Sex Differences

Voice Card  -  Volume 15  -  Suzanne Card Number 3  -  Sun, Jul 1, 1990 6:45 AM

This is ONE OF 3 responses to Vol 14 John 7 ("Nature vs. Nurture (AGAIN)")...

It's hard for me to believe that behavioral differences between the sexes are primarily genetic, or wired. Men and women both have the capacity for the same feelings, and whether they choose to feel them or not seems to be determined by what they choose to repress.

Aren't we really talking about perception and expression here, like the way people look at the world and how they behave and what they choose to focus on or ignore? From what I've read, mothering has a lot to do with differences among the sexes, if the mother is the initial primary caretaker.

When a child first realizes a sense of identity separate from the mother, it's supposedly more painful for boys because they are more different from the mother than girls so there is a more definite sense of breaking away and their resulting senses of identity tend to be more solid whereas those of girls tend to be more liquid. So later on it tends to be a bigger deal for men to get emotionally involved because it seems like a potential loss of independence and potentially more painful than the way a lot of women see it, who feel more comfortable in that emotional sphere so they're not as threatened by being swallowed up by another's identity since their own is more fluid to begin with.

I don't really think it's all that simple - hormones come into play, and genetics, and everything else that's ever happened to a person - but this makes sense to me.

Also, I don't know how scientific it is to count on a gay person's self-assessment of how he or she ended up that way. I think it's hard for anyone to come up with a valid explanation of why they are the way they are. For one thing, even if it were possible to view oneself with a properly distanced perspective, the earliest years, which weigh most heavily in terms of our development, are the ones we cannot remember.

Also, have you read about the research that's going on (Stanford?) which appears to be pointing toward a conclusion that sexual differences, in the brain, anyway, are not hard wired?