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- Hide Preview | 31 Comments | submitted about a year ago by suzannehatton [Post Locked]

I had an uncomfortable conversation with a friend of mine at the weekend. I knew it was going to happen sooner or later because she is a feminist. She's really into Emma Watson's He for She movement - if anyone is familiar?

Anyhoo, she was saying it really annoys her how toys are marketed towards boys and girls (she has three beautiful boys) and how, for instance, marketing a train set towards boys is gender stereotyping. I tried to say, although I didn't do a very good job, that there was some validity in the way different toys are marketed for girls and boys because there are, overall, some differences in the male and female brain and the things that little boys and girls are often interested in.

I had no scientific basis for this. I think I was just quoting from an article I read somewhere.

Then we got to talking about jobs and I said that that overall women, for instance, tend to be more caring and therefore often enter jobs such as teaching and nursing, and men can be better at problem solving so they are very dominant in eg STEM fields. Again, I tried to argue that this is down to our brains and how we have evolved certain traits as males and females.

Please be aware - I wasn't trying to make blanket statements!!

Obviously everyone is different! There are many caring men and scientific women etc etc etc. But it was my understanding that overall men and women have a tendency towards certain behaviour traits. My understanding is also that the differences between us are biological, but that obviously society shapes who we are also.

My friend seemed like she was saying that there is no difference between the male and female brain and that differences between us are solely down to the way we are socialized and told we have to be a certain way by society.

Today she sent me these two articles about the male and female brain and told me she thought my ideas were 'limiting'.

I think it was my fault because I didn't get across what I was trying to say properly and basically came across as stuffy and old fashioned.

I've smoothed it over with her now, and I don't think we'll discuss it again, but I wanted to post on here to get an idea of what other people think.

Does anyone have anything to say on this? Any ideas or knowledge that might benefit my understanding?

Thanks xx

Edit: I just want to make the point that I'm not trying to bitch about my friend in this post. She is a very brilliant women who I have a LOT of respect for.




[-] ragnarockette 25 Points about a year ago

Here is an interesting study that was one of the things that really warmed me to RPW and the idea that hey, maybe there are some differences between male brains and female brains.

Countries with more gender equality actually have lower levels of women in STEM. Men gravitate towards careers in science, engineering, architecture - where they are building and creating and inventing. Women gravitate towards careers in medicine, teaching, and other nurturing and "people-y" careers.

I think women in STEM should be supported. But I feel like the whole effort for "women in tech" is fighting the male/female brain difference.

[-] suzannehatton 1 Point about a year ago

Thanks! I have heard Jordan Peterson talk about this but I hadn't seen an actual study.

[-] werthtrillions 11 Points about a year ago

If there is no such thing as a female and male brain then why do trans people exist?

[-] merel-- 9 Points about a year ago

Because the only thing that makes a woman a woman is wanting to wear a dress /s

[-] ManguZa 2 Points about a year ago

Psychological issue or hormonal issue during pregnancy or puberty.

[-] BewareTheOldMan 9 Points about a year ago

Men and women are wired differently as it relates to behavior, cognitive processes, social conditioning, gender roles, etc.

In short - there is a difference.

Also - when Emma Watson's 'He for She" Movement is comparable to a worldwide "She for He Campaign," smart men will pay attention to what she has to say on the matter.

[-] 3rd_viewpoint 9 Points about a year ago

There are several problems with this feminist debate.

The problem with both of those studies is that they look at the brain in an isolation from the rest of the body and also they look at purely the morphology of the brain , or hardware.

Behavior is influenced by hormones which is skipped by these people.

Another problem is that many feminists have absolutely no background in biology but studied journalism , psychology, and other things. But they make judgments about biology.

There is also something called confirmation bias, where people selectively see only the information that confirms their existing beliefs. It's common for everyone. In practical terms, feminists cherry pick the studies that fit their narrative (men and women are the same, gender can be changed, etc).

A very good and useful book that talks about influence of hormones on behavior at every stage of human life is Alchemy of Love and Lust.

[-] Snowiceolated 9 Points about a year ago

What you're looking for is this book:

The Female Brain, by Louann Brizendine, M.D.

"Every brain begins as a female brain. It only becomes male eight weeks after conception, when excess testosterone shrinks the communications center, reduces the hearing cortex, and makes the part of the brain that processes sex twice as large.

Louann Brizendine, M.D. is a pioneering neuropsychiatrist who brings together the latest findings to show how the unique structure of the female brain determines how women think, what they value, how they communicate, and whom they’ll love. "

Long story short it's not about the structure of the brain, it's the hormones you're exposed to throughout life - especially in utero. One thing you should really highlight is that hormones may not change a person's ability to do something, but it certainly may change one's desire to do something. Women are just as intellectually capable as men to do anything; the difference is desire.

[-] 3rd_viewpoint 3 Points about a year ago

One thing you should really highlight is that hormones may not change a person's ability to do something, but it certainly may change one's desire to do something.

I would respectfully disagree about hormones not changing one's ability to do something . As far as I know, female MMA fighters take testosterone supplements to hit harder and to have better reaction times and spatial thinking.

Thyroxine is taken by people with decreased thyroid function to increase their ability to do pretty much anything. They are lethargic without thyroxine.

[-] suzannehatton 1 Point about a year ago

Thanks! I'll look it up xx

[-] [deleted] 8 Points about a year ago

I learned this a long time ago so my vocabulary may be off, but your brain has two hemispheres, and the cerebral cortex, which connects them. The thicker your cerebral cortex, the easier it is to connect "left" and "right" brain thinking. Women tend to have a thicker cerebral cortex than men, which is why women tend to be better multitaskers, can jump fluidly from one subject to the next, can pick up tiny little social cues better than men. It also explains how men are able to compartmentalize so easily. This has nothing to do with intelligence, just the way your brain processes information. If all this is accurate, I don't think gendered toys make any difference at all. When I have kids, I'm just going to buy them what they like playing with. There are much bigger influencing factors at play.

[-] Kara__El 1 Point about a year ago

I agree. If there is a difference, they'll choose the gendered item. No need for marketing. If there isn't a difference, they'll choose what they like. A toy is a toy.

Edit: I do think the male and female brains differ. I just think it has little bearing on children's toy selections.

[-] ManguZa 7 Points about a year ago

I found the documentary Brainwashing quite good :

[-] Ramp_Up_Then_Dump 2 Points about a year ago

An educative and fun document. It should be in sidebar, it is already in main sub's side bar btw.

[-] suzannehatton 1 Point about a year ago

Awesome, thanks for recommending! I'll give it a watch xx

[-] MrCongeniality1 5 Points about a year ago

Your friends' article disproves her own position:

If a neuroscientist was given someone’s brain without their body or any additional information, they would still probably be able to guess if it had belonged to a man or a woman. Men’s brains are larger, for example, and are likely to have a larger number of “male” features overall.

We see daily that our gender greatly impacts our bodies. Every part of your body (size, length, girth, biochemistry) is influenced by chromosomal differences and hormone production. Our bodies create entirely different sets of organs because of it. The suggestion that our brains are an exception to this rule should sound a little silly on face.

Our knowledge of neuroscience and cognition is still in its infancy and it would be unwise to form firm conclusions just from available research. But still, do we really think that our differences are motivated by a few easily quantified tests of ability? Would you measure hair color, eye color, finger length and body fat to conclude that men and women are basically physically the same?

Let me suggest that our emotional motivations drive who we are, how our brains are directed, and how we develop over time. There is a lot to talk about on this topic, but I think this is the most important point. Women are being convinced to strive for traditionally male pursuits and qualities and are ending up stressed and resentful and not understanding who to blame. Don't skip out on being a powerful career women because you're told you can't be, skip out because you know yourself and you don't want to be.

[-] direfrog 1 Point about a year ago

The article quotes this junk science study which was made by a feminist "scientist".

It has been cited in a number of other articles, among which this one which cruelly annihilates its methodology. Quote:

> If the methods of Joel et al. cannot demonstrate consistency in morphological features that distinguish distinct species, is it any wonder that they cannot demonstrate within-individual consistency in sexually differentiated brain structures and behaviors in humans?

Short, to the point, and merciless.


[-] MrCongeniality1 1 Point about a year ago

Thanks for digging even deeper into it. That's a hilarious takedown!

Unfortunately, this is what passes for discourse in the media. This study says X, no this study says Y! Meanwhile, the discussion is way more uncertain and nuanced than what is being reported for clickbait (or political purposes).

[-] direfrog 1 Point about a year ago

There's even a redpill inside this redpill ;)

The original article has a very feminine tone, it beats around the bush a lot, it blows lots of hot air and contains ambiguous statements... while the takedown really sounds like it was written by dudes: short, to the point, and merciless. If you click on "cited by", you will see a reply to the takedown by the original author, which sounds exactly like you would expect. "It's not me!" and "I'm right anyway!"

[-] ange-nocturne 4 Points about a year ago

This is a good article laying out the gender differences between girls and boys. Also studies show that even if you give monkeys the choice between playing with a plush toy (stuffed animal/ doll) or wheeled toy (car, train etc), they show the same gender-based preferences that humans show. This indicates that the differences are likely inherent in primates' brains and not a human social construction.

[-] suzannehatton 1 Point about a year ago

Thank you, that's very helpful xx

[-] _Presence_ 3 Points about a year ago

It’s a complex question, but in short, yes, they are slightly different. But not by much. They are structurally very similar, but females have a different hormone balance than men, which affects behaviour. So do we consider different hormone balance as “different brains”?

The really tricky part is how do those small differences manifest as measurable differences is ability and preference across large population samples. It’s not quite so simple as culture DOES ALSO affect preference.

So the differences we see are both biological and cultural. Your friend is wrong, we are not “exactly” the same. But we are ALMOST exactly the same.

[-] LateralThinker13 5 Points about a year ago

But we are ALMOST exactly the same.

No, we're really not. IQ distribution, object vs. person focus, broadcast vs. serial procreation... to say that we're almost exactly the same would be true from a biological perspective (i.e. DNA/species), but radically incorrect from a psychological and physiological perspective.

Just look at prepubescent kids. Sure, prior to puberty there are less differences between boys and girls in behavior - much of it is learned - but they are still there. There's a reason that infant chimpanzees STILL show object (i.e. cars and guns) or person (i.e. dolls) preferences, and they're only distantly related to us - it's biology.

It isn't culture that makes women hypergamous. It isn't culture that makes men production/performance-oriented. Things like this cascade until you get to the point that Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. You are completely wrong.

[-] _Presence_ 4 Points about a year ago

If so, I apparently did not make my point very clear.

There are slight differences in brains between men and women... but those differences are very small. The OP was asking about a male vs female brain. So the answer to that question is, yes, but only slightly.

But... like I said, there are also hormonal variables between men and women. Does that count as being different brains? Maybe.

There are also cultural differences, which DO PLAY A PART. BUT, to what extent it plays a part is a muddy, complicated question up for scientific study to unravel. I’m not saying the differences between men and women are primarily cultural as the OPs friend asserted. But I’m not about to say it doesn’t play some part. How much of a part I don’t know. People write PHD dissertations trying to tease that apart.

You got part of my reply correct, that from a biological perspective we are very similar, which is what I interpreted the OPs question to be pertaining to.

[-] _Presence_ 4 Points about a year ago

Did you even read my reply?

[-] lunelix 2 Points about a year ago

To me, none of the studies matter. Both sides have dubious studies.

I am going to introduce my boys to baby dolls; I want my sons to be good fathers. I am going to introduce my daughter to erector sets and legos; engineering and spatial thinking are important whether you're a female engineer or a future homeschooler/homework helper.

Brains are elastic. The masculinity and femininity of skills is immaterial enough; natural patterns will present themselves over time when everyone has the choice to pursue whatever skills they want. Everyone has the right to decide for themselves which skills they want to improve.

Regardless of natural tendencies, I don't think anyone has the right to immediately preclude someone from a skill because of their sex. There is just too much individual variance.

Don't preemptively decide your daughter wouldn't be interested in that physics book for kids. Don't shun that new guy who shows up to Stitch 'n' Bitch. Because you just never know.

[-] SirenOfScience 2 Points about a year ago

There are sex differences in the brain but keep in mind biology usually falls into a normal distribution. The majority of men will fall into an average and the majority of women will fall into an average but there will also be those located on the fringe. For example, if a developing female fetus is exposed to a lot of testosterone in the womb, she may have more masculinized behaviors than average. Another example, when caponization, removing the testes from a young male rooster, was common, people noted that caponized roosters behaved less like a rooster and more like a hen in addition to some physical changes, indicating sex hormones definitely can play a role in behavior and appearance. I argue in favor of sex differences because it incentivizes researchers to use both male and female subjects in their studies and since certain diseases like Alzheimer's, autism, schizophrenia, etc. can be more prevalent in one sex or the other.

[-] openvacant 1 Point about a year ago

A great review of the literature that is written in an approachable, easy-to-understand, interesting way is Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine. She is a psychologist, neuroscientist, and parent, and talks a lot about gender development, brain science, and so on. She also has a newer book specific to hormones.

[-] suzannehatton 1 Point about a year ago


[-] freew33zy 1 Point about a year ago

Ignoring that male and female brains are scientifically different (mostly because I don't have immediate access to a source and don't want to search) there's still the "filter" difference.

Testosterone and estrogen are the male and female hormones. Both carry with them specific sets of typical behaviors and dispositions, etc. The most feminine men have much more testosterone and much less estrogen than the most masculine women. Thus, behavior and inclinations among brain activity would be filtered through these hormones regardless and provide at least a moderate amount of ingrained difference, regardless of the rest of the brain.

But there's differences in the rest of the brain too. I just haven't linked them.

[-] pame12 1 Point about a year ago

I guess you can try this:

Though he can be kinda harsh, so be warned.