When we discuss gender equality, feminism, masculinity, and similar topics, the conversation must be rooted in the truth that much of what we think of as masculine and feminine traits are evolutionary adaptations. It’s something I touched on when I wrote a book on masculinity last year.
It’s anti-science to claim that gender roles are, or can be treated as, purely social constructs. However, it is politically correct to claim this. So imagine my surprise to find an article on a Left-leaning outlet that seems to argue that male and female traits do indeed have their roots in evolution.
“Many people reject explanations for sex differences based on evolutionary biology, preferring to attribute such differences to culture and social context,” writer Beatrice Alba notes. “However, we find evidence of such sex differences all over the world. Furthermore, explaining something as ‘just culture’ doesn’t explain why a given cultural norm exists in the first place. It also fails to explain why we find sex differences in behaviour in many non-human animals.”
Of course, she’s dead-on accurate here. These roles exist in very different cultures and even in different species.
However, Alba isn’t here to beat the anti-feminist drum, either. She chooses to make the case that progressivism can survive the introduction of, you know, truth. “It is a mistake to assume that an evolutionary explanation of gender inequality is bad news for feminism,” she argues. “Explaining human behaviour does not equate to justifying it or defending it. But if we want to change our society for the better, we probably need an accurate understanding of human nature.”
Alba makes the case that natural doesn’t equal necessary. By doing so, she chooses to only embrace some of the science, and to ignore the science that shatters her progressive leanings.
Those gender traits evolved for a reason, and while many of these traits are not as necessary in this day and age, they are still encoded in our DNA. If women are much less likely to show aggression and competitive instincts, why counsel women that feminism requires a 50/50 split in representation at the executive levels at work?
Why counsel men to bottle up their natural instincts to achieve and win?
While natural may not always be necessary, Alba fails to note why opposing natural behavior is necessary. Further, there’s a distressing note throughout her entire piece that betrays one of the great issues with modern feminism. She continually frames this as a discussion on gender equality — but it’s not.
We now have laws all over the books that require women to be treated the same as men: equality of opportunity. We’ve shown over and over again that the “wage gap” is a myth; that there is no “patriarchal” effort to oppress women. In this country, men and women are free to make the choices they want, but they should not be pressured to make certain choices that oppose their own understanding, comfort, and yes, nature.
While Alba deserves praise for acknowledging that the obvious genetic differences between men and women exist outside of societal constructs, she fails to understand anything beyond that. Those differences are real, deep, and people are generally comfortable with them.
Those who wish to follow a path alien to their nature but in line with their desires should do so, but no one should be afraid of speaking the truth. You can not expect that men and women can simply find contentment if they stop acting like men and women.
Pressuring them to do so and silencing the obvious facts should never happen.