Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Denying sex differences

Anthropologist Agustín Fuente attacks the study in SciAm:
Recent publication in PLoS ONE by psychologist Del Giudici and colleagues [i] has reignited the debate about just how “naturally” different men and women are. Del Giudici et al. state that their findings of a “pattern of global sex differences…may help elucidate the meaning and generality of the broad dimension of individual differences known as “masculinity-femininity”.”
The study doesn't actually say anything about the sexes being “naturally” different. It merely reports personality differences.
There are three major problems with the conclusions being drawn from study: a) “gender” and “sex” are used interchangeably, b) evolved differences in men and women are not being measured, and c) relevant biological and anthropological datasets are ignored. ...

“Sex” and “Gender” are not the same thing. Sex is a biological state that is measure via chromosomal content and a variety of physiological and developmental measures. Gender is the roles, expectations and perceptions that a given society has for the sexes. Most societies have two genders on a masculinity-femininity continuum, some have more. The two are interconnected, but not the same thing. We are born with a sex, but acquire gender and there is great inter-individual diversity within societies and sexes in regards to how sex and gender play out in behavior and personality.
Gender is a grammar term that is sometimes used as a polite term for sex. The above comment might be applicable to a study of transsexuals, but this study concerned those who are unambiguously male or female.
There are no consistent brain differences between the sexes [iii], there is incredible overlap in our physiological function [iv], we engage in sexual activity in more or less the same patterns [v], and we overlap extensively in most other behavior as well. There are some interesting re-occurring differences, particularly in patterns of aggression and certain physiological correlates of reproduction, muscle density, and body size.
This is nonsense. Another denier says:
They argue that males and females are as different in personality as the distance between the planets Mars and Venus. Instead, the overwhelming evidence, across multiple psychological domains, is that men and women are more similar than different; the distance between them is more like the distance between North Dakota and South Dakota.
More gibberish. The same reasoning says that humans and monkeys are more similar than different. I don't even get the point of the Dakota analogy -- North Dakota and South Dakota have no overlap at all. Here is a recent example of parents trying to be sex-neutral, and a funny video of the Norway gender equality paradox. Yes, there are plenty of academics who deny the obvious.

No comments: