Internal Contradictions

I noticed a confused (naturally) but halfway interesting piece in SLATE, about some whacko that has concluded that men who have had their dick chopped off are not really women. Well duh. Of course, he was educated into this conclusion by talking to TERFS (trans exclusionary radical feminists). Progressives mostly think that “that gender is a matter of identity, not biology, and that refusing to recognize a person’s gender identity is an outrageous offense.” While Terfs believe that “women are are a subordinate social class, oppressed due to their biology, and that there’s nothing innate about femininity. They think you can’t have a woman’s brain in a man’s body because there’s no such thing as a “woman’s brain. As the British feminist writer Julie Bindel—a bete noire of many trans activists—put it, “Feminists want to rid the world of gender rules and regulations, so how is it possible to support a theory which has at its centre the notion that there is something essential and biological about the way boys and girls behave?”

Well, obviously it’s difficult for some ex-Navy Seal to have ‘always felt like a girl inside’ if there is no difference between male and female brains. So, will smoke now start coming out of progressive ears, as they endlessly say “does not compute”?

I doubt it. They’re perfectly capable of believing in incompatible theories – there’s no logical contradiction if you never logic in the first place. But if by some chance it does bother someone, here is the resolution:

Progressives and Terfs are both wrong: sex differences in behavior have biological roots – men and female brains are different. I mean, if male rhesus monkeys like toy trucks and females rhesus monkeys don’t, as they do, it’s hard to attribute to social pressure. Boys are much more likely to like rough-and-tumble play, blah blah blah. The stereotypes are true. Trans men aren’t little girls inside, anymore than someone with a Napoleonic complex is ‘really’ Corsican. They’re just crazy. Now that craziness probably has some biological origin, but we don’t understand it. Even if it does, it is likely that the form of that craziness is shaped by social influences, just as Malays run amok with a bloody kris rather than going postal with a Glock.

It is possible to support a theory with implications you don’t like if it happens to be true. Although maybe that’s a guy thing.

If you want to make your stupid dream real, you need to have a realistic picture of the world. If you want a society in which men and women have the same brain, or one in which feminism actually works, you would have to make it so, with advanced biological engineering. John Varley writes fiction: so did Joanna Russ.

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50 Responses to Internal Contradictions

  1. Patrick Boyle says:

    I came to San Francisco in 1965 – a long time ago. I lived in the Tenderloin then and I saw transsexuals for the first time. They were hard to miss. Many of them were tall muscular black guys with heavy beards wearing tight dresses and high heels. Apparently its hard to walk in such an outfit. I took it all in. It was the ‘Big City’ and I learned to accept strange sights not to be seen in the suburbs.

    After a while I stopped seeing them. Not because they went away but because they were no longer very interesting. That was true for decades but then just a few years ago suddenly transgenders became a big social issue. Transgenderism is well understood and there have been no medical breakthroughs in treating the condition. Just suddenly there were posters, and protesters in the streets. It’s enough to make you believe in conspiracies.

    • AppSocRes says:

      I was doing some consulting for the FBI back in the late 1980s or very early 1990s. Prepping for that project involved a week’s stay-over with the SFPD’s homicide unit. While in SF I stayed in a hotel about half-way up Nob Hill on the Market Street side of the Hill. I’d walk around the neighborhood every night and noticed one or two corners where street walkers appeared to be loitering. They struck me as very attractive and when I mentioned over lunch one day to one of the detectives with whom I was liaising that SF street walkers were much more attractive than Boston’s he let out a guffaw or two and then informed me that they were male cross dressers. I’ve since had a number of run-ins with men pretending to be women and vice versa and all have been hilariously, hideous lampoons of real men and women. But my SF experience has convinced me that someof these people — although they are still suffering from a severe and disabling delusion — can succesfully masquerade as their chosen sex.

  2. So what’s up with otherwise-intellgent-biologist Robert Sapolsky implying that transgenderism is perfectly natural?

  3. JayMan says:

    “If you want a society in which men and women have the same brain, or one in which feminism actually works, you would have to make it so

  4. JayMan says:

    As I said earlier on this article, if a transsexual can get away with contradicting the dogma that transsexuals aren’t really the sex the “turn into”, maybe a Black HBD’er has some hope…

  5. Little spoon says:

    I kinda feel like a boy in a girl body. What’s more peculiar is that other people tell me I am such without me first explaining this to them- specifically, they say I am a crotchety old man in a girl body. it’s not really true, but I sympathize with those whose minds are not quite normal for their physical forms.

  6. Izak says:

    I got into an argument with someone about this the other day. There seems to be a triad of different understandings on the issue.

    Trans-advocates argue that there is overlap between sex and gender, the two categories should be understood with a venn diagram, and they feel gender is more important than sex (and thus should function as the standard by which to assign identity).
    Progressives argue that the differences between sex and gender are entirely different, and must be understood not with a venn diagram, but with a razor-sharp line dividing the two categories.
    Scientifically correct people argue that there is overlap between sex and gender, the two categories should be understood with a venn diagram, and they feel sex is more important than gender (and thus should function as the standard by which to assign identity).

    In a weird way, the trans-advocates go back to a more reactionary position by allowing “heteronormative” traits to establish identity rather than assume that identity is 100% characterized by plasticity. The problem is that they’re not being honest, and I think they’re more concerned with gaining social status than affirming anything impolite. From what I gather, the more these gender dysphoriacs move toward their perceived identity (and get hormone treatments for the opposite sex, have doctors mutilate their organs, etc.), the more suicidally depressed they become. And if that’s true, then they’re essentially being marched to the gallows by a gang of opportunists who want to use them as a tool to display moral superiority.

    But since this is a science blog, I am curious: does anyone have any data on treatments in which the person with gender dysphoria is given hormones that correspond to their original sex? Have there been any studies? My assumption is that if a depressed “trans-woman” were to be given more testosterone, he would feel better and happier than he would if given estrogen. But I haven’t seen or heard anything about such a treatment.

    • RCB says:

      “Scientifically correct people argue that there is overlap between sex and gender, the two categories should be understood with a venn diagram, and they feel sex is more important than gender (and thus should function as the standard by which to assign identity).”

      I like to think of myself as a reasonably scientific person. So, what do you mean when you say that “sex is more important than gender”?

      • Fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

        When I was a young man sex was more important than language study.

      • Izak says:

        Let’s say we’re in a society where blue is considered feminine and pink is masculine. I like blue more, I want everything I wear to be blue, I want to have blue wallpaper, a blue car, etc. I’m not going to say, “I love the color blue so much that I must be a woman,” even if I’m technically genderqueer or whatever.

        • amac78 says:

          @Izak — You understand what you mean, which is a start. But what are you trying to communicate to readers when you write, “Scientifically correct people argue that there is overlap between sex and gender… and they feel sex is more important than gender”?

    • This is close. Suicide rate goes up among those who made the change, but the increase doesn’t start until years later.
      The article psmith links above is excellent and gives good arguments about what things may be recategorised and how. However… Having known a couple of dozen transgender people at my hospital over the years (patients and staff), Scott leaves something important out. A whole lot of people who identify as the other gender clearly aren’t. Upon meeting them one’s thought is “troubled young person who thinks becoming something else will solve things.” There may be some who by reason of an unusual medical condition defy categories. That’s usually not what’s happening. (See also autogynephilia, the existence of which most transgendered persons hotly dispute.)

      • Izak says:

        The article you linked makes you subscribe,

        Yes I’m aware of autogynephilia, and I find the theory pretty convincing. Most of the criticisms I’ve seen are about the label’s vagueness, or that it presents the behavior as a mental disorder, which is apparently offensive. But the criticisms don’t seem to address the basic theory that some men want to become women because it’s humiliating and thus arousing. I can’t possibly imagine how anyone would try to argue that this doesn’t happen. There are videos on those porn tube sites that fetishize that exact behavior, some with hundreds of thousands of views. It seems pretty plausible that a handful of these kinds of fetishists would try to turn that sort of interest into a full lifestyle.

        I guess the problem is that when you throw politics into these sorts of scientific questions, you have to deny every theory that makes what you advocate for look bad or questionable. So, while leftists tend to emphasize the complexities of everything, and warn against painting everything with too broad of a brush (good ideas!), they turn around and start painting homosexuality or trans stuff with the broadest brush possible, making it seem completely simple and wonderful, with everyone having the exact same inoffensive reason or motivation for being how they are.

      • gcochran9 says:

        How many legs does a dog have if you call a tail a leg?

  7. rzg says:

    I sexually identify as an attack helicopter.

  8. Wilbur Hassenfus says:

    Like virtually all woman, what Bindel says she wants is kind of similar to what she thinks she wants, but neither bears any resemblance at all to what she does want.

    If she told you exactly what she really wants and you gave it to her, it wouldn’t count, it wouldn’t count at all, and why do men have to be so frustratingly literal minded?! If you were the kind of man she could really look up to, and if you had any feelings for her at ALL, you would know what do to. And that is why she is stamping her angry little foot.

    I’m not even kidding.

    The theory/implication stuff, yeah, that’s a guy thing all right. There’s nothing in it that meets any need of hers that she cares about.

  9. dlr says:

    “…Although maybe that’s a guy thing.” Hey, what’s with the gratuitous cut at women in general? There are plenty of fools in this world, of both sexes. Most feminist ideologues are women, but not all women are feminist ideologues. Not by a long shot.

  10. Bob says:

    “Internal ContraDICtions”

    Heh. I see what you did there. ; )

  11. dearieme says:

    I know nothing whatever about this topic but I assume it’s a bit like anorexia – a sort of sad madness that’s somehow become fashionable.

  12. RCB says:

    This is not the first time Cochran has brought up male rhesus monkeys’ preference for toy trucks, so I thought I’d ask: any idea why? I’m having a hard time explaining (/believing?) that finding, evolutionarily.

    • MawBTS says:

      Here’s the thing he’s referring to:

      N = 34. Not super strong evidence, I wonder if anyone’s tried to replicate it?

      My useless speculation (if this is true): a nurturing instinct among female rhesus monkeys.

      • rzg says:

        Exactly. I would expect that it’s largely driven by the trucks being NOT-dolls, and that replacing the trucks with clubs would also reveal a gender difference.

        • RCB says:

          Doesn’t look like that’s the explanation. if your explanation were true, we would see the females preferring plush toys (which were chosen because they resemble dolls and stuffed animals) whereas the males would show no preference. But it seems the reverse is the case: males preferred wheeled toys, whereas females showed little preference.

          “Nonparametric within-sex comparisons revealed that males preferred wheeled over plush toys (Figure 1b; Z=−2.09, p=.04, d=1.14, prep=.95), and that females exhibited no significant preference for plush toys over wheeled toys (Figure 1b; Z=−.55, p=.58, d=.12, prep=.61). For between-sex comparisons, males and females did not differ in their total interactions with wheeled toys (Figure 1b; Z=−.65, p=.52, d=.39, prep=.87), but males interacted significantly less with the plush toys than did females (Z=−2.23, p=.03, d=.76, prep =.98).”

          Maybe the trucks, being the harder toy, are better tools for head-bashing, and male primates are more likely than females to want to bash heads (colloquially speaking)? If that’s so, then yeah, we should see the same results if trucks were replaced with clubs. It’s hard to imagine that wheels have anything to do with it.

          Note that the quote above refers to frequencies of interaction (how many times a monkey interacted with a toy). They also did the same analysis on the total time spent with the toys (duration), which might be a better measure. In that case, it looks like males spent about 90% of their toy time with the trucks, whereas emails were more evenly split. That difference had p = .03.

          • RCB says:

            More importantly, they gauged preference by computing, for each sex, the difference in number of interactions between trucks and plushes. This gets more directly at the question of whether the probability of interacting with a toy type is different for males and females. The difference is significant: males spend more of their play time with trucks than do females. (They also spend more of their play time with trucks than females spend with plushes.)

            If the authors had any sense, they would have used probability of interaction, not total number of interactions (because the latter is affected by total times of play, which may vary between sexes). But eyeballing the data suggests that the results would have been the same.

            Wish the raw data were available…

            • gcochran9 says:

              And young female chimps will sometiems carry around a stick for long periods, cradling it as it if were a baby. Boy chimps don’t.

              Suppose that there are evolved mental differences between the sexes, in some species (a safe bet). Now we have members of that species, male and female, interact with something new, something that none of their species have ever interacted with. This Maguffin has in no way shaped their evolution. But since male and female brains are different, they may still respond differently to this new stimulus.

              For example, the fraction of teenage boys that go nuts over programming is, I think, much higher than it is among teenage girls. This is probably not because of a multi-million year history of men programming their way to reproductive success, back in the Galactic Empire that spawned the FTL ship that crashed on Earth and founded an accidental colony, one too small to preserve high technology, one that fell back to savagery and is only now approaching its ancestral state of advanced nuttiness.

          • Fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

          • RCB says:

            So, Greg, you are suggesting that male rhesus monkeys’s preference for trucks is totally accidental. They could just as well have favored the plush toys. The important thing is just that the sexes did have different preferences. Is that right?

            • gcochran9 says:

              I wonder if the plush toys don’t give off baby vibes. But I have no theory for why toys with wheels are attractive to males. Vervet monkeys are the same way. CAH girls also likey the trucks.

          • rzg says:

            “Doesn’t look like that’s the explanation. if your explanation were true, we would see the females preferring plush toys”

            You didn’t read a word that I wrote.

            I would expect that it’s largely driven by the trucks being NOT-dolls. Things that are not girly, therefore attractive to the male. It’s not implied that females prefer the girly toys, understand?

            Nobody had to teach me as a young male primate that humiliation in front of my peer group feels horrible in the pit of my soul. Rhesus monkeys are another hierarchical primate species, they must have a similar instinct. And they must have cues to figure out who is going to get trampled underfoot in the hierarchy. I think it’s a safe guess that a male rhesus monkey displaying sissy behaviour with dolls and shoving dildos up his ass is being looked at as omega material by the other rhesus monkeys. Same as with us.

          • RCB says:

            Sorry, rzg. When you said “exactly” in response to MawBTS’s comment, I assumed that meant you agreed with him.

          • teageegeepea says:

            I wasn’t sure what Greg meant by CAH, but for readers who arrive later my best guess is congenital adrenal hyperplasia.

      • Fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

        Toy story: Why do monkey and human males prefer trucks? Comment on “Sex differences in rhesus monkey toy preferences parallel those of children” by Hassett, Siebert and Wallen

        As shown in their Fig. 1, when play time with toys is examined in human children (Berenbaum and Hines,1992) and rhesus macaques of all ages, males spend significantly more of their play time with the “male” toy(s) than with the female toy(s), while females spend about equal times with “male” and “female” toys. This is true both for frequency of interactions and in time spent playing (Hassett et al., 2008).

        However, this is not my experience in the context of groups.

        That is, a group of female children almost never plays with male-typical toys and spends pretty much all of its time practicing female social games. I imagine that if you gave them a toy gun they would pretend it was a teapot …

        Boys on the other hand …

  13. Jacob says:

    I noticed this contradiction a few years ago when NPR decided it was a great idea to pair as guests on one of their programs a woman whose 5-year-old son liked to put on bright princess dresses (not all that uncommon, though my son preferred the sparkly shoes) with a woman whose son had gone the full unmonty and gotten his bits lopped off and was now an advocate for such folks. The point of the first woman’s book (a children’s book) was- it’s not such a big deal, boys will be boys even in taffeta and lace. But of course if liking to put on dresses makes you a transwoman and on course for hormonal and surgical alteration, it’s a very big deal indeed.

    You read old children’s books like Swallows and Amazons or the Nesbit books and the gender distinctions are actually less calcified than today; my sense is kids do a lot of performance now, in addition to whatever innate behavioral differences exist, perhaps because of the effort to erode distinctions, perhaps for other reasons.

    • iffen says:

      “a woman whose 5-year-old son liked to put on bright princess dresses (not all that uncommon, though my son preferred the sparkly shoes) with a woman whose son had gone the full unmonty and gotten his bits lopped off”

      What’s going to happen when these crazy people start whacking off 5 year old penises? Don’t tell me it’s not going to happen.

  14. Ilya says:

    JD Unwin made the case that civilizations collapsed when their internal cultural frameworks were no longer fit to sustain cohesion and fertility. Typically, it would be because of deviation from the pattern of, what he termed, “absolute monogamy” and sexual restraint. Most often, more rights to women would precede such a collapse.

    Of course, in the particular case of Mycenaean civilization’s collapse, it is more likely that natural, exogenous factors were the real culprit (part of the Bronze Age collapse).

    Broadly, I agree with Joseph’s stance about trade being instrumental. What I think bears mention here, is that not all trade is created equal. Historically, most of it was about supplying elites with status-granting items. However, the Mycenians were able to exploit their proximity to sea to build advanced technology (for the time), to transport items and people (slaves, warriors) in a very cheap manner, in higher volume, across huge distances. This trade was fundamentally higher scale and quality than what could be accomplished through more conventional, non-maritime routes. It also required great skill to sustain and expand it, along with various tangential enterprises endeavored by status-seekers of the polities that comprised Mycenae.

    This trade on mass scale enabled more labor specialization, helping to free up the talents of more citizens, for value-added endeavors, including intellectual ones.

    Also, I think that not only trade, but technologically involved , well-organized warfare played a huge part.

    I am not as convinced, however, that Mycenaean Greeks, on an individual basis, were more special, IQ-wise, than the Minoans. It’s just that the conditions were ripe for the former’s international acclaim. The Mycenaeans most likely were just a more Indo-Europeanized, more warfare oriented, version of Minoans. The Minoans were likely Anatolian derived, like LBK. We need invoke group-competition argument to understand Mycenaean success.

    As to Sumer, they were probably as special as the Elamites and the Harappans, probably very much related to them. Just, again, more access to productive land (enabling higher population capacity and more intense inter-group competition), water and rivers, somewhat better trade, labor specialization.

    All of these groups are, ultimately, descendants of Natuffian people, from what I understand.

  15. Rob King says:

    I met Julie Bindel at a panel organized by the university a couple of years back. I had never heard of her but we were there to discuss whether pornography had bad effects. At the meet and greet she got instantly cross at why Ben Goldacre hadn’t done one of his “Bad Science” take-downs of the idea that men and women’s brains were different.
    Me: (being a polite ambassador for my university) “Well, maybe he doesn’t think the science is bad?”
    Bindel: “He must do!”
    Me: “Why’s that?”
    Bindel (snapping as if at someone very dense)” How should I know? I’m not a scientist!”
    I learned a lot from that encounter.

  16. marcel proust says:

    A bit late to this thread, but it is not yet closed, so …

    RE: Women in the military, this post has some interesting information (which I don’t have the expertise to verify easily; it seems plausible).

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