huge difference in testosterone (also attacked by Cordelia Fine in a similar desperate ways as Joel attacks brain differences) seem a much more logical explanation for the measurable differences between the sexes then socialization. There are so many things socialization cannot explain like transgenders, homosexuals, criminals, etc.
    Every few years I read an article about how parents decide to raise their child completely neutral (although it often sounds more feminine). It would be interesting to hear from adults that had to endure such an education.

    • Greg Lorriman says

      A friend’s sister raised her kids this way with careful homeschooling and was perplexed to find the boys shouting and fighting all the time. Haha!

      Arguably they might have shouted and fought less has they been raised in a gender ‘stereotyped’ manner. I suspect it is frustrating for the boys.

      • E. Olson says

        and boy monkey babies prefer to play with toy trucks, and girl monkey babies prefer to play with dolls – who socialized them on gender stereotypes?

      • Tony says

        As Pinker has said, there is a name for those people who subscribe to the notion that boys and girls instinctively act identically…. Childless

  5. Young says

    So the long march through the institutions has arrived at the commanding heights of science – Nature, its most prestigious journal.

    This constitutes a second coming. The idea that science is political; humans are infinitely malleable; that biology is socially constructed and political reforms can reset biology; constituted the core of Soviet biology. (These ideas tend to be attributed to just one man, Lysenko, but they were an obvious extension of Marxist ideology).

    This resulted in the deaths of millions in the 20th century.

    We should be questioning why femininity is devalued instead of pretending that it’s society’s fault that women aren’t identical to men. Pressuring women to be male-typical (and conversely, that men be more female-typical) is just as regressive as reinforcing stereotypical gender norms.

    Yes and this should be obvious. How did an ideology called ‘feminism’ ever turn its fire on femininity itself?

    Happily embracing a distorted view of world, whether intentionally or out of ignorance, does nothing to promote gender equality. If anything, it offers evidence to those who are genuinely misogynistic that women aren’t as good at science and math.

    Unfortunately, it’s now obvious to all that the mass entrance of women into positions of power in key institutions (like Nature) is associated with serious and growing problems. Those problems appear to result from to a pervasive scepticism about the possibility of objectivity, neutrality and the value of systematicity in general.

    Women (with male allies) seem to be using their new found power to attack traditional systems of law, government, HR rules, philosophy, science, reason in general – whenever they lead to what are seen as the ‘wrong’ outcomes. This must undermine civilisation’s deepest foundations.

    Law, justice, science and reason must remain objective, neutral and systematic, or cease to be law, justice, science and reason. Systematicity is an essential characteristic. The system can be reformed, but it can’t cease to be a system without losing all value.

    • david of Kirkland says

      If you feel it’s right, then it’s right. Believe the story, not the evidence. It’s a real strain on relationships dealing with this new split in rationality.

  6. Anon says

    This is not science, it’s just feminist activism. Now the activists have a Nature paper, and if you don’t agree with the thesis you must be a deplorable and probably some kind of science denier.

    • As I mentioned in another comment nearby, the article that Soh refers to is not a technical paper, but a book review. The technical papers remain strong, as far as I can tell.

  7. House of Shards says

    The great sea change in academia could be consigned to female domination. The censorship. Feelings trumping facts. Rooting out racism somehow masquerading as scholarship. The entire religious takeover — seems predicated on feminine concerns. It reminds me of my childhood when, with girls, it took very little to get them upset. I often ran to the boys for refuge. They’d usually just shrug everything off. In other words, I was “socially conditioned” to fear neurotic, impossible girls.

  8. E. Olson says

    “We should be questioning why femininity is devalued instead of pretending that it’s society’s fault that women aren’t identical to men.”

    Why? Simple really, the only thing that women can do consistently better than men is have children, and feminists have been attacking motherhood since at least the 1960s. Taking care of children, and God forbid husbands, has been denigrated by feminists as something no woman should want or settle for. Only important, high status, highly paid careers mattered, which meant pregnancy needed to be avoided and the consequent role of stay at home moms must be continually belittled. Unfortunately, most women haven’t proven to be very adept at breaking the glass ceilings of the world, and it wouldn’t fit the feminist narrative if performance differentials were explained by gender differences in brain functioning, personality, or intelligence, and so feminist directed research must show women’s lagging performance in the paid workplace is because of sexism and patriarchy.

    And as a result we have more single moms raising kids in poverty, more unstable/sexually frustrated marriages, more highly educated women not having children (or few children), and more cases of exaggerated and fake charges of discrimination, sexual harassment and rape made by woman against men at universities and workplaces. In other words, not the makings of a classic Disney animated feature.

    • Sienna says

      @E. Olson – I am hoping you’re generalising with regards to what women can do better. Female here, with an IQ that places me in the 96th percentile which is far higher than many people, men and women. Babies are not going to happen for me as I have an autoimmune degenerative disease and have to take meds that are teratogenic. Regardless, I never wanted kids and never felt maternal and I knew this before I even knew what feminism was or what sex was, for that matter. Must have to do with extremely low agreeableness.

      That said, in your generalised view, I’d have no “value” if the only thing I could contribute to society were kids and I appreciate that I am not the majority but still – it is ridiculous to think that with all I have to offer I am somehow worthless. I think about these 1950s females and while most women would probably be happy in these traditional roles, I’d kill myself. And maybe that would be the “correct” solution, maybe I am some sort of aberration…But it seems ridiculous to me to think that.

      • E. Olson says

        Sienna – who said you have no value? The issue is that most women are not like you, and yet feminism pushes something like your life history as the ideal path for women. The “traditional” role for women has been belittled by feminists for decades, and is well illustrated by your comment about killing yourself, yet surveys still find that most women want to have children, and large portions wish to be full-time moms or work part-time while their children are young.

        The article says that femininity has become devalued, I explained why. Your anger at my explanation further demonstrates that despite having more freedom to do whatever they want (including not marrying or having children), women as a whole are unhappier today than in the past when most followed traditional female roles. You may think that traditional femininity devalues you, but creating and caring for human-kind’s next generation is the world’s most important task, assuming you wish to see a continuation of the human species (and your social security check is dependent on it).

        • Sienna says

          I accept most women are not like me – but me not wanting to have kids has nothing to do with feminism. For me, cleaning, cooking and looking after children would be the equivalent of a scientist working a factory. I am not devaluing these tasks, we need women having kids as well as people working in factories (at least before automation takes over). I am, however, convinced that my cognitive abilities together with my temperament (both innate qualities, by the way, nothing to do with cultural influences, such as, for example, feminism) would make me less than ideal candidate for the “traditional” role.

          I am sorry but I genuinely don’t understand how my anger (I wasn’t angry, just baffled, but okay, I accept how I might have come across) demonstrates that “women as a whole are unhappier today”? I don’t think that traditional femininity devalues me but I am certain it does not suit me, intellectually or temperamentally. I am certain that living in the 1950s would have made me miserable beyond belief. And it might be the case that women today are unhappier not being encouraged to embrace these traditional roles but still, what does that have to do with my comment?

          Plenty of women want and have kids nowadays so I am sure that I don’t have to fulfil that “most important task” and as for my social security – I have property and investments to get me through retirement.

          • E. Olson says

            Sienna – I applaud your self-awareness, too many people who shouldn’t be parents are. I also applaud your foresight in saving for retirement, although property values and stock prices are also going to be very dependent on having younger generations with sufficient size and wealth to bid up property prices and buy the products that generate the corporate income that drive up equity valuations.

          • Polly styrene says

            Sienna, I recognize myself in some of your comments. I never played with dolls nor did I feel even slightly inclined towards playing house. I couldn’t then or now spend much time around young kids – and certainly not badly behaved young kids. I loved building forts and go-karts and excelled at science.

            I was inspired by Amelia Earhardt and other female adventurers, however I was not encouraged to develop my natural talents. I believe recent history has had a place for women who avoided traditional female roles. Sadly for me, I grew up in a religious environment and was encouraged towards traditional feminine things and diverted from what I would have been truly good at.

            I see that society has changed HUGELY since I was a girl and I witness my nieces enjoying the flexibility to grow in any direction they show aptitude for. Minds have opened and there is support for girls in STEM careers. And dads are proud of this.

            What I hope for the future is continued acceptance of people for the skills and aptitudes they own, the ability to put as much support behind someone for their qualities regardless of gender. This is what I was denied growing up in the ’70’s.

            As I witness first hand in my extended family and in the families of my friends is that the world HAS changed and continues to get easier for people who stand out from mainstream to pursue their career and personal dreams.

            Confusing is that people are fighting a war that has already been won (excepting some pockets of regressive religious fundamentalists).

          • Polly stryene (and Sienna): “What I hope for the future is continued acceptance of people for the skills and aptitudes they own, the ability to put as much support behind someone for their qualities regardless of gender.”

            This is the answer for those who believe in the fundamental merit of classic liberalism- great comment.

          • D-Rex says

            @Sienna, I know you understand this but not being ‘normal’ is not an aberration. Nobody thinks the exceptionally smart or strong or attractive are aberrations even though they are at the thin edge of whatever bell curve they inhabit.You are fortunate to live at a time where you can be yourself and find a place in the world. A lesson that still has some learning to do is that people are all different to some degree and we should celebrate this and not see people with different ideas as necessarily evil.

        • Tom More says

          Silly you for advancing opinions as if there were such a thing as human biology and that we don’t otherwise exist; at least not in this life. Cheers good points. Love the heresy.

      • Cornfed says

        I think you misunderstood Olson’s point.
        “the only thing that women can do consistently better than men is have children”
        I would argue that there are probably a few other things that women can do better, but regardless, that’s a far cry from saying that women have no value outside of procreation. You can and should determine your life’s value on your own terms. The problem (one of them, anyway) with feminism is that it has worked hard to tell women that they are wrong to embrace a traditional view of femininity.

        • Polly styrene says

          Agree with your points. There should be no reason why women or men cannot embrace a career or prefer to be a stay at home parent – limited only by their ability to live with the consequences. There are some who do not take responsibility for the outcome of their choice. You should be welcome to be a stay at home mom, and there are benefits to children, however it does impact your career. I support government tax incentives to encourage people to stay home with their kids in the formative years – better for society. Either parent. Either gender. However there is a price to one’s career. If you can’t do the gruelling hours/travel schedules, you may have to forfeit many of the highest paying jobs.

      • Stephanie says

        Sienna, as someone “with an IQ that places me in the 96th percentile which is far higher than many people, men and women,” surely you understand that your experience is highly atypical. Given your vastly superior IQ, surely statements such as “the only thing that women can do consistently better than men is have children” and “most women haven’t proven to be very adept at breaking the glass ceilings of the world” don’t apply to you. You’re clearly the very rare expection to these general rules.

        Because you are so vastly intelligent that you must be aware of this, why do you have a bone to pick? Are you under the impression us less intelligent folk are not aware that there are extreme cases that defy the average?

        Were you hoping to dispute the narrative by pointing to yourself as an extremely atypical example? That doesn’t make sense, surely you’re too smart to engage in fallicious arguments like that.

        Were you just trying to draw attention to yourself?

    • Emerald City says

      Can you clarify why it’s “misandry” and/or a gross over-generalization for women to say “Men are [insert negative attribute]” but it’s perfectly okay for men to say “Women are incompetent, inferior, and should be at home serving their husbands.”

      Pine all you like for the days of women as property, but I don’t think they’re coming back. Women are even allowed to purchase gasoline now!

      • E. Olson says

        EC – I’m not sure I understand your question, but misandry is the order of the day on college campuses and in popular entertainment.

        As the article illustrates, you can’t visit a college campus today (where women are likely 60% of the student body) without being told by activists, administration, and researchers that toxic masculinity and patriarchy are the causes of all societal problems, and are what keeps women from their rightful place as the top of the human power hierarchies.

        I can’t think of a single show where the male lead gets laughs making fun at the expense of a female main character, but the other way round is rampant. Homer and Bart are the total idiots and losers, and Marge and Lisa are the smart, rational, and successful characters on the Simpsons, and that is the general pattern on all big movies and TV shows over the past 30+ years. Father Knows Best is long dead, and even on that show Bud the son was clearly the idiot in the family.

        The war is over, women have won, and yet they still aren’t happy. It is also ironic that feminists accuse Western men of “pining for the days when women were property” while they are often on the front lines in advocating the import of thousands of young Muslim, Hispanic, and African males who do far more than pine.

        • Swan Song says

          I agree, E. Olsen. The order of the day is to rewrite history into males “owning” females without allowing for any other possibility. While interpreting a 17th century Dutch painting, I noted that it was the wife who stood bathed in light. The husband was seated in the shadows. I suggested that this was a form of adoration. Blaspheme! One student huffed and puffed and insisted that it was just the light from the window. Then I asked why she was positioned there in the first place — now I’m a woman-hater — despite the fact that what I was trying to point out was that the mother appeared to be the “light of the family.”

          I can certainly sympathize with Sienna’s point; I’m the other kind of woman, myself. However I have found that I would have been just as happy, if not more so, taking care of a home and children, which would have allowed more time for other creative pursuits. I prefer cleaning the bathroom to grading papers. And I deeply resent heeding the feminist clarion call to bash motherhood, because I never intended to end up childless.

          Feminism ought to be a celebration of what women have done for the world. Not grievance over not getting enough attention. And besides, that’s just plain B.S. It seems that the women with more testosterone took over the gender and determined what was best for everyone, causing a whole hell of a lot of unintended consequences in the long run.

          What, after all, is more important than one’s home? Feeling at home? What the home looks like, feels like? Food? What was deemed women’s work has always been extremely valuable. How could anyone (myself included) be stupid enough to believe that punching data into a computer forty hours a week is more meaningful?

          • Polly styrene says

            Swan Song – perfect! Does anyone need feminist activism anymore here in the west? Women are not limited to the extent they used to be 40 or 50 years ago, have choice and are supported in their choices by both government policy and individuals. Other parts of the world – that’s different. However, the influx of immigrants here may create new work for them, if the experience some countries with indiscriminate immigration are a model.

        • david of Kirkland says

          Too short-sighted…this isn’t a lost war, just a currently losing battle. Tug and pull is how progress has worked forever; it’s never a straight line because all human brains have a taste for faith, conspiracy and following authority.

        • Polly styrene says

          EOlsen. Did you read the article titled something like “Blind Altruism/Sweden”? Some inconvenient facts there about some of the men coming in via immigration – and you are absolutely correct in that they have no resemblance to western men in their attitudes towards women. Sweden and social workers in the north of England are demanding tracking statistics to thwart very ugly violence against women. It’s not what anyone wanted, but it does illustrate your point. Not sure why compassion and facts and logic can’t seem to find a happy balance.

        • Ray Andrews says

          @E. Olson

          I’ll be arrested for this, but it was once understood that there is very often a deep neurosis among women that boils down to the fact that what they want, and what they think they want, are not the same, and there are several levels of reflection or ‘echo’ in this. The radfem says she wants ‘equality’ but what she really wants is domination. She says she is equally gifted, but she demands affirmative action and quotas. She calls herself a feminist but what she values is masculine. She says she hates The Patriarchy but that’s only because she has not yet taken it over. She is at one and the same time Wonder Woman and a Victim. Yet underneath it all, she may actually be a female, who — if she could only admit it to herself — wants to marry a good man and have a family.

          • ccscientist says

            Ray andrews: we could also point out that most women say they value the “nice guy” qualities, but then swarm around rock stars and millionaires (and even serial killers), that they want “equality” but will only marry a man who is taller, a little older, and makes more $ than themselves. And they wonder why men act confused.

        • Craig WIllms says

          @ E.Olson
          “I can’t think of a single show where the male lead gets laughs making fun at the expense of a female main character, but the other way round is rampant”

          There is “Last Man Standing”. yes, it was better in it’s first incarnation, but the main male character gives it as well as he took it. Including his own wife!!! It’s probably why the show was/is so popular, it didn’t make the right-wing male character the butt of all jokes, some of them, sure, but not all. And he often derailed the left-wingers with logic and righteous humor. However, this show, as indicated by the title is the only one of it’s kind.

      • peanut gallery says

        Wow! Letting women vote is clearly where the country went wrong…

        What I get from reading what people write and what others read in between the lines is interesting. (baffling) You can lead a prog to water, but you can’t convince them of the chemical composition.

    • Lesley says

      The issue with this model isn’t that women had no value. It’s that historically they had no autonomy. Most women do want autonomy, whatever their intelligence may or may not be. Most stupid men also want autonomy and nobody seems nonplussed by this.

      • Robert Franklin says

        Lesely – Historically, almost no one had autonomy. The idea that men but not women could step outside of the demands of survival and socially/governmentally-mandated roles is overwhelmingly untrue.

        • Lesley says

          Um, duh? But this does 0 to explain why a historical model should constrain people’s aspirations today when many (though obviously not all) of the historical constraints have been eliminated or radically reduced.

          And by autonomy, I don’t mean some stupid utopian concept of freedom from all social constraint or obligation. That’s nonsense. I mean it in the simplest possible terms: ownership of property, the ability to dictate sexual consent, the ability to not be arbitrarily forbidden from access to public spaces without escort or permission, the ability to secure occupation which produces wages or goods which one has a reasonable ability to depose of as one wishes. There is nothing that stipulates a society must put these constraints on women in order for humans to survive for the simple reason that some societies did not and did not immediately capsize into ruin.

          A society in which a woman’s only meaningful social role is “mother” and that demands a woman stay put with children is a society in which women are themselves dependents. And are therefore utterly at the mercy not just of the whims of nature or chance as men are, but are also at the utter mercy of the whims of men or whoever their “providers” are. It insists that women themselves are only slightly more competent versions of children.

          • Lesley says

            Follow-up to my above post. Women want the right to chose to be dependents if they want rather than being assigned the role of dependent with no regard to their actual competence.

          • E. Olson says

            Lesley – you wrote: “A society in which a woman’s only meaningful social role is “mother” and that demands a woman stay put with children is a society in which women are themselves dependents.”

            What meaningful roles would have otherwise awaited women? Pushing a heavy cast-iron plow through the soil? Mining for coal, gold, or silver in a dark, damp hole in the ground? Charging across open ground towards canon and machine guns? Any of those sound appealing to you? Of course woman could resort to prostitution, or household servant, or if from a wealthy family and allowed to finish high school, could get a 6 month teaching certificate and be assigned to teach 20-30 children aged 5 to 15 in a one room school house. Do any of those sound more appealing than cherished mother and wife?

            And why was being a mother a full-time job? Because just cooking family meals was a 30-40 hour per week job in the days of wood burning stoves, no refrigeration, and no microwave meals. Store bought clothes were a luxury, so mom and daughters spent much time making and repairing family clothes, and washing them in a nearby stream with a washboard, while father and son were plowing fields, milking cows, or mining coal for 12+ hours per day. And yes you probably would have 5 to 15 children if you didn’t die during child-birth, and you would grieve as several of your children died of childhood illnesses, and try again because the family needed the labor and income that children provided the household and the “social security” they would provide you in old age or widowhood.

            And who can you thank for all the choices and freedoms that women have to pursue their aspirations today? Well you can thank the men who invented reliable and cheap birth control, and the men who figured out how to reduce high child-birth mortality rates, and the men who invented the modern kitchen and modern household gadgets that mean taking care of the house isn’t a full-time job. And you can thank the Protestant men who were the first to think it important that girls learn to read the Bible, and the property owning men who gave women the vote. Are you still with me? Well then you can thank the expendable men who gave their lives following “woman and children first” on the Titanic, and the men who pay most of the taxes that go towards paying for the government welfare spending that goes predominantly to women. And finally you can thank the men who allow women to have a career, or career and marriage and children, or just marriage and children, or any combination, which is not a menu of choice that men have ever given themselves.

          • Diana Ayala says

            Lesley,
            I am a woman. I used to be an ardent feminist, to the point it took over my life; it was exhausting always finding fault with everyone and everything. Every freedom you listed, women now have. And yet, research shows they are unhappier than ever before. My single friends post uber feminist stuff on their social media while crying to me that they can’t find a man, no matter how many tinder dates they go on. They sleep with guys on first date to show they can be “just like guys” and then cry when said guy doesn’t make them breakfast in the morning. In today’s society, no one is calling for women to fulfill their ‘roles” as mothers. if anything, traditional roles are derided, like you are doling.

          • Robert Franklin says

            So how do you believe that “a historical model” restricts “people’s aspirations today?”

          • Ray Andrews says

            @Lesley

            ” Women want the right to chose to be dependents ”

            Which right they do have. Everyone here agrees that women should have maximized choice. Some even say that men should have choice too, but in practice we often see that women have rights, men have responsibilities. Nope, we should all have the right to maximize our utility both to society and to ourselves. But it’s long past time to junk Victim narratives. You’ve come a long way baby, in fact you now are the First Sex — privileged in point of fact.

        • Swan Song says

          Exactly — not even that long ago in history. In the late 70’s, when my father was dying of cancer, he still got suited up to go to work because he was the provider for the family. He handed over his paycheck to her and she gave HIM an an allowance. This wasn’t all that uncommon. Males have been the beasts of burden — in a different way. We can also break down what “autonomy” truly means — strapped to a desk chair in an office? Or free to read the books you want to read, make the things you want to make (my mother as housewife) . Feminism is the worst case of the grass is greener on the other side of the fence…

      • peanut gallery says

        Historically, men haven’t had much autonomy either. Ask a serf. In context, you can’t judge the past by our current values. I can say that we don’t want to go back to that, but the realities of life in 0BC to 1700 to 2019 is very very different. Many progs act as if women were property last week. Women are more powerful and respected than ever. They have their own day. Every time a women does anything for the first time we want to shower them with praise. We may have gone from equality sycophancy. Men and women do not need to war with one another. We needed each other in 30000BC and it’s still true.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @E. Olson

      “the only thing that women can do consistently better than men is have children”

      It’s just anecdotal, but in my extended family, everyone plays chess and everyone plays scrabble. The males dominate in chess, but the ladies clean up at scrabble. I’m sure there is something to this. The male brain more analytical the female more parallel/intuitive. I myself see little reason to ‘rank’ one as better than the other, I’m glad we have both, but in the analytical/systematizing fields men are hugely more likely to excel — remembering of course that we are individuals.

      • Emerald City says

        @E. Olson “you can thank the men who allow women to have a career”

        “Allow” As if men have some God-given right to tell women what they can and cannot do. If you want to know why marriage is in decline, this is why. Women don’t want to be treated like property, like children, or in your case conditionally free subordinates, told by the men in their lives that their freedom is by way of condescending male largesse, not by way of their human dignity.

        • E. Olson says

          EC – men may not have had a God-given right to tell women what they can or cannot do, but they did have complete physical and legal rights to do so until recently in the West, and still do in much of the rest of world. If women/girls are allowed to go to school or vote, to become doctors or lawyers or managers, to drive, smoke, or drink, or go out in public without escort or fully covered, it is only because men have decided to allow it.

    • Jon Zig says

      My wife told me in the late 80s, “if I get anymore liberated it’s going to kill me.” Working full time, raising two girls and keeping a household together, is a recipe for a short life. We did it together, but just being a mom and wife makes her a queen in my mind.

  9. Nick Podmore says

    As the regressive left are so keen on murdering babies in utero, why don’t we just scoop the brains out of these “cell clusters” and examine them? I believe there are several hundred thousand viable late term abortions in the US each year. A veritable buffet of tiny corpses for the slavering left to feast upon! Much cheaper than scanning and there are buckets aplenty available at your local “Planned Parenthood” superstore.

    Inappropriate jokes aside, the west is doomed if we continue to allow the tainting of science by these idiots with ideology. HTF did such tripe get published? Surely it is peer reviewed? Or have the hard sciences gone the way of the sopcial sciences now?

    Seriously, in the not too distant future someone is going to publish a paper saying that sex organs are a social construct and are grown in the uterus through some internal misogynistic transfer twixt parent and “cell cluster”. Thank Christ I will be dead in a few years!

    • david of Kirkland says

      Sex for reproduction may indeed go away. Why take random results from partners whose quality is only as good as you can attract as a mate in your locale?

    • Tom More says

      Good for you for remembering and speaking for the boys and girls we are currently murdering in our hospitals. Interesting to see Dems actually , formally advocating infanticide. The murderers identify themselves and drop the charade.

  10. If every human characteristic is a mere social construct the power hungry can reconstruct society, and the people in it, as they wish.

  11. E. Olson says

    “I don’t deny that sexism exists, but sexism today is not so severe that it stands in the way of a woman achieving a career in science—or any field—if she really wants to. There are countless programs in place that encourage girls and young women to pursue careers in scientific disciplines.”

    Yes sexism exists, but not in the direction implied by the author. Sexism today is all about discriminating against males. Special programs are set up to help women enter prestige fields, job openings can safely say thing such a “we especially encourage women to apply” or other such indications that female applicants will get preference over males. How long would it take to get sued or boycotted if a firm advertising a position with “we especially encourage men to apply”? Recent feminists complaints about gender pay gaps at Google turned embarrassing when a salary review revealed that women are paid more than men in the same position, but will Google be doing an adjusting to equalize the men? And speaking of Google, does anyone think that if a Jane Damore would have been fired if she had written a memo suggesting genetic differences might explain gender differences in the Google workforce?

    Of course “traditional” sexism is alive and well in much of the developing world and Muslim majority countries, where female genital mutilation women is routinely practiced, where girls are routinely raped (for real), and women are still largely barefoot and pregnant, spending their day hauling water and cooking over a dung fire, but Western feminists don’t seem to care very much about that kind of sexism.

    • david of Kirkland says

      It’s classic “first world problems.” That is, there are no real threats or problems for most, which then lets the mind focus on the micro-aggressions and the horrors of feeling bad. It’s related to the increased anxiety and depression the youth suffer, to the point of increasing suicide and school shootings. Progress?

    • K. Dershem says

      “Sexism today is all about discriminating against males.” Further proof that the anti-SJW ideology is the mirror image of SJWism. There’s no less victim mongering, but the identity of the victims is reversed (men in place of women, whites in place of blacks). E.: with all due respect, your posts provide ample demonstration that anti-female sexism is alive and well. Out of curiosity, how do you feel about the Quiverfull Movement? It seems like a good fit with your views on women.

      As a straight white male, I’ve never felt like I was disadvantaged as a consequence of my race, sex or sexual orientation. Perhaps I’ve just been lucky!

        • K. Dershem says

          If by “beta” you mean I’m not a macho asshole, then you’re spot on.

      • E. Olson says

        K. I have no problem with the Quiverfull Movement as long as it is based on free-choice, but if they start pushing it with violent tactics as the model for everyone, I will be the first to criticize the people behind such intolerance. The low fertility rates that are a product of the feminist attacks on motherhood, however, do have some major negative implications for the future of the welfare state that the feminist movement has also been at the forefront of promoting.

        Lucky for you that you haven’t experiences reverse-sexism, but I’ve been on too many hiring committees where upper-management or members of the committee came down hard to increase diversity hires, with lowered standards and the picking of the 5th best candidate because the first 4 were non-victim class males.

        And remember this article is about the denial of well-documented science on gender differences in brain activity, which is being used to falsely accuse men of sexism when women don’t achieve parity in high status fields. I have no problems with women who prefer STEM (or trash collecting) to knitting and motherhood, but it is crazy to push the false narrative that we are interchangeable and should have equal outcomes.

        • K. Dershem says

          To clarify: I don’t think that men and women are the same, nor do I think that disparate outcomes are necessarily evidence of discrimination. I do, however, think that anti-female sexism remains pervasive in the U.S.

      • Ray Andrews says

        @K. Dershem

        “I’ve never felt like I was disadvantaged as a consequence of my race, sex or sexual orientation. Perhaps I’ve just been lucky!”

        Or perhaps you were not taught to view every difficulty or setback in your life as Victimization. Perhaps like almost all men, you adapted to your reality, did what you had to do, took whatever knocks you had to take and didn’t whine about it.

        “There’s no less victim mongering, but the identity of the victims is reversed”

        There is a logical difficulty with that: You make it an a priori that any claim of bias or grievance on the part of men is automatically void. Why? We do not dismiss women’s Victimographies out of hand, do we? We consider them, and sometimes we consider them to valid but also that sometimes they are overdrawn. Is it not possible that they could be overdrawn? Yes, it is possible. It is also possible that even males could have valid complaints. I would suggest that claims of Victimhood should neither be accepted without question, nor rejected out of hand and that goes for both sexes. IOW a claim of injustice might be ‘mongering’ or it might be quite correct and that goes for both sexes.

        • K. Dershem says

          “You make it an a priori that any claim of bias or grievance on the part of men is automatically void.” Not true; I was responding to E.’s categorical claim that the polarity of sexism has now reversed. I fully acknowledge that men are disadvantaged in certain areas, but I think it’s absurd to claim that women are (broadly speaking) privileged in Western society while men are disadvantaged. Purported instances of discrimination should be evaluated on a case by case basis. This is obviously difficult to quantify, but on balance I think that men are still privileged over women in the West — despite the fact that women in developed countries are far better off than their counterparts in developing countries. That’s why I’m convinced that equity feminism is still useful and necessary. It seems to me that claims of male victimhood are an essential element of the anti-SJW ideology, similar to claims that Christians are now face serious “persecution” in the U.S. Both groups (males and Christians) still possess vastly more power than their opposites, but apparently interpret any diminution of that power as an existential threat.

          • Ray Andrews says

            @K. Dershem

            “categorical claim that the polarity of sexism has now reversed”

            Ok, but that claim cannot be dismissed a priori. It is not impossible that the tide of sexism now flows in the opposite direction and the evidence should decide, not some formulaic dismissal of the claim outright.

            “but apparently interpret any diminution of that power as an existential threat”

            You’re doing it again — you frame any complain that men might make as being a priori invalid and essentially an effort to hang onto their tyrannical patriarchal unearned power. You are making a moral insinuation, not a real argument as to the facts. But what if that is not the motive? What if men do in actual fact face discrimination? What if people like E and myself would genuinely like to see equality but not reverse discrimination? Imputing bad motives to us is not only mistaken, it is in fact an avoidance of the topic itself. As honest men — and you are an honest man — we should avoid insinuations and stick to the evidence. We should rather grant each other the benefit of the doubt as to motives. This is ‘charity’.

            “Purported instances of discrimination should be evaluated on a case by case basis.”

            Sure, but sometimes we zoom out and try to gauge the overall picture, which is of course difficult and requires honesty.

            “Both groups (males and Christians) still possess vastly more power than their opposites”

            As above, if our goal really was to eliminate sexism and have genuine equality then we’d need to take each case on its own merits. But if we are looking at the broad picture, we have an honest debate. IMHO there yet remains the echo of what used to be The Patriarchy, I think that’s true, but every actual policy, law, hiring practice, social stigma, stereotype … favors women overtly. If current trends continue, women will soon dominate every field … except of course for the dirty, dangerous, debilitating, demanding, exhausting jobs in which Equity seems unimportant.

            The Victim-feminist’s case rests on those few remaining metrics where women seem to be on the loosing side (they ignore all metrics that show women to be the big winners). But the case rests always on unequal outcomes, and it has been demonstrated that the unequal outcomes are not the result of Oppression, but of different interests, talents, choices and especially the hugely different levels of commitment to a career. The ‘rampant sexism’ we keep hearing about is almost entirely non-existent and what there is works both ways about equally.

          • K. Dershem says

            @Ray, we clearly see the world very differently. In the U.S., men continue to dominate the political and economic spheres (as measured by the number of female presidents, Senators, Fortune 1000 CEOs, Supreme Court justices, etc.). Perhaps this disparity is completely due to biological differences, but regardless of the cause it makes a significant difference in how and whether the interests of women are properly represented. As a man, I don’t have to worry about walking alone at night for fear of being sexually assaulted. I’ve never been subjected to sexual harrassment in the workplace the way my female colleagues have. (#Metoo has gone too far in some instances, but I’m fairly sure it’s the tip of the iceberg in terms of working-class professions.) I’ve never been told by someone like E. Olson that my highest calling is to procreate. (That kind of antiquated attitude is far less common today thanks to the decline of organized religion and the demise of older generations, but it’s still fairly common in conservative Christian subcultures.) I’m not directly affected by laws that restrict access to birth control and/or abortion, nor am I constantly subjected to media images that objectify the female body and cause many women to think they’re ugly. (Women — especially overweight women — are judged on the basis of their appearance far more than men.) I don’t face social pressure to take time off to care for my young children and then suffer the career consequences because the workplace was designed with men in mind. Women have some advantages as well, but many of them derive from the choices women make — they’re far less likely to commit violent crimes (and therefore receive preferential treatment in the criminal justice system) or to choose dangerous professions (they’re disproportionately likely to opt for the “helping” professions, which pay less — in part — because our society’s skewed priorities).

            You may regard sexism against women as “non-existent,” and you’re certainly entitled to your views. From my perspective, you seem like a “victim-masculinist”: the reverse image of radical feminists who blame everything on “the system.” I apologize if I seem to be imputing bad motives to you, but I honestly can’t understand how you conclude that women are the dominant sex. If you were correct that “every actual policy, law, hiring practice, social stigma, [and] stereotype favors women overtly,” then women must be profoundly stupid and/or indifferent given how little power they possess in the upper echelons of society. Perhaps the West will become a tyrannical matriarchy in the future, but it certainly isn’t one now. I don’t think the vast majority of women — including non-radical (i.e., sane) feminists — have any desire to oppress men; they genuinely seek equality. For the record, you’re straw-manning my position by referring to “the patriarchy.” I’ve never claimed and don’t believe that women are systematically oppressed in Western society as they are in many non-Western cultures. However, I see abundant evidence that women still face obstacles that men do not — and, on balance, those obstacles are more daunting than the ones confronting men.

          • Stephanie says

            K Dershem, you’re confusing disparity with discrimination, and also assuming that a male CEO cannot represent female interests.

            At the very upper echelons of merit-based systems, men tend to dominate because it requires an insane commitment to work that men are psychologically predisposed to more than women. That does not mean a thing about the interests of women. The assumption women are each other’s allies in the workplace is false, as any woman could tell you, particularly if she’s more attractive than her co-workers.

            Most victims of violence are men, and if you count prison and the military men are raped more often too. You “don’t have to be afraid” because you don’t put yourself in places that make you afraid. Dear is instinctual, not a choice. I also “don’t have to be afraid” because I don’t make stupid choices about where I go, when, and in what state. I have enough self-awareness to know that the strange men walking down the same dark street as me are far more likely to risk their lives helping me than to hurt me.

            Women should be told the truth that a family will mean much more to them in the long run than a promotion, a vacation, or a dog. The propaganda that babies should be secondary to becoming an office worker is toxic, and ought to be counteracted. Young women today are shamed into wasting most of our fertility window by the sorts of insinuations you make about it being some cooky religious fanatic thing. It is not. It is a primary biological driver.

            Men are affected by laws governing abortion. Male babies get aborted. Fathers have no recourse when their child is killed. But if the mother chooses to have the child, Dad I on the hook for 18 years.

            It is predominantly women who judge women on their appearance. Social pressure is to not take much time off and get back to work – you think employers like it when mother’s take long leaves? It is mother’s who want to spend time with their babies. Yes, it means taking a hit to your career, but that is better than losing out time with your babies, which is why women choose it. I think there should be more openness to having babies and children at work, but this is the last front of feminism. We should be thinking of this instead of equity hiring.

            Women are super privileged in today’s society. We work cushy jobs, get hired preferentially, receive all the social benefit of men still being chivalrous, always have the option of playing weak or the victim if we need something, ect. And increasingly we can take a bunch of time with our babies and future employers are understanding. Women don’t need to sold a victim narrative.

          • Ray Andrews says

            @K. Dershem
            @Stephanie

            “we clearly see the world very differently.”

            There’s no one here who’s views are closer to mine than you. Or perhaps I should say, no one who’s views I respect more.

            Stephanie did most of my work for me. As she says, we should be careful to distinguish between representation of genders in, say, politics and ‘domination’. Women simply don’t throw themselves into the arena as often as men. More often they look to marry that kind of man — one who will support them in the style they are hoping to become accustomed to.

            “I’ve never been subjected to sexual harrassment in the workplace the way my female colleagues have.”

            Of course it happens. But the fems exaggerate. BTW I have been harassed at work; like most men I just shrugged it off. I did not spin myself up into a Victim. In my 45 years of work, I saw lots of low grade … lost for words … not play or assault or harassment but innuendo, suggestion, low grade come-ons. Every day, constantly, and very much both ways. This is how people are, we should not spin it out of proportion. Real assault of course in another matter entirely.

            “my highest calling is to procreate”

            That’s just his opinion and I share it. Most Western countries are at below replacement. But, if a woman thinks that lucrative CEO position is more important she can of course go for it.

            “that objectify the female body and cause many women to think they’re ugly”

            The system works with, and on, female obsession with appearance, but it does not create it. They sell middle aged men overpriced sports cars, no? They’ll take anyone’s money any way they can.

            “the workplace was designed with men in mind”

            Because women do in fact take time off work for kids. What would you expect? Maternity wards are designed with women in mind, what would you expect?

            “You may regard sexism against women as “non-existent,”

            No, I regard it as exaggerated and in fact almost all institutionalized sexism is against men. When was the last time you saw a hiring quota for men? In nursing, say?

            “how you conclude that women are the dominant sex”

            I didn’t say that. But they want to be, and if things go on as they are, they will be in a few decades.

            “how little power they possess in the upper echelons of society”

            Again, there is the fact that so few women are interested in fighting their way to the top. Margaret Thatcher is an example of a woman who did. Anyway it takes time for policy to rattle thru society, no? Wait 20 years.

            “they genuinely seek equality”

            Real women of course. But the radfems who control the agenda do hate us. Resentment is their dominant emotion and revenge is their goal.

            “on balance, those obstacles are more daunting than the ones confronting men”

            It’s a legitimate view. Even 30 years ago I’d have agreed.

          • E. Olson says

            Good discussion K, Ray, and Stephanie. I’ve enjoyed reading all your thoughtful responses, although perhaps not surprisingly I tend to agree more with Ray and Stephanie. Thank you.

      • Thylacine says

        Dersham – Yes, you have been lucky. Or unobservant. Did your female cohort not excel in education more than your male cohort? Did your female cohort survive in higher proportions through every decade of life? Do you know of no divorced fathers? Are you not aware that men are routinely sentenced to jail for crimes that no woman would have even been charged with, and that women get a discount of about 30% for crimes co-committed with men…? You really, really have to be ignorant of your own society to be unaware of the multitude of ways in which we favour women.

  12. Bootstamp says

    “sexism today is not so severe that it stands in the way of a woman achieving a career in science—or any field—if she really wants to”

    Why? Why this line in an otherwise excellent article? The fact that you had to qualify it with a “really” just shows that you too feel it can be a hurdle. Not as much as a lot of people like to claim it is – inclinations are often biological – but you could have just left it out.

    If only because that line would have been true even if sexism was rampant, which means it isn’t very meaningful in the first place.

    • david of Kirkland says

      @ Bootstamp – What? So in your mind when women didn’t have equal rights in the west (or in places today where they don’t), they could just do any job they wanted. That’s absurd. Heck, the British often talked about “your station in life.” Learn, it works.

    • Jamie McArdle says

      I skidded to a stop on the same line, but for a different reason. To me, the “really” sounded like an excuse for any particular woman to fail in her endeavors: if she didn’t achieve that science career, it was because she didn’t really want to succeed. It appears to me that a person’s lack of success in any merit-based field in our society is much more likely to be due to a lack of ability in that field than to the person’s lack of “real” motivation. (Yes, motivation does matter. I’m just saying that what the word “really” said to me was that the writer privileged motivation over ability in determining success, and that assumption brought me up short.)

  13. david of Kirkland says

    Conflating “sexism” with “social/cultural” is goofy. Humans live in a society, and we’re all constrained in some ways by it, but also blessed by all its variety and powers.

  14. Debra Soh should write a book to refute this science denial. I recently ordered the book “Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female” by Ashley McGuire which should arrive today. But we need a book to explain the science in detail and counter the intellectual sophistry being used to promote gender neutrality nonsense. Personally I don’t like seeing the world through a gendered lens, but you cannot ignore the realities of your biology.

  15. OleK says

    I’m surprised I haven’t seen the mention of the corpus callosum (the connecting nerve between the two brain hemispheres) as being thicker in women than men. It seems to me that this would be an obvious explainer of differences between men and women…why women multitask better and the GVMH (Greater Male Variability Hypothesis).

    • david of Kirkland says

      I thought the science rejected the notion that any brain can really multi-task well.

  16. Lesley Ragsdale says

    Can anybody recommend a decent, recent (say last ten years) popular science book about differences in the brain between the sexes that isn’t written by a philosopher, a journalist, a policy wonk or something equally irrelevant? That is, in fact, written by a neuroscientist or somebody who actually studies brains? And furthermore who isn’t a quack, wildly partisan, or swimming in controversy?

    I remember trying to find such a book a few years back and finally just giving up. Trying to find a truly objective, agenda-free popular work on this is more or less akin to trying to find such a work on the causes of homosexuality, whether or not immigration is economically good or bad, or whether or not there are biological differences in the races.

    Good luck.

    • Robert Franklin says

      Lesley – Male, Female by David Geary is pretty good.

    • Thylacine says

      Doreen Kimura has written a few books worth reading. And Susan Pinker (sister of Steven).

  17. Harrison Bergeron says

    Let’s call this what it is. Lysenkoism

    • Num num says

      Harrison, yes, we are literally witnessing something like Lysenkoism. I never imagined in my life I’d witness something like this. The dawn of Twitter and social media seem to correlate closely with what we’re witnessing, as if ‘call out’ culture and facilitated mob mentality are having an influence on par with the Soviet dictatorship if yesteryear.

  18. Robert Franklin says

    ” We should be questioning why femininity is devalued” We should also be questioning why the author believes such nonsense.

    Mothers get sole or primary custody of children in 82% of cases; adoption laws give mothers almost total power over fathers’ parental rights; 97% alimony recipients are women; 98% of combat fatalities in war are male; men and boys are treated more harshly at every phase of the criminal justice system than are women and girls; over 90% of workplace fatalities are men; 57% of college enrollees are women; there are 1,500 domestic violence shelters in this country for women and girls, but only three for men and boys despite equal victimization rates; almost 80% of suicides are male with essentially no efforts at intervention; women and girls are,under the ACA entitled to free wellness exams, but men and boys aren’t; male-specific cancer research is funded at about one-tenth that of female-specific cancer research; men die earlier than do women and girls; their earlier deaths mean that they receive less from social security and other pension plans than do women and girls. There is no right that men have that women don’t (except the right to be ordained as a priest by the Catholic Church). There are numerous rights that women have that men don’t, such as automatic parental rights for unmarried mothers. It’s long past time we stopped swallowing claptrap like “femininity is devalued.” It’s masculinity that’s devalued and to a dangerous degree for individual and social well-being.

    • david of Kirkland says

      Yes, and boys are disciplined more harshly and frequently in schools.

    • Diana Ayala says

      Well said, Robert Franklin. It amuses me to no end how the 20 and 30 something women in my office complain routinely about the “patriarchy” while their fathers and husbands pay for their useless liberal arts degrees that allow them to work in the nonprofit sector.

      • Polly styrene says

        That’s irritating. I hope you point that out to them. Their father has afforded them the choice of studying what makes them happy … only to be berated. Imagine if said father’s had urged them into a STEM subject. What bullying. Now they are making good money. Who to blame?

    • Polly styrene says

      @ Robert Franklin. Here here. These inconvenient facts should be posted to liberal college doors.

  19. Chad Jessup says

    “We should be questioning why femininity is devalued instead of pretending that it’s society’s fault that women aren’t identical to men. Pressuring women to be male-typical (and conversely, that men be more female-typical) is just as regressive as reinforcing stereotypical gender norms.”

    That statement, in addition to the findings of definite cerebral differences between the sexes, is the heart of the matter.

    • I’m not sure it is devalued. In a very obvious and deep and consistent way it’s incomparably exalted. Even humanity’s most desirable men are often valued because of something external that they may be unusually capable of providing, almost never is it because of something inherent to and fully contained within their being alone, as it is with women (partly supported by women’s tendency to marry across and up economic hierarchies and men’s tendency to marry across and down). Thus a comparable ‘value’ to masculinity isn’t entirely workable. So maybe some focused context is needed: specific marketplaces, athletics, whatever.

  20. Steve Gerrard says

    This is not a Nature science paper, it is a book review in their Books and Arts magazine section.

    There are in fact differences between males and females, including differences between male and female brains.

    The useful, relevant, important aspect, which is what should be discussed, is how much difference do these biological differences make when pursuing a variety of human endeavors, given the wide range of characteristics found in both males and females.

    If the endeavor is running the 100 meter dash, it makes quite a bit of difference. For other things, sometimes they matter and sometimes they don’t. Attempting to boil it down to “no difference ever” is as ridiculous as claiming that it always makes a huge difference.

    There are also plenty of ways in which our current culture could change to make participation by both males and females easier. That is probably more important to address that quibbling over whether male and female brains are identical or not.

    • david of Kirkland says

      True, though biological/physical traits clearly matter in many ways. What’s needed isn’t a fight reality, but to encourage a more equal justice system, which addresses sexism and racism and classism.

    • Declan says

      As you said, it’s a review and not a book, and so I”m not persuaded by Soh’s argument here. The paper she cites as proof against Rippon, the 5,126 brain study, actually cites and even thanks Rippon in a footnote. Yet despite being a review of a book and not the book itself, quillette commentors have piled on.

      As far as I can tell Rippon is arguing that brain differences develop because of socialisation, not that there are no differences in the brain (and yes, I’m aware of the effects of pre-natal testosterone, before anyone comes in). My point being, many of tyhe commenters here are arguing a position that, as far as I can tell Rippon isn’t making.

      I normally enjoy Quillette articles, and some of the comments sections, but this one has to be chalked up as a fail.

      Perhaps if Soh is going to be a regular contributor to Quillette, she could atone for this article by reviewing Rippon’s book itself.

  21. Vincent Vega says

    You have to be educated to within an inch of your life to say something as inane as “men and women have the same brains”.
    Common sense is often misapplied to matters such as the validity of evolution by natural selection or probability, but in assessing the behavior of our fellow humans, common sense and intuition work very well. One might say, it’s the reason we have common sense in the first place.

    Even people without any higher education like me can see that this is barking mad drivel.

  22. ladykrystyna says

    I’m no scientist, but that has been my opinion for years: there are differences b/t men and women. Doesn’t make one superior over the other. We have different skill sets. Yes, they overlap at times, but I think the key is that we complement each other b/c we’re supposed to. It’s biological. I feel that the leftists want to deny science, deny human nature and human biology while at the same time claim they are the scientists b/c . . . well, I have no idea. It boggles the mind.

  23. Johan says

    To many Trofim Lysenko nowadays…Impossible to keep up…

  24. El Uro says

    @Swan Song Dear, the main instinct of a woman is motherhood, not sex. All these physics, mathematics, computer science are nothing compared to motherhood. Only in motherhood woman lives life to the fullest. Aggressive feminists denying this fact hate women and try to make their life miserable. But we, the men, value you and even envy you

  25. DNY says

    Putting neuroscientific trappings on the tabula rasa doesn’t give the notion any more validity.

    Parents earnestly trying to raise children in a sex-neutral way keep finding little boys favoring toys based on machinery far more than girls do. I suppose one can push this phenomenon out of the brain and into masculine and feminine minds (or souls) if one wants, but I don’t think a gendered version of dualism will get much currency in neuroscientific circles either among those who want to deny sex differences or among those who see them as real.

  26. Julia says

    This whole comment thread turned me off. I’ve mostly enjoyed reading the articles, maybe I need to avoid the comments. I evidently don’t enjoy the boring fucking monotonous joy of housework enough. I have been thinking of going back back to work precisely because being home is not stimulating enough. I love working. While yes, the importance of being home while my kids were young is not lost on me and I enjoyed it. How can some of you deny it is not a sad sort of existence keeping house only and not having the much needed escape of working outside the home for many women. All of my favorite doctors & surgeons in my life are women. The worst villians of history are men 🙂

    • Julia: No one said women should not work or that housework is fun. But most people, men and women, do not have jobs that they look forward to going back to. I am guessing you are not a bus driver? And do not stock the shelves at the grocery store?

      At home, men have work too, and painting the house and cutting the grass are not “fun” but I have never heard my male friends complain once about the work they do around the house like women complain about cleaning.

    • Blue Lobster says

      The comments here, in my opinion, generally do not have what I would describe as a centrist bent and centrism, radical or otherwise, is kind of a cornerstone of Quillette (especially if you’re of the opinion that free thought tends to lead one toward a centrist path). So, reading much (many?) of them can tend to spoil the experience. The articles are quite often worthwhile. I’m definitely more politically left-leaning than the average commenter here and my views are very moderate in comparison with the woke/intersectional left.

      • K. Dershem says

        @Lobster, I completely agree. There are a number of hard-right ideologues who comment on every article and respond to virtually every comment that is centrist or left-leaning. Some of them are worth engaging, others it’s better to ignore.

      • Stephanie says

        Blue Lobster, Quillette does not define itself as a centrist publication. From the About page:

        “Quillette is a platform for free thought. We respect ideas, even dangerous ones. We also believe that free expression and the free exchange of ideas help human societies flourish and progress. Quillette aims to provide a platform for this exchange.”

        Considering the predominance of leftist ideas in the mainstream media, it is only natural that articles and comments veer to the right. Those are the opinions being stifled and stigmatized, so it is within the mission of Quillette to host them more than the opinions that can be found in hundreds of other publications.

        Those who don’t like the right-leaning comments (and worse, complain about them) would likely be happier reading the Economist and their comments. Why such people choose to make themselves miserable and annoy everyone else in the process, I don’t understand.

        • Blue Lobster says

          Stephanie, I agree that the political direction which Quillettes published content usually takes is a welcome respite from that typical of most of the mainstream medias. Part of my point above is that there seems to be a certain disconnect between the content and many of the comments. I suppose I read from the comments section out of a certain morbid curiosity regarding this perceived incongruity. Quillette rarely, in my opinion, publishes content which is demonstrably and inarguably right-wing though commenters interpretations of the articles often lean that way. To be clear, I’m a fan of Quillette because of the quality of the writing, high degree of factual reporting and relatively little political bias though I admit that fans of Rachel Maddow and the Comedy Central block of political commentators would likely perceive a significant right-leaning bias. Obviously, most Quillette readers choose not to comment and, frankly, I suspect that a substantial proportion of them also regard its content as a relief from the vigorous and unapologetic political partisanship they encounter within the mainstream. I would wager that many identify as politically moderate regardless of party affiliation. We all have our biases and various lenses of perception. Apologies if my contributions have been an annoyance.

    • Polly styrene says

      I don’t disagree with your conclusions, but what I am getting is that so called pro-female activism is creating discord where none needs to be. Some are declaring (correctly so) that continued assault on men especially in the west is unfair and counter productive.

      I am hearing the opinion voiced that men and women are fundamentally different, but opportunity is gender agnostic. Women have choice now to stay home or excel at a career – government policy and a supportive environment will help for those women who don’t have a partner to help.

    • Tome708 says

      Julia, you want to know monotony? Then get a job in a coal mine, digging ditches, laying bricks, roofing house after house. Most men are not doctors and surgeons, and the glamorous things you see on your TV, and envy. Take pride in the house you keep, take pride in raising your children, take pride in how well you care for your husband. I bet there will be no monotony in that. Envy of false realities is much more attractive.

      • K. Dershem says

        If they’re unhappy, perhaps those men should go to college and find less monotonous and dangerous jobs.

        • Jamie L. McArdle says

          “Learn to code,” iow? Surely you know college isn’t for everyone – and college doesn’t in ANY way guarantee that you won’t experience monotony in your work.

          • K. Dershem says

            So men in shitty jobs are helpless victims? Interesting.

        • Saw file says

          @k.Dershem
          It rarely has anything to do w being “unhappy.”
          There are many ‘crap’ jobs that simply need to be done, for modern society to advance and function.
          The men that choose to do such, don’t generally do it because they don’t have other choices
          Monotony doesn’t often exist in jobs that can cripple you and/or take lives.
          Work a month on one of those jobs.
          Many of the brightest ppl choose this work, by free choice.

      • Julia says

        So, when I am extremely bored by being a housewife, when all of the modern conveniences of my now fortunate life afford me rediculous amounts of free time, still, I’m encouraged to embrace it. Fill that time with what? I grew up extremely poor and after high school had menial jobs for many years till I decided at 26 I wanted to attend college. A life’s worth or hardships lived up to that point. I made a choice for myself, I wanted more. Something better and different. Having children did not change that want. I am human and for whatever reason, by design, by my upbringing, by a world opened up to me with books, conversations & exsperiences. I want more than than cleaning, cooking and maintaining a home to fill my days.

  27. Jezza says

    Why is it so difficult for men to be friends with women? Is it because women do not trust men? By ‘friends’ I mean people who trust each other absolutely, with their life, their deepest hopes and fears, knowing they will never be betrayed. Is it because women have a knack for emotional distance, a skill in honestly assessing other people including those near to them, an insight into beneficial circumstances and circumstances which may not be so, unspoken reservations about the character of those upon whom they depend? Secrets, secrets. Why do widows handle the death of their husbands with more acceptance than men seem to? Observe children at play: boys do, girls watch and choose. I know I am rambling, I am trying to articulate something washing around in the sludge of my brain. Why am I asking you? You don’t know, either.

    • @Jezza

      Just one thing about that:

      I have noticed, through personal experience and observation over the years, that a lot depends on the cultural background of the women in question. (Men, too, but I’m focussing here for the moment on women.)

      For example – again, based on personal experience – British and Australian women appear to have a much easier time than American women establishing – and maintaining through the years – a non-sexual friendship with a heterosexual man. Either one that has never involved sex, or a friendship with a former male lover that is no longer sexual and will not be again.

      Can’t tell you about Canadian, French, Italian, German women, but I’m reasonably sure New Zealand women are similar to Australian women in this regard.

      Why this is so cannot be blamed entirely on America’s unfortunate legacy of Puritan colonialism, since, if anything, Britain had a harder time of it with their own Puritan experience.

      This is NOT to say that we don’t all know British and Australian women who have trouble establishing friendships with men. We certainly do.

      However I have seen significant anecdotal evidence to support the hypothesis that British and Australian women are simply better at male/female-nonsexual friendships than American women, as a general rule.

      Does this help?

    • Blue Lobster says

      Maybe it’s because, oh, I don’t know, men and women are different?

  28. Blue Lobster says

    Indeed, most women are not like you, Sienna. Unfortunately, many of the women at the vanguard of the fourth-wave/tsunami, including people like Lise Eliot and Gina Rippon, are very much like you with respect to both intellect and attitude toward child-bearing/rearing.

  29. Pingback: Science Denial Won’t End Sexism – Hacker News Robot

  30. Men and women differ in their common mental illnesses. Men are more likely to be autistic, for example. Women attempt suicide more but men succeed more. Men are more subject to alcohol and drug addiction. Men and women differ in how they respond to medications, which makes ignoring sex dangerous. Is there some plausible social indoctrination that could cause more autism in men and more dementia in women? Absurd.

    Life is unfair. Almost all men can point to promotions they should have gotten, raises that were denied, unfair things that happened to them, crazy bosses, but if the same things happen to women, they blame sexism and patriarchy. The guys don’t have a boogy-man to blame it on.

    See “The Blank Slate” by Pinker for a rip-shred of this Men and women are the same crap.

  31. Tersitus says

    After a few decades these blatherers will become as much the joke of our time as the phrenologists and social darwinists did theirs.

    • Sydney says

      @Tersitus

      I get your point, but as a parent of schoolkids it’s hard to take such a lighthearted view. Tens of millions of K-12 children are being indoctrinated with these ideas every day in schools. Wrongheaded notions of the left have crept into EVERY subject (English, Socials, French, Music, Gym, Biology, Math…). Who or what will disavow tens of millions of young people of the ideas they were indoctrinated with in school for ten years?

      Every single day after school I’m required to push back on some bizarre notion that an idiot SJW teacher (or left-wing policy-driven textbook) pushed forward. I’m just one parent. I can see an entire generation being indoctrinated, and I’m more scared than amused.

  32. Tom More says

    We should remember that men and women, girls and boys have been rendered illegal identities in Canada. You can have your children taken (stolen?) from you if you insist upon our biological identities. We live in the era following the attempt to separate our two sexes from the natural outcome of natural human sexual relations.. children. We kill them in the hospitals. We are monsters of an extraordinary sophistication practiced in deception and delusion. This is why demographers have the “west” disappearing from the human journey in 2150 when we reach the tipping point of 20% from which no people have emerged. Goodbye.

  33. John McCormick says

    This is what we get when science and math are used for nothing more than an effort to stratify children by their ability to recall what they’ve seen or heard before without thinking about it. Science is then nothing but a jumble of assertions that can only be facts if they come from someone of whom members of your in-group approve.

  34. Num num says

    Debra Soh is one of the most informed, enlightened and thus important voices of our day!

    Thank you Debra for having the courage to speak truth to ideological cultism with growing power.

  35. Lesley says

    @ assorted people bemoaning the state of the “denigration of motherhood” and accusing me of same who the website has moved the “reply” option to for some reason

    My point is that the historical models put forward where motherhood supposedly wasn’t denigrated also feature components that compelled motherhood thereby rendering women dependents along with their children. There is no meaningful way that the compulsory aspect of traditional motherhood can be removed without the office or association of “woman=mother” falling away to a significant degree. Some loosening of the association may be done by active “denigration” of the traditional motherhood image of women, but a nontrivial (and probably much larger part) happens because women now have choices and they reject the old image. They look at supposedly “cherished” motherhood and go, “Nah, thanks” or “Maybe, later” or “Yea, I can’t afford that.” If you don’t like this reality, you have two options to rectify it:

    Make motherhood compulsory again (which is what an appeal to most historical models can’t help but imply)
    Incentivize motherhood so women chose it (and this is going to take a heck of a lot more than silly appeals to some “cherished wife and mother” image from the past which also conjures up images of being kept pregnant and barefoot)

    It’s sort of like if you want to conjure up something approximating “man as noble soldier citizen” in the modern day because you believe this actually existed in the past, you have two choices:

    Draft men into the military or public service whether they are really needed or not
    Inventivize them to join

    Because left to their own devices, most men, whether innately aggressive, soldierly, or not, would rather use that aggression playing Call of Duty

  36. markbul says

    I clicked on a sex-related podcast recently – yes, I did – and heard a new term to me. It was ‘bio-cock.’ That is, a ‘biological’ penis, as opposed to the plastic kind. The implication, as far as I could understand, was that a plastic penis was just as good (just as legitimate) as the organic model.. Because, obviously, if you’re a chick without a dick, well, no probs. Yours is as good as any other ‘man’s’.

    You have to give these people credit – they are very creative thinkers.

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  39. LukeReeshus says

    “You’re just a woman with a small brain—a brain a third the size of ours! It’s science.”

    —Ron Burgundy

  40. Perhaps we are seeing the emergence of unintellectual drones, which I will define as those who cannot reason independently. These drones are easily led not by their intellectual superiors but rather by the strongest drone leaders who are by definition unintellectual. Whatever drone ideology might be it is not science.

  41. Diogenes says

    I understand very little of this discussion, even though I have read the article here and the review of the book by Gina Rippon. I did not understand the genre of the review or why such a “review” would be published in Nature! It is neither a review of the science in the book or a critical review of the research and its results. It’s more like a book-based diatribe that takes shots at various social groups and their beliefs.

    I cannot tell what the book claims. Most of the research mentioned has to do with MRIs and brain images–i.e. it looks at imageable size and structure of F and M brains and compares/contrasts them. That’s a pretty limited approach to asking about brain differences. Does the writer deny that hormones affect the brain and how it functions? Does she deny that the brain works with the body and in society in a way that is different for most men and women? Or is her “social construction” thesis a thesis that social evolution helps to explain apparent differences in brain function–and that the macro structures of F and M brains are greatly similar (we’re all human) and that the small differences are a result of social evolution causing small differences in F and M brains–somewhat like differences in morphology and musculature in people who are still obviously human beings and alike in most respects?

    I also don’t see why this purportedly scientific account is being expressed and used so polemically. It’s not an easy path for anyone to find all the links between happens in the brain and what happens in social life. Why exaggerate the findings and their impact? There is plenty of evidence that men and women as groups differ in all sorts of ways. Some of these differences seem socially malleable and some seem less so.

  42. Sydney says

    Soh quotes from the ‘Nature’ book review: “The brain is no more gendered than the liver or kidneys or heart…,” and, “biosocial straitjackets divert a basically unisex brain down one culturally gendered pathway or another.”

    BONKERS. It’s a world gone bonkers. I can’t drink like a man, or do sports like a man, and I don’t think entirely like a man. SJWs invading science…just bonkers.

  43. rickoxo says

    I’ve been watching my way through one of the Great Courses series, The Intelligent Brain. After reading this article, I jumped ahead to the Sex and Intelligence lecture 🙂

    The results are fairly straightforward. Almost no average difference in general intelligence as measured across a variety of tests. But, if you look in very specific areas (e.g. 3D spatial rotations and 2D spatial layouts) men and women differ in their abilities significantly (but not hugely).

    In terms of evidence of brain differences, the lecturer (Prof. Richard Haier) said there is so much evidence of differentness from recent neurological studies in how male and female brains work that they ended up doing a meta-analysis of the research. A meta-analysis happens when a field is so well developed that it’s worth doing a study of all the studies to notice the patterns, locate similar findings and see if some of the results can be combined to add even more power to some of the analyses.

    None of the findings were anything huge (men have no emotions and women can’t do math!), but there were multiple, statistically significant, visually clear demonstrations of replicated findings showing differences in how male and female brains solved problems, used information, accessed different brain centers and showed different patterns of development.

    The imaging technology is so advanced now and there is so much data out there, it completely boggles the mind how a magazine like Nature could have anything to do with an idea that is so completely contradicted by an overwhelming mountain of evidence.

    And for the argument that might be made about how the brains started the same and only differentiated as a result of culture, there is plenty of imaging data showing differences in young children as well. The new imaging technologies pose no risk to humans (at least no known risks), so aside from the incredible cost, the evidence keeps mounting. The evidence supports the only answer that makes any sense, that just like every other developed mammal, there is significant differentiation in the brains of males and females of a species.

    • David Taylor, MD, PhD says

      Frankly, I don’t think that differences between male and female brains would be a source of controversy if those differences were not used to justify social conditions. We have gone through periods of western history in which women were said to be incapable of handling higher education — because their brains could not manage it — and now a majority of both college students and medical students are women. An engineer at Google speculates that women’s brains don’t make for good coders, but ignores the fact that in some countries coders are predominantly women. There are at least three problems here. The first is a kind of black box problem: even if all agree that male and female brains are different, linking those differences to behavior is, so far, a speculative effort. Second, we assume that differences in brains have something to do with valued behavior, with no good evidence. Again, the example of medicine is appropriate. Third, we forget that differences in male and female brains are often, perhaps in most cases, statistical rather than fundamental, so it is invalid to assume that all women or all men possess some capacity, or lack some capacity, merely because of statistical differences in brain anatomy, physiology, etc.

  44. “We should be questioning why femininity is devalued instead of pretending that it’s society’s fault that women aren’t identical to men. Pressuring women to be male-typical (and conversely, that men be more female-typical) is just as regressive as reinforcing stereotypical gender norms.”

    This times one thousand. THIS is feminism as it should be, and one that anyone of any sex or gender should be on board with.

  45. A C Harper says

    In other news socially active feminists declare that peahens and peacocks look identical.

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  47. Jeremy Kuhn says

    Erm….on a very basic level, men have more testosterone and women estrogen. Testosterone makes men more aggressive and sexual. This is a simple and basic scientific fact.

    This is just another example of the left trying to convince us that our eyes and ears dont work…

    • David Taylor, MD, PhD says

      I’m not aware of anyone on the “left” claiming that hormonal differences between males and females do not exist, or have no behavioral consequences. The article here is about brains rather than the wider range of sex-related physiological differences.

      • Thylacine says

        You mean to say that huge hormonal differences leave no impact on the (developing) brain? That’s not a very MD, PhD thing to believe.

  48. notmike says

    “We can acknowledge that male and female brains have differences in structure and function, on average, without subscribing to the belief that one sex is better than the other.” It is entirely possible that the same corpus collosum in the female brain that improves recovery from stroke and may be responsible for “intuitive” knowledge also harms the ability to differentiate right from left, or solve spatial relationships. Whether that is an advantage or disadvantage depends upon the situation.

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  50. Thylacine says

    “I don’t deny that sexism exists, but sexism today is not so severe that it stands in the way of a woman achieving a career in science—or any field—if she really wants to.”

    Stands in the way??? Sexism today is on balance highly preferential to women! I’m 60, and sexism in education has favoured women of my cohort their entire lives.

    When I was an undergraduate in the early 1980s, the faculty newsletter published two articles in the same issue: one was a feminist summary of the hundreds of ways that universities discriminate against women; the other was an announcement of the gold-medal winners in each of the 6 faculties at my university. All 6 were women. Every one of them.

    I penned a sarcastic letter to the editor of the faculty newslettter – because nobody else would point out the obvious – that once all of the bumps on the path to educational success for women will have been ironed out, we can expect that all of the gold, silver, and bronze medal winners in academics will be women. That has largely come to pass, I’m sad to say.

  51. Thylacine says

    “We should be questioning why femininity is devalued…”

    Are you kidding me? Nobody these days has a more inflated sense of their own self-worth than women these days. The fact that 95% of occupational deaths still occur to men, and nobody thinks this is an employment opportunity that deserves equalizing, attests to this. Let’s get real.

  52. Thylacine says

    “Ultimately, we should all want equal rights for women. And we should all want sexism to end.”

    Equal rights are not compatible with legislated preferences. Let’s end affirmative action. Equal rights are not compatible with judicial favouritism. Let’s end the female discount in criminal sentencing; let’s end the preference for mothers over fathers in custody disputes.

    Let’s stop talking generalized gibberish and nonsense on equal rights.

  53. Claire says

    Wow. From some comments “the left” are supposed to interpret this article one way, “the right” another. I think for myself and had once wanted to believe brains are gender-neutral. I don’t believe that anymore. Look at nearly every mass shooting. Pointing the finger at white male supremacy, Muslim extremism, guns, disenfranchised male identity blah blah, the elephant in the room/the common denominator in all, men doing the killing. In the rare instances it is a woman, it is an anomaly. Men are more violent. Indeed, our brains are different. Thoughts from “the left”.

  54. David Walker says

    I haven’t read Cordelia Fine’s books, and I am happy to believe there could be motte-and-baileying involved here.

    But I note that Cordelia Fine has stood up for James Damore and his memo. And what I have read by her is firmly on the “there are a lot of bad studies out there” side of the argument. This doesn’t quite seem to be in line with the view that she would brand as “sexist” ANY claim that sex differences in the brain have a bearing on our personalities and behavior.

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  56. “French psychologist Gustave Le Bon is also dragged from the grave for saying, in 1895, that women “represent the most inferior forms of human evolution.” What is unclear is how it is relevant to take a quote from the 1800s and extrapolate from it a representation of today.”

    BECAUSE THESE PEOPLE ARE NOT SCIENTISTS. THEY’RE CREATIONISTS.

    Creationists pull the same stunt. They quote-mine Darwin and then pat themselves on the back for proving evolution itself is evil, racist, and false.

    GENDER STUDIES IS CREATIONISM, WITH WHITE MEN AS SATAN.

    Every single gender studies/crit theory “insight” is nothing more than axiomatic hatred of white men couched as hypothesis. They then do a “study” that magically proves the axiom every time. This is why they have convenient cop-outs for everything, regardless of the empirical evidence.

    Women lagging men? Because patriarchy.
    Women surpassing men? Despite patriarchy.

    White cop shoots unarmed black? White supremacy.
    Black cop shoots unarmed black? “Thinking white” = white supremacy

    We’re inclusive. We have black friends.
    You’re racist. Your black friends are tokens and don’t count.

    Gap in fossil record? God did it.
    Transitional fossil found? God’s magnificent creation.

  57. Barney Doran says

    First of all, are biosocial straitjackets bio-degradable? They had better be, or god knows how many of them we will find lodged in whales’ stomachs. Second, are they not by definition homophobic? That term requires a trigger warning.

  58. Barnpot says

    The main difference is not in the size of the brain or its various parts. The main difference is in the circuitry — i.e. which way neurons go and where do they attach to. According to a UPenn study, women’s neurons show a higher propensity than men’s to go from the left to right hemisphere, and vice versa, while for men, it has a higher propensity to go front to back. When Lise Eliot only talks about brain sizes, it shows her ignorance of brain structure and circuitry.

  59. Barnpot says

    The very fact that pseudo-scientists like Lise Eliot and Gina Rippon and countless feministas can religiously believe in counter-scientific nonsense that the Y chromosome that appears in each and every cell of a male has absolutely no influence on brain structure and circuitry, is good enough proof that their brains must be wired somewhat differently than men’s brains. The more they proselytize for their religion, the stronger the proof that they are wrong.

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