By Mel

The Day After

Note: This appeared as one of my contributions last week to a private email group including a number of lawyers. Three of them, including a retired Democratic Congressional Representative, endorsed my proposals. A fourth, a former Republican member of the Georgia State House, was “appalled.” The photo was included in my email. The proposal was emailed to the group Thursday, October 5, 2018, and I haven’t altered it for this posting.

Three illegitimate “Justices,” now one third of the court and three fifths of the ultra-right majority

Here’s what I think will and should happen the day after Kavanaugh is confirmed: Read more

Charles Darwin’s Happy Birthday

As we mark Charles Darwin’s birthday on February 12th, our culture is riding a wave that should take us back to his theory. The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements are the crest of the wave, which may represent a turning point against men’s chronic exploitation of women. It’s one aspect of the decline of male supremacy predicted and fought for by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the pioneering women’s rights activist born just a few years after Darwin.

Stanton, like Darwin, was a realist when it came to gender differences. She thought that some were intrinsic and fundamental, but that these were to women’s advantage. Indeed, in a powerful 1869 speech, she held that the strongest argument for women’s equality was “the difference between man and woman.”

Read more

Psychologist Ann Kruger Boosts Girls’ Self-esteem to Prevent Sexual Exploitation

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Dr. Ann Cale Kruger

Most of us are concerned now about the sexualization of childhood—toddler beauty queens, Rihanna outfits in preschool. But three just-published articles still shock.

They come from the laboratory of developmental psychologist Ann Cale Kruger at Georgia State University—I’m happy to disclose I’m married to her—and concern Project PREVENT, a program she launched to explore the vulnerabilities of girls and to try to strengthen their resilience. Read more

The Case that Clinched the Zika-Brain Connection

Normal male fetus EKP
Normal fetus

Rita Levi-Montalcini, the first Nobel laureate to reach 100, graduated from the Turin medical school in 1936, and soon started working on the developing nervous system. Two years later, when Mussolini barred Jews from faculties, she set up a lab in her bedroom—such was her passion for understanding brain growth, for discoveries that might someday help prevent brain defects.

I thought of her on April 13th, when the CDC released its statement confirming that Zika causes microcephaly. It seems they were awaiting Read more

“Mom and Mommy, Where Do Babies Come From?”

Venus symbolsThe 1989 book, Heather Has Two Mommies, normalized for my kids the idea that two women could care for a child and create a fine family. The controversy it met with seemed increasingly quaint as research showed that kids like Heather grow up very much like average children, although they are less homophobic.

Even quainter now seems the battle over the first “test-tube baby.” Louise Brown, born in 1978, was hailed in headlines as “Superbabe” and “The Lovely Louise,” but she also met with many negative expectations. Yet in 2010 Robert Edwards shared the Nobel Prize for the work that led to her birth, celebrating with Ms. Brown and her own son. Today five million people conceived in this way walk among us, indistinguishable except in the luck of their existence.

But suppose these two lines of research could be joined. Suppose Heather had two biological mothers—because one of their eggs was fertilized with the DNA  of the other. Since the offspring of such a union could have only X chromosomes, Read more

Women’s Suffrage is 95 Years Old!

 

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Elizabeth Cady Stanton in her proper place

It’s a great day to celebrate women’s movements past and present, but does feminism require the belief that women are basically like men?

This was at least an implicit claim of Second Wave feminists, modeled on prior movements for ethnic and racial equality. Read more

Blowback 2

I said in my last posting that I expected Women After All to offend four groups. The biggest and most vulgar response has been from the “men’s rights” movement—really Quavering Male Chauvinists (QMCs) who can’t wrap their minds around the fact that women are pushing the boot off their neck and even starting to twist the foot around the ankle. Steady for the toppling, boys. Don’t hit the deck too hard.

The second group has been much more polite than the QMCs but no less critical: feminists who see my claims as a warmed-over, old-style, pseudoscientific male chauvinism; worse, Read more

Blowback

Women After All cover hi res reducedMy new book—Women After All: Sex, Evolution, and the End of Male Supremacy, published by Norton on March 9th—has produced some highly predictable, in fact predicted, reactions.

I’d written on p. 17, “this book will have something to offend almost everyone.” Three of the four groups I mentioned specifically were those (not all) feminists who deny that any important things about men’s and women’s behavior are influenced by biology; discouraged women who think I exaggerate the pace of change; and of course, the flat-earthers who think evolution didn’t happen and won’t read past the subtitle.

But the nastiest blowback by far has been from men. The first wave  Read more

Is Misogyny Maladaptive?

islamic_womenPart of my friend’s question that I didn’t answer last time was about misogyny, which he hopefully speculated is now maladaptive. I deferred this because from an evolutionary viewpoint it is in a different category from xenophobia, racism, and anti-Semitism. Let me state clearly at the outset, as I did about the other categories of prejudice: I think we are gradually creating conditions in which misogyny is maladaptive, and we must continue to do that.

However, it has to be recognized that for the long span of human evolution Read more