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And now, One Argument I, Pepper, am done having.

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Because I like to steal Paprika’s thunder.

Pictured: What you will see just before the thankful darkness, if you try to have this argument with me.

One: You feminists are trying to say men and women are the same! But men and women are different, it’s just biology!

On the surface, this one seems innocuous and it  even seems true. the biological classes male and female are both phenotypically and genetically different  (biological sex is distinct from gender so the language of the statement itself is…well).  Where we drive 100 miles an hour into probelmville is the unspoken assumption that of the biological classes of sex, there is, firstly:

Male/Female

That is not true. Not even chromosomally. There are probably at least 5 distinct biological sex variations, perhaps up to 8 depending on who you ask. There is plenty of genital variance, secondary sex characteristic variance, size and build variance, not to mention gender presentation variance. There is  a double fucking rainbow of variance among humans, in terms of indicators of biological sex.

It can be very difficult to classify biological sex, and you may not know unless your biological sex causes a health issue or infertility or makes you too god damned athletic or not god damned athletic enough. Chromosomally, the only thing that no human being can ever be is YY with no X, two Y chromosomes alone (many people are XYY or otherwise poly Y) are incompatible with life, for humans, so far as we know. Otherwise, there are plenty of poly X people, XO people, and so on, in the world. There have been cases of XY individuals with “female” reproductive organs and capacities, who have produced Oocytes and gestated fetuses.

Biological sex is not simple or straightforward. Tell me how you classify someone “male” or “female” and I can tell you a way that that characteristic can be ambiguous. So if you start your evo-psych argument  with assumptions about “males” and “females” as though these are the only, or even the majority of biological sexes, and we can just go ahead and draw sweeping conclusions about these classes, oh, I would say it’s on, but really, what will happen is that I will laugh. I will just laugh at you, and your science, because your science is shite.

LOLWHUT, Your science is weaksauce.

This does in fact put most evo-psych studies in the dumpster for me, because of the way that such studies are constructed– unless you karyotyped every individual participant and eliminated or outlied those who were not “typical” XX and XY, you aren’t telling me about sex, and therefore you aren’t telling me about evolution, you are telling me a story about gender and culture, and my stories explain more than yours.

And even if these studies were conducted that way, I need to see evidence that XX and XY  are normal and typical, statistically, and that all other karyotypes are rare enough to be abnormal.  I have yet to see any such evidence. These variances in karyotype seem to occur regularly, and don’t always result in infertility or other problems affecting fitness (in the reproductive or true biological sense that they mean when they say survival of the fittest, it’s not a phrase about nature being a battlefield, it’s about surviving offspring). Because of this, I am unlikely to accept as valid arguments about hard lines of difference genetically speaking, between the sexes. We seem to have our biological sexes on a spectrum, rather than at two extremes.

Further, even if I accepted that XX and Xy are normal and typical, I need to see a strong link between sex and the performance of gender universally, to accept that we are talking about evolution and human biology, and not culture. There is no universal standard of masculinity, or femininity. There are some similarities across cultures, but these similarities also have ties with the economy of the culture, e.g. whether  the culture is agricultural or herding based and so on, and the religious practices of the culture. There are hunter gatherer societies where there is almost no division of labor between the genders, and where rape/battery/misogyny occurs so infrequently that it has no specific linguistic term. There are cultures which refer to themselves as matriarchal, and are matriarchal, without being mirrors of the patriarchy. I need these exceptions explained, before I can accept evo psych arguments which posit that the patriarchy is a natural biological fact of the human species, and is a mirror of the genetic and phenotypic differences of XX and XY individuals.

So yeah. My response to the men and women are just different it’s biology argument is that gender isn’t sex,  and we don’t yet understand sex linked behavior in all human populations well enough to draw the conclusion that men are superior to women and should be the dominant class. My response is, like most things, it is complicated, and studies using first world college kids are structurally inaccurate because they do not reflect the reality of most of the human experience, and are likely to reflect the biases of the studiers, which, like magic, prest blasto, they do. I’m done arguing about evo-psych until evo-psych demonstrates actual scientific rigor.

Until then, it means as little to me as Aristotle arguing that women are just incomplete men, or St. Augustine arguing that women are by nature sinful, or St. Jerome (original MRA, that one!) arguing that women are vile blood sucking temptresses, or a thousand other sexist arguments made by both men and women but usually men. It is a distorted grab at  a source of widely accepted authority (now it’s science, then it was philosophy and religion), to support the status quo favoring the dominant class.  Evo-psych is also, as prev. mentioned holy shit balls racist, so even if I didn’t know shit about science, I would still be suspicious, because racism is a sign of stinky garbage masquerading as “the truthy truth!”

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About Pepper

Pepper Lee Hales is a twenty something, married, vicious feminist liberal. She likes dogs, cats, spiders, epistemics and cake.

6 responses »

  1. And this is why I adore you.

    It’s amazing how much we ignore the impact of society and culture. Um, yeah, it’s impossible to have an unbiased study on the “difference” between “genders” (*ahem* – irritation over inability of people to understand and/or acknowledge the difference between gender and sex). Period. No – there is no argument here.

    Reply
  2. Ever point out to these complimentarian idiots that XX and XY are not the only options? I’ve tried saying, “Hey, I personally know people with XXX and XXY and XYYY” and they’re all “I CAN’T HEEEEEAR YOU!”

    Frustrating.

    I may need to borrow the Death Spider.

    Reply
  3. Delurking (after coming here via Personal Failure) to say I love you for this.
    And now I’m going back to lurking lest you think I’m stalky.

    Reply
  4. @ nikki aaaaaaw! Thank you! Yeah, I swear to the spider in the sky, if I have to explain one.more.time how sex and gender are not the same thing! At all! I will lose my shit. And I can’t even imagine what it’s like for a trans person. I just adore (where adore=hate with the fiery hatred of a thousand collapsing galaxies) the total erasure of the non-white, industrialized western experience of human behavior too. I want to scream: WHITE PEOPLE FROM EUROPE, THE US AND CANADA ARE NOT THE STANDARD OF “HUMAN.” PLZ TO STOP NAOW KTHXBAAAAIIIII!

    Reply
  5. @ PF– Oh yeah. When you ask them if they’ve been karyotyped it gets even funnier. It’s like, wha huh heh WHY NO! I AM NORMAL!

    The whole thing is a big ‘ol bundle of stupid, because what is our arbitrary biological statistical cut off for “normal” or “typical”? This is the stuff of Arachnologist’s nightmares, because it can create or dissolve whole subspecies. I mean, how frequently does a variation have to occur in the population of a given species for it to become “typical”? How infrequently? Who the hell decides?

    And then, LULZFOREVAH how the hell do we get from this chromosome exists, and it has genes which cause this protein to be expressed, to “MEN WANT TITTES, WOMEN WANT LOVE, MEN HUNT MAMMOTHS, WOMEN GATHER BERRIES, WOMEN ARE RESOURCES FOR WHICH MEN COMPETE, MEN WANT BUSTY NARROW WAISTEED BLONDES, SCIENCE !!!”

    Siiiigh. Evo psych makes me yell.

    Reply
  6. @ WAltzInExile– Thanks for the read and the love! Please, lurk no more! We are friendly to people who are friendly to us 😀

    Reply

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