Monday, April 18, 2005

Sex differences

John sends this Stanley Kurtz essay about sex differences.
There’s also a fourth possible view on the relations between sex and success—one that no one has systematically articulated to date. If those who assert biological differences between the sexes disagree about whether we can overcome them, the same might apply to those who assert the power of cultural differences. Even if we do provisionally hold that virtually all differences between men and women are cultural, might it not also be true that those differences are impossible to overcome? If so, it wouldn’t be “gender” but the feminist effort to eliminate it that is truly oppressive. This fourth view suggests that the very same cultural forces that make feminists desire androgyny may actually prevent us from achieving it. The cultural sources of “gender” difference, properly understood, would then inform us not that our gender identities are infinitely malleable but that they’re effectively impossible to change. ...

Chodorow hypothesizes that the differences between the sexes simply derive from the contingent circumstance that women happen to be the primary caretakers of children. The special, “feminine” empathy required for rearing children, she suggests, becomes indelibly associated in our minds with people who just physically happen to be female. ...
There are some interesting ideas here, but most of them don't hold water.

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