An Explanation of Gender Differences

The Article


This article offers a compelling explanation of why women and men are different from an evolutionary perspective.
Check it out.

The writer of that excerpt seems to want to imply that culture exploits men in a manner which is much worse than the way culture exploits women. Thus, “Women don’t have it that bad!”, and, “It’s so hard to be a man!”

This is one implication of the excerpt.
Another might be that the way women do things works better than the way men do things. If this is the case, then women are actually found to be more pragmatic and less random than men. This would be a reversal of the usual impulsive fickle woman/steadfast rational man dichotomy.

In that case this article reaffirms radical feminism (as opposed to liberal feminism) by implying that women should lead, rather than men. This would avoid both the greatest outcomes and the worst outcomes. No Post-WWII Plenty and no Depression-Era Misery.

This reminds me of the game theory prisoners problem. If you press a button, the other prisoner dies, if the other prisoner presses a button, you die. If both of you press the button, you both die. If neither of you press the button, you both live in prison. What if we can make prison a nice place to be by instituting a strong welfare state?

None of those things were implied. The word “exploit” was, as far as I’m aware, used in a non-negative way, ie I exploit my knife to spread peanut butter. It definitely wasn’t implied that women do things “better” than men. I think that was made explicit multiple times in the article, did you read the whole thing? It doesn’t imply women should take lead either. I really don’t think you read the whole thing, or maybe you just skimmed it.

Negative characterizations of exploitation from the OP:
“The population on Death Row has never approached 51% female.”
“US Department of Labor statistics report that 93% of the people killed on the job are men.”
“Who’s homeless? Again, mostly men.”
“…there are other men you don’t see, who are still bleeding to death on the battlefield from spear wounds.”
“…others have their lives ruined or even cut short.”

Positive characterizations of exploitation from the OP:
“…most world rulers, presidents, prime ministers, most members of Congress and parliaments, most CEOs of major corporations, and so forth — these are mostly men.”
“…an ancient battle in which the enemy was driven off and the city saved, and the returning soldiers are showered with gold coins.”
"The result is that some men reap big rewards… "

In a list like this it looks as if this passage is saying that this kind of evens out. However, the author wants to specifically discount the positive characterizations of exploitation (which he or she identifies as “the feminist critique”). The whole reason for writing this article is to tip the scales toward a more negative, if not generally negative characterization of male exploitation.

I think the word I want to use here is circular. This is circular. Perhaps the situation “[Cultures] do what they do for pragmatic reasons driven by competition against other systems and other groups” is actually a result of "Some men reap[ing] big rewards while others have their lives ruined or even cut short, instead of describing the latter as a result of the former as the author does.

The author wants to say that men’s exploitation is just an unavoidable consequence of the social free market. I want to say the opposite. Perhaps culture is an immoral and coldly pragmatic machine, but this is the case because of the self-destructive risk-taking, thus culture could work otherwise.

Culture could be moral. Does that really sound so bad? The first step to this might be precisely to rein in a financial culture which demands volatile levels of risk in order to foster unsustainable expansion. Give up some reward opportunities in exchange for security against ruinous risk, the same exchange the author claims we make cannot help but make compulsory for women.

The article wasn’t so much about what should be the case politically. You’re projecting so much into this article from your own mind, it’s weird. The article proposes an explanation of why certain things ARE the case, it doesn’t say anything (or at least not much) about what should be. Your whole approach in this thread is really…um…irrelevant. You’re not really talking much about the article itself, you’re talking about peripheral issues.

It misses the choosing power of women in Human (and many other species’) mating behaviour, which is much more important in an evolutionary perspective. Men do a lot of risky stuff in order to get chosen for good genes. With Human Beings, men also have high parental investment, which also influences female choice and therefore male behaviour in gathering and controlling resources.

Sexual selection has become very complicated in Human Beings.

It “misses” that? Uhhhh…no, it doesn’t. It actually explicitly talks about that in different terms. It talks about how the men who take risks and are successful get rewarded big – including sexually. That’s talking about the “choosing power” right there. It’s saying that women choose the successful risk-takers, but in different words.



it doesn’t say most things.
it doesn’t explain how the universe began.
it doesn’t explain how DNA works.
it doesn’t explain the source of the boom/bust cycle.
it doesn’t explain integrals.

must I go on?

most articles don’t explain most things, haha.
that’s not a real criticism.
unless the thing that it doesn’t explain is explicitly contrary to the ideas presented, then it’s not even important.
what you said it doesn’t explain is actually directly in line with all the things it did explain.
it goes along with it all perfectly.

I’m cheating, 'cause I’m posting in another site to this same thread.

Humpty, the artical was well written, but without much substance. The author lays out his observations backing those observations with “studies” that are never referenced. If this article were to have credibility, the author would have conscienciously included “studies” that opposed his so-called support studies and explained the differences, leaving the reader to make up their own mind. He didn’t. This isn’t to say the article is all wrong, but the lack of all but one POV says salesmanship, not genuine inquiry.

and i told you in the OTHER forum that if you want the rest of the substance, read his BOOK YO! this is a speech he gave. he said all this shit. if you were listening to a speech, would you want him to cite every fuckin source? that would get tiresome and annoying. this is condensed material broseph. if you want the unabridged version, ya might have to invest some $

But it’s not compelling as you advertised.


OK. Let’s give him all his “research”. At the same time, let’s look at some of his conclusions. He states that men are the creators of civilization because of their shallow but broad connections with others (men). Because women focus on one-on-one intimate relationships, they’re just along for the ride, taking advantage of what men have created. regardless his scholorship, that is an assertion and a narrow conclusion. How about this? Women are the creators of civilization because they maintain the social network of family, inlaws and outlaws, and neighbors. They keep the connections that allow men to organize large groups for projects beyond the scope of two or three men. If it weren’t for the diligence of women in fostering and maintaining the social network, we’d still be hunter/gatherers. There. A diametrically opposed conclusion with the same amount of support. Neither conclusion is more than generally correct, and which deserves prominance depends on perspective. The correct conclusion is BOTH are needed for advancement of civilization.

It is this ignoring of any perspective other than his own that calls into question any of his conclusions. This doesn’t make him necessarily wrong, but he fails to present both sides of the coin. That is red flag stuff.

you know, i don’t think he would disagree that both are necessary. but i guess it’s fun to make strawmen sometimes, an easy target’s sometimes really entertaining.

Well, I wish he had said that both are equally necessary. Now I’m curious… which strawman were you referring to? His, or mine? :stuck_out_tongue: :laughing:

He did explicitly talk about the necessity of women. Did you not read it? I know in the other forum you were talking about not having read it while still feeling qualified to comment on it.

Also, like most of the essay actually talks about how men are expendable and women are not. So…like…your straw man is the direct opposite of what’s going on in the article.


Yes indeedy! He managed to cover his ass by pointing out that women are necessary - in their secondary role. Look. I’ll hand it to him for a slick presentation, but i’m not fooled about his conclusions. That was what my “strawman” pointed out. It’s his conclusions that are slanted despite his proclamations of objectivity. But it’s OK if you don’t agree. :slight_smile:

I don’t think that conclusion is diametrically opposed, in fact it seems to be a different way of stating the same thing. The mistake you’re making is in equating “civilization” with “culture”, and that’s not what Baumeister does. He never said either sex created civilization. As I read him, he’s saying that there have historically been different realms for men and women, and he’s explaining that by appeal to the different evolutionary pressures that men and women faced. Culture is just a part of civilization, a part that men created. At the same time, women created the underpinnings of civilization, through child birth and rearing, maintaining family bonds, etc. (I’ve read elsewhere that women are the likely origin of language, and that fits with this theory). Men create the public side of society (culture) because they are unlikely to reproduce without getting out into the world (This connection is not explicitly made in the article, but the ideas of male risk-taking and men’s public focus seems related. I would have liked to see more on this, but I only include it as an aside lest I incur Humpty’s wrath :wink: ).

One critique I have with the talk is actually how strongly he sticks to equality. “Different but equal” just seems like a way to appease everyone. It may make us feel better about how we got where we are, and takes blame off the table, but it also opens the door to women or men being innately more suited to the needs of our current society. To turn his own example on its head as a counter-example, look at sickle cell anemia: It may be beneficial, in times and places where malaria is a live threat, to have sickle cell anemia. Once the threat of malaria is removed, though, sickle cell anemia is nothing but a burden. The fact that it evolved because it was adaptive doesn’t matter: it is no longer adaptive.

This may also be true of men and women. For example, if men’s usefulness stemmed in part from their expendability, and that expendability rested on the fact that most would not reproduce and that one man could impregnate many women, then as we have moved more towards a society where most coupling is monogamous, men are less expendable, and therefore less useful. Similarly, if technologies like the internet make maintaining close connections with a large network of people easier, women may benefit because they are innately more gifted at forming close relationships, or men may because they are innately more large-network focused. The point is that, based on his argument, one sex may be better or worse suited to our modern world.

But another critique is that he overstates the facts of gender difference, perhaps unintentionally. When he makes claims like “men are hornier than women,” it’s easy to read that as “all men are hornier than all women,” when in fact the difference is slight, and the curves overlap substantially (most men are about as horny as most women). Really, all statements of sexual difference should be read with this image in mind:

Many, if not most, people will fall into the overlapping portion of the bell curves. Many women will exceed many men in ability, and vice versa. For any given individual, the fact that one curve is shifted one way or the other does not have any real implication, and it is wrong to assume that it does.

In Baumeister’s case, he’s arguing more for an image like this (treat the gblue curve as men and the red curve as women):

In both cases, the difference between the curves is very, very small. The differences that Summer’s mentioned are (if they exist at all) in the 1st and 99th perventiles; almost all of the time, men and women can be expected to be equal capable. The same is probably true for his statements on motivation as well.

I guess I just assumed people understood basic principles of statistics…but come to think of it, that’s a bad assumption, and your graphs are thus appreciated :slight_smile:

good topic hump.

first off it would be nice to have common ground to work on. so as stated about 99% of us would agree there are gender differences.

now to the equal part. in what way are we the same. what do you mean by equal.

this topic can go either way. there is great potential for debate.

i have some question about that equal thing. in what way equal.