This article was published in the Spring 1997 issue of Formulations
by the Free Nation Foundation
How Different Are Men and Women?
A response to Richard Hammer, "Men and Women Differ in Political Values"
(Formulations, Vol. IV, No. 2)
by Carol B. Low, Psy. D.

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Okay, Richard, you are absolutely right: men and women are not equal (read "the same") in their biological construction; but, there's more. There are a few basic points of fact which I cannot dispute: people do have genes; and yes, there are, indeed, significant biological differences between men and women. I have actually conducted several loosely controlled experiments in my own home with my own children, whose father is absent, as well as in my former career as a Montessori teacher, which demonstrate unequivocally to me that those biological differences are unmistakable. My son, for example, spoke his first word, "vroom," while playing with the Tonka trucks which I had purchased several years before for his older sister, who, despite hours with me in the sandbox, appeared never to notice their existence! Ever try to teach a two-year-old boy to read? I have. A two-year-old girl, on the other hand, will read, just don't try to get her to add. And here, I submit to Richard's proviso that these are gross generalizations, but in many years as a teacher, I saw a clear pattern with those few exceptions which get it to fit the bell curve diagram which Richard has so kindly provided. So, there are differences in physiology, some of it based on prenatal testosterone exposure, some of it based on the existence of the Y chromosome, the rest, we just don't know.

On the other side, people do have certain practiced and culturally enforced habits. Pretty much everyone has read that piece, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, in which the author explains how men are better at solving problems than at listening and need to retreat to a cave periodically. In my experience, hardly any men ever try to dispute it. In fact, they love it. It gives them an excuse to be surly when they get home from work and to try to take control of everything. Women generally have the same reaction to it as I had to Richard's paper: "since when?" Here we discover an essential missing element: culture. In a society in which men were traditionally bread-winners, they came home tired from a long day of too many demands and too many people, while women were at home juggling many tasks in relative isolation from the adult world. The men were tired, and the women needed problems attended to. Not any more. Now, women are maintaining careers and still doing housework and taking primary responsibility for childrearing. Who really needs that cave? Me! Once again men fall for the sociobiological explanation of life, the universe, and everything.

Now, to the specifics of Richard's paper. First off, there are the generalizations, as per the bell-shaped curves which have been provided, which imply that more women than men prefer for their choices to be made by government. Despite Richard's assurance that these are, indeed, generalizations and do not prevent there from being exceptions, I do not know how to get from Richard's generalizations to his hypothesis. I have a different perspective, perhaps because I am a woman and I am angry about the political scene. I do not trust government, therefore, I am an anarchist. To me this is a logical set of related premises. I do not see that being female as opposed to male affects the logic inherent in these conclusions. I am well aware that many people do not live their lives by rules of logic, but why women more than men, and how would one go about supporting such a claim? Richard attempts to support it via sociobiology; I would select a different approach which would help to demonstrate why some folks are more logical in their approach to life than others.

Additionally, Richard is working with assumptions, the most damaging being the assumption of significance. I do not have the numbers by which to judge his observations about voter registration, but numbers were provided by which I could analyze the assumption that Bill Clinton represents women more than men. Unfortunately for Richard's premise, the table does not present statistically significant results. A statistic known as "chi square" calculates the degree to which the data on such a table is likely to represent real population differences (apologies to the statistically literate in the audience for my simplified explanations). The chi square for this table is 1.36. In statistical terms, one looks at the probability, a thing called "p," that these data as summed up in that statistic, represent a true difference in the populations which were sampled. A p value of less than .05 is the maximal value at which data are generally considered statistically significant. Regarding Richard's table, one can say, "There is a 24% chance (p = .24) that these data occurred merely by chance and do not represent true population differences. This is considered an unacceptably large percent from which to draw a conclusion about the population in question. Thus, the premise upon which Richard bases part of his argument is not valid.

Then there is the sociobiological discussion of risks and territories. I acknowledge that, as Richard has said, and accurately so, on average, more men than women will be risk-takers. This may or may not be sociobiological. It may, however, be circumstantial. I find myself in the position of being solely responsible for the well-being of three children. I am unlikely to refuse to pay taxes, as this is likely to end me up in jail. In weighing the obvious rightness of not paying taxes with the responsibility of being at home to raise my children, I choose to fulfill my responsibility, at sacrifice to supporting behaviorally a strongly held principle. Is this biological or simply acceptance of responsibility? An argument has been presented to me, always by men, I might add, that this is shortsighted, because I am worth more as a tax protester than as a mother, and I am, indeed, violating my own moral premises against theft by paying taxes. I disagree: raising three happy healthy anarchists is the best thing I can think of to do to ensure a government-free future. So there may be a way in which men and women approach responsibility and investment in the future differently. So we are left with the question, is this founded in sociobiology as Richard proposes, or exclusively in cultural demands, or is there some of each?

I submit that the latter is the answer. Men and women are biologically different. Scientific evidence exists despite years of attempted cover-up by the political correctness movement. We can try to equilibrate scores on various tests until the end of time, but the bottom line shows a few differences that manipulation of data will not rub out. I'm okay with that. After all, it means I get to be the one who can experience the joy of childbirth, and if I have to sacrifice superior spatial manipulation skills, so be it. On the other hand, there is evidence that men are more likely to take risks and to demand the right to be grouchy after work. I submit that these are holdovers from an outdated social structure rather than biological imperative. And just to show how complex this question really is, ever notice how men will never flinch when punched, whereas women don't like that and will tend to squeal, but men will whine for days about an ingrown toenail which a woman would never let on about? Biology or learning? D

Carol Low has just received her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology after nine years of raising, supporting, and homeschooling three children and attending graduate school. She is a former Montessori educator and the former editor of the former NOMOS magazine, which has been disbanded after 11 years in publication. She is a lifelong anarcho-capitalist. She is currently working in a private practice in the Chicago area with an innovative approach to curing chronic pain conditions.

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