Thursday, June 5, 2014

Gender difference

Something I've been trying for quite a while to try to figure out how to communicate to other people is the idea that while I believe in gender differences, and I may even be more than a tad sexist, I don't feel that women are inferior to men. The thing is . . . I feel like the difference between men and women is radical enough in human beings that you can't treat men vs women as an apples-to-apples comparison. And I think I've largely come up with an apt and rather labored metaphor for explaining it.

Think of the relative intelligence of a crow versus an octopus. Both are pretty goddamned clever animals. But they're also very different and very adapted to specific purposes. A crow is not inferior to an octopus or vice versa. Even if you wanted to prove the point, they're just so radically different as to defy comparison.

Men and women are adapted to different purposes. For whatever reasons, evolution has made humans one of the species where there are very obvious differences between the two genders. Those adaptations make men and women different enough that you can't meaningfully ask them to be or do the similar things and expect similar results.

None of that is bad in itself. Someone does need to take risks. Someone does need to raise their hand and ask, "Does anyone else think this might be a stupid idea?" Yin and yang are wonderful things.

A great deal of social engineering effort has been committed to changing the dynamic between men and women as genders. And not only has it largely been to no avail, I think you can argue that feminism has largely backfired on those who wished for greater equality. While the sexual revolution provided gains that shouldn't be reversed (trust me, I ain't livin in a world without birth control!) it also did almost nothing to ding the basic dynamic of submissive women seeking male mates who are dominant. If anything, by pacifying the weaker and more middling males, it only accentuated the gap between aggressive men and non-aggressive men.

But here's the thing . . . reflect on other social engineering projects. For example, look at the painfully slow process of freeing black folks in America. For good or ill, the dynamic between white folks and black folks in America changed. In fact, the dynamic of race changed so radically that whole groups who never appeared in America, such as South Asians, are here now.

Whatever you think of racial social engineering projects, you cannot deny that they radically changed the dynamic. Once you did away with the presumption of white dominance, black submission was thrown out the window pretty hard -- even in the face of rather violent blowback, first in the form of counter-demonstrations and killings in the 60s, and later in the form of tacit oppression through the use of the police in the 80s and 90s.

Conversely, social engineering and awareness as applied to gender doesn't seem to have done a hell of a lot. In the last decade especially, it appears that women are openly drifting back toward submission. The only thing that feminism and sexual revolution really did was afford women a larger window of opportunity for seeking a mate. The actual idealized mate that women choose has not meaningfully changed. He's still basically 6'2" tall, white, 180 lbs, educated, aggressive, successful. If you took the image of Christian Grey, packed him in a time machine, and sent him back to 1950, the lady folk of the time would have no issue hitting on him.

Where racial social engineering projects have yielded massive changes within a limited time, gender-based social engineering has simply moved the existing dynamic into a larger playing field. While the results of feminism aren't going away, it's quite clear that a fourth-wave form of feminism isn't coming. Women have largely cherry picked the victories that they like (birth control, working in their 20s, starting families late) while casting aside the things they don't care for (actual equality). They've essentially leveraged feminism in order to play a long version of the game as it existed before birth control. But at the end of the day, it's still the same game.

That's not a good thing or a bad thing. Evolution is agnostic. Evolution don't give a fuck. But it's important to realize that gender differences are significant enough that social engineering not only doesn't seem to change them, but it appears to have actually amplified them.