Nature has made men and women different in their bodily structure, bodily function, mental perception and emotional response. These differences are complementary and constructive. Unfortunately, society has added artificial differences that are both inhibitive and divisive. [PDF]
A human being is a conscious entity within a mind within a body. I, as a conscious entity, have fleeting sight of bits of thought that jump in and out of my conscious view. This happens all the time I am awake. If I sense a good thought, I must grab it with my conscious attention and consciously memorize it. Otherwise, it will jump out of sight and be lost. Thoughts are going on constantly as a complex-dynamical turmoil within my mind, unseen beneath my conscious view. This vast melée of thoughts is running like a gigantic computer program within my physical brain. It is fed by inputs from my vast memory store, which are triggered by inputs from my senses. I have reason to suppose that, in this respect, I am like any other human being.
As a man, however, I sense that a woman not only appears different from me physically but also captures and processes thoughts in a somewhat different way, resulting in her somewhat different view of the world and mode of behaviour. Notwithstanding, the differences between male and female humans seem to enable them to combine to form something greater than either one alone. Each gender has what the other doesn't. One has a complementary genital interface with which the other's will engage. Likewise one has a complementary perspective which, when combined with the other's, creates a more complete and incisive world-view. Both the physical and emotional differences between men and women are thus natural gender-specific phenomena.
Notwithstanding the differences, I see that the greater part of human personality, character and aptitudes are independent of gender. For instance, an extrovert can be male or female, as can an introvert. One's acquired skills and knowledge are also naturally independent of gender. So what causes the differences in perception, thought and behaviour? Do they stem from differences in the structure and function of the brain?
I have no direct experience of investigating the physical form and functional demarcations within the human brain. The following is what I have gathered from reading various references on the Worldwide Web.
I have read that a man's brain is generally 10% to 15% larger than a woman's brain. A woman's brain, however, is more densely packed. Men and women nevertheless seem to end up with the same IQ levels despite men generally having a marginally larger brain mass to body mass ratio. This slight difference in relative mass would therefore appear to have little or no relevance to overall brain performance. But size is not the only difference. There is also a difference in structure between the male and female brain.
Women have proportionally larger audio and language-processing areas on the left half of the brain. The female brain also has a higher proportion of grey-matter, which is responsible for processing information. Men have proportionally larger areas that handle vision and the geometry of spatial position and motion. The male brain has a higher proportion of white-matter, which forms the cabling between the different regions of grey-matter. There also seems to be evidence that the female brain has a slightly faster blood flow and operates at a slightly higher temperature.
Why should male and female brains be different and operate differently? Certainly the two brains must cope with the obvious physiological differences, especially as concerns the different roles in reproduction. Reproductive function, however, is only a small part of the overall functionality of a human being. Of the 46 chromosomes in the human genome, only 2 (4·3%) determine the persons gender. But there are much greater differences in brain activity between the genders that seem to be nothing to do with the differences in reproductive roles.
When a man and a woman are shown the same emotionally provocative picture, their male and female brains show activity in somewhat different regions. This suggests that male and female brains enlist different mechanisms to analyse and store visual information about the same thing. They record the content of the picture from different perspectives. Each captures a different aspect of the same picture. It has a different significance to the woman than to the man. As with perceiving things, so too with solving problems. Male and female brains seem to activate different neural regions in difference sequences to solve the same problem or to expedite the same activity. They seem to be able to achieve the same results with the same efficiency using different mechanisms and procedures.
The scientific world updates its ideas and conclusions from time to time about the differences in form and functionality of the male and female versions of the human brain. Notwithstanding, I think it is at least established that there are significant differences in form and function, which leaves me now free to conduct my own observations and thought experiments about these differences.
On the one hand, male and female brains could, from conception, develop an in-built gender-bias to learn and act in slightly different ways. In other words, each may be pre-wired slightly differently from the beginning. On the other hand, it is well established that the way the brain wires itself up is driven by each individual's unique and on-going experience of life. An individual's life-experience is, in effect, the world's reaction to his or her presence and participation within it. The world reacts differently to men than to women. Consequently, the reason male and female brains are wired up differently could be, at least in part, because the world treats women differently from men.
Throughout its time in the womb, a baby cannot be influenced by the different ways in which society treats male and female children. So, if the brains of male unborns are different from the brains of female unborns, the differences must be pre-wired. If they are identical until birth, then there is no gender-specific pre-wiring. I do not know if science yet has any practical evidence either way. However, as soon as babies leave the womb, society starts to treat the males differently from the females. Their respective brains will therefore, from birth, start to wire themselves up slightly differently.
Of course, the differences in reproductive function and the differences in body structure demand differences in the control programming for these gender-specific aspects of human physiology. Consequently, some gender-specific pre-wiring must exist that is not determined by the way society treats the individual.
What about the less obvious physiological differences? Women are reputed to have better sense and differentiation of smell and colour. They are also more sensitive to pain. Men are more precise at discerning movement. But are these differences due to gender-specific pre-wiring of the brain or are they induced by gender-specific expectations of the society in which they live? For example, are women expected by society to be more concerned with cleanliness and consequently become more conscious of smells for that reason?
I think that only a small proportion of the differences between the male and female brain support the gender-specific differences in body structure and functionality. I think these pre-wired differences are administrated by long-term adaptation over many generations. In other words, they are evolutionary. I therefore think that the overwhelming proportion of the differences between the male and female versions of the human brain must emerge as a result of self-programming in response to the different attitudes and role expectations they receive from society. These differences therefore pertain to the individual's life-experience. In other words, they are not evolutionary.
All self-programming can only take place within the context of the pre-wired gender-specific differences. The way in which the female brain self-programs in response to a particular external stimulus must therefore be a little different from the way a male brain self-programs in response to the same external stimulus. This results in differences in perception and behaviour that are not caused by the different ways in which society treats men and women. The pre-wiring plus the self-programmed differences in perception and behaviour that it engenders then together form a composite context within which the male and female brains further self-program in response to the different ways in which society treats men and women. This third level of self-programming embodies the gender-biases of the individual's formative culture.
During my own formative era boys and girls were generally segregated during secondary education. Boys' grammar schools were separate from girls' grammar schools. At the time, this was generally thought to be a good thing. At these separate schools boys had a somewhat different curriculum from girls and played different kinds of games and sports. Even in mixed schools, boys and girls usually had a slightly different curriculum and played different games and sports. This cultivated a different set of skills and interests in the two genders, divisively reducing the common ground shared by persons of different gender.
I therefore see three functional layers in the gender-specific programming of the human brain. At the base level is the pre-wiring that relates to the gender-specific structure and function of the body, senses and perception. At the middle level is the natural gender-specific self-programming. At the top level is the gender-specific self-programming that is induced by the individual's cultural environment.
I would expect the pre-wired differences between male and female brains to be mainly concerned with the individual's own body control functions. As such, they are inwardly focused. I would expect the natural self-programming to be mainly concerned with how the individual perceives and reacts to the world. As such, it is outwardly focused.
Since the natural self-programming of male and female brains is different, men perceive the world differently from women. The two genders thus inherently perceive the same external object, event, policy or person from different semantic view-points. A man sees it more as a system with a function. A woman sees it more as the object or conduit of a relationship.
These are extremes. It does not mean that men cannot see a thing as an object or conduit of a relationship. It does not mean that women cannot see the systematic and functional aspects of things. I am simply stating what I see as the dominant tendency of each gender within society.
Within any general sample of a human population, women tend to have a greater capacity for empathy with an external object, event, policy or person while men tend to have a greater capacity for analysing it. This makes women better at building relationships and men better at building systems. The strengths of these capacities follow overlapping bell distributions as shown on the right.
Consequently, there are some men who are better counsellors and communicators than most women. And there are some women who are better systems analysts and engineers than most men. Notwithstanding such a man is no less a man and such a woman is no less a woman.
The reason for the overlap is that any human society - even the most egalitarian - is a natural complex dynamical system. As such, it creates unique initial conditions for each individual's life. A young boy may therefore find himself in a formative micro-environment dominated by feminine influence. Conversely, a young girl can find herself in a formative micro-environment dominated by masculine influence. Most, however, pick up mainly from the influence of their own gender to a greater or lesser degree. Hence the statistical spread of the familiar bell-graph.
In mutual isolation, the separate and different male and female view-points are rather narrow and flat. Neither has depth. However, if we combine them, they form a richer view that is both panoramic and stereoscopic. This is a far more profound view. It is a far more incisive view. It is a far more potent view. It adds an entire dimension to the viewers' knowledge of what they are viewing. The naturally different male and female perceptions of an object, event, policy or person are therefore complementary and constructive. They encourage and promote gender inter-dependence. They nurture and strengthen the male-female relationship.
In order to create a combined stereoscopic male-female view, it is necessary for the male and female individuals to communicate. He must communicate his male analytical view to her. She must communicate her female relational view to him. In order to do this, each must encode the real-world views they experience, through their respective senses and perceptions, into symbolic messages. These messages comprise spoken words that are invariably augmented with facial expressions and body gestures. Words, however, are not the facts, thoughts and feelings that are being communicated. They are only symbols that represent the facts, thoughts and feelings that are being communicated.
The differences in male and female perception can cause a particular word to convey something different to a man than to a woman. For a man, any particular word occupies a different position in semantic space than it does for a woman. On the right the meaning of the word "Love" is shown in different co-ordinate locations in an arbitrary semantic space that is defined by the three dimensions: structure, function and relation. The co-ordinate position of Love (in pink) defines the meaning of the word as a woman perceives it. The co-ordinate position of Love (in blue) defines its meaning as a man perceives it. Consequently, a man and a woman will perceive the very same message in different ways.
However, it is not merely the meaning of the message that is perceived differently. The man and the woman tend to have different reasons for sending the message, irrespective of its content. A man converses primarily to convey specific information. A woman converses primarily to strengthen and deepen her relationship with the other participant in the conversation. His responses to her tend to be to confirm or negate agreement with what she is saying. Her responses to him tend to be to indicate her interest in conversing with him.
A practical outcome of these different primary reasons for conversing can perhaps be shown effectively by considering the differences in the ways men and women attempt to express love for each other. Women seem to be much more open than men in displaying emotion. They seem less afraid for others to see them express it. Consequently, a woman tends to express openly and directly her affection to the man. Men appear to be naturally more guarded. They tend to hide emotion, or at least, not display it. Consequently, a man tends to express his love for a woman indirectly, such as by giving her something or doing something for her.
These different tendencies in the way men and women communicate invariably lead to misunderstandings between them. To develop a male-female relationship to its full strength and potency, it is therefore necessary to overcome this natural inter-gender communication barrier. Happily, the means of overcoming this barrier are naturally available within the human consciousness.
Each human consciousness is able to accommodate more than one "me" within it. For instance, when I reason something out for myself, "I" do it by engaging in a conversation or logical argument with another "me" that is present within my consciousness. I am male. I perceive that, by default, any other "me" within my mind is also male. However, with intentional conscious intervention, it is possible for me to make one of my "me"s feminine. I deduce, therefore, that it is possible for any man to create an additional female "me" within his consciousness and for any woman to create an additional male "me" within her consciousness.
A man will then be able to reason something out as if he (his main male "me") is discussing the issue with the additional female "me" within his own consciousness. A woman will then likewise be able to reason something out as if she (her main female "me") is discussing the issue with the additional male "me" within her own consciousness. Since in each case, the male "me" and female "me" are embodied within the same conscious entity, that conscious entity will be able to understand both perceptual points of view regarding the issue they are discussing.
Consequently, when a discussion takes place between the man and the woman, the female "me" within the man is able to understand the perceptual point of view of the woman. Likewise, the male "me" within the woman is able to understand the perceptual point of view of the man. Their male and female views can thereby be seamlessly combined to form the far richer more profound and incisive male-female stereo-perceptive view of the object, event, policy, person or issue concerned. The man can train his female "me" to express things in a female way. For example, he can express his love for his female companion by conversing about the relationship he shares with her. The woman can likewise train her male "me" to express things in a male way. For example, she can express her love for her male companion by giving something of substance to him and sharing practical activities with him.
In modern society, there is an extremely high divorce rate. Many marriages are unhappy amalgams that are endured for the sake of the children. Women seem often to be hurt by men. Men seem often to be hurt by women. It is a society where too many women think men are beasts and too many men think women are bitches. It appears therefore that very few men develop the additional female "me" within their consciousnesses and very few women develop the additional male "me" within their consciousnesses. Why should this be? Is it natural for men and women to be so much at odds?
I am of the opinion that the differences in perception and expression that I have described so far stem from entirely natural differences between men and women. They are not part of any culturally-generated difference between the genders. So why doesn't the counterpart female "me" form within the consciousness of each man? And why doesn't the counterpart male "me" form within the consciousness of each woman? I am convinced that in a natural egalitarian society they would. I think that they do not form in a modern society because there is a strong sinister force at work that deliberately suppresses their formation.
That sinister force is expedited through the hierarchy of the ruling elite. In the distant past this could have been the bullying force of an exigent war lord and his bandits. Later it became a baron and his men at arms. Later still is would be a king and his armies. Now it is the modern sovereign State with its armed forces, police and legal system. Below the State are corporations, mafias and thugs, although some large multinational corporations are above many sovereign States. All these are divisive coercive enslaving forces that bring themselves to bear on humanity. They form the crucible that determines the shape and essence of a people's culture, tradition, language and idiom.
Men and women together are much more difficult to coerce and control than when they are segregated. Consequently, ruling hierarchies commandeer only men to fight their battles and enforce their rule. Women are left alone to care for their children. Thus, the most fundamental division of men and women imposed by a ruling hierarchy is that men shall be cannon fodder and women shall be baby factories left alone to incubate the next generation of cannon fodder.
The rigorous regimes of training and conditioning that is imposed upon men for the purpose of war makes them aggressive and competitive. Consequently, aggression and competition are not necessarily natural tendencies in men. They have been ingrained into male culture over countless generations by the ruling hierarchies for the purpose of making war. Women, on the other hand have been left largely to their own devices in raising their children. They have not been subjected to hierarchical control to anything like the same degree. Consequently, the more co-operative and submissive characteristic of women is probably the natural norm for all human beings.
What about when war is finished? What about peacetime? A society governed by an elitist hierarchy naturally carries the warring ethos of aggression and competition into the peacetime economic arena. From what I have seen and experienced, free-market capitalism is an economic model based on the principles of war. In war, a nation mounts battle against its enemy to destroy its forces and take over its territory. In business, a company mounts battle against its competitor to destroy it and take over its market share. Cooperation is anathema, entered into only rarely and only then because it offers a temporary selfish advantage.
The most fundamental division between men and women imposed by a capitalist economy is that men shall be the cogs in the engine of production and women shall be baby factories left to incubate the next generation of cogs. So in peacetime, the demands of business within a capitalist economy preserve within men the same ethos of aggression and competition as for war. But aggression and competition are still not necessarily natural tendencies in men. They have been ingrained into male culture over countless generations by the ruling hierarchies for the gaining of profit. Women, on the other hand are still left largely to their own devices in raising children. They are not subjected to hierarchical control to anything like the same degree. Consequently, the more cooperative and submissive nature of women is still probably the natural norm for all human beings.
My own experience supports this. I have, from an early age, had an innate reluctance to blindly submit to authority. I have a built-in compulsion to question it. When, in good conscience, I find it to be for the good, I follow its dictates. When, in good conscience, I suspect it of promoting the containment and exploitation of the poor by the rich, I declare myself free to resist or circumvent it. Consequently, I did not conformingly follow the social and educational regimes that develop machismo and competition. For instance, I wasn't attracted to competitive sports. I didn't like football. I was not aggressive or competitive. I liked to combine and cooperate with others in mutual endeavours and projects. I was open and gregarious. I was affective. I was inclusive. I did not like to see anybody left out.
Notwithstanding, I was not a freak. I soon discovered that there were lots of other boys like me, although many tended out of shame to hide their true selves behind a mask of machismo. The absence of aggressiveness or competitiveness in a man does not make him effeminate. On the contrary, it means he has the courage to stand his ground against authority. It means he has the determination to resist submission to a roguish hierarchy and the ostracism of his conformative peers. That takes guts.
Differences in perception and expression between men and women are essentially natural. They are also complementary differences. They construct and enhance relationships, giving greater vision and potential to all. On the other hand, male aggression and competition have been induced artificially. They are essentially cultural. They give men an opposing nature from women. As such, they are divisive to relationships. They inhibit human potential. They disempower people.
The capitalist economic system has historically forced women to be dependent on men for their needs of life. As baby factories, the system allowed women no time or means to engage in economic production. This is now rapidly changing. Domestic utilities and appliances have reduced the workload of keeping house. However, far from liberating women, the large-scale entry of women into the job market has enslaved them as it formerly enslaved men. A woman is no longer the queen of her household in full command of what she does and how she does it. She has become another corporate work-slave just like her husband.
Nevertheless, for a statistical majority, a certain difference hasn't changed. Women may work. Men must work. A man is the back-stop economic provider for the family. A woman works to provide a better life-style. If a man become unemployed, it is a catastrophe for the family. If a woman ceases to work, the main-stay of economic provision is still there. The family merely has to do without the higher life-style for a while. This has enabled many families to enjoy an economic level their parents could not even dream of. On the other hand, it has caused havoc for the wealth and well-being of others. The reason is as follows.
As men grow older they start to get wise to the way they are being exploited by those above them in the economic hierarchy. They become dissatisfied. And with good reason. With length of service they become more highly skilled but also expect more pay. The majority of jobs are becoming de-skilled. To do the same job today requires much less skill than it did in the past. This is due to automation. For example, a planing machine operated by an unskilled worker can engineer a component more quickly and precisely than a highly skilled fitter could do by hand. Computer software is now doing the same in such areas as clerical work and accounting. Older, highly skilled workers are becoming less and less necessary. And their higher salaries reduce corporate profit unnecessarily.
Consequently, employers do not like older wiser workers. They want a workforce that is as cheap as possible and as naïve as possible. They therefore seek to replace old men with young men. Young men are less skilled and experienced workers but skill and experience are becoming less necessary. More importantly, young men have not yet had time to become disillusioned. To them a job is just as much an economic essential. Young men need to earn the money to support their young families. They therefore work willingly and diligently, under the constant fear of redundancy or dismissal.
Elitist government deems that, for any man, having a job is a social obligation, irrespective of whether or not the economic system is able to offer him a job. Elitist propaganda, drip-fed through the tabloid media, has created a powerful social stigma regarding unemployment. This causes society at large to ostracise the unemployed as undeserving malingerers. Since the wealthy elite have confiscated all fundamental terrestrial resources, the unemployed man possesses no means of turning his work into his needs of life. He is locked in an impossible situation from which there is no exit that he himself can create.
Trying to dig out the truth about the real level of unemployment at any given time is eternally problematic. What is clear is that unemployment is becoming ever more erratic and drifting to ever greater heights. The job market is a place of increasing turmoil. Employment is becoming evermore uncertain and insecure, especially for older men. So, what about women?
Women are a God-send to corporate capitalism. Channelled through the same education and training paths, their performance is the same. It is only in their lesser capacity to lift and carry weight that men, due to their stronger bodies, surpass them. But this is of rapidly diminishing importance. Nowadays, the hydraulic excavator has replaced the spade. There is invariably a powered gadget or device to lift and place any kind of object anywhere. Strength difference is no longer an issue. Besides, the human body, be it male or female, was never designed for heavy work.
But there is an even better reason for employing women.
A married man must have a job. If he doesn't, his family will suffer the hardship and poverty of living on welfare. His children will grow up disadvantaged. He is therefore subjected to the constant pressure that he must get and hold a good job with an income capable of being the permanent mainstay of the family economy. His primary reason for working is to earn money.
A married woman is not subject to quite the same vital pressure to get and hold a job. Increasingly, a woman's income is becoming necessary for her family to maintain an acceptable living standard. Unlike her husband's, however, it is not absolutely necessary for survival. Her primary purpose for working is often more social than economic. Consequently, she will generally be content to work for less. At least, she will accept an equivalent job working for less.
This causes a disruptive imbalance in the job market, especially in sectors involving advanced skills. An example in my own experience is the computer software industry. Married female analysts and programmers can afford to offer equivalent freelance services at much lower rates of remuneration than men are able to do. This prices men out of the market.
This creates a divisive pressure that tends to transform a nation of single-income families into a nation of coexisting double-income and no-income families, in which mine was one of the latter. It also preserves the old monoscopic norm. Whereas of old only the masculine mind and perception was brought to bear on the analysis and design of a project, now it is only the female mind and perception that is brought to bear. Analysis and design therefore still lack the far richer stereoscopic view of both kinds of perception.
Most people with whom I speak seem to think that the principle of the free market is that it supplies what people freely demand. A little bit of honest observation demonstrates that this is simply not true. Ordinary people, in reality, are restricted to the narrow choice that the corporate world condescends to offer.
Decades ago I could go to different shops until I found a pair of trousers that fitted me perfectly. Nowadays I can go to department store after department store only to see that they all stock the same narrow range of styles and fits: none of which ever fits me properly. Decades ago there were 4 television channels that broadcast a variety of interesting programmes of a wide range of genres. Now (2012) we have 84 channels of self-similar puerile crap, none of which ever interests me in the slightest. Even the news is nothing more than a cacophony of jingles and dramatised sound bites that convey only a superficial smattering of what I presume must be the news.
So, to what narrow choice does commerce limit us regarding our children. Decades ago it was guns, toy knives, soldier or cowboy outfits for little boys. Dolls, prams, toy pots, pans and crockery for little girls. Now it has been extremified. We are offered guns, swords, axes, tanks, helicopter gunships and murderous fantasy super-heros for our macho little boys. Romantic fantasy Barbie dolls complete with make-up, lipstick and flouncy clothes and party outfits for our coy little girls. The contrast between what is offered for the two genders becomes ever more gobsmacking.
This ever-widening dichotomy between the mindsets of boys and girls is engendered by the television diet that is offered to them each day when they arrive home from school. Super heroes dismembering their enemies with fantasy weapons. Romantic teen dramas of desire and unrequited infatuation set within a school-time context. Do children demand this diet, which the market then fulfils? Or do they have no other choice except not to watch television and be out of synch with their peers? I think it is the latter. So, if they want to be part of society, they have no choice but to watch this divisive diet.
What happens when these children grow up to become adolescents? Nature arouses their interest in the opposite gender. But the genders now have different and incompatible mindsets. The only interest they share is what nature imposes upon them, namely the animal attraction of sex. They date and eventually get married. And they continue to be exposed to the same corporate offerings.
For men, it is military, police, espionage and science fiction films depicting gratuitous violence. Advertising commercials for cars that emphasize speed, power and irresponsible tyre-screaming macho driving. [I know that some countries have banned this kind of advertising but in Brazil (2012) it is alive and well, with a traffic death rate to match.] For women it is an endless daily round of soap operas of dreams and broken hearts. The incompatibility of the mindsets of the two genders continues and becomes increasingly entrenched.
The cultural diet, dispensed through education and the mass media, indelibly etches this artificially exaggerated gender dichotomy into the public mind. There it acts like a template, passively coercing each of us to take on a divisively distorted version of his or her natural gender role. So despite the copious rhetoric and conscious concern for gender equality, the genders are being pushed ever-further apart beyond the bounds of cultural compatibility.
Men are still ingrained with the adversarial mindset for the business of war and the war of business. Their minds are tuned to crave macho products like guns and fast cars. Women are still nurtured into the role of home making and child care. They are induced to crave the products of perceived beauty like fashion clothes, shoes and cosmetics. The interests and preoccupations of men and women are thus poles apart. Their minds roam within different universes. They are strangers: alien beings, linked only by the necessity for procreation.
But this alienation is not natural. It is artificially contrived by State, religion and commerce for the control and exploitation of their subjects.