Risk aversion strongly correlated to testosterone levels

August 29th, 2009 by Pelle Billing

The evidence for substantial innate sex differences is mounting. I’ve long been a strong advocate for acknowledging this research, instead of trying to ignore it for ideological reasons, such as the postmodern feminist stance that all gender differences are culturally constructed. On the other hand, I usually take a very conservative approach, and write phrases such as “there are certain innate differences that cannot be ignored”. However, I don’t know if that conservative approach is warranted any more. As the research is progressing, it’s becoming increasingly clear that sex differences are substantial, and not limited to a few specific areas.

This doesn’t mean that we forget about culture, or the plasticity of the human brain that allows us to adapt to a range of situations–regardless of our gender. But it does mean that we need to start acknowledging that the very organ that filters our experience of life, and the “software” that runs that organ, are substantially different between an average man and an average woman. This also means that the inner experience of being a man is different from the inner experience of being a woman.

Recently I was sent a very interesting link about new research that has been carried out to map the relationship between gender, testosterone and risk aversion (Gender differences in financial risk aversion and career choices are affected by testosterone. Paola Sapienzaa, Luigi Zingalesb and Dario Maestripieri, 2009). The strength of this research is that it connects a well known gender specific variable (testosterone) to a specific behavior (risk aversion). It is one thing to prove that there are innate biological differences between men and women, but it is far more convincing when a biological variable can be shown to directly affect behavior.

Let’s see what they say about the experiment:

Prior research has shown that testosterone enhances competitiveness and dominance, reduces fear, and is associated with risky behaviors like gambling and alcohol use. However, until now, the impact of testosterone on gender differences in financial risk-taking has not been explored.

The researchers, using an economic-based measure of risk aversion, found that higher levels of testosterone were associated with a greater appetite for risk in women, but not among men. However, in men and women with similar levels of testosterone, the gender difference in risk aversion disappeared. Additionally, the researchers reported that the link between risk aversion and testosterone predicted career choices after graduation: individuals who were high in testosterone and low in risk aversion chose riskier careers in finance.

In other words, the levels of testosterone that men routinely have, lead to increased risk taking, compared to the levels of testosterone that women usually have. Women who have higher than normal levels of testosterone, approach the risk taking behavior of men, simply by having increased levels of this hormone.

This is not to say that there aren’t a range  of other factors that can increase or decrease risk taking, but those factors in no way detract from the result of the researchers.

Additionally, the study demonstrated that prenatal levels of testosterone, which are much higher in boys, have an impact on risk aversion later in life:

A similar relationship between risk aversion and testosterone was also found using markers of prenatal testosterone exposure.

At this point in time, it is irresponsible to maintain the claim that sex differences are completely, or for the most part, socially constructed.

The updated list of the different research methods that support innate sex difference is thus:

  1. Mapping brain structure and function using new imaging techniques such as PET (positron emission tomography) and fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging)
  2. Studying the behavior of newborns or infants
  3. Studies from the field of evolutionary psychology
  4. Cross-cultural studies
  5. Research that connects innate biological differences to specific behaviors

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32 Responses to “Risk aversion strongly correlated to testosterone levels”

  1. hampus Says:

    “If” there are sex differences, to what extent are you willing to accept sex different politics?

    A necessary question if you advocate existing sex differences, which I by the why agree with.

    (And also paradoxically every feminist even, that feels herself to have critisism against males, but that’s probably to difficult).

  2. Gilesy Says:

    @Pelle (I’m copying your way of responding :P ) Quite like this post, esp. ‘different between an AVERAGE man and an AVERAGE woman.’ This kind of rheotoric isn’t said widely enough and ends up with the ‘men do this, women do that’ ideas that seem to be inherent in overly simplistic / lazy thinking.

    The innate sex differences and testosterone argument is greatly helped by animal studies where levels of testoserone can be monitored / manipulated and behaviours recorded with little to no social influence (ie. studied in isolation from natural group).

    It’s interesting that testosterone was a better predictor than sex, which was kinda my prediction from a month ago. Its interesting evidence for biology overcoming many social pressures to conform to stereotypes. But haven’t read so no decent critique yet :/

    I would love to see a longitudinal testosterone study, see how it varies on average, and if there are any major changes, if a biological medical condition or change in circumstance is related to it.

  3. Randy Says:

    It doesnt really make much difference to the feminists what genuine differences there are between men and women. They will use all differences (testosterone or otherwise) to manufacture hatred.

    http://www.angryharry.com/esEqualityNotAchievable.htm

  4. Gilesy Says:

    Whoa, jeez guys whats with all the feminist hating? Its just the name of achieving more equal rights between the sexes (using a 19th century name) since men started with better rights & control of their situation (not saying men had it great tho).

    aaaaaand contemporarily thinking it also has the best deconstructions of current male-stereotypes (as men-studies are currently evolving). Theres a wealth of information that is benefical to men in there.

    I’ve met A LOT of feminists and none hated men, what they hated were gender-roles (both male and female).

    @Randy – just read the link site –

    “Question: Should ‘women’ have more votes than ‘men’?

    For those who think, Yes, (because there are more women voters than men voters) then it follows that they also believe that those in a minority should have less of a say in what affects them.”

    Thats how democracy works, everyminority can be at the whim of the majority, its always been that way, its only taken notice cos now for once, you’re not technically the majority. The majority has to decide to give rights to the minority, what if you were born bi, gay, not-white, hell even rich (when everyone wants to tax you to help others).

    That site paints men and women as competing forces, which just isn’t true – what if you had a son and a daughter (or mother and father), whos rights would you try to improve?

    I feel better living in a society where it wouldn’t matter if I (by a arbitary flip of a coin) was born a woman, thats the ideal, cos we’re all people not just representatives of our sex.

  5. james Says:

    @Gilesy

    “That site paints men and women as competing forces, which just isn’t true ”

    It looks like you missed the whole point of the ‘Equality’ article.

    The point ‘Harry’ is making is that feminists are the ones persistently stirring up trouble over differences. He also conceded that he thinks that women should have more votes than men.

    With regard to Pelle’s piece above, Randy’s point is that whether or not testosterone is the cause of risk taking, feminists will still loudly proclaim unfair discrimination. The point being that any difference will be seized upon by feminists to stir up gender conflict.

  6. Gilesy Says:

    Feminists aren’t always versus biological differences, just largely against the social & political consequences / justifications that get put out there (a la Hampus above). Political consquences of science are not a matter for science because it requires a value judgement or ideology (other than factual correctness).

    “feminists are the ones persistently stirring up trouble over differences” and justifications of ‘men sleep with whoever cos its your biological imperative’ never comes up? – People like Ridley Scott have used biological evidence as political/social justifications – you always need people taking alternative stances to explain the same results – if such a stance can exist without conflict with evidence, science hasn’t said its final word.

    Social constructionists are the grouping that the ‘trouble’ is coming from – theres overlap with many aspects of feminism but its another scientific way of analysing the world – subject to testing like any other.

    Social constructions are a scrutiny that biological evidence should rightfully be subjected to. The best social constructionist ideas should allow us to make competing hypotheses about any given situation – even if they end up as wrong, its important they are put out there because we don’t know if they’re right until the evidence on each individual variable comes in.

    On the other hand, Intellectual dishonesty of denying evidence is a serious problem for all domains, and really has to be taken on an individual basis. Yes this can be used by any side to prop up an ideology or socio-political stance.

    One of the points I bring up constantly with feminists is that ‘descrimination’ / ‘self-perpetuating stereotypes’ are too easy and elosive an answer, there are many co-correlates and you need to nail them down. Such as how much women are willing to invest in going the extra-mile in work can have a dramatic effect on wage.

    http://www.cato.org/event.php?eventid=1834 – I’ve passed this onto a radical feminist friend of mine to get her opinion – so we’ll see what happens! JOY

    Nothing acts in a vacuum – cultural norms select biological differences for the next generation – and such expectations on women & work come at a high price, in comparison to the expectation for men to do it naturally (which I also dislike).

    Like virtually everyone (myself included) we stop too early and take weak evidence at face value when coming to conclusions about stuff like this. As for Pelle I disagree with saying fMRI/PET data and Cross-cultural comparisons are NECESSARILY evidence for innateness, it could be, but requires serious backup.

  7. Pelle Billing Says:

    “As for Pelle I disagree with saying fMRI/PET data and Cross-cultural comparisons are NECESSARILY evidence for innateness, it could be, but requires serious backup.”

    My stance is that combining the 5 methods of research I list above, makes it very very hard (practically impossible) to deny that there are innate differences between the sexes, that affect behavior. This doesn’t negate social constructions in any shape or form, since there is equally strong evidence for those. Which means that the pragmatic stance at this point in time, as far as I’m concerned, is to view sex differences as a mixture of nature and nurture.

  8. Pelle Billing Says:

    Hampus,

    You ask a very important question. I don’t know that innate sex differences need to affect politics in any specific way. It’s more that accepting these differences would mean that we end the crusade (that we have in Sweden for example) to eradicate all differences in lifestyle choices between the sexes.

    I this that legislation and regulations need to be gender neutral in a society, and the labor market needs to be equally accessible for all individuals. Give people the freedom to choose the careers and family constellations that they want, and then innate sex differences will be free to express themselves to whatever extent that they exist (because we still don’t know the exact magnitude of these differences, and perhaps we never will).

  9. Gilesy Says:

    @ Pelle

    couldn’t agree more with your last 2 comments – partly why I’d like animal evidence added to the list (although its kinda a mix of point 3 [evo] and 5 [innate bio differences&behaviours])

    I still enjoy hearing the most hardcore social arguments as something that any biological evidence has to standup to / partially integrate with. And of course the Vice Versa of Social ideas standing up to Biological facts.

    Its a thing of satisfying or demolishing the hardest critiques, leads to the better quality of evidence and less ambiguouity.

  10. james Says:

    @Gilesy “I disagree with saying fMRI/PET data and Cross-cultural comparisons are NECESSARILY evidence for innateness, it could be, but requires serious backup.”

    Of course these things are evidence for innateness (very strong evidence, in fact) and it behoves people like you (Gilesy) to show that they are not.

    The best evidence continually demonstrates the presence of innate factors and dispositions but the social constructionists subscribe to a religion which dictates that they must fight against such an idea.

    Pelle has never said that social construction cannot have an over-riding impact

    Punish men severely enough for being violent, but reward women greatly for being violent, and guess what? Women will be more violent than men.

    But this does not counter Pelle’s view at all that there are innate differences between the two when it comes to violence.

    The social constructionist point of view is therefore trivial and uninteresting in areas such as this, because we already know that the environment can have a large impact.

    Lock up every man inside a prison cell (his environment) and, guess what, he won’t be violent towards anybody.

    In addition, anybody who has much experience with children knows full well that there are significant innate differences between males and females; differences that can only be partially countered even by fairly powerful engineering.

    An important question is, therefore, how much coercive and discriminatory engineering are we prepared to put up with in order to make females more like males – or vice versa – and is the outcome of such a force likely to be a happy one?

  11. Gilesy Says:

    @ James

    “Of course these things are evidence for innateness (very strong evidence, in fact) and it behoves people like you (Gilesy) to show that they are not.”

    I study neuropsychology/cognitive neuroscience and fMRI stuff everyday, its my education and related to most of my jobs. fMRI evidence in isolation is evidence of activity, if differences occur in this it can be evidence of innateness, but also evidence of brain plasticity and social influence – both approaches would predict what fMRI can show average gender difference.

    everything acts in the biological realm, not just innateness. You tell a kid that emotional awareness in others is key, and reinforce that idea, activity will change as they link it in when everyday cues.

    Take the evidence of learning, associations, memory creation, reclaiming damaged brain areas, apoptosis of disused areas (ie critical period for learning language), re-wiring to claim disused areas for new means (ie blindness and improved audio using Visual areas), creation of new areas (ie. language modules following split-brain patients) later in life, stimulation and size of cortical area, I could go on for ages (like I normally do…). This stuff isn’t about innateness, its about change and plasticity being shown via fMRI research.

    Carving it down into how plastic/unplastic it is can be done with clever experiments / unique individuals. However fMRI difference does NOT equal innate without question.

    Social constructionism is a reactionary critique to the innate paradigm. Its been unchallenged for far too long (ie. psychiatry through the ages), and provides important critiques on science itself being influenced by the norms, mores and assumptions of the day (ie moving from kraft-ebbings views on homosexuality to today).

    Its a common mistake to think social influence doesn’t have major and profound biological changes. Overall I’m not adovcating either conclusion but if someone brings up one conclusion, its important to say thats not necessarily true until other evidence / critiques are brought in.

    “But this does not counter Pelle’s view at all that there are innate differences between the two when it comes to violence.” I don’t disagree with that statement at all. I have no problem with looking at innate factors – I just want a series of quality experiments in agreement with no un-addressed critique unanswered.

    My disagreement is on using one piece of evidence in isolation – there are major flaws in each individual experiment, so you need others to cover the back of each other.

    The other point is that social constructionism is not really against biology – everything has to go through the brain, and people have certain dispositions/likes/dislikes that factor into the equation – beyond that it does become an extreme point of view – but in no way am I taking it as gospel (not that I take gospel as gospel… you get my idea).

    “In addition, anybody who has much experience with children knows full well that there are significant innate differences between males and females” I also agree with this, not through parenting experience (as they have a casual effect on their children with their expectations etc), but through infant studies.

    I’m not concerned with making males more like females or vice versa, only interested in reducing the pressure to exaggerate (or create) any differences between them. I want people to fall along the continuum as they want to fall along it, not to be shuffled into particular ‘men do this, women do this’ categories so prelevant in most countries.

  12. james Says:

    @Gilesy “I’m not concerned with making males more like females or vice versa, only interested in reducing the pressure to exaggerate (or create) any differences between them”

    Fair enough. However, you also said this earlier on …

    “Whoa, jeez guys whats with all the feminist hating? Its just the name of achieving more equal rights between the sexes (using a 19th century name) since men started with better rights & control of their situation (not saying men had it great tho).”

    Firstly, feminism is very demonstrably not about equal rights, and, secondly, the idea that men had more rights than women tends to overlook the fact that they also had many more burdens and responsibilities; the overall effect being that men had it worse.

  13. Gilesy Says:

    @James

    Ok its not going to get us anywhere with ‘who had it worse’ because its all very different styles of oppression (to quote Pelle “Both sexes have been oppressed by their gender role, not only women”), I’m well aware of the extra responsibilities thus my ‘not saying men had it great though’ comment. I spend a lot of time raising womens consciousness to male oppression and expectations and will be running a workshop at BiCon next year exploring exactly this.

    Could you tell me exactly what you think feminism is and what its goals are, I feel like you have a very different perception of it to myself.

    “feminism is very demonstrably not about equal rights” beyond impossible-equality situations – ie rights of father over abortion, pregnancy etc, could you please elaborate on this.

  14. james Says:

    Hello Gilesy

    “feminism is very demonstrably not about equal rights … could you please elaborate on this”

    Go back and look at Randy’s post. He links to an article that decribes what feminism is really about.

  15. Gilesy Says:

    @James

    :/ I asked you what you believe,an explanation of what feminism means to you in a few lines would really help the dialogue, saying your beliefs are ‘this website’ is quite bizzare for anyone to state.

    But lets go along with it, you mean the site that says this…

    “FEMINISM is shown to be a significant CAUSAL factor when it comes to serious violence, assault, domestic violence, sexual assault, robbery, child abuse, drug abuse, teenage pregnancies, poverty, poor educational standards, prostitution, paedophilia, harassment, bad manners, traffic congestion, pollution, terrorism, vandalism, burglary, murder, teenage delinquency, road rage, alcoholism, other addictions, hooliganism, depression, gender conflict, hysteria, stress, serious health problems such as heart disease and cancer, greater disablement among children – both psychological and physical – with millions killed while in the womb, AIDS, the judicial punishment of innocent individuals, the poor educational achievements of boys, the growing prison population, family breakdown, the increasing alienation of men, the corruption of the justice system and the democratic process, the corrosion of academic integrity, the degradation of the social sciences and the law, poor public services, the impoverishment of pensioners and the looming pension crisis, excessive immigration, long hospital waiting lists, hostile rap music, high taxation rates, the terrible shock now being experienced by thousands of women who are discovering that they are too old to have children, and, almost unbelievably, global warming.”

    Funny I musta missed those peer-reviewed journal articles.

    I’ve read 3 different sections on that site, none impressed me, its basically a massive rant with skirting justifications and avoiding conflicting evidence and ideas like the plague. Confirmation bias (or zero scepticism) can get you anywhere, from conspiracy theories to holocaust denial, scepticism to all claims is important.

    If there is something of depth to that site, feel free to post it.

  16. james Says:

    @Gilesy

    ” saying your beliefs are ‘this website’ is quite bizzare for anyone to state”

    Firstly, I did not refer to a ‘website’, I referred to one article within a website. You have, therefore, distorted what I said.

    Secondly, the article which you quote is not the one that I referred to. Why did you refer above to a completely different article?

    Thirdly, I do not need a peer review article to know, for example, that family breakdown causes numerous problems to many people in society.

    It seems to me that your only interest is in scoring points – but, in fact, you have simply scored them against yourself.

    Finally, with regard to your comment, “If there is something of depth to that site, feel free to post it,” I would not waste my time.

    If you cannot see the very simple point being made by the article to which I referred, despite its ranting nature, then I feel fairly certain that you will fail to see any other points that he is trying to make.

  17. les Says:

    @Pelle

    “the pragmatic stance at this point in time, as far as I’m concerned, is to view sex differences as a mixture of nature and nurture.”

    I totally agree. In fact, it is the only sensible thing to do given the evidence.

    Thank you for your excellent post.

  18. les Says:

    @Gilesy

    Though I recoil at the tone of the article about equality, particularly where it refers to feminists, it makes some very valid points about the futile nature of the political search for equality, and it also provides numerous examples of stated feminist beliefs (prejudicial to men) to support his negative views about feminists.

    He obviously believes that feminism mostly serves two groups of people; women who hate men, and those who make a living out of it.

    He is entitled to his opinion.

  19. Pelle Billing Says:

    Gilesy:
    “Could you tell me exactly what you think feminism is and what its goals are, I feel like you have a very different perception of it to myself.”

    The question wasn’t asked of me, but I’ll answer it anyway. I like Merriam-Webster’s definition:

    1 : the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
    2 : organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests

    Most dictionaries focus on the first point, but I believe that to be a mistake. In practice, every feminist organization that I know of primarily works on behalf of women’s rights and interests. These organizations claim that this the best way to reach the goal stated in the first point, but I believe that to be a simplified view of reality.

    Male disposability is a huge issue, and yet it has never been a focus of feminism. If feminism truly cared about equality, then they would have started addressing this issue decades ago. Instead, feminists have been all to happy to give women equal rights, while keeping men stuck with the legal responsibility to defend the country (most countries have either a draft or military service).

    Feminism also doesn’t care about the very basic points that MRAs (men’s rights activists) raise, such as:
    * DNA testing of all newborns to establish paternity
    * Legislating about having to inform the putative father that you are pregnant
    * 2/3 of university students will soon be women all over the Western world
    * Boys are underperforming in schools. Why? They didn’t before.
    * Men die prematurely (due to the stress of having to provide for the family?)
    * 75-80 percent of the homeless are men in most countries. Why? Do we feel that it’s less important to help a man in need?
    * Men still do the bulk of all dangerous jobs, and are the ones who die or get maimed at work. Feminists talk about female representation at higher positions, but never in these jobs.
    * No outcry against male circumcision
    * There are special laws to protect women from violence (for example in the US and in Sweden). Why? Aren’t men worthy of the same protection? How can a movement that purports to be for equality, demand laws that are blatantly unequal
    * Men get longer sentences for identical crimes. Why is there no outcry? A movement that was for equality would make this a top priority.
    * Women’s violence against men is largely ignored, even though women do half of the intimate partner violence (women are hurt more, and are more afraid of their violent partner, so it’s not an equal situation. However, even by conservative measures 20-30 percent of the problem is that women hit men – but all the shelters are for women only)
    * Men’s organizations don’t get any resources. Women’s organizations are hugely influential and get government grants (at least in the US and in Sweden).
    * Women get custody of the children more often. Family courts value the fact that she is the primary caretaker more than they value that the father is the primary breadwinner. Why is that? Isn’t it just as important to provide for the child?

    Feminism is fighting for women’s rights, and doesn’t even consider the various scenarios where men are at a disadvantage. Even the name feminism indicates a movement that fights for women’s rights, and cares primarily about women. A movement for equality would be called equalism or something along those lines.

    I’m always dumbfounded when I meet a woman who expects men to be feminists. I expect men to be for gender equality, but to be a feminist means signing up for a whole other ideological agenda, one that does not value men’s lives or men’s experiences very highly.

  20. Gilesy Says:

    @ James

    “I referred to one article within a website” couldn’t see an ARTICLE called ‘the truth about feminism’ on that site that I could see (link if there is, please :D ), clicking on link goes towards a series of about about 200 other links of a wide variety of topics, too many to invest in on a whim. I randomly choose 3 highlighted in yellow.

    “Thirdly, I do not need a peer review article to know, for example, that family breakdown causes numerous problems to many people in society.” So women/men should be kept inside marriages they don’t want to be in? The stress on the child of being in the middle of a bitter relationship could be way worse then alternately seeing each parent. Is it? I don’t know, thats why you need studies.

    Disentangling every different causal factor as well as preventative factors from such a wide-sweeping generalisation means I could replace the word ‘feminism’ with virtually any other social word I’d like, replace it with democracy, social theories, biological determinism, thinking too much, thinking too little, being too emotional, being too cold. It also says nothing of the benefits and preventative damage of any given causal factor.

    Its basically basically choosing the ills of the world and thinking right, factor X existed at the same time, therefore its obviously related & responsible. I’m not saying feminism is perfect or doesn’t cause harm, but the sheer lack of quality-control on his rants means its hard to pick out good stuff.

    @Les

    Yes he is entitled to his opinion, I’d never deny anyone that, but I’m also entitled to disagree.

    “and it also provides numerous examples of stated feminist beliefs (prejudicial to men) to support his negative views about feminists.”

    Its easy to grab individuals views who most people would disagree with, however how representative is it of your standard feminist? Its like asking, ‘what do muslims believe?’ then asking a terrorist. The power lies in the majority opinion, not any radical minority – they just make the grabbing headlines that get people outraged.

    “it makes some very valid points about the futile nature of the political search for equality” Perfect equality I doubt will ever happen for a wide variety of reasons both biological (pregnancy/abortion) and social (people enjoy the differences and stereotypes of men and women).

    “He obviously believes that feminism mostly serves two groups of people; women who hate men, and those who make a living out of it.” The stereotype of man-hating feminist I’ve never seen 1st hand in my life. My guess is that they’ve been painted that way to create a particularly easy enemy straw-man.

    I’m interested in womens and mens rights, and I doubt that sniping each other is going to help anyone, I predict an gradual intergratation further down the line as serious Men’s rights organisations grow, raise awareness and gain socio-political power independent of any standard political party. Maybe then we’ll all get called women-hating masculinists, I love equality :P

    @Pelle

    I wonder if the biological-determinist response of ‘well men shouldn’t be going to uni as much as women cos they love manual labour work more’ will get stated. Tongue-in-cheek but biological innateness informing social policies is not your friend – that would account for armies in all countries being mostly male. If physical endurance and other male-war advantages are taken out, then female numbers should rise, such as with the airforce (but I get the feeling the final number of sign-ups will have a better correlate with testosterone then sex for example).

    “Even the name feminism indicates a movement that fights for women’s rights, and cares primarily about women. A movement for equality would be called equalism or something along those lines.” I know quite a few feminists who advocate that position (not all, mainly for patriarchical reasons, but some). Thats something I’ve brought up many-times and feel is more inclusive for the standard person on the street – do you believe in equalism / feminism? Ask that and responses vary considerably.

    “I’m always dumbfounded when I meet a woman who expects men to be feminists. I expect men to be for gender equality, but to be a feminist means signing up for a whole other ideological agenda, one that does not value men’s lives or men’s experiences very highly.”

    You can be a feminist and a MRA at the same time. It doesn’t mean giving up your voice as a male, but understanding their perceptions, problems etc are key to a well-informed dialogue. Living the life of a woman is extremely different to living life as a man, in ways you’d never experience 1st hand (true vice versa), I have many transgender friends who can attest to this, as well as personal experiences of entitlement, objectification etc that most men don’t experience in female-typical ways (I’m aware of monitary/status male objectification too).

    There are male-persuits that are bedfellows with feminism, particularly mens studies, social constructionism, queer theory and LGBT / BDSM perspectives. Feminism helped create, inform and raise peoples awareness in these domains, even if some are likely to splinter off as they grow.

    I liked the list of points you gave, were they off the top of your head or are there similar lists elsewhere? – would like to do as wide a reading as possible.

  21. Gilesy Says:

    I have got to stop writing these long posts

  22. Michelle Rogers Says:

    You will definitely want to read the following book if you have not already, as it applies to this topic exactly (and another article at this site as well).

    The author researched studies with babies and defined the two main types of brains, one formed by higher levels of testosterone while the baby is in the womb, and the other by less: 1) the E-brain (empathetic brain), and 2) the S-brain (systematizing brain).

    On average more men than women have the S-brain, and more women have the E-brain.

    That is not to say though that there are not cross-overs. I am a women and I scored higher than most men for the S-brain…and my partner, who is a man, scored really high for the E-brain skills and traits. So, it is never 100%…

    Book (source):

    The Essential Difference: Male and Female Brains and the tTruth about Autism.
    By: Simon Baron-Cohen, 2003.

  23. james Says:

    @Gilesy

    ““Thirdly, I do not need a peer review article to know, for example, that family breakdown causes numerous problems to many people in society.” So women/men should be kept inside marriages they don’t want to be in?”

    You seem to have a problem focusing on what people say, the above quote of yours being another example of this.

    ! used the phrase “family breakdown” not “marriage”.

    Previously, I used the word “article” not “website”.

    Further, Randy’s link works for me and it takes me to one single article about the concept of equality.

    Once again you seem to be point scoring and avoiding answering directly what is being said.

    You said; “Its easy to grab individuals views who most people would disagree with, however how representative is it of your standard feminist? Its like asking, ‘what do muslims believe?’ then asking a terrorist. The power lies in the majority opinion, not any radical minority – they just make the grabbing headlines that get people outraged.”

    You seem to forget that there are numerous laws, policies and attitudes prejudicial to men which now exist as indicated by Pelle. These are not just “opinions” or people “grabbing headlines”, these are real laws, real policies and real attitudes, and they have been inspired by feminism and feminists.

    Thus, once again, you have avoided what is being said to you. You have been willfully blind to Pelle’s list of male prejudices.

    You said; “The stereotype of man-hating feminist I’ve never seen 1st hand in my life. My guess is that they’ve been painted that way to create a particularly easy enemy straw-man.

    The second sentence does not quite follow from the first one, does it? It is an obvious attempt at sliding hopefully unnoticed from feminists whom you know “1st hand” to those whom you don’t know “1st hand”.

    So, you do not know any man-hating feminists 1st hand. I do not know any female murderers 1st hand. What are we supposed to learn from this?

    You said; “Perfect equality I doubt will ever happen”.

    If you read the article about equality you might want to readjust your view to “it will never happen”.

    Just about the only point of serious significance of yours with which I would concur, and which is of importance to someone like Pelle, is your recognition of the fact that if societies base too much of their structures on biological considerations then men will probably lose out in many ways.

    @Pelle

    While I think that this blog of yours is first-class and a joy to behold, particularly given that it is quite rare to find MRAs with your obvious intelligence and expertise arguing the case for men, the situation in the real world is that politics, power and “the means to persuade”, not science, are what govern where we tend to go.

    To quote His Highness, from whom I got the link to this site; “neither men nor women need to be ‘equal’ to each other in order to be happy with each other”.

  24. Danny Says:

    Gilesy:
    You can be a feminist and a MRA at the same time. It doesn’t mean giving up your voice as a male, but understanding their perceptions, problems etc are key to a well-informed dialogue.
    Perhaps but I have to say that feminists who are perceptive to such things are few and far between. There are plenty of feminist posts on feminist sites that at the slightest mention of the male point of view (even when it would be valid) is usually met with accusations of privilege or whining about “what about teh menz?”.

    I would like to think that a person could be both MRA and feminist (because frankly I think that if the two movements got on a united front they would be unstoppable) but when I look at the people on each side it seems to me the the main reason they are on that side is because the other side ignores what it important to them (and this works both ways).

    Gilesy:
    The power lies in the majority opinion, not any radical minority – they just make the grabbing headlines that get people outraged.

    james:
    You seem to forget that there are numerous laws, policies and attitudes prejudicial to men which now exist as indicated by Pelle. These are not just “opinions” or people “grabbing headlines”, these are real laws, real policies and real attitudes, and they have been inspired by feminism and feminists.

    Based on that does it mean that the laws, policies, and attitudes that prejudice against men were put in place by the majority and that said majority does not represent the whole class?

    Because if so then I would like to say that for the godzillionth time that the few men at the top with power do not represent the entire gender despite what feminists might say. How often do we hear:

    “Men as a class have power” – If we did would we really and actively supporting things that actually hurt us?

    “Women as a class have don’t have power” – If so then how have things like the VAWA gone on for so long without being seriously challenged?

    What I’m getting at is that men don’t have as much power as people like to assume we do and women have more power than they would like to admit.

  25. Randy Says:

    @James

    One you could have mentoned.

    http://www.angryharry.com/esScienceDoesNotHelpVeryMuch.htm

  26. Pelle Billing Says:

    @Gilesy
    “I liked the list of points you gave, were they off the top of your head or are there similar lists elsewhere? – would like to do as wide a reading as possible.”

    That was a list of points that I’ve collected myself over the past few months. I don’t really know of any other good lists, but perhaps someone else here can help you out?

    @Michelle
    Thanks for the tip. I’ve read the book and I point to it every now and then when I write about innate gender differences. Simon Baron-Cohen has done some incredible work in that domain.

    @james
    “While I think that this blog of yours is first-class and a joy to behold, particularly given that it is quite rare to find MRAs with your obvious intelligence and expertise arguing the case for men, the situation in the real world is that politics, power and “the means to persuade”, not science, are what govern where we tend to go.”

    I agree that it’s important to present this material in such a way that it can have a real impact. When I write an article for a newspaper, I use a different tone and a different rhetoric than I do here on the blog. Society in general does not premiere a balanced take on a certain issue, it is usually more efficient to be clearly against something, or make a shocking claim. I find that it is a balancing act to be true to myself and still use a language that has an impact.

    @Danny
    Good points as usual.

  27. unomi Says:

    I wonder if the biological-determinist response of ‘well men shouldn’t be going to uni as much as women cos they love manual labour work more’ will get stated.

    Gilesy, please do keep writing those long posts. They’re brilliant.

  28. james Says:

    @unomi

    “Gilesy, please do keep writing those long posts. They’re brilliant.”

    No, they are not. They are tedious.

    Apart from not attending carefully to what is being said by others, Gilesy tends to back away from arguments by claiming that he is not willing to accept anything that is not supported by ‘scientific research’. However, he is quite happy to voice his own opinions without such backing.

    He is simply trying to score points.

    Besides which social science research these days is too politically sullied for it to be of much scientific value. Much of it is also utterly invalid, mostly because the complexities of real life are way beyond its reach and understanding.

    “I wonder if the biological-determinist response of ‘well men shouldn’t be going to uni as much as women cos they love manual labour work more’ ”

    This might well be true for a large percentage of men. If so, then so be it.

  29. Pat Kibbon Says:

    Gender may be socially constructed, but that dosen’t mean that gender is artificially imposed by a willful entity acting intentionally to create it.

    Society consists of structure, and requires a system to produce that structure, a system of social construction. It is possible that a gender system is an inherent characteristic of society, produced by a naturally occurring social construction system that operates outside of the will of any individual or group of individuals.

  30. Kristina J Says:

    This also means that the inner experience of being a man is different from the inner experience of being a woman.

    THIS is the great mystery (and I personally belive: great human fear) since there is no test to measure it and never will be!

    All my life I’ve been drawn to books and films and stories about men. All my favorite artists and movie stars are men. Men are my heroes and role models. If you had had asked me two years ago I would have said my ideal society is a society with ONLY men (like the utopia in Fight Club.) They’d have to solve the breeding problem with artificial uteruses but otherwise would be okay.

    I even wished I had been a man myself for the longest time, heck if you asked me today what I would chose to be if I had an extra life time I would chose a man. But I eventually grudgingly realised that no matter how much you fantasize about being the other gender you can never “get it” because you are using your own brain to do the fantasizing. Reading Lord of the Rings doesn’t give you understanding of what it feels like to be a man!

    Same thing goes for men. I’ve read about some men who had undergone sex reassignment surgery despite not actually having gender dysphoria. They simply felt a strong sexual desire to be a woman because of their testosterone. Once they lost the testosterone, after the surgery, being female lost its appeal. (This kind of misdiagnosis is hopefully extinct by now!)

    I say this is the great human fear when it comes to gender – that we’ll never be able to touch “The Other,” that the very essence is so different you can’t share your experiences because they seem and feel different to you. Kind of like a child being taught that the color of bananas and sunflowers is called “blue” – she will never be able to communicate her experience of “the color blue” in any meaningful way to others.

  31. Pelle Billing Says:

    Interesting comment Kristina. It’s indeed a philosphical issue that we will continue to grapple with.

  32. Målet är en genuspedagog i varje förskola Says:

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