Maleness a ‘birth defect’? Why evolution might favor the female brain

| | April 17, 2015
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This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

It’s not every day my jaw drops when reading the Chronicle Review, a section of The Chronicle of Higher Education. But drop it did when I read the opening paragraph of “The End of Male Supremacy” by Emory University anthropologist Melvin Konner, published on April 3.

Konner’s article, which is adapted from his new book, Women After All: Sex, Evolution, and the End of Male Supremacy, sits in conflict with three central conclusions that I impart to my anthropology students: Women and men are more alike in their behavior than they are different; sex differences that do exist arise in large part from variation in how children are raised and other experiences of living and working, attesting to the magnificent plasticity of the human brain; and no group of people, regardless of gender identification (I’m no fan of an oversimplified male vs. female binary) is biologically superior to any other.

Konner, even while affirming that not all men are violent and not all women are nurturing, fearlessly advances his women’s superiority thesis. Maleness is “a birth defect,” he declares.

In an e-mail exchange, Konner explained:

“Recent brain imaging studies show that a part of the brain that helps produce violence, called the amygdala, is larger in men than in women. Also, the frontal cortex (frontal lobes), which help to regulate impulses coming from the amygdala, is (are) more active in women. Mounting evidence supports the claim that male and female brains are different in many species, including us, partly because of androgenizing (masculinizing) influences of testosterone on the (anterior) hypothalamus, amygdala, and other parts of the brain involved in sex and violence.

Read full, original article: Is It Sexist To Say That Women Are Superior To Men?

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