Yesterday I had a interesting discussion on Twitter about male and female brains. I have to say it is very hard to have an interesting discussion using 140 character chunks of text when half of the 140 characters consists of Twitter IDs. I couldn’t really say what I wanted to say, so I’m going to look at the question of male and female brain similarity or otherwise in a little more than 140 characters.
I lied. I’m not going to look at the question of are there or are there not physiological, hormonal or other differences. I am going to ask and consider the question of why does it matter?
Rightly or wrongly, yesterday I was left with the impression people tended to feel if the research, showing male and female brains are not only different but also used differently, are right, then in some way it was feared this could be used to undermine equality of the sexes.
That is the bit that stumps me. Why does it matter? We happily acknowledge male and female genitals are different. We happily accept there are hormonal differences. Women aren’t all rushing out wanting to grow beards (until forced to at a certain age) as far as I know. Why would anyone find differences in the brain a threat?
I am not going to provide a list of references for both sides of the argument. There are many, many out there and no matter what links I provide, someone will have others! Research both sides of the debate yourself! 😛
What I AM interested in discussing is why this fear and what opportunities may we miss for the development of the species if we deny any difference, assuming for a moment it exists? Custom designed education, for example, is one potential issue to be considered that I read about.
NOTHING I read suggested either brain was superior. Studies have shown males and females use their brains differently as well: the end result being the same levels of intelligence – just different cognitive processes.
It was suggested to me that supporting the theory of gender differences in the brain was as bad as supporting the old theory of differences between the brains in different races. I’m not sure if that person knows the genetic composition of my family, but perhaps not. I decided not to interpret that observation as a personal dig at me, but rather the person’s genuine belief in her stance. Possibly the rationale was “How can she [i.e. me] possibly believe this when she doesn’t believe the race thing?” Well, because to me they are entirely different questions!
I don’t see the two debates as being similar at all. There are very distinct fundamental biological differences between males and females. The brain is the CPU of the human body. Quite apart from any scientific evidence, it is logical to me to think if a body does different things, then maybe, just maybe, the CPU is “programmed” differently too.
We did agree to disagree in the end with the comment scientific evidence appeared to be inconclusive. I think I just couldn’t find the right reference in the internet! 😉 😆
The question for discussion is, why might people fear brains being “gender aligned”? Do you?
- Equality does not mean sameness
- Male and female brains wired differently, scans reveal (added December 3, 2013 – The Guardian)
[…] – as I have always said, equality does not mean sameness. Men and women are not the same, get over it. Sometimes it is good to have a space just for “us”, whether “we” be men or […]
Absolutely Correct and very well written.
I specially liked the line ” Why does it matter? We happily acknowledge male and female genitals are different.”
It really doesn’t matter, but it’s a tough time explaining that to, say, the society in India, which is so unbelievably uptight about their views on the difference between men and women!
It’s a struggle for all women, everywhere, definitely!
LikeLiked by 1 person
India certainly seems to have a major problem with the treatment of women. It is very sad. Of course many Indian men are wonderful, such as the article I link to elsewhere. I will find the link and pop it here in a second reply.
We have a major battle ahead globally.
And of course, a lot of Indian men have their heads and certain organs in the right place.
It is the rigid mentality of our society which is fundamentally at fault here. People are scared of change.
I’m trying to regionalise this issue in the least, I can give a definite opinion about the situation here cuz i live here. 😉
We all have our struggles, but if you’re a woman, we’re automatically fighting two battles, and that goes for all women, no matter how rich or poor or from which corner of the world we are.
I understand totally! 🙂
Feel free to use my thoughts if you think they may be useful.
I will surely!
Countless times I have had this discussion with male friends about the difference in how the brain works. LOL!
nice read 🙂
This is the article I referred to earlier http://daddysan.wordpress.com/2012/12/24/the-subjugation-capital/
[…] So what if male and female brains are different? […]
[…] So what if male and female brains are different? […]
[…] Interesting day, there seems to be an all out war of feminist ideologies. Interesting, because I do actually have a DtJ number and I’ve had a small debate with Helen Razer, author of Destroying the point, over physiology in the past. That resulted in my writing So what if male and female brains are different? […]
For me the interesting thing is the fact of the debate in the first place; it is, I think, very much a product of the prejudices of western society, going well back into its origins and cultural assumptions. By the nineteenth century women were always thought of as ‘the weaker sex’, prone to fainting and ‘ennui’ – all cultural constructions, rather than anyting real, though not helped by corsets which made it impossible to breathe, and which reinforced the male-created stereotype.
I think the discussion is worth having, Matthew, primarily because of the benefits a resolution may have for the development of the species and society generally. Assuming for a moment that the brains are structured differently and that we do use them differently, co-ed education, for example, may not be the best solution; at least not is all years of schooling.
In business it may help us better utilise our human resources to the maximum benefit of all.
I have to say I was pointed yesterday to an article about androgony. Based on the criteria, I’m either a male or completely androgynous. Which is interesting in itself!
Certainly agree about the corsets and fainting. What a ridiculous situation! Evokes memories of “Gone With the Wind” too! But not just western society: look at middle eastern society where women are not even considered able to drive a car, let alone actually vote.
You can see the physiological differences in the male and female brain repeated over an over with the modern brain scans.
Regardless of which sex it is that looks at the obviously different results and yet still declares them the same, the action of not being able to recognize the difference shows a weakness in thought.
Do you have any scans that I can use for illustrations?
I’m sorry I do not, I watched a program on it on TV years ago though and they are quite different. Google of course has many, including this one.
as you say they are different, but not better than one another.
One interesting fact was that the brain scans on gay men showed the same strengths and weaknesses as the women’s brain, and the gay women the same as the men’s.
Thanks for the link! I wasn’t really looking at the question of proof, so I didn’t look for too long, I was looking at what I percieved to be the fear surrounding the possibility.
I am sure some readers might like a link though, which is why I asked if you had one! 🙂
I’m delighted the cogs in my brain are so different to Mr. Piglets. And to be honest he’s probably relieved his brain is different to mine. Reading maps is a classical example
I hate to say this, but I can read maps – very well, in fact. Mr O not so much! 😀
I must admit personally I am on the side of the research studies that indicate a difference – practical experience tends to support it! At work and in the home!
Have recently had similar discussions. Is understanding the way the brain works the door to understanding the differences in the way we think? Understanding why people think differently does open the opportunity to grasp certain ideologies and how they can be formed….with such diversity, eg racism, sexism, mob mentality, aggression etc. So understanding the how may, just may give insight into the why.
But it does seem a touchy subject! Especially in relation to equality, which I have trouble understanding, we are all human beings, so figure we are all equal, don’t think it needs to be harder than that really. Sigh
It does seem to be a touchy subject, doesn’t it? That is what puzzles me – I don’t understadn why it is a touchy subject at all. I see it as a damn good scientific exploration!
Having been involved in similar discussions over the years, I have come to the (lay) conclusion that there are far too many variables for any generally accepted conclusion. Apart from personality and temperament styles, there are nurture, environmental, cultural and socialization factors that impinge upon the physiological traits that may or may not differ. Even so, I agree it doesn’t matter a hill of beans if gender was a primary factor in how we process thought. The more thinking tracks, the merrier! 🙂
Medical imaging technology does help with the scientific aspects these days, but yes, the bottom line is – what does it matter?
I understand the possible fear of being seen inferior, but the studies I’ve read do not indicate that is even a consideration!