Most of us think women are more passive than men. It’s natural, right? Men’s testosterone makes them tough and assertive.
Actually, it’s hard to untangle the effects of biology and society.
In fact, it’s hard to untangle the effects of biology, alone.
Testosterone makes men aggressive?
Yes, men have more testosterone. But: Read the rest of this entry
Poor moms face no-win situations where conservatives are concerned.
Moms shouldn’t work outside the home, because kids need them every second.
But POOR moms SHOULD work outside the home.
Which leads to another double-blind:
Poor moms must work outside the home, even when they can’t afford childcare. Read the rest of this entry
Indian parents are paying to have their daughters turned into sons through sex-change operations that cost about 145,000 rupees ($3,200). Up to 300 girls have been surgically turned into boys in one city.
The procedure involves fashioning a penis from the little girls’ female organs. Afterwards they are injected with male hormones, which they will need to take throughout their lives. The procedure will leave these children impotent and infertile in adulthood. No sons or daughters for them.
The Madhya Pradesh government is investigating.
Evolutionary psychology says racism is in our genes — a genetic adaptation that helps groups survive by favoring themselves over others. Skin color cues us in to who’s “in” and who’s “out.” (Yet the most prosperous areas of the world are those that cooperate and trade with each other?)
When I explain the theory, my students are appalled. (Though they readily accept evolutionary psych when it comes to explaining supposed sex differences.)
I once wrote a comment questioning evolutionary psychology on Slate and got the following response:
And what about all of those studies on doctors that found they treat patients differently because of race? What about those studies that show that we show preference to people wearing the same color of shirts as us?
Then shouldn’t children prefer parents who have their same hair/eye color? Not in my case. My mom has brown eyes and very light skin like me and my dad has green eyes and darker skin. Yet as a child I preferred him because mom was the disciplinarian.
And doctors could treat patients differently because they learn prejudice and not because they are genetically programmed to discriminate.
You also have to wonder why so many brown-haired, brown-eyed people have a preference for blonde, blue-eyed looks if our genes cause us to prefer our own type. But then, we’re all bombarded with messages that teach us that blue eyes and blond hair are best, at least on women.
Relatedly, about half of the Black people who take Harvard’s test of unconscious prejudice show a preference for Whites. If evolutionary psychology is right, shouldn’t they have a preference for Blacks? But again, Black Americans (just like the rest of us) are barraged with unfortunate messages that White is prettier, smarter, and less criminal.
Meanwhile, some people show “no preference” for either race when they take Harvard’s “implicit” test of unconscious bias.
Or consider the most recent presidential elections. The younger a person was, the more likely she or he cast a ballot for Barack Obama. Was there a mass genetic mutation that caused younger voters to be less racist? Or has society changed enough through the years that young people have simply learned less racism?
Evolutionary psychology says racism is in our genes. Looks more like it’s learned.
You inherited you grandmother’s eyes. Did you inherit her racism, as well?
February is Black History Month
Related Posts on BroadBlogs
Are Women Naturally Monogamous?
Black Isn’t Beautiful Claims Evolutionary Psychologist
Women Want Casual Sex? Yes and No
Prejudiced people are stupid. That’s not me pre-judging. That’s science.
An article published in the Journal of Psychological Science, and reported in Live Science says children who have low IQs tend to become prejudiced adults who are drawn to socially conservative beliefs that – in turn – encourage prejudice, adherence to hierarchy and authority, and promote resistance to change.
The researchers suggest that low intelligence makes it difficult to grasp the complexity of the world, which could explain the appeal of oversimplifications like, “Poor people are lazy.”
But you also have to wonder if the appeal of prejudice comes partly from a desire to feel like you are better (and smarter?) than someone.
John Dean wrote a book (which he had begun writing with Barry Goldwater just before Goldwater died) called Conservatives Without Conscience. These two conservatives presented a list of characteristics that are common among right-wing authoritarian “followers” (as opposed to “leaders”). The traits seem to fall into two categories: those that would appeal to the less intelligent and those that are just mean. Right-wing authoritarian “leader” traits fell almost entirely into the “mean” category.
Examples of beliefs and behaviors that fit well with not thinking too hard include: conventional, submissive to authority, highly religious (follow God’s authority), prejudiced, narrow-minded, inconsistent and contradictory (“Get your government hands off my Medicare!”) and having little self-awareness.
The “mean” list includes these traits: prejudiced, aggressive on behalf of authority, dogmatic, mean-spirited, intolerant, bullying, and highly self-righteous. All suggest a desire to feel bigger and stronger than someone else — as in overcompensating for insecurities?
Ahhh, that was fun for a liberal like me who gets so annoyed by both right-wingers and prejudiced people.
But there is a crimp in the analysis. First, the researchers recognize, not all liberals are brilliant, nor are all conservatives dense. We’re talking averages here. Certainly there are smart conservatives, including John Dean and Barry Goldwater. Also, the less intelligent are drawn to social and not fiscal conservatism.
And of course, extremists on the left and the right may both be simplistic. As the authors admit:
A study of left-wing liberals with stereotypically naïve views like “every kid is a genius in his or her own way,” might find that people who hold these attitudes are also less bright. In other words, it might not be a particular ideology that is linked to stupidity, but extremist, over-simplified views in general.
The main advantage of this research is finding clues to decreasing fear and hatred. For instance, many anti-prejudice programs ask people to see things from others’ perspectives, but that might be too hard for those with low IQ. And since prejudice is more emotionally than intellectually rooted, it’s probably better to change feelings instead of thoughts.
Who knows, perhaps the fear of appearing dimwitted will itself advance the cause against fear and hatred.
Popular Posts on BroadBlogs
Think You’re Not Racist?
Mind of a Rapist: Trying to Bridge a Gap between a Small Self and a Big Man
Do Kids Bully from Low Self-Esteem? Or Because they’re Popular? No and No
Saudi women got the right to vote and run in municipal elections this week. It’s a big step forward.
There are limitations. It’s hard to run for office when you can’t drive or show your face. Some fear political stalling. And men could keep their wives and daughters from voting. But the women are optimistic. Let’s hope for the best.
Interestingly, only about five years ago George W. Bush sent Karen Hughes to Saudi Arabia to express her hope that one day Saudi women would be able to vote and drive. She was surprised when many said they didn’t want to do either.
Past relations between Western and Middle Eastern feminists have sometimes been strained with Western feminists lecturing Middle Eastern women, and Middle Eastern women rejecting what they see as Western arrogance.
Yet the road to women’s rights presents plenty of opportunity for all of us to learn from one another.
There is plenty that Westerners could have, and may have, learned from our Arabian sisters and brothers in the early years of Islam. When we were in the Dark Ages.
Back in the 7th century the Koran gave women the right to work, own property and inherit, and provided protections from domestic violence. Women were also granted the right to give their consent to marry.
But lately Arab women have been taking some cues from us. Both the Arab Spring and Saudi women’s suffrage were inspired by Western democracies.
And perhaps now it is time for us to learn from them, again. The Arab Spring has inspired many Americans who wonder at our current state of democracy which is marked by legalized bribery (large campaign contributions) that make important matters like environmental sustainability and economic renewal political impossibilities.
Too often Western women think they have nothing to learn from their Middle Eastern sisters, while Middle Eastern women reject Western notions out of hand.
Perhaps we would do better to have dialogue and learn from each other.
The Norwegian terrorist who killed scores of people in late July was motivated by racism, particularly Islamophobia. But he is also a misogynist. It’s not unusual for racism and sexism to go hand in hand. But why?
It’s the destructive and suicidal Sex and the City lifestyle (modern feminism, sexual revolution) [that] we are taught to revere as the truth. In that setting, men are not men anymore, but metrosexual and emotional beings that are there to serve the purpose as a never-criticizing soul mate to the new age feminist woman goddess.
Futrelle says Breivik’s rants are typical of “manosphere” blogs, which his manifesto
plagiarizes in part. When a prankster posted his quotes anonymously, they got the “thumbs-up” – at least until his identity was revealed.
Other obsessions of Breivik/the manopshere include no-fault divorce, STDs, and women
manipulating men with their feminine charms. Worried that Islam will out-breed Westerners, Breivik advocates limiting contraception, banning abortion, and discouraging women from education and full-time careers, which “will involve certain sexist and discriminating policies but should increase the fertility rate.”
Breivik’s misogyny doesn’t surprise Michael Kimmel, a feminist who studies men, and who says that racist and sexist right-wing movements are largely about manhood. Men who are drawn to them feel emasculated by “Nanny States” that demand equal rights for everyone and whose taxes prevent people from making a free and independent living, as they see it.
These same men also feel that feminism makes men “wimpy, more pacifist, less authoritarian, more ‘sensitive’, less competitive, more androgynous, (and) less possessive.” The merging of masculine and feminine is a problem because how can men be superior if women and men are similar, or equal?
They add racism to further inflate their self-worth. As Kimmel describes it:
White Protestants are set against various “others” who aren’t men the way they are – blacks, Jews, gay men, other non-white immigrants – who are variously depicted as either “too” masculine (rapacious beasts, avariciously cunning, voracious) or not masculine “enough” (feminine, dependent, effeminate).
Bringing sexism and racism together, “real men” can feel “better-than” everyone else.
And by “protecting” white women from (so-called) non-white beasts, they may earn
women’s love and admiration, and further reclaim their manhood.
Breivik and men like him are desperate to feel like they are better than everyone else.
Even when they so clearly are not.