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.