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Author Topic: At war?
Rizzo
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Do you believe there is a war between the sexes? If yes, is it harmful or merely playful? This question reminds me of "Sex Wars," a pretty bad show in my opinion, in which men compete against women. Each team tries to answer questions about men or women (some questions are valid, but many are based on over-generalizations). While the tone of this show is playful, I can't help thinking that the premise is rather harmful. Should we really be enforcing the idea that men are the polar opposites of women?
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John Doe
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If man is not the opposite of woman, what is the opposite of woman. Over 99% of the people in the world fit into one of the two catagories, with the various permiutations of TG and IG people making up a very small fraction of the population. Now it does not mean that it has to be a war, but there are differences. To the extent that one chooses to focus on the differences, yes they are opposites. However, there is much more about men and women that is the same, than what is different. The genome is made up of 46 pairs of chromosones, 45 1/2 of them are the same for both male and female. However, even 0.01% of one of the chromosones can make a huge difference. That much of a difference can cause someone to be alive or dead, healthy or disabled and prone to an early death. So yes we are all human, and that is the majority of who we are, but there are significant differences.
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Lynne
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John,

Are you saying that the perceived differences in personality between men and women are based on the sex chromosomes? Because that's incorrect. Personality wise, I fit far better into the male mold, but I've got two X chromosomes. If the differences were solely biological in origin, females like me -- and I'm about as nurturing and emotional and maternal as a sharp pointy rock -- wouldn't exist. I think the generalized differences are mostly there because of how the sexes are socialized.

And that brings me to my next point, namely that I don't think the war of the sexes is a good idea. It just enforces the idea that women all do and should act one way and men all do and should act another way.

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Bobolink
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I don't know of this is original but a friend of mine said, "Men are from Earth, woman are from Earth. Deal with it."

We are both a part of the species Homo sapiens, just as toms and queens are part of Felis domesticus.

We are not two solitudes unto ourselves.

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We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

- Albert Einstein


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rambler
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There are some basic biological differences: Women have a greater chance of being immune to certain X-linked problems. Women also have more fat mass than muscle mass as compared to guys.

That's where it ends.

The rest of it is socialized into us. People say that boys have more testosterone and therefore they are more prone to fit into the "drive trucks, break things, fix things" mold that we generally put them into with toys and such. But that's wrong, too. Boys and girls have the exact same levels of each hormone until puberty and only then do boys begin to have more testosterone than girls. But we've already taught boys to fight and "protect girls" and for girls to be quiet and "talk about the problem" and not fight, and a million other things, haven't we?

Yes.

And it probably will not ever go away, because even when we try to be gender-neutral, there are just some things that some of us are going to think are "girl things" and "guy things." For instance, one of the women I know has two sons, and she's totally okay with letting them play with dolls and whatever else they want which is typically a "girl toy." But when her mother knit a pink and white sweater before one of her pregnancies ended, this same friend put that little sweater away in a box because she had a little boy and not a little girl. Even though I'm not planning to raise my kids in any specific gender-separatist way, I'm sure that there are some things like that which are ingrained in my head. Luckily, though, I'm going to make an effort to not do those kinds of things. But even with myself and my boyfriend raising our potential kids (which are far down the line, but probable) in a gender-neutral way (as much as we can), other people are going to have a profound influence on those kids as well, and so they'll probably adopt gender stereotypes which we don't like. It's all part of social interaction, which we can't rightfully deny our kids.

So ultimately there will be differences, because culture is very strong, even if it's all backwards as hell. But they are not biologically ingrained. They're very prevalently taught--INCLUDING the myth of biological cause, to keep us doing it.

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rambler
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[This message has been edited by rambler (edited 07-06-2001).]


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John Doe
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"In at least 7 of the measured brain structures there are structural differences between female and male brains...the boys brain is at least 10% larger than the girls...within the smaller girls brain is a larger corpous callosum than in the larger boys brain. the corpous callosum is the bundle of nerves that connects the brain's right and left hemispheres...seritonin, which inhibits aggressive behavior, and which exists in higher levels in girls than boys. Seritonin works with hormones secreted in the hypothalamus of the brain, hormones like testosterone. a boy's brain secretes more testosterone than a girl's and transmits less seritonin. Boys become all the more aggressive, girls less aggressive...When males and females are asked to do a spatial task - like figuring out how 2 objects fit together in space - most of the males right hemisphere lights up in various colors representing various degrees of right hemisphere intensity. Much less of his left hemisphere lights up with higher degree colors. The colors and their intensity are pretty much equal on both sides of the female brain...When verbal skills are tested much less of the male brain is used than in the female.

Michael Gurian "The Wonder of Boys" pp 13-15
Putnam 1997 (paperback edition)
ISBN 0-87477-887-5

The differences between boys and girls go beyond the level of body fat.

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"and these three, faith hope and love abide, and the greatest of these is love"


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Rizzo
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John Doe: The problem with this kind of research is that it's impossible to prove. We may be able to see physical differences between men and women's brains, but it's impossible to know which observable strengths/weaknesses (e.g. in spatial abilities) are attributable to physical differences and which are due to social conditioning. People don't exist in a vacuum.
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John Doe
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No people do not exist in a vacum. But different areas of the brain are responsible for different functions. that is well established. When a MRI shows significant differences in the parts of the brain that are being used to do the same task, it is very strong evidence that boys and girls do indeed think differently. It is impossible to say which is better, but it is very possible to say that they are different. If it is happening at the level of brain activity, ie one using predominatly one hemisphere and very intesely, and the other useing both hemispheres, but neither as intesely, that is a biological difference. It shows that boys and girls are in effect given a different set of tools to work with. Both sets of tools can be used to complete the task, but the methods used will be different.
It shows that there is a strong predisposition to act in a given way, and that severe social conditioning would be needed to overcome those predispositions. The effects of millions of years of evolution are not going to be overcome just because Betty Fredain or Gloria Steinem write a book.
Yes nurture plays a strong role as well as nature, but to deny that nature plays any role is just plain wrong. To try to nurture in a way that runs directly counter to nature is likely to be damaging, or at lest less successful that to nurture in such a way that it goes along with nature.
I am not for a minute going to say that men are better than women, or that women are better at men. Is a painting by Rembrant better than a statue by Michalangelo? No. or to be precise, it would depend on the requirements you put on it. If better ment the ability to hang on a wall, then the rembrant would be better, if better ment the ability to stand up to being scrubbed clean with soap and water, then the Michelangelo would be better. over all which is better, it is impossible to say. Are they different? Yes.

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Lynne
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Well, John, all that research shows is that men and women might generally have different brain structures. It doesn't necessarily mean that all of those differences are innate. If I recall correctly, the brain is malleable, and different circumstances can lead it to developing differently.
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Milke
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John, how old are your boys and girls?
Posts: 5122 | From: I *came* from the land of ice and snow | Registered: Aug 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
John Doe
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My daughter is 10, and my boys are 8 and almost 5.
As for the brain's maliability, significant differences in brain sturcture and behavior can be seen in babys. You are right that to some degree the brain is malliable, however most of the differences are due to genetics and the influence of differing levels and timing of doses of testosterone in utero.
Put another way, where is there any evidence that the observable differences between boys and girls, and between men and women are all to to cultural and societal reasons. i fully agree that societial influnces are there, but to deny that biology plays a role is simply ideological, not at all scientific or in keeping with the evidence.
Given the predominance of feminism today, the effort at denying differences amounts to forcing boys to be more girlish, regardless of their wishes or their nature. Most men still want to be men, not second rate women. I think most women still want to be women, not second rate men.

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Milke
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How old are the children in the studies?
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Rizzo
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John: I will not deny that there may be observable differences if brain functioning between men and women. But we cannot assume that our brains affect our behavior more than our behavior affects our brains. Although I'd like to believe that nurture plays a bigger role than nature, I'm no scientist, and am willing to accept that there are some genetic differences.

Also, I find your last statement a little strange. If I choose to act in ways which are traditionally masculine, then am I a "second-rate man"? No, I'm not, I'm a woman who's acting in the way she chooses. Those who are transgendered (or even just those who don't conform to gender stereotypes) are NOT second-rate human beings.


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John Doe
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Rizzo, behavior is a result, what your brain does is a cause. it is very rational to assume that your brain affects your behavior more than your behvior affects your brain. the brain pretty much controls every thing that goes on in the body, from sensory peception, to emotions, to your heart beating to your glands sucreeting enzimyes, to lifting your legs when you walk.
My point on the second part is that forced androgeny would make most men feel like they were being forced to act like second rate women and most women to feel like they were being forced to be second rate men. If you choose to act in ways that are traditionally considered more masculine, well more power to you, but it is not right to force androdgeny on people..

Different people learn things differently, and there is a real difference in the way most boys tend to learn as compared to most girls. By forcing all of them into the same mode, predominately one that is more suttend to the female temprament, boys are harmed in early education. K-6 education is a very female dominated environment.


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Rizzo
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I don't think it's quite so obvious that the brain affects our behavior more than vice versa. If you have been encouraged to think in certain ways all your life, your brain is going to be accustomed to using these pathways before others. Something as complex as the way we think cannot be solely due to genetics.
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