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, some accuse me of sexism for saying that women are in some ways superior.

Never mind that the entire thrust of my argument is that women should have more power and influence because they are different from men; that women do better in many leadership roles because they are different; that, as I show in the book, women originated this argument 150 years ago; and that I repeatedly say there are only two behavioral sex differences that are clearly grounded in biology: violence and driven sexuality.

None of this in their eyes justifies my argument, because I don’t accept that every single aspect of male and female psychology is due to differences in upbringing, education, and media. This, some feminists believe, is the start of a slippery slope that inevitably ends in oppression of women. We must, they insist, continue to believe that all sex differences (except anatomy) are cultural.

There are only two problems with this. One is that it isn’t true. The other is that it becomes more difficult to sustain every year.

Just as some people think vaccines cause autism, genetically modified foods are toxic, and global climate change is not caused by people, some academic feminists cling to an increasingly untenable position: that the huge sex differences in violence and in exploitative sexuality, consistent across all cultures, are as socially constructed as wearing skirts or sporting a buzz cut.

Although I am in some ways updating a famous book called The Natural Superiority of Women, by anthropologist Ashley Montagu, I do not claim that women are superior in every way. In the very first sentence of the book, and repeatedly after that, I specify that women are “superior” not across the board but “in most ways that will count in the future.”

I further insist (p. 229), “The similarities between men and women’s brains are much greater than any differences; the differences that exist are unrelated to general intelligence, but they are tied to specific dispositions,” and continue to the essence of my argument:

“A key finding is that the male amygdala is relatively larger and dotted with testosterone receptors, while the prefrontal cortex, which inhibits aggressive and other impulses coming from the amygdala, is larger and develops earlier in women. These differences, combined with hormonal effects on the prenatal hypothalamus, could help explain why men greatly exceed women in violence and driven sexuality.”

These traits, I argue, make some men distracted and dangerous leaders. Of course, not all men, but they do reflect the different evolutionary histories of the two (main) sexes, and the different developmental tracks they follow in prenatal life.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the great co-founder of the woman suffrage movement, would probably not have been surprised by this twenty-first-century view. The first thing in the book, after the title page, is an epigraph from a major speech she made in 1869.

Citing the arguments mounted to gain the vote for un-landed men, male immigrants, and male former slaves, she said, “All these arguments we have to-day to offer for woman, and one, in addition, stronger than all besides, the difference in man and woman.” This is a definitive assertion of difference feminism, which motivates my book.

I happen to think it would be better to have people in leadership positions who are less violent and less prone to exploitative sexuality. But you needn’t subscribe to that to endorse what Stanton said next: “Because man and woman are the complement of one another, we need woman’s thought in national affairs to make a safe and stable government.” In other words, if you don’t think women’s difference makes them superior, at least consider what that difference would add.

It would actually not be new, but rather something like a return to the relations between the sexes that prevailed during the hunter-gatherer era—before all-male conspiracies excluded women from public conversations. Now that we are beginning to bring them back in, their successes will accelerate the change and make it permanent.


  1. Roger Kuhlman says:

    Talking about differences between men and women is fine and a very important and interesting subject to explore. But to claim superiority and supremacy for women in most ways that will matter in the future is a sexist project of evaluation that does not accept and appreciate difference and instead contemplates plans of extermination or elimination of those elements of the population who are inferior and undesirable

  2. Judith Judson says:

    Dear Dr Konner:

    Spent an hour or so speed reading your book at Barnes & N today (can’t afford to buy it). My family thanks you for quoting my niece Olivia’s works, and I send you the thoughts of Alice Duer Miller (whom we principally know these days as the author of “The White Cliffs of Dover”) on why men should NOT vote:

    Why We Oppose Votes for Men

    1. Because men’s place is in the armory. 2. Because no real manly man wants to settle any question otherwise than by fighting about it.
    3. Because if men were to adopt peaceable methods, women will no longer look up to them. 4. Because men will lose their charm if they step out of their natural sphere and interest themselves in other matters than feats of arms, uniforms and drums. 5. Because men are too emotional to vote. Their conduct at baseball games [read football for other than Americans] and political conventions shows this, while their innate tendency to appeal to force renders them peculiarly unfit for the task of government. (1915)

    When you have some spare time you might enjoy Sherri Tepper’s The Gate to Women’s Country. You’ll figure out the gimmick early on–I did, and I’m no scientist, but it is an amusin’ notion.

    • Mel says:

      Dear Judith (if I may), I have long admired Olivia Judson (see my blurb on “Dr. Tatiana’s” book) and sent her Women After All, so perhaps you can borrow it, but if you want to write to me at antmk at emory dot edu with your mailing address, I’ll send you a copy. By the way, she had some issues with technical aspects of how I quoted her work. I feel remiss in not citing Alice Duer Miller in my book, but I will inform myself better about her work going forward. The no votes for men platform is hilarious. Tepper’s book looks very entertaining, but why keep men around at all? 🙂 Mel PS: See my post on this blog called “Mom and Mommy, Where Do Babies Come From?”

  3. mike says:

    It’s interesting that you agrue that a matriachy would be better for everyone, but ignore that villages like Noiva do Cordeiro, or those african towns seems like a stagnant town. It doesn’t have most of the technological advances of cities under patriacal control, and while one would agrue that they tend to be safer or less conflictive, they’re also stagnant and not prone to advancements, also They’re not technological improvements on the town as far as I know.

    Which brings me to this point, Why hasn’t a female only town develop great technologies. And when it comes to social changes, why most of those woman groups do need male support if they want momentum?

    Also, in regards of thinking that male is a defective gene and that soon the woman will have a way to have conception without them, that conception method is not a very good one. According to this
    “When cells are triggered into change, there is the possibility that they grow uncontrolled and are more likely to lead to cancer. The enormity of the cell modification that occurs to create female sperm is also of concern, especially with regards to any chromosomal abnormalities or problems that can occur through the use of artificial chromosomes.”
    So in the meantime, having a man sperm is the safest way of reproduction untill science makes it safer. So a man’s sperm is going to still be valuable for a while.

    And I love how you present woman being the most docile of the sexes, when the internet has documented cases of the most lunatic women out there who are capable of the most insane stuff I’ve seen. Like emma sulkowicz, women who falsely accuse men of raping them (which is very evil)
    Like this
    or this

    Because if we live in a rape culture, then why people who are branded as rapist even if they didn’t rape are treated like shit and cannot live normal lives in the place where they live? Why do people condem rape when according to rape culture, a rapist could get away with it?

    You might argue that they don’t happen a lot, but when those women don’t face heavy charges when it does happen, it does incentivices more women to falsely accuse men. Which souldn’t happen at all.

    That’s all the things I want to point out. Sorry if this seems like a form of aggresion, but i want answers

    • Mel says:

      Dear Mike, My answers are straightforward. First, almost all rapes, including rapes of men, are committed by men. Second, false accusations of rape, which are very bad I agree, make up a very small fraction of rape accusations. Third, the “female only town” or “matriarchal” towns you mention are rare if they exist and are irrelevant to my argument about the grand sweep of history. As for the technicalities about conception, see my blog posting “Mom and Mommy, Where Do Babies Come From?” This frontier of science is moving fast. All that said, I don’t want to see men eliminated, I just want to see women, after all these thousands of years of oppression, finally get a fair deal. And yes, I do think it will be better that way for my son, my grandson, and all the generations of men to follow. Mel

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