Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Boys are just defective girls

One very prevalent recent trend in neo-feminism is a strong push for the notion that boys need to be taught to be more like girls. Of course it's not phrased like that, and the chain of thought is more contrived.

Neo-feminism hates masculinity and anything that's typically masculine, and they adulate femininity. Basically everything that's typically masculine is the source of all problems that women and minorities have, and femininity is the ideal perfect state. Of course they won't say that directly (with very few exceptions), but that's exactly what they are quite directly implying.

The current neo-feminist discourse is that we should get rid of what they call "toxic masculinity", and we should teach boys to be more like girls. In other words, boys need to be taught to be more open about their emotions. This, in their minds, would eradicate the aggressiveness prevalent in men.

The notion underlying all this is another feminist concept: Namely, that there are no innate psychological differences between men and women, and that all such differences are caused solely by upbringing and the society. Thus if we change how boys are being taught, they will become like girls, ie. emotional, sensitive, empathetic, ideal and perfect. It's all about changing societal notions, upbringing and education.

Some critics of feminism have described this as, essentially, the notion that "boys are just defective girls".

There are many problems with these notions. They are based on assumptions, most of them unfounded. They are not based on actual science, studies or experiments. It's an ideology, a dogma, that exalts typical feminine traits and demonizes typical masculine traits. They consider the archetypal feminine traits to be the golden standard to aim for... based on nothing but opinions and feelings.

Firstly, psychological differences between men and women are demonstrably innate. Sexual dimorphism in humans goes beyond just physical characteristics; the brains of men and women are (on average) "wired" differently. Claiming otherwise is just denying facts.

Men being on average more stoic, and women being on average more emotional, is an inherited innate trait. It's not something that's learned. The human brain is not a blank slate at birth that gets filled with whatever the child learns. The human brain already has "hard-wired" characteristics to it from birth. This is just a scientific fact, no matter how much neo-feminists love to deny it.

Men being on average more aggressive, and more propense to taking risks (and many other similar traits), is also in large part biological, not cultural. The main culprit is testosterone, a hormone that has real demonstrable effect on behavior. (This doesn't mean that all men are equal, or that a man cannot learn to control his aggressive or risk-taking impulses. They definitely can. However, it does explain why men are more likely to be aggressive and impulsive than women, and why violent crimes are more prevalent in men.)

Secondly, who says that being more stoic is a negative trait? Who says that being more open and emotional is a positive and desired trait? These neo-feminists certainly love to believe that, but what exactly is this based on?

Why would being more stoic and reserved be a bad thing? Stoic and reserved people can remain more objective in stressing situations, and may be more capable of handling such situations, rather than being overwhelmed by emotions. A person who can assess a situation more calmly, in a more calculating and objective manner, may be a lot better at making good decisions than a person who is overwhelmed by feelings and emotions, which may cloud one's judgment.

If (and most probably given that) men are on average innately more stoic than women, there may well be an evolutionary reason for this. Being more objective and calculating may have been a survival advantage, which is why it has been naturally selected as an innate trait from when we were hunter-gatherers and earlier.

(It's difficult to hypothesize why females have likewise inherited more emotional characteristics without sounding patronizing and sexist, but objectively speaking it wouldn't be very far-fetched to guess that it has to do with caring for one's children and family, and communicating with the men about problems "at home" which may need attention, or other similar things.)

One can make the argument that we are not hunter-gatherers anymore, and thus such primitive instincts have no place in modern society. Putting aside the point that this explains why men are innately more stoic than women, the question becomes: Is it really so that it has no place in modern society? Says who?

The circumstances may be different, but not necessarily the need. Even in the modern civilized world stoicism may very well be advantageous in many practical situations. Being able to assess and calculate a situation objectively without being clouded by emotions can be very useful in modern day life, at work, when dealing with other people, and at home. After all, we do not live in a hippie paradise where everybody loves everybody else, everything is calm and relaxed, and there are no problems. We need to work, often in very stressful and even dangerous situations, we need to deal with other people, even when they are not cooperative, we need to lead and organize, we need to make decisions for our own and the society's benefit.

Teaching boys that they are, effectively, defective and that they should change their innate personality, may well be highly detrimental. Even when it's well-meaning, this kind of environment where they are pretty much shunned and punished for their normal innate behavior can raise unbalanced unhappy people, who somehow deep inside have this conviction that they are defective, broken and unfit, because they can't conform to the mold that they are told they should. They may become afraid to behave in a typically masculine stoic and calculating way because they have been taught (directly or indirectly) that acting like that is a bad thing. Effectively forcing them to be "more open with their emotions" when deep inside they feel uncomfortable with that may cause deeply-seated psychological distress. They may feel inadequate and defective because they can't behave like they are expected, as if there was something wrong with them.

Feminists should understand quite well how that feels via an analogy: If someone is not happy with the gender they are born with, but society pressures them into accepting their biological gender, instilling into them the notion that they are defective if they act differently, that will cause psychological distress and depression. If feminists understand and accept this, why cannot they understand and accept that men may be innately more stoic and introverted than women, and that trying to force them to be something they are not can be distressing in the long run?

Suicide is already significantly more prevalent among men than women. Guilt-tripping boys and trying to force them into societal molds they are not comfortable with is not going to help this. It's only going to make it worse. And without people who are calm, rational, objective and stoic, people who are driven by rationality rather than emotion, our society will not become better; it will become worse.

Masculinity is not a bad thing. Stop trying to make it to be. The concept of "toxic masculinity" is nothing but a conspiracy theory and a myth.

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