Weblog of the Sydney Traditionalist Forum
A key component of the ideology currently dominant in the West is the “equality” of the sexes and the consequent struggle to eliminate “discrimination” between them. If this doctrine seems plausible to many people, it is because it appeals to the basic principle of fairness that like cases ought to be treated alike. If women are no different from men, it cannot be fair to treat them differently. The whole issue, then, comes down to whether or not women and men are in fact like cases, whether or not there are important natural differences between the sexes that may justify different treatment in at least some situations.
A large part of feminist literature is, therefore, devoted to denying or minimizing natural differences between the sexes. Feminists differ in how far they are willing to go in this effort. To deny the existence of two distinct sexes outright, of course, would not only harm their credibility, but impugn their sanity. Most content themselves with attempting to demonstrate that women and men are functionally equivalent (“equal”) in particular kinds of situations: within the family, in the workplace, in sporting competitions, even in combat. Much antifeminist literature, accordingly, is devoted to observing and measuring differences in men and women, from cognitive abilities and personality differences to athletic performance and upper body strength. Many such differences can be shown to exist, and we shall discuss some of them below.
Sexual Differentiation: What It Is and Why It Exists
But before beginning this survey, let us go straight to the heart of the matter and give an account of what sexual differentiation is. As we know from high school biology, some primitive organisms are asexual, reproducing through binary fission, or budding, or by sending off spores, or in a number of other ways. Such simple organisms do not undergo evolution in the proper sense. They can change only through random mutation, often remaining essentially unchanged for millions of years. The human species, however, has evolved to be unisexual, i.e., each male and female is assigned his or her sex at conception and retains that sexual identity throughout his or her life.1
Sexual reproduction makes evolution possible by allowing favorable mutations to spread quickly through a population. It requires the fusing of two special cells known as gametes, each of which contains half the genetic material of the parent organism, and transmits this half to the offspring during fertilization.
It is a logical possibility for all parent organisms to produce the same number of gametes. But some differences must have appeared early, if only by chance. And once such differences appeared, they had a tendency to become ever-greater, in a self-reinforcing process.
This is because there are strategic advantages both to producing more gametes and to producing fewer. More gametes mean, all other things being equal, greater odds that one of them will successfully fuse with another. And fewer gametes mean, all other things being equal, that each of one’s own is more valuable, with more gametes from other organisms competing to fuse with them (in reproduction, as in economics, scarcity raises the price). Over time, each strategy—success through numbers and success through scarcity—capitalizes on its own advantages by becoming, in the one case, ever more numerous, in the other, ever scarcer and more valuable.
These different strategies of gamete production are the origin of the two sexes. They also define the sexes: in any species, whichever sex produces more gametes is said to be “male,” while the sex which produces fewer is said to be “female.” This is how biologists distinguish the sexes when confronted with exotic creatures whose sexual identity is not intuitively obvious.
There are limits to how far the two sexual strategies can be taken: no male can produce an infinite number of sperm, and if a female were to produce no eggs at all, she would lose the advantages that come with scarcity. Still, in complex animals the differences can be enormous. In humans, the female produces about four hundred eggs over the course of a lifetime, while the male produces around twelve million sperm per hour.
The two sexes are equally important to reproduction in the sense that each instance of reproduction requires both a sperm and an egg. But considered individually, females are far more valuable than males. Think of it this way: a society of a thousand men and one woman would be doomed, unable to produce enough offspring from a single mother. But in a society of a thousand women and one man, while the fellow would have his work cut out for him, he might eventually produce enough offspring for life to go on. In other words, women are the limiting factor in reproduction. In the language of economics, they have greater marginal value than men.
This, by the way, explains why men are expected to risk their lives to defend women rather than the other way around, and why women rather than men filled the Titanic’s lifeboats. As writer Warren Farrell has put it, men are the expendable sex.2
The function of evolution is to perpetuate and spread of favorable mutations, which are rare, and the elimination of harmful mutations, which are common. Because most mutations are harmful, experimenting with them is a dangerous business. Nature does not squander valuable females on such a task; they must be kept safe to perpetuate the species. With the less valuable males, however, nature can afford to experiment and lose a few—or even most of them.
Dangerous mutations are isolated from females in various ways. The most obvious is to put them directly on the male, or Y, chromosome; but this is uncommon because the Y chromosome is so small. Somewhat counter-intuitively, mutations can also be isolated from females when they occur on the female (X) chromosome — as long as they are recessive. In that case, the mutation will be expressed in males but usually unexpressed in females. This is why sex-linked disorders such as Hemophilia and certain forms of Muscular Dystrophy overwhelmingly affect men rather than women.
Most mutations, of course, occur on one of the other 22 pairs of human chromosomes. What happens in this case is that such mutations are more exposed to the process of natural and sexual selection in males than in females. Through competition, men test their own limits in ways that reveal any weakness, or any unusual strengths, in their genetic makeup. In primitive societies, male competition may take the form of hunting and fighting, and as many as half of all males may not even reach adulthood. In the modern world, competition is more likely to be directed toward economic or social success, with unsuccessful males distracted with hedonistic and often self-destructive trivialities such as obsession with sport or addiction to pornography, rather than sacrificed on the proverbial battlefield. In either case, the underlying reality is the same. Success in intra-male competition is the basis of female mate choice. Women are sensitive to even slight differences in genetic fitness, which can translate into big differences in male reproductive success. This is especially obvious in a polygamous society, but the same effect occurs in a more muted way under a system of monogamy, with males perceived as fit tending to marry earlier with (on average) younger, healthier, more fertile females.
Equipped with just this very basic understanding of sex, we can begin to grasp the full insanity of feminist ideology, especially as it’s applied to state policy. We can also see how the biological realities of men and women have shaped cultural norms, and how departing from these norms is a departure from reality itself. Consider as an example only the demand that women be integrated into the armed forces. It was recently reported that the Australian Defense Force has instituted a program of preferential recruiting favoring females.3 Traditionally, there have been strong intuitive reservations about such programs, not least of all due to the obvious impact that these undoubtedly have on male recruits, especially when affirmative action initiatives impact on the internal promotion process itself. While objections are often arrogantly dismissed by political progressives as the consequence of “prejudice” based on “stereotype”, there may well be good reasons why societies throughout the ages have shied away from throwing their women in front of cannon, or put them in uniform for the sake of making a political statement.
It might be possible for an ideological dictatorship to impose such a policy, backing it up with severe punishments for officers and enlisted men who “discriminate” between their male and female fellow-soldiers. But this would do nothing to diminish the higher reproductive value of women, the innate protective instincts that men have cultivated for generations over their womenfolk, and the resulting battlefield attitudes of the male troops vis-à-vis their sisters-in-arms today. No legislative or police action by the state is capable of making eggs as common as sperm; likewise, no bureaucratic policy, no matter how militantly enforced, will be able to reëngineer the male-female cultural dynamic. For this reason, it would be irrational for any society to employ women in combat — even if (contrary to fact) — they could be proven as effective in combat as men.4 Since the Australian Defense Force embraces a pre-op transgender “officer” as one of its spokesmen (or should that be spokespersons?)5 it is unlikely that its political bureaucratic arm would respond well to these observations.
Fetal Hormonalization and Inborn Sex Differences
But the greater marginal reproductive value of women is only the beginning of the story of sexual differentiation. A host of physical, behavioral and psychological differences between men and women have evolved around this original and fundamental difference. In general, women are stronger in areas where men are weaker and vice versa; the sexes complement one another rather than being equivalent.
During the first six weeks of human gestation, there is little to distinguish a male from a female embryo. But at around six or seven weeks, male brains are subjected to a “testosterone bath” similar to the hormonal surge which occurs at puberty. Testosterone levels at this period are about four times what they are during infancy and childhood, and this changes the way the male’s neural networks are laid out. In the absence of such a testosterone bath, the brain develops according to the female pattern.
Fetal hormonalization is a complex process, and many things can go wrong. Experiments with laboratory animals suggest that departures from sexual norms such as homosexuality and tomboyism may be rooted in abnormal dosages of sex hormones at the fetal stage; the feminist movement may even represent in part an effort by exceptionally masculized women to optimize society in accordance with their interests. Unfortunately, irregularities in fetal hormonalization cannot usually be counteracted by hormone treatments at a later time.6
Sex differences in behavior are observable almost from birth: newborn girls are more interested than boys in people and faces, while boys can be just as interested in inanimate objects. As they grow, boys reveal a disposition to explore the physical world around them. They enjoy taking things apart to find out how they work. Girls, however, learn to speak earlier than boys, their brains being more efficiently organized for language. Girls are interested mainly in the social world.
By age four, boys and girls usually prefer to play apart. Boys enjoy competitive rough-and-tumble play resulting in clearly defined winners and losers. Girls’ play is often cooperative; any competition tends to be indirect, involving turn-taking and methodically defined stages. Hopscotch, e.g., is a quintessential girls’ game.
During childhood, boys and girls have the same kinds and levels of hormones circulating in their bodies; behavioral differences are the result of earlier fetal hormonalization. At puberty, a second rush of hormones enhances sexual differences. Puberty can be thought of as switching on the male and female circuitry laid down at the fetal stage. Boys’ testosterone levels rise to twenty times those of girls, resulting in a growth spurt, more red blood cells, and a higher bodily protein-to-fat ration: 40% vs. 15% in boys, 23% vs. 25% in girls. A boy’s temperament becomes more assertive and self-confident, while a girl’s tends to become less so.
While hormone levels remain fairly constant in men, they fluctuate wildly in women, resulting in mood swings over the course of her ovulatory cycle. During the first half of the cycle, under the effects of estrogen, a woman experiences elevated, positive moods. She feels more alert and her brain is better able to process more new information. She is more sexually receptive at this stage.
Following ovulation, estrogen levels sink and progesterone levels increase. Less oxygen reaches the brain and the woman’s temperament becomes calm or even sluggish. She may grow tired or become depressed easily. Due to the calming effects of progesterone, however, she is not normally hostile or aggressive.
If the woman becomes pregnant, progesterone continues to be produced. But during the least four or five days of months in which no fertilization occurs, both estrogen and progesterone levels sink dramatically. Regardless of her environment, a woman can become highly irritable or tearful at this stage. In severe cases, she may experience uncontrollable anger and become physically violent.
An adult man is on average 7% taller than an adult woman, with about twice as much upper body strength. Women see better than men in the dark, have better peripheral vision and can more easily distinguish between colors at the red end of the spectrum. Men see better than women in bright light. Women have more sensitive senses of hearing, smell and touch. As regards taste, men are better at discerning salty flavors, where women are more sensitive to bitterness.7
Among the most important sex differences are those in cognitive functioning. Adult men have a three-to-five-point advantage over women in average IQ. Male intelligence is also more variable, with more men at both the highest and lowest levels, and women tending to bunch in the middle. Female intelligence also relies more heavily on verbal ability than that of men, while men have greater mathematical ability and much greater visuospatial ability. Together, these differences explain the enormous overrepresentation of men among high achievers in scientific and technical fields. Roderick Kaine explains that genes expressed in the nervous system are overrepresented on the sex chromosomes by a factor of between three and seven, and offers a theory of why humans evolved this way.8 This sex linkage explains the many sex differences in cognitive functioning, including why males are overrepresented both among the retarded and among the very highest achievers in cognitively demanding fields.
Male brains on the whole are 8-10 per cent larger than female brains, and controlling for body size does not eliminate the difference. One area, the inferior parietal lobe implicated in tool use, is 25 per cent larger in males. Male brains have proportionally less grey matter than female, but significantly more white matter and about 15-16 per cent more neurons. An exception to this pattern is the corpus callosum, which connects the two hemispheres of the cerebrum. Females have more white matter in this particular region than males, making for better communication between hemispheres.
Testosterone promotes interconnectivity between areas of the brain, but the lower connectivity between hemispheres in the male brain means that the effects of testosterone are largely limited to promoting interconnectivity within each hemisphere separately. So the overall pattern is more connectivity between hemispheres in women, and more within hemispheres in men.
Male brains are also more specialized by region, with particular functions often strongly associated with well-defined areas, usually within a single hemisphere; in female brains, a single function may involve multiple brain areas in both hemispheres, and a single area may be involved in several functions. These differences in brain pattern underlie an observable sexual polarization in what might be termed cognitive style, that between reasoning and perception. Women are equipped to receive a wider range of sensory information and can connect and relate that information more easily; men are better at not letting themselves be distracted by irrelevant information while trying to solve problems.9
In our environment of evolutionary adaptation, men specialized in hunting and women in gathering.10 Gathering requires an ability to detect edible plants barely distinguishable from their surroundings. This requires perceptiveness, but little reasoning ability. Tending to the needs of small children unable to communicate verbally also requires an ability to interpret subtle cues which sometimes do not even reach the threshold of conscious perception. This ability has traditionally been described by men as “women’s intuition,” for men find it hard to understand how women can know certain things without going through any process of reasoning.
Hunting wild animals, on the other hand, is a problem which requires analysis and reasoning ability. Reasoning involves abstracting the essential elements of a problem from the various irrelevancies in which it is embedded in the real world—nearly the opposite of what is involved in perceiving subtle differences. Here again, the sexes can be seen as complementing one another.
Given everything that is now reliably known about inborn sex differences, the continued respectability of feminism within the academy is nothing short of scandalous.
Feminism Comes Home:
The Failure of Androgynous Marriage and Parenting
The feminist program of equivalency between the sexes requires the equal sharing of housework and child care between both parents, if only to leave women free to pursue paid careers outside the home. Articles in the popular press sometimes make it appear that modern society is shifting in this direction, but Prof. Steven Rhoads of the University of Virginia has demonstrated that this is simply untrue. The following information comes from his book Taking Sex Differences Seriously.11
Researchers have found that both men and women find marriage easier when the wife’s career is less successful than the husband’s. Husbands feel better about themselves as spouses when their earnings increase, but “the greater a wife’s earnings relative to her husband, the worse she feels about herself as a spouse.”12 Couples will go to great lengths to conceal a high-earning wife’s income to protect the husband’s status as primary provider, and there appears to be a sound reason for this: overt and prolonged role reversal can be fatal to marriage.13
Feminist Liz Gallese came across what appeared to be a happy female-provider marriage: the wife’s career was more successful than the husband’s, so he began looking after their child to let her focus on work (the economically rational thing to do). The woman seemed proud of her accomplishments and happy with the arrangement. The truth came to light only when Gallese began speaking to the husband; it turns out that the couple had entirely ceased having sexual relations. Armed with this new information, Gallese probed more deeply into the wife’s sentiments. The woman eventually admitted she wanted another child, but — not by her husband. “I absolutely refuse to sleep with that man,” she declared; “I’ll never have sex with him again.”14 Instead, she was now flirting with other successful businessmen. She did not intend to divorce her husband, however; he was too useful as a nanny for the child.
Prof. Rhoads initiated a study of the parenting practices of 184 young academics of both sexes. Majorities of both sexes agreed with the statement that “Families usually do best if the husband and wife share equally in child care, household work, and paid work;”15 in short, they were on board with the feminist project. Yet their parenting practices did not reflect these beliefs. The investigators distinguished twenty-five childcare related tasks, and found that the female academics performed all of them far more often than male academics. This is probably in part because they enjoy doing so: many mothers report enjoying even such unlikely aspects of the job as changing their babies’ diapers, a taste seldom shared by fathers.
One researcher did manage to find a father who was careful to spend the exact same amount of time as his wife looking after their infant son because of his ideological commitment to feminism. The researcher:
found that he came up with “tricks” for getting through extended contact with his son [such as] “toys and events which kept the baby distracted, and thus decreased the father’s level of attention.” The father told about trying “to get things done.” He couldn’t stand the crying and fussing. Sometimes he would “go pound his fist in the wall.”16
The reality seems to be that families sometimes resort to androgyny or outright role reversal under conditions of stress (e.g., loss of the father’s job or the prolonged illness of the mother), or occasionally as a direct result of ideological commitment, but that they show a strong tendency to return to natural norms over time. One study of non-traditional families “found on follow-up, just two years later, that only one-quarter of [the families] were maintaining their nontraditional ways.”17
Male provisioning seems to have evolved as a response to the harsher climates early humans encountered when they wandered out of Africa, and a couple generations of feminist influence have proven insufficient to drive it out of our nature—even in cases where women are equally capable of doing the jobs men have traditionally done. Both men and women are likely to be happier where law and custom take account of their evolved sex-specific preferences rather than warring against them.18
F. Roger Devlin is the author of two books, Sexual Utopia in Power – The Feminist Revolt Against Civilisation (2015) and Alexander Kojève and the Outcome of Modern Thought (2004). He has been published at The Occidental Quarterly, American Renaissance and VDare.