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320 pages, Paperback
First published May 30, 2017
The research I examine spans neuroscience, psychology, medicine, anthropology, and evolutionary biology... The facts are often grayer than people might want them to be... For me, the struggle represents the final frontier of feminism ... the potential to knock down the greatest barrier that stands between women and full equality - the one in our minds.
As Charles Darwin’s work in the nineteenth century proves, the narratives have often been shaped by the attitudes of the time. Even he, the father of evolutionary biology, was so affected by a culture of sexism that he believed women to be the intellectually inferior sex.
... science has failed to rid us of the gender stereotypes and dangerous myths we’ve been laboring under for centuries. Women are so grossly underrepresented in modern science because, for most of history, they were treated as intellectual inferiors and deliberately excluded from it. It should come as no surprise, then, that this same scientific establishment has also painted a distorted picture of the female sex. This, in turn again, has skewed how science looks and what it says even now.
“Science doesn’t operate in a political vacuum,” she explains. “I think there are some sciences which can be more objective than others. But we are dealing with people, we're not the Large Hadron Colder." Unlike particle physics, neuroscience is about humans and it has profound repercussions for how people see themselves.
No matter how neutral the initial presentation of information, people do tend to gradually recruit the stereotypes and the associations that are prevalent in a culture and then project that.
Gender bias is so steeped in the culture, their results implied, that women were themselves discriminating against other women.
The scientific picture emerging now is that there may be very small biological differences, but that these can be so easily reinforced by society that they appear much bigger as a child grows.
From the second a girl is born, she's placed in a different box. She may be handled differently, fed differently, and treated differently.
Plasticity and entanglement imply that every single brain must be unique, for the simple fact that every person’s life experience is different. It is this, argues Daphna Joel at Tel Aviv University, that makes looking for differences between groups so fraught with error. Evidence of sex difference in the brain is statistically problematic because each brain varies from the next.
Fresh theories on sex difference, for example, suggest that the small gaps that have been found between the brains of women and men are statistical anomalies caused by the fact that we are all unique. Decades of rigorous testing of girls and boys confirm that there are few psychological differences between the sexes, and that the differences seen are heavily shaped by culture, not biology.
Study after study has shown almost all behavioral and psychological differences between the sexes to be small or nonexistent. Cambridge University psychologist Melissa Hines and others have repeatedly demonstrated that boys and girls have little, if any, noticeable gaps between them when it comes to fine motor skills, spatial visualization, mathematics ability, and verbal fluency.
"If you take any two brains, they are different but how they differ between any two individuals, you cannot predict, " she explains. By this logic, there can't be any such thing as an average male or average female brain. We are all, each one of us, a mix. Our brains are intersex.
When men understand that the best way to solve their own problem is to help women solve those that men have created for women, they will have taken one of the first significant steps toward its solution. . . . The truth will make men free as well as women.
It isn't that women don't get sick. They do. They just don't die from these sicknesses as easily or as quickly as men do.See. WITCHES.
One explanation for this gap is that higher levels of estrogen and progesterone in women might be protecting them in some way. These hormones don't just make the immune system stronger but also more flexible, according to Sabine Oertelt-Prigione, a researcher at the Institute of Gender in Medicine at the Charite university hospital in Berlin. "This is related to the fact that women can bear children," she explains. A pregnancy is the same as foreign tissue growing inside a woman's body that, if her immune system was in the wrong gear, would be rejected. "You need an immune system that's able to switch from proinflammatory reactions to anti-inflammatory reactions in order to avoid having an abortion pretty much every time you get pregnant. The immune system needs to have mechanisms that can, on one side, trigger all these cells to come together in one spot and attack whatever agent is making you sick. But then you also need to be able to stop this response when the agent is not there anymore, in order to prevent tissues and organs from being harmed."
“Sex differences in the brain are irresistible to those looking to explain stereotypic differences between men and women. They often make a big splash, in spite of being based on small samples. But as we explore multiple data sets (...) we find these differences often disappear or are trivial.”
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