The scientific objectivity of gender difference

source: http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/the-scientific-objectivity-of-gender-difference/17903

The prevailing “cultural construct” theory of gender is more rooted in ideology than actuality.

New Mother:  What is it?

Obstetrician:  I think it’s a bit early to be imposing roles on it now, don’t you think?

       (Monty Python, “The Meaning of Life” )

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Even the most aloof spectator of current culture cannot miss that the nature of gender and sex difference[1] are white-hot issues today. They have been for quite some while actually, starting with the super hip and nouveau 1970s parental conviction that so-called “gender neutral” toys would create more sensitive, compassionate, non-judgmental children.

How did that work out? These parents were aghast to see Suzy feed her dump truck its bottle, wrap it up nice and cozy, and put it down for its nap. Johnny turned his kitchen set’s broom and mop into swords and rifles with which to vanquish the bad guys. Such actions baffled these free-thinking parents, because they knew they did not teach these things to their kids, and also knew they did not learn them at the homes of their friends or at their Montessori schools. Totally confounded, these parents saw such stereotypes emerge from their sweet children’s own nature as boys or girls. This tempered some of their ideological conviction that gender difference is taught, merely a cultural construct: Remove the stereotypes, and you free your children from the gendered behavior. These parents came to realize that some stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason, but that realization has not kept new generations of parents from trying the same thing with their kids.

As the revolution against the acceptance of an inherent and intrinsic human male and female nature continues to this day, it ironically does so against the tide not only of basic human experience, but an impressive and growing body of sophisticated emerging science as well. These facts reveal that the prevailing “cultural construct” theory of gender is more rooted in ideology than actuality.

We will ask and seek to answer two questions in this examination: First, is there an objective and humanly/culturally universal male and female nature? And second, how do we know? 

The answer to the first question: There most certainly is. We know this because of the breakthroughs in two very interesting fields of scientific inquiry: one is the hard science of neurobiology and the other is the softer science of cultural anthropology and evolutionary psychology. Let us first examine the findings of neurobiology from the last two decades or so.

The Case from Neurobiology

Two of the earliest experts to write on this issue were the British team of geneticist Anne Moir and science journalist David Jessel in their groundbreaking book Brain Sex, which looks at how sex difference is not just seen in clothing fashion choices or sex organs, but in the very brain and neural wiring of the human person. Based on their own work and that of others, Moir and Jessel explain with equal parts boldness, clarity, and sureness:

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