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Another Take on the Gender Wars

No matter how often denied, the differences are real.

by
David Solway

Bio

October 23, 2013 - 12:03 am

I feel that “man-hating” is an honorable and viable political act, that the oppressed have a right to class-hatred against the class that is oppressing them.

— Robin Morgan, Going Too Far: The Personal Chronicle of a Feminist, p 178.

I am watching, as I write, four separate work crews directly across the street engaged in leveling 237,883 square feet of city block in preparation for extending the local mall, already hugely impressive and soon to become gargantuan. Two great pieces of Caterpillar construction equipment are clawing up acres of earth. Several tractors are scurrying about ploughing and scooping up debris and depositing it in corrugated dumpsters, which are then hauled away on 18-wheel flatbed rigs. A fleet of loaded F150s is delivering materials to every corner of the site. A 120 foot mobile crane is lifting long modular trailers onto the roof of the mall. Two Samvik 1500 tread-mounted Rockline Drivers are drilling through the surface parking lot to house pillars and girders. Water trucks are laying the sand clouds and hosing down the giant Caterpillars. Refueling tankers come and go at regular intervals. Lengths of wide-girth polymer concrete pipe are being lowered into freshly dug trenches.

A troop of men with picks and shovels, filing between the Porta Potties, are busy with the finer details, clearing up rubble and smoothing out the smaller protuberances of gravel and tussock. Others are perched precariously on ladders refurbishing the exposed facades with lattices of grillwork. Still others are dredging pools of liquid silt, hoisting and dragging thick plastic tubing and steel rods and unrolling bolts of rubber sheeting and bales of insulation. The foreman, wearing a mud-bespattered white helmet and carrying a clipboard scored with intricate notations like a page of music, is in earnest conversation with two well-tailored gentlemen, whom I later discover represent the architectural firm that won the tender for the project. This, I can’t help but reflect, is real work — as are the elaborate drafts and recondite computations which make it possible, demanding true intelligence and the most stringent of educational procedures. No room for fooling around here, especially when one considers that the mall will link to the city’s $2.1 billion light-rail line and will incorporate renovations to existing pedestrian bridges.

Amidst the noise, dust, machinery and general commotion, I detect not a single woman on the site. When I consult the foreman on the ostensible travesty that our academic and professional feminists deplore as manifest gender exclusion, he merely smiles. “Too dangerous,” he says, “and not enough muscle.” But women will be hired, he adds, to do some of the electrical work, where their physical and dextrous capacities fit the job, as well as to quell the indignation of the feminist sorority and the dictates of political correctness. “It’s the culture,” he comments wryly, “but we still have to put up a building.” Unfortunately, not that many women opt to become electricians, although the trade is open to them. Indeed, there are far more academic feminists teaching in the universities, where they earn prodigious salaries for doing comparatively little and are guaranteed tenure for the privilege of sounding off, than there are female electricians.

The foreman’s remarks bring to mind a recent lecture given at the University of Toronto by Miles Groth, a men’s rights advocate, editor of New Male Studies and professor at New York’s Wagner College. As Bruce Bawer reports, in an article titled “Voices of Reason about the Gender Wars,” Groth asked: “is there a tribute to the positive contributions average men — the blokes — have made and are making? The building we are sitting in, the roads that got us here, the metal fabricated from mined ores that hold up the buildings and span rivers — these were and are provided almost entirely by the effort and design of men. Who hauled nearly every bit of food from farm to market to the dining halls here at the University of Toronto? And who will lift and empty the overfull trash receptacles? A casual glance outside in the early morning hours and late at night will reveal that it was almost always a man, often a young man.” “A simple point,” Bawer observes, “but a strangely moving one — and one that is, moreover, rarely acknowledged on campuses awash in feminist rhetoric about female victimhood and male patriarchal power.”

Can one honestly imagine a construction crew, working on a mammoth heavy-duty project like this one, that would consist of, say, female Indian chiefs and politicians, members of the “community” that the University of Toronto, with admirable thoroughness, designates as LGBTTIQQ2SA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer/Questioning, 2 Spirited, Allies), and the usual covey of  academic feminists? Every member of the current crew is of the male persuasion, not because women and certain minorities have been deliberately excluded by the patriarchy, but because the task at hand requires both a degree of conspicuous brawn and the mathematical and engineering expertise for which, on the whole, the male mind appears to be better suited. A plethora of reports, such as Statistics Canada, show that the proportion of female to male students enrolled in university math, engineering and architecture programs is far lower relative to the ratio of women to men in the humanities and some of the professions, such as health sciences and law, where women tend to outnumber their male counterparts, often by a hefty margin.

Larry Summers, former president of Harvard University, got himself into considerable hot water and effectively lost his job for suggesting that the paucity of women in some of the scientific disciplines could be accounted for by innate differences in mathematical ability between the sexes. Common experience and statistical distributions suggest that Summers was on to something, as a 2009 study by University of Wisconsin psychologist Janet Hyde strongly indicates. Men and women are obviously capable of performing many of the same tasks and are equally capable at innumerable trade, craft and professional enterprises, clustering around the mean and populating, at the very least, the first standard deviation of any bell curve chart measuring learning aptitudes.

But at the fringes of the second standard deviation and beyond, statistical distinctions come into play, women excelling in certain categories and men selected for in others — including those sectors of endeavor (apart from brute strength) that call for proficiency at manipulating abstractions, where men exceed women. While average scholastic performance and measures of achievement tend to be more or less identical between women and men, the variability of scores measuring specific competences in the sciences and highly abstract disciplines are male-overrepresented in the top percentiles, as Hyde’s study demonstrates. (Some findings seem to imply that Asian American women do as well or better in the sciences than their male peers, but Hyde prudently avoids plunging into the murky and socially problematic debate over differences between the Asian and Caucasian brain.)

As the brilliant social scientist Charles Murray, co-author of The Bell Curve, once mentioned in a 2005 Commentary magazine article:

The concepts of “inferiority” and “superiority” are inappropriate to group comparisons.

There is nothing inherent in being a woman that precludes high math ability. But there remains a distributional difference in male and female characteristics that leads to a larger number of men with high visuospatial skills, meaning that there are proportionally more men than women at both ends of the bell curve. The difference has an evolutionary rationale, a physiological basis, and a direct correlation with math scores.

* * * * * * * *

In a large sample of mathematically gifted youths, for example, seven times as many males as females scored in the top percentile of the SAT mathematics test. We do not have good test data on the male-female ratio at the top one-hundredth or top one-thousandth of a percentile, where first-rate mathematicians are most likely to be found, but collateral evidence suggests that the male advantage there continues to increase, perhaps exponentially.

Murray is not enunciating a patriarchal dogma. “Women,” he points out, “have their own cognitive advantages over men, many of them involving verbal fluency and interpersonal skills.” However, as mentioned above, men generally tend to excel in the more abstract categories and domains, for example in philosophy where, as Murray points out, “no woman has been a significant thinker in any of the world’s great philosophical traditions.”

As for the sciences, “the most abstract field is mathematics, where the number of great women mathematicians is approximately two (Emmy Noether definitely, Sonya Kovalevskaya maybe). In the other hard sciences, the contributions of great women scientists have usually been empirical rather than theoretical, with leading cases in point being Henrietta Leavitt, Dorothy Hodgkin, Lise Meitner, Irene Joliot-Curie, and Marie Curie herself.”

Lest I be misunderstood, I should reiterate that this does not mean that men are smarter than women, but that the genders, for the most part, display differing aptitudes and competencies. There have been and are, as we’ve noted, great women scientists, astronomers, medical researchers and the like, yet their numbers do not remotely compare with those of their male counterparts. The reason for the disparity has nothing to do with — certainly not in the modern world — any kind of numerus clausus. Nor does the disparity imply that all men are capable of mathematical and scientific feats — I suspect that very few are, including this writer — but that such competencies mainly reside on the male side of the distribution spectrum, having more to do with brain-structure and proficiency traits than with social and cultural discrimination.

In the same way, there are comparatively few major painters, writers and composers on the distaff side of the divide. Men clearly predominate, possibly because the aesthetically creative dimension substitutes for the male inability to procreate. Again, to spotlight the existence of great or significant female writers — Jane Austen, George Eliot, Emily Dickinson, the Brontë sisters, Virginia Woolf, A.S. Byatt, Alice Munro, (the fragmentary Sappho is often showcased by aggrieved feminists) — does not disguise the fact that they remain and, I scruple to suggest, will remain a gender minority. There are, of course, first-rate women literary critics, historians, curators and musical performers in far greater numbers than writers, painters and composers, a fact which indicates that women are no different from men in the meta-disciplines, and perhaps in many instances even better. Nevertheless, it is no accident, once again as Murray notes:

Even in the 20th century, women got only 2 percent of the Nobel Prizes in the sciences — a proportion constant for both halves of the century — and 10 percent of the prizes in literature. The Fields Medal, the most prestigious award in mathematics, has been given to 44 people since it originated in 1936. All have been men.

The tendency among feminists, naturally, is to accuse the “patriarchy” of preferential bias or outright sexism; the fact that no concrete evidence exists to support this claim will not deter them.

While social and cultural factors plainly have a role to play in the dialectic of over-and under-representation in certain fields, whether construction or mathematics (Groth’s “effort and design”), the issue likely has more to do with gene chemistry, physical attributes and brain structure endemic to the sexes, which cannot be dismissed as irrelevant except in the doctrinaire tenets and imaginings of ideological fantasists. It is here that falsely egalitarian principles run wild, based on a politically and culturally resistant alloy of ignorance, assumption and desire. Obviously, scientists are both made and born, but those born with the specific faculties in question would, I suspect, be male-preponderant.

As Murray writes, “creating double standards” in the realm of affirmative action or “for physically demanding jobs so that women can qualify ensures that men in those jobs will never see women as their equals” — or, I would add, assures that the job will not be done well. The worksite I am observing represents in all its multiple facets — physical, mathematical, architectural — the real world of material accomplishment. The politically correct rhetoric of the feminists and “social justice” mongers represents the unreal world of risible speculation — which, regrettably, inflicts its destructive ramifications on the real world, skewing the judiciary, corrupting the academy, infecting the political process with artificial quotas, emasculating the language (the farce has gone so far that the Royal Canadian Navy has rebadged a UAV, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, as an Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle), and favoring cultural cliché and progressivist orthodoxy over common sense and the historical and statistical data on achievement in the arts and sciences.

A work force of  Blue Fairies, Novas and Belles living in their Enchanted Forest, accompanied by a crew of effeminate dwarves all named Dreamy, are constitutionally averse to the grit and grime of a hard and demanding world, which they labor to subvert. The dust they move through is pixie dust, for they are cocooned in a uniform illusion that will protect them only for a time, until the structure they are building will topple around them. The society that is being constructed on the cultural site of untenable principles, flawed blueprints and flimsy intellectual materials is one that cannot last and that must inevitably disintegrate of its own accord.

I give the last word to Murray. “Science is demonstrating that men and women are really and truly different, a fact so obvious that only intellectuals could ever have thought otherwise.”

(Thumbnail on PJM homepage created using multiple Shutterstock.com images.)

David Solway is a Canadian poet and essayist. He is the author of The Big Lie: On Terror, Antisemitism, and Identity, and is currently working on a sequel, Living in the Valley of Shmoon. His new book on Jewish and Israeli themes, Hear, O Israel!, was released by Mantua Books. His latest book is The Boxthorn Tree, published in December 2012. Visit his Website at www.davidsolway.com.

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Top Rated Comments   
Radical feminists live in a world of delusion. They write articles about how women have always fought in wars throughout history, while ignoring simple facts of history, and words like "proportion," "outlier" and anomaly.

They write about female pirates in history and then take the opposite tack, sail against the wind and assert women as a group are incapable of racism, crime, violence and hate-speech. They fight and yet they don't. A neat trick of rhetoric.

The world is a bright, breezy and easy place for a feminist. Notions of right and wrong are extremely simple: if you're a man, you're wrong, if you're a woman, you're right.

Radical feminism is nothing more than a platform for hate-speech. Like someone might edit out the commercials in a TV show, feminists simply edit out of history anything they don't like, the better to puff up themselves and any negative portrayals of men.

Similarly, post-colonialist studies, a thing close to the heart of racialist feminists, is nothing more than a platform for anti-white, anti-male hate-speech, since all non-white colonialist ventures in history are mysteriously absent, edited out in the name of PC. In the doxy and goofy world of politically correct racialists and feminists, they will at once promote the fact black folks ruled Egypt, and ignore the fact the 25th dynasty was a century long act of Sudanese colonialism.

They will trumpet the evil Crusades, and ignore the fact the Crusades were less successful than the least successes of Islam during their tear through the Mediterranean, namely the Islamic city-states on the Italian and French coasts from the 9th to the 11th centuries, finally expurgated only by the violence that created them in the first place. Those city-states simpy never happened. They are deflated to nothing, and the Crusades puffed up to the size of a mountain.

Right and wrong, and nobility itself, are simply a matter of your identity. In this scenario, reality is thrown onto an ash heap, and people who increasingly show signs of delusion, paranoia and other mental health issues, have successfully infiltrated our institutions, using notions of social justice to hide their sheer disdain and even hatred for the straight white male.

Political correctness is the greatest evil to befall mankind since the rise of Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany. And it's worse, since, disguised as justice, it cannot be effectively fought.

When PC is finished with the West, the West will be a broken relict, and the next empire-builders, still steeped in reality, will have no one to stop them. I leave it to you to guess the fate of feminists in a new Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, or a Nigerian Empire. Ironically, the more feminists succeed, the more they destroy themselves, and unfortunately, everything else.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
A point to make here as well is the most obvious; that together men and women contribute to the world a portion of themselves. One portion isn't superior or inferior to the other; they're completely complementary. We tame the wild with strength and ingenuity; we tame ourselves with caring and compassion. One without the other is pointless.

To argue over roles between men and women is to argue which of two puzzle pieces contributes more. To be missing either piece is to have an incomplete picture.

Of COURSE men and women are different (and vive la difference!!). It's too bad that academia is too uneducated to know and appreciate that.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
OK, I'm confused.

On the one hand, I'm supposed to celebrate diversity, be tolerant of differences and 'e pluribus unum' and all that.

On the other hand, I'm supposed to ignore obvious (and as a devout heterosexual, incredibly interesting) physical, physiological and cognitive differences between men and women.

WTF?

Ah, forget it. As the philosopher once said, "Haters gonna hate."
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (58)
All Comments   (58)
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Men and women have different aptitudes and abilities, but also temperaments and outlook. The truth is that even Conservative women who accept the former don't acknowledge the latter. So whether people accept differences in the sexes doesn't tell you much. Many who accept it in the abstract deny it in about any given particular case in life one could imagine. So de facto feminism is virtually ineradicable.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Showtime cable tv has a new series that raises serious issues about 70s feminism and its legacy, plus the prudery that preceded it. I wrote about such matters here: http://clarespark.com/2013/10/22/masters-of-sex-and-70s-feminism/.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Of course men and women are different. Thank God. Men are great: You name it-- they conceive it, design it, build it, repair it and then make a new and better one. It's beautiful. Made in the image of a creative God.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
lol. This paean to men made my day. Men are also dull, dimwitted, stubborn, and emotionally stunted. Thank God we have women around or the world would probably resemble a construction site.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
If you're not as strong, it's gonna take more of you to do it. If you're not so good in engineering, you are going to make more mistakes, which means you have to take more time and run up the budget. The same if you lack some skills. Yeah, women can do it all if they have to, but we in human society have the division of labour at our disposal, and that - men and women working together, is the genius of the human race.......
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes. That's why children need two parents. One male. one female. It's a formula that's worked beautifully since time began; until, that is, socialism corrupted the formula and turned it on its head to accommodate devilish notions that gender is flexible. It isn't workable and will fail, but only after vast suffering and pain.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
I worked for 9 months on construction sites, but my job allowed me to hop between different sites all day. That meant that it was easy to pop into a McD's to use the facilities. Women's aversion to Porta-Potties is real and deep-seated, and I would say understandable considering what we actually have to do in them. I would think that that fact alone accounts or much of the reason women don't want to be in construction.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Really? That's all? I'm guessing it's a lot more than that! How about that it requires lots of muscles? That it's dirty, noisy, smelly, dangerous and exposed to the elements? Most women are too comfort-oriented for such work. Men are great at building stuff. Why do women have to elbow in?

48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is why I'm an individual rights advocate. I have shot beside women who shoot better than I do, and shooters better than I who are older, and (embarrassingly, a bit) a woman the age of my mom who shot better than I did.
In our computer tech class a few yards from where I sit, even money among the students and the instructor is a woman.
I am sure there are cultural and physical factors that shape how people choose their vocations. My only principle is this: the person who wants the job gets to demonstrate capacity. If the person has the capacity, age and gender and skin color and house of worship and choice of sex partner are all that person's business. If the person lacks capacity, that's the only basis for rejection.
Similarly, I hope I can read and enjoy a book regardless of the author being a man or a woman. I've written some fiction from both sides myself, although I don't have any feedback about how convincing I am in a woman's role.
I suspect the gender warriors, female chauvinist and male chauvinist alike, are people who would be jerks in any situation. This is just how they've chosen to manifest the jerk quality.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Amen!
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
“no woman has been a significant thinker in any of the world’s great philosophical traditions.”

Oh thank you Charles. Do you have any idea what you've just done?

Do you realize that, in order to prove you wrong, we are now going to get all sorts of deep philosophical thoughts by the dumbest of women? Proclamations that the PC police will insist are not only profound, but that must all subscribe too. For the sake of humanity. This, of course, will be noted by those who know it is all nonsense. But, being of yellow spine, will quietly submit saying, “What harm could it do?”
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
I majored in engineering (class of '88 from MIT) and I didn't do it because I was out to prove anything - I did it because my parents moved to the US from India and for Indian parents the only acceptable careers at that time were medicine, engineering or maybe the hard sciences. My favorite subjects in school were math, history, physics and creative writing - I loved calculus in particular, I thought it was fun. And I scored in the 99th percentile on my SATs, both math and verbal, and so I decided to go into engineering.

As a woman engineer, I experienced discrimination at times from "the old boy network". On the other hand, when I went out on dates, the men paid 99% of the time (since they were the ones asking 99% of the time). So I guess discrimination cuts both ways.

Men and women are different, and that's just reality. I don't think they should "dumb down" fields for women - as long as women have the opportunity to participate if they want to and can compete, then it's a level playing field. If only 10% of STEM graduates are women - so what? The most important thing is that they are qualified and enjoy their work.

I am still an "oddity" as far as women go - I like tinkering with stuff and building things. I enjoy mathematical puzzles and challenges. But I'm not a man and I dont' want to be a man.

As far as feminism - if feminism stands for equality of opportunity for everyone, I'm all for it. If it's about equal results - then that's just socialism in another form, and I'm against it.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
One should perhaps refrain from making the leap from inherently physical and transformative endeavors like construction to the more inherently cerebral endeavors like the sciences. And culture certainly plays a part.

As with Asians, perhaps it's different with Jews. When I studied engineering and physics for a time decades ago at Rensellaer, barely 5% of the student body was female. It's no doubt better today, but women already make up 35% of the students at Israel's elite Technion - sometimes called Israel's MIT. Women have a greater presence in Medicine, less so in Engineering. But in 2012, more women than men in Israel received Ph.D.s in the sciences. Less patient and more inclined to take risks, I suspect many men were off establishing high tech start-ups.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
The whole point of the feminist movement is to set aside nature in favor of political correctness/enlightenment. What they are leaving out is the fact that nature created men and women different for the good of society. You see it in other species as well. Male lions play a different role in the pride than the females. But both roles are necessary for the pride to survive. Wolves, horses, frogs etc. In every species, male and female roles are distinct and necessary for the species to survive.

It's social modernism that tries to make the human genders equal. Now I'm not saying women can't be welders or pilots if they want, on an individual basis, in our "modern" society, we're all equal to pursue whatever occupation that appeals to us. But as a society, men and women have different roles to play and the associated strengths/skills to play that role for the benefit of society. That's the point that feminist's are missing. Men and women are not equal in skills or natural abilities nor in the roles they play in helping our society to survive.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Look, I came of age in a time when women were finally being allowed to do certain non traditional jobs, e.g. seasonal wildland firefighter. I got the chance to give it a try, and it was quite an experience! Some men in the field were supportive, some were not happy about the loss of the old boys club, and some (very very few) were downright nasty. I would not Have missed that experience for anything! I learned a lot from working with men in a dirty, backbusting job. I think girls benefit from learning some of the traditionally masculine virtues. However, biology got in the way, there was no way I was going off for weeks with babies in the home. And I am also thrilled with the mommy and grandmommy role it is wonderful.

So how about we declare a truce in the gender wars? Young women need adventure and chances to strengthen themselves mentally and physically. I am very happy that there are more chances for women these days. There will likely always be differing distributions in certain jobs or professions, so what. Let the INDIVIDUAL decide for themselves, which I always thought was the American way.

48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
I didn't choose to be an artist but I was born with skills that were apparent by the time I was four. However, I grew up in the fifties and early sixties and was told by men and women alike to forget becoming a painter because women painters just couldn't be taken seriously. By the time that changed in the mid-sixties with pop art making the skills needed to create serious art unnecessary, a woman who wasn't a feminist - as a conservative I couldn't remotely pass as one - was reviled and unacceptable. The arts are a very hostile environment for conservatives. So, even though I withdrew and continued making art for myself alone, I knew I couldn't have children and devote myself to art at the same time. The artist must be greedy about solitude and has to be somewhat removed from the everyday world to do good work, so I never had children. I think this truth about artistic life is why many women don't become serious artists, they choose to be mothers. I don't regret my choice but I wish I could have had both. I have a beloved step-daughter and I can't wait to be a grandmother!
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
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