Gender Differences: Nature vs. Nurture, or Nature & Nurture?

Feminist ideology and the effect it has had upon society
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Gender Differences: Nature vs. Nurture, or Nature & Nurture?

Postby Michael » 20 Jun 2013, 16:53

Nick brought up a very good point in a discussion of feminist criticism of video games:

The argument you used might as well be turned around - if all of the "main franchises" as you hold, contain the damsel in distress narrative, then does the sheer vastness of those title's sales not demonstrate that this narrative sticks closer to the feelings, wishes, nature and intuition of most people?


I believe Nick has a very good point - I do believe that these stories appeal because they stick closer to the feelings, wishes, and intuition of people. Feminists would argue that this is because of cultural conditioning, whereas I believe Nick, myself, and many others on this forum believe the appeal of these stories to be more innate.

Feminism, particularly in its quest for reforms beyond those that are clearly morally right (let's reduce violence against women, let's allow women to vote, let's give women access to educational and employment opportunities), relies upon the theory that most gender differences are not innate (biological), but are rather than products of nurture and societal influence. If we can change society, the feminists believe, we can change peoples feelings and desires. It should be noted that such a belief is integral to Marxist and Communist philosophies which hold that human beings are primarily blank slates on which society can write whatever they want.

As a philosopher I find this reasoning specious: where did society come from if not out of our innate desires and feelings, out of which we created structures to help us satisfy them?

Also, for those who don't know, sex is a biological characteristic (male, female) while gender is the performative aspects (women wearing their hair long and being passive, men wearing their hair short and being assertive).

I was wondering what my fellow forum members (particularly women) think about these issues: do you believe that your gender is a result more of social conditioning or of your genetic makeup?
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Re: Gender Differences: Nature vs. Nurture, or Nature & Nurture?

Postby Rachel » 20 Jun 2013, 17:36

I think gender is a result of genetic make-up.

There is an interesting book on the subject called
"As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl"
by John Colapinto
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0061120561

I read the book and it proves that people are born into their gender behaviour. It's about the case of David Reimer:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Reimer

Theodore Dalrymple also briefly mentioned the case in a long essay, which just happened to be about another subject. The essay is called "All Sex, All the Time"
http://www.city-journal.org/html/10_3_u ... l_sex.html
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Re: Gender Differences: Nature vs. Nurture, or Nature & Nurture?

Postby Yessica » 27 Jun 2013, 11:53

I think it is neither nature nor nurture but natureXnuture. More nurture in case of some traits, more nature in case of others. In most cases nature and nurture work in the same directions.

If you look at different cultures or different classes within one culture they "do gender" (to use that word) in different ways.

I do not like the example of that boy who was raised a girl that much. Did you know that his identical twin-brother, who was raised a boy, had mental issues and commited suicide, too?

I think that raising a boy a girl IS a bad idea, but it is not proven by this case.
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Re: Gender Differences: Nature vs. Nurture, or Nature & Nurture?

Postby Gavin » 22 Jul 2013, 13:43

I just wanted to mention that also at this event a mother mentioned that her little girl, passing by, called my wife (who was dressed up as a seventeenth century lady) "beautiful" because she looked "like a princess". That was the comment from the little girl.

Later on a little boy spoke to us and he wanted to speak about the military re-enactments and asked us who, and how, people fought in the 17th century. He had a wooden sword with him. He was a likeable, curious lad.

No doubt feminists would have been aghast at this "gender stereotyping", or whatever, but then they are quite twisted.
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Re: Gender Differences: Nature vs. Nurture, or Nature & Nurture?

Postby Yessica » 22 Jul 2013, 14:22

Gavin wrote:Later on a little boy spoke to us and he wanted to speak about the military re-enactments and asked us who, and how, people fought in the 17th century. He had a wooden sword with him. He was a likeable, curious lad.

No doubt feminists would have been aghast at this "gender stereotyping", or whatever, but then they are quite twisted.


Whenever my little son sees miltary personnel or cops in their uniforms he starts cheering... and he is still a baby and has no idea what they are doing. It's by the way nothing I told him to. I do hate the thought of him going into one of those professions later.

I wonder if uniforms were designed in order to appeal to males.
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Re: Gender Differences: Nature vs. Nurture, or Nature & Nurture?

Postby Gavin » 22 Jul 2013, 18:58

Well, I think a uniform is known to often appeal to women too. ;)

I agree the interest in fighting is not overly to be encouraged in men, but in young boys interest in the military is perfectly natural, associated as it is with adventure and machinery etc. Also, while there are bad people around (probably always) countries will need military forces to defend themselves, and we ought not to be under any illusions about that.

Evidence suggests that men are principally creators while women are principally nurturers. It should go without saying that this is broadly speaking, and these days these natural impulses have been twisted almost beyond recognition by forty years of PC social engineering. In most cases they're still there though, underneath, fighting to get out.

It's one thing to try to change people to make them civilised (laudable) but another to try to deny and destroy natural (and useful and appealing) differences between the sexes and make them the same. That's fighting a losing battle and nature will prevail, I think, even if it takes a long time. Culturally it seems we're at the bottom of a curve at the moment. All the ludicrous left wing ideas will hopefully be seen for what they are in time, even if the realisation is painful.

There is not even much evidence, in my view, that the right were ever even against meritocracy. If somebody of lower rank or social status had merit, they would often rise - there are many examples of this in great soldiers, sailors, scientists, composers and industrialists of the past. If someone is capable and hard working then they are of use to their country, especially to capitalists, and they'll rise. It's leftism and PC that has turned all this on its head, promoting the incompetent as part of its misguided egalitarian mission.

I rather think the Left are very elitist in the way they regard working classes too, as if postmen and mechanics are of any less worth than sociology lecturers, when they are doubtless of far more worth. I'm hoping their house of cards will fall down soon. If everybody keeps on telling the truth about it that can only help. As Pat Condell said in a recent video: "when the truth is your enemy it's only a matter of time until you lose".
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Re: Gender Differences: Nature vs. Nurture, or Nature & Nurture?

Postby Nathan » 22 Jul 2013, 19:22

I don't have anything particularly insightful to say on this topic which isn't what most of us on here probably believe anyway, but if you did a test with 100 two-year-old boys and 100 two-year-old girls by putting them in a room on their own with a doll and a toy car on the table and asking them to choose one toy, I struggle to imagine that you wouldn't see 95 or more of the boys go for the car and 95 or more of the girls the doll - surely such a simple experiment will already have been done?

Talking about young boys and their interest in the military and playing war, when a couple of people bought me toy guns for my sixth birthday my mother wasn't happy about me playing with that sort of thing, so took them off me and bought me a set of toy cars instead. Rather than racing the cars, I remember putting my Lego men into lines and using the cars to run them all over.
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Re: Gender Differences: Nature vs. Nurture, or Nature & Nurture?

Postby Heather » 22 Jul 2013, 19:35

I see the exact same thing in my little boy. His world is all about tools, motors, electrical cords, blue prints, fire trucks, and figuring out how things work. He only likes stereotypically girlie things to the extent that they remind him of Mama. This isn't because of any particular pushing from my husband or me - it's just the way he is!

Gavin wrote:Well, I think a uniform is known to often appeal to women too. ;)


I went to a famously liberal university, and yet every Thursday the vast majority of the female population went into transports of delight over the men of the Reserve Officer Training Corps, who were required to wear their uniforms on that day. Ah, memories... :)

(And no, I can't recall any young men who were similarly delighted about female ROTC members in uniform. But they did all enjoy female professors from Europe who tended to be more in touch with their femininity than American ones, and would sashay gently around the room in skirts, heels, curled hair, and makeup.)
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Re: Gender Differences: Nature vs. Nurture, or Nature & Nurture?

Postby Yessica » 30 Jul 2013, 11:54

When I was a little girl some of my most beloved toys were my racing cars... that's why I say that it is natureXnuture. In our culture one in four jobs is in the car industry. Small wonder it teaches children of both sexes cars are cool. Having said that I liked my dolls still better.

I think that say boys interest in technics and girls interests in technic may be seen as two overlapping bell curves. Differents means, but there are some women who are more into technics then the average male.

When I was pregnant I feeled more female than normal. When I saw horror movies the scared me to death... something that under normal circumstances does not happen. When I red love stories I cried over the fate of the characters... and so on.
By the way, would you agree that while every character on a cheap love story is ill-written the male characters are far more ill-written than the female ones. In fact they act like females in male bodies. Not a single one is a nerd who cares about computers or the Klingon language. Not a single one thinks that love letters are cheesy
I think it's because they are written in order to appeal to females.

As for the military. I agree that there needs to be one - if we like it or not. We see our soldiers as "citizens in uniform" which means that they do not hail from the underclass as I heard they do in other countries... that was the idea that watching american movies gave me. There were some remarks about middle class people having no soldiers in their family. Did I get this right?
In my country there was the draft of all ablebodied men until 2011 and most likely it will be started again soon. People can choose military or civil service, most choosing the military because they call those who don't cowards and slackers.

I am a nimby when it comes to that. I think that the draft is not a beautiful thing, but the right thing. something that has to be done... but please not my boy... I hope he grows up to be a coward.

As for uniforms. I don't like uniforms. I think that there is something menacing about them... and I have a strong dislike for military boots. They look downright violent to my mind. I also don't like computer games like "call of duty" and so on.

There is a question that I always wanted to ask Rachel, if you are reading this: I heard that in Israel women are drafted. Is that true? How do people feel about this?
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Re: Gender Differences: Nature vs. Nurture, or Nature & Nurture?

Postby Yessica » 30 Jul 2013, 12:10

I do like men in suits much better. Like an uniform it makes the wearer walk more upright, but looks peaceful and sophisticated ;)
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Re: Gender Differences: Nature vs. Nurture, or Nature & Nurture?

Postby Heather » 30 Jul 2013, 16:27

Yessica wrote:When I was pregnant I feeled more female than normal. When I saw horror movies the scared me to death... something that under normal circumstances does not happen. When I red love stories I cried over the fate of the characters... and so on.


Again, I've had the exact same experience! That's why I'm not on the forum much anymore. It can be very upsetting!

Yessica wrote: We see our soldiers as "citizens in uniform" which means that they do not hail from the underclass as I heard they do in other countries... that was the idea that watching american movies gave me. There were some remarks about middle class people having no soldiers in their family. Did I get this right?


Hollywood hates the military and portrays them in a bad light. I know a few young men who joined the military just because they were otherwise unemployable (often they had gotten a teenage girl pregnant and had no marketable skills, but wanted to "man up" and support the girl and baby), but everyone at my university who was in the military was middle class and pursuing a rigorous degree, usually in science or engineering. Actually my uncle was stationed in Germany, met a nice German woman, and they settled down in Frankfurt! He's a very successful international businessman today. I also know many military families who are giving their children a Classical education, hardly an underclass thing to do! Stereotypes about the type of people who join the military exist for a reason, but they definitely don't tell the whole story (and they're often anti-military propaganda, anyways).
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Re: Gender Differences: Nature vs. Nurture, or Nature & Nurture?

Postby Heather » 30 Jul 2013, 17:01

One other thing about pregnancy is that I get really crazy about cleaning. Normally my husband and I have your typical housekeeping relationship - I notice the messes and he doesn't, and if I want the house to look nice I need to do it myself. But when I'm pregnant I get a little irrational about cleanliness. Every speck of dirt is like a personal insult, and, embarrassingly, I'm occasionally reduced to tears over all the insults. It's probably a relic from pre-medicine days, when not keeping a minimally clean house could be fatal to a baby.

It's also not unusual for a pregnant woman to spend the entire day cleaning her house from top to bottom, and then give birth that night (although I didn't experience this). I really think there's a nature (hormonal and therefore gender) component to cleanliness.
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Re: Gender Differences: Nature vs. Nurture, or Nature & Nurture?

Postby Yessica » 31 Jul 2013, 10:57

Heather wrote:
Yessica wrote:When I was pregnant I feeled more female than normal. When I saw horror movies the scared me to death... something that under normal circumstances does not happen. When I red love stories I cried over the fate of the characters... and so on.


Again, I've had the exact same experience! That's why I'm not on the forum much anymore. It can be very upsetting!


What does upset you? The potical developments? Are you afraid for the future of your children?
I understand, but then the future has always been gloomy hasn't it? The future will be what we make out of it. I am not a politican or anything. I just do my little part which is rising my son to be a decent human being. I have red some texts by Dalrymple - not many for lack of time. They help me to do this. I hope that others will do there little part and things will be okay.
When I read the post on this board I am happy that there seem to be people who see it like I do. It's uplifting if you view it from that perspective.
Nevertheless I will have to stop writing here soon because my little onegets more and more active. If you one day stop hearing from me I will not have died or anything like this. It will just be that I do not have enough time one my hands.

When is your due date? I think you said in two month. Did I get it right?

Heather wrote:
Yessica wrote: We see our soldiers as "citizens in uniform" which means that they do not hail from the underclass as I heard they do in other countries... that was the idea that watching american movies gave me. There were some remarks about middle class people having no soldiers in their family. Did I get this right?


Hollywood hates the military and portrays them in a bad light. I know a few young men who joined the military just because they were otherwise unemployable (often they had gotten a teenage girl pregnant and had no marketable skills, but wanted to "man up" and support the girl and baby), but everyone at my university who was in the military was middle class and pursuing a rigorous degree, usually in science or engineering. Actually my uncle was stationed in Germany, met a nice German woman, and they settled down in Frankfurt! He's a very successful international businessman today. I also know many military families who are giving their children a Classical education, hardly an underclass thing to do! Stereotypes about the type of people who join the military exist for a reason, but they definitely don't tell the whole story (and they're often anti-military propaganda, anyways).


Thanks for the information. I should have known that Hollywood is not to be trusted.
Do you know "family guy"? I know it is not the most intellectual programme. In one episode the anti-hero takes part in a regatta and somebody says "a toast to everybody whose son is a soldier". Everybody is silent. Then he says "just kidding". Everybody laughs. How realistic is that? Not at all?
Germans want their soldiers to be everyman, not from a certain political or social group but everybodys husband, brother, son.
We think that a military which is a "State inside the State" is dangerous... and that it is also dangerous (in addition to being unfair) if the middle class lets the underclass do the fighting.
Do you think that this goal could be reached without a draft?
In Germany there are lots of people who say that this is not the case and want the draft back.
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Re: Gender Differences: Nature vs. Nurture, or Nature & Nurture?

Postby Yessica » 31 Jul 2013, 11:46

Heather wrote:One other thing about pregnancy is that I get really crazy about cleaning. Normally my husband and I have your typical housekeeping relationship - I notice the messes and he doesn't, and if I want the house to look nice I need to do it myself. But when I'm pregnant I get a little irrational about cleanliness. Every speck of dirt is like a personal insult, and, embarrassingly, I'm occasionally reduced to tears over all the insults. It's probably a relic from pre-medicine days, when not keeping a minimally clean house could be fatal to a baby.

It's also not unusual for a pregnant woman to spend the entire day cleaning her house from top to bottom, and then give birth that night (although I didn't experience this). I really think there's a nature (hormonal and therefore gender) component to cleanliness.


When I was pregnant I hated to have to take the trash out. The stench of it made me feel like I was going to vomit.
I also hated to have to cook raw meat for the same reason.
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Re: Gender Differences: Nature vs. Nurture, or Nature & Nurture?

Postby Heather » 31 Jul 2013, 12:40

Yessica wrote:What does upset you? The potical developments? Are you afraid for the future of your children?


I think that with all the extra hormones it's just too easy to get caught up in imagining the worst. Some of the discussions here delve into violent and bloody possibilities. I've never liked to take part in those, but right now I know it's best not to even look at them because they'll give me nightmares.

Yessica wrote:Nevertheless I will have to stop writing here soon because my little onegets more and more active. If you one day stop hearing from me I will not have died or anything like this. It will just be that I do not have enough time one my hands.

When is your due date? I think you said in two month. Did I get it right?


Yes, I understand. It used to be that I could write here while my little one entertained himself on the floor, but now he's active as a curious little monkey and I can't get away with dividing my attention!

My due date is in early September, but for several reasons it seems likely to happen in mid to late August.

Yessica wrote:Do you know "family guy"? I know it is not the most intellectual programme. In one episode the anti-hero takes part in a regatta and somebody says "a toast to everybody whose son is a soldier". Everybody is silent. Then he says "just kidding". Everybody laughs. How realistic is that? Not at all?


I think that's a realistic scenario in some urban, liberal circles. In smaller cities it's much more likely that the soldiers would be honored in some small way. Over here, cities tend to be filled with liberals and the rest of the state is conservative, and state-level politics are increasingly about city vs country interests. Liberals like to think of conservatives (who are more likely to still believe in their country and want to join the military) as country bumpkins, and while there's truth to it, it's really a gross over-simplification.

Germans want their soldiers to be everyman, not from a certain political or social group but everybodys husband, brother, son.
We think that a military which is a "State inside the State" is dangerous... and that it is also dangerous (in addition to being unfair) if the middle class lets the underclass do the fighting.
Do you think that this goal could be reached without a draft?
In Germany there are lots of people who say that this is not the case and want the draft back.


I think wanting soliders to be Everyman is a very sensible policy. I've lived most of my life in various conservative areas where that would be true. But I've also lived a few years in very liberal areas where it's not and people like to think of soldiers as underclassmen (and who would be the first to demand military protection in an attack!?).

I don't know whether a draft is necessary or not, but I tend to think it is. Middle and upper class men have more intelligence, education, and skills, which increases their options in life, and a lot of them aren't going to choose service because so many other options are available. For a man without intelligence and skills, his only options might be a dead-end minimum wage job, bumming on the streets, or joining the military - which is why there's some truth to the stereotypes.

I think young men today are growing up with little sense of discipline, duty, or manliness, and compulsory military service would help whip them into shape and grow up. I'm against the draft for women because I think it permanently destroys some aspects of femininity. You don't train a woman to be hard-headed and tough enough for battle and expect her to emerge as a gentle and caring wife and mother. And what do men fight for, if not their land and homes and women?
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